Bible-thumpin’, &c.

Sen. Mark Pryor's television ad.



The Soviets were great airbrushers. Say a Party official fell out of favor. His name would have to be scrubbed from all literature, and his face from all pictures. They were simply “airbrushed” away. (An early form of photoshopping, ideological division.)

This practice continues in the Communist world, and perhaps in other worlds, or sub-worlds, as well. An article tells us, “North Korea airbrushes Kim Jong-un’s ‘purged’ uncle out of documentary.”

One minute “Bob’s your uncle” — I believe this is a British expression — and the next minute he’s not.

The other day, some of us righties were discussing IRS auditing: A number of Obama critics have found themselves audited. Now, maybe their criticisms of Obama have nothing to do with their being audited. Maybe they would have been audited regardless. But knowing what we know about the abuse of the IRS by this administration — how can people be sure? Don’t they have a right to their suspicions?

This makes me think of affirmative action, a.k.a. race preferences. In our country, we hire by race, admit by race, and award contracts by race. (By “admit,” I mean admit students to universities.) There are arguments for and against these practices.

Now, it could very well be that you would have been hired, admitted, or awarded regardless — regardless of race. But knowing what you know, how can you be sure? How can you help being suspicious? How can others help it?

This, of course, is one of the rotten effects of affirmative action.

I would like to recommend an article by Lou Cannon, a friend of mine, and one of the finest journalists in America. (Also a fine historian, as he has shown in many books.) The article is about FDR, Reagan, and speechmaking. Each president had a knack for editing speeches, to the betterment of those speeches.

Lou gives this example (among others, of course): Reagan was given a draft that said, “My fellow Americans, I am coming before you tonight about a matter that continues to weigh heavily on our minds — the attack last week by the Soviet Union against 269 innocent men, women and children aboard an unarmed Korean passenger plane. This is a crime against humanity we can never forget.”

He changed it to, “My fellow Americans, I am coming before you tonight about the Korean airline massacre — the attack by the Soviet Union against 269 innocent men, women and children aboard an unarmed Korean passenger plane. This crime against humanity must never be forgotten, here or throughout the world.”

To read this interesting and unusual article, go here.

Care for some music? My “New York Chronicle,” in the December New Criterion, is here. For a review of a recent Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera, go here. And for some remarks on a New York Philharmonic concert, go here.

That ought to hold you, for now . . .

Care for some language? At my local Subway sandwich shop, I ask for “vinegar and oil.” And the nice Bangladeshi girls repeat back, almost always, “oil and vinegar.” I don’t know if they are conscious of doing it. But they do. To them, “oil and vinegar” sounds natural, and “vinegar and oil” must not. For whatever reason, “vinegar and oil” is what comes to my mind, or off my tongue.

Pairings are an interesting subject. Almost everyone says “mom and dad,” not “dad and mom.” The very phrase “dad and mom” sounds odd. “Uncle and aunt” sounds odd too. People say “aunt and uncle.” “Jelly and peanut butter” sounds very odd. We say “peanut butter and jelly.”

Ah, language! An amusing and enriching subject, in a hundred ways (at least). I could go on all day, as you well know. Instead, I’ll knock off, saying, have a good one.