We’re the kind of country that’s built to last

I love that Jonathan Hari article that John linked to earlier. Sometimes I wonder. Consider:

Sarah Palin told cheering rallies that her message to the world was: “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way!”


On Libya, he (Donald Trump) says: “I would go in and take the oil… I would take the oil and stop this baby stuff.” On Iraq, he says: “We stay there, and we take the oil… In the old days, when you have a war and you win, that nation’s yours.” It is a view that the world is essentially America’s property, inconveniently inhabited by foreigners squatting over oil-fields. Trump says America needs to “stop what’s going on in the world. The world is just destroying our country. These other countries are sapping our strength.”

I mean this almost half-seriously: is there a way to justify this kind of unreconstructed mercantilism with the Haykekian principles that guide today’s most principled conservatives? Is there?

This is too much to ask of a mere Reason video, it may well require a new David Brooks book. Rest assured, though, if the Republican nominee talks this way — and he or she might, at least during the primaries — some brave Burkean soul will attempt to square this circle.

Things I Really Wish Were Online, Progressive Self-Sabotage Edition

In the November 2010 issue of Harpers, Susan Faludi published “American Electra: Feminism’s ritual matricide“:

No one who has been engaged in feminist politics and thought for any length of time can be oblivious to an abiding aspect of the modern women’s movement in America—that so often, and despite its many victories, it seems to falter along a “mother-daughter” divide. A generational breakdown underlies so many of the pathologies that have long disturbed American feminism—its fleeting mobilizations followed by long hibernations; its bitter divisions over sex; and its reflexive renunciation of its prior incarnations, its progenitors, even its very name….
Feminism takes many forms and plays out in efforts in which younger and older women do collaborate over serious issues, usually out of the spotlight. It would be inaccurate to say that the generational schism is the problem with feminism. The primary hurdles feminism faces are the enduring ones…
But these external obstacles also mask internal dynamics that, while less conspicuous, operate as detonators, assuring feminism’s episodic self-destruction. How can women ever vanquish their external enemies when they are intent on blowing up their own house? As feminist scholar Rebecca Dakin Quinn wrote more than a decade ago in “An Open Letter to Institutional Mothers,” an essay chronicling her own bruising intergenerational experience at a women’s studies conference, “Mothers and daughters stand divided; how long until we are conquered?”…

Faludi’s quest takes her through a hotly contested election campaign at NOW, and through a history of the advertising industry’s hijacking of first-wave feminism back in the 1920s. At the NOW conference, “thirty-three-year-old Latifa Lyles, a charismatic speaker attuned to a youthful sensibility, a black woman who insisted on a more diverse constituency, a technologically savvy strategist who had doubled the organization’s Internet fund-raising and engaged the enthusiasm of a host of feminist bloggers” is challenged by “fifty-six-year-old Terry O’Neill, who made a point of representing the concerns of NOW’s older, more traditional constituency… her campaign was geared to her boomer sisters: its rallying cry was a return to Sixties-style street activism, and its view of young feminist social networking ranged from tolerance to bewilderment.” Things do not go well.

By the final day of the NOW election conference in Indianapolis, the “unity” theme was a standing joke. Plenary sessions were bitterly divided and rife with rumors and allegation. Had Latifa Lyles presided, as vice president of membership, over a dramatic decline in financial contributions, as Terry O’Neill’s forces claimed? Or had O’Neill’s camp manipulated the numbers to present a false picture? Had Lyles’s supporters enlisted young ringers? Had O’Neill’s aides recruited older Hillary Clinton–turned–Sarah Palin supporters to throw the vote at the last minute?

The tactics, charges and counter-charges, may seem familiar to those who remember the 2008 Democratic primaries. Feminist politics have been a concentrated microcosm of “larger” progressive issues since at least the 1850s, when abolitionists and suffragists were frequently derailed by debates over whose rights “deserved” to be fought for. The only individuals who seem unscathed are a few savvy marketers — some of them, like Rachel Walker, literally children of older campaigners — who have turned their private grievances into successful careers bashing “old school feminism”.

Faludi goes on to show how advertisers in the Roaring Twenties used young women’s rebellion against “old, outdated suffragettes” to sell everything from sanitary napkins to “scientific behaviorism”. Setting campaigners for women’s rights against anti-slavery crusaders had worked wonderfully as a political delaying tactic in the previous century, but now setting one generation of women against another could be directly monetized for an individual company’s profits.

The legacy of the 1920s feminist betrayal haunts modern feminist life. The women’s movement went dark for nearly half a century…
Second-wave activists rejected consumer culture and merchandised sexuality because they saw their mothers as victims of postwar materialism and hated them for it. By that rejection, they repeated the 1920s sin of matricide. The third wavers have discarded some of the ideological rigidity and rancor that the second-wave feminists felt toward their personal mothers. But they are no freer of the 1920s curse. In many respects, third-wave politics and postmodern gender studies have shifted from the battleground of doctrinaire Seventies women’s liberation toward the intellectual playground of bodily display and pop-culture-friendly theory—a feminism, as Courtney Martin has put it, that is more “about being seen.” In doing so, they’ve fallen into the 1920s trap of employing a commercialized ersatz “liberation” to undermine the political mobilization of their mothers.
In light of the unfortunate convergence in the Twenties of a mass movement’s collapse with the mass market’s ascendancy, the contemporary “feminist” urge toward shopping and retail culture takes on a more sinister coloring. It’s hard to see as innocent the consumer indulgence that was implicated in the death of first-wave feminism—especially as the old formula, commercialism versus feminist continuity, is playing out all over again, in academe as well as in the marketplace.

Today’s Republicans — modern ‘conservatives’ — remember their previous successes well enough to use both variations against us: They tell us that we can have “civil rights” issues or “feminist” issues… and that these are by definition in conflict. We can have an African-American candidate or a female candidate — but those candidates must run against each other, not against any of the dozen or so white male candidates who are judged implicitly Serious & Important by virtue of possessing pale skin and a penis. At the same time, Democrats — liberals, progressives, un-herdables — are accused of being out-of-date, using ‘outworn tactics’, holding on to ‘theories no longer relevant in the interconnected, globalist modern era’. Social strategies like a social safety net, environmental protection, workers’ rights are things we ‘can’t afford.’ And when we try to argue that basic human rights are not negotiable…

Hey, Donald Trump just called President Obama a dirty name! Everybody run send some tweets to each other! Blog about how those other progressives are failing to sufficiently acknowledge the hurtfulness of this issue within the historical framework of mine-is-worse activism! Then all we need to do is pick out the appropriate color and change our Facebook page, and the war will be as good as won!

Because if we’ve given up on defeating our real mutual enemies, we can at least be happy that we’ve driven the Inadequately Pure from within our (ever-dwindling) ranks!

Get the Fuck Off My Obstacle!

This epic smackdown of Trump and the GOP is a must read:

Since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has proved that one of its central intellectual arguments was right all along. It has long claimed that evolution is a myth believed in only by whiny liberals – and it turns out it was on to something. Every six months, the party venerates a new hero, and each time it is somebody further back on the evolutionary scale.

Sarah Palin told cheering rallies that her message to the world was: “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way!” – but that wasn’t enough. So the party found Michele Bachmann, who said darkly it was an “interesting coincidence” that swine flu only breaks out under Democratic presidents, claims the message of The Lion King is “I’m better at what I do because I’m gay”, and argues “there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”

That wasn’t enough. I half-expected the next contender to be a lung-fish draped in the Stars and Stripes. But it wasn’t anything so sophisticated. Enter stage (far) right Donald Trump, the bewigged billionaire who has filled America with phallic symbols and plastered his name across more surfaces than the average Central Asian dictator. CNN’s polling suggests he is the most popular candidate among Republican voters. It’s not hard to see why. Trump is every trend in Republican politics over the past 35 years taken to its logical conclusion. He is the Republican id, finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and all reality.

Read the whole thing.

I’ll Give Him a Little Credit

Well done, Mittens:

Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney tread on socially dangerous ground last night as he talked about the need to “hang” a misery index around the neck of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring “metaphorically” speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.

You know, the fact that he immediately realized what he was saying and that it was a tragic word choice shows to me that at the very least, Romney possesses a degree of self-awareness and the tiniest sliver of decency, something that I think has eluded a lot of the other Republican hopefuls.

On the other hand, there is the fact that Romney simply isn’t as stupid as the many policies he has adopted in his rightward lurch the past few years. Some of his positions have been straight out evil- whether it be his double Gitmo bullshit, or hiring advisory staff who recommend knifing prisoners in the thigh, or his decision to grab up a baton and stand at the front of the Planned Parenthood Hate Parade, or any of the millions of other issues in which he once had maybe not the ideal position, but one that was at least humane and defensible, but jettisoned in order to curry favor with the wingnut primary voters.

