It’s sometimes nice, though it may be painful, to hear people speaking frankly. Senator Schumer was overheard speaking frankly to four other Democratic senators. (For the story, go here.) He told them to be sure to describe Republican spending cuts as “extreme.” “I always use ‘extreme.’ That is what the caucus instructed me to use.”
Oh, yes. All of my life, Republican policies, whatever they are, have been described as “extreme,” by Democrats. It’s one of their favorite words. You’ve noticed that?
The chief joy of the “Journolist” revelations was that the mask came off. (I wrote a column on that subject here.) One of the e-mail threads of these journalists was headed “The line on Palin.” Everyone had to get his talking points straight concerning the troublesome Alaska governor.
Democrats love to quote a Will Rogers quip that flatters them: “I belong to no organized party. I’m a Democrat.” The thing that has always struck me about Democrats — is how organized they are.
Every year, as April 15 approaches, or passes, I do a little harangue on taxes. At least, I have done this many a year. What I say is, the tax code pits Americans against one another: homeowners against renters, the married against the unmarried, the married with children against the married without children, etc. (Hey, “married with children” — that’d be a good title for a show.)
I think I’ll forgo that harangue this year. But let me say this: You know how people say, “There’s something wrong with our tax system if people can’t do their taxes on their own”? I think I agree with that. A special caste, almost a priestly caste, has grown up: tax accountants, tax preparers. They exist to help us do our taxes, or to do them for us.
A friend of mine was saying the other day, these people — bright, dedicated, and capable, as a rule — could be spending their lives in other ways, more productive ways: coming up with widgets, helping the economy grow. Instead, they’re doing their H&R Block routine. A routine sadly necessary.
There, that wasn’t much of a harangue, was it?
In a column last week, I blew off a little steam, China-wise. I said, “Weren’t you told that, if we were super-nice to the Chinese Communists, pretending they were civilized people, instead of the monsters they are, they would ease up on persecution? Weren’t you told that ages ago? Haven’t you been told that repeatedly since?” I then cited a report informing us of a crackdown “on a scale and intensity not seen in many years.”
Here is another report, which begins, “Ran Yunfei, a well-known Chinese Internet writer and independent intellectual, was formally arrested on suspicion of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ . . .” And how about this?
Australia has asked China for information on a Chinese-born Australian writer who disappeared in the country, the government said Tuesday as a friend claimed Yang Hengjun had been detained in Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on political expression.
The Sydney-based spy novelist phoned an assistant Sunday from Guangzhou airport in southeastern China to say three men were following him, said his friend Feng Chongyi, Associate Professor in China Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney.
Yang was later able to briefly phone a sister in Guangzhou to say “he’s having a long chat with his old friends,” Feng said. This was a prearranged signal that Yang had been taken by the secret police, Feng said.
“I’m 100 percent sure that he was been taken away by the secret police,” said Feng, adding that the current crackdown on political expression in China was the reason.
I understand the need to get along with the Chinese Communists, I really do. But, if I were in the U.S. government, in a position of responsibility, I would say something about the Communists’ continual, intensified assault on the human being. Wouldn’t you?
“There are many Chinese — more than a billion of them — but there are relatively few to speak for them: to speak for their rights, their dignity, and their freedom. Baiqiao Tang is one such person. He speaks, not only for himself, but for masses of his countrymen, who are gagged. If the Communist dictatorship in China ever falls, Tang will be one of those who gave it a hard, wonderful push.”
Norway is a splendid country, and its citizens are right to be proud of it. But it has a problem, one common to many countries: anti-Semitism. Not just opposition to Israel (which is problematic enough), but plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitism. This is a defect marring a country with a great deal to offer.
Manfred Gerstenfeld has written an article called “Something rotten in Norway.” Its subhead is “Norwegian elite dominated by anti-Israel haters obsessed with Jewish state.” Oh, yeah. The author mentions that I have written a little about this myself. He quotes from this piece, which says, “There are two items of particular interest in Jensen’s office . . .” Who is Jensen? Siv Jensen, the leader of the Progress party, which is the Reaganite or Thatcherite party in Norway. And what are those items? “. . . a little Israeli flag and a bust of Reagan. It would be hard to convey how extraordinary these symbols are in the traditional Norwegian political culture. An American politician might be less scandalous for having kiddie porn in his office.”
When I wrote those sentences, a colleague protested that they were unbelievable. I protested that he did not know Norway.