Something happened along the way

This whole article is amazing, but especially this statistic.

I liked this description of Republican voters:

malleable to the point of innocence, and self-reported expressions of ideological fealty are quickly abandoned for policies that — once endorsed by a well-known party leader — run contrary to that expressed ideology.



There’s a party in my mind

I call bullshit:

Now more than at any point in its modern history, the party has reached such a breaking point that historians, political analysts and Republicans themselves say it faces the possibility of splintering and spawning a third party.

Republicans are, by nature, order-takers. They took orders from Reagan, they took orders from Bush I, they orders from W, and they’ll take orders from Trump. Full stop.



Slap you on the back and say “please, please”

David Von Drehle has written the most idiotic centrist hot take in the history of idiotic centrist hot takes. Some highlights:

Wanna-be Nazis parading by torchlight through Charlottesville was a radical moment. Masked leftists marauding through Berkeley was another radical moment. Radical politics are the most dangerous kind, whether they arise from the right or the left.

[….]

The ostensibly conservative Republican Party was taken over by a man who stands against core conservative values such as prudence, order, tradition and free markets. Meanwhile, the ostensibly liberal Democratic Party was nearly hijacked by a socialist.

[….]

Principled liberals and conservatives need to wake up to this peril. The solid center that has defined American politics for generations is under assault by empowered radicals on both sides.

And closes with a predictable Houston-themed cliche:

There’s no time to waste. The water is rising.

Top this one, Ron Fournier. I don’t think you can do it.



The martyrdom of St. Googlebro

Bobo says the Google CEO should resign for firing Googlebro because science:

When it comes to the genetic differences between male and female brains, I’d say the mainstream view is that male and female abilities are the same across the vast majority of domains — I.Q., the ability to do math, etc. But there are some ways that male and female brains are, on average, different. There seems to be more connectivity between the hemispheres, on average, in female brains. Prenatal exposure to different levels of androgen does seem to produce different effects throughout the life span.

In his memo, Damore cites a series of studies, making the case, for example, that men tend to be more interested in things and women more interested in people. (Interest is not the same as ability.) Several scientists in the field have backed up his summary of the data. “Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate,” Debra Soh wrote in The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

Geoffrey Miller, a prominent evolutionary psychologist, wrote in Quillette, “For what it’s worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo’s empirical claims are scientifically accurate.”

Why does Bobo think he knows anything about what the mainstream view is in any area of science? He has no training as a scientist. Quillete and Globe and Mail are both right-wing publications, not scientific journals of any sort. Soh has a PhD but is not a researcher, she writes for Globe and Mail and for Playboy. Geoffrey Miller is not a prominent researcher — there is no way you can call a 1993 PhD who is now an associate professor at UNM “prominent”. And he’s best known for this:

On June 2, 2013, Miller posted a tweet on Twitter stating: “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth”.

Update. By the way, I don’t think it matters whether what Googlebro said is true or not. Most job situations are such that if you wrote a 100% accurate memo out about your co-workers you can would (rightfully) be fired immediately. (If you had to write a memo about your co-workers, you’d be much better off lying.) This is a very good point from a former Google employee (h/t commenter Walker):

What you just did was incredibly stupid and harmful. You just put out a manifesto inside the company arguing that some large fraction of your colleagues are at root not good enough to do their jobs, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas. And worse than simply thinking these things or saying them in private, you’ve said them in a way that’s tried to legitimize this kind of thing across the company, causing other people to get up and say “wait, is that right?”



He can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart

I have a question about the Bobo column that Tom eviscerated: what’s the purpose of saying there’s nothing there this early in the investigation? There’s no way to guess what exactly Mueller will turn up. All I can think is that Bobo is helping to lay down justification for eventually firing Mueller.

I also wonder what made Bobo decide he had to start carrying water for Trump. The vast majority of mainstream conservative pundits aren’t — Douthat isn’t, Stephens isn’t, no one at WaPo is except Thiessen. My guess is that Bobo wants to be careful to protect the conservative part of his “reasonable conservative” brand. Without it, he’s just an ostensibly straight version of Frank Bruni, wanking about college admissions and what extracurricular activities build character. That’s not going to pay his alimony. With it, he’s “hey there’s a conservative who supports funding for after school music programs”, to put it in totebaggerese.

To benefit from the lowered standards applied to conservative opinion writers, you have to maintain some amount of conservative cred. That means that if Trump wants to drop nuclear bombs, you have to at least support dropping conventional bombs. Otherwise you’re just another pinko.

We’ll probably see more and more conservative pundits work their way around to being anti-anti-Trump. It pays the bills.



David Brooks Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

One sentence from today’s column that captures the pure, distilled essence of the alt-hack that is our BoBo:

And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

It’s all there.

The disembodied passive voice to give pulled-from-the-ass opinion the aura of ex-cathedra authority:  “it has to be confessed…” Oh yeah? Says who?

The careful weasel phrase, a scurrying for plausible deniability when this infallible dictum falls prey to fact:  “at least so far…”

The statement, presented as general consensus, that is, in fact, false:  “Whitewater…was far more substantial than…’ anything at all is simply false, and Brooks himself was both a driver of that falsehood and was and is perfectly positioned to know better than what he writes here.

The Whitewater “scandal,” as just about every non-interested party now knows, was a steaming heap of bullshit, ginned up by Republican operatives (Ted Olson!) in an attempt to damage the Clintons and the Democratic Party.

Brooks reminds his reader that he was the op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time his page was running piece after piece about the scandal that he claims was substantive — and yet, in (again) classic BoBo self-protective weasel writing, now writes “I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays…”

In other words, don’t blame him if his paper and his page retailed great steaming heaps of bullshit that as he now writes, “in retrospect Whitewater seems overblown….” (Note again the tactical use of the grammar that evades responsibility, that subjunctive “seems.”  Translation: my paper on my watch spread bullshit for partisan ends, and but all that can be said (see what I did there) is that the outcome of our work “seems” … not so great.  Nice obfuscation if you can get (away with) it.) (Yes. I like parentheses. Sue me.)

Where was I?  Oh yeah:  don’t contemn Brooks for that overblown false scandal, but take his word for it that that steaming heap of bullshit was nonetheless more real than the Russian allegations.

Oh?

No.

I don’t think I have to go into detail for this crowd about the depth and range of the Trump-Russia nexus. It may be that Brooks is trying to be clever here, and define the scandal purely as a question of whether Trump himself (and or his campaign) directly conspired with agents of Putin’s government to affect the election.

That would make that sentence yet more carefully parsed to give him cover as things like money laundering and influence peddling details accumulate.  In that, we may be seeing a preview of the approach Republican opinion-framers will attempt later on: Trump’s corrupt, but not a traitor.  But even allowing for such fine dissection of the growing scandal, there’s plenty of confirmed evidence of interaction between Trump’s campaign and significant Russian folks (see, e.g., Sessions and Kislyak).  In other words: Whitewater ended as it began with no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing.  Trump-Russia already has on public record significant and troubling revelations.

There’s a pattern here. The New York Times has given prime opinion acreage to now two partisan hack/WSJ refugees in Brooks and Bret Stephens. Both employ a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice to construct in the language of rueful reason narratives that directly bolster Republican positions and personalities. Both use that seeming reasonableness, the above-the-fray tone of impartial and unchallenged judgment, to say things that are clearly not true.  Those lies directly undercut reporting happening within the Grey Lady’s newsroom put out.  Op-ed editor Bennett, executive editor Baquet and publisher Sulzberger are all OK with that, it seems.

David Brooks tells plausible falsehoods in defense of some of the worst people in the history of American politics. The Times lets him; more, it has done so for decades promoting a career hack/flack to a position of influence far beyond anything his lack of rigor and intellectual dishonesty should ever have earned.

This is a big problem.

Update: I just trashed a comment on how Brook’ wife  should interact with his wife. Using the term the comment did for a woman one may dislike or disapprove of is unacceptable, for all the obvious reasons.  No banhammer yet, but a repeat will earn a time out.

Update 2: Charles Pierce, on much the same passage, with much the same reaction, only more so.

Image: Frits van den Berghe, The Idiot By The Pond1926



Oh, Yay, We’re Gonna Relitigate Watergate Now

Sensible people understand that Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon — and thereby eliminating any chance of airing the true extent of the nitwitted criminality of the entire Nixon Administration and its GOP supporters — was a national tragedy. It allowed all the low-level CREEPsters to scurry away into wingnut-welfare hidey-holes from which they would reemerge, stronger and ever more venal, first during the Reagan Adminstration (aka ‘Iran-Contra’), and later during the Cheney Regency. What the country needed in 1974 was the equivalent of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, where amnesty might be granted, but only after a full examination of the crimes and their impact on civil society.

Of course the criminals in the permanent Republican Party, and their nitwit courtiers among the Media Village Idiots, persist in their self-defensive fantasies that Watergate was a cruel and misguided assault on a great man and his loyal acolytes. Since paranoia, racism, and a lust for cruelty are never out of fashion in the authoritarian fringes of the far right, whole generations of would-be Haldemans and Ehrlichmans have nursed ambitions to avenge Tricky Dick… and it seems that they may be seizing upon the President-Asterisk and his klown klavern as their last best hope.

As a leading indicator, Drum-Major-General and Bothsider-in-Chief David Brooks meeps out a preemptive call for Truth and Honor, once again, to submit to the needs of The Narrative. After hastily dismissing both the Democratic tactic of actual resistance to Trump’s no-longer-hidden attempts to subvert our democracy, and the #NeverTrumpist withdrawal into their think-tank boltholes, Brooks declaims that “we” need… another Gerald Ford:

… The third possibility is that the primary threat in the Trump era is a combination of incompetence and anarchy. It could be that Trump is a chaotic clown incapable of conducting coherent policy. It could be that his staff members are a bunch of inexperienced second-raters…

If the current reign of ineptitude continues, Republicans will eventually peel away. The Civil Service will begin to ignore the sloppy White House edicts. The national security apparatus will decide that to prevent a slide to global disorder, it has to run itself.

In this scenario, the crucial question is how to replace and repair. The model for the resistance is Gerald Ford, a decent, modest, experienced public servant who believed in the institutions of government, who restored faith in government, who had a plan to bind the nation’s wounds and restored normalcy and competence.

Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance…

… and “we” will find them, never doubt, among the comers at the Heritage Institute, the young sprigs of the National Review, and whichever statehouse seatwarmers the Kochs and Mercers decide are ready for a bigger platform.


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