Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Not Whether You Win or Lose

or How You Play the Game, but Whether You Compromised with the Person Who Did Lose or Win, Mutatis Mutandis, So That It was a Nonwin-Nonwin Situation for Everybody, Because That's Sportsmanship

CreditImage by
Americans realizing that the Vikings made it first.
Anyone who says it doesn’t matter whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins this election is even crazier than my cousin Thomas L. Friedman, who is convinced that it does matter, because Trump is not merely more ignorant than a chicken reared in isolation from her peers, but literally proud to be that way, and unable to control the impulses that arise from his total lack of information. Whereas Hillary is merely arguably criminal, not that you should expect me to do the arguing, my specialty being the broad magisterial sweep. In the same way Lester Young was arguably a dick, but had the chops to be the Prez, so does Hillary strike me as presidential material in spite of her well-known and devastatingly arguable ethical issues.
But I'm not even here to talk about the candidates at the moment, though I could conceivably blunder into doing this a couple-three paragraphs down, but about the voters, who are us, and who are possibly even worse than the candidates.

A disturbing pattern of meetings with nobodies

Stone City, VA, May 9 2016, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters via NBC.
Remember when the big pearl-clutching issue was Secretary of State Clinton meeting with too many nobodies, poor people, and above all persons of that other possibly Not Quite Serious gender? As Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote back in May 2013, as part of a general assessment of her work as secretary:
On her trips abroad, she met with women farmers, small business owners, and grassroots activists. On a 2009 visit to South Africa, she spent more time visiting a women’s housing project outside Cape Town than she did meeting with Jacob Zuma, the country’s president.
Some quietly criticized her priorities, complaining that Clinton was devaluing the office of secretary of state by meeting with so many, well, women. But Clinton defended her agenda and continued to bring her star-power to bear on raising the status of women and girls around the world.
That would be quite a few more nobodies than the 85 Clinton Foundation donors she's said to have met during her 1,464 days as Secretary, though I guess we'll never get AP to calculate how many (they could only find information on 154 people other than government officials she met with the entire time she served, or fewer than one person per week, so it must be a pretty difficult research task).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

People who are enchanted are the real tough cookies

 Enchanted (Walt Disney, 2007), via Decider.

David Brooks is interested in "Making Modern Toughness". I guess he figures the world needs toughness, but the toughness they used to have back in the day lacks the lightness and sophistication of the kind of toughness we would want for the current era. It was thickened with cream and egg yolks and people didn't value the natural character of the ingredients. We're looking for a toughness that makes more use of infused oils and techniques like steaming and sous-vide cooking and a sense of terroir.

When I ask veteran college teachers and administrators to describe how college students have changed over the years, I often get an answer like this: “Today’s students are more accomplished than past generations, but they are also more emotionally fragile.”
That rings true to me.
Pause to note how David Brooks apparently has a standard operating procedure for dealing with veteran college teachers and administrators. "Can you describe for me, please, how college students have changed over the years?" How many has he interrogated, one wonders, and do they constitute a random sample? What percentage of the responses is "often", and how does this frequent answer differ from others?

Monday, August 29, 2016


And it's been 11,482 days since the American people learned anything worth knowing from one of these masked kabuki events in which some of the nation's least informed journalists demonstrate their "toughness" and "savvy" by asking a president or presidential candidate essentially the same questions they'd be asking Carmelo Anthony at the half (either "How do you feel about the last 45 minutes?" or "What secret thing do you plan to do during the next 45 minutes that you would never tell me but I'm asking it anyway?"). No, I just made that number up.

Sani ol-Molk, Anoushirvan Khan and the courtiers, 19th century. Via Iran Chamber.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

State-of-the-art psychiatry

Image via Never Yet Melted.
TRUMP: A lot of people don't realize this, but I am actually the Emperor Napoleon. I didn't know it myself until quite recently when I got a message about it from the transmitter in my upper left wisdom tooth. I said "Are you crazy? That would mean I was like well over 200 years old!" But on reflection I saw it was true! How else can you explain what's been happening to me?

BAD MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: This kind of talk suggests the candidate may be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

GOOD MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: It's irresponsible to say you can diagnose someone's mental health without examining them in person. Many candidates say grandiose-sounding things. Mr. Trump could have all sorts of reasons for claiming to be Napoleon.


