Saturday, April 30, 2016

Annals of Derp: Tell me what is Kansas thinking?

Via YouTube.
Rachel Sheffield and Elmore Wallace over at the Heritage Foundation's Daily Dogwhistle write about a major success for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. If you're not reading the rightwing press you may be under the impression that Brownback hasn't been successful in anything
Brownback pledged to bring 100,000* new jobs to the state in his second term; as of January, he has brought 700. What’s more, personal income growth slowed dramatically since the tax cuts went into effect. Between 2010 and 2012, Kansas saw income growth of 6.1 percent, good for 12th in the nation; from 2013 to 2015, that rate was 3.6 percent, good for 41st.
Meanwhile, revenue shortfalls have devastated the state’s public sector along with its most vulnerable citizens. Since Brownback’s inauguration, 1,414 Kansans with disabilities have been thrown off  Medicaid. In 2015, six school districts in the state were forced to end their years early for lack of funding. Cuts to health and human services are expected to cause 65 preventable deaths this year in Sedgwick County alone. In February, tax receipts came in $53 million below estimates; Brownback immediately cut $17 million from the state’s university system. This data is not lost on the people of Kansas — as of November, Brownback’s approval rating was 26 percent, the lowest of any governor in the United States.
But no, apparently there's this one thing where he's accomplished something according to plan, kicking people off SNAP (or "food stamp") benefits if they don't get a job.

What pulled me in was Sheffield's and Wallace's obnoxious quotation from Lincoln:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Across the Chasms of Segmentation

Image by Peshkova/Getty Images (stolen by corporate bloggers too numerous to mention, at least I'm crediting).
Poor David Brooks ("If Not Trump, What?") back for seconds on the artisanal humble pie with pâte brisée and seasonal fruits, which he'll take à la mode, with a great big scoop of the butter-brickle self-congratulation:
I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years. We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country.
Chasms of segmentation! Can't help imagining him somewhere out in the Heartland anxiously searching an Applebee's for the salad bar. "What did they do with it? Is this some of that downsizing?" For now, though, he needs to get ready for his excursion, and he's doing some online shopping:

Comedy is war

Cherry-picking at Stella Creek in the Adelaide Hills. Or maybe a stock photo.
I wanted to say something about that very long essay on liberal smugness or smug liberalism by Emmett Rensin (apparently an anagram, for "Eminent Terms", or maybe "Mr. E. Sentiment") in Vox, which I have not had a chance to read all the way through, as I was having my ironic smile straightened.

In fact I am not planning to read it all because there's too much of it, if you want to know the truth. I'm just going to cherry-fisk, so to speak, picking on the especially offensive sentences as they pop out at me and ignoring the no doubt very significant and judicious argument that Tem Tem Sinner worked so hard to assemble in favor of the stupid argument I discern from this superficial technique, and if you want to complain about it, why don't you just bring it up before the next Blogger Ethics Panel.

But first,
Q. How can you tell when National Review's famed Iraq combat attorney ("Cover me, Jack, I'm going in there as soon as the shelling lets up, with a motion to change venue") David French is lying?
A. When he claims to have had some human experience or other.
As in this contribution on the Rensinade, where he's discussing his own sad experience of the smugness of liberals:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ross Douthat's Electric Slide

GIF by ifoundabritty.
That Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, is such a sneaky guy! Here he is ("Trump and the Madness of Crowds") chewing yet again through the mystery of how an apparently nonconservative person such as Donald J. Trump seems to be capturing the apparently conservative Republican party:

1. They aren't really that conservative:

This [the party's refusal to nominate "mavericks" thought to be not purely conservative from McCain through Kasich] doesn’t mean that all Republican voters care about the conservative movement’s goals and shibboleths. Many clearly don’t, and it was obvious that there was an underserved constituency for policy heterodoxy among Republican voters — especially working-class voters— long before Trump came on the scene.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Getting a Zero

Cats in Finca Vigía. Ernest Hemingway Photographs Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Brooks is still in Cuba, or still using it as a dateline. Naturally his favorite spot on the tourist itinerary has been the farmhouse of Finca Vigía, a few miles outside of Havana, where Ernest Hemingway started making his main winter residence a little before his 40th birthday and his marriage (the third) to Martha Gellhorn, in 1939. Brooks's meditations at that melancholy spot are the subject of his new essay, "Getting to Zero", and it's pretty unnerving.

