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June 17, 2006

Culture Wars Down Under

An old friend of mine, Imre Salusinszky, has been appointed to chair the Australia Council's literature board. (The Australia Council is Oz's counterpart to the US' National Endowment for the Arts.) In spite of having been chairman of the English Department at the University of Newcastle and having a doctorate in English Literature from Oxford, his appointment appears to have upset some of Australia's arts establishment:

Fresh from appointing controversial historian Keith Windschuttle to the board of the ABC, the Federal Government yesterday revealed that The Australian's Imre Salusinszky will chair the Australia Council's literature board. Sydney Institute director Joe Gersh will become the council's deputy chair.

Former Australia Council chairwoman Hilary McPhee attacked the appointments. "This Government is shameless; their ideological bent is so palpable," she said.

But critic and cultural commentator Peter Craven said Dr Salusinszky "notwithstanding his deeply lunatic politics, is a man of considerable warmth with an intense feeling for the literature he likes".

Perhaps some of them are upset because Imre quit his tenured academic position several years ago to become a journalist working for that notorious fascist Rupert Murdock.

Anyway, I think Imre will do a wonderful job doling out writing grants since he cares a lot about good literature and not a whit about multiculti political correctness. (Of course, this begs the question of whether or not the government should be in the business of deciding which artists should receive funding in the first place, but that is another story.)

June 17, 2006 at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

Bush as the new Truman?

The NY Sun has run OpEd columns comparing Truman's weak standing in contemporary polls and strong position in history to that of President Bush for the last two days. Maybe they have a point there.

Here is a sample of Paul Greenberg's effort in today's Sun:

A stubborn president, determined to end a war that has bogged down, watches his standing in the polls slip month by month, year by year. His dramatic victory in the last presidential election now seems long ago; his popularity sinks to historic lows for an American president. He has become an object of derision and even a little pity. As one wit put it, "To err is Truman."

Yesterday was Michael Barone's turn:

. . . Speaking last week at the commencement at West Point - above the Hudson River, where revolutionary Americans threw a chain across the water to block British ships - Bush noted that he was speaking to the first class to enter the U.S. Military Academy after the Sept. 11 attacks.And he put the challenge these cadets willingly undertook in perspective by looking back at the challenges America faced at the start of the Cold War 60 years ago.

“In the early years of that struggle,” Bush noted,“freedom’s victory was not obvious or assured.” In 1946, Harry Truman accompanied Winston Churchill as he delivered his Iron Curtain speech; in 1947, communists threatened Greece and Turkey; in 1948, Czechoslovakia fell, France and Italy seemed headed the same way, and Berlin was blockaded by the Soviets, who exploded a nuclear weapon the next year; in 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea.

“All of this took place in just the first five years following World War II,” Bush noted. “Fortunately, we had a president named Harry Truman, who recognized the threat, took bold action to confront it and laid the foundation for freedom’s victory in the Cold War.”

I don't think anyone is listening right now. But -- if we ultimately prevail in the GWOT (and hence get to write the history of this era) -- they will.


LAT columnist Max Boot jumps on the Bush as the new Truman bandwagon.

June 6, 2006 at 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

Playing Catch-up

I have been extremely slack in the blogging department lately. To prevent the blogosphere from imploding due to a lack of unsubstantiated opinion, here is my (abbreviated) take on recent events:

  • Iran: Excellent move by the administration to gain support for a unified stance against Iran by the EU3 plus Russia, China and the US. I doubt that it will be successful in persuading the Iranians to drop their nuclear weapons program, but it dramatically increases the probability of multilateral sanctions being approved.

  • Haditha: I don't know what really happened there. But it is very possible that a group of young Marines, traumatized by the death of one of their comrades in an IED explosion, may have taken reprisals against nearby civilians who (quite probably) had been aware that a bomb had been planted and may have participated in the plot. Summary execution of civilians suspected of collaboration is not pretty, but it often happens. Tellingly, I heard one NPR correspondent in Baghdad say that the reaction in Iraq to the story was much less pronounced than it was in other Arab countries or the west. I predict that when the Iraqi army takes greater responsibility for counterinsurgency efforts, these types of reprisals will become the norm, rather than the exception.

  • Harry Reid and the boxing tickets: As much as I dislike Reid, this is a nothing story. As a former boxer, past member of the Nevada State Boxing Commission, and the senior Senator from Nevada, there were plausible reasons why he should have received free tickets from the state agency. Also, Senate ethics rules carve out accepting gifts from state agencies. Finally, he continued to oppose state efforts to stop increased Federal regulation of boxing. In short, he did nothing wrong.

  • Kerry and his pals at the NYT: Finally, the NYT should be ashamed of itself for the shoddy whitewash of the substance of the "Swift Boaters" charges against Kerry in last Sunday's Magazine. First the paper ignored the controversy during the campaign (when it was actually newsworthy). Now they distort the truth by reporting that Kerry decided to release his military records for public scrutiny. The truth is that Kerry has allowed several journalists he personally selected to see the files. Not surprisingly, no Kerry critics were allowed. If this counts as full disclosure, I am a Leprechaun.

  • Global warming and mass extinction events: a couple of interesting scientific developments this week: scientists analyzing sediment samples taken from deep under the Arctic Ocean concluded that this area had had a tropical climate 55 million years ago. In another study, scientists identified a massive crater in Antarctica formed by a 30 mile wide meteor. (The crater is 300 miles across and is buried under miles of ice.) They believe the meteor hit Earth 250 million years ago causing a massive die-off that allowed the dinosaurs to emerge as the dominant animals on earth.

June 4, 2006 at 04:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2006

My Friend, The Jackal

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is really turning on the charm to curry favor among the OPEC delegates in town for the oil cartel's 141st meeting. He must have really made friends with his fond reminiscences about fellow Venezuelan Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos, the Jackal." I guess Hugo forgot that one of his pal's most famous capers was shooting his way into an OPEC meeting in Vienna and kidnapping all the delegates.

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June 2, 2006 at 09:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack