Discover more from Sanity Clause
Friends and Heroes and Rogues
Various People and Countries You should be Thinking About
Andrew and I have been pals for a long time. We had a mutual friend, a wonderful man named David Kuo, an evangelical Christian who worked in George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Social Programs. David passed away at the distressingly early age of 45—it was a brain tumor—and Sully and I and Sanity-Goddess-Spouse attended the funeral service, along with David’s boss John DiIulio, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also there was Ralph Reed, the founder of the Christian Coalition. Spotting Andrew, Reed walked across the room to shake his hand. “Congratulations,” he said. “You won.”
Reed was talking about gay marriage, a campaign Andrew pretty much launched—I’m not sure of its exact etymology—and pursued until victory in the Supreme Court. This alone makes him one of the most consequential political writers of our time. Andrew was mocked and lambasted throughout, even by members of the gay community in the early days. He’s a Catholic and a true conservative and a passionate fount of moral rigor, an uneasy fit in any-sized box. (A standing joke is that we’re both members of a political party that doesn’t exist.)
And now, he has weighed in on the difference between homosexuals and queers. This is a crucial cultural distinction that will matter, and work against the Sanity Caucus, in the 2024 election. His position counters the excesses of the Lifestyle Left. It is essential reading.
Jordan Neely and Daniel Penny and Al Sharpton
It’s interesting that Daniel Penny, the ex-Marine who choked the black homeless man Jordan Neely on a New York subway, and Al Sharpton, who delivered Neely’s eulogy, have said essentially the same thing about the tragedy: it was society’s fault. Penny said,
I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life… It’s tragic what happened to him. Hopefully, we can change the system that’s so desperately failed us.”
And Sharpton said,
“When they choked Jordan, they put their arms around all of us…All of us have the right to live.”
The New York Post extrapolated Sharpton’s eulogy into a tantrum about white people. His use of the word “they” was certainly purposefully vague. But Reverend Al hasn’t been doing those sort of broad-brush attacks against the melanin-deprived lately. As I wrote here a month ago, he’s been increasingly critical of the anti-police “progressive” left. And he is basically right about Neely: being crazy should not be a death sentence. But should someone like Jordan Neely—arrested 50 times—be walking the streets without restraint? This is where the system comes in.
There was, back in the early 1970s, a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest moment where the Left—bolstered by the American Civil Liberties Union in a series of court cases—had the fanciful notion that mental hospitals should be closed, their inmates deemed “innocent,” even saintly, and freed. (Mea culpa: I briefly fell victim to this delusion.) This movement was also reinforced by the appearance of more powerful anti-psychotic drugs that blunted some of the worst behavior. But part of the deal was the recognition that some mental patients had to be kept under restraint in smaller, “community” hospital facilities. Of course, no one wanted them in their communities. So it never happened. And then, it turned out that not all the psychotics walking the streets wanted to take their pills.
This spectacular failure, our national unwillingness to see mental illness clearly and to act responsibly toward those who suffered from it, was an avatar of the libertarian moral collapse that followed. And I’d argue—and will do in a future post—that our failure to keep violent paranoid-schizophrenics off the streets has played a major role in the number of mass shootings we’re experiencing. I’m not sure how society should punish Daniel Penny for his fatal overreaction; I’d hope that he’d be sentenced to community service with one of the Post-9/11 veterans programs, like Team Rubicon or the Mission Continues, that do disaster relief and community rebuilding. But we need to know more about Penny’s background and act more responsibly toward him than we did toward Jordan Neely.
A rogue nation and a place you should be very, very worried about, perhaps the world’s most dangerous place. It isn’t really a country. It is one of those places like Iraq, slapped together by the British—it has five distinct ethnic regions and, depending on how you count, three or four rebellions have been in progress since its benighted founding in 1947. It has a history of Islamic extremist coups plus a nuclear arsenal. I once asked the late Benazir Bhutto how the country had changed since she was a girl. “I used to be able to go out in the street wearing a t-shirt and jeans and no hijab,” she said. “No young woman could do that now.” I asked her why. “The Saudis,” she said. The Saudis had come in and set up a system of madrassas that offered hot lunches, clean facilities and orderliness that Pakistan’s state-run schools did not. They also offered extremist Salafi indoctrination. Bhutto was assassinated by Islamic terrorists a few years later.
Pakistan was much more in the news—and in my consciousness—when we were floundering about in Afghanistan. It had its own Taliban militia, the Haqqani network, located just across the border from Afghanistan in the northwest tribal areas. It was well known that the Pakistani intelligence services supplied the Haqqanis with money and weapons, some of which had been given Pakistan by the US as military aid. That should not be forgotten: The Pakistanis enabled the killing of U.S. troops by U.S. weapons. They also protected Osama bin Laden. The country has only grown more rickety ever since. Super-aggregator John Ellis has been keeping track of it. Here’s the latest:
Pakistan's political crisis is deepening with authorities and former Prime Minister Imran Khan locked in a standoff over his refusal to let police search his home for suspects after a wave of violent protests. The latest chapter in a weeks-long drama triggered by Khan's arrest on graft charges began with the government issuing an ultimatum for the ex-cricket star to give up supporters it blames for attacks on military installations. [Italics mine.]
Watch this space very closely. Instability, Islamic extremism and nukes—a toxic cocktail if there ever was one.
Blake and Bump and Chris Christie
I’ve been meaning to give a shout-out to Aaron Blake and Philip Bump who do regular—I mean almost daily—and almost always excellent political analysis for The Washington Post. Here’s Blake on Chris Christie, who’s from Jersey but has a classic New York mouth on him. Christie probably should leave the moderate Republican lane to someone like Chris Sununu, Tim Scott or Nikki Haley, but his nuclear incineration of Marco Rubio in a 2016 primary debate still resonates. He’s aiming his fire at Donald Trump now, as he did in 2016 before he dropped out of the primaries, but it should not be forgotten that Christie then endorsed Trump, a man he privately disdained, in the hope of being selected as Trump’s Vice President. That cynical act destroyed his credibility. But I’m still hoping he has a transcendent Trump take-down moment stored up for use in the months to come.
I like this guy. Especially when he is able to summon language like this:
“For those of you on the left, you can call me a prop, you can call me a token, you can call me the n-word, you can question my Blackness, you can even call me Uncle Tim… Just understand: Your words are no match for my evidence. Your pessimism is no match for my history. My existence shows your irrelevance.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (And Bill Clinton And George W. Bush And Donald Trump And Me)
Kareem has always been a thoughtful presence in sport and life. His newsletter is erudite and fun on topics serious and sporting and cultural. He and Clinton and W and Orange and I share the same birth year, a very active one for the returning World War II veterans and their spouses, it seems. Here Kareem is, ruminating on our old age:
I recently turned 76, and for the past six years, I’ve been living in the Red Zone. The Red Zone is when famous people keep dying at around the same age as you are. (Last month Tim Bachman, co-founder of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, died at the age of 71. So did Lasse Wellander, the longtime guitarist for ABBA. He was 70.)
The Red Zone is like the section of a car’s gas gauge just past E that, when the needle hovers over it, you’re never sure exactly how many miles you have left before the car conks out. You’re still going strong, but you’re not sure for how long.
I don’t dwell on death. I don’t fidget over impending doom. I’m not crafting pithy last words. (I might just use Oscar Wilde’s last words: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”) Quite the opposite. Like most people over sixty, I’m actually happier than when I was younger (“Older Americans upbeat about aging, future”).
Two reasons I’m happier: 1. I have perfected the power of “no.” If I don’t want to do something, I just say no. I’m not chasing after a career anymore, so I only do what interests me or helps someone else. I can’t be guilted. 2. I don’t worry about what people think of me. I accomplished what I wanted as a player, as a writer, and as a person. Sure, I made mistakes, and there are things I regret, but I’ve come to terms with them. If my records are broken, I don’t feel diminished. Want to say something nasty about me on social media? Have at it. It affects me as much as a barking dog in the next neighborhood.
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