Category Archives: Opinion

Are Obama’s Advisers Unhinged?

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Surely reports that President Obama is going down to Texas at the height of the Katrina-like border debacle to raise money at the home of the popular but often polarizing filmmaker and Quentin Tarantino–collaborator Robert Rodriguez are the stuff of right-wing mythology?

No one could be so politically dense as to head south in the direction of this catastrophe only to pull up short to huckster campaign funds — while under a lingering cloud that such special-interest money solicitation in the past typically has taken precedence over national security (cf. the need to retire early on the night of Benghazi in order to prep for an important fundraiser the next day in Las Vegas, where the selfish go to blow their kids’ tuition money).

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The Language of Despotism

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Long before 1984 gave us the adjective “Orwellian” to describe the political corruption of language and thought, Thucydides observed how factional struggles for power make words their first victims. Describing the horrors of civil war on the island of Corcyra during the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides wrote, “Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them.” Orwell explains the reason for such degradation of language in his essay “Politics and the English Language”: “Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

Tyrannical power and its abuses comprise the “indefensible” that must be verbally disguised. The gulags, engineered famines, show trials, and mass murder of the Soviet Union required that it be a “regime of lies,” as the disillusioned admirer of Soviet communism Pierre Pascal put it in 1927.

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Book Review: A Genius for Destructive Change

by Terry Scambray // New Oxford Review, May 2014 

Darwin: Portrait of a Genius. By Paul Johnson   Viking. 176 pages. $25.95.

download (7)  It is a measure of the cultural contamination of materialism, given great impetus by Charles Darwin, that even a giant like Paul Johnson can be infected and attenuated by it. For Johnson is one of the magisterial writers of our time whose erudition and immense energy have enlightened so many of us for so many years. Yet this biography is a disappointment in contrast to most all of his previous work. Indeed it is unfortunate that Johnson did not apply his wit and critical talents, as shown in his masterful Intellectuals, to his present subject, Charles Darwin. Oh, what a penetrating study it would have made!

Despite my predilections, Johnson moves in the opposite direction in this book, attempting to lay on yet another coat of bronze to the iconic figure of Darwin. But like all carriers of what Raymond Tallis calls Darwinitis, Johnson never gets around to explaining exactly what was Darwin’s genius. Though there are plenty of sputtering attempts at it, all that the book presents are the usual empty generalities about “Darwin the scientist” and “Darwin the humble self-critic” in addition to the conventional contradictions and misunderstandings about Darwin’s ideas.

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The Troubling Plight of the Modern University

Today’s campus is more reactionary than the objects of its frequent vituperation.
by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Partisan Politics, Bad Ideas & the Bergdahl Swap

The Tailban 5 and Obama Photo via tpnn.com

The Tailban 5 and Obama Photo via tpnn.com

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

President Obama’s exchange of 5 high-ranking Taliban murderers for a soldier who possibly was a deserter and collaborator encapsulates everything that is wrong with this administration’s foreign policy. The serial failures of the past 5 years reflect a toxic brew of partisan politics and naïve ideology.

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Our Future Is 1979

Obama’s foreign-policy weakness encourages our enemies and disheartens our allies. 

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Photo of Jimmy Carter holding cabinet meeting 1977 photo by US National Archives

Photo of Jimmy Carter holding cabinet meeting 1977 photo by US National Archives

The final acts of the Obama foreign policy will play out in the next two years. Unfortunately, bad things happen when the world concludes that the American president has become weakened, distracted, or diffident about foreign policy.

The Bergdahl Release Is Just the Beginning

by Victor Davis Hanson // The Corner (National Review Online)

Photo of Bergdahl via Wikicommons

Photo of Bergdahl via Wikicommons

There has been a lot to think about during these years of Obama’s foreign policy. But the problem is not just the existential issues, from reset to Benghazi, but also the less heralded developments, such as young non-high-school graduate Edward Snowden’s trotting off with the most sensitive secrets of the NSA, the “stuff happens” outing of a CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and the failure to destroy the downed drone that ended up in Iran.

In the latter category falls the mysterious prisoner swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban inmates, given that even at this early juncture there are lots of disturbing questions: Why not as the law demanded consult Congress on the releases from Guantanamo, or at least the congressional leadership? Why swap some of the most dangerous and important members of the Taliban hierarchy? What exactly were the circumstances of the original departure of Bergdahl (in 2009 two military officials told the AP that Bergdahl “had just walked off” with three other Afghans), and why were other soldiers requested not to disclose what they knew about the nature of his departure or the costly efforts to find Bergdahl? What exactly is the present U.S. position on trading captives for prisoners/hostages? Do we really believe that the released terrorists will be kept another year in the Middle East?

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The New Regressives

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media. Photo by EdDriscoll.com

Photo via PJ Media. Photo by EdDriscoll.com

Today’s liberalism is about as liberal as the Hellenistic world was Hellenic — a glossy veneer over a rotten core.

In the old days, liberalism was about the means to an end, not the end itself. Since the days of Socrates, liberalism enshrined free inquiry, guided by inductive thinking and empirical use of data. Its enemies were not necessary organized religion — some of the Church fathers sought to find their salvation through the means of neo-Platonic cosmology and Aristotelian logic — or government or traditional custom and practice, but rather deductive thinking anywhere it was found.

Yet today liberalism itself is deductive. It has descended into a constructed end that requires any means necessary to achieve it. Take any hot-button liberal issue: censorship, abortion, global warming, affirmative action, or illegal immigration. Note the liberal reaction.

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Russia: Weaker than What?

VDH commentary on the ‘CAN OR SHOULD THE WEST TRY TO STOP VLADIMIR PUTIN’S ATTEMPTS TO REABSORB PORTIONS OF THE OLD SOVIET UNION?’ issue 13 of Strategika

Our elites often diagnose Vladimir Putin as acting from “weakness” in his many aggressions.

A list of Russia’s symptoms of feebleness follows: demographic crises, alcoholism, declining longevity, a one-dimensional economy, corruption, environmental damage, etc. But weakness is a relative concept in matters of high-stakes aggression.

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D-Day at 70 

Remembering the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

General Eisenhower speaks with paratroopers prior to the invasion. (Photo via Library of Congress)

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 B.C.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterful display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

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