GOOD MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: I'm going to have you decertified. I know some very powerful people.

More at On the Media. And from Mr. Chuck Todd via Tom Boggioni. And one last howl of rage from me:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Goodness gracious, great balls of Brooks

Hillary's probably more like President Fictional Beyoncé. Come to think of it, that sounds pretty good to me.
Brooks's title, "The Art of Gracious Leadership", makes me imagine a President Jacqueline Kennedy, because I don't think anybody in history has been more frequently described as "gracious", or to make it completely clear, President Fictional Jacqueline Kennedy, because I feel sure the real Jacqueline Kennedy must have had a good deal of toughness behind the wispy voice and the mask of her cheekbones, and an impatience with bad taste that I bet she wasn't always able to graciously conceal.

Maybe President Fictional Dolly Parton:
CHUCK TODD: President Parton, your approval numbers have frankly been in the basement for weeks, don't you think it's time to show more leadership and cut Social Security or something?
PRESIDENT FICTIONAL PARTON: Honey, do you need a drink? Estelle, get Mr. Todd another drink, please, honey! This is such a nice visit, Chuck, I'm just thrilled you found the time to stop by.
TODD: What makes you think you can work with Congress to do what the American people want, whatever that is. Aren't they suspicious about the possibility that you may have had cosmetic surgery?
FICTIONAL PARTON: I'd be so glad if you could offer me some sage advice on that stuff, Chuck. I'm such an airhead myself, sometimes, honestly. We should totally have a longer visit sometime where you can share some of that super-attractive masculine wisdom and I can just sit at your feet drinking it in. How's Mrs. Todd? Honey, I love that girl to death! You should have brought her along!
Indeed, Brooks's beef today is that Hillary Clinton, or Fictional Hillary Clinton, as the case may be, isn't gracious enough to be one of those people in public life that we really admire, so that, sadly, he's unable to really admire her, much as he would enjoy it if he could.

But luckily he has plenty of sage advice as to how she could improve her graciousness numbers, and possibly one day even win some esteem from Brooks himself.

It all starts with experience:

Friday, August 26, 2016

All Trite

Pretty maids all in a row. Traditional costume, Corbi, via Pure-Romania.
I can't believe Hillary used the word "dog whistle" in that speech (she had nearly as hard a time saying "alt-right" as Trump does saying, "LGT...................BQ" or "African................American", but that's OK). That's almost as great as it would be if Obama advised everybody to pay more attention to the thinking outside the Village. I'm also enthusiastic about the new way she's using the mic, trusting it to carry her voice and speaking actually somewhat softly, intimately, which can make you work a little to listen to her.

Not that I'm one of those who criticize her for bellowing in those primary rallies on the ground that women sound "shrill". I really don't like that style from men, either, even if it's Teddy Kennedy or Howard Dean. Especially if it's Teddy, come to think of it, because as everybody knows Dean couldn't do it right, but Teddy sounded like an authentic authoritarian, even when he was preaching love between my brothers and my sisters a-a-all over this land.

Rather, I'd say one of the unexpected little benefits of finally having a woman reach this stage of the campaign is that she can experiment with these stupid conventions. When she lowers her voice to tell you, in effect, "I realize what clowns these people are and at the same time I'm telling you they're seriously dangerous," and you understand it's for real.

The EpiPen is mightier

Image via Wikiquote.
The weirdest thing about the latest drug outrage, the 400% rise in the price of the EpiPen epinephrine delivery system from Mylan, is the way the CEO, Heather Bresch, who just happens to be the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin ("Democrat"-WV), seems to want to take offense at it in her CNBC interview, as if it were something done to rather than by the company—

Heather Bresch: Look, no one’s more frustrated than me. I’ve been in this business for 25 years…
Sullivan: But you’re the one raising the price, how can you be frustrated?
Bresch: My frustration is there’s a list price of $608. There is a system. I laid out that there are four or five hands that the product touches and companies that it goes through before it ever gets to that patient at the counter. No one, everybody should be frustrated, I am hoping that this is an inflection point for this country. Our health care is in a crisis. It’s no different than the mortgage and financial crisis back in 2007. This bubble is going to burst.

You hear how she glosses over her own responsibility? "You're the one raising the price," says Brian Sullivan; "There's a price," replies Bresch, essentially denying it.

It just raised itself! When nobody was looking! The Invisible Hand is angry because humans have scorned the sacred laws! Thanks, Obama!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Miscellany: Down these mean tweets

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer vocation, continued

Auguste Rodin at work, filmed by Sacha Guitry in 1915. I bet David Brooks would be wondering why he looks so crabby instead of "radiating joy" and never holds any press conferences. Image via Hyperallergic.
So, picking up from where I left off yesterday, Brooks ("Why America's Leadership Fails") is back in his depressive phase. On Friday he was all
But America’s economic success is like our Olympic success, writ large. The nation’s troubles are evident, but our country has sound fundamentals.... the biggest threat now is unmerited pessimism itself, and the stupid and fearful choices that inevitably flow from it.
Now he's like

We’ve clearly had a failure of leadership in this country. The political system is not working as it should. Big problems are not being addressed.
A failure in respect to what in particular? How should the political system be working? Which big problems does Mr. Burkean Modesty wish to see addressed? It's funny, in Friday's happy column, he had ten paragraphs of actual facts, more or less accurately reported, to back up his cheerful assessment, but for today's gloom not a word to explain what's making him so upset all of a sudden. It "clearly" happened, but he's not telling us what it is. He's like a pissed-off spouse: "If you ever thought about anybody but yourself you'd know what it is."

He can't describe it, but he wants to join the debate on where it came from:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vocation

Update: Thanks for the shout-out, Drifty!

Buster Keaton in his 1923 film Three Ages. Via thefyuzhe. I used this last February, but what the hell. Recycling and all I'm still working far harder than David Brooks.
So David Brooks really, really hates his job. Whatever political convictions used to animate him 20 or 25 years ago are long gone, though the Republican formulas haunt his language like the compulsive exclamations of the Tourette's sufferer, not that he has any new thoughts on the subject, he'd just rather not be thinking about it at all. What would he like to be thinking about? He has no idea, but he has a kind of emotion in the shape of an idea, which is a nostalgia for the time when it used to be fun. What did he have then that he doesn't have now?

Maybe, he tells himself, a vocation:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Based on well-documented and widely accepted empirical evidence

Update: Hi MBRU readers! Thanks as ever Tengrain!

From the economists Aparna Mathur and Kevin ("Dow 36,000") Hassett at the Wall Street Journal last week, and recycled this morning in the daily bulletin of the American Enterprise Institute, where Hassett is director of economic policy studies,

The cure for wage stagnation

I know, teacher! Give everybody a raise! No, silly, of course that's not how economics works. If the boss gives you a raise, that isn't real; you have to get it from the Invisible Hand.

But it turns out that's going to be easy. All you need is a plan that everybody agrees in advance is the right one:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Poison waiting in the dregs

Shorter Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, "The Virtues of Reality", New York Times, August 21 2016:
These kids today and their internets! What's the world coming to? Instead of driving drunk, getting in bar fights, and having furtive unprotected sex they now stay home, play violent video games, and jerk off to electronic porn. I bet that's why they won't move out of their parents' houses and get jobs and wives. (It couldn't have anything to do with the economy, right?) It makes me so mad I could spit.
Ross is now in favor of hooliganism and hookup culture? He's a booster of that Caligulan Thrill that used to get him so hot and bothered back when he was a pious lad of 35, last year sometime? I guess what pisses him off today is that, in this fantasy world he's constructed for the pure pleasure of screaming at it, the young men (he says "people" but it's all about boys) are all avoiding God's just punishment for their irremediably sinful nature.

The funniest thing in the column, aside from including a link to an essay by his mother—no, back up, that's part of the funniest thing in the column, speaking of fantasy worlds:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

GOP: "Government is the problem. Vote Republican so we can prove it."

Photo by AP.
A big serious read at the Progress Pond, Martin's perpetually-in-development replacement site for the BooMan Tribune (update: now at the Tribune too), takes that familiar joke and turns it into very convincing theory, in terms of the way the major US political parties understand their role as political institutions inside the institutions of government:
Taken as a whole, the Republican Party has, ever since its takeover by the conservative movement, done more than any foreign ideologues can ever hope to do to erode faith in the goodness of the American establishment. They’ve done this partly by being very bad at governing, but my focus here is on their messaging. During much of the latter Bush Era, the Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, and they had a friendly Supreme Court. They ought to have been able to argue that under their leadership the federal government was finally functioning as it should. But, even if this had been plausible based on their record, they could never have done it because their whole machine is geared to deride the tyrannically inefficiency of government. What they did instead was to blame their own failures on the very institutions they controlled, and on the media for never giving them a fair shake.
I'd add that one of the effects of Republican propaganda and its amplification in the media, especially the aggressively "both-sides" media like CNN and the Washington Post, is to alienate or estrange the public from an understanding of what it is government institutions actually do, beyond that Schoolhouse Rock sense of how a bill becomes law—portraying it as monstrous, distant, arbitrary, somewhere writing uncountable volumes of crazed regulations, as opposed to all the cops, nurses, social workers, scientists, inspectors, and so on spending their days identifying common problems and solving them. To the point where they might deny that an agency they have positive contact with is really part of government at all, like that famous constituent who told Bob Inglis (R-SC) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare", or the complaint of George W. Bush suggesting that Social Security didn't need to be administered,

Friday, August 19, 2016

Never mind

Separated at baking? Trumpkin pie, via Pinterest.

Seems like just days ago old David Brooks was fearful and gloomy about the direction our country was taking, our inveterate materialism and selfishness and focus on the achievement of affluence, our drive to occupy increasingly vast spaces, our inability to submerge our individuality in the plasma of community,

the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.... According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.
In fact it was just days ago, ten days to be exact, but now he's as peppy as Tom Friedman:

Is Our Country as Good as Our Athletes Are?
Spoiler: You bet!

The athletes are great on a Trumpian scale, with a Trumpian exclamation point:

If anything, the coverage gets a little boring because we’re always winning!
Calling forth, as you won't be surprised to hear, Brooks's 147th and 148th career uses of "amazing/amazingly", with a bonus "astoundingly":

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ross remembers the Forgotten Man, but frankly his memory's not that good

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, seems to have some pretty nasty business in mind, judging from today's title, "The Pull of Racial Patronage",

Think of a Donald Trump voter, the kind that various studies have identified as his archetypal backer: a white man without a college education living in a region experiencing economic distress.

Note the cautious phrasing; he doesn't say the voter is experiencing economic distress, which would be false, as we learned in quite a bit of detail from Jonathan Rothwell's important Gallup study, which showed that Trump voters may live in distressed regions, but are generally pretty well off themselves. They may not have college degrees, but they're not the guys you've been reading about who can't stay married or hold a job or get off pain pills; those guys don't vote at all, by and large, as you might have guessed. These guys, in contrast, are running their own businesses and settled down, and though they're a little stressed, they're far from the bottom of the local pecking order. The monsignor knows it, too, and he'll be getting to it presently, but it's not the picture he wants you to have in your head:

What do you see? A new “forgotten man,” ignored by elites in both parties, suffering through socioeconomic dislocations, and turning to Trump because he seems willing to put the working class first? Or a resentful white bigot, lashing back against the transformation of America by rallying around a candidate who promises to make America safe for racism once again?
Like Joan Blondell's (and Etta Moten's, the one who did the actual singing, both her own and Blondell's lipsynch) proletarian hero in Gold Diggers of 1933, the man—a World War I vet or a Dust Bowl–ruined farmer—who used to love those girls, and who wouldn't? Before the Depression kicked the world out from under his purposeful feet and left him scoping the sidewalk for cigarette butts. Ross wants you to see the Trump voter with some of that glamorous New Deal pathos, either that or fucking Archie Bunker, you take your choice.

You’re allowed to answer “both, depending.” But where to lay the emphasis has divided liberals and conservatives against one another.
Thanks, Obama. Now liberals and conservatives are divided against one another, I hope you're satisfied. Or is that supposed to be Trump's fault?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grift for the Mill


So here's somebody called Dennis Prager writing at National Review (reprinted from Investors' Business Daily) to congratulate America's capitalists because they have—at long last, sir!—decided to stop giving money to their old colleges:

some alumni are awakening to the fact that their beloved alma mater is nothing like the decent, open, tolerant, committed-to-learning place they remember. Rather, nearly every college and university in America has become the least open, the least tolerant, the most hate-filled, and most anti-American (and, of course, anti-Israel) mainstream institution in America.
(I'd say offhand only one of them could become the least open, least tolerant, and most hate-filled mainstream institution in America, call me a grammar Nazi if you want. On the other hand, is the Republican Party still considered a mainstream institution these days? Competition is pretty intense.)

