Friday, July 31, 2015

Rough! Rough!

Mini–chicken parms from the GourmandMom.
Shorter David Brooks, "Two Cheers for Capitalism", July 30 2015:
Turns out capitalism isn't working right! But bad as it may be, people getting involved would probably make it worse yet, so I say don't mess with it.
OK, so now we know what snooty-ass luxury hotel Brooks was staying at when he wrote Tuesday's column about how much he prefers the budget motel and the self-serve waffle machine, or if not exactly which hotel, what town it was in, namely Aspen, for the Aspen Action Forum, a select event

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter, still

Samuel Dubose, via NBC.
Something that struck me this morning from the NPR coverage of the murder of Sam Dubose, the Cincinnati man who was being busted for a missing front license plate and ended up getting shot to death because a cop felt insufficiently respected, enough that I ended up transcribing it off the audio; an interview with the head of the national Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, objecting to the murder charge against the cop, toward the end of the segment:
the ground has shifted let's face it prosecutors are sensitive to the mood of the community
it goes to show that to whatever extent people thought that prosecutors were necessarily going to protect police officers couldn't be more wrong in fact in this case it doesn't appear that he is willing to give him the presumption of innocence

Cheap shots: Rubinesque

The good Jennifer Rubin.
The other Jennifer Rubin, the one who hasn't spent her life making the world a slightly better place, has come up with a listicle of favorite Republican moments of the week, with an air of desperate, Rubinesque randomness:
Best visuals on announcement: Former Texas governor Rick Perry in an airplane hanger surrounded by veterans made for a compelling tableau. Since then, he’s had one of the strongest performances in the field.
OK Jennifer, so this is an airplane hanger (works better for shirts than for airplanes; Rick Perry is smaller than an airplane, but he still wouldn't fit):

Tempelhof Airplane Hanger.
This is an airplane hangar with Rick Perry in it, making for a compelling visual but unable to attract Sean Hannity's attention:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Structure of Platitude

Welcome MBRU readers!
"Gratitude is a sort of laughter of the heart."
David Brooks

Mary Pickford and Howard Ralston in Paul Powell's Pollyanna (1920).
Brooks in briefs and undershirt, crawling along the baseboard in search of a powerpoint for his laptop.
Hotel rooms, amirite? Can't live in 'em, can't live outside of 'em. They'll give you an iron just in case the one-hour laundry service doesn't do a good enough job with your shirt, but you can't find a fvcking outlet to plug it into. Maybe I could work that up for a column.
Finds it, sighs, sets up the charger, looks out the window.
Still, I could be in that breakfast bar in Michigan fighting over the self-service waffle maker. At least there's room service here, even if the waiter's shirt is better pressed than mine. I should be more grateful.
Sits at the machine.
Some are born grateful, some achieve gratefulness, some have gratitude thrust upon them. Hm.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A very specific disgust

Statue of a crowned postman with rat, on the island of Nuncio, in the Sunless Sea video game. Via Gamepedia.
Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street Monsignor Ross Douthat, on the doctored tape falsely suggesting that the Planned Parenthood organization sells "baby parts" from aborted fetuses; false or not, the Monsignor still thinks it ought to be a "problem" for PP:
...the problem these videos create for Planned Parenthood isn’t just a generalized queasiness at surgery and blood. It’s a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable, and the experience of recognizing one’s own children, on the ultrasound monitor and after, as something more than just “products of conception” or tissue for the knife.
Dear Ross,

You certainly are a dick. For my part, I prefer to stay snarky and lighthearted on this page, and people like you aren't really invited, but the smugness of that reference to being "informed by reason and experience", the language of an unluckily stupid young parish priest (I know they're not all stupid!) laying down the law in spite of the fact that he's got only the reason they gave him in seminary and no experience at all, is more than I can bear. Aren't you getting a little long in the tooth to hold on to callow as your main shtik? Years away from the chunky Reese Witherspoons and a father yourself?

TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC rights! The struggle continues!

Move over black people, women, people with religions requiring them to wear special head coverings or smoke exotic substances, persons with disabilities, there's a new victim in town, cruelly ostracized by an unfeeling, narrow-minded society.

Senate Democrats are pushing an Equality Bill that says it is meant to add two new categories to the protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, sexual orientation and gender identity, but Andrew T. Walker of Ryan T. Anderson's Public Discourse blog finds that the actual secret intent of the bill is the opposite: far from protecting one oppressed group, it takes protections away from somebody else:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Annals of Derp: Dysarithmia continued

Coldplay, Magic, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, 2014. Via Wikipedia.
So as always, I love it when Brooks dips his toe into economics, because while I really don't know that much about economics, compared to Brooks I'm a master. It's brilliant for my self-esteem. As in the present case, where he is trying to show that Dr. Krugman has been ignoring the research on raising minimum wage hikes, which I started looking at in the previous post.

It's to be presumed here that he doesn't actually know or even care especially what he's talking about at all, of course, but is simply taking instructions from his masters at AEI and the Manhattan Institute and Hoover, Timeswashing their ideas as it were to make them look serious to some particular set of readers who regard themselves as educated and modern and "for heaven's sake, Ethel, I'm not some old fuddy-duddy, I just believe in responsibility", but always glad to learn new reasons for keeping poor people poor.

Because moral philosophy will be taking more and more days off as the 2016 campaign season gets under way.

Today's story boils down to this: ever since the zenith of high capitalism in the late 19th century, progressive forces have been advocating wage floors, on the basically moral-rather-than-economic theory that an employee deserves enough money to keep her- or himself and dependents alive and in some sense decent—shoes on your feet and roof over your head and the kids don't go to bed hungry—and regressive forces have said no because freedom; meaning, obviously freedom for employers, who are the only real people. If the market allows me to get away with paying my workers less than they need to live on, why shouldn't I? Which isn't a very attractive argument, so they've always made other ones, with the assistance of economists.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Annals of derp: Dysarithmia?

Welcome No More Mister Nice Readers!

Yakov Protazanov, Aelita, Queen of Mars, 1924. Image via Little Plastic Things.
It's world-famous economics wonk David Brooks out to defeat that silly old Nobelist Paul Krugman, who was explaining last week how economists no longer believe minimum wage rises cause significant job losses. Not at all, says Brooks (not naming Krugman, as New York Times rules require):
Some of my Democratic friends are arguing that forcing businesses to raise their minimum wage will not only help low-wage workers; it will actually boost profits, because companies will better retain workers. Some economists have reported that there is no longer any evidence that raising wages will cost jobs. Unfortunately, that last claim is inaccurate. There are in fact many studies on each side of the issue.
Well, hm. I'll be updating this in the course of the day eventually, but there's one thing I want to get out right away, in the hope of scooping all my friendly rival Brooksologists, on some of the most illiterate-or-false assertions I've ever seen him make:

Thursday, July 23, 2015


What I can't get out of my mind from the audio of the Sandra Bland tape (I haven't watched the video, I don't think I need to): it's harrowing, like a miniature play by August Strindberg, in the tranformation of the cop from cool-neutral and bureaucratic to freaked-out monster, while the victim remains the same, irritable and not very accepting, as you can understand. My inner racist is whispering, well, he's being respectful, he's being courteous, and she's not taking it. Though of course why should she? He has no reason to pull her over in the first place, no reason to arrest her, no reason to make demands on what she does in her private space.

It's that his politeness is a fraud from the start, based on his confidence in the power relations, that he's entitled to do with her whatever he wants. He thinks he's being a good person because he's not doing it with an angry voice, or because he's not hitting her. He thinks he's very patient and forebearing, and what freaks him out is that she's not impressed. His need to humiliate her is so great, and just keeps getting greater until it explodes. 

I'm against it

What is the purpose, actually, of New York state mandating an increase in the minimum wage to $15 for fast-food workers (in restaurants belonging to chains with more than 30 outlets nationwide; about 180,000 employees in the state, the Times thinks)? I mean, that's nice, as Loomis says, I'm pleased for the workers who have been agitating for this all year, but what about everybody else? What about the home health aids, nursing assistants, and hospital orderlies? What about casino dealers, shampooers, and theater ushers? What about the dishwashers and buspersons and counter attendants in diners and coffee shops and Chinese and Mexican joints and all the food service places that aren't in the fast-food chain category? What about agricultural workers earning an average $12.15 per hour with no overtime or workers' comp? What about thousands of employees of the state earning minimum wage?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The rich are very different from you and me, continued

Dustin Yellin self-portrait, via CollaterAl.
David Brooks, world-famous hipster art journalist:
When Dustin Yellin was 17 he dropped out of high school. The school was filled with jocks and cheerleaders and he clearly didn’t fit in. Plus he wasn’t intellectually engaged.
That's terrible. With this inability to delay gratification, so typical of kids in the Internet age, I suppose he was condemning himself to a life of crime, teen parenthood, and alienation?

Monday, July 20, 2015

National Review fail of the day: I'll take ancient generals for $250, Alex.

Updated 7/21/2015

The Battle of Boju, 506 B.C.E., in which Sunzi, alas, probably did not take part, although you never know. Via Snipview.
Michael Auslin for the National Review:
The future may consider it a tragedy of unimaginable proportions that the president did not take time to read Thucydides before sending his negotiators off to Vienna. Over 2,400 years ago, the master historian stripped away false hopes such as those embraced by Obama with a clarity that has never been surpassed. In the very first speech of Thucydides’s history of the Peloponnesian War appears the following admonition:
“Concessions to adversaries only end in self-reproach, and the more strictly they are avoided the greater will be the chance of security.” (I:1.34)
It is a bitter truth in an anarchic world.
Can I just ask how many battles old Thucydides won? Far as I can find out from the usual sources, he had one mission in his career as a general, to relieve allies at Amphipolis in Thrace (a half-day sail from his home island of Thasos) from a Spartan attack, and got there too late, after the Amphopolitans had already surrendered. The Spartan general, Brasidas, had made a deal with them—he'd offered "concessions to adversaries"—and they gratefully gave in.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The nastiness that dare not speak its name

"No wedding cake for you, my pretty! I'll cake you!"
OK, here's old Baron Hans von Spakovsky, who you'll no doubt remember as the fabricator-in-chief in the Bush Justice Department Bureau of Spurious Voter Fraud Allegations, landed in a wingnut welfare gig for the Heritage Foundation where he's tasked with managing the spurious allegations of gay people infringing on our First Amendment rights, notably—since it's still the only fragment of a case they've got, apparently, the case of the Gresham, Oregon bakery Sweets by Melissa. Some newish information has been circulating about this case, which I'll summarize for anybody who hasn't seen it.

Stupid Economist Tricks


Deeply annoying featurette from the Times Upshot:

A Quick Puzzle to Test
Your Problem Solving

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Note on Yemen

Image by Noa Angel, via Digital Journal.
Emptywheel noted yesterday:
Eid Mubarak. Today Ramadan ends, a big celebration in the Muslim community.
Saudi Arabia chose to celebrate by doing what they’ve been doing for over a hundred days: bombing Yemen....
That’s particularly notable given that according to the formal readouts, every conversation the President has had with Gulf allies about the Iran deal has also included some discussion of Yemen... 
Given the way the Obama Administration has tied some solution to Yemen with the Iran deal, I think it fair to ask whether there has been some kind of understanding that even as Obama pursues this deal, the US will continue to facilitate Saudi Arabia’s efforts to extend its hegemony at the expense of Shias (in Yemen, but also in Syria).
I think it's certainly fair to ask what the administration is offering KSA (and Israel) in the effort to persuade them to shut up about the agreement having "worse consequences than the failed agreement with North Korea" according to Prince Bandar, and so on, if you also note that it certainly hasn't worked until now.

But if she thinks Obama is giving KSA Yemen like a new pony ("C'mon, Dad, Iran got one, am I adopted or something?"), then she's certainly misreading the situation.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Brooks on Coates

Result of Googling "courageous white people". Via Trend-Hunter.

