Apology to commenters
Most of my blogs are set up to require a word-matching task before a comment is accepted. There is too much automated comment spam otherwise. The character matching task is however run by Google and is presumably the same on all blogspot blogs.
I tried today however to leave a comment on a hate-filled rant from libertarian Timothy Taylor and found that no matter how many attempts I made my character matching was rejected. As Taylor's blog is also a blogspot blog, that suggests to me that the whole system is faulty at the moment and may affect this blog too.
Neither I nor Taylor can do anything about it but I do (unlike Taylor) give my email address at the foot of each post so if the comment system has bugged you, feel free to email me.
Will Big Bird ever leave the government nest?
If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything
By MARK STEYN
Apparently, Frank Sinatra served as Mitt Romney's debate coach. As he put it about halfway through "That's Life":
"I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly ... ."
That's what Mitt did in Denver. Ten minutes in, he jumped right on Big Bird, and then he took off – and never looked back, while the other fellow, whose name escapes me, never got out of the gate. It takes a certain panache to clobber not just your opponent but also the moderator. Yet that's what the killer Mormon did when he declared that he wasn't going to borrow money from China to pay for Jim Lehrer and Big Bird on PBS. It was a terrific alpha-male moment, not just in that it rattled Lehrer, who seemed too preoccupied contemplating a future reading the hog prices on the WZZZ Farm Report to regain his grip on the usual absurd format, but in the sense that it indicated a man entirely at ease with himself – in contrast to wossname, the listless sourpuss staring at his shoes
Yet, amidst the otherwise total wreckage of their guy's performance, the Democrats seemed to think that Mitt's assault on Sesame Street was a misstep from whose tattered and ruined puppet-stuffing some hay is to be made. "WOW!!! No PBS!!! WTF how about cutting congress's stuff leave big bird alone," tweeted Whoopi Goldberg. Even the president mocked Romney for "finally getting tough on Big Bird" – not in the debate, of course, where such dazzling twinkle-toed repartee might have helped, but a mere 24 hours later, once the rapid-response team had directed his speechwriters to craft a line, fly it out to a campaign rally and load it into the prompter, he did deliver it without mishap.
Unlike Mitt, I loathe Sesame Street. It bears primary responsibility for what the Canadian blogger Binky calls the de-monsterization of childhood – the idea that there are no evil monsters out there at the edges of the map, just shaggy creatures who look a little funny and can sometimes be a bit grouchy about it because people prejudge them until they learn to celebrate diversity and help Cranky the Friendly Monster go recycling. That is not unrelated to the infantilization of our society. Marinate three generations of Americans in that pabulum, and it's no surprise you wind up with unprotected diplomats dragged to their deaths from their "safe house" in Benghazi. Or as J. Scott Gration, the president's Special Envoy to Sudan, said in 2009, in the most explicit Sesamization of American foreign policy: "We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries – they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes." The butchers of Darfur aren't blood-drenched machete-wielding genocidal killers but just Cookie Monsters whom we haven't given enough cookies. I'm not saying there's a direct line between Bert & Ernie and Barack & Hillary ... well, actually, I am.
Okay, I may be taking this further than Mitt intended. So let's go back to his central thrust. The Corporation of Public Broadcasting receives nearly half-a-billion dollars a year from taxpayers, which it disburses to PBS stations, who, in turn, disburse it to Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. I don't know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Sen. Jim DeMint, the President of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Sen. Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: they've been in "public service" their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires.
Mitt's decision to strap Big Bird to the roof of his station wagon and drive him to Canada has prompted two counter-arguments from Democrats: 1) half a billion dollars is a mere rounding error in the great sucking maw of the federal budget, so why bother? 2) everybody loves Sesame Street, so Mitt is making a catastrophic strategic error. On the latter point, whether or not everybody loves Sesame Street, everybody has seen it, and every American under 50 has been weaned on it. So far this century it's sold nigh on a billion bucks' worth of merchandising sales (that's popular toys such as the Subsidize-Me-Elmo doll). If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything.
