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Sneaky Guy, That McCain

John McCain Visits Syrian Rebels

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

I'm not sure how I feel about John McCain's visit to Syria, but you must read the story of the visit, told exclusively by The Daily Beast's Josh Rogin.

Yes!

The GOP Needs Its Own DLC

Molly Ball's latest for the Atlantic offers an idea for how the GOP can emulate the Democrats of the late 1980s:

So how did the DLC do it?

The group’s first order of business was to force the party to face facts. Of all the Democrats’ many problems in the late 1980s, the biggest was denial. Party activists professed that their nominees were losing not because they were too liberal but because they weren’t liberal enough. Or they said that the party simply had to do a better job of turning out its base of low-income and minority voters. Or that Democrats’ majorities in Congress and governors’ mansions proved the party was still doing fine. Some insisted that voters were being hoodwinked by the charismatic Ronald Reagan, or were just too racist and backward to embrace the righteousness of Democratic positions.

The bottom line of such defenses—that the party did not need fundamental change—echoes today’s future-of-the-GOP argument.

Arms Against Their Country

Confederate Traitors Don't Deserve the Honors

I'd wholeheartedly favor a bill stripping U.S. military bases of names that honor rebel traitors:

Only a couple of the officers are famous. Fort Lee, in Virginia, is of course named for Robert E. Lee, a man widely respected for his integrity and his military skills. Yet, as the documentarian Ken Burns has noted, he was responsible for the deaths of more Army soldiers than Hitler and Tojo. John Bell Hood, for whom Fort Hood, Tex., is named, led a hard-fighting brigade known for ferocious straight-on assaults. During these attacks, Hood lost the use of an arm at Gettysburg and a leg at Chickamauga, but he delivered victories, at least for a while. Later, when the gallant but tactically inflexible Hood launched such assaults at Nashville and Franklin, Tenn., his armies were smashed.

Fort Benning in Georgia is named for Henry Benning, a State Supreme Court associate justice who became one of Lee’s more effective subordinates. Before the war, this ardent secessionist inflamed fears of abolition, which he predicted would inevitably lead to black governors, juries, legislatures and more. “Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that?” Benning wrote. “We will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth, and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination.”

Another installation in Georgia, Fort Gordon, is named for John B. Gordon, one of Lee’s most dependable commanders in the latter part of the war. Before Fort Sumter, Gordon, a lawyer, defended slavery as “the hand-maid of civil liberty.” After the war, he became a United States senator, fought Reconstruction, and is generally thought to have headed the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia. He “may not have condoned the violence employed by Klan members,” says his biographer, Ralph Lowell Eckert, “but he did not question or oppose it when he felt it was justified.”

R.I.P.

Murray Bernard Frum, 1931–2013

My late mother was only 19 when my father asked her to marry him, young even by the standards of the 1950s. They’d known each other only a very few months. She answered him, “If you’re sure, I’m sure.” Through his lifetime of 81 years, my father’s extraordinary sureness became a rock upon which everyone who knew him rested and trusted.

That rock cracked Monday May 27, at a little past six o’clock in the evening. After a struggle of a little less than seven weeks, my father—a lifelong nonsmoker—died of metastatic lung cancer.

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At the beginning of April, he had been in Florence on one of his famous art-sleuthing expeditions. Seven years before, my father had scored one of the great coups of his art-collecting career. He had bought a Baroque bronze of a crucified Jesus. The bronze, heavily overpainted in black, was dismissed by art historians as a product of the “Italian School,” meaning a sculptor too insignificant to merit a name. My father’s friend, the art historian Andrew Butterfield, conclusively proved that the piece was the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the great builder of papal Rome—indeed that it was Bernini’s own personal devotional icon. The piece now overhangs a central gallery of the Art Gallery of Ontario, my father’s gift to his beloved native city of Toronto. 

The Fallen

Some Memorial Day History

For your Memorial Day interest, the History Channel has a lively interactive graphic illustrating some aspects of the Civil War.

Immigration!

The Riots in Stockholm

Immigration is always a very difficult social stress to manage. We don't make it any easier when we refuse to acknowledge those stresses. Many American commentators speak of last week's rioting in the Stockholm suburbs as some inexplicable social mystery. Yet a look at the numbers suggests that tensions between immigrants and natives should be about as surprising as snow in a Swedish winter:

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Firemen extinguish burning cars in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby after youths rioted in several different suburbs around Stockholm, Sweden for a fourth consecutive night on May 23, 2013. (FREDRIK SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

* In 2012, Sweden accepted 44,000 asylum seekers, making Sweden relative to its size the world's most open destination for refugees.

* The 2012 asylum level represented a 50% jump over the rate of asylum acceptance just the year before.

Tornado Alley

For Some People, Tornadoes Are a Part of Life

As a child of Tornado Alley myself, I endorse the sentiment in this American Prospect piece by Monica Potts.

Tornado Watches, the meteorology term for “Hey, watch out a bad storm might come,” [are] akin to saying “It is a spring day,” in Tornado Alley, which sits, of course, right over Oklahoma.

It doesn’t register as danger, really—just another rotation around the sun. In the Ozarks of northern Arkansas, we get fewer tornadoes, but ‘fewer’ is still plenty. Bad weather brings a little map to the bottom right corner of the TV screen on local networks, and when I was growing up the piece of map representing each county would change from yellow to red to signal a change from a Tornado Watch to a Warning, the term for, “Hey, a Tornado is probably going to happen.” Technically, you’re supposed to take cover, but most still wait for more specificity. The Warnings are issued for huge swaths of land, and span hours. Usually, the storms just get a little worse. If I was home, I’d grab my little white dog, Puppy, and a golf club to kill snakes with in case I had to crawl into the tiny, dirty space beneath my house. I was lucky enough to have a foundation. If you’ve ever been in a mobile home during a storm, and felt it sway and bend, you know what kind of luck those poor souls are going to have. And I’ve yet to see a structure that could withstand a two-mile-wide EF5 tornado like the one that hit Moore.

Terrifying

How to Be a Racing Pirate King, Ctd.

I requested proof that David does indeed drive that pirate car. Here it is:

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Call Terrorism What It is

Some Righteous Truth from Sullivan

Andrew slices and dices Greenwald:

The reason we invaded Afghanistan was not because we decided to launch a war on Islam. It was because wealthy, Islamist, hypocritical bigots launched an unprovoked Jihadist mass murder of Western innocents from a cell based in a country run by a regime that specialized and specializes in the mass murder of other Muslims.

Before 9/11, America had saved Muslims in the Balkans from Christianist fanatics. We helped liberate Muslims in Afghanistan from Soviet oppression. We continue to give vast amounts of money to Muslim countries like Egypt, and, because of our economic development and need for oil made multi-billionaires out of Saudi clerics. And the war against Saddam, though a criminal enterprise and strategic catastrophe, nonetheless removed one of the most vicious mass murderers of Muslims on the planet. And the sectarian murder of Muslims that followed, however the ultimate responsibility for the occupying forces, was not done by Westerners. It was done by Muslims killing Muslims. The West, moreover, is committed to removing its troops from Afghanistan by next year and is fast winding down drone strikes.

No Thanks, Wonks

The Benefits of Just Saying No

Every time I wish our government were more effective, I remember exactly what we're up against. Quoth James Poulos at Forbes:

The claim that anti-intellectual Republicans are sabotaging government and willfully crippling our national functions is so vein-popping and so plausible that some forget it is only half of the wonkocracy’s argument in its own favor. The second, and most important, half, of course, is that without Republican obstruction, the wonkocrats would lead us unimpeded into a new Golden Age.

The beliefs behind this audacious wager are even more presumptuous than they first appear. Initially, it seems reasonable to suggest that, relative to doing nothing, our biggest problems would be better addressed by letting our smartest experts direct our activity toward a solution. On closer inspection, however, that’s not the way the wonkocracy is apt to let a policy conversation develop. Rather than a free-ranging exercise in constant, pragmatic self-revision, the wonkocracy tends to celebrate and enforce policy consensus — the kind that “transcends partisan divides” and “gets beyond politics” — achieved as swiftly as possible and focused as strictly as possible

Yea

A Little Birdie Tells Me

We may not see a House immigration bill until the middle of June. 

Bring Em All in?

Elites Against Their Own People

This Douthat riff on tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg is quite illuminating:

Just because powerful people support a policy doesn’t make it a bad idea. But given his (appropriately) jaundiced view of Silicon Valley liberaltarianism overall, it’s striking how little skepticism Packer shows about Zuckerberg and Co.’s promise that on this issue, Silicon Valley’s self-interest just happens to finally align with equal opportunity and upward mobility and various other good things. Especially since it’s relatively easy to see mass immigration as a prime example of the phenomenon that Packer elsewhere find troubling — a post-1960s trend that’s made America more diverse and inclusive but also more stratified and less solidaristic. In which case, the elite, bipartisan support for accelerating current immigration trends looks like a prime example of the phenomenon Goldman describes in his response — the way the new upper class embraces the “more diversity, less solidarity” bargain because it serves their own self-interest, and any costs are absorbed by people further down the socioeconomic ladder.

(Indeed, if you’re a tech mogul, the bill that the Senate is currently considering isn’t just a proposition that requires no sacrifice on your part; it’s a policy shift that arguably reduces your incentive to worry about other domestic social problems, because it makes it easier to look abroad for productive workers if America’s families and schools and neighborhoods aren’t buoying enough young people upward.)

Leader

Mitch McConnell's Quiet Campaign

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate Majority Leader is laying the groundwork for the next Republican administration:

Mitch McConnell had a problem. He needed to give President Obama, the man he had publicly vowed to make a one-term president, a nominee for the Legal Services Corporation. By law, the LSC, a Nixon-era 501(c)(3) tasked with providing legal aid to low-income Americans, had to be bipartisan; no more than six of its eleven members could belong to one party. By tradition, it fell on McConnell, as the senior member of the opposition in the Senate, to provide the president with a list of Republican names.

The trouble was that, as is often the case with putatively bipartisan bodies, the posts required nominees to meet certain ostensibly nonpolitical criteria that by their nature all but rendered the posts partisan carve-outs. In this case, McConnell needed to find a Republican who was “income eligible” for the available seat, meaning someone who earned less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line, which came out to a little over $14,000 a year.

Ilana Will Be So Happy

The Scouts Vote to Allow Gay Members

As of 2014, gay members will be permitted in the Boy Scouts of America:

Over 61 percent of Scouting's National Council of 1,400 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The final tally was 757 yes votes, to 475 no. The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place.

"This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table," said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.

Below is the text of Danielle Crittenden Frum's beautiful tribute to her step-father, Peter Worthington.

In Four Quartets TS Eliot wrote:

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. 

And this is where I want to start from: with Pete's end.

About the Author

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David Frum

David Frum is a contributing editor at The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of eight books, including most recently the e-book WHY ROMNEY LOST and his first novel Patriots, published in April 2012.

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