Thomas Sowell's column today is headlined "A Churchill For Our Times":
Like the great British prime minister, Netanyahu is warning the free world of mortal dangers it would just as soon ignore.
If, as appears very possible from the exit polls, Bibi is ejected from office today, then he will indeed be Churchill: the Churchill of 1945. We're told lower-income voters are more concerned about jobs and wages than a nuclear Iran - just like working-class Britons in the '45 general election were more focused on domestic issues. They, however, could afford to indulge their war-weariness and Winnie-weariness because the thing had been won. That is not the case in Israel today - and, while the mullahs and Obama may be cheering a Middle East sans Bibi, for the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Gulf statelets the options are narrowing in very dark ways.
UPDATE! Netanyahu appears to have survived. If so, you're always stronger for Obama having taken you on and failed. Just ask ISIS.
UPPERDATE! Not a lot of happiness at the White House - or among the media: "Hard Right Shift Delivers Upset Election Win For Netanyahu." How about that?
~The Great Australian Wag, Tim Blair of that ilk, is quoted in my book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn thrice. That's the main reason to buy it - Blair's lines are pretty funny, and in between it's just a hundred or so pages of my sludge-like prose until another of his bons mots shows up. So order your personally autographed copy today (autographed by me, that is - we tried to get Tim to do it, but he wanted too much money.)
Anyway, on Monday he wrote about Jake Bilardi, the "weedy Melbourne teenager", scion of a prosperous family of Aussie atheists who went looking for some meaning in his life and found Islam. He self-detonated in a suicide bombing in Ramadi last week. Blair's column quoted the views of fellow believers at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre:
"I've actually never seen him utter a word at the table when I was serving the food, cleaning up the table, nothing. He was the last person I would expect to actually go there," said former youth centre worker Furkan Derya.
I furkan derya to find a better name than Furkan Derya.
Next thing you know, some BBC fellow called Phil Mackie Tweeted:
When sub editors aren't paying attention, or perhaps they were? This report on #ISIS recruit in Aussie Telegraph
The "sub-editors aren't paying attention" line meant that, as Mackie saw it, the Furkan Derya line wasn't supposed to end up in the paper. It was just a little culturally insensitive jest between Blair and his editor, and the editor forgot to take it out before the presses rolled. This is how it works at too many news outlets, including Mr Mackie's: all the good stuff is in the backstage banter between journo and editor, but it's all purĂ©ed into bland homogenized vanilla pabulum fit for the masses.
I can assure Mr Mackie that's not how it works with Tim Blair. There's no difference between what he says in private and what he says in public. But Mackie should have been able to tell that himself from Blair's column, given that he says that "the hardest job in the Middle East" would be "finding enough mass on this kid to attach the explosives" - and that, as with Furkan Derya, he makes a joke about the guy's name: "Bilardi the Jihadi".
Nevertheless, another prissy little BBC twit called Callum May, who appears not to have read the original column, took Mackie's thought and ran with it:
Don't write stuff in copy you don't want printed. Massive howlerâ€¦
Whereupon the usual Twitterstorm followed. It's true that stuff occasionally gets through the editing process that wasn't meant to. In my early days in Fleet Street, one of the music reviewers filed a piece about a charity performance of Handel's Water Music that had raised a lot of money. He headlined it "Golden Showers at the Festival Hall" (or wherever it was), and everyone in the office enjoyed a massive titter because the classical guy didn't know what a "golden shower" was. And the editor made a mental note to change the headline after lunch, and we all went off to the pub for the usual 14 pints. And by the time we came back about 4pm, he was so rat-arsed he'd completely forgotten about taking out the golden showers.
However, the comments by the Beeb boys and other Brits - and the near universal assumption that a typical Tim Blair cheap gag wasn't meant for public consumption - testify to something else: the strange craven state of contemporary Fleet Street, a world in which a prudent journalist with an eye to self-preservation reflexively self-edits, and thus, if anything sneaks through onto the page that discombobulates even ever so mildly the official multiculti ideology, it must be a mistake. Even when it was made plain that Blair's crack was not any kind of sub-editing error, The Independent refused to let go and ran a queeny little piece calling the joke "outrageous":
What makes this a whole lot worse is that that it apparently isn't a case of copy being printed accidentally - it was meant to be published, and you can still read the offensive bit online.
Oh, my! Shocking! I wrote for The Independent for its first five years, and I can't imagine the Indy of those days hiring a po-faced dweeb like Matthew Champion. Right now, a thousand citizens of western nations sign up for ISIS every week. That's "outrageous" and "offensive", and we should be able to talk about it openly and honestly without Champion eunuchs attempting to hedge in the conversation even more than it already is.
~Just when you think the line at Starbucks can't get any slower, they come up with ingenious new ways to fine-tune their business model:
Starbucks to encourage baristas to discuss race relations with customers
"You just don't get coffee culture," sighed a friend. What "culture"? The coffee houses of 17th-century England were hives of business: They spawned the Stock Exchange and Lloyd's of London. The coffee houses of 18th-century Paris were hives of ideas: At CafĂ© Procope, Voltaire, Rousseau, and the gang met to thrash out the Enlightenment. The coffee houses of 21st-century America have spawned the gingerbread eggnog macchiato and an accompanying CD compilation.
But now you'll be able to listen to your barista's views on slavery reparations as you wait twenty minutes for your Trayvonato with an extra shot. No justice, no peace, no foam.
~On Wednesday morning I'll be keeping my fortnightly date with the great John Oakley on AM640 live across Toronto at 8.30am Eastern.