the scroll

From the tender age of illiteracy, to the present, I have always had a deep adoration for French comic books (and no, not “graphic novels”). The top of my list has, and always will be, The Adventures of Tintin. One could imagine my sadness when I found out my childhood hero and his white dog would be placed in front of Mr. Spielberg’s lens to be bastardized by the Hollywood machine.

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Jesus vs. Santa

David Frum December 24th, 2011 at 8:36 am 97 Comments

In my column for the National Post, I ask who is truly waging the War on Christmas:

We hear a lot about the war on Christmas. But the true seasonal struggle is the war within Christmas, a single holiday shared by two deeply antagonistic religions.

Religion 1 is the religion of Jesus Christ, the figure whose birth the holiday commemorates.

This religion emphasizes universal grace and forgiveness.

Religion 2 is the religion of Santa Claus, the holiday’s most visible representative. Santa upholds a much sterner creed.

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A few weeks ago I noted the tendency of well-regarded athletes to be exposed as heels, and asked for examples of the reverse, the widely despised guy who shows a classy side. I preferred examples that focused not on the personal side of things (that’s an old story, the jerk who gives to charity and has a soft spot for mom) but on the playing field. In particular, I was looking for athletes or coaches known to be cutthroat but who, in the heat of battle, revealed themselves to value something other than victory.

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The controversy over Mitt Romney’s latest comments on Iraq makes one thing clear: the war may be over, but its shadow haunts our political discourse. To declare oneself an unrepentant supporter of the intervention is to risk opprobrium: in a blogpost assessing the moral feasibility of voting for Ron Paul with all his baggage, Conor Friedersdorf suggests that it’s hardly worse than voting for someone “who insists that even given the benefit of hindsight, the Iraq War was a just and prudent one.”

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Rick Perry’s Little Trick

David Frum December 23rd, 2011 at 8:59 am 32 Comments

Mike Huckabee has not endorsed Rick Perry for president. On the contrary, there’s a long, rich record of Huckabee jabs at Perry.

Yet take a look at the new Rick Perry ad, “President of Honor,” aimed at the Iowa caucus-voters. The ad montages endorsements and testimonials from winners of the congressional medal of honor, artfully edited in ways to make you think that Gov. Perry must be almost sort of a war hero himself.

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Ronald Reagan’s speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention provides a welcome jolt amidst the atmosphere of the current Republican nominating contest. Instead of hypocritical invective and mindless tribalism, Reagan offers a fundamentally optimistic and cooperative narrative of America.

Though this speech has moments of anger, it is not, at heart, an angry speech. Consider some of these lines near the opening:

I know we have had a quarrel or two, but only as to the method of attaining a goal. There was no argument about the goal. As president, I will establish a liaison with the 50 governors to encourage them to eliminate, where it exists, discrimination against women. I will monitor federal laws to insure their implementation and to add statutes if they are needed.

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Welcome to the DC Party Scene

December 23rd, 2011 at 12:00 am 8 Comments

The more I talk to my friends across the country, the more I realize that I’m in a very unique position in terms of my unemployment—namely, that being jobless in DC is very different than it is elsewhere in the country.

“So wait,” my hometown friend Elizabeth coughed over a plate of hash browns and omelettes, after I told her how I spent my time. “A famous pundit is asking you to write about your experience? And thousands of people read your column?” Her eyes grew wide. “How the hell do you know David Frum?”

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For many in the militant libertarian wing within the GOP (and outside of it), Ron Paul has emerged as Moses come to lead the American people out of the land of big spending liberal statists and hair-trigger Neocon Pharaohs. They see Paul as an outsider on the inside, despite having first entered politics when I was nine years old. To his loyal cadre he has remained steadfast in his libertarian belief that can be boiled down to two central notions.

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We’ve been spending a lot of time on this website critiquing conservatives and libertarians for supporting Ron Paul. However, the great thing about Ron Paul is that his appeal also extends to the most gullible members of the liberal left.

Today’s piece of useful idiocy in support of Ron Paul comes from The Nation where John Nichols argues that the real reason the conservative “establishment” doesn’t like Ron Paul is because he speaks truth to power:

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In my column for The Week, I discuss the real meaning of Hanukkah:

Eight days of festivities because ancient Jews discovered a cruse of unusually long-lasting oil? That’s supposed to rank as a miracle? Why not take a long weekend in August because the prophet Isaiah saved 15 percent on his car insurance?

Still, of all the Jewish holidays, Hanukkah may be the one with the most contemporary resonance. It tells a story of conflict over assimilation — of the struggle for Jewish national independence — and of the challenges faced by a Jewish state surrounded by enemies and supported by the world’s greatest military power. But to rediscover that highly relevant message, you have to scrape away a lot of potato-flavored schmaltz. Christmas is a holiday whose meaning has been superimposed over the centuries, with Nordic ritual (Yule logs, Druidic evergreen trees) overlaid upon the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. Hanukkah, by contrast, is a holiday whose meaning has been ripped away, as generations of rabbis sought to contain and suppress a story too upsetting and dangerous to fit conveniently into later Jewish tradition and practice.

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Still No Justice for Lockerbie

December 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 am 11 Comments

In 1988, Libyan terrorists, sponsored by the intelligence services of the now-deceased Muammar Qaddafi, made a bomb using a plastic explosive planted within a Toshiba cassette player with the cruelly-ironic name “Bombeat.” Twenty-three years ago today, Libyan operative Abdelbaset al Megrahi planted the device aboard Pan Am flight 103, the final leg of which was to deliver 259 souls from Heathrow to JFK airport.

As the aircraft flew 31,000 feet above Lockerbie, Scotland, the IED detonated, killing all onboard and sending the Maid of the Seas and its occupants crashing to the ground in the quiet, sparsely populated village. Eleven more innocents in Lockerbie were killed by the falling debris.

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Two FrumForum posts I wrote recently about climate politics — “How the GOP Should Explain Climate Change” and “Newt, Your Ad With Pelosi Wasn’t Dumb” — netted me an appearance on “The Green Front,” a program of the Progressive Radio Network. This was thanks to fellow FF contributor D.R. Tucker, erstwhile guest on the show, who sent my posts to the host, Betsy Rosenberg.

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Brinkmanship Works

December 21st, 2011 at 5:21 pm 72 Comments

It seems that everyone is deploring the “tactics” of the House Republicans in refusing to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and by doing so, drawing out the standoff until the last minute. Is this the way resolve a dispute? Yes, deadlines force the combatants to make concessions.

I’ve been practicing law for 22 years, and began my career believing the judicial system was an efficient and civilized method of dispute resolution.

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An old joke heard often in the Southwest ends this way: “It isn’t always your enemies that get you into it; it isn’t always your friends who get you out of it; but, when you are in it up to your neck, keep your damned mouth shut.”

Unfortunately, Speaker John Boehner’s predicament confirms again the truism above.

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How Dare The WSJ Blame The House GOP?

David Frum December 21st, 2011 at 10:18 am Updated122 Comments

The Wall Street Journal this morning excoriates House Republicans for mishandling the payroll tax holiday:

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play

True that. But if anyone is to scold on this score, it should not be the Journal – which is as responsible as any of the House members for the GOP’s payroll-tax predicament.

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A Unified Korea? Unlikely.

December 21st, 2011 at 9:44 am 4 Comments

The death of Kim Jong-il and the succession of Kim Jung-un to the state’s throne raises the possibility of some sort of opening for the North Korean hermit Kingdom. The possibility of significant reforms–more open markets, freer travel for North Koreans, even elections and a free press–have to be considered. (So, of course, does continued repression and saber rattling from the North.) Reform of any sort leads towards the Korean reunification that both Korean governments and nearly all other powers say they want.

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A great thinker is gone; Christopher Hitchens–quite possible the greatest thinker of our modern era–left us this past week. It saddens me that I only now learn how great a thinker he was, for I met Christopher Hitchens–twice, in fact–but I did not really know him or his writings at the time, and I’m afraid I misjudged the man, sold him short.

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Something – or somebody – is destroying Iran’s currency. Steady decline over the past two months has turned into a “panic” over the past 72 hours.

[T]he rial fell to unprecedented lows against the dollar Tuesday, amounting to a 15 percent loss in value over the past three days, the Fars News Agency reported.

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Some on the right are concerned that Obama would slam Romney as a denizen of Wall Street and that Romney’s wealth would prove a hindrance in the general election. While some worries about Romney’s business background are more the product of sympathy for other candidates than anything else, there is an element of real anxiety to them, and they are not completely baseless.

However, there are numerous reasons not to overestimate the potential effectiveness of White House attacks on Romney over Wall Street connections.

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Congressional Quagmire

David Frum December 20th, 2011 at 8:37 am 178 Comments

The problem is bigger than the House of Representatives. The prior question is: why did the Senate adjourn having passed such a ridiculous thing as a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday?

It’s the answer to that question that reveals the true dysfunction in Congress.

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