I really feel like giving David Brooks a break for his brave effort to tell people how it feels to be a white person reading Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me ("Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White"). It's right up there with Fredrik De Boer ("what white people talk about when we talk about Ta-Nehisi Coates", a bit more successful than an earlier effort) as a searing account of a kind of experience that few are willing to explore.

No, seriously, he's very respectful, and manages to trot out the word "privilege" almost like one of us:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

White House Fool Report: The People vs. Elliott Abrams, and conversely

Hilarious Seth McFarlane character Col. Oliver North. Via Americans Against the Tea Party.

War criminal Elliott Abrams shows up in the Weekly Standard with a hook:
Would George W. Bush have negotiated and signed the JCPOA with Iran? 
Of course not. That would have been a little too much work. Exterminate the brutes! That's what a Leader would do.

Or maybe make a calmer, quieter deal with the Iranian ayatollahs the way Abrams's old boss did. Ronald Reagan didn't mind negotiating with them at all, when a Lebanese group with connections to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution was holding some American hostages in the summer of 1985.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Breaking: Radical international organization condemns "unsustainable" Greek debt deal

Yes, the International Monetary Fund:
The financing need through end-2018 is now estimated at Euro 85 billion and debt is expected to peak at close to 200 percent of GDP in the next two years, provided that there is an early agreement on a program. Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far. 
Via BBC. The IMF has officially (in a leaked document completed before the agreement was signed Monday—the IMF is not a direct party to the agreement, but can stop it from going forward)  come out with most respected economists against the deal, even as the Greek parliament is trying to approve it today; because it's too harsh, will not lead to Greece being able to pay its debts (in particular to the IMF, which is the creditor for about 10% of the total), and isn't even properly fleshed out:
The IMF study said European Union countries would have to give Greece 30-years to repay all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic extension on the maturity of its debts. Without such extensions creditors might have to accept "deep upfront haircuts" on existing loans, the IMF added.

One senior IMF official said the fund would only participate in a third bailout for Greece if EU creditors produce "a clear plan".

The current deal "is by no means a comprehensive, detailed agreement", the official said.

Meanwhile, how much more evidence do we need? The German/EU views on Greece are not rational.

Bundeskanzlerin. Via Fnord.

Everything New Old is Old New

Valley of Fire Slot Canyon, Overton, Nevada. Via Roadtrippers.
One of the hazards of moving that Overton Window at all hours of the day and night is the way the other side gets stretched and thinned till there's only room for a single file, the slot canyon west of Overton Gap, where a girl can find herself, as suggested in Brooksy's review of the Clinton economics speech,
way to the left of where her husband was and to the left of where Barack Obama was in 2008 or 2012
well within the general election mainstream.... not with the edgier, angry economic policy you find among Bernie Sanders and the cutting-edge left.
As Rubeus Hagrid remarked, "I should not have said that!" Brooksy's having a tough time with his assignment, of making the candidate look frightening and boring at the same time. Instead he's just making Bernie look high-fashion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

If Iran the zoo

Wicked Persian fanatics plotting the breakout time for their nuclear device, scheduled for sometime during the Malia Obama presidency. Photo by Atta Kenare via Negar Mortazari.

David Sanger shakes his head, warning against excessive complacency:
Mr. Obama will be long out of office before any reasonable assessment can be made as to whether that roll of the dice paid off. The best guess today, even among the most passionate supporters of the president’s Iran project, is that the judgment will be mixed. Nothing in the deal announced on Tuesday eliminates Iran’s ability to eventually become a nuclear threshold power — it just delays the day. 
That is, we won't know for at least 16 years what happens after 15 years are up. And whoever's president in 2030 might be a Muslim, or an opponent of all international negotiations, or suddenly struck with paralysis and hence unable to do anything about it. That Obama is such a weakling! Why can't he control what happens when he's not around?

Similarly, old George H.W. Bush should never have signed that START treaty in 1991, because it had an expiration date, forcing the US and Russia to negotiate a new treaty in 2010, which they might not have done, given the difficult relationship between the two countries, although in fact they did. What a mistake that could have been if it had been a mistake, which it wasn't!

And Start II still might fail—we won't be sure till 2021, or 2026 if the parties go for the extension option. That old George totally made the world a more dangerous place with his heedless peacemaking!

It's like a Dick Cheney theory of diplomacy: you should never come to an agreement if there's a 1% chance it won't work out the way you expect. Much better to have a war, because that always gets you what you want.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cheap shot: Teach a governor to fish...

Welcome to the Goat Rodeo, Governor Walker!

Thought I'd rerun this piece from last December in his honor.

Meme via Inforoo. The Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative comments: "Walker the outdoorsman posing for cameras during the opening of the 2012 fishing season. Later that day he learned how to hold a fishing rod."
Governor Scott Walker is known for his mastery of all the angles, and for being hooked on pescatorial education. It came back to bite him last month at the Republican Governors' Association meeting:


Germany has isles too, you know, and the sun even comes out once in a while. Rügen.
The New York Times's magisterial diplomatic correspondent Steven Erlanger, happy as ever to lend a voice to the ignored and unheard, those whose desires and anxieties have no voice of their own, like German voters concerned about the excessive liberalism of the German governing coalition:
LONDON — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said about Greece on Sunday that “the most important currency has been lost: that is trust and reliability.” But many Germans think the most important currency that has been lost is the deutsche mark, the symbol of rectitude and confidence that embodied West Germany’s ascent from the ashes of World War II....
Indeed, maybe we've all been looking at this situation in exactly the wrong way. Maybe it's not Greece but Germany that ought to be exiting the Eurozone. Instead of a "Grexit" (isn't that what frogs say?) we could have a DEgress.

After all, isn't it Germany's bad example that makes it so hard for Portugal, Spain, Latvia, and Slovenia to follow the stern prescriptions for membership? With their high-living, free-spending ways and history of defaults (still haven't paid their debts from 1919, let alone 1945)? With their 1,371 average work hours per year (compared to 1,789 for the US, 2,042 for Greece) and labor unions on corporate boards? And their absurdly low VAT, at 19%, with reduced rates of 7% on food products, restaurants, and hotels, the lowest in the Eurozone (compared with 23%/13% in Greece, now to be extended to full rates for restaurants and hotels, presumably to give a competitive boost to the vital but endangered German tourism industry)?

Perhaps if Germany just went its own easygoing way the other countries would find it easier to buckle down to that austerity. Or perhaps, this is going to sound like a HUGE crazy paradox that nobody has ever thought of before, but perhaps people might look at the concept not just that austerity could be bad for a national economy, but that a well-planned social generosity of the kind that's been practiced in Germany since the 1950s might actually in some circumstances do some kind of good.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The importance of the affordance

"Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system." Image via.
Just some outtakes to yesterday's Pancake People tour of Friday's David Brooks column:
Research at the University of Oslo and elsewhere suggests that people read a printed page differently than they read off a screen. They are more linear, more intentional, less likely to multitask or browse for keywords.
I can't get over the picture of some teenager flipping through a book in his lap, frowning, "Where the fuck are the keywords in this thing?" "Browsing for keywords" is presumably a description of something Brooks does, when he's casting about for quotations in mid-column; he didn't get the expression from his source.

Susan Greenfield at a relatively early point in her new book:

Place in the Sun

Concept art for Blade Runner (1982) by Syd Mead, the darkest movie I've ever seen, and I don't mean in spirit, I mean in inadequate lighting. I literally couldn't follow the plot, and I still don't really know what happened.
In a way, most of the miraculous Supreme Court decisions of this session weren't that miraculous: marriage equality was happening in any case, whether the Court managed to participate in it or not, and the Kennedy ruling was more a recognition of reality than a breaking of new ground; and the conservative attacks on the Arizona Redistricting Commission and the Affordable Care Act (the Moops-invading-Spain case) were so deeply stupid that it would have been really frightening if they had succeeded.

That's not so true of Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project, which we talked about last January, in which the Texas DOH appealed the decision of a federal district court against policies found to be furthering racial segregation, on the grounds that they weren't doing it on purpose ("Now that racism no longer exists, segregation can only happen by chance; nothing we can do about it"). The correct answer is that the Texas DOH policy (not issuing federal tax credits to landlords in the Dallas suburbs who wanted to rent to low-income and mostly African-American tenants, but only to landlords in the city itself) had a disparate impact on the African-American community and is thus illegal under the Fair Housing Act of 1968; but this kind of argument has fallen on hard times in recent years. In education it's virtually dead, as school systems South and North continue to resegregate and state authorities continue to seek ways to favor charter schools for black kids and private (often religious) schools for white ones. There was a real fear that the Court would be killing it in housing law as well, as it almost did in a couple of cases of 2012 (the parties settled under pressure from the Obama administration).

Anyway, it didn't happen; Kennedy's opinion in the Texas case ruled the right way, and as the Times notes in an editorial today, we're already starting to see some positive action:

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pancake people of the universe!

Julia Faye in Frank Urson's Chicago (1927). Via MoviesSilently.
Shorter David Brooks, "Building Attention Span", July 10 2015:
What's up with all this twittering and twattering? Everybody needs to hitch up their trousers and join a damn book club!
The subject today is a debate that has perhaps been best summarized by Jon Swartz, in USA Today, vintage 2010:
The ongoing debate on the Internet's social merits has raged for years. And the advent of Facebook, with its 500 million users, has further underscored the talking point: Does social media like Facebook and Twitter make us more social or anti-social?

If you believe a new survey, the answer is a resounding "yes."
I knew it! They does make us more social or anti-social! But which?

Dylan Doubles Down

Or quadruples, as the case may be, with a short piece yesterday afternoon and a rather longer one in the evening, inflated to a majestic six-paragraph lede in Mike Allen's morning soufflé—Dylan Byers in Politico, that is, on the theory that the people buying Ted Cruz's book are actual people who know how to read and intend to do it, which this page was amused by yesterday morning.

Did Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins or the Cruz campaign magnify Cruz's sales figures by a laundering scheme, paying individuals to buy the book instead of doing the traditional bulk buy? Byers doesn't ask the question, but reports the HarperCollins non-answer to an easier question:
Art by Brian Gordon via Tech Digest.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Annals of derp: Dylan Byers

Senator Ted Cruz, McCarthy's Baby. Drawing by Taylor Jones, May 2013.
Dylan Byers at Politico reported yesterday evening:
The New York Times informed HarperCollins this week that it will not include Ted Cruz's new biography on its forthcoming bestsellers list, despite the fact that the book has sold more copies in its first week than all but two of the Times' bestselling titles, the On Media blog has learned.....

"We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold," Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained when asked about the omission. "This book didn't meet that standard this week."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Please don't throw me in that briar patch, Br'er Vox

British pro-slavery propaganda from the late 18th century, via HumaneMyth,
I was somehow personally offended to learn from blogfriend M. Bouffant, in comments to last Friday's post on how an 18th-century David Brooks might regard the American Revolution, that Dylan Matthews at Vox had already put up a post on Thursday arguing that the Revolution was a mistake from a more or less progressive, or at least Voxgressive, point of view, on the grounds that
I'm reasonably confident a world where the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: slavery would've been abolished earlier, American Indians would've faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse. 
Let the record show, by the way, that Matthews started his literary career as a 14-year-old blogger under the nym Minipundit ("I am little, it's the blogs that got elephantine"), and it wasn't very long ago. Like 2004, to be exact. Just saying.

Hear my plea

Image via Daily Mail.


The Donald: Almost half of all conversation last week on social and regular media was about him

Or maybe not quite that bad:
According to Zignal Labs, the Washington Post’s analytics partner, 48 percent of all the conversation about 2016 – across social  and regular media – was about The Donald last week.
(My bold.)

The lesson is clear: if you want people to stop talking about that real estate guy with the funny hair, you'll have to stop talking about 2016 for a while, preferably until it actually is 2016 and the guy with the funny hair has safely disappeared, as he certainly will.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Troll Poll

The Hill reports the Gallup Poll (and the Weekly Standard gets very excited):
Economic confidence has been holding at a seven-month low, according to a survey released by Gallup on Tuesday.
The Economic Confidence Index averaged -8 in June, which Gallup said is statistically tied with May’s -7 reading.
Gallup’s latest figures are keeping the index at the lowest monthly reading since November....
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two things: the public’s rating of current economic conditions and whether people feel the economy is improving or getting worse.
Then again, according to the Conference Board (via Deseret News):

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#JeSuisRwandais? Maybe not exactly.

Thanks for the shoutouts, Drifty and Constant Weader!

Clemantine Wamariya. Photo by Andrew White.
Shorter David Brooks, "The Courage of Small Things", New York Times, July 7 2015:
We're all just like refugees from the Rwandan genocide. At least I am.
No, seriously. Verbatim,

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pride goes before a pratfall too

Christian de Chalonge television version of Le Malade Imaginaire, 2008, via Le Figaro.
In a campaign speech before last January's parliamentary elections candidate Alexis Tsipras made a pretty audacious Greek literary reference, as The Guardian noted in a mysteriously Aristotle-bashing editorial:
The preceding five years had been ones of tragedy, he said. And after hubris, he warned, invoking Aristotle’s famous but flawed analysis of ancient drama, come nemesis and catharsis. The election, he added, was a battle between two approaches – on the one hand, the execution of austerity measures to the letter, whether or not those measures were working; on the other, a pragmatic notion – advanced by Mario Draghi, the head of the of European Central Bank – of “whatever it takes” to save the euro.
The latter view would prevail, said Mr Tsipras, and for an extra reason too: “Because Greece is the country of Sophocles, who taught us with his Antigone that there are moments in which the supreme law is justice.” Mr Tsipras was echoing the language of Antigone’s refusal to abide by her uncle the king’s edict that her dead brother be left unburied. In the drama she contrasts manmade laws, nomoi, with an ineffable, divine justice, Dike. Moral authority trumps mortal authority.
I'm not sure if he remembered that Antigone's view prevails in the end only after she herself is dead. King Creon's life is ruined too, with the suicides of his son and his wife, but that doesn't make it OK. It's a tragedy.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Carry On Continentals

David Brooks is off today, so we're kind of on our own.

The late Sid James as (I'm pretty sure) highwayman Dick Turpin in Carry on Dick (1974). Via My Ear-Trumpet Has Been Struck by Lightning.
David Brooks writes ("The Declaration Dilemma", New-York Times, July 3 1776):
All eyes seem to be fixed on the so-called Continental Congress, which has been hunkered down in Philadelphia for a little over a year now, ever since last year's unfortunate disturbances in Massachusetts, where rebel rioters managed to force the royal peacekeeping troops to pull back to Boston from Lexington and Concord.
Yesterday the Congress voted to declare that all the crown colonies south of the Canadas are independent countries, so that they can start negotiating with the French for financial support. A committee chaired by Dr. Benjamin Franklin is said to be drafting a document explaining this weird theory, and it could be published as early as tomorrow.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cuomo agua para chocolate

Corporate States of America. Via Rocky Mountain Media.
Way down toward the end of last week's Times overview of the South Carolina Confederate flag epic, a telling passage on the state's business community, which has long had problems with the cult of the Lost Cause:
After the killings in Charleston, the business leaders saw their chance. The chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, an old friend of Ms. Haley’s named Mikee Johnson, polled his 56 board members about the future of the flag. Everyone who responded was of the same opinion. He called Ms. Haley and told her: If she was ready to bring down the Confederate banner, they were behind her.

So was the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, the muscular association that represents giant international companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire. Over the weekend after the shootings, its president, Mr. Gossett, urged members to draw up a strategy for finally ridding the State House of the flag.
It's not, note, that they're especially anti-slavery, not that they favor it either, or have any special beef with the confederal states' rights ideology; it's that the flag has been bad for business.

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Something is wrong with this machine and its relationship to Google services including Chrome, Blogger, and Google itself, and I'm having trouble writing up a morning post. This seems to be going OK though. Be back later, I trust.

I was actually in Herald Square across 7th Avenue from Macy's when I saw the news on my phone of their detaching themselves from that racist fraud, and took a picture of the dear old thing.