David Brooks, American Patriot

Time for some tragi-comic relief.  The man whose serial fabulism in his breakthrough book should have sunk his career is back, with some advice for African American high school athletes inspired — tempted! — by Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem.

The whole thing is as grotesque as you’d expect, David Brooks’ paean to the soaring spiritual ambition of the pilgrim fathers, and a curious omission of the role involuntary servitude played in keeping that ambition comfortable.  I was going to fisk the fishwrap, but I just couