I gotta tell you, friends, this foundering cruise ship story is simply irre-freakin’-sistible. Bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico, just 150 miles from land, in a floating hotel with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets, little food and more than 4,000 fellow inmates? Kafka died too early. We now know what hell is.
I’m sure some of you are cruisers and some of you are happy cruisers. I’ve been tempted. I’ve heard many stories from friends returning home, all red-nosed and overfed, rapturous from a few days’ sailing. Every so often I mention it to Alan, and rarely get more than six words out before he throws in a few of his own, including claustrophobia, norovirus, drunken assholes and floating petri dish.
And when he puts it that way? It’s hard to argue.
Yet every year, cruisers cruise on. I remarked on Facebook that in a just world, this fate would befall the National Review cruise, the Kid Rock cruise or maybe a clothing-optional one. I don’t think it would be possible to entertain the United States more broadly and thoroughly than by putting Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, James Lileks et al afloat in a crippled liner far from a friendly port — or maybe just off the coast of Havana. (MOVIE IDEA!!!!!) And from what I’ve read of the Kid Rock cruise (sold out this year, sorry), no one could really tell the difference.
I heard this afternoon they were within sight of land when the tow cable broke. That’s the point I would put a floatie around my waist, wave goodbye, hold my nose, jump overboard and start swimming. Or at the very least, lower a lifeboat.
OK, moving on: My employer, the Center for Michigan, is in the homestretch of a year-long effort to boost funding in our state for early-childhood education. We’ve written about it exhaustively, and things are looking up, as Gov. Rick Snyder and others are backing a $130 million cash influx for the program that serves low- to moderate-income families with young children. So I was fascinated to read this Gail Collins column, pegged of course to President Obama’s call for more preschool in SOTU, about what happened when Walter Mondale tried to do the same thing in 1971:
Mondale’s Comprehensive Child Development Act was a bipartisan bill, which passed 63 to 17 in the Senate. It was an entitlement, and, if it had become law, it would have been one entitlement for little children in a world where most of the money goes to the elderly.
“We came up with a lot of proposals, but the one we were most excited about was early childhood education. Everything we learned firmed up the view this really works,” said Mondale.
The destruction of his bill was one of the earliest victories of the new right. “The federal government should not be in the business of raising America’s children. It was a political and ideological ideal of great importance,” Pat Buchanan once told me. He was working at the White House when the bill reached Nixon’s desk, and he helped write the veto message. He spoke about this achievement with great pride.
I don’t want to break my three-paragraph rule, but this is one worth reading all the way through.
Here’s Jonathan Chait on a possible, but admittedly far-fetched, way the president’s plan could happen.
Continuing their march off the cliff, the Oakland County GOP — that would be the one in the big, dense-packed, affluent county northwest of here — bring in their big Lincoln Day speaker: Donald Trump.
Finally, because it’s the weekend, the most awesome goat video ever: Goats yellling like people. I laffed until my mascara ran.
Happy Friday all, and happy weekend.