Friday, October 2, 2015

Stylistically indomitable

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in Clarence Brown's Flesh and the Devil (1926). Via Rebloggy.
Shorter David Brooks, "Carly Fiorina: The Marketing Genius", October 2 2015:
Fiorina's great at marketing, but needs work on product development. That is, she lies about herself and her career with terrific aplomb, and aggressively about her rage-targets from Barack Obama to Planned Parenthood, but in presenting her policy positions she sounds like a completely conventional Republican. If she really wants to be in the big time she's going to have to start lying more effectively about that too, on the model of Bush or Kasich or Huckabee, giving the impression the policies are meant to benefit working people.
Well, so he doesn't exactly say she lies. He says she's "stylistically indomitable"—
Clinton and Fiorina appeared back to back on “Meet the Press” recently. Clinton was challenged on the email issue and tried affably to defend her conduct. Fiorina was challenged on the existence of a Planned Parenthood video she claims to have seen.
In contrast to Clinton, Fiorina simply refused to adopt a defensive posture. She ignored the challenges and just hit Planned Parenthood harder. The factual issue sort of got lost in her torrent. She was stylistically indomitable even if she didn’t address the substance of the critique.
And that she has

Eiron, the Goddess of Irony... Tengrain always says, laughed so hard she farted.

This didn't happen. Who wanted us to believe it did? Image from Funny or Die via Advocate.
Curiouser and curiouser how the tale of the pontifical embrace of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis (famous for her belief that her Trinity-denying Apostolic Pentecostal faith entitles her to collect an $80K salary while refusing to perform some the job's central duties) develops.

Yesterday Mr. Pierce came out with a horrifying construction of a story about how Pope Francis might have been ratfucked by Vatican conservatives into appearing to take a position on Ms. Davis when he hadn't in fact thought about the issue at all (and certainly wouldn't have wished to endorse in that form if he had thought about it):

Thursday, October 1, 2015

West of Eden. Discouraged.

Congratulations Russia, killing your first 30 civilians in a single day in your very first week! You guys are going to go far in this business, I just know.

Updated 10/2/2015

Image by Heiko Sakurai, via Bayerische Schloßverwaltung.

So when Americans bomb a wedding party they sometimes manage to kill as many as 40 people (Mukaradeeb, Iraq, May 19 2004), 47 tops (Dih Bala, Afghanistan, July 6 2008), and they haven't really brought one of those off in years, frankly. So it's time for some of the younger countries to show up—Hi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wiping out upwards of 130 wedding guests, mostly women and children, in the village of Al-Wahijah in western Yemen on Monday, possibly a record.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton does that thing politicians do. OMG she must be disrespecting Obama!

Image via WikiHow.
Weird spinning at The Hill:
Hillary Clinton is making the case that she’ll be able to get more done with Congress than her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination — and President Obama, for that matter. 
That's paragraph 1, but actually she isn't, as we see in paragraph 9:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Annals of derp: What goes up, etc.

James McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1872-77). Via JSS Gallery.

It's world-famous penitentiarist David Brooks out to stop all this nonsense he sees in the presidential campaign about ending the drug war as a way to deal with the problem of prison overcrowding:
The drug war is not even close to being the primary driver behind the sharp rise in incarceration. About 90 percent of America’s prisoners are held in state institutions. Only 17 percent of these inmates are in for a drug-related offense, or less than one in five.

Moreover, the share of people imprisoned for drug offenses is dropping sharply, down by 22 percent between 2006 and 2011. Writing in Slate, Leon Neyfakh emphasized that if you released every drug offender from state prison today, you’d reduce the population only to 1.2 million from 1.5 million.

The war on drugs does not explain the rocketing rates of incarceration, and ending that war, wise or not, will not solve this problem.
I think that the main thing Brooks is missing here is that the incarceration rates are not, in point of fact, rocketing, unless you're thinking about the way typical rockets, the ones that don't escape into space, take a parabolic trajectory in which after going up they go down, because US state incarceration rates have been going down for the past five years, since the annual number of admissions started declining around 2006, which is a good thing. That's not the problem our Democratic candidates are addressing.