Conversely, if this supposed "public" broadcasting brand is capable on standing on its own, then so should it. As for the rest of PBS's output – the eternal replays of the Peter, Paul & Mary reunion concert, twee Brit sitcoms, Lawrence Welk reruns and therapeutic infomercials – whatever their charms, it is difficult to see why the Brokest Nation in History should be borrowing money from the Chinese Politburo to pay for it. A system by which a Communist Party official in Beijing enriches British comedy producers by charging it to American taxpayers with interest is not the most obvious economic model. Yet, as Obama would say, the government did build that.
(Full disclosure: Some years ago, I hosted a lavish BBC special, and, at the meeting intended to sell it to PBS, the executive from "Great Performances" said he could only sign off on the deal if I were digitally edited out and replaced by Angela Lansbury. Murder, he shrieked. Lest I sound bitter, I should say I am in favor of this as a more general operating principle for public broadcasting: for example, "A Prairie Home Companion" would be greatly improved by having Garrison Keillor digitally replaced by Paul Ryan.)
The small things are not unimportant – and not just because, when "small" is defined as anything under 11 figures, "small" is a big part of the problem. If Americans can't muster the will to make Big Bird leave the government nest, they certainly will never reform Medicare. Just before the debate in Denver, in the general backstage melée, a commentator pointed out Valerie Jarrett, who is officially "Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs," a vital position which certainly stimulates the luxury-length business-card industry. Not one in 100,000 Americans knows what she looks like, but she declines to take the risk of passing among the rude peasantry without the protection of a Secret Service detail. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a private jet to fly him home from Washington every weekend.
The Queen of the Netherlands flies commercial, so does the Queen of Denmark. Prince William and his lovely bride, whom at least as many people want to get a piece of as Valerie Jarrett or Leon Panetta, flew to Los Angeles on a Royal Canadian Air Force boneshaker. It is profoundly unrepublican when minor public officials assume that private planes and entourages to hold the masses at bay are a standard perk of office. And it is even more disturbing that tens of millions of Americans are accepting of this. The entitlements are complicated, and will take some years and much negotiation. But, in a Romney administration, rolling back the nickel'n'dime stuff – ie, the million'n'billion stuff – should start on Day One.
Mitt made much of his bipartisan credentials in Denver. So, in that reach-across-the-aisle spirit, if we cannot abolish entirely frivolous spending, might we not at least attempt some economies of scale? Could Elmo, Grover, Oscar and Cookie Monster not be redeployed as Intergovernmental Engagement Assistant Jarrett's security detail? Could Leon Panetta not fly home on Big Bird every weekend?
And for the next debate, instead of a candidate slumped at the lectern like a muppet whose puppeteer has gone out for a smoke, maybe Elmo's guy could shove his arm up the back of the presidential suit.
Some profound Leftist ignorance
A very puzzling call contained in the latest little pamphlet from Compass. You know the sort of thing, the call to arms about what we must do to make this a more caring, sharing and wondrous society. And yes, I read these things so you don't have to.
They insist that there should be a European minimum wage: "Europe should therefore move towards a continent wide minimum wage, based on the respective average income."
There's an awful lot of weight that rests upon that word "respective". There are two possibilities. One is that there should indeed be a European minimum wage. One single rate that applies to all jobs in the EU. Which would be either irrelevant or entirely crazed. If it's based on some sort of average of European wages then just about every job in the poorer countries would disappear overnight. Insisting on, say, 50% of German wages in Romania when that's some multiple of average wages in Romania would indeed be crazed. Insisting that Germany meet the Romanian minimum wage would simply be irrelevant.
