Vladimir Lenin and the GND: Forgive them, for they know not what they say. In an interesting review of various versions of the Green New Deal the reviewer, one Kate Brown, a professor at MIT, praises these proposals because “they advocate not authoritarianism but an extreme overhaul of democracy.” Praise indeed, at least from the point of view of the new progressives. And in the very next sentence professor Brown supports her point about the democratic advantages of the GND by referring to an authority on the subject of democracy and its virtues. Advocates of the GND “use words Lenin might have uttered, speaking of ‘citizens’ assemblies and workers’ share of factory profits.” No need to worry then, if the GND moves from drawing board to statute book, with the resulting legislation in the tradition of that great democrat, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin.
Vladimir Putin and Rap Music: Russia’ current leader, another Vladimir – this one Putin – is of a similar democratic bent. When informed that rap and hip-hop, er, music contained swear words and attacks on his leadership, he first considered banning it. But the persuasive means not being quite what they were in the other Vladimir’s day, or at least their use circumscribed by a need for international acceptability and at least some popular support, Putin concluded, “If it is impossible to stop, then we need to lead, and in an appropriate way, direct … We need to lead and guide [rap music]… in the right direction and with the necessary means”. That is what he told his cultural advisers to do. And that is what some are doing. They, too, are fans of Lenin, who once advised that “…Liberty is precious, so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”
Tempering One’s Temper: Which rationing might make a new product from Hammacher Schlemmer a runaway best-seller in Russia and other countries where dissent is discouraged, where pro-Trumpers feel a need to remain silent in the face of pollsters, and in Madison Square Garden, where expressions of unhappiness when the Knicks display their limited talents can lead to eviction by the owner. The online catalogue offers “The Temper Temperer,” a device that fits over the mouth and is secured by an elastic strap behind the head. It is described as a “voice muffler … that stifles expressive outbursts resulting from …politics or a sports team’s performance.”
Expressive Vocal Outbursts Are Not The Problem In France: No need to worry about such vocal outbursts in Paris, where les gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, prefer action – riots, smashed windows, flames – to mere talk. In that great French tradition, action, not talk – is the form taken by protests against Paris’ new street urinals. Those who find them unsightly, especially when in use, and especially when situated on the Ile St Louis, described by TripAdvisor as “full of charming sights”, joined with those who accuse these additions to Paris’ streets of being sexist because they are designed for use by men, plugged up two of the urinals with cement and festooned them with tampons. If Liberté must be limited in the interests of greater Equalité so be it, best said accompanied by the famous Gallic shrug.
Protests, British Style – Brits Remain Calm While The French Are Revolting: Our British friends are not given to such violence. One day the people of the Yorkshire town of Maltby discovered what the British press describes as “a gleaming new bus station erected on a street that no buses go down.” That service had been cancelled two months earlier. Even though the town council had wasted £2,000 of their hard-earned money, the more phlegmatic burghers did not reach for the nearest paving stone for use against nearby windows, set cars aflame, or even festoon the unused stations with photos of buses that would never pass it by.
Protest Avoidance – Tots Calm In The Face Of Assault By Bureaucrats: Back here in America, a protest by tots was avoided by the swift action of New York governor Andrew Cuomo. A seven-year-old selling lemonade from a stand he set up opposite the Saratoga County Fair was shut down by a state health inspector because he didn’t have a permit. Vendors at the Fair were charging $7 per glass for fresh-squeezed lemonade, but apparently were not confident that the quality difference was sufficient to win the day against the youngster’s 75-cent price for the drink made from a mix. So they called in the bureaucrats who, after ordering a shutdown, quickly relented, only to just as quickly revert to their previous position. Never one to be caught on the wrong side of history, or voter opinion, Governor Cuomo offered to pay the $30 fee for a permit if, reports the Wall Street Journal, “it turns out the boy really does need a permit.” Which he won’t if the legislature passes a bill thrown into the hopper by state senator Jim Tedisco exempting from the permit requirement little boys and girls who venture into the tough lemonade market.
The NYT And No News News: Finally, the good old New York Times continues to find ways to blur the line between reporting and comment. A Page-One story headlined “Trade War Leads Chinese Spending In US To Plunge” reports a 90% decline in Chinese investment “which is being felt broadly across the economy.” Due in good part although not only to the chilling effect of President Trump’s new regulations, tariffs and hostile attitude towards investment by Chinese firms. There follow examples of the devasting effect on local economies around the country. Then we come to paragraph 26, buried below the fold on page 8. “Weaker Chinese investment is unlikely to derail the United States economy as it is a small fraction of that from Britain, Canada, Japan and Germany.” Oh!