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The Muslims’ War Against Fun Is Killing Them

May 24th, 2014 - 12:06 pm

We all know the Muslim world is a political and cultural disaster zone.

All you need to know is the spectacularly low level of book sales in the Arab world, and a similarly miserable record in winning Nobel prizes, whether in literature or hard science.  A dozen years ago, a group of Arab scholars did a report for the United Nations that ascribed the failure of Arab society to a lack of freedom, knowledge and womenpower.  And things have gotten considerably worse since 2002;  the authors could write that there were no ethnic conflicts then.  That’s long gone.

Never mind a failed state;  we’re talking about a failed civilization, even in the most culturally advanced Muslim domain, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The root of their failure is the War Against Fun.  They’re not only failures, but grim, humorless failures.  This is the miserable common denominator of the Muslim world.  As Jonathan Schanzer recently tweeted, “Saudi blocks Youtube. Iran blocks Instagram. We knew they could eventually find common ground.”

They know it themselves, and talk about it a lot. Several writers in the Saudi press, for example, unloaded on the ban on celebrating Valentine’s Day, as here:

[The answer] to most of our daily needs comes from the West, from the Christian world, of [the culture] we created in previous eras only a pittance remains… the prohibition on Valentine’s Day bears no relation to faith or belief, but [only] to desert thinking that lacks subtlety, targets women specifically and prevents a social encounter between men and women and normal life as in other societies. The guardians of values and customs went overboard in pressuring our society…it has become desiccated and coarse and adopted the thinking and behavior of the desert..

Or in this tirade, quoted in the same article linked above:

What grabs attention is that those who ban imitating the West on Valentine’s Day see nothing amiss in imitating the West in other ways, and are completely immersed in [Western] consumer culture and in devouring new Western products…

They know we’re better.  Some of them, seemingly more with the passage of time, are desperate and brave enough to risk life and limb to fight back on behalf of fun.

The War Against Fun is deadly because it stultifies and suffocates creative enterprise.  If the regime wins, and fun is killed, it would mark the death of playfulness, which is the heart of creativity.  The Iranians are (falsely, I think) credited with the invention of chess, but there are no brilliant Persian chess grandmasters nowadays.  Iranian humor is nasty, misogynistic and often sadistic, like the unhappy country’s ruling tyrants.

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The Censors and Their Tyrannical Friends

May 20th, 2014 - 6:30 pm

From the very beginning, the doctrines of political correctness were intended to silence and paralyze the Right.  The locus classicus of this demand is Herbert Marcuse’s essay on “Repressive Tolerance,” written in the early 1960s when he was a Brandeis professor:

Liberating tolerance…would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.

Tolerance would only be granted to those with proper ideas, and committed to proper actions.  And who would decide which ideas and actions were proper, and which were to be forbidden?

People rather like himself:

…everyone “in the maturity of his faculties” as a human being, everyone who has learned to think rationally and autonomously.

His students and followers, in other words.  He wanted to create:

[a] democratic educational dictatorship of free men… in Mill, every rational human being participates in the discussion and decision–but only as a rational being. (In contemporary America) this would be a small number indeed, and not necessarily that of the elected representatives of the people. The problem is not that of an educational dictatorship, but that of breaking the tyranny of public opinion and its makers in the closed society.

Marcuse denied he was an elitist, insisting that once people were “educated” to accept ideas and actions that the society at large considered subversive, true freedom would reign supreme.

He’d be quite surprised to learn that his proposals are gathering momentum, precisely among those who consider themselves members of the intellectual elite.  The movement extends from college campuses (for which he had some hope) to international “scientific” bodies (think about the campaigns against those who refuse to accept the dogmas of “climate change”), to the broader society.  We have reached a point where a radical “activist” can go on national TV and call for the imprisonment of anyone in public office who disagrees with him.  And the host murmurs that there might not be enough room.

Like Marcuse, the advocates of this rule-by-right-thinking-inellectuals invariably claim to be democracy’s best friends, even as they work for its doom.  Take David Brooks for example, who proclaims that we’re in an era of democratic complacency and decay.  He thinks that we’ve recently learned about the shortcomings of democratic republics:  “The events of the past several years have exposed democracy’s structural flaws.”

And then he tells us things we learned back in the 1830s from Alexis de Tocqueville:  democratic countries are lousy at long-range planning, our system of checks and balances can paralyze badly needed policies, etcetera etcetera and so forth.  We show up badly, he says, when compared to innovative “Guardian States” like China and Singapore.  Our schools stink when compared to South Korea’s.  And best of all, he insists, “They are better at long-range thinking and can move fast because they limit democratic feedback and don’t face NIMBY-style impediments.”

Brooks, just like Marcuse, insists that he has come to save democracy, not to bury it.  He wants “a strategy to make democracy dynamic again…use Lee Kuan Yew means (aka benevolent dictatorship, ML) to achieve Jeffersonian ends — to become less democratic at the national level in order to become more democratic at the local level.”

And what is his glorious solution?  The model for the revivification of democracy?

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The Secret Deals With Iran

May 14th, 2014 - 7:17 pm

“You’re right to keep tweeting that question.  Why the hell is the agreement with Iran still secret?”

I’m always grateful for praise, especially when it comes from America’s legendary spymaster, the late James Jesus Angleton, who was passing on the kind words through my recently rehabbed ouija board.  I’d been repeatedly tweeting “why is the deal with Iran still secret?” and apparently Angleton manages to get online (although with him, you never really know where his information comes from).

ML:  “Presumably there’s some stuff in it that the administration doesn’t want us to know about, otherwise they’d open it up.”

JJA:  “Yes, that’s the obvious explanation.  But I’m surprised that those few members of Congress who HAVE read it, are similarly hushed up.  And I’m also surprised that those who haven’t read it aren’t insisting that they do.  After all, we’re not surprised to have secret treaties, are we?  But then, it’s hard to keep track of all the secret deals in the world nowadays.  Which, among other things, puts a lot of strain on the language…”

ML:  “Yeah, you always were keen on language.  Some of those non-secret ‘secrets’ are Rumsfeldian, they’re part of the ‘known unknown,’ or maybe better, the ‘unknown known.’  For me, that’s the most fascinating one:  the secrets we don’t want to know.”

JJA:  “Precisely.  Not surprisingly, several of them have to do with Iran, a country that specializes in secrecy and deception.”

ML: “Yeah, but these aren’t deceptions, or at least they’re not about Iranian deceptions. As far as I can tell, we and other Western governments are keeping secrets from the people. The governments know what’s happening, but they hush it up. And it’s not only the interim agreement. There’s the whole business about al Qaeda-and-Boko Haram, which in turn leads us to al Qaeda-and-Iran, etcetera. Not to mention the question about American hostages in Iranian captivity.”

JJA: “Let’s leave the hostages for last. I’ve seen a lot of that stuff on Boko Haram, and it’s hilarious to see all the editorialists and columnists who are acting as if they’d been following Nigeria in great detail for a decade or more, heh. All of a sudden everyone’s an expert.”

ML: “Who knew there were so many Africanists? Those of us who did Africa for years and years rarely saw any of these guys…”

JJA: “It’s easier to stay in New York or Washington, you don’t have to take all those shots.”

ML: “Or take those malaria pills with nasty side effects…”

JJA: “But there has been some good research, and I liked that Eli Lake story that referred to academic research on the connections between Boko Haram and al Qaeda.

ML: “Me too. But I wasn’t all that happy with the lack of good followup. That story went back to the 1990s, and said that Boko Haram figures were in touch with Osama bin Laden’s gang in Sudan. And, given the way my mind works, I started thinking…”

JJA: “…about Iran. Well of course, because we know that bin Laden was then establishing working relations with Hezbollah, which of course IS Iran, and so logic grabs you by the throat and drags you to the question: is there a link between Boko Haram and Iran, aside from bin Laden?”

ML: “Just so, exactly what I thought. And then I find that the good Jacob Zenn at the West Point Combating Terrorism Center wrote a good deal about Iranian support for radical Islam in Africa.”

JJA: “And I can promise you that there are American intelligence officers who can connect an awful lot of Iranian dots in West Africa over the years. Iranian arms shipments have been seized, and here and there in the African press you can find former Boko Haram members who talk quite openly about their colleagues being trained in Afghanistan, and even in iran itself. This guy, for example.”

ML: “Yeah, I saw that. But I couldn’t tell how reliable the story was.”

JJA: “There’s quite a bit of it, once you start digging. And of course there’s all that stuff about the al Qaeda-Iran cooperation, mostly written by Tom Joscelyn and Bill Roggio in that wonderful Long War Journal.

ML: “I’ve got some sympathy for the analysts and reporters who get baffled by the AQ-Iran connection. I mean, how can you explain the apparent fact that there are AQ groups fighting each other in Syria, and there’s evidence that Iran is supporting them all?”

JJA: “But we know they did the same thing in Iraq! (He was getting worked up, and started coughing. Are there Camel cigarettes where he is?). They supported both Sunnis and Shi’ites, and both sides of some tribal conflicts as well. They desperately wanted civil war, figuring they would benefit from all the killing.”

ML: “Also, it gives them some degree of control, I suppose, whoever wins in the end…”

JJA: “Well, in Syria they want Assad to win, no question about that. Africa is more like Iraq, the Iranians support radical jihadis whoever they are, Boko Haram included…so, as in Syria as in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you want to win, you’re going to have to come to grips with Iran.”

ML: “Good luck with that one! Obama just wants a deal with Iran, he doesn’t want to challenge the regime in Tehran.”

JJA: “Sure, everybody has that figured out by now. But they always omit another of those non-secret secrets, the one you mentioned at the beginning. The hostages.”

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The Chinese and the Jews

May 6th, 2014 - 8:13 pm

Over the past couple of decades the Chinese have become more interested in the Jews.  Of late the Chinese regime has been bringing Jewish scholars and theologians to the People’s Republic to discuss Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and even some of the more mystical tracts.


It’s no surprise that China-Israel trade is increasing, nor that the China-Israel relationship has grown and deepened.  Israel may well be the most dynamic country in the world, bursting at the seams with high-tech startups, dazzling inventions–especially in military and medical technologies–and highly educated and talented people.

But I’m not talking about Israel here.  This is about the Chinese fascination with the Jews and Judaism, the religion and the People of the Book.

I’ve got a theory.  It’s based on some real history, some anecdotes from participants in those ongoing conversations, and my own views of how the Chinese think about the world.  Some of it will likely turn out to be fanciful, but it’s an important subject and it behooves us to ponder it.  David Goldman has done some first-class pondering already, as is his wont, and I’m hoping to add some context.

Back when the country’s greatest modern man, Deng Xiaoping, converted the PRC economy to capitalism, Chinese “social scientists” went to work trying to figure out what makes capitalists tick.  They were quickly baffled.  They kept running into problems; that “knack” we’ve got somehow eluded their new system.  After a while, they figured out that the capitalists’ success couldn’t be entirely explained by the nuts and bolts of the marketplace, or by institutions like private property, important though they were.  Yes, it would have been easier just to read Michael Novak’s magnum opus, but they got to his end place:  religion is an essential part of successful capitalism.

In their amazing way of organizing most anything, the Chinese launched churches, and of course millions upon millions of them attended Christian (mostly Catholic) services.  To be sure, the Party kept a suspicious eye wide open, and some of the churches were deemed too dangerous, even in the cause of Communism.  But on they went, convinced they were on the right path.  If anyone doubted it, they had mountains of research and even Tocqueville to justify the turn to religion.

After a couple of decades of this, there were still problems, and their social scientists took another look.  This time around, they found–surprise!–lots of Jews involved in capitalist enterprises, from banks to stock exchanges to corporations.  Indeed, the Jews had a history of doing it.  Maybe the Jews knew something the others didn’t?  Well, look at Israel…or New York…

And so they’re talking to Jews, not about capitalism but about Judaism.  State radio now broadcasts in Hebrew.  The Jewish experts who are brought to China find themselves speaking Hebrew with their Chinese interlocutors.  Chinese students can now learn Hebrew, and immerse themselves in Jewish studies (maybe they’ll give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree sometime soon?).

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Our Enemies’ Hollow Castles

May 4th, 2014 - 2:52 pm

We know that our side is doing poorly.  What about the bad guys?  Before we inscribe the likes of Khamenei, Putin, and Maduro in the lists of world-historical figures, and throw up our (outstretched) hands in despair, let’s look at them with the jaundiced sneer they deserve.

Venezuela’s the easiest:  sustained anti-regime demonstrations have been running for more than three months, and seem unlikely to stop soon.  Staples are in short supply, rationing cards are in the mail, inflation is at 40% and surging, gas stations are closed because there’s no gas, and despite the usual brutality of state repression (widely blamed on Cuban “advisers” which recalls the role played by Russian and Iranian “advisers” in Syria), the demonstrators keep showing up.  Few analysts think Maduro is likely to fall soon, but then again few expected the fall of the Ukrainian regime when challenged by the Maidan protesters.

Whatever your own crystal ball foretells, the regime is wobbly, the society is deeply riven, the opposition seems well organized and well led, and Maduro is certainly not in a position to play an effective role in the global anti-American alliance that stretches from Pyongyang to Managua and Havana by way of Moscow and Tehran.  Venezuela’s crisis significantly weakens our enemies.

Iran is at once the most difficult to see plain, and the clearest case of regime failure.  Ben Weinthal recently asked rhetorically whether there is a rising wave of political protest in Iran.  He pointed out that a considerable number of Iranians were cutting their hair–even shaving their heads–to protest the savaging of political prisoners in Evin Prison’s infamous horror chambers.  Ben’s story struck a harshly dissonant international chord in the face of the extended chorus of praise that has serenaded Rouhani ever since his election last June.

Rouhani is a replay of the last Iranian “reformist” president, Mohammad Khatami, who failed miserably to reform anything, and whose only popular success was with Western dreamers in the political and academic clouds.  Having lived through that phony reform, the Iranian people have little inclination to be gulled by the latest version, especially as they see the emptiness of Rouhani’s promises every day.  Nothing good is happening for them.  You may have heard that the Iranian economy is “improving,” but you’d have a hard time convincing the Iranian equivalent of Joe Sixpack of that.  Things are getting tougher for them–as in Venezuela, gas stations are closed because there is no gas–and the regime isn’t helping.  The government–that’s Rouhani et. al.–is eliminating the energy subsidies that keep millions of the poor afloat.

This is only one of many signs of the political and economic ruin of the regime.  Most of the major banks are broke, as is–officially–the National Iranian Oil Company, and most all of any increase in income resulting from the collapse of the sanctions policy goes not to social needs or even to productive enterprise, but to the corrupt ruling class.  And the mullahs are destroying the country itself, from the smog that chokes Tehran (Iran has four of the ten most pulluted cities in the world) to the destruction of Lake Urmia (in a replay of what the Soviets did to Lake Baikal).  Listen to the assessment of a reformist a few months back:

As a governing system, the government and executive branch of the Islamic republic, has lost its ability to carry out the normal duties of a government….The signs of dysfunction in the administrative, financial and economic organizations are evident despite all the imposed regime filters and in the absence of honest independent news agencies not only in the contradictory and confrontational policies and decisions of officials and senior administrators but also in the smallest administrative units of the country.

The wreckage of the Iranian state is not just the result of corruption and incompetence;  it also derives from the intense infighting within the elite.  Unconfirmed stories have appeared in the Iranian press reporting phone taps organized by the Revolutionary Guards Corps against members of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s inner circle, as well as against one another within the Guards.  There are documented fractures within the ranks of Hezbollah.  Assassinations continue apace, as in the case of Mojtaba Ahmadi, the head of the Cyber Army, in October.  The Iranian Embassy in Beirut was bombed in November by a terrorist group the Iranians had actually created.   And, in a telling blow to the regime’s ideology, Christianity is booming, and the regime is resorting to public meetings to warn the people about its dangers.

The regime does not seem to know how to cope with this crisis.  On the one hand, it increases repression.  The tempo of executions has famously increased since Rouhani’s election, and the recent brutality in Evin Prison–discussed by Ben Weinthal–shows that regime leaders are even afraid of prisoners.  For good reason:  last year many leading political prisoners refused to join the regime’s call for easing sanctions, despite torture and isolation.

It’s a hollow regime.  Its internal opponents hold it in contempt and do not fear it, and it is palpably failing.  Yet, as its unpopularity mounts, it calls for a doubling of the population.  Khamenei wants 150 million Iranians, and the state is working to get the numbers up:  free birth control assistance is being terminated (except for HIV-positives), and artificial insemination has been declared Islamically correct.

Does the supreme leader want more and more opponents of the regime?  Who knows?  Maybe it’s a desire for cannon fodder…

Which leaves us with Putin and his Russia.

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Blood Moons, Baptists, and Asteroids

April 20th, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Reverend Hagee thinks the blood moons are auguries, prefiguring the End Times.

“What is the prophetic significance (of the four blood moons)? Is this the end of the age?” Hagee asked his congregation during a sermon shortly after his book was released, Christian Today reports.

He cites Acts 2:19-20 as a sign: “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

In extensive remarks available online on his interpretation of the Blood Moons, Hagee says, “I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that He has been sending signals to planet Earth, and we just haven’t been picking them up.”

He adds: “God is literally screaming at the world: ‘I’m coming soon.’”

In case you missed the forecast, we’re going to have four blood moons in the next couple of years, appearing at six-month intervals.  They’re quite spectacular, altogether worthy as a scene-setter for the Divine arrival or return, depending on your messianic convictions.  I missed the first one–deluge here in D.C.–but I’ll try to catch the next three.

I’m not going to deconstruct the Book of Acts, but as a matter of theological principle I don’t see any reason the Almighty should not use the heavens to send messages or show his powers.  That’s happened before, from the Flood to the parting of the Red Sea and of course mannah. He unleashed total darkness on Pharaoh’s Egypt, and turned its water to blood, so a bloody moon as a message to mankind is plausible.

More to the point, Reverend Hagee is in good company when he looks to the heavens to understand the destiny of our world.  Tuesday evening (as Earth Day comes to a close), three former astronauts are going to hold a press conference in Seattle to announce the earth-shaking news that we now know that the earth has been hit many times by really big asteroids.

…our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data…shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Blind luck if you’re a secular scientist, that is.  Divine intervention if you’re inclined in that direction.  It’s a big deal.  The scientists have found “26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare—but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought.”

This discovery is part of a pattern, as I’ll explain on the next page.

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Shutting down a speaker, or a professor, or a book with which you strongly disagree is nothing new. Indeed, if there’s anything really new about Brandeis’ disinvitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it’s that they invited her at all, no matter how briefly.  I was amazed and (briefly) encouraged.  Could it be, I wondered, that Brandeis, of all universities, was offering an honorary degree to someone so totally out of step with multiculturalism?  So I tip my hat to those who pulled it off, it took real intellectual courage.  You can be sure that they’re in plenty of pain these days.  They are stuck in Waltham, while Ayaan is comfy down the road in Cambridge, surrounded by security guards ever attentive to the possibility that some day some one will attempt to carry out one of the many death threats she receives.

Of course they were rolled, and if the other honorees had any real integrity, they’d cancel.  If the school’s donors took freedom seriously, they’d cancel their contributions.  But the key to understanding Brandeis is that it has been this way for half a century.  Banning Ayaan is indeed the fulfillment of a famous call to censorship by one of the most famous leftist philosophers of the last century:  Herbert Marcuse, a Brandeis professor who in 1965 published a vigorous defense of ideological repression called “Repressive Tolerance.”  Here’s how he sums up the thrust of his essay:

The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period–a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.

Marcuse didn’t like American liberal bourgeois society, and he was infuriated by its popularity, which he blamed on a combination of bad education and powerful media (advertisements particularly alarmed him).  What to do?  He despaired of convincing a majority of Americans that we needed a communist revolution, so he called for censorship.  Just ban the ideas on which the country rested.

He neatly anticipated the anti-free speech campaign now waged against those who challenge the current orthodoxy, whether in science, politics, or entertainment.  If you can’t beat them, silence them:

The toleration of free discussion and the equal right of opposites was to define and clarify the different forms of dissent: their direction, content, prospect. But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly.

Ergo, in order to get “really free” thought, you must destroy free speech:  “the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions…”

It’s a seductive mantra.  Silencing one’s opponents has long appealed to those to whom skepticism is a four-letter word, and without skepticism, toleration has no meaning.

Marcuse was one of the great culture heroes of his time, and acquired quite a substantial following “Repressive Tolerance” was dedicated to his Brandeis students, and one of the most infamous of them–the Communist leader Angela Davis–did her best to translate it into practice.

The silencing of Ayaan carries on that old Brandeis tradition, and no doubt Herbert Marcuse is celebrating it as best he can.  He must have been horrified when she was invited in the first place.

Arming the Mullahs

April 7th, 2014 - 6:03 pm


Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel.  The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft.  Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously.  Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet.  The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service.  Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s.  Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Meanwhile, as my buddy/boss/colleague Mark Dubowitz explains, the Russians and Iranians are working on ways to bust the oil sanctions on Tehran.  They’re gonna swap stuff:  Russian goodies (probably including military equipment such as submarines, torpedoes and antiaircraft missiles) for Iranian oil.  This will not be the first time.  Iran has done swaps with India and, most recently and outrageously, with the Turks (Iranian natural gas for Turkish gold, along with a plethora of other deals).

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Quite a quartet.  Quite a variety of famous men, and a woman no one ever heard of, all members of a generation rapidly headed for judgment and reward, all dead in the past few days.  I knew two of them — Admiral Jeremiah Denton and Secretary James Schlesinger — fairly well, and I spent years in the nightmare supervised by Judge Walsh when he was special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra matter.  I never knew Wendy Davis, but her obituary is a disaster, and I’m going to correct it.

But first the famous men.

It’s hard to render more honor to Admiral/Senator Denton than he has received from the great New York Sun.  He was the Platonic ideal of the hero, an almost mythic embodiment of courage and honor who informed and inspired us by repeatedly blinking out the word “torture” in Morse Code during an interview with a Japanese television reporter designed by his Vietnamese captors to deceive us into thinking Denton and his fellow POWs were being decently treated.  As befits an officer, he was among the last prisoners released from that Asian hell, and he served one term in the Senate before retiring.  He was a fine senator who was shabbily treated by most of the leading journalists.  He’d attended the Naval Academy, after all, not the anti-war bastions of ignorance and narcissism that were hard at work to indoctrinate our intellectual elites in the ways of anti-Americanism and multiculturalism.

Jim Schlesinger was a brilliant man, one of few capable of running CIA, Energy, and Defense, under Democrat and Republican presidents.  An evening with him was always delightful, as well as a learning experience.  I’m sure he was tough to work for;  he wasn’t very patient with people less talented than he, which means most of mankind.  He had a fabulous wife, which says a lot.  He was very academicky, from his manner of speaking to the ever present pipe throughout his public career.  He did several surprising things, converting from Judaism to Lutheranism, and going public with some of CIA’s most cherished secrets, the so-called “crown jewels,” including stories about James Jesus Angleton that effectively ended the career of CIA’s long-time counterintelligence chief.  He served as SecDef at the same time Henry Kissinger was at State, and one can only hope there are some tape recordings of their debates, both for their literary and intellectual content.  Surely one of the major figures of recent American history.

Lawrence Walsh’s public career goes back to the Eisenhower years, when Walsh was secretary at the National Security Council.  He never doubted his own importance, and when he served as attorney to some of our biggest corporations, he was celebrated for taking three suites at the Watergate Hotel:  his own and the one above and below.  He didn’t want to be disturbed, you see.  He wanted the job of special prosecutor and avidly pursued every scalp he thought he might carve from Reagan’s people.  In the course of his investigations he once dropped off a briefcase of highly classified documents at curbside at Los Angeles airport, a violation of security regulations.  It was never found, nor was Walsh ever charged with anything.  Despite the very high profile of the investigation — and the miles of nonsensical ink written about presumed malfeasance by the Reagan people — he managed to destroy only a few small fry who couldn’t bear the costs of legal defense, a retired Air Force general for evading taxes on arms sales to Iran, and Oliver North for accepting a security fence.  For the rest of us, he issued a report that essentially said “if he did anything wrong, I can’t find it.”  Of the three famous men, he did the least for the country and got the best press coverage.

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Who says the Iranian regime is run by dour old men with no sense of humor?  Wrong!  Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has just written a screamingly funny letter (dated March 26th) to Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, and asked that it be widely distributed.  I’m happy to oblige.  Laugh along with me and Javad as we parse our way through the highlights.

The letter portrays Iran as the innocent victim of state-sponsored terrorism, beginning with “the shocking news about the possible murder of one of the five Iranian border guards abducted on February 7, 2014 by an extremist terrorist group, in the border area between Iran and Pakistan.”  Note that he neatly classifies a “possibility” into a “fact,” a leitmotif that runs throughout the letter.  He then lists several other attacks, including “repeated explosions and terrorist attacks in our Eastern border in recent months….Two car-bomb attacks on the Iranian diplomatic and cultural premises in Beirut on 19 November 2013 and 19 February 2014….Abduction and murder of Iranian diplomatic personnel in Sana’a, including kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat, Mr. Nour Ahmad Nikbakht, on July 21, 2013, and brutal assassination of another, Mr. Abolghassem Assadi, on January 18, 2014; and-Suicide attack on the Iranian Consulate-General in Peshawar, on February 25, 2014.”

As if the “diplomats” and military forces of Zarif’s regime were just minding their own peaceful business!  Iran is up to its neck in the civil war in Yemen, actively waging war against the Syrian opposition, actively supporting anti-American terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, repressing any and all signs of independence from the Balouchi tribes in Iran and across its eastern borders, and calling the shots for the Hezbollah killers in Lebanon.  Maybe Ban Ki-moon will remind Zarif that he who kills first is not entitled to whine and beg for help when his intended victims fight back.

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