Or at least a few alumni did, according to an article that showed up in the Times a couple of weeks ago to reveal this disturbing new trend, including theatrical designer Scott McConnell, Amherst '60, who has written Amherst out of his will, and Scott C. Johnston, Yale '82, who hasn't written Yale out of his will, but is pretty darn irritated:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Landmarks in fatuity

Gunga Dinesh needs to get himself a Google.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Social Lives of the Rich and Famous

Somebody photoshop Scalia's face in there for me, please.
This is really dumb to begin with, but everybody needs entertainment, and I've been learning too much about the subject not to share it, concerning the possibility that Ivanka Trump has temporarily abandoned the hubby and kids (one four months old) and the presidential campaign for a vacation with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's girlfriend, if it's true that Putin's girlfriend is none other than Wendi Deng Murdoch, said to have been dating Vladimir Vladimirovich on the rebound from the (also rumored) affair with Tony Blair that may, if it took place, have brought on the breakup of her marriage with the then 82-year-old ex-Australian news magnate Rupert Murdoch, who is now 85 and married to Mick Jagger's old squeeze and baby mama Jerry Hall.

As far as I know Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson don't come into the story but don't bet on it. I don't, for the record, think much of the Putin angle. If you believe the kinds of publications that have reported it (there's a fresh rundown at Snopes), then you need to believe Angelina Jolie has gotten pregnant 14 or 15 times in the last couple of years (by my back-of-the-envelope calculation based on my view of tabloid front pages in subway stations) and divorced nearly as often, which is not even possible, given that you really can't have more divorces in one individual life than you have marriages.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dowd and Dirty

"Barack and Prejudice", from The Dowd Report, August 2008.
OK, so Dowd has now fully joined the Heighten-the-Contradictions Leninists for Trump brigade, or something like it, because Hillary Clinton is "The Perfect G.O.P. Nominee":

They already have a 1-percenter who will be totally fine in the Oval Office, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up — unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.
The Republicans have their candidate: It’s Hillary.
Because nothing says "Republican" like adding a 4% income tax surcharge on incomes of $5 million and up, bringing the estate tax back up to 2009 levels, and implementing the Buffet rule (nobody can pay a lower tax rate than their secretary), and other measures to make the tax system more progressive than it's been for decades, or expanding disability rights, or restoring collective bargaining rights, or guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, or standing up for animal rights and wildlife, or using executive orders to install half a billion solar panels and reduce oil consumption by a third over the next four years.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


From some rightwing site.
In yesterday's post I tried to talk, maybe not too clearly, about some reasons why I hope the remaining BernieBots who haven't yet done so will follow their leader into supporting the Clinton candidacy—not for their votes, which I don't think she really needs (it looks like a pretty strong victory either way, and if I'm wrong, I don't think their numbers are enough to make a significant difference), but for their ideas, as I said, and the ferocity with which they advocate them.

I think they can be more effective in that debate, helping to move that Overton window to the left if you want to put it that way, if they're on the inside of it, the way the radical Republicans were in 1860 or the Popular Front leftists were in 1932. In both those crucial years, when the more progressive party nominated a relatively "moderate", compromise-loving presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln in the first place and Franklin Roosevelt in the second, radicals managed to make their voices heard among the noise of the business-as-usual politicians, created a much stronger message than the candidate left alone would have thought of, and left their mark in the most consequential administrations in American history. That was in part because some radicals recognized, in Lincoln and Roosevelt, some factor that was more important than how "left" the candidate was.

It's amusing, 160 or so years later, to note how suspicious some abolitionists were of Lincoln:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Come on in!

Update: Hi MBRU readers! Thanks, Blogenfreude!

Image from Adam Goodheart (2011), The Civil War Awakening, via Mr. Jensen's U.S. History Class in Waverley, Nebraska (great website, Mr. J!).

Corey Robin writes:
I’m on record as saying that Clinton is going to win big-time in November. I’ve believed that for months (even when I was rooting for Sanders, I believed Clinton could beat Trump and said so). The latest polls only confirm what we’ve seen, with a few exceptions, for a year now: in a match-up between Clinton and Trump, Clinton wins.
If, however, I were a big booster of Clinton and if were at all worried that she wasn’t going to win in November, here’s what I’d be doing...
Followed by a list of ways in which those worried big boosters could be cadging and cuddling "every member of the left who is a potential Clinton voter but is skeptical or leaning toward Jill Stein or thinking about sitting this one out", as opposed to "castigating them as reckless, irresponsible, childish, purist, fanatical, immature, incompetent, cultish, blinkered fantasists of the revolution, and so on," and so on...

I'm a Clinton supporter who's been convinced she's unlikely to lose for some time, much more so as the situation has developed over the last couple of weeks, and if I'm wrong I'm pretty sure those people won't be enough to make a substantial difference, if he's talking about who I think he's talking about, so I guess this post isn't directed at me.

So it's OK if I make fun of Dr. Stein? Thanks, Corey!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

O Isis und Obama

Whether the Trump can properly be accused of inviting Russian intelligence agencies to attempt to recover those deleted emails from the equipment that the FBI has been working on for the past year, or of suggesting that if he loses the November election "Second Amendment people" should consider shooting the winner, or of declaring that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are honored by the Da'esh organization as its founder and co-founder respectively, I don't know. Some very well-known people are saying it. Some of the best people are saying it.

Osiris and Isis, via FreakHistorian.

Three Songs
Donald Trump

I Russia, If You're Listening
I have nothing to do with Putin.
I've never spoken to him.
I know nothing about him other than
he will respect me.a
He doesn't respect our president.b
If it is Russia,
which it probably is not,
nobody knows who it is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Take a deep breath

Picture from May 11 2011, introducing the secretary of state's address to the 41st Annual Washington Conference on the Americas, sponsored by the State Deparment and the Council of the Americas, of which John Negroponte was chairman from 2009 through 2015 (I think).
OK, everybody, please take a deep breath, I can explain everything. Well, maybe not everything, but please, Mr. Pierce, I don't think it's justified to ask on the subject of John Negroponte's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy,

Why Is Hillary Clinton Bragging About This Endorsement?

unless you have some evidence that she is bragging about it.

Which you don't. You have a lot of words about Negroponte endorsing her, and a certain number of (entirely justified) words about his criminal and/or disgusting activities as ambassador to Honduras and enabler of the Iran-Contra gangster enterprise in the Reagan administration, but the bragging Clinton I do not see, at least not yet.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

But will she get the Mexicans to pay?

Ottawa nuclear family, 1802, from the collections of the Comte d'Argenteuil.
Almost forgot, from today's stupid Brooks, the obligatory little dig at Hillary Clinton, depicted as a "wall-builder", within the general complaint about the Millennial generation:

In the great American tradition, millennials would like to have their cake and eat it, too. A few years ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song called “Can’t Hold Us,” which contained the couplet: “We came here to live life like nobody was watching/I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me.” In the first line they want complete autonomy; in the second, complete community.
But, of course, you can’t really have both in pure form. If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community. Politically, millennials have been drawn to the class solidarity of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Hillary Clinton — secretive and a wall-builder — is the quintessence of boomer autonomy. She has trouble with younger voters.
Far be it from me to defend Macklemore and Ryan Lewis—it would be hard for any sentient being to be much less invested in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis than I am, and one of the house Millennials informs me that this is an especially awful song, though allowing that it was pretty popular (the other one doesn't particularly recall it but says of Macklemore in general, "It's like quoting a Vogue article, there's no content", that's my girl)—but for one thing from a purely literary-critical standpoint Brooks is reading that wrong: it's not a couplet, but the last line and the first line of two distinct units, as you can see from a longer excerpt:

The Cusp of Some Great Cracking

Imagine David Brooks living in a one-room apartment for 400 people, on communally owned land. Via Wikipedia.
Or maybe just some great crack, though it smells more like marijuana to me; it's world-famous tribal love-rock hippie philosopher David Brooks putting on his love beads and urging us all to turn on, tune in, and drop out of "The Great Affluence Fallacy", just like the ancestors in the 18th century, who all got sick of the rat race and fled to the woods to join Indian tribes:

In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.
Well, not quite "defecting"; most of the cases on both sides appear to have begun as captivities of war. When a peace was signed or an exchange negotiated, liberated white hostages would refuse to come home, or run back to their Indian families if they were forced home, whereas Indian prisoners would abandon their French or English hosts to go back to their tribes at the first opportunity. All this according to James Axtell's essay on "The White Indians of North America" (William and Mary Quarterly 32/1, January 1975), which appears to have been Sebastian Junger's principal source for the opening chapter of his Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, released by Hachette on May 24, though Brooks writes,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Is Douthat a better theologian than the Pope? Spoiler: No.

"Mosque in mourning" in St-Étienne-du-Vouvray, Normandy, photo by François Mori/AP, via San Angelo Standard-Time.
Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, is putting out another request for some magic words; not only does President Obama have to say the words "radical Islamic terrorism" in order to win the war against radical Salafi terrorism, Pope Francis has to refer to the horrible murder of Abbé Jacques Hamel at the end of last month as a "martyrdom" ("The Meaning of a Martyrdom"):

In theory, it should be possible (for a pope, especially!) to plainly call Father Hamel’s death a martyrdom while also rejecting sweeping narratives about Islamic violence or religious war.
"In theory"! What theory is that?

As a matter of fact, I think a theoretical standpoint requires you to say that Abbé Hamel was not a martyr, however much respectful attention you might want his sacrifice and suffering to be given, because it isn't, just like Father Damien or Padre Pio, in line with the classic three-point definition:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What's not the matter with Kansas?

"Why Toto, is that the governor getting swept up in this thing?"
The Kansas Republican primary last week didn't get as much attention as it deserved, I think. And not just because of the defeat of Tea Party congressman Tim Huelskamp, after, as the Times was pointing out,

spending most of his six years in Washington feuding with his own leaders. He was so difficult to work with and troublesome that he was kicked off the Agriculture Committee.
Kansas voters like representatives who are good at working with the Agriculture Committee! So the pattern Thomas Frank was complaining back was complaining about in 2004 is over? They've decided to start voting in favor of their own economic interests?

Not necessarily; Huelskamp's victorious opponent, obstetrician and political newcomer Roger Marshall, comes with the backing of the Ending Spending Action superPAC, founded by Joe Ricketts of TD Ameritrade, and though it calls for legislators to stop grandstanding and start doing something, the something it wants them to do is government-shrinking through budget balancing. (Huelskamp had the Club for Growth and the Kochs, Marshall had the US Chambers of Commerce.)

The really interesting development was in the state legislature primaries, though, for which there's a final report in The Atlantic:
Moderate Republican candidates ousted 14 conservative state legislators allied with the governor in primary elections across the state, while anti-Brownback contenders won nominations for open seats in another seven races. The results were widely seen as a repudiation of a second-term governor whose popularity has plummeted amid sustained budget gaps and ensuing sharp cuts in state spending. And they likely mean that the staunchly conservative state legislature in Topeka will move back toward the center in 2017, increasing the chances that lawmakers could roll back deep income-tax cuts that Brownback successfully enacted in his first years in office.
That really counts as a vote against the supply-side Republican orthodoxy and Brownback's colossal economic mismanagement, which has left the state unable to pay its bills and cutting the programs people care about (schools, roads, jobs). And apparently, according to the Times report, a vote for Republicans who think they can find something in common with local Democrats. It's as if they really want to try having some government again. And besides, it's Kansas!

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Al-Dente Party

Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with wet pasta. Tortellini in brodo via TangoItalia.
Funniest sentence in Friday's David Brooks column ("Trump's Enablers Will Finally Have to Take a Stand" or in the dead-tree version "The Wet Noodle Republicans", wonder why they changed that huh?):

With each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in more disturbing forms: inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, impulsivity, aggression and a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about.
No, I don't know what "medium-grade mania" is. Neither too coarse nor too fine? But my impression is Trump really doesn't offer a lot of advice, and when he does it's usually on subjects he knows a lot about. Which is not to say it's good advice. It can be pretty dire:

Friday, August 5, 2016

Just so you know

Dr. Krugman writes ("No Right Turn"):

we’re finally seeing some prominent Republicans not just refusing to endorse Mr. Trump, but actually declaring their support for Mrs. Clinton. So how should she respond?
The obvious answer, you might think, is that she should keep doing what she is doing — emphasizing how unfit her rival is for office, letting her allies point out her own qualifications and continuing to advocate a moderately center-left policy agenda that is largely a continuation of President Obama’s.
But at least some commentators are calling on her to do something very different — to make a right turn, moving the Democratic agenda toward the preferences of those fleeing the sinking Republican ship. The idea, I guess, is to offer to create an American version of a European-style grand coalition of the center-left and the center-right.
I don’t think there’s much prospect that Mrs. Clinton will actually do that. But if by any chance she and those around her are tempted to take this recommendation seriously: Don’t.
Some readers are a little baffled by that third paragraph: who are those commentators urging a right turn and a "grand coalition"?


 is a trusted commenter Hartford 34 minutes ago

This all seems something of a straw man. Krugman doesn't specify who these "some commentators" so it's hard to know who he has in mind. Rush Limbaugh? Bill O'Reilly? As far as one can tell Clinton has actually turned slightly left in her platform which in any case was very typical Democratic center left fayre. Basically what you're going to get is Obama's pragmatic and sensible approach with a slightly leftward tilt. She has no need to make to concessions to the right nor is she likely too as Trump's campaign goes into the ditch.
No, John, it's not Limbaugh or O'Reilly. It's the Universal Mustache, Thomas L. Friedman, whose Wednesday column made exactly that demand, asking Clinton to abandon the Democratic platform (most progressive ever, as they kept telling us at the convention, and it's true!) in favor of what he calls "pro-growth" policies:
There are a lot of center-right, business Republicans today feeling orphaned by Trump. They can’t vote for him — but a lot of them still claim they can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, either. Clinton should be reaching out to them with a real pro-growth, start-up, deregulation, entrepreneurship agenda and give them a positive reason to vote for her.
Dr. K. isn't mentioning Friedman's name for the same reason he never mentions David Brooks's name when he needs to check some idiocy Brooks has perpetrated, because all three of them work for the New York Times and it's house policy that they never attack each other directly. But that's no reason for us not to notice it.

More on the Friedman column from me (if you haven't seen it already) at this address. Also see Bethesda 1971 at Kos.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cheap shots 8/4

Superinteresting detail from that new Fox poll:
More Clinton supporters say their vote is for her rather than against Trump (49-47 percent). Among Trump supporters, a majority says their vote is better described as being against Clinton (52 percent), while less than half are voting because they like him (44 percent).
It's can't have the kind of predictive power you expect from the "enthusiasm gap" measure, but it seems morally meaningful that the vote of the Trump community is decidedly negative in motivation, and that of the Clinton community is almost evenly divided between the positive and the negative—though we no doubt dislike and fear the Donald, we're equally, even a bit more, voting for something.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Friedman's off his meds again

Image via,uk.
Shorter Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Centrotropicus, "How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out", New York Times, August 3 2016:
The country is in a furiously anti-elitist mood! And Trump could take advantage of it by unexpectedly turning sane, at any minute! Clinton's only hope is if she picks up on that center-right economic agenda! She must adopt it right away! I am not a crank!
Because nothing says "I'm not an elitist" like an economic program geared to the Chamber of Commerce and the Stanford graduating class, and the Democratic platform doesn't offer anything to entrepreneurs:

in all the testimonials at the Democratic convention about what Hillary Clinton has done for other people, I don’t recall anyone saying, “I started a business because of Hillary Clinton.” Or, “I hired someone because of Hillary Clinton.”
Remember all the people saying "I started a business because of Marco Rubio" and "I hired someone because of Ted Cruz"? I guess the Republican convention did have Ivanka, who started a business because of Donald J. Trump. And there are all the law firms that had to hire bigly to deal with him. And Christie.

There was just one group that was conspicuously absent: the people who drive our economy by inventing things or by borrowing money to start companies that actually employ people.
Other than the North Carolina tech entrepreneur Brooks Bell, the Entrepreneurs for Hillary group founded by Shelly Porges and others—