Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cereal murder

If it's Froot Loops, on the other hand, you might be tying to score an online interview with the president, as GloZell has done, but certainly not bathing in cereal and interviewing the president at the same time. In spite of her youth she is unquestionably a more accomplished journalist than Jonah Goldberg, in the respect that she has in fact interviewed people in the course of her career.
Hai, Jonah
Dear Reader (Unless you’re sitting in a tub full of Cap’n Crunch, in which case you’re too busy talking to the leader of the free world)...
This is an apparent reference to a scandal of March 2011, when Daily Finance reported questions about the fate of the imaginary mustached ship's officer who serves PepsiCo as mascot of Cap'n Crunch breakfast sugar; was he being pushed out of his job under pressure from a Crunch-hating White House? Would he end up retired, on the bocce pitch with his mates Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel, talking about the good old days when poisoning small children was something a man could take some pride in?

Sadly, no. The Cap'n was on holiday for a week or so while his website got a makeover, with no discernible input from President and Mrs. Obama, but Jonah's personal shopper neglected to inform him, and four years later, he's still mourning his old pal with this carefully crafted "joke".

(You can tell it's a joke because its premise, that a person sitting in a tubful of Cap'n Crunch who is reading National Review Online is not reading National Review Online but rather talking to President Obama, does not make any sense; in reality such a person is most likely writing National Review Online because he is Jonah Goldberg, and it is the president who is busy, or at any rate someplace else.)

Mrs. Goldberg (not Mrs. Goldberg mère but Mrs. Goldberg épouse) is away at the moment, leaving him and the personal shopper to care for Goldberg fils, which leads him inevitably from thinking about Cap'n Crunch to contemplating the difficulties pluckily faced by the single parent:
Whenever I’m on my own with my kid and dog I marvel at how little time it takes for the house to look like the mob was here searching for its stolen heroin. I’m also amazed at how, when I am alone, I don’t think twice about eating all of my meals over the kitchen sink — and yet I still generate so many dirty dishes.
Presumably it's easier for the single mom than the single dad, since she is likely to have had some advanced training in turning on the dishwasher and picking up the toys. Nevertheless she must face a real struggle, and he moves on to reproach liberal élites for their callous indifference on this point:
What drives me crazy is when rich liberal single parents think they have legs to stand on when speaking on behalf of low-income single parents. I certainly understand the defensiveness, and no doubt they have some shared experiences. But the most infuriating problem with elite culture is its refusal to understand that it can afford its sins — or if you prefer something more secular, its mistakes.
By rich liberal single parents he means, obviously, the New York Times columnist Charles Blow (who really is a single parent, by the way), who took offense in February 2012 to something Governor Romney said that month (on George Washington's birthday). Blow misunderstood Romney as openly condemning members of ethnic-racial minorities for being single parents (in fact Romney had only been dog-whistling such a condemnation, and Blow subsequently apologized), and so he started making fun of the candidate's LDS underwear on Twitter, showing his unconscionable bigotry (didn't he even know, Matthew Sheffield wondered at NewsBusters, that in the state of Missouri it was legal to exterminate Mormons until 1976? Probably not, as the actual practice of exterminating Mormons has been a lost art for quite a long time and Blow does not come from Missouri but live-and-let-live Louisiana, where I believe Mormons have never been exterminated at all).

Anyhow rich liberal single parents fail to realize how hard life is for the poor single parent of whatever political affiliation. Instead of denouncing them as sinful or error-prone, as they would do if they felt any real compassion, they cruelly ask the federal government to institute programs making their lives easier, which coincidentally might cause Jonah's taxes to go up:
It is perhaps liberalism’s most grating rhetorical trick: deliberately conflating small and important truths about local community and family with large new federal initiatives. This bait-and-switch is the very heart of Obamaism. Obama talks about unity and community as if they have anything — and everything! — to do with initiatives from Washington. Remember when he explained why we need to raise taxes? Because it would be “neighborly.”
That's a reference to Obama's interview by Bill O'Reilly in September 2008, when he was explaining to O'Reilly why he planned, if elected, to cut taxes on 95% of the population. He also hoped to raise them a bit on the richest 5%, because he and O'Reilly could afford to pay more than they were paying so it would be "neighborly" of them to do so. If I recall correctly, he did not mean to do it to pay for programs benefiting single parents in particular—
"We’ve got to help people who are having tough times affording college, so they can benefit like we benefited from this great country. People who are having a tough time -- they don’t have health care; people who are trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills…”
—but I guess he failed to propose any programs for punishing them either, so it's a wash.
His most recent push to make community college “free” while raising taxes on college-savings plans perfectly illustrates his hostility to the idea that other institutions should take the lead instead of the federal government.
The college-savings plans in question are the 529 and Coverdell plans used by a little under 3% of the nation's families to pay for their children's tertiary education (the families have a median income of around $142,400 per year as opposed to $45,100 for the rest of us, and median financial assets of about $413,500, or 25 times the median financial asset value, $15,400, of families without the plans).

I'm not clear about how keeping them tax-free helps the impoverished single parent in a more efficient way than free community college, since the impoverished single parent doesn't actually have any of the money involved. Perhaps the owners of the accounts plan to donate the interest money to the poor, which they could hardly do if they were forced to pay the capital gains tax on it. And if they weren't planning to donate the interest money, that's hardly Jonah's fault. To argue that a federal program making community college free could somehow make up for the tragic losses of the tax-free Coverdell (median value $14,700, which will totally get you and your unwed-mother maid through eight semesters at Stanford) would just be insane.

If you were bathing in Cheerios, on the other hand, you might be developing one of those Internet concepts in the interests of charity, like Ted here in 2008, from Olrando, FL (I wonder if that's near Orlando), who was going to offer some lucky needy family 52 boxes of cereal if readers would post 500 comments at his blog, but never in the end made it beyond 143. I'm afraid this was not very well thought through. Then again, Cap'n Crunch would have been immeasurably worse. But the point is, isn't it, that we need more of this kind of thing and fewer federal programs, have I got that right, Jonah?
Anyhow, the subject of his piece is

The Perils of Hypocrophobia 

You probably think that "hypocrophobia" is the fear of being stuck in one of those prison cells too small to sit or lie down in but too low-ceilinged to stand up unbent, such as they had in the Grand Châtelet fortress in Paris in the mid-16th century, mentioned in a footnote to the Letters of Calvin as the poche d'hypocros.

But this is not the case:
what infuriates me is when, out of a fear of seeming hypocritical, they defend sin as a principle for everyone, including those who can’t afford it. Such hypocrophobia forces people to defend bad ideas on the mistaken belief that it’s better to be consistently wrong than inconsistently right. What’s even more infuriating is that most elites actually live according to pretty good values but are terrified of saying what works for them might be right for others as well. 
If you are a person of liberal views who marries, cares for your children, and leads a generally orderly and responsible life and nevertheless refuse to condemn people who do not, this must be because you have a pathological fear of being a hypocrite. This is a problem from which Jonah will never ever suffer.
Speaking of preaching, this reminds me of something I’ve been griping about for years: Madonna.
Oh, never mind. That's only page one of three, and I'm fried. You kids have had enough Cap'n Crunch for one night.

UpdateEdroso has now covered quite a bit more of the excretion, in extremely high style.

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