Friday, June 27, 2014

Things that Matter by Charles Krauthammer

 I had imagined that this book was going to be an autobiography, but it was not. It is actually a collection of Krauthammer's columns, written over the decades, on subjects as diverse as the utility of a pithy "F" word and its two and three word combinations, "the deuce is the preferred usage when time is short and concision is of the essence" to reminiscences about historical figures as diverse as Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill.

His writing is very much like his speech, carefully considered, in measured breaths, perhaps governed by his difficulty breathing after being paralyzed in his youth.

He covers the "central axiom of partisan politics - Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil." with phrases like this one, "Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything."

On the marathoning craze of triathlons, decathlons and grueling "mudders", he writes, "Now that everyon can afford status symbols like designer jeans, conspicuous consumption gives way to conspicuous exertion. Sheer exhilarating length becomes a value in itself."

On Bush Derangement Syndrome, "Now, I cannot testify to Howard Dean's sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that 'the most interesting' theory as to why the president is 'suppressing' the Sept. 11 report is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance, it's time to check on Thorazine supplies."

We may be seeing some of that flowing the other way now from partisans who believe the current president to be Satan incarnate.

On Sensitivity Training:
"This project for the inculcation of proper human feelings through behavioral technique is either sinister or idiotic. It is sinister when it works, as in Communist China, where they have learned how to break one's character through the extremes of coercion, deprivation and torture. These means are not yet available to American educators and family therapists. Which explains their low success rate."

One hears of the mob storming the Bastille during the French Revolution. Did you realize that it only held seven prisoners - the Marquis de Sade had already been set free a week earlier.

Krauthammer echoes something I've long thought, "I'm not one of those who see gay marriage or polygamy as a threat to, or assault on, traditional marriage. The assault came from within. Marriage needed no help in managing its own long, slow suicide, thank you."

Congratulations to those homosexuals who are now free to marry...and fight...and divorce...and ruin their children's lives. Bon voyage!

Though many of his essays on Iraq and the wars we fought there were written some time ago, he seems prescient in his cautionary tales here, foretelling the total disaster we are seeing right now as the vacuum left by the U.S. withdrawal after the Obama administration failed to negotiate a SOFA was filled with Al Qaeda affilliated jihadists wreaking havoc.

On our brief stint as the sole global power:

"American preeminence is based on the fact that it is the only country with the military, diplomatic, political and economic assets to be a decisive player in any conflict in whatever part of the world it chooses to involve itself."

Unfortunately, we have lost our way in determining our national interests and seem to have no coherent or cohesive foreign policy left, not surprising when the likes of Hillary and John Kerry are in charge of State.

And, he says,

"Americans have a healthy aversion to foreign policy. It stems from a sense of thrift. Who needs it? We're protected by two great oceans. We have this continent practically to ourselves. And we share it with just two neighbors, both friendly, one so friendly that its people seem intent on moving in with us."

That's the funniest thing I've heard about our illegal immigration crisis yet.

Educational, and fully worth the time invested in the reading.

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