The other meaning possible is that they think that there should be a minimum wage in each country, based on the relevant wages for that country. The problem with this is the following:
Germany, Cyprus and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have statutory minimum wages that do not apply to all or the large majority of employees but are restricted to specific groups which are defined e.g. by sectors or by professions. These are excluded from the data collection. Also excluded are countries where there are no statutory national minimum wages: Denmark, Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In these countries, wages are either determined by negotiations between the social partners, at company level or at the level of each individual contract. Typically, sectoral level agreements are widely applied and have erga omnes applicability, thus constituting de facto minimum wages.
Insisting on a statutory minimum wage in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland.....what effect does anyone think this will have in any manner at all?
Which leaves me really rather puzzled. I'm not sure which box to put Neal Lawson and his band of merry social democrats in. It could be that they're simply ignorant, in that they don't know that there are already minimum wages in most EU countries. It could be that they're stupid in that they don't realise that having them where they do not already exist isn't going to make a damn bit of difference as the same end is achieved in other ways.
Or it could be that they really are crazed loons and that they want to impose a minimum wage based on some average of European wages. Which would immediately close down large parts of the economies of the poorer countries.
Which leaves me even more puzzled. Given that these are the only three boxes that they can be put in as a result of this call then why is it that anyone pays any attention to them at all?
Twitter Explodes After Black Actress Endorses Romney as the ‘Only Choice for Your Future’
Actress Stacey Dash, who has starred in everything from the 90′s hit Clueless to CSI, prompted a firestorm on Twitter after publicly endorsing Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and then standing by her opinion.
“Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future. @mittromney @teamromney #mittromney #VOTE #voteromney,” Dash wrote on her official Twitter page, accompanied by a photo of herself with an American flag.
Not long after, presumed Obama supporters began insulting Dash for her opinion, saying she isn’t “black” enough, several even asking if the actress would just “kill herself.”
One man wrote: “This hurts but you a Romney lover and you slutting yourself to the white man only proves why no black man married u @REALStaceyDash.”
But Dash was apparently undeterred by the cruel reaction, and sent a number of sarcastic responses to the worst offenders, wrote a tweet reminding that she is entitled to her own opinion, and– to top it off– re-tweeted a Romney campaign message.
“Women have had enough of @BarackObama’s disappointment. We need new leadership to get our economy growing again…” the re-tweeted message reads.
More HERE (Including tweets)
The inverted racism of Elizabeth Warren draws attention to the enduring racism of "affirmative action"
For months [Massachusetts] Republicans have had a field day with Warren's claim to be Cherokee on the strength of unverified "family lore" about her great-great-great grandmother. Brown's TV spot milks the "Fauxcahontas" angle with clips of news stories reporting on the story. "Warren admitted to identifying herself as Native American to employers," one broadcast journalist says. "Something genealogists said they have zero evidence of," intones another.
None of this would matter if it weren't for the fact that nearly half a century after the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, racial discrimination – in the form of affirmative action – is entrenched in American society.
Warren insists that she "never got any benefit because of my heritage," and that the only reason she listed herself as an American Indian in professional law-school directories was to be invited to lunches "with people who are like I am." Her explanations provoked so much ridicule because they were ridiculous. Everyone knows that minority status can confer serious advantages when employers place a premium on "diversity," and use racial preferences and set-asides to achieve it.
Martin Luther King memorably dreamed of a nation in which people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, and in much of American life his dream has become a reality.
But not within the contemporary diversity industry, where individual men and women are first and foremost members of categories, to be grouped by race, by ethnicity, by color. That's the logic behind a directory of "minority law teachers." It was also the mindset behind Jim Crow and "separate but equal."
The real significance of Warren's supposed Native American heritage isn't that she lacks proof that one of her 32 great-great-great grandparents was a Cherokee. It isn't that she believes the stories she was told as a girl. It isn't that by identifying herself as a racial minority she may, in Brown's words, have seized "an advantage that others were entitled to."
It is that in 21st-century America, no such advantage should exist. Racial preferences should by now be artifacts of history, not tools for hiring law professors. Two generations ago Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP declared that "classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)