Trump's base

Something that struck me over the weekend, and I found a picture to go along with it: Trump's supporters are Beavis and Butt-head, 15-20 years later. They don't think he would be a good president, or even that that's an interesting or important question. They think, with their special pop aesthetic sensibility, that he's cool, heh-heh, which does not mean the same thing as good, and that everybody else sucks, which does not mean they're bad. To Beavis and Butt-head, a Trump presidency could be well-produced but authentic and gross, and possibly with a lot of disturbing violence, like maybe a Guns 'n' Roses album? What's not to appreciate?

Image by MTVHive.

That's not to suggest that Trump is in any sense less serious as a candidate than Carson or Fiorina, Cruz, Santorum, Jindal, for example, because I don't think he is; just that he's better than they are, rather, at meeting these kinds of expectations.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Trump Hath Spoken

Image via Liberaland.

O ye foolish pandits decrying the Trumpster, and saying in your hearts that he is no conservative but running verily to the left of the smoldering, though not quite burning Bush! For hath he not sworn an oath that the carried interest deduction shall be abolished, and leave the hedge fund guys bereft?

Yet lo! his tax proposals have leapt to our eyes like the gazelle, and shown themselves, and been weighed and measured, and they do indeed apply only to the hedge fund guys, many of whom vote Democrat for reasons best known to themselves, and not to the private equity partnerships where Bishop Romney made his pile even unto the fourth and fifth generations, which puts them actually to the right of the Bush proposals, and that's not all. For those whose wealth is like unto that of Bishop Romney, in that his coin cannot be weighed nor his houses counted, will also see their top marginal income tax rate descend from 39.6% to 25%, which is verily a fuck of a lot, and the capital gains assessment from 23.8% to 20% percent, even on their real property and their sales of stock, and while married couples making $50K or less will pay no income tax, yet most of them pay no income tax already, and their savings under the plan will be as dust under the wheels of the Juggernaut or Trumpmobile! And the corporate and noncorporate business tax shall drop from 35% to 15%!

And the Trumpster spake, saying,
“In other words, it’s going to cost me a fortune," Trump, a billionaire, said,
which is hard to figure, for he is no hedge fund guy indeed, but a person of income, and property, and many forms of real capital, who will make out under these measures like the thief in the night or the highwayman. And nobody's trying to figure out what happens to the federal government under this scenario, but its revenues shall be reduced, and shrunken, and made as the revenues of the bathtub ducky, till it be so little it might be laid in the bathtub and there smothered and killed, wherefore the Prophet Grover hath looked on the plan and said that it was good.

So you can all shut up about how Trump is a liberal, Brooksy, if you don't mind. Although, to be fair, when Ed Kilgore refers to
the fundamentally immoral—and in Trump’s case, self-serving—elimination of federal inheritance taxes. 
how can he say such an unkind thing? Trump isn't doing that for himself, he's doing it for the children. The children that are looking forward to an estate of $10 million or more when the old man kicks off, I mean, because no other children would get anything out of it. Hey, come to think of it, could that be part of why he's running for president? So that his kids will refrain from murdering him? Because as long as he's alive there's a chance he'll get rid of the inheritance tax and his kids will be 40% richer when he dies.

Abortion exceptionalism

The Norse goddess Freyja in her cat-drawn chariot, by Nils Blommér, with angels, not babies, 1851. Via Wiktionary.

Of course I've believed for a long time that most Americans think abortion is a bad thing that should probably be illegal or severely restricted with certain key exceptions, such as in the event of a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or one that endangers the pregnant woman's life or health or if the pregnant person is the respondent or the respondent's girlfriend, or wife, or daughter, in which case they obviously wouldn't want to have an abortion unless they had a pretty good reason, would they? I mean it's not like when one of those sluts wants one, is it?

Annals of Derp: Why Conservatives Can't Read

Basically, because they don't want to. You could get all stuffed up with information, and it might contradict your assumptions. Have some, if you must, but responsibly, and always leave a few paragraphs on your plate.

Photo by Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News.

What's up in the world of universal pre-K, Callie Gable for National Review?
It helped get progressive stalwart Bill de Blasio elected mayor of New York, and it resurfaces again and again in speeches by both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the Left’s dream of publicly funded child care is suddenly getting pushback from an unlikely source: Jonathan Gruber, the liberal economist who helped design Obamacare.
Is that right?

Um, no, it's not. In the sense that Jon Gruber did not help design the Affordable Care Act (he did play a noteworthy role in the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform law, from which the ACA borrowed a number of important elements, but was only an outside consultant on limited aspects of the latter), and that the study we're talking about today, "Non-Cognitive Deficits and Young Adult Outcomes: The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program" (NBER Working Paper 21571, September 2015) had three authors, Michael Baker of U. Toronto, Jonathan Gruber of MIT, and Kevin Milligan of UBC, working for the National Bureau of Economic Research, and far from unlikely or sudden, it is a followup study to one the three published seven years ago, “Universal Child Care, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being,” Journal of Political Economy 116 (4), 2008.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A sour, overgeneralized, and intellectually sloppy sense of alienation

Edwin Levick, immigrants on Atlantic liner ca. 1906, Library of Congress, via Smithsonian Institution.

David Brooks writes ("The American Idea and Today's G.O.P.", New York Times, September 25 2015):
One of the exceptional things about American exceptionalism is the exceptionalism of American conservatism. While conservatives in other countries are essentially reactionary, yearning for an idealized past, American conservatives are retroactionary, afflicted with a nostalgia for an endlessly receding future. This goes back to the very beginnings, when those who settled, founded, and built America, not necessarily in that order, understood that our country had no history, and that only by forging a path into the future would we be able to acquire some.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Miracle!

Welcome MBRU readers! Thanks. Monkeyfister!

Raphael, The Miraculous Drought of Fishes, tapestry, Sistine Chapel, via Catholic News UK.

We weren't surprised to see the Speaker weeping copiously during the Pontiff's appearance before the Houses of Congress, which Boehner had apparently spent his entire congressional career trying to attain, but we didn't expect to witness the softening of his dry little heart (in emulation, perhaps of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius, which we were just celebrating last week on Mulberry Street). But it seems that he did decide for once in his life to put the interests of the people of the United States (including food stamp clients) ahead of his own job tenure, for the first time since he ascended to the Speakership, and is planning to present and pass a budget that doesn't defund Planned Parenthood; he's resigning because otherwise the conservative Republicans in the House would fire him for defying their wishes to shut down the government.

I heard on the radio that it isn't really a papal miracle, and he claims to have been planning the move for a while, but it's a pretty thought. Wish he would have done it two years ago over the comprehensive immigration bill. If he had done so there would be no Trump to torture us today, as the issue would no longer be an Obama issue and would be basically closed.

What would really be a miracle would be if the next speaker were to be elected by a coalition of Democrats and sane Republicans—we know there are some though they are closeted and in a state of constant terror—in the aim of getting some governmenting done in the run-up to 2016. Hahaha. Even God can't do that.
Update: I don't usually link to the Wonkette, not because I don't love it but because its filthy advertising breaks my computer, but I had the fortune to see this.

It's just logic. Feminists are the real sexists.

Parisian resistance fighter Simone Segouin, who killed an unknown number of Germans and captured 25 with her submachine gun, via Crafty Kryptonite Alpaca. Ann Althouse feels she is practically the same person because she's pretty rebellious too.
Hillary Clinton, asked by Lena Dunham whether she considers herself a feminist:
Yes... Absolutely. I’m always a little bit puzzled when any woman of whatever age, but particularly a young woman, says something like, ‘well, I believe in equal rights but I’m not a feminist.’ Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights.
Ann Althouse's comment:
Who writes the definition? We're still saying what X is "by definition" after all these years of scoffing at the anti-same-sex-marriage people who kept saying, tediously, marriage is by definition between a man and a woman?