Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Joe Did What? Rent


Charles "Careless Whispers" Cooke of the National Review got prematurely excited when he was celebrating the end of the CDC's Covid emergency eviction ban scheduled for 31 July, and the joyous anticipation of seeing tens of thousands of people unable to pay their rent put out on the street, because it didn't happen, at least not yet. Whether exclusively because of the homelessness demonstration of Rep. Cori Bush camping on the Capitol steps or not just that, President Biden reversed his decision to let the ban lapse if Congress failed to renew it, and the CDC has issued a two-month extension on the order.

It's a bit of a mystery what Biden was intending to do on this in the first place, as Ed Kilgore said, or why it took him so long to act, except that it had to do with a Supreme Court decision—

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Not Good


Text messages from a Cuomo accuser, via Gothamist.

Do we have to talk about Andrew? I'm afraid we do, just briefly.

This case seems to me different from all the other cases from harassment to assault, in a very particular way. Not that it's worse, though it's certainly very bad and I think Cuomo should resign now and will certainly get impeached if he doesn't.

It's that it's so textbook, if I can put it that way. Like so many of us, I have to go through this annoying harassment "training" every year, sometimes the one for managers, mostly watching videos and taking quizzes cumulating with a final test where you have to score 100%. It's irritating and repetitive. The filming and acting aren't great, though I'd like to shout out a couple of actors, one terrific trans woman with the courage to look really plain and irritable and office-workery, not even slightly exotic, and the asshole who keeps asking her horribly inappropriate questions, who gets a wonderful wistful look when he's getting chewed out ("We're not allowed to joke?") that makes you see him being an asshole because he thinks assholes are probably more attractive than he is—which doesn't mean his behavior should be tolerated, it shouldn't, but allows you a glimpse of the fact that he's still human.

Monday, August 2, 2021


Jerry Lewis and Stella Stevens in The Nutty Professor, 1963. Via Wikipedia.

Thing I learned: the word "bobo", a contraction of "bourgeois-Bohemian" apparently coined by David Brooks in his amusing 2000 sociological bestseller Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, grew extremely big in France (and Québec), even as it never caught on in the US. 

Brooks himself didn't have anything particularly ambitious in mind, as he pointed out in his preface, partly because he didn't have any particular knowledge of how to practice sociology, or any interest in learning how:

There aren't a lot of statistics in these pages. There's not much theory. Max Weber has nothing to worry about from me. I just went out and tried to describe how people are living, using a method that might best be described as comic sociology. The idea is to get at the essence of cultural patterns, getting the flavor of the times without trying to pin it down with meticulous exactitude. Often I make fun of the social manners of my class (I sometimes think I've made a whole career out of self-loathing), but on balance I emerge as a defender of the Bobo culture. In any case, this new establishment is going to be setting the tone for a long time to come, so we might as well understand it and deal with it.

Just as the fraudulent psychic Sibyl Trelawney in the Harry Potter books does at one point manage involuntarily to do a real prophecy, Brooks in his career has done one actual creative thing, the invention of the bobo concept; but it was just a little comic sociology, nothing pretentious, except for the interesting claim, which I'll get back to, that he's a bobo himself ("my class" for which he advertises his "self-loathing", the "creative class" as he often calls it, following Richard Florida, the holders of "intellectual capital"), even though there was nothing even slightly Bohemian about his life at the time, living in a suburban house in Bethesda with the stay-at-home wife and kids, attending a Conservative shul on Saturdays, writing for Kristol's Weekly Standard, and wearing a suit on PBS. While very much something of belonging to a "new establishment" as he cheered on the electoral triumph of the neoconservatives under George W. Bush the year the book came out, and the advent of the Iraq War.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Channel Your Paranoia


Nothing to Get Hanged About

Then again, she also seems to think something bad happened—a "tragedy"—because she's blaming it on Speaker Pelosi, as Alexandra Petri notes at the Washington Post:

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Supercharged Penumbra

Royal Bengal Tiger at Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad. Photo by Karthik Easvur, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons.

