George F. Will: A feast of things for which to give thanks in 2011
"People who live in a Golden Age usually go around complaining how yellow everything looks." — Randall Jarrell, "A Sad Heart at the Supermarket"
WASHINGTON — This is not a Golden Age, which distinguishes it from no other age. Although we are told it is our duty to be morose about the nation's trajectory, many satisfying, edifying or entertaining things have happened this year. So on Thanksgiving, which still keeps Super Bowl Sunday in second place on the list of days when Americans eat the most, gorge yourself on some reasons for feeling at least a bit grateful for 2011:
A new genre of humor was born, the currency crisis joke. A Spaniard, an Italian and a Greek go into a bar. They drink until dawn. Who pays the tab? A German.
The euro is unraveling and might dissolve the European Union, that product of transnational progressivism based on the belief that national sovereignty should be leeched away to clever experts who, uninhibited by the consent of the governed, can create clever things like the euro.
In 2011, someone actually asked how an Amtrak employee with a $21,000 salary earned $149,000 in overtime.
A week after Barack Obama cited an Ohio restaurant as a beneficiary of the Chrysler bailout, the restaurant closed.
The reputation of a mass murderer was tweaked by Russia's chief investigator reporting that "there is no reliable document" proving the "instigation" of Lenin in the 1918 murder of Czar Nicholas II, his wife and five children.
No one saw the possible problem with the word "despite" in this headline: "Gun crime continues to decrease, despite increase in gun sales."
In Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Maryland, lemonade stands run by scofflaw children were put out of business in a government crackdown against wee people who commit capitalism without getting the requisite bureaucratic permissions.
Ford Motor Co. issued a careful non-denial when some incorrigible cynics wondered whether political pressure from Detroit's Washington masters caused Ford to take down a YouTube ad in which a customer says he is in a Ford showroom because "I wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government."
In a television commercial for Ameriprise Financial, actor Tommy Lee Jones says: "Helping generations through tough times, good times, never taking a bailout."
Manning the ramparts on the wall of separation between church and state, a Seattle teacher required Easter Eggs to be called "spring spheres."
Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, told an interviewer — before bolting from the interview — that he sends his children to private schools because "my children are not an instrument of me being mayor. ... I'm making this decision as a father."
In the year when Americans became aware that there is more student debt than credit card debt, Yale offered a course on how people with disabilities are portrayed in fiction: "We will examine how characters serve as figures of otherness, transcendence, physicality or abjection. Later may come examination questions on regulative discourse, performativity and frameworks of intelligibility."
"I carpooled this morning with my trooper," explained Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick when, during what he designated "Car-Free Week" to save the planet, be healthy, etc., he was seen commuting in his SUV.
When the Wisconsin Education Association Council, having spent liberally defending public-sector union privileges, announced it was laying off 40 percent of its staff, it was denounced by the National Staff Organization, a union for employees of education unions.
Picking up a theme from America's economist in chief, who suggested that ATMs and ticket kiosks at airports aggravate unemployment, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said the iPad is "responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs," such as "all of the jobs associated with paper."
A market research firm found that people who buy the $43,000 Chevy Volt (seats four in space not taken by its 400-pound battery) or the $34,500 Nissan Leaf, and who get a $7,500 government bribe (aka tax credit) for doing so, have average annual incomes of $150,000, and half of the buyers own at least two other vehicles.
Under the Essential Air Service program — yes, essential — the federal government contributed $3,720 to subsidize the cost of flying each passenger between Denver and Ely, Nev.
Only about one in five drivers (according to State Farm research) admits to surfing the Internet while driving, which means that perhaps 80 percent of the drivers in front, behind and next to you are not.
Doris Day, 87, released an album of new songs. Que sera, sera.
George Will's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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