Monday, July 24, 2017

Scaramouche the Douche. I

Stewart Granger as Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche in the 1952 film by George Sidney.

So this is about the Twitter evidence that Trump's new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, used to hold some un-Trumpish views, like favoring marriage equality or opposing global warming, or thinking Trump lacks judgment, and
“Walls don’t work,” the Wall Streeter tweeted in late 2015. “Never have never will. The Berlin Wall 1961-1989 don’t fall for it.”
Where he showed the same peculiar misunderstanding as Fox's Monica Crowley, of thinking the Mauer was somehow analogous to Trump's wall, as if the East Germans had built it to keep out job-stealing West Berliner migrants. Walls do work if the object is to keep people in, see under "Prison", and he's even wronger than Crowley, in that the Berlin one worked pretty effectively, for 28 years.

I'd like to say, on the other hand, people are really being unfair to Scaramucci with all this accusing him of having "beliefs". They should be considered more along the lines of fashion accessories.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

For the Record: Out of His Own Mouth

Looking for something else, bumped into this 2012 story from Politico about the Trump response to Willard Mitt Romney's defeat in the presidential election, in another case of his seeming ability to prophesy the future without realizing he's doing it:

And most interestingly these, apparently deleted the same day (after it became clear even to Trump that Obama had a solid majority of the popular vote, and perhaps noticing the spelling issues in the second one, or second "won"):

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's National Review time!

From an intern called Jeff Cimmino kvetching about a podcast by a couple of Harvard Divinity School graduates and their "weekly church-like service for the secular focusing on on a Potter text's meaning" who is worried about the Death of God and links to Nietzsche to make it clear how upset he is. (Little imagining, I suppose, how much of the books is devoted to a serious and ultimately consoling meditation on death, the deaths of those we love and then our own. But missing Jesus, of course, so WTAF, amirite?)

Drawing by David Hughes for Esquire, October 2007.
And then from the other, libertine side of the Movement, this:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flavors of Freedom

What David Brooks meant to say ("Republicans Can't Pass Bills"):
Freedom is like ice cream: it comes in many different flavors. For example, you can have freedom in the future or you can have it right now.
Freedom in the future is what philosophers whose names escape me refer to as "freedom as capacity". Thus you should encourage your friend to practice the piano hard, which will increase his piano-playing capacity. In the same way you should feed your kid nutritious meals, make her do her homework, and see that she plays sports and performs volunteer work, so that she will have the capacity of getting into the college she likes. 
I have no idea how philosophers refer to freedom in the present, so I'll call it "freedom as detachment", which sounds kind of Buddhist but is not. This is when you let people alone to do what they want, based on the belief that people are freer when they are unimpeded. It is defined as a kind of absence—the absence of obstacles, stumbling blocks, speed bumps, and things that get in the way.
Back in the day, when the Republican Party used to be interested in running the government, it embraced both flavors of freedom, but its congressional priorities were all about freedom of capacity. When you consider the party's major legislative accomplishments since 1988, you can see it working to provide people with more capacities.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nothing Changes, by Donald J. Trump

Giorgio de Chirico, "Le Muse Inquietanti" (The Disturbing Muses), 1945. Via.

Donald J. Trump

I. Song of the Pre-Existing Condition
Nothing changes.
Nothing changes.
Once you get something
for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc.

Once you get something, it’s awfully tough
to take it away. But what it does, Maggie,
it means it gets tougher and tougher.
As they get something, it gets tougher.
Because politically, you can’t give it away.

So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal.
Because you are basically saying
from the moment the insurance,
you’re 21 years old, you start working
and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance,
and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan.
Here’s something where you walk up
and say, “I want my insurance.”

It’s a very tough deal, but it is something
that we’re doing a good job of.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pierre Bourdieu, bitchez

Pierre Bourdieu could. Or at least he could explain it.
Shorter David Brooks, "Getting Radical About Inequality", New York Times, July 18 2017:
Recently I took a friend with no more than a high school diploma to her name to listen to some music. Insensitively, I brought her to a well-known conservatory, where one of the faculty members was presenting all of the first book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier on the harpsichord. Suddenly I saw her face go dark and panicky as she looked at the program and its unfamiliar words like "prelude", "fugue", and "C major". Quickly, I asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture she assented and we went to the Pops, where they played Strauss's Beautiful Blue Danube
Well, not really. He doesn't refer directly to last week's "How We Are Ruining America With Our Filthy Elitist Capicollo Sandwiches" at all, in fact; but it's carrying on the same argument, about how people like him use a set of cultural signifiers to shut out the mob from their councils and amusements and he feels bad about it, I guess, but at least that proves there's no need to redistribute the money, we just have to redistribute the Italian delis.

Only in a different key, you see, appealing to the late, (sort of) cultural-Marxian sociologist Pierre Bourdieu ("I’m not in the habit of recommending left-wing French intellectuals, but..."), who, believe it or not, kids, turns out to think exactly like Brooks! I mean, except for the Marxian part:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sometimes it rhymes

Trump really said that in June, "I'm talking about a plan with heart!"

So I was working on my weekly listen-folks-they-can't-pass-that-GOP-health-bill post when things got noisy around the old demesne and the TV went on and what do you know? I'm too late! Senators Jerry Moran (Wet-KS) and Mike Lee (Stegosaur-UT) announced that they're not voting for the bill, effectively taking it off the able and throwing it onto the compost heap, and we're now starting all over.

I've long thought this was bound to happen sooner or later, because voters all over the country are starting to realize what the Republicans have been trying to do to them, especially over the Medicaid, but McCain's health emergency seems to me to have been the immediate as opposed to proximate cause. His recovery from inside-the-skull surgery was going to delay the vote by a couple of weeks at least, likely more, which was going to allow the public to spend more time digesting the bill.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office delayed its report on the bill, which was supposed to be out on Monday, meaning they would be have time to score the unspeakable Cruz-Lee  "Consumer Freedom Option", a double-whammy device to destroy the individual health insurance market in the United States, for reasons best known to Senators Cruz and Lee (they must think health insurance is immoral because it involves sharing), by dividing it into two tiers, a low-premium one that will never pay a claim for healthy people and an astronomical-premium one for those who are already sick (like Senator McCain, though of course he's old enough for Medicare if he retires and has enough money to buy a fabulous Advantage supplemental), so that only the very rich will be able to buy it at all until it dies of those death spirals we keep hearing about.