A few thoughts on the passing scene:
~I hardly ever read The Washington Post these days, mainly because everything in it is either wrong or, alternatively, right too late. As an example of the latter, consider this plaintive story:
KALPAKI, Greece â€” Another school year was starting, with students arriving for their first day and lining up by grade, but when one mother dropped off her first-grader and watched him take his place, she wondered: Where are all the children?
"There were so few of them," said Vasso Harisiadi, who had attended school in the same town. "I thought the yard would be full of kids."
The newest class of children at Kalpaki Elementary was, instead, a reflection of Greece's intensifying demographic troubles.
It's over twelve years since I published America Alone. You don't even have to get as far as page one, chapter one: The first mention of Greek demography, of Greek fertility rates, the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding gag, all crop up in the prologue on page xvii or whatever it is. Back in 2006, all the smart guys at The Economist and elsewhere pronounced me "alarmist".
Five years later in After America:
You can't borrow against the future because, in the crudest sense, you don't have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?
Welcome to My Big Fat Greek Funeral.
In the wake of America Alone's publication, I was invited to discuss its thesis with various presidents, vice-presidents, prime ministers, princes and even a queen (although not the Queen).
But none of them did anything about it.
And so here we are, almost a generation on. And, by the time The Washington Post notices the problem, it's too late to do anything about it.
~ As an example of Post wrongness, here's a column from an old comrade. Les gilets jaunes shut down Paris for yet another weekend following Sa MajestĂ© le Grand Macron's imperious pronouncement to his ingrate subjects: "Let them pool cars!" France held its presidential election in the wake of Brexit and Trump, and the country's elite were terrified by the prospect of outsider Marine Le Pen prevailing over the despised incumbent Hollande. So the insiders came up with an outsider of their own, an ersatz outsider called Macron. That's working out about as well as might have been expected. The insiders might have done better to let Mme Le Pen win and then destroy the outsider's presidency from the inside, as Washington's insiders have tried to do for two years (culminating in the impeachment fever this weekend).
Among the admirers of M Macron was my old editor at The Wall Street Journal, Max Boot, a NeverTrumper who's now "left the right" and, following an on-air altercation at Fox, took a swipe at Tucker Carlson for "yukking it up with Mark Steyn" over Russia. But in these fractious times we must find our yuks where we can. So last year Max Tweeted:
To defeat populism, America needs its own Macron--a charismatic leader who can make centrism cool.
Macron is cool mainly in the sense of cold and frosty and heartless - hence the 23 per cent approval rating. So much for all that charisma: that and 3.95â‚¬ will get you a cafĂ© au lait. So poor old Boot's year-old Tweet got dusted off last week and subjected to much mockery, which he used to bolster his thesis that all these French protests are the work of Russian bots. Boy, I'll bet Louis XVI wishes he'd thought of that one.
If you're having trouble keeping track, the French protests, Trump, Brexit, the Austrian and Italian elections, and the sudden cancellation of the "Murphy Brown" reboot are all the work of Russian bots. Whereas the Tijuana caravan, the UK grooming gangs and that rental car heading toward you on the sidewalk outside the Berlin Christmas market are the authentic vox populi.
Anyway, my main interest in Max's defense of the inept and unfeeling Macron was this riposte from Katie Hopkins to Boot's blaming of the bots:
The world thinks you are a cockwomble, sir. If you are looking for someone to blame - find a mirror darling.
Boot was befuddled:
I have no idea what a 'cockwomble' is, but it doesn't sound like a compliment.
"Cockwomble" was new to me, too, but the etymological analysis of Steve Sailer's British correspondent seems persuasive - with "cock" in the sense of fool, perhaps with a whiff of the Australianism "soft cock" about it. It would also be pleasing to think it something of a portmanteau with a hint of "coxscomb" in the sense of the medieval court jester's hat or the seventeeth-century fop.
At any rate, it's an enviable epithet. Indeed, Max Boot appears to be the first American ever to be called a cockwomble. The latter syllables derive, of course, from Elizabeth Beresford's beloved children's classic and their UK hit-parade incarnation in the Seventies. Here they are - the actual Wombles, not some knock-off tribute group - performing live on the BBC a couple of years ago. In the spirit of the season, we wish Max Boot a Cockwombling Merry Christmas:
The popster Wombles were created by the multi-talented Mike Batt, who turns up on our recent Non-Stop Number Ones special, in which I mention en passant that Mike thinks I'm a bit of a cockwomble myself, although he has never formally designated me as such. For more of Batt's work, here's a very different seasonal song he wrote with Tim Rice, as featured last year on our Song of the Week.
Just to tie it all together, in last week's Sinatra auction at Sotheby's Tim was angling for a piece of From Here to Eternity memorabilia (Tim wrote a musicalization thereof) but was outbid by some guy. "The rotter," says Tim.
If Max Boot were less of a cockwomble, would he be a more effective rotter?
~Oh, and just to really tie it all together, the Tim Rice/Alan Menken song in the Disney film Aladdin, "One Jump Ahead", replaced an earlier number (not by Tim but by the late Howard Ashman) called "Proud of Your Boy". "Proud of Your Boy" is whence derives the name of the Proud Boys, lately in the news for one reason or another. The Proud Boys were founded by "CRTV Tonight" host Gavin McInnes, who over the weekend departed Blaze TV, with which CRTV merged just a week ago. McInnes is the second CRTV personality to leave the new network, following Michelle Malkin, who exited on the very first day. Both departures are being blamed by the Internet on Blaze founder Glenn Beck, a NeverTrumper though not (as far as I'm aware) a cockwomble. Glenn Beck just said on the radio that the McInnes firing was nothing to do with him.
So after one week the new Blaze TV, the supposed one-stop shop for the full spectrum of conservative voices, seems to be going gangbusters. The most plausible explanation for Cary Katz, the owner of CRTV and a former Jim Jeffords donor, is that he's a put-up job by George Soros to destroy American conservative media from within. If so, he's doing a grand job.
Is Katz a cockwomble? Well, he's a litigious cockwomble who sues over everything. On the other hand, if Max Boot is the first American in history ever to be called a cockwomble, it'd be kinda fun to be the first guy to be sued for calling someone a cockwomble - although, with my luck, "cockwomble" will undoubtedly be the only epithet not covered by the First Amendment.
But, upon reflection, the real cockwombles are those who still believe Katz. As I've noted before, when he broke my contract and sued me for ten million bucks, there were those who enjoyed seeing Katz screw me over - and, as I pointed out, the salient fact is not that he screwed Steyn over but that he's a guy who screws people over. Here's what I said on our Clubland Q&A back on May 1st about Katz and CRTV:
I knew he was a bum by then, but what's interesting, if you happen to be one of those CRTV hosts, if you happen to be Steven Crowder, or Gavin McInnes or Michelle Malkin or any of the other CRTV hosts, and you think you've got a pretty sweet deal with Cary Katz, just be aware that when he says he's not going to be bound by the confidential binding arbitration,this sleazy bum isn't saying that he's breaking my contract or that my contract's worthless, he's telling Michelle Malkin, Steven Crowder, Gavin McInnes, all these other guys at CRTV that their contracts are worthless.
And here we are, six months later, and two-thirds of those specifically named CRTV hosts are out on their ear and their entire back catalogue vaporized at the new website. How long before Mark Levin realizes he's been comprehensively cockwombled?
Ah, but nobody listens to me. Which brings me back to all those princes and prime ministers we came in with.
Oh, and naturally Katz is currently suing me for the above remarks. (Statement 64 here.) If you give money to this man's businesses, you're bankrolling a guy who's destroying American conservatism. (PS Cary, that's political speech expressly covered by the First Amendment, so piss off.)
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline starting with my round-up of a world where "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a hate crime but Amazon sends five-year-old boys blow-up sheep sex-dolls for the school Nativity play. Our Saturday movie date was the world's first animated Hannukah gross-out comedy, and our Sunday song selection offered a Sotheby's-authenticated Sinatra classic. But our marquee presentation this weekend was the first of this year's festive Tales for Our Time, a seasonal sampling from a beloved American classic by Louis May Alcott - Little Women: Click to hear me read Part One, Part Two and Part Three - or settle in for a good old binge-listen here. If you were too busy slipping something into your blow-up sheep's drink this weekend, I hope you'll want to catch up with one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.
The second and very different of this Christmas season's festive yarns airs this weekend at SteynOnline. Tales for Our Time is made possible thanks to members of The Mark Steyn Club, for which we are profoundly grateful. You can find more details about the Steyn Club here. And don't forget our special Gift Membership, which makes a fine Christmas present, and this festive season comes with a special personalized Christmas card from yours truly and a handsomely-engraved gift-boxed USB stick with three of our most popular Tales for Our Time for your pal or relative to listen to in the car or perambulating through the wilderness or almost anywhere else. (The trio of tales is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time Machine and The Thirty-Nine Steps.) For more on our Christmas Gift Membership, see here. And do join me on Friday for the second of this year's Yuletide tales.
Catch you on the telly tonight with Tucker live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific - and on the radio in a rare Tuesday appearance with John Oakley in Toronto at 5pm Eastern.