Politics & Policy

‘Them’ vs. Ted, &c.

Well, I see Ted Cruz has ’em stirred up — just as I suspected. They’re unused to dealing with a senator like him. I think they’re a little worried too. Worried that Ted is brighter and abler than they — and unintimidatable. Are they trying to take him down, at this early stage? Looks that way, a bit.

I’ve said “they.” Does that need elaboration? I doubt it. You know: they. This New York Times piece was almost funny in its demonization of Ted. “Canadian-born lawyer” was a special low blow.

They’re accusing him of McCarthyism, which means, I think, that he aggressively and effectively questioned an Obama nominee. I don’t mean to engage in “the old tu quoque,” as Bill Buckley called it, but do you remember Harry Reid in the last campaign?

To Nevada reporters, he said, “I don’t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.”

The “he” was Mitt Romney, of course — a man as good and decent as Reid is snaky. Listen to Reid again: “He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes”! Do you love it?

And here he is on the Senate floor: “So the word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years.” The “word” was “out” because Reid put it out. “Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”

There is a word for Reid’s behavior: McCarthyite. He provides almost a classic definition. Reid is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. And he is A-OK by — what’s the word for it? — the American liberal establishment. Or, more conveniently, “them.”

‐Every once in a while, I’m reminded of how I came to my views in the first place — of how I wound up a Reagan Republican. Obama has proposed a hike in the minimum wage. Does that take you back at all?

All children and adolescents favor hikes in the minimum wage, I think. I’m sure I did. Why should the very young know anything about economics? Earning nine dollars is better than earning eight, right? Ten is better than nine. Do I hear 15? 20? A hundred?

You can always out-compassion the other guy. He says, “Nine,” and you say, “No, $9.50!” — and you’ve exposed him as a Scrooge.

But then you grow up, I would think, and realize that a higher minimum wage makes it harder for an employer to employ another person, harder for the unemployed to get work. This is especially true of young job-seekers. It can be so hard to get that first one. Once you have your feet on the first rung, you can climb on up.

I learned about the minimum wage by the time I was — oh, 21, something like that. I learned, in part, by reading Thomas Sowell. Barack Obama is a 50-something president. The hour is getting late. And the office he holds is so important!

It would be nice if someone asked him, “Mr. President, you’ve proposed a minimum wage of nine dollars. Why not ten? Why not 20?”

Mona Charen and I discussed this on our podcast last week. I said most of the above, and also this: Just about everything Obama has done appears calculated to make life more difficult for the employer — and therefore for the unemployed. The “stimulus.” Obamacare. New regulations. A hike in the minimum wage. Obama has his foot on the throat of the employer.

In a time of widespread unemployment, shouldn’t life be as easy as possible for the employer? For the job-creator, the entrepreneur? For those who breathe life into an economy? Shouldn’t barriers be as few as possible?

The American people did a very, very important thing on November 6, when they chose Obama and Biden over Romney and Ryan. If they don’t like the course of events in this country over the next four years, they can look in the mirror.

‐Benjamin Netanyahu said something interesting. See what you think — I’m still thinking about what I think.

Discussing a spy scandal, and the need for the government to say as little as possible, he said, “We are not like all other countries. We are more threatened, more challenged . . . Allow the security forces to work quietly so we can continue to live securely and safely.”

To read the news article from which I’ve culled this quote, go here. I guess I think Bibi’s right, as he usually is.

‐In an interesting, and depressing, blogpost, Cristina Odone writes, “John O’Farrell is a Thatcher-basher — a type still common on the Left, even 23 years after she left Downing Street. The ex-PM gives rise to irrational hatred in her former foes.”

In 2032, it’ll be 23 years since George W. Bush left office. Think the hatred will drain out by then?

By the way, John O’Farrell is a comedian, writer, and Labour-party politician who’s now running for a seat in Parliament. He expressed great regret that Thatcher was not killed in the (1984) Brighton bombing. Lord Tebbit blogs about this here. Five were killed in the bombing, and at least two badly injured, including Tebbit’s wife.

‐In the current National Review, I have a review of Elliott Abrams’s new memoir, Tested by Zion. I also make some comments on a new book that is about him, partially: Little Red: Three Passionate Lives through the Sixties and Beyond. The book is about three graduates of a radical school in Manhattan, one of them Angela Davis, another of them Tom Hurwitz (a New Left figure), and the other of them Abrams.

I would like to make just two little points, here in Impromptus. First, the book is called Little Red. An author might have been wary of that — because people might say, “Oh, little read, huh?” No author wants his book to be little read!

Second, the book is published by PublicAffairs, and, at the end of the book, there is a note from the founder of the house. He says that PublicAffairs is “a tribute to the standards, values, and flair of three persons who have served as mentors to countless reporters, writers, editors, and book people of all kinds . . .” The three are I. F. Stone, Ben Bradlee, and Robert L. Bernstein. About the first one, he says, “I. F. Stone, proprietor of I. F. Stone’s Weekly, combined a commitment to the First Amendment with entrepreneurial zeal and reporting skill and became one of the great independent journalists in American history.”

Uh-huh. He does not mention that Stone was a Soviet agent.

‐Let’s have a little language. In a column, Charles Moore uses the word “adorably” in a way I have never seen it used. In our language — our modern American language — “adorably” is in the cutesy family: “The Smiths’ three-year-old daughter got up and danced adorably.” Of a late prime minister, Moore writes, “Home, though adorably decent and patriotic, spoke in an almost ghetto-posh way without seeming to part his teeth.”

I like it. (Consider: “In giving comfort to the wretchedly comfortless, Mother Teresa conducted herself adorably.”)

‐A little music? In this post, Allan Massie has reason to mention golliwoggs, which are not really around anymore. They were, to quote one dictionary, “grotesque black dolls.” Massie writes that “we all had golliwogs as children once; I preferred my golliwog to my teddy bear when I was a small child.”

I thought of Debussy — the last piece in whose Children’s Corner is “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk.” (Let me remark here that there are two spellings of “golliwogg,” as illustrated by Massie and me.) I also had a memory. When I was a kid at a music camp, a fellow camper asked a teacher of ours about the title of a particular Debussy piece: “Le petit nègre.” What did it mean? I noticed the teacher’s awkwardness and hesitation. He sort of gulped. And he skated over the question — which was right, I’m sure.

‐A little more music? For a column in CityArts, go here. I write about new pieces by three composers: Kate Soper, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Marc-André Hamelin.

‐I think I’ll end with a little story that tells us something about modern America. At least I think it does. See if you agree.

In a concert hall the other night, I encountered an usher who said, “I haven’t seen you in a while!” I said, “Yes, so nice to see you!” We exchanged another pleasantry or two. I left her with, “Well, happy new year.”

As I was walking away, I thought, “Oh, sh**. She’s Asian. I think the Chinese have just had a new year’s day. Maybe she’ll think I was making something of her race or ethnicity.”

I went back to her and said, airily, “It’s the middle of February, just a month and a half into the new year. I guess ‘Happy new year’ is still okay, for now!”

Maybe I was paranoid and stupid. But modern America will mess with your mind, where race and ethnicity are concerned. We’re an eggshell nation. Which is too, too bad.

Anyway, I wish you a good day, and happy new years all around.

 

To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.

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