It takes the form of what could have been a sketch for a chapter on Hemingway in The Road to Character, starting with a quick description of Finca Vigía as the setting, then outlining the elements of the novelist's long decline, as human and writer, during the 20 years he lived there, with his many severe moral failings, and finally looking for that redeeming feature that you can use in your own struggle to become a nice person, with eulogy virtues, like St. Augustine or D.D. Eisenhower. As you work through it, though, you're drawn irrepressibly to another kind of reading. The first sentence—
Havana — Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba seems like such a healthy place. It is light, welcoming and beautifully situated.
—for example, immediately makes me think:
Cleveland Park—David Brooks's house in the D.C. area seemed like such a healthy place. It had vast spaces for entertaining.
And when I get to

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Post Hawk Ergo Propter Hoc

I'm guessing this (from the January 2013 Senate Benghazi hearings, photo by Alex Wong/Getty North America) is more "In the second place..." than "Peace out!" but it does show her fingers know how to go there.
If you saw that cross-head in Mark Landler's book-promo excerpt (for Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle over American Power, being released from Penguin Random House today) in the Times Magazine—

—you might have started feeling a little panicky, and you wouldn't have been alone.

Though you also might want to just take a deep breath and ask yourself what it means, if Carpet-Bomber Cruz, who was still in the race last I heard, doesn't qualify as a hawk. Or John Kasich, who's called for a major US ground force in Syria. Or Donald J. Trump, who may claim (although he's demonstrably lying) to have opposed the war in Iraq back in 2002 but is eager to "bomb the shit" out of it now, and kill all the families of the ISIS fighters as well and send Exxon in to do the nation-building, and thinks Japan and South Korea and Saudi Arabia should have nuclear arsenals. True that Trump doesn't have a lot of respect for NATO, though neither did Donald Rumsfeld. But what's a "true" hawk?

Or you might want to look at the fine print—the part of the article known in the trade as "the article"—and see what that has to say about, for instance, her stance as opposed to that of President Obama:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cheap shot: Didn't see that coming

Who, me? Photo via Vice.
Paul Ryan setting the bar pretty low:
CNN host Manu Raju asked Ryan how he dealt with the warring factions in the House's GOP majority differently than his predecessor had. "I think I do it better," Ryan said. "Not to knock John, but, um I spend more time with all of our members on a continual basis."
Uh, Paul? That's not what I hear from David Dayen:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Old Whine in New Bottle

The second funniest thing about today's column by Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, under the title "The Reactionary Mind", has already been pointed out by Corey Robin:
  1. Liberals think conservatives are reactionaries;
  2. conservatives are merely nostalgic for the 1950s;
  3. just as liberals are nostalgic for the golden age of unions; thus,
  4. liberals and conservatives are nostalgic for the same thing, but liberals may not know when it was and conservatives (including Ross Douthat) definitely don't know what it was like.
The first funniest thing, which Corey is evidently silent about out of modesty, is that he himself is the source for the Monsignor's headline, The Reactionary Mind being of course the title of Robin's own brilliant 2011 book, a comprehensive tour through the history of conservatism showing clearly that what unites the conservative perspective over the centuries is not some coherent set of changeless principles, but an impulse that can only be called reactionary, on the part of some ruling class that feels its power under threat from below, from the French Revolution through the Tea Party, and yearns—and conspires—for the sweetness and rightness of an old regime. Which is of course not the argument the Monsignor is making: he's going to be telling us that although we ought not to think of him as some kind of reactionary, he has a certain appreciation for those who are—he thinks they're cute.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Unleavened Prose

Shraga Weil, 1963, Four Musicians (but they're the four sons of the Haggadah: Wise, with shofar; Wicked, with drum; Simple, with a "horn", maybe some lengthy double-reed instrument; and the One Who Does Not Know How to Ask with rattles). Via Jewish Heritage Online Magazine.
Could the GOP be facing an intellectual Exodus? Forty years ago, neoconservatives started migrating toward the Republican Party. Is a reverse migration possible? —Daniel Drezner, Washington Post, April 19 2016. H/t Driftglass.
Each year at the blessed season of Passover we remember the story of how God led the people of Israel out of bondage in the fleshpots of Egypt to the promised land, thousands of years ago, but we also think of the experience of those who have gone through similar kinds of oppression throughout history, and the hope of redemption held out to all, from the enslaved African Americans in earlier days of American history to the victims of war and violence in our own world today. Or the neoconservative intellectuals who toiled for generations under the whips of their ruthless capitalist overlords until at last the weight of their chains grew too great and they rose to free themselves.

I mean, fleshpots being fleshpots, it wasn't that bad in some respects, but they did have to spend literally minutes each week typing things on impenetrable and disgusting subjects like climate science and gynaecotheology when all they really wanted to do was urge on the troops to kill Arabs, make fun of stupid liberals and their ill-fitting clothing and theoretically complicated sexual habits, and handicap vice presidential candidates.

Friday, April 22, 2016

David Brooks went to Cuba...

... and all I got was this shitty T-shirt:

José Martí shirt, from Karoll William's Online Shop.
Actually it's a pretty nice shirt, though Yanqui-made, but then I had to find it myself.

Brooks was on a junket accompanying the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities delegation to Cuba for a three-day visit this week,
to advance deeper cooperation around the common bonds of our heritages – arts and culture – and identify greater opportunities for people-to-people artistic and cultural collaborations. The visit itinerary will include both lively scholarly and artistic event and exchanges, as well as meetings with Cuban government officials and directors of cultural institutions.
Or as Davy himself put it,

Who is the @realdonaldtrump?

General Haffaz Aladeen.
In another startling development this week (reported by Ben Jacobs for the Guardian), in Hollywood, Florida, where Donald Trump's presidential campaign was entertaining the Republican National Committee
over heaping piles of seafood, plates of cheese and an open bar
(I don't know why I think that sounds so funny—maybe the implication that there aren't any plates for the seafood, or that there's a kind of completeness summarized by these three items in particular, or the sense that the participants are "over" all three at once, which makes me imagine them standing around a clambake setup, with the cheese plates and the bar in in the steaming pit with the lobsters and corncobs) the campaign acknowledged for the first time that Donald Trump is not real:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

And this week in #BlackLivesMatter...

Akai Gurley. Photo via New York Times.
Chauncey de Vega reacted to the sentencing of Peter Liang, the Chinese-American NYPD cop who just got five years of probation and 800 hours of community service for his homicidal misconduct causing the death of an entirely innocent and unarmed black man in a dark housing project staircase, Akai Gurley, and I thought, because of my contact with the local Chinese community, I should try to communicate something of their point of view on the case, so I left the following comment:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Primary outtakes

Can't find a credit for this shot. Digby has used it memorably though.
And how significant?

Math, how does it work?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Pasquale Civiletti, Verdi Square Monument, Manhattan. Photo by Chris Brady.
Emerged from the subway at Verdi Square (statue of the maestro of Busseto surrounded by characters from the operas, Falstaff, Aida and Otello I think, and Leonora from Forza in her last-act hermit's cowl for "Pace, pace") yesterday evening to be confronted by two intermingled mobs of Upper West Side moms, young, groomed, and fiercely organized, leafleting for their respective candidates. No fighting.

The Bernie moms were talking up the startling NBC/WSJ poll showing Bernie winning in an imaginary head-to-head nationwide contest among Democratic primary voters against Hillary by minus two points, 48 to her 50, which is not winning by the usual definition, but also well within the margin of error of 5.3%, so that he could actually be winning in the normal sense, by plus 3.3 points, though he could also be a more normal seven or so points behind, if there was a national primary, which there isn't, but none of that could dampen these moms' enthusiasm. Momentum! The tide's about to turn!

I felt really irritated by the way these nice people were imitating stupid TV pundits, and as I passed a 10-year-old girl with a Hillary sign looking defiant in the knowledge that some of her friends might think she was being dorky, I showed her the clenched fist. I immediately wished I'd given her the full fist bump, but it was too late and I had stuff to do.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cheap shots and hot pursuits

Update 4/22: Welcome Mike's Round-Up Readers! Thanks, Batocchio!

Via Wikimedia Commons, attributed to M.Z.D. Schmid.

The worst thing about Donald Trump, per David French at National Review: He encourages feminism.
The masculinity of Trump is exactly the caricatured, counterfeit masculinity of the feminist fever dream. It takes the full energy of manhood and devotes it to sex, money, and power. It’s posturing masquerading as toughness and anger drained of bravery.... he breathes new life into a feminism that is so extreme, so hysterical, that even a majority of women reject it.
That must be pretty darn extreme and hysterical, if even the wimminz are against it.

Three revolutionary epiphanies

Office in the sky. By Qantas, 2014.
1. Millerites

The Millerites were the ancestors of all the modern Adventist denominations, a millenarian Baptist cult in the Burned-Over district of upstate New York, led by a farmer, William Miller, who discovered in the early 1830s, based on his research into the Bible and Apocrypha, that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur sometime in 1843 or 1844. Eventually it acquired a substantial body of followers spreading all over the northeastern US and Canadian Eastern Townships into Britain, Australia, and even the Sandwich Islands, thousands of them, discussing their experiences and hopes in correspondence with Miller's Signs of the Times newspaper (still published today by the Seventh-Day Adventists) and various other publications throughout their increasingly international community.

Miller had been unwilling to predict exactly when this event was going to take place, but he was confident that March 21, 1844 was the last possible day the thing could happen, and when the Lord failed to appear then he may to some extent have lost control of his flock, who began working independently on the important question. Eventually they settled on April 18, when nothing happened, and then sometime in July, and then finally October 22.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Is Francis Berning?

Jeffrey Sachs in Toya, Mali, with school official Mahamadou Alamin. Photo by Sebastien Cailleux/Condé Nast, 2009.

Dr. Google and I stumbled into a couple of odd things while we were trying to figure out the Bernie-Bergoglio kerfuffle that seem, to me, to have some clarifying value, taken together.

1. Just a year ago, in April 2015, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences held a Plenary Meeting on Human Trafficking: Issues beyond Criminalization, to which the development economist Jeffrey Sachs was invited, and later in the month a panel discussion on sustainable development with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, as a result of which the chancellor of the Academy, Mgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, took a certain amount of heat from conservative Catholics, on the grounds that both Dr. Sachs and Secretary General Ban are known supporters of abortion rights.

Including some heat at the conservative Catholic website First Things from Stefano Gennarini, Director of the Center for Legal Studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) in New York and Washington:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bathos: Look Before You Lark

From Tower of Turtles.
Oh dear me, David Brooks wants to know
What Is Inspiration?
Like a 10-year-old boy wondering what sex is going to be like, or perhaps an elderly priest who has been perfectly chaste since that one strange moment when he was still in seminary and whose recollections are no longer quite clear.
there are some moments — after much steady work and after the technical skills have been mastered — when the mind and spirit take flight. We call these moments of inspiration. They kind of steal upon you, longed for and unexpected.
Kind of.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Annals of derp: Is income inequality a deadly weapon?

Drawing by Homer Davenport (h/t Arundel, see Comments).

It's our old friend James Pethokoukis for the American Enterprise Institute, here to pass on the great news: Income inequality doesn't kill people!

That is, in the recent Health Inequality Project study it looked pretty scary:
the Health Inequality Project — a team led by well-known economists Raj Chetty and David Culter — did find big differences between rich and poor. The richest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest men, while the richest American women live 10 years longer than the poorest women. The richest Americans have gained approximately three years in longevity since 2000, while the poorest Americans have experienced no gains. So income inequality is a killer, right? Case closed!
(It's so cute the way he lets us know that they aren't merely economists but "well-known economists", just so you know this is really serious. Though it would have been better if he'd managed to spell Cutler's name right.)

But wait! Pethokoukis has worked out an argument that inequality isn't to blame. These poor people are dying of living in the wrong place. See, there's another factor, geography: being poor is less deadly in some towns than others:


Vladimir Vladimirovich has a secret. It's probably not the one he's telling everybody. Photo by Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti via Mosaic.
This is really unpleasant: in today's edition of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's annual Tsarist audience ceremony, where he entertains questions from the Russian masses for a four-hour session, he was asked about the Panama Papers showing some of the extensive shell company holdings of his closest friends, including the official VVP best friend cellist Sergei Roldugin, who seems to have become a secret billionaire by sheer magic, and replied, according to Sputnik Deutschland (the German equivalent to RT in the US, an outlet for Russian international propaganda),
Uns ist bekannt, dass sich dort Mitarbeiter offizieller amerikanischer Institutionen befinden. Wo ist der Bericht zum ersten Mal erschienen? In der Süddeutschen Zeitung, die zu einer Medienholding gehört. Und diese Medienholding gehört zum amerikanischen Finanzunternehmen Goldman Sachs, also sind überall die Ohren des Auftraggebers zu sehen, die noch nicht einmal rot werden. Und wir brauchen keine Reue von ihnen erwarten. Sie werden so weitermachen“, so der russische Staatschef.
("We are aware that there are employees of official American institutions on that. Where did the report appear first? In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which belongs to a media holding company. And this holding company belongs to the American finance company Goldman Sachs, so you can see the ears of the bosses everywhere in this, and those ears are not even turning red. And we don't have to expect them to show any remorse, they'll keep doing the same thing," said the Russian head of state.)
It's true that Goldman is an important investor in SZ's owner Südwestdeutsche Medien Holding, since 2007, obviously not true that the firm runs the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

What I hear there (I just caught the story on BBC, but the only written version I could find quickly was this one) is something I hear a lot in Russian propaganda, particularly in the accusations against George Soros's Open Society Foundation as the hidden mastermind of the Ukrainian revolution, making my own ears red not with embarrassment but with appalled discomfort—classical Protocols of the Elders of Zion anti-Semitism, the paranoid picture of a world ruled from behind the scenes by a cabal of Jewish financiers, sometimes more explicit as in last year's RT story about Hillary Clinton as the "Illuminati candidate", always just scary even when it's laughable. There's serious and deadly anti-Semitism around, and a lot of it rolls out of Russia. I don't know why more people don't talk about it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Brooks nails it again: There's too much politics in this joint!

Bioluminescence in Vadhoo, Maldives, which won't exist if we don't move faster on global warming, speaking of galaxies of warm places, politics, and both sides not doing it, from msn via Beth Smith at Pinterest.
David Brooks wants to know
How to Fix Politics
I thought it was already fixed, har har har. Isn't that the problem?

No, seriously:
It’s possible to imagine an elite solution. The next president could get together with the leaders of both parties in Congress and say: “We’re going to change the way we do business in Washington..."
But you don't really have to imagine it, because every president does that. It's not even meant as a solution, if it ever was, it's a ritual cleansing. It is startling to realize that David Brooks doesn't know this. Anyway he he's not so dumb as to imagine such a procedure would have a really good chance of fixing things. Though not for the obvious reason that it's never worked yet; rather, because

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mr. President, Talk Up This Wall

That Boston Globe parody on Sunday presented as the front page of the paper commemorating Trump's first 100 days as president was a hoot, but there was one big thing missing: the Op-Ed page! I couldn't do any of their columnists, but I felt I had to try my hand. H/t Ted the Slacker, whose comment at Alicublog gave me the idea.

The Great Wall of Trumpa. Via NorthCrane.

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST

Mr. President, Talk Up This Wall

The great American poet Robert Frost famously argued that something there is that doesn't love a wall, and this is unarguably true to some extent. There is also something that does love a wall. That something is President Trump and the many Americans who voted for him five months ago.
Back in last year's fraught election campaign, many skeptical observers right and left asked hard questions of candidate Donald Trump: Could he build a wall completely protecting the land border between the United States and Mexico from Texas to California? Could he get the Mexicans to pay for it? Would it successfully keep hordes of violent Mexican rapists and Syrian terrorists cunningly disguised as Mexican rapists out of our country? Did those hordes of Mexicans and/or Syrians even exist?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Douthat can't handle the truth

Clifton Webb in Otto Preminger's Laura (1944), with Gene Tierney's back. Via somebody's Tumblr.
It's Monsignor Ross Douthat, the Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, all hopped up about Pope Francis's new exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love!), but there is no joy in Rossville. It's that danged modernity again:

MODERNITY has left nearly every religious tradition in the Western world divided.
The specific issues vary with the faith, but there is an essential sameness to what separates Reform Judaism from Orthodox Judaism, evangelical churches from mainline Protestantism, the liberal Episcopal Church from the conservative Anglican Church in North America.
The terror-caps are just an accidental feature of the Times style—because it's the first word in the piece. But it does look funny!

Actually what separates Reform Judaism (about 35% of Jews in the United States according to the 2013 Pew survey, plus 6% for Reconstructionist and other particularly liberal denominations) from Orthodox Judaism (about 10%, including the Ultra-Orthodox) is Conservative Judaism (about 18%), of which Ross appears not to have heard, together with the 30% who identify mostly as "just Jewish" (27%) or otherwise unaffiliated.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Annals of derp: There is question, and Imma try to avoid it

Surreal Turtle, by jallen02 at DeviantArt.

Robert Pear and Maggie Haberman at the Times are so scandalized by the incoherence and insubstantiality of the Trump health care proposals:
This whipsaw of ideas is exasperating Republican experts on health care, who call his proposals an incoherent mishmash that could jeopardize coverage for millions of newly insured people.
Oh, really?
“If you repeal the Affordable Care Act, you’ve got to have a serious way to expand coverage to replace what you have taken away,” said Gail R. Wilensky, who was the administrator of Medicare and Medicaid under President George Bush from 1990 to 1992. “There’s nothing I see in Trump’s plan that would do anything more than cover a couple million people.”
Robert Laszewski, a former insurance executive and frequent critic of the health law, called Mr. Trump’s health care proposals “a jumbled hodgepodge of old Republican ideas, randomly selected, that don’t fit together.”
Gosh, thanks for the heads up, Republican experts on health care! I'm so glad the Times is onto this surprising and unpleasant development which no one would have predicted. I guess Republican primary voters need to be looking at one of those candidates with a serious way to expand coverage to replace what they're taking away when they repeal and replace Obamacare. Which one would you recommend?

Like Governor Kasich?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Annals of derp: What do hedgehogs dream of?

Lactose-intolerant hedgehogs need pizza too! Via Arla Foods.
Nate Silver says a contested Republican convention is "not hard to imagine" and a "real possibility", and so David Brooks, never too strong in the mathematics department, reads that as meaning it's a done deal:

now it’s likely no candidate will get that majority on the first ballot.
So the campaign has become a delegate-centric process. Suddenly the delegates have all the power and the candidates have to woo them for their support.
Time to start planning! Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, and I guess Mickey Rooney ("Let's put on a show!")  and all the other delegates should get together and form themselves into a Lincoln Caucus:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kvelling in the Mises Library

Guatemala, via Pedrovisión.
Where did National Review's Jay Nordlinger go for his spring break?
When you see Adam Smith Plaza, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. You also see Ludwig von Mises Library. And Friedrich Hayek Auditorium. And, for good measure, Milton Friedman Auditorium. 
UFM has not forgotten Professor Friedman’s better half: There is a Rose Friedman Terrace.
Certainly wouldn't be all that surprised to see such things in Kansas nowadays, when I think about it. But it's Guatemala, of course, where else? And its rightwing wonks' paradise, the Universidad Francisco Marroquín:

Friedmanic Depression. II

Image via OceanDesign.
Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, the Sad-Eyed Mustache of the Lowlands, is still depressed, thanks to a rather cool-sounding book by an old collaborator of his, Michael Mandelbaum, Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post-Cold War Era, which

argues that the last two decades of U.S. foreign policy were an aberration — an era when America became so overwhelmingly more powerful than any rival that it got geopolitically drunk and decided that it didn’t just want to be a cop on the beat protecting our nation, but also a social worker, architect and carpenter doing nation-building abroad.
Well, do tell, Tom. You've certainly been wearing that thinking cap lately.

I'd like to just let him alone for once, or indeed single him out for praise, but there's one bit I can't let go, because it provides a remarkable example of the use of bad grammar as an obfuscatory device:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Proper Uses of Coercion

Charlie Chaplin in Shoulder Arms (1918), via ChaplinForTheAges.
David Brooks, "How Covenants Make Us":
When you think about it, there are four big forces coursing through modern societies.
When I think about what, exactly? How to apply facile analogies from physics to the description of social phenomena? What makes you think I think about it at all?
Global migration is leading to demographic diversity. 
Recent research pushes back the earliest date of sapiens-Neanderthaler interbreeding from 50,000 years ago to as much as 100,000 years. There has never been a time in the evolution of the species when humans have not been on the move. I've mentioned before how the period of Brooks's childhood—after his US-born parents remigrated from Canada to New York in the early sixties—was part of a truly exceptional time in American history, between about 1931 and 1980, when the amount of immigration, beginning with racial quotas and the Great Depression, was extremely low. He imagines, in his usual solipsism, that the state of the world has always been in general what it was in the homogenized-milk sameness of his own youth, and he is obviously wrong.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Cheap shots: Piece in Our Time

At the counter-terrorism nuclear summit in Washington, April 1, via The Independent.
Because of all the dreadful things in our long national horror show, Obama's countless crimes and contempt for common decency, the worst, for Victor Davis Hanson, the thing that somehow caps them all, the most insulting, is... when he flashed a peace sign at an international meeting?

Imagine a Right-Wing PAC Campaign Ad in 2008 . . .
By Victor Davis Hanson — April 4, 2016

Men are earthy, Ross is mercurial

Because I refuse to make the Uranus joke.

Mars by Sandro Botticelli (1483) and Venus by Nicki Minaj (2012), image by Daniel Fernández.
'Missus!' shouted the fat boy.
    'Well, Joe,' said the trembling old lady. 'I'm sure I have been a good mistress to you, Joe. You have invariably been treated very kindly. You have never had too much to do; and you have always had enough to eat.'
    This last was an appeal to the fat boy's most sensitive feelings. He seemed touched, as he replied emphatically —  'I knows I has.'
    'Then what can you want to do now?' said the old lady, gaining courage.
    'I wants to make your flesh creep,' replied the boy. Pickwick Papers, 8)
Monsignor Ross Douthat, the Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, was doing his Joe number on Sunday, asking us to be afraid—be very afraid—of the consequences of socialism, perhaps only ten or a dozen years away:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

In which I fail to make a hashtag trend

Write your own damn caption. You know you want to. Photo by James Glover/Reuters.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wan and wild

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is this the face of a conservative? Image by Jobsanger at Paperblog.
Like everybody else, I've gotten pretty shy about predicting the Trump's imminent demise, but I'm wondering if it may finally have begun this week, with his national approval numbers falling to extraordinary levels (30 to 63% underwater) and signs of struggle for him in upcoming primaries from Wisconsin through Pennsylvania to California, as reported by Steve M.

If it has, I'd ascribe it in part to something that goes along with Steve's General Theory of Trumpativity, according to which what his voters like in particular is his brazen certainly that he's always right and refusal to back down from anything he says, no matter how idiotic, unless by blanket denial that he actually said it. Because he was nothing like that backing off from his earlier assertion that women needed to be punished for getting abortions:

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Rodent Complex

Welcome Crooks, Liars, and the people who love them! Thanks, Tengrain!

Designer rodent ensemble, via Trendhunter.
The unmannerly, unkind and unnecessary tone of the Republican primary contest has brought a new and undesirable element into our politics. Sometimes you have to shake your head in dismay, disbelief and disapprobation.
I'm talking about the controversy roused by a statement from Ted Cruz, in response to allegations of sexual misconduct. "Let me be clear," the senator reportedly said, "Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him."