An important man, &c.

The president’s jobs man, Gene B. Sperling


Especially in the last three years, we’ve had a debate in this country over who or what creates jobs. The other day, the Washington Post seemed to have an answer. The paper’s website had a line saying “Meet Obama’s man who creates jobs for the U.S.” I thought, “Whoa, there is such a man?”

You clicked on this line and you were taken to an article headed “Gene B. Sperling: Obama’s jobs creator.”

So, there you have it — Gene B. Sperling. The “man who creates jobs for the U.S.” What a job! What a responsibility! What a man!

You may have seen a story published on Tuesday: “New US sanctions on Iran aim to head off Israel.” Yes, Israel has been thinking seriously about attacking Iran’s nuclear program, in order to spare itself annihilation. The Obama administration does not want such an attack to happen. Israel seems to have concentrated the administration’s mind. Obama & Co. are taking a tougher stand on Iran. They’re trying to “head off Israel.”

So, score one for Israel, I say. Israel has motivated the Obama administration.

I was stopped by a sentence in this article: “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said outside forces should let Syrians settle their conflict ‘independently.’”

Say you are jumped by a gang in a back alley. The gang is armed to the teeth, you have virtually nothing. The wise non-interventionist says that you and the gang must settle your conflict independently.

Good luck!

So, “Students at Shippensburg University in central Pennsylvania can get the ‘morning-after’ pill by sliding $25 into a vending machine installed at the request of the student government.” (I have quoted from this article.)

Those vending machines can be tricky, you know. They may reject your twenty and your five. Or your ten and your ten and five ones or whatever. Instead of rejecting them, they may eat those bills. Your pill may linger on the edge of its dispenser, reluctant to come down . . .

Soon you’re banging on the machine. Then you’re tipping it. And here come the security guards . . .

Remember a time in America when what you got from a vending machine was, say, a Mars bar? Was that a worse time in America than now? Too square for our own good?

Going on right now in my home area of southeastern Michigan is the annual “Sphinx Competition,” capped by a “Finals Concert.” The competition is “open to all Junior High, High School, and College age Black and Latino string players residing in the U.S.” The concert is “hosted by the Detroit Symphony at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.”

No word on whether the bathrooms and drinking fountains will be segregated or integrated.

(For a piece I wrote long ago on the collision of race and classical music, try this collection.)

More news from home: The University of Michigan at Dearborn is now offering a minor in Arab-American Studies. (This article tells the tale.) Dearborn is the center of “Arab America.” More and more, higher education is nothing but an exercise in navel-gazing. We don’t want to learn about the world. We want to gaze at our navels. “Oh, what a lovely navel I have, the loveliest in all the world, surely!”

But if you don’t know the world — what can you say about others’ navels?

Anyone who pays for a minor in Arab-American Studies deserves the waste of money. The taxpayers, collectively — they don’t deserve it so much.

If you have not read this profile of Silvio Berlusconi by Philip Delves Broughton, treat yourself. I believe I understand Silvio better now than I have in all these years he’s been onstage.

A couple of items of interest (and the entire profile is of interest): “When I [the interviewer, Broughton] call him [Berlusconi] a businessman he flinches. ‘I was not a businessman. I was an entrepreneur.’”

You and I could spend several paragraphs on that distinction.

Another one: Says Silvio, “I have nothing against homosexuals, let it be clear. Quite the contrary. I always thought the more gay people around, the less competition.”


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