Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Literary Corner: Nobodaddy

Eric Bakke, Nobodaddy, oil, ca. 2013.

Trump tells AP he won’t accept blame if GOP loses House

AP: So my question is, if Republicans were to lose control of the House on November 6th — or a couple of days later depending on how long it takes to count the votes — do you believe you bear some responsibility for that?
Trump: No
Or as AP put it in the story under that headline,
“No, I think I’m helping people,” Trump said. “I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact.”
That is, far from being to blame if the Republicans lose, he'll be convinced that they would have done even worse without him; in fact, his value to the campaign is unparalleled in the history of electoral democracy, and this will be true no matter how the results turn out. It's like if Joshua ended up losing the battle of Jericho in spite of the Lord halting the solar system for an hour to give him an assist, you wouldn't say that was old JHWH's fault, would you?

I'm afraid I have to rule in Trump's favor on this, though.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

For the Record: Warren

I was a little perplexed and saddened by this, from the Cherokee Nation to the world, on the subject of Senator Warren's response to the Trumpian challenge ("If a DNA test shows you're an Indian I'll give a million dollars to the charity of your choice), but I figured it couldn't be helped.

Though not everyone agreed, and that made me kind of sad for a while:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Laboratories Against Democracy

Drawing by Steve Benson/Arizona Republic, February 2010, via.

Our nation's laboratories of democracy, as Justice Brandeis called them, the state legislatures, don't seem very excited about democracy at the moment: downright hostile, in fact, according to some cool new reporting by Timothy Williams/NYTimes*: reacting to popular referendums by tossing them out, like South Dakotans' attempt to put some breaks on their legislators' socializing with lobbyists, which could have threatened the ALEC wine and cheese party:
The gatherings — 107 events in all during the Legislature’s 38-day session— are popular with lawmakers, but less so with the public.
South Dakota voters were sufficiently fed up in 2016 to pass a statewide ethics initiative that was meant to diminish the influence of lobbyists. But the Legislature in Pierre, the state capital, swiftly struck back: It repealed the referendum and replaced it with its own slate of bills, which critics denounced as a watered-down substitute — and a slap in the face to voters.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Literary Corner: Mob Rule

Painting by Lennon Michalski.

Songs for Kentucky
by Donald J. Trump

I. The Democrats
The Democrats have become
totally consumed by their
chilling lust for power.
You can either vote for
Democrat mob rule or you can vote
for a Republican party that stands
proudly for law and order, fairness,
freedom and justice. Simple as that.
They want to get rid of ICE.
They think ICE
isn't nice.
II. Xi Jinping
The absolute head.
This is an absolute
head of China.
III. The Space Force
You know it's all about space.
It's all about space. Defense,
offense, everything is going to
soon be all about space.

Rally, Richmond, Kentucky, 13 October 2018. Text via Daniel Dale.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 Democrats: Too Punk?

Stainless Steel Skull Skeleton Head Tongue Ring going for £1.05 from
Fearless anti-Trumper Mr. Bret Stephens complaining that these young Democrats in the ongoing millennium ("Democrats Are Blowing It, Again") are just too goddamned punk:
Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company. And to make itself as unattractive to as many as possible.”
“If it were a person,” he added, “it would pierce its tongue.”
(Kelly wrote that in 1996 in his debut column as the liberal-hating editor of even-the-liberal New Republic; Stephens's link is to a Maureen Dowd eulogy in which she manages to mention that she once bought Kelly a couch, but doesn't say if it was a fainting couch.)

He seems to really mean to move beyond concern trolling, too—he's suggesting he really wants Democrats to win in November:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Brooks Gets a Big Thing

Photo via CafeMom.

Ladies, rejoice! David F. Brooks ("Two Cheers for Feminism") thinks you're OK! I mean, not on the unpleasant issues like demanding equal pay, or impeaching Brett Kavanaugh, but:
I disagree with academic feminism a lot — with those vague oppressor stories about the patriarchy, with the strange unwillingness to admit inherited-gender differences and with the tone of faculty lounge militancy. But academic feminism is right about the big thing.
Which turns out to be—uh, what? What does the hedgehog of academic feminism know that the rest of us foxes are missing?
The big thing is that for thousands of years social thinking has been dominated by men — usually alpha men — who saw life as a place where warriors and traders went out and competed for wealth and power.
What? The big thing is that academic feminists have spent millennia in the wilderness? I don't want to quibble here, but that sounds more like a big meta-thing, not about the findings but about the methodology, and it also sounds like a vague oppressor story about the patriarchy.

So not exactly: there's a big thing about the big thing, which is that the academic masculists have been missing something important:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

An American Nightmare

Mrs. Barker ("I'm a professional woman"), after she's removed her dress, and Mommy, in red, in Albee's An American Dream. Cherry Lane Theater, New York, 2008.

Olivia Nuzzi's enchanting new absurdist comedy My Private Oval Office Press Conference organizes itself around the kind of Catch-22 dilemma that's endemic to the human condition: the protagonist, a president of the United States and former businessman, wants to fire his chief of staff, a retired Marine general, but doesn't know how, or can't summon up the courage, even though, ironically, he literally became famous for pretending to fire people who were pretending to work for him in a television show devoted to the ritual firing of the different characters who wandered on and off the set. But in the diegetic "real life" of Nuzzi's film, which is coincidentally a kind of real life, the only person in the White House who has the necessary skills and balls is the chief of staff himself.

The best the president can do is to try once or twice a week to get him to fire himself—"I really need you to leave, John," he'll say—but General Kelly pays him no attention, carrying on as if Trump hadn't said anything, neatening up the Resolute desk, ordering supplies, and firing those people he thinks it's necessary to fire, and looking pained when Trump makes a faux pas, like Jeeves the time Bertie insisted on wearing the white mess jacket:

Jeeves: I assumed it had got into your wardrobe by mistake, sir, or else that it has been placed there by your enemies.
Bertie Wooster: I will have you know, Jeeves, that I bought this in Cannes!
Jeeves: And wore it, sir?
Bertie Wooster: Every night at the Casino. Beautiful women used to try and catch my eye!
Jeeves: Presumably they thought you were a waiter, sir.

Anyway, a lovely young reporter called Olivia wanders into this standoff, for an assignment from New York Magazine, where the editors are more fun-loving than those of The New York Times, and just as she's leaving by the North Gate from a hard morning's reporting, the press secretary beckons her back into the building with a phone call and then a solemn, wordless gesture, like a mute attendant, though she turns out not to be mute after all: