As we approach the end of another month, I expected to be writing another “best of the month” piece. But it turns out that the theme of April has been the continuing cavalcade of idiots in public life. So here’s the third consecutive installment:
Exhibit A: Comey Comey Comey Comey Comey Chameleon. (now try getting that terrible song out of your head.)
Watched the Bret Baier interview with Comey, and I agree with the consensus here: if it were a fight, they’d have stopped it. I think the thing that shocks me the most about the whole sordid Comey mess, though, is what a sterling reputation that goof had before 2016 or so. When he first rose to prominence, all you heard in the MSM and on both sides of the aisle were his impeccable credentials, what a straight shooter he was, etc. And now he’s revealed to be a sleazy, unethical, smarmy, partisan creep.
To call him an empty suit would be an insult to all of the fine Mannequin-Americans who are doing yeoman’s work in store-front windows all over this great nation.
I can’t think of another public figure who has had such a dizzying fall from grace. Most scandalized people recently seem to be those who already looked shady from the get-go. Was anyone surprised when it came out that Anthony Weiner was a perv, or that John Edwards was the kind of guy who would impregnate a mistress while his wife was dying of cancer, or that Bill Clinton was playing hide the cigar with an intern, or that Trump had a one-nighter with a porn star? Or that the Mooch was the kind of guy who would have a nickname like “the Mooch?”
But Comey looked the part of an FBI director, and had a superficially sober-minded gravitas thing going for him, so it was a shock to see the real him.
On second thought, Bill Cosby might have fallen as far as Comey. And it’s a sad state of affairs when the best I can say about the former head of the FBI is that, “At least he didn’t drug and rape any actresses. That we know of.”
Still, the Comey story did give me one of my favorite Trump tweet lines: “It was my great honor to fire James Comey.” Part of the reason I love that so much is that I can’t imagine another president ever writing it. Usually when I say that about one of Trump’s tweets, it doesn’t reflect well on Trump… but not this time!
Exhibit B: From England — British kids are morons too.
Just when I was beginning to despair about the state of American youth, I came across a cheerful story in the UK Telegraph, which reports that schools across that nation are going to digital clocks in exam rooms, because so many of the high-school-level students can’t tell the time using an analog clock. Or as we called them, “clocks.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
My first thought was, Good! If you can’t tell the time on a clock, you should automatically fail any test you are taking. What’s next? Students who can’t read an analog calendar all freezing to death because they went outside in December wearing shorts and flip flops? People who can’t read analog ballots accidentally electing Nancy Pelosi fourteen times in a row? People who can’t read analog books descending into illiteracy?
Of course the temptation for me is to come across as Ol’ Pops Simpson, who can’t relate to young people. Why, these kids today don’t know how lucky they are to even have analog clocks. In my day, we used sundials, and talk about stress: half-way through finals week the sky could get overcast, and the next thing you know you’ve lost track of time, and the teacher snatches away your papyrus and quill pen, and you’ve flunked calculus. Which was already difficult enough, on account of its only having been invented the previous February.
But I am trying to resist that temptation. I mean, if you grew up with only digital clocks, I guess an old-fashioned clock face could be a little intimidating.
But then I made the mistake of reading to the end of the article, where I came across this additional complaint: a senior pediatric doctor warns that technology usage may be rendering British louts unable to hold a pencil or pen. I would now like to quote Sally Payne – a real person who I am not making up – who is the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, whatever that is, on the subject of kids who are increasingly unable to hold writing implements:
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them (sic) to do muscle-building play…. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
That’s an enormous hurdle for youth to overcome? The basic skills required to hold a pencil?!
Not too many generations ago, English teenagers were using their fine motor control to shod horses and harvest wheat with scythes. (And not those new-fangled digital scythes, either – analog scythes!) A few generations later they were using their dexterous fingers to put on gas masks while simultaneously raking charging Germans with machine gun fire. A generation later they were working on the foundation skills to dive a Spitfire into a bomber formation and shoot down some Heinkels and Messerschmitts.
And now they’re struggling to hold a pencil?
After about 30 seconds’ thought, I realized that as bad as things are, they’re not THAT bad. Most teenage girls I know can type 120 words a minute with only their thumbs, a feat of dexterity that far exceeds the difficulty level of managing not to stab yourself in the eye with a pencil.
And teenage boys?
