Sunday, May 31, 2015

What's to stop me from marrying my television?—Ross, I think you did.

Update: Welcome visitors from the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2015!

Joseph Guisol of Toowomba, Queensland, and his bride, Honey, a golden labrador, 2010. "It's not sexual," Guisol told the guests. Via Animal Planet.
Sometimes Monsignor Douthat is really kind of brilliant, and today is one of those times, when he takes up the challenge of turning the mouth-breather Rick-Santorum man-on-dog argument about the slippery slope of marriage equality into a sophisticated, even wearily amused piece of high-class concern trolling.

Not saying, in fact, that allowing people to marry their same-sex partners will inexorably lead to dudes getting hitched to their pooches, but that it will most likely end up with legal polygyny, and then won't you liberals be sorry?

Because he recognizes that liberals won't like the idea of legal polygyny:

Friday, May 29, 2015

The book he didn't write

Tom Sawyer curates Aunt Polly's board fence. Via.
David "I guess I wrote this book to save my own soul" Brooks appears to be developing into a kind of corporate person,, and he's awfully busy, so instead of writing a column today he curated one, a little exhibit of pieces from the crowd-sourced part of the website, where ordinary folks write in to share how they have gone about finding meaning or purpose in life.

So it would be kind of mean-spirited to criticize these volunteers, who seem like pretty nice and thoughtful persons (humble enough to admire Brooks a lot more than he deserves and assume his sincerity). Though it wouldn't have hurt to have an editor check the singular-plural issue of the contributor who described "an amazingly consistent phenomena". In fact Brooks has engineered himself the startling feat of using the adverb "amazingly" twice in one brief essay—it's possible, of course, that he hasn't read today's column at all.

They have a message worth attending to, that you don't have to be St. Augustine or Bayard Rustin or Frances Perkins to have a meaningful life: you might just cultivate your garden, like 85-year-old Hans Pitsch, who writes,

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cheap shots and tilted fields

Update 5/28: National Review Plagiarism Watch

Film by Vittorio de Sisti, 1973. This is not in fact funny in any relevant way, but it is funny. 
Reported at TPM:
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said earlier this year that the Chinese aren’t “terribly imaginative” and must resort to stealing the intellectual property of Americans.
Fiorina's comments were made on Jan. 24 during an interview about the Common Core with Iowa political blog, Caffeinated Thoughts, video of which was surfaced by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anglo-Saxon Platitudes

Traditional image of King John signing the Comprehensive Immigration and Inheritance Tax Reform Act of 1215. Via.
Shorter David Brooks, "Talent Loves English", May 26 2015:
Happy birthday to the Magna Carta, 800 years old next month and still having amazing effects around the world! One little-known fact about this classic document of the Anglo-Saxon tradition is that when the liberty-loving barons forced it on big-government liberal King John they were setting up the conditions that would make Britain, Canada, Australia, and other countries including the United States a magnet for immigrants in the 21st century, drawn by relatively strong economies, good universities, and open cultures. Because immigration isn't your grandfather's huddled masses any more, but a savvy middle-class population now. Thus now that Mexico is more prosperous it sends us fewer immigrants, while we get more from China and India looking for better living conditions, better educational opportunities, and better retirement opportunities such as those offered by our generous Social Security system. Hillary Clinton's daring support for a comprehensive immigration report with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is the way to go, and Republicans who stick with policies based on stereotypes from the 1980s are insane.

Senate Finance Committee members miraculously survive near-death experience, describe encounters with Truth

Ernie, via JimmyFungus.
Brilliant New York Times reporter Robert Pear has learned that some of the authors of the Affordable Care Act are still alive, so that it should be possible to ask them about the King v. Burwell theory—that health insurance subsidies should not be available in states that failed to create their own exchanges because Congress intended that a federal exchange should exist but should not work.

So he went and asked them—former senators Olympia Snowe and Jeff Bingaman, specifically, and some of the Senate Finance Committee lawyers and other staffers from way back in 2009-10. Waiting carefully, of course, until after the Supreme Court justices had made up their minds on the case, and in all probability written their opinion, because it would be so un-American if a Supreme Court decision were in danger of being influenced by some, you know, facts, as opposed to the opinions former consultant Jonathan Gruber suggested he might have held in January 2012 although he has since said he was mistaken.

And lo and behold, it turns out the authors of the Act did intend that the federal exchange working was the idea.

Not that it would necessarily have influenced what the Court thought. They don't want to know what James Madison thought about the subject matter of the Second Amendment.

Now I have to go read what Lemieux said. [Update: he didn't say the same thing. Whew!]

Monday, May 25, 2015

Me and Andrew

Can't get over these guys.
I've been thinking I ought to write something about Governor Cuomo's Education Tax Credit proposal, something he seems to have become mildly obsessed with:
He is putting his political energy into a proposal to enact a $150 million education tax credit program to benefit mostly private and religious schools – despite his veto lectures to lawmakers against such matters coming up after the budget.
“We know that it is justice,” Cuomo told a Jewish audience in Brooklyn on Sunday. He advised attendees to vote against lawmakers who do not support his tax credit plan.
The plan also has grown in size – from the $100 million effort he pushed in March but that did not get by the Democratic-led Assembly during budget negotiations. Critics call the program a back-door school voucher initiative that, in the end, will do more to help lower tax bills of wealthy donors to private school scholarships than it will to bolster the finances of the schools. (Buffalo News 5/18/15)
In the course of a crazy Twitter battle last night, I argued myself into the idea that it might be a little worse than that. Storify over the fold:

Memorial Day

Headline writer at The Guardian:

President Obama marks first Memorial Day in 14 years without major US war

I'll take that. And a particular salute from the president to the last two Americans to die in the Afghanistan combat mission, Wyatt Martin and Ramon Morris, last December.

We honor those who fell by working for peace, little as any individual among us can do, and also by recognizing that war is very old and cunning, and it's not easy to stop or even slow.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Am I my brother's (score-) keeper?

Image by Eric Draper/AP from the 2000 campaign.
J.E.B. in Politico:
Bush said that Obama “abandoned” Iraq and lamented the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State terrorists, saying that “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president” and that Al Qaeda was decimated under his brother.
Sorry, Jebbie, but ISIS was founded, under conditions entirely created under your brother's orders, and because of your brother's stupid and probably illegal orders, in Camp Bucca in 2004. This is really a pretty well known fact.

Freedom of specie

Sean Connery and Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger (1964).
A Dissent interview with Wendy Brown, author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution, run across somewhere on Twitter last night—using "neoliberalism" to mean, or entail, what I might call "economism", the rude reduction of humanity to Homo œconomicus, and of human culture to so many overlapping markets, and human history to a kind of vulgar social-Darwinism of the longue durée, the endlessly repetitive story of how some people have managed to be marginally wealthier than others, and therefore winning, before they died.

So she said something wonderfully insightful about what's really wrong with Citizens United:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Accumulation of Spiritual Capital

Subway outfit. Claudette Colbert in Mitchell Leisen's Midnight (1939), the most recent image I can find in a quick search of pillbox hat, veil, and gloves (lace-trimmed or otherwise), via divamissz. But she clearly doesn't have a pastel dress or accessory grandchild.
See, in feudal times spirituality was essentially a cottage industry, something peasants did after a day in the fields and the evening bowl of gruel, for an hour or two while the candle-ends held out. Most people barely had enough spirituality to subsist on, but over the course of centuries, some individuals gathered together large reserves of spirituality that they were able to pass on to their children, and eventually to put to work with new technologies for making spiritual production more efficient, and before you knew it the landscape of  northern England was dotted with faith factories, mitzvah mills, a surplus of transcendence, and the modern world was born. Just kidding.

Actually what our Brooks is concerned about today ("Building Spiritual Capital") is what to do when you're in the subway and some loud and filthy person with a bag of McNuggets on his lap is shouting at everybody who gets on the train to come and sit next to him and have a piece. There's a solution, but it only works if you're traveling in pairs:

Friday, May 22, 2015

White House Fool Report: I give up

The green card goslings I first saw a couple of weeks ago nestled around a tree trunk in Riverside Park South with their Canadian parents are now fluent swimmers.
Last night BooMan put up a post on the Trans-Pacific Partnership which articulated some things I hadn't understood about how the Senate is voting, which doesn't seem to be on any clear left-right axis but geared more to local issues, and also his informed sense, which I found really surprising and intriguing, that the administration doesn't really know how much it wants the treaty passed, if at all. I left a comment, which I'll just reproduce:
Thanks, that was very clarifying. A lot of the argument on both sides has been very propagandistic; I'm especially disappointed with Warren, who is saying things about the ISDS aspect that are really at odds with reality. The way they've been denouncing TPA as if it were the end of democracy is shameful, and I'm glad you point out that it's the only way the treaty can get written--and voted down if necessary--at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

We have always been at war with Eastasia

Updated 5/30/2015

It's really not a secret! Map via Wikipedia.
Via NPR, the violent attack of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on US historians Pamela Crossley, Mark Elliot, James Millward, and others, for work published between 1997 and 2004 suggesting, in the trend known as the "new Qing history" that the Manchu empire of the Qing dynasty is not the same thing as China, the country it conquered in 1644 and occupied until 1912 along with other conquests such as Tibet, Mongolia, eastern Turkestan (now known as Xinjiang), and Taiwan.

Because such a view could give people the idea that Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan were not part of China before 1644 (they weren't) and that Tibetans, Uyghurs, and native Taiwanese are not eternally Chinese (they aren't), and indeed that there can be permanent Chinese communities in places (like Taiwan) that aren't China. Thus historian Li Zhiting writes (cited at the China Media Project, University of Hong Kong),

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What have I learned from my mistakes?

Denial skills that will last a lifetime!

Victor Varconi and Elinor Fair in Cecil B. De Mille's The Volga Boatman (1926). Via.
David Brooks writes:
Suppose you had a chance to take a time machine trip back to Iraq in 1968? You could smother the infant Rafid Ahmed Alwan in his cradle, so that he'd never grow up to be the informant Curveball who made up the story about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs (actually trailer units for pasteurizing milk and generating hydrogen), which didn't convince the German agents who interrogated him but did convince Tony Blair, who didn't.
Without Curveball there would have been no Iraq War, right, because nobody in the United States ever imagined invading Iraq to overthrow its government until then—not until the slam dunk evidence of Saddam Hussein's imaginary weapons of mass destruction assembled itself spontaneously in the corridors of Langley and Dick Cheney said to himself, "My God! Apparently this man is a threat!"
Because it's just like Hitler, really.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Maybe they meant "influenced by a blunt"

Image by duh at Thom Hartmann.

Headline at Washington Post Wonkbook:
Lindsey Graham’s comments on drones were very blunt
What the newly declared presidential candidate said:
"If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL [Islamic State], I’m not gonna call a judge," Graham said. "I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How dishonest is Ross Douthat? A charitable view

Fernando Botero, Nuncio (1970). WikiArt
Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, leaps as is his wont to the defense of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops against an affront by the sociologist Robert Putnam:
“Over the last 30 years,” Harvard’s Robert Putnam told The Washington Post, “most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for ... It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”
Worse, President Obama, speaking alongside Putnam at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University, seemed to agree with him:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Annals of Derp: Down to Slavery

Paul Moreno's very remarkable argument in The Federalist, in which he claims that
[t]he gay-rights movement has followed not the trajectory of the anti-slavery movement, but of those who supported slavery
starts off not with gay rights or support for slavery, but with polygyny among the early Latter-Day Saints and its opponents:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Annals of derp: Urban planning

Alexander Avenue in Mott Haven, South Bronx. Fort Apache was a really long time ago, before the regulation started to set in. Photo by Michael Kamber/New York Times.
Stupidest thing I heard this morning, on WNYC radio:
The quaint little homes in the charming nooks and crannies of our nation's major cities are costing us billions, according to one economic report.
The economists who did the study found that the U.S. economy would be 9.5 percent bigger, if only three of the country's most productive cities — New York City, San Francisco and San Jose — could squeeze in more people. All they'd need to do is allow developers to knock down those beautiful Brooklyn brownstones and historic Victorians in San Francisco and build taller apartments and condos like other cities allow.
The experts discussing the study on the air allowed as how nothing was likely to ameliorate this unhappy situation, seeing as how people in East New York and Mott Haven treasure the exclusivity and charm of their quaint, walkable neighborhoods so much, but it didn't occur to them to question the researchers' assumption that the aim of producing growth would justify destroying Park Slope. And it didn't occur to them to wonder whether if there might be something wrong with the methodology of a paper that advocates the urban planning strategy that gave the world Lagos and Jakarta.

It's the left thing to do!

Oxen moving lumber down skid road in Mendocino County before the railway. As non-fast a track as you'd want to see. Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society.
I think I may be able to figure out what's stopping me from joining in on the hate for TPP, and spread it out in a clear enough fashion that somebody can explain to me why I'm wrong; it doesn't start so much with what's in the treaty—what do I know about trade policy?—as with the language the opponents are using, which sounds to me a lot like propaganda, for example with Senator Warren at NPR on Tuesday on the subject of the provision that upsets her the most, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism:
Look, I have three objections. The first is that the president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated, but that is still held in secret.

The second is that we know that corporations under this deal are going to get to sue countries for regulations they don't like and that the decisions are not going to be made by courts, they're going to be made by private lawyers.

And the third problem is that he wants us to vote on a six-year, grease-the-skids deal.
Well, there you go, that's two, two-and-a-half tops. But she knows very well that the deal is not exactly secret from her (she's been allowed to read it, though apparently not to take notes), and will not have been secret from anybody for at least 60 days by the time she actually does get to vote on it, up to 90 if the Senate behaves according to coffee-cooling tradition. And when it gets there she can vote against it, as can the other 99 Senators. The skids may be greased, but no sled can get through a brick wall, even if it has six years to do it with.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Casey Jones (1863-1900), Lokomotivführer.
Case of both sides posturing in Washington after tragedy strikes? That's kind of how the Times sees it:
As investigators picked through the rubble on Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers in Washington angrily demanded an increase in Amtrak funding, calling Tuesday night’s accident a result of congressional failure to support the rail system. Republicans refused, defeating the request in a morning committee hearing and accusing Democrats of using a tragedy for political reasons.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Image via Thai Food and Travel.
That's pretty startling:
Less than 24 hours after Senate Democrats blocked President Obama’s free trade push, leaders in both parties agreed Wednesday on a path toward granting the president accelerated authority to complete a major accord ringing the Pacific Ocean.
Brokered by Wyden and Schumer (I just got a letter from the BoldProgressives asking me to thank Schumer for his BoldProgressiveness in voting against the fast-track legislation, and he's already turning around to work for it), the deal is to allow a separate Senate vote on a bill to require the TPP to include provisions against currency manipulation (some economists I greatly respect say the lack of such provisions is the treaty's biggest flaw), allowing the anti-treaty Democrats and presumably Ron Paul to say they've done their best to stop it, so that the majority can then vote it in and the whole machine begin to roll. I think. Like a green mango, the news is not yet ripe enough to release its full perfume.

While later in the afternoon the House

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Center-Right Cannot Hold

Lupino Lane in Only Me (1929).
Shorter David Brooks, "The Center-Right Moment", May 12 2015:
Recent victories of moderate Republicans David Cameron, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Rahm Emanuel indicate that the entire world is now a center-right nation except for the parts of the US that are not Chicago because redistributionist progressivism versus opportunity progressivism quaquaquaqua smash left-deviationist neo-Clintonism follow the Rahmam's line quaqua
I never write this kind of thing, do I? Where I put on this smug smile about how history has finally stopped arguing with me when a socialist candidate wins an election in France or Greece or wherever? If I do, take me out and shoot me.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Kids these days!

(H/t Ani Wandaryan for the headline.)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ma Mère l'Oye

Immigrant mother goose and goslings, Riverside South.

Ghibelline, why can't you be true?

Combat between Guelfs and Ghibellines in 14th-century Bologna. Wikipedia.
Ross Douthat, normally a reliable Guelf (we don't call him Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, for nothing), takes out a Ghibellinish stance for a test drive this morning, in favor of Empire and in opposition not so much to the liberal Papacy as to modernism, democracy, self-determination, and the Suicide of Britain, by which he means the possible devolution of the UK into its component English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and Manx and Cornish and so on nations, which hasn't actually happened but, you know, might some time:

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rhetorical excess

Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review, on Thursday, writes about "Inequality Warriors Vs. the Family and the Individual", chides persons of progressive views over
the inequality that you purport to be committed to eradicating.
and invites us to
abandon the inequality crusade
(for comments see Scott Lemieux at LGM) but, on Friday, objects with some agitation to having his rhetoric criticized:

Friday, May 8, 2015


No, really, I don't understand why people aren't seeing this. The old Conservative–LibDem coalition had a powerful majority, 363 out of 650 seats; the new Conservative government is going to have a tenuous majority of 331 total, five by-elections away from an early death.

It's true that the opposition failed to win, pretty dramatically, but it didn't lose to the Tories. What happened was that the Labour Party lost to its own ally, the Scottish National Party (Labour down a net 26, SNP up 50) while the Conservatives ate their partner (up a net 24 while the Liberals are down 49). Labour plus SNP is up to 288 from 264 in the 2010 election. (The SNP seems to have won as a reward for losing the independence referendum last fall—Scottish voters went for them overwhelmingly because it's certain they won't carry out their platform. Whereas Conservatives and Labour might carry out their promises, and nobody really wants that.)

It's nowhere near as bad as Merkel's loss in Germany in October 2013, which forced her to assemble a Grand Coalition and abandon many conservative goals, more like Netanyahu's grim retraction this spring. It's going to be an extremely uncomfortable government, though, and I look forward to its collapse. While inevitably sad at how Labour appears to have lost its Balls.

1910 postcard.
As far as Nate Silver goes, just remember he's an aggregator of polls, not a poll taker himself, and there's only so much value he can add to what he has to work with: gigo.

Vapid transit

Erich von Stroheim, in bushes, looking remarkably like David Brooks, and Norma Talmadge in John Emerson's The Social Secretary (1916).
Shorter David Brooks, "Mothers and Presidents", New York Times, April 8 2015:
If you're upset at the prospect of having to choose between another Bush and another Clinton in the 2016 elections, perhaps you're one of those Hobbesians who doesn't understand how life works, believing that societies are made up of individuals. Society is in fact made up of families, and the Bushes are just as it were the Bachs of politics, for whom each generation gets its 10,000 hours of practice simply by not running away from home. So it stands to reason. Also as my headline indicates I meant to say something about mothers, but I'm out of space.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Damn the exit polls, full speed ahead!

Nate says the phatlady has not yet sung:

It would really be fun if the exit polling was off, Steven Erlanger. It's startling to see them all the way outside Silver's 90% margins; I can't believe he could be that far away.

Via Global Economic Analysis.

Cheap shot: A champion who looks like whom?

Advanced trolling, Times-style:

Photo by Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist, NYT.
“The identity politics people in the party want a champion who looks like him to mitigate accusations of racism,” said Ben Domenech, a conservative writer. “And the classical conservatives look at him and say, ‘This is somebody who can sell our ideas to the public.’”
What exactly does he look like, Ben? How exactly does that mitigate accusations of racism? "Like, we're so down with a candidate of an exotic race, as long as we can't tell."

Cheap shots: Double Take

John Barrymore in Sam Taylor's Tempest (1928).
I abhor, of course, all kinds of cheap and prurient gossip, even in the realm of Brooksiana, but I feel I have to say something about this opening graf of the Acknowledgments to The Road to Character:

Ministers of no Grace

#NotAllLittleSnakes. Via Aqualand Pets Plus.
To those who said Binyamin Netanyahu didn't really mean he was opposed to the two-state solution for Palestinians when he said he was in the March campaign, you could take a look at the cabinet he finally put together seven weeks after the election, with minutes to go before a deadline would have given Isaac Herzog a chance to try forming a government. If Netanyahu really does favor a Palestinian state at some time in the future, he's the only member of the new cabinet who does, as Richard Silverstein says; every other single member opposes it, explicitly and publicly, and the incoming justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, has called for another solution, as Ali Abuminah has noted,

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

David Brooks, Spiritual Stripper

Lon Chaney as Alonzo the Armless and Joan Crawford as the object of his affections in Todd Browning's The Unknown (1927). Via The Last Drive-In.
Shorter David Brooks, What is your purpose?", New York Times, May 5 2015:
Once upon a time, on or about 50 years ago, if you were a reflective person wondering what was your purpose in life, or where to get a moral compass enabling you to aim yourself at virtuous North and avoid all those deviant directions such as South, East, Southeast, South by Southeast, and so on, or what was a good way to go about feeling fulfillment and deep joy, a swift and inexpensive remedy was easily available; all you had to do was consult one of those lofty authority figures such as John Dewey, who had only been dead for 13 years at the time. Now these resources have become extinct in the ongoing crisis of the moral ecology. Public debate is undermoralized. Intellectual prestige has drifted away from theologians. Many feel overwhelmed by a hunger to live meaningfully. What are the right questions to ask, the right vocabulary to use, the right place to look? Are there even any answers at all? Asking for a friend.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Local news

Guido Fawkes and the Gunpowder plotters, by Crispijn van de Passe, 17th century. Wikipedia.
In local news, as you've probably heard, New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) and his son Adam have been arrested for corruption—specifically, with doing favors in Albany for an environmental contracting firm and a real estate developer in return for their paying Adam a hefty, work-free salary (eventually, $10,000 a month).
In a statement, Senator Skelos said: “I am innocent of the charges leveled against me. I am not saying I am just not guilty, I am saying that I am innocent. I fully expect to be exonerated by a public jury trial.”

Cheap shots and Mom's spaghetti vomit

The first rule of Neophyte Club is:

And incidentally, if you want to know what a tech-savvy businessperson Carly is, check it out! (Thanks, Tengrain!)

At long last, Pam, have you no—Jeez, what am I thinking?

Joseph Welch addresses Senator McCarthy. Via FilmFanatic.
Just learned from Steven D at the Frogpond that the Da'esh has claimed "responsibility" for the bloody stupidity in Garland, Texas, at the Pamela Geller–sponsored, Geert Wilders–consecrated hatefest and "Cartoon Contest", where a couple of gunsels, at least one of them now reportedly well known to the FBI's counterterrorism operations, tried to shoot up the security outside the event and got themselves killed. I'm glad the guard appears not to have been badly hurt.

Whatever goal the Da'esh thinks it may have attained by this waste of time and its own adherents' lives, whether or not they actually had anything to do with it, or why they'd like to have the "credit", is unclear. It may be that for these conservatives as for our own the important thing is just to keep drawing that line between Them and Us.

Geller, of course, is thrilled, because her whole life at this point is drawing that same line and this is making her look like such a Serious person. Things couldn't have gone more according to plan:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's the conservatism, stupid

#NotAllBlueWalls. Just saying. Photo by Bonnie Hull.

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, writes:
Last December, my colleague David Brooks noted that police unions are resisting change on every issue where police reform might be contemplated, from body cameras for officers to reversing the militarization of local law enforcement.
Running the gamut from paragraph 7 to paragraph 8, as it were. Brooks wasn't "noting" anything. Everybody knows that Police Benevolent Associations and Fraternal Orders of Police are out-of-control, retrogressive monsters. What Brooks was actually doing in that column, of course, was taking advantage of our horror at the New York PBA treatment of Mayor De Blasio at the time of the Eric Garner and Akai Gurley killings to make the case that public sector unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees are out-of-control, retrogressive monsters—by asserting that the police associations were a typical case (which they aren't) of the public sector union in general:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Call 911, honey, and I'll put on the popcorn.

Steve M brings to our attention the case of Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, who
declared the charges brought against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray “George Zimmerman and the Duke Lacrosse case all over again” and said “these cops are political prisoners,” offered up as human sacrifices, thrown like red meat to an angry mob” on Friday’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on the Fox News Channel.
The name sounded familiar, and, sure enough, I had run across him before, in January 2013. And because he is such a piece of work, and also a possible mayoral candidate, I thought I'd run this post again.

"Mickey Clarke". Image from Milwaukee County First.
Sometimes you run across a character so compelling that you just don't want to let him go, as in the case of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, via ThinkProgress:
I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal…your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready?

With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?
I must say I kind of like the idea of my safety as a spectator sport. Could I get a beer? Who did the national anthem? Were there special days when everybody got a free towel? Alas, no more, according to Sheriff Clarke, an African American Rush Limbaugh Democrat, if you know what I mean, and no, neither do I:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Annals of derp: The poverty of poverty studies

Updated 5/6/2015

Marion Davies and William Haines in King Vidor's 1928 Show People. Via MoviesSilently.
World-famous poverty expert David Brooks:
Since 1980 federal antipoverty spending has exploded. As Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post has pointed out, in 2013 the federal government spent nearly $14,000 per poor person. If you simply took that money and handed it to the poor, a family of four would have a household income roughly twice the poverty rate.
At least if by 2013 you mean 2011, and some other details. Robert Samuelson, at the cited link: