- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2006

‘Alarming clue’

“An emblematic presence [in the American Left] is the financier George Soros, a major figure in Democratic-party politics who in 2004 donated $15 million to defeat George W. Bush. Soros is also the chief underwriter of the Web-based pressure group Moveon.org, which, in the 2006 political season, poured heavy resources into the effort to dislodge Joseph Lieberman from the U.S. Senate. …

“As is well known, this effort scored an early success by wresting the Democratic nomination from Lieberman and gaining it for [Ned] Lamont. Thereupon, an undeterred Lieberman announced that he would stay in the race as an independent candidate. At this point the Left’s anti-Lieberman campaign, already a model of personal vilification, grew still more vicious, as postings on the Moveon.org Web site began to refer caustically to the long-serving Connecticut Senator as ‘the Jew Lieberman,’ providing yet another alarming clue, if one were needed, to attitudes within a segment of today’s American Left.”

— Gabriel Schoenfeld, writing on “Jews, Muslims, and the Democrats,” in the January issue of Commentary

Good greed

“Though the audience was set up to hiss and boo when Gordon Gekko (in the 1987 movie ‘Wall Street’) spewed out those now-famous words, ‘Greed is good,’ the fact is that he was absolutely right. Or at least he was conditionally right. Greed is good if it leads to honest wealth creation.

“By this I mean that … greed is actually neutral. Greed is neither good nor bad. It is the methods that a person employs to fulfill his desires that are good or bad.

“Just as guns don’t kill people, neither do greed or ambition, of and by themselves, harm anyone. However, some people do choose to use greed and ambition to do harm, just as some people use guns to kill.

“So long as you do not use force or fraud to acquire what you desire, you never need to apologize for being greedy. And so it is with ambition: So long as you do not use force or fraud to accomplish your ends, there is no need to apologize for your success.”

— Robert Ringer, writing on “The Desire to Acquire,” Wednesday at www.robertringer.com

First-name basis

“[T]he 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth evokes the Dutch Golden Age, when piety and prosperity honored each other, and when artistic excellence served them both. This year … Amsterdam department store facades sported outsized Rembrandt reproductions; Rembrandt Square featured a ‘Night Watch’ consisting of 22 life-size bronze figures, in the midst of which the admirer can stand and be photographed; and ‘Rembrandt the Musical’ regaled the theatergoer with the dirt on ‘the master of light’ whose life had very shady sides to it,’ in the words of the publicity agent’s all-too-resistible come-on.

“It is hard to blame the Dutch for trading on a homegrown brand name that everyone else has been cashing in on for ages. Alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo, Rembrandt is one of the three most famous artists ever, with whom the public is on a first-name basis; and the name Rembrandt has lent the cachet of greatness and the grace of familiarity to sell everything from kitchen countertops to whitening toothpaste to fancy hotels in Bangkok and Knightsbridge. No work of Rembrandt’s has attained the iconic status of the David or the Mona Lisa; yet Rembrandt seems to rank with the greatest of the great.”

— Algis Valiunas, writing on “Looking at Rembrandt,” in the Dec. 25 issue of the Weekly Standard

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