Last night, by contrast, I was visible in Stossel’s studio before and after Obama’s State of the Union, joking about the fact that we’ve reached the point where math is apparently considered irrelevant for government spending purposes. With a $12 trillion debt and a couple trillion more in “stimulus” spending, I asked, why not spend quadrillions or septivigitillions (the latter, as I only now recall, being a word, likely misspelled here, that I think I got from H.P. Lovecraft’s hyperbolic descriptions of how old the Outer Gods are or something like that)? Then, being more serious, I suggested abolishing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and the military if we want to get serious about debt reduction (hey, we’d still have the state governments, remember, so don’t say it’s all that radical).
I was pleased to discover that seated near me in the front row of the non-randomized Stossel audience were fellow libertarians Nick Gillespie and David Boaz, and we spoke briefly about a very different video production I’m rather excited about: the new documentary from the director of An Inconvenient Truth. Astonishingly, his upcoming Waiting for Superman, about public education, apparently does not hew to the leftist party line but rather exposes the way in which teachers unions, probably the most sinister force in domestic politics, systematically and deliberately block innovations such as magnet schools that might help students but weaken unionized teachers’ bargaining power and bureaucratic authority. When Woody Allen’s Sleeper suggested that mid-century teachers union leader Al Shanker destroyed civilization, he wasn’t too far wrong.
Already, the leftists are complaining about Waiting for Superman.
And speaking of waiting for Superman, I’m pleased that due to a programming delay, I can wait until Friday next week to watch the Smallville episode slated to feature the Justice Society of America — which means tomorrow I can watch the final episode of Dollhouse. It’s a good show, but with characters whose personalities are completely malleable and programmable, I think it was always an uphill battle trying to popularize it among audience members who, not being sociopaths, want familiar characters they feel they know, can predict, and can relate to. Many people may also have found the basic moral dilemma of Dollhouse — the fact that the main characters are essentially slaves — creepy and off-putting, though it was interestingly fleshed out over the course of the short-lived series (speaking of slavery: a note on the new Spartacus TV series tomorrow). Poor Joss Whedon deserves another big hit one of these days.
One real-world dame who seems to be programmed with an unusual combo of physical talents, by the way, is former figure skater and now boxer (that has to be a rare combination) Tonya Harding, whose henchman years ago brutally kneecapped daintier skater Nancy Kerrigan — but poor Kerrigan must feel like the kneecapping was nothing now that her own brother has apparently murdered their father. That girl has seen some ups and downs.
One final thought on education: I hope somewhere out there there’s a professor who’s using this week’s trio of literary deaths to teach a class on class: Howard Zinn, chronicler of the poor, Louis Auchincloss, chronicler of the wealthy and powerful, and J.D. Salinger, chronicler of the fictional prep school teen turned morbid social outcast, are all gone.