So basically, my general position is that there is a sliver of humanity in that shell of a man, but it is being held down and waterboarded by the inner sociopath that just has to be President to show up daddy. I leave it to you all to decide what is worse, to just be plain evil, like Palin, or to know better but do evil anyway like Romney.

#1, Obviously

Long piece on libertarianism at LOOG, which concludes with the following:

So what’s going on here? Why do libertarians deviate so strongly from our supposed class interests? These interests, remember, demand that we (1) love eminent domain (2) love the Drug War and (3) love the Forever War. Among others. For a devotee of class analysis, the choices are few. We seem forced into some combination of the following:

    1. Libertarians say that they oppose policy x, but everything they do ultimately supports the Republicans anyway, so they frustrate any chance of real reform.
    2. Activism on policy x is futile. It only diverts resources that should be spent elsewhere. (Optionally: Your evil overlords know this and encourage it.)
    3. Activism on policy x is not as helpful to the working class as activism on policy y. (Optionally: The same.)
    4. Activism on policy x is done merely for obfuscation. (Optionally: Ditto.)
    5. Not all libertarians are as great as you are, Jason

…and to take one or more of these on every single issue, no less. A complicated balancing act. But even in isolation, there are problems with each.

In almost every practical matter, the libertarians I follow almost always engage in a pattern of behavior that emboldens and empowers the GOP. “But John, you are just a partisan hack who only hates libertarians now that you are a Democrat, and you unthinkingly attack them when they are critical of Democrats because of that! And Ronald Bailey writes about global warming also, too!”

I may be a partisan hack, but I’m not an idiot. I loved libertarians when I was a Republican and enthusiastic about the so-called conservative agenda, because I know a friend of the cause when I see one. The economic agenda of libertarians and Republicans the last thirty years has radically increased inequality and decreased freedom. From my current perspective, every “success” of libertarians in the past few decades has been at the expense of the majority of the country, and deregulation has led to more government involvement to deal with the cockups from our Galtian geniuses.

But whatever, I’m cranky and not really awake yet, so flame on.

Pay No Attention to the Invisible Hand Behind the Curtain!

Charles Blow points out why “Silliness & Sleight of Hand” have been the GOP’s resort-of-the-newscycle:

Donald Trump is still playing to suspicions of President Obama. And it’s no longer theoretical. It’s theological. For the detractors, truth is no longer dependent on proof because it’s rooted in faith: faith that American exceptionalism was never truly meant to cover hyphenated Americans; faith in 400 years of cemented assumptions about the character and capacity of the American Negro; and faith that if the president doesn’t hew to those assumptions then he must be alien by both birth and faith.
This is how the moneyed interests — of whom Trump is one — want it. That is how sleight of hand works: distract and deceive. They need this distraction now more than ever because the right’s flimsy fiscal argument — that if we allow fat cats to gorge, crumbs will surely fall — is losing traction.[…]
It all loses traction as more Americans begin to see the far right for what it truly is: a gang of bandits willing to sacrifice the poor and working classes to further extend the American aristocracy — shadowy figures who creep through the night, shaking every sock for every nickel and scraping their silver spoons across the bottom of every pot.
In fact, Gallup reported on Thursday that unfavorable views of the Tea Party, which was cheered and championed by billionaires and business interests, had jumped to 47 percent this month, a new high, while last week it reported that approval of Congress among Republicans and independents had dropped to a depressing 15 percent.
So the right needs to backfill its shaky fiscal reasoning with political segregationist rhetoric — amplifying a separation of the “us” from the “other.” […]
In 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described how the strategy of separating people with common financial interests by agitating their racial differences was used against the populist movement at the turn of the century, explaining that “the Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow.”
He continued that Jim Crow was “a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.” He called this “their last outpost of psychological oblivion.”
But the right, with a new boost of energy from Trump, is reaching for new frontiers. The language and methodology are different, but the goal is the same: to deny, invalidate and subjugate, to distract from real issues with false divisions.

Of course the deliberate, “casual” racism stings — Trump is a carny geek spewing raw chicken parts at passers-by. But perhaps if we allow ourselves to be distracted by arguing over who’s insufficiently offended about the geek’s uncivilized behavior, we’re going to miss his confederates picking our pockets… again.

White Rappers Make Me Laugh

(Click to embiggen) Looks like we need an open thread.

Am I the only one who thinks this kind of stuff is funny as hell? In the same vein, this cover cracks me up. (From Reddit, where else?)