Reading it so you don't have to, because this could be one of those pieces that may be briefly famous, or infamous, from celebrated socialist firebrand and anti-abortion activist Elizabeth Bruenig at the Atlantic, defending the right of Yale Law School faculty members to groom future reactionary Supreme Court justices:

A natural provocateur, Chua has vexed the Law School for years: First with Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mothera wry ode to the high-pressure parenting tactics of Chinese matriarchs, which didn’t thrill the gently-brought-up sorts who sometimes pass through New England’s finest universities....

"Wry ode"! "Matriarchs"!

There once was a lady called Aeode
Who was good at composing a wry ode,
   But mental distress
   Turned her into a mess
And more polarized than a diode.

Let the record show that many thousands of ethnic Chinese persons, some less gently brought up than others, were revolted by Chua's embrace of Orientalist stereotype to defend her abusive upbringing of her kids. My old lady, who certainly wouldn't enjoy being called a matriarch, herself born in the Year of the Tiger (and at night too, which is said to make for still fiercer women, to the extent that her mother used to joke that that was the reason she had to marry a foreigner), being one of them, though she too was very keen on the kids getting good grades and having music lessons (I know circles where that's called "being Jewish" but let that pass).

But say what you will, she's great at transferring her favorites, including one of her daughters, finally freed from the piano practice terrorism, into the Elect, for instance as clerks for Justice Kavanaugh. Isn't that just what a committed socialist like Bruenig stands for?

It's Still Not There


City of 2050, credit to VRayGuide/CGarchitecht.

Well, so, the Senate has agreed to consider the bill that it refused to consider last week because it didn't exist yet, although it still, in point of fact, doesn't exist:

The 67-to-32 vote, which included the support of 17 Republicans, came just hours after senators in both parties and the White House reached a long-sought compromise on the bill, which would provide about $550 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail lines, transit projects, water systems and other physical infrastructure programs.

While a final Senate vote on the legislation is days away, the test vote on Wednesday marked a major victory for Mr. Biden, who has pressed for the plan for months, and a validation of his faith that a bipartisan breakthrough was possible even in a polarized Washington.

Well, it sort of exists, but contrary to some rumors it hasn't been passed, and it really hasn't been written yet, and it's honestly not very encouraging. It seems to represent $550 billion in new federal spending in contrast to Biden's request, in the traditional-infrastructure American Jobs Act, for $2.3 trillion, none of which is actually new spending but instead "repurposed" spending from the Covid relief bills, unemployment supplements not used by Republican states that dropped that program, "more robust reporting around cryptocurrencies", and "economic growth resulting from a 33 percent return on investment in these long-term infrastructure projects”, or in what looks like a more accurate report from Washington Post, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:

Monday, July 26, 2021

For the Record: Political Journalists

Following up on this now deleted tweet:

Starting with this CBS News reporter, whose Twitter bio says she's an "unrepentant candy corn apologist" and "Cheez-Its stan",  showing I guess that she's not afraid to make the tough calls:

I had a lot of intellectual trouble with that survey result, anyhow.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

It's Complicated, Ross


Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, has a new complaint, or meta-complaint, above and beyond the usual ones that liberals are too permissive about sex (1960s hippie edition) or not permissive enough (2010s feminism)—that we can't make up our minds between the two at all ("Can the Left Regulate Sex?"):

in its retreat from the Polanski era, its concession that sometimes it’s OK to forbid, cultural progressivism entered into a long internal struggle over what its goal ought to be — to maximize permissiveness with some minimalist taboos (no rape, no sex with children) or to devise a broader set of sexual regulations that would reflect egalitarian and feminist values rather than religious ones.

This tension is visible all over recent history. The mood in which liberals defended Bill Clinton’s philandering was an example of the more permissive option. The mood of the #MeToo era, which condemned cads as well as rapists, is an example of the more regulatory approach.

Taken for granted that "we" literally have to "regulate sex", because