Let me put it this way. I can only vaguely remember when my buddies and I were teenagers. But if I’m not mistaken, all of us had already demonstrated a world-class ability to handle cylindrical objects with dexterity, strength, and control of the fine muscles in our fingers like nobody’s business. Somehow I doubt that technological advances – I’m looking at you, internet porn – has degraded that fine muscle control in our youngsters today. Quite the opposite, if I were forced to guess.
Still, my first official act upon becoming Education Czar would be to issue a ruling: if you can’t read a clock, you can’t take high school exams. So let it be written; so let it be done. (For some reason I picture myself on an Education Czar throne, and wearing an Egyptian headdress. And yes, my forthcoming Education Czar-dom will require me to hold both an orb and a scepter, thanks for asking.)
Exhibit C: GQ Punches Up
In a recent click-bait article, GQ magazine listed 21 supposedly great books that you actually don’t have to read. By far the most attention-getting choice was the Bible, which provoked a lot of people who probably should know better. Even if you’re not religious, the Bible is obviously a foundational document, without which no one can fully understand Western civilization and history, and putting it on this list is the act of an attention-seeking dunce.
Some of the other claims in the article strike me as more or less fair game, especially given the subjectivity of everyone’s literary tastes: I didn’t enjoy The Old Man and the Sea either, Gravity’s Rainbow and Blood Meridian are both impressive but not worth the effort, Slaughterhouse-Five is wildly over-rated.
But in addition to the ridiculous call on the Bible, the article is fatally flawed for other reasons as well. It disses Lord of the Rings and Dracula, and suggests replacing Catcher in the Rye with a tale of an adult lesbian seducing a teenage girl. The list demonstrates the same PC blindness in other selections, bashing masculinity in Lonesome Dove and Hemingway, and racism everywhere.
Two separate writers denigrate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and on the dumbest of grounds: Twain is a racist, and it’s full of the n-word.
Yes, the n-word is offensive, and it can make for some awkwardness in the classroom when teaching Huck Finn. But I don’t think we made a huge step forward when we replaced, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” with “Sticks and stones constitute aggravated assault, but words are AGHH! AGHH! KEEP YOUR HATE SPEECH OFF MY CAMPUS!!”
And it’s really staggering that any sentient person can read that book – which argues for the fundamental, existential worth and equality of blacks and whites – and come away calling it racist.
Overall, in this time of illiterate teens who can’t master the pencil or tell time, do we really need an article discouraging the reading of some great (but in some cases over-rated or dated) books?
Exhibit D: Liz Warren gets hoisted on her own totem pole.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t much care for Elizabeth Warren. So I was delighted to see how Mick Mulvaney has been outmaneuvering her lately. Mulvaney – and if ever a name screamed out, “Let’s go have a beer!” it’s Mick freaking Mulvaney — is now the head of the useless, vestigial tail of an agency known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
This terrible waste of taxpayers’ money was created by the equally terrible Dodd-Frank law. (Chris Dodd used to create “waitress sandwiches” with Ted Kennedy – Google that, if you’ve got a strong stomach – and Barney Frank kept a gay lover who used his DC townhouse as a gay brothel which Barney supposedly knew nothing about. So you know that any law named after those two gems just has to be great!) It was created over the objections of conservatives, and with the enthusiastic support of Squanto Warren, when Obama was in office and busily fixing everything wrong with the world.
Fast forward a few years, and Trump is the president, and he appoints CFPB critic Mulvaney as its head, with the goal of curtailing its powers. (Although why they don’t just close it down is beyond me.) Now Warren is on the warpath (HA!) about one thing or another, and she submits a list of 105 questions to the Mickster, demanding quick and complete answers.
And Mulvaney responds with the most beautifully ironic karmic arse-whupping since a certain future president (CAW CAW CAW) discovered that a complete lack of character was her Achilles’ Cankle in November of 2016.
According to a recent story in the Washington Examiner, he told Senator Forked Tongue that he did not plan to respond to her questions, and that it was her fault that he is not required to answer, because the structure of her pet agency “shields him from accountability.”
Then – in what might be my favorite words ever uttered by a politician –
“I encourage you to consider the possibility that the frustration you are experiencing now, and that which I had a few years back, are both inevitable consequences of the fact that the Dodd-Frank… Act insulates the Bureau from virtually any accountability to the American people through their elected representatives.”
Then he dropped the mic, put on a pair of shades and stuck a giant blunt in the corner of mouth, in a real-life recreation of that “Thug Life” meme that all of the kids seem to enjoy.
The only way his response could have been better would have been to end it with the words, “So put that in your peace pipe and smoke it!”
Say it with me, kids: We must never stop mocking her.