Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“First Amendment, US Constitution
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
“Article 20, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
MANOSQUE, ALPES-DE-HAUTE-PROVENCE, FRANCE”The service stations here had no gasoline for a few days in late October, which was hard on this part of the country with little public transportation. There seemed to be enough diesel, though, for the trucks and farm machinery on which the rural population relies. Most people down here, despite being inconvenienced by strikes against raising the state pension’s full entitlement age from 65 to 67, supported the strikers rather than President Nicolas Sarkozy. The strikes and demonstrations were so pervasive that you”d think every French worker was a card-carrying union member. But you”d be mistaken. At nine percent of the workforce, France has Europe’s lowest rate of union membership. Even in the union-hating US of A, over 12 percent of workers are unionized.
At least down here in Provence, part of the explanation for the strikes” popularity is that this is Maquis country. The Resistance fought hard here during WWII to make the Allied Invasion of France a success. Almost every political confrontation since the war has been about what you or your parents did then, much as Ireland is divided over what the Free Staters and the IRA did in the early 1920s. It makes people on both sides prefer confrontation to negotiation, strikes to discussion, and protests to lobbying. Most French rÃ©sistants were socialists and communists”not exclusively, but a majority nonetheless. Proud traditions of opposition and resistance die hard, even when their cause may be wrong.
Most seem to agree that Sarkozy is a fool, just as many Italians tend to regard Silvio Berlusconi as a crook and a buffoon. That is probably why Sarko is a shoo-in for reelection in 2012. His popularity, which was high when he was bashing Gypsies and burqa-wearing women, is lower than any time during his (or almost anyone else’s) presidency at 29 percent. Support for the strikes held steady at nearly 70 percent, even when schools closed, transportation collapsed, and small-scale violence erupted. Despite the protests, Parliament passed the law on October 22 to raise state pensions” minimum ages and vesting requirements, and Sarkozy has said he will sign it into law by November 15. Despite public protests against his policies, Sarko won. It is hard not to admire him for that, especially when little else about his reign could be described as admirable.
The unions should have won, as they did in 1995 when then-President Jacques Chirac attempted a similar restructuring of the state pension. This time around the timing was good”during the rentrÃ©e, when students have returned to school and workers” summer vacations have ended. It meant that everyone was available to strike. The pensions issue was presented as part of the admittedly very real attack on ordinary people’s living standards that force them to pay for bankers” illegal activities. While the French GDP rose 50 percent from 2000 to 2009, the GDP share devoted to wages has been declining since 1985. As is the general global trend, wealth is becoming concentrated in fewer hands.
Last Friday, separate officials in Dubai and England intercepted packages containing bombs in the cargo sections of two USA-bound planes. Each bomb was deemed capable of demolishing the plane carrying it. A woman in the glorified national Islamic terrorist training camp called Yemen was arrested on suspicion of sending the packages. Each bomb’s explosive agent was the chemical PETN, the same compound used in the botched Islamic terrorist attack on a plane headed for Detroit last Christmas Day, only these bombs were said to be “ten times bigger” than the syringe-operated device that fizzled and scorched the scrotum of the failed Motown-bound jihadist elf.
Nine days before the cargo bombs were seized last Friday, NPR fired long-time senior news analyst Juan Williams for appearing on the Fox network and saying that he sometimes feels nervous when he sees people “in Muslim garb” on airplanes.
When he worked at the Washington Post in the early 1990s, the fact that several female staffers filed complaints accusing Williams of sexual harassment was not enough to get him fired.
At the height of the militia scare in 1995, Williams made the following comment on CNN’s Capital Gang:
You have angry white men here, sort of in their natural state, and you know, gone berserk.
Implying that the “natural state” of “angry white men” was to go “berserk” was still not enough to get Williams axed from the Washington Post nor banned from CNN.
This August, commenting on the passage of a Missouri ballot initiative aimed to thwart Obamacare, Williams blamed it on “an echo chamber of older white people.” His employers at NPR were not sufficiently offended to fire him for this, either.
Since he’s a black man, most Americans might find it reasonable for Williams to feel nervous around guys in full Klan regalia, despite the fact that wide-scale racist lynchings of blacks had virtually ceased in America around the time Williams was born in the mid-1950s.
On September 11, 2001, three planes hijacked by Muslim jihadists led to the deaths of nearly three thousand Americans. Throughout American history, it’s estimated that fewer than four thousand blacks were lynched. On a single day less than ten years ago, Muslims on American planes killed nearly three-quarters the aggregate total of blacks lynched throughout all of American history.
“All things considered,” as NPR is fond of saying, Juan Williams may have more imminent reason to fear Muslims on planes than he does angry white men going berserk out in the woods.
But right now, we’re not dealing with a reasonable culture.
Because I hadn’t listened to NPR since, I don’t know, sophomore year in college or something, I decided to give it a fair hearing on my car radio as I wheeled around Atlanta running errands. The local affiliate’s announcers had the same opiated and nearly lobotomized tone in their voices that I remember from NPR’s hosts back in my college days. The network has a tendency to render the airwaves so lifeless, I seriously began wondering how many Americans die yearly from falling asleep while listening to NPR and driving.
I happened to catch the station during their fall pledge drive, and nearly everything you need to know about their target demographic can be summarized by the fact that the host said the cost of pledging to NPR was equal to sacrificing only a single lattÃ© daily.
The polls and pundits are all in alignment now.
The Republican Party is headed for a victory Tuesday to rival the biggest and best of those that the party has known in the lifetime of most Americans.
In 1938, the GOP won 72 seats in the House.
In 1946, Republicans swept both houses and presented Harry Truman with a “fighting 80th Congress” that contained three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
In 1966, Republicans picked up 47 House seats to set up the comeback of Nixon, who had led the party out of the wilderness of Goldwater’s defeat.
In 1994, the Republican Revolution added 52 House seats and captured both chambers for the first time since Eisenhower’s first term.
Looking back on those Republican triumphs, and forward to Tuesday’s, what do these Republican off-year victories have in common?
In all four—1938, 1946, 1966 and 1994—the GOP won not because of what the party had accomplished or the hopes it had raised, but because Republicans were the only alternative on the ballot to a Democratic Party and a president voters wished to punish.
By 1938, America had had its fill of FDR, as the Depression returned with a vengeance and his aristocratic arrogance became manifest in the crude attempt to purge Democratic senators and pack the Supreme Court with six new justices who’d rubber-stamp his New Deal.
In 1946, Truman was perceived to have been as naive as FDR in trusting “good old Joe” Stalin, who was imposing his murderous Bolshevik rule on 100 million Eastern Europeans and whose Maoist allies were waging war on America’s ally in China. What our boys won on the battlefield, our diplomats have frittered away, the country believed.
In 1966, the nation was reacting viscerally to the stalemate in Vietnam, rising casualties, campus disorders, soaring crime, and riots in Harlem and Watts, all seen as the legacy of LBJ’s Great Society.
In 1994, it was gays in the military, Hillarycare and the public perception that Bill Clinton was more liberal than he had let on that cost Democrats both houses. The post-election spin that the nation had rallied to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was pure propaganda.
Tuesday’s election, too, will be no embrace of the GOP, but rather a repudiation of what Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have come to represent. All are seen as power-hungry politicians of an out-of-touch regime that is seizing control of private wealth and private lives as it fails in its duty to win our wars, balance our budgets and secure our borders.
America’s midterm elections are on Tuesday, but they”ve already voted for their favorite news network, and it sure as hell ain”t the Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company. Have you seen their latest advertising campaign? How could you not? It’s the biggest campaign in the network’s history. They”re going with the remarkably bland catchphrase “Lean Forward,” which conjures up images of subway commuters going to work on a Monday morning (yawn), though in this case it’s more like a suicidal geriatric on the edge of a cliff.
Recent prime-time ratings show Fox with about 2.5 million viewers as MSNBC struggles for a third of that total. Fox couldn”t resist kicking their little brother in the nuts with a rival campaign entitled “Move Forward” and the tagline, “We don”t lean up against a wall. We break it down.” Awesome.
To watch the ads side-by-side is to see what was once two Americas but is now a big fat America and some anorexic in the corner shaking her tiny fist. The “Lean Forward” ad looks like a YouTube montage of home movies and sounds like an 80-year-old Mexican who just got out of bed. The message seems to be: “We don”t hate minorities.” Fox nods a polite “Thanks” and takes off with a blistering ad that shows reporters in the center of tear-gas clouds screaming their heads off while Hummers race through gigantic explosions in the background. Where MSNBC has kids waterskiing on a Sunday afternoon, Fox has the Coast Guard ripping through the water at 60 mph. This is how Fox pushed MSNBC out of the number-one spot. They said, “Move.”
It reminds me of these dueling giant poster ads I saw in Berlin a few years ago. You”d get off the train in the city center, walk up the stairs, and be met with a 200-foot-high Carlsberg beer bottle and the slogan, “Probably the best lager in the world.” A few days later Heineken covered an adjacent building with an equally tall poster saying, “The best lager in the world.”
Throughout his life my friend Porfirio Rubirosa made about five to ten million dollars by romancing women, and he married three of the world’s richest: Flor de Oro Trujillo, the Dominican strongman’s only daughter; Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress; and Barbara Hutton, the original “Poor Little Rich Girl.” Rubi spent money he’d earned in the bedroom on the good things in life: mostly other women, strings of polo ponies, and two very nice houses in France. He died in the early hours of July 5, 1965, driving home from a nightclub when he hit a tree in his Ferrari. We had been celebrating a polo victory together, but I had left Jimmy’s early to fly to Nice for a tennis tournament.
Rubi came to mind because of this Granatino man who just lost his case on appeal. “Granatino” sounds Italian, but he’s a wealthy French industralist’s son. The French are rightly proud of their gigolos, Thierry Roussel having held the record for years—$100 million out of Christina Onassis—until eclipsed by Francois-Marie Banier, who got more than a billion Euros from Liliane Bettencourt across the Channel. Poor Rubi, he was the only real man among them, and he got peanuts in return. When Rubi died he was almost dead-broke. His widow sold their beautiful house west of Paris for a large sum to Paul-Louis Weiller and has lived a comfortable life ever since. Rubi was planning a coup just before the accident. He had his eye on JFK’s sister Pat Lawford, but I’m not sure it was a good idea. The Kennedys are notoriously tight-fisted, and Rubi liked to live well, something the Kennedys never managed to understand or do.
Roussel sued me about twenty years ago, and a Greek court awarded him one drachma. He was always a lowlife but managed to get out of debt with his marriage to Christina Onassis, whom he ripped off mercilessly and unashamedly. He now lives in Switzerland off his winnings. Banier is a different kettle of fish altogether. Roussel has never opened a book and judges art by price. Banier is an artist and once left a book of his in my New York house with a beautiful dedication to the mother of my children. He also took the time to discuss painting with my son and was very sweet to my daughter. But he got greedy. Less than one billion is enough for anyone, unless we’re talking about lowlifes such as the owners of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Banier should have stopped at that magic number, 900 million.
The irony is that La Bettencourt was a hell of a looker until 25 years ago. I saw her once at a ball and preferred her to most women there, although I had no idea she had a shilling or two. She was then in her fifties and stunningly beautiful. As is the German lady who has to pay 70,000 pounds every year until 2024 to Granatino, yet another gigolo who got greedy. Something Rubi never did. Nothing so vulgar as going to court over money for Rubi. All his ex-wives loved him because he was a tiger in the bedroom, a hell of an athlete outside it, and very romantic to boot. So they showered him with presents. La Hutton bought him 80 suits and 17 polo ponies. La Duke gave him a B-17, which he flew recklessly and without knowing how to navigate by asking friends such as me to follow the railroad lines from Deauville to Paris.
Roussel was no sportsman, just a greedy little nothing picking up crumbs. Banier is a charmer who has always lived off others but always chose the winning side. His picture next to Malraux during the 1968 demonstration against the students proves my point. Who the hell would have guessed in May of 1968 that lining up with Debre and Malraux was a winning bet? (There is a great pic of him in the current Vanity Fair during the demonstration.) Granatino, I am happy to report, I have never met. But I wouldn’t mind meeting his ex-wife, a real looker judging by the pictures. What I would like to do is have my friend Leopold Bismarck invite her to one of his parties—Germans sticking together and all that—and I’ll take over after a few toasts to the immortal Fatherland. Her ex seems a terrible fellow. He already had rich parents but wanted more. They met at Tramp, which is par for the course. Tramp is all about money and sex. This ridiculous Granatino worked for JP Morgan, where greed is taught in the manner horsemanship was taught in Viennese military schools. I am happy he ended up with little, although the gigolo did pocket one million quid. Not bad for bedding a pretty German, the lucky bum.
But back to Rubi. Once upon a time, gigolos were he-men. Now most of them are effete if not gay. And speaking of the latter, I’m happy as hell that disgusting Saudi camel driver got twenty years minimum for torturing his manservant to death. The media are ridiculous, calling these bums by their phony titles. They only know how to treat the poor badly, screw their camels, and abuse women. They make Granatino sound like a prince. Mind you, the camel driver will have plenty of sex for the next ten years, satisfaction guaranteed.
As I may have mentioned, I have a friend who sends me links to New York Times pieces she thinks I might find interesting. Those occasional snippets aside, I don’t read the Times. Why mess with my digestion at this stage of life?
Last Sunday, however, a friend was giving me a lift from Baltimore to New York. We took a bathroom break at an expressway service stop, and mooching vaguely around the concessions, I thought I’d pick up a newspaper so I could read out amusing excerpts to my driver when conversation flagged.
But conversation did not flag, so I arrived home with a mostly unread copy of October 24th’s Sunday New York Times. It’s been years since I held a whole Times in my hands. Curious, I did some random browsing.
Here is my report. Yes, I have read a copy of The New York Times“so you don’t have to.
“¢ Main news section. “G.O.P. Is Poised to Seize House, If Not Senate.” You don’t say. This is a newspaper? Something about Iraq: “Private Gunmen Fed Turmoil.” To hell with Iraq.
Mexico: “Gunmen burst into a small concrete house in a working-class Ciudad JuÃ¡rez neighborhood where a family was celebrating a son’s birthday and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 20….A 13-year-old girl was the youngest of the dead.” Coming soon to a Mexicanized U.S. neighborhood near you.
Haiti: “Fears Cholera Cases Will Spread in the Capital.” Hey, we’d better save those people so they can go on producing little Haitians at a total fertility rate of 3.72 (according to the CIA World Factbook) into a land stripped bare of vegetation and with no significant industrial or service sector.
“¢ Week in Review. “In Losing, There May Be Winning””the 127th article I’ve seen about how a Republican takeover of Congress may be good for Ogabe. Can’t bring self to read another one; and is, that, comma, necessary?
Editorials: A big long one preaching the socialized healthcare gospel, a shorter one railing against multinational corporations. Hey, aren’t you the one-world open-borders people? Nice to see the spirit of Anthony Lewis still lives, anyway.
Op-Eds: Frank Rich on “the obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry.” Careful what you wish for, Frank; that’s the only industry we have now. The others all fled to escape the regulators, revenuers, unions, and trial lawyers.
Thomas Friedman on healthcare jobs, which “can be done in a low-skilled way by cheap foreign workers and less-educated Americans, or they can be done by skilled labor that is trained….” I think we kind of made that decision, Tom. As for your skilled labor that is trained: silk purse, sow’s ear, Tom.
“¢ Book Review. I’m not well disposed to the Book Review. I’ve published four books with respectable publishers, and the Times only reviewed one. Furthermore, I’ve been writing book reviews”sapient, witty, penetrating book reviews“for thirty years, yet the Times has never commissioned one from me. So screw the Book Review.
“¢ Arts & Leisure. Oddly, the A&L section’s front page is dominated by a huge black-and-white photograph showing an asteroid’s cracked, cratered, pockmarked surface. Taken by the Cassini space probe, no doubt….Oh, no, wait a minute; it’s actually a close-up photograph of Keith Richards.
The article covers Keef’s new autobiography, Life. Seems a bit odd to name your autobiography after a magazine, but if you must, I suppose Life is better than The Weekly Standard.
Reporter Janet Maslin struggles to come up with anything new to say about a bloke who’s been on the public scene for nigh on half a century. A musician, too”double tough. Musicians rarely have anything to say and are often totally inarticulate. I’d leap the ice floes across a river in a winter flood to have dinner with Samuel Johnson, Winston Churchill, or Mark Twain; but Mozart? Callas? Hank Williams? Bleh.
You know what gets me hot under my Brooks Brothers collar? It’s the goofballs who go off the rails into fantasy-land when it comes to formal wear.
What do you suppose it means when the invitation calls for “black tie”? There you go, Mr. Mensa”you”re supposed to wear a black jacket and trousers, a white shirt, and a black bow tie. Silk facing on the jacket, a stripe of similar ilk down the trou, a piquÃ© shirt with French cuffs, and some patent-leather shoes properly complete the outfit.
Black tie does not mean some cockamamie, off-the-wall, colored cravat with matching cummerbund that make the wearer look like a carnival freak-show barker.
A fine point: Ironically, the best tailors, Anderson & Sheppard, make their formal outfit in the darkest midnight-blue material. Mr. Halsey, their now-retired boss man, told me that blue is more flattering under artificial light than jet-black. The key is that the blue is so dark that the fellow in black doesn”t know why he looks not as nice.
Beau Brummell, the magnificent Regency fop, invented black and white as a gentleman’s evening uniform. He wore a tailcoat. It remained for the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) to invent the tailless dinner jacket. This style was brought to America by one of my ancestors” pals, a member of the Tuxedo Club, Tuxedo Park, New York. Hence the common appellation by which the dinner suit is known among hoi polloi. However, you might as well have a sign on your back saying “rube” to call the dinner suit a “tuxedo.”
The point to remember is that the outfit is a uniform. Formal dress does not present the male with an opportunity to stand out in any garish fashion. You are meant to be a somber foil to the ladies in their spectacular gowns and jewels.
I”ll deal quickly with a couple exceptions. In Palm Beach it’s OK, in fact it’s de rigueur, for the smart Coconuts at their New Year’s Eve Ball to wear a white dinner jacket. For formal all-male dinners, a velvet smoking jacket, perhaps even with frogging and quilted lapels, is not out of the question if the occasion is frivolous enough and you know everyone. Let’s put it this way: If it’s a stag dinner for one of your mates at a club, fine. But if it’s, say, a remembrance dinner for a fallen brother officer”ixnay on the foppery.
Here’s a tip on the shirt: Marcella or piquÃ© are the smartest, and I”ve seen ones with a fly front and no studs. First of all, it can have many buttons (that don”t show) so the shirt doesn”t gap open to reveal any fish-belly skin. Secondly, it obviates the need to mess with studs, invariably looking for a missing one. Unless you”re some kind of Oriental potentate, the gentleman’s general rule is: The less jewelry, the better.
There you are, Mr. Social Alpiniste, Mr. Tenzing Norgay of the Social Himalayas: I”ve given you a crash course in how to look like Mr. Wellborn.
Here’s the thing: Fashion, change, flashiness, or eccentricity are out of place in men’s formal wear. If you can stand watching the Oscars, you”ll see every imaginable variety of clown outfit on the men. There was a time when actors such as Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, and Jimmy Stewart dressed like gentlemen (check out Slim Aaron’s photo of them). No longer. Except for Jack Nicholson, your celluloid male players dress like ponces in a Tangiers male brothel.
Even the president has been sucked into the solecism of wearing a four-in-hand necktie rather than the bow. It’s not on, Sir. Nor is the shirt with an attached wing collar, which is impossible to have cleaned by a modern laundry.
Here’s how to deal with the guy in the rope-lapelled, flecked dinner jacket and the matching silver tie, cummerbund, and hankie set. Sidle up and ask in the sincerest way: “Will you be favoring us with a few songs tonight?”
The new documentary Freakonomics harkens back to the good old days of 2005. Remember when economists, having permanently perfected the economy, graciously allowed their attention to wander to crime fighting, sumo wrestling, baby naming, and other fields not traditionally enlightened by their insights? University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt teamed up with journalist Stephen J. Dubner to compile one of the Housing Bubble era’s biggest airport-bookstore bestsellers: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything. Levitt and Dubner have now recruited some prominent documentarians to anthologize five disparate chapters of Freakonomics.
The most entertaining is the segment by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) on those not fully thought-through first names with which some African-Americans have saddled their babies ever since the late 1960s” Black Pride movement. For example, scholars have counted 228 varietals of “Unique,” including “Uneek” (a fine name for a future rodent exterminator).
Still, isn”t there something incongruous about Levitt and Dubner making fun of the forlorn hopes uneducated people invest in names? After all, they got rich by inflicting the word “Freakonomics” upon the English language. It’s hard to imagine their clever and readable but random little book hitting it big if it had been more descriptively titled Quantitative Musings on Miscellaneous Social Phenomena.
Are black children’s lives permanently damaged by all this parental originality? In 2005, Levitt and Dubner rather callously concluded that, in effect, if your parents named you “M”qheal” rather than “Michael,” your bigger problem is likely your last name. You are evidently descended from some mighty poor decision-makers.
Spurlock, however, adds a useful coda from another social scientist who mailed out rÃ©sumÃ©s under white and black first names that were otherwise identical. Job applications bearing Ghetto Fabulous monikers are more likely to go straight into Human Resources Departments” circular files. So, African-American parents: For the sake of your kids” careers, please resist your whimsical urges. (Somebody should study the impact of the science-fictiony first names that Mormons dream up, such as D”Loaf, Zanderalex, and ElVoid.)”
Another key to the book’s success was its relentless insistence on Levitt’s supergeniusness. (The coauthors somehow managed to convince readers that the egomania was all Dubner’s reporting rather than Levitt’s boasting.) In reality, most of Levitt’s purportedly novel insights”for instance, when selling your house, don”t trust your real-estate agent when she advises you to quickly accept a lowball offer”were old news. (Regrettably, the movie doesn”t tell us how many trusting Freakonomics readers are now in foreclosure because they held out for a higher price at the Housing Bubble’s peak.)
On screen, though, Levitt seems less the epic brainiac of Dubnerian legend and more a friendly, handsome blond man with a lisp (a manly Daffy Duck-style lithp, not a hissy Al Gore-like lissssp).
I am a 65-year-old man. I just got my 2nd divorce. I was wondering: Do I have any chance of getting another girl on a budget (I spent quite a bit on Wife Number 2)?
“Playboy on a Budget in L.A.
Dear Playboy on a Budget in L.A.,
NO! You have no chance at your age of getting a girl on a budget, unless you are going to check yourself into a retirement home and by “girl” you mean a fellow inmate. If by “girl” you mean an actual girl, and not a person of the female gender above age 45 (and I am being generous) who does not look like Frankenstein’s Bride, then let me reiterate: NO, you have no chance!
Assuming you are not going to leave L.A. and move to Cambodia, that your interests do not include uninsured women with expensive diseases or women with children and gambling ex-husbands, and assuming you are not above average and will die at 76 years old, or below average and look like Frankenstein, I think we can come up with some reasonable guidelines.
There are two categories we have to consider: 1) How much you are going to spend on her while you are alive? and 2) How much you are going to leave her (or rather how much does she think you are going to leave her) when you die? For girls age 25-30 you will have to spend recklessly. Whatever they ask for they need to receive, so you are best off looking for a 25-to-30-year-old who does not have expensive tastes. Think about taking a trip to Cuba. Her expected inheritance for the effort needs to be upward of $20 million.
For girls age 40-45 it is a much less expensive undertaking. For example, they will not need a private jet, but you are still a long way from economy travel. You will get away with even cheaper accessories and activities if you increase your romantic gestures and conversation. These women will be more easily seduced because they will be grateful that they finally found a husband. Her expected inheritance for the effort needs to be a minimum of $2 million.
By the way, if ANY of the aforementioned assumptions don”t hold, you should expect your costs to skyrocket.
I always get stressed-out when I go to the salon. I have nothing to say to the person who is cutting, waxing, or washing, but I always feel pressure to chitchat. Is it rude not to talk to them?
“Chatted-Out in Boston
Dear Chatted-Out in Boston,
Once upon a time everyone went to the same hairdresser, likely named Carlos, who was a flamboyant-yet-closeted homosexual who loved to gossip and knew everything and everybody. Everyone would talk to Carlos, and he to them, because they actually had things, important things, to tell each other. Those days have for the most part passed, unless you live in Podunk, E.U.
No, I don”t think you have to chitchat if you are not in the mood. I am not saying those who work in salons are faceless and unimportant people you should outright ignore or treat like annoying flies. It is never wise to be rude to anyone who is helping you do something you can”t do or, rather, you don”t want to do by yourself. And for God’s sake, never anger the waxer!
Before the Tea Party philosophy is ever even tested in America, it will have succeeded, or it will have failed, in Great Britain.
For in David Cameron the Brits have a prime minister who can fairly be described as a Tea Party Tory. Casting aside the guidance of Lord Keynes—government-induced deficits are the right remedy for recessions—Cameron has bet his own and his party’s future on the new austerity. He is making Maggie Thatcher look like Tip O’Neill.
Two headlines Thursday testify that the Tories have seized the Tea Party banner. First was the headline in The Washington Times, “Tea Party Urges Drastic Cutting,” that carried a caveat subhead, “Economists Question If Move Is Wise at This Time.”
Second was the Financial Times banner, “UK Unveils Dramatic Austerity Cutbacks.” The FT story begins, “The U.K.‘s conservative-led coalition has announced the most drastic budget cuts in living memory. …
“The sweeping cuts in entitlements and spending far exceed anything contemplated in the U.S., where Barack Obama … has proposed only a three-year freeze on discretionary spending and Congress is still debating whether to extend tax cuts for the wealthy.”
The Tory budget cuts defense 8 percent and military personnel by 7,000. Translated here, that would mean a cut of $60 billion and about 100,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
By 2015, some 490,000 public-sector employees, 8 percent of the total, will lose their jobs. The rest will have their wages frozen for two years and face a 3-percent-of-salary hike in compulsory contributions to their pension program. The retirement age will rise from 65 to 66.
France is in the 10th day of demonstrations, strikes and riots over President Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62.
If Cameron’s plans take effect and his projections prove correct, Britain’s deficit will fall from 10 percent of gross domestic product to 2 percent.
Writes the FT, “The UK cuts … over four years are the equivalent of 4.5 percent of projected 2014-2015 gross domestic product. Similar cuts in the U.S. would require a cut in public spending of about $650 billion.”
Nothing like that is being discussed here, and even if Republicans capture the House, cuts of that magnitude appear out of the question. The correlation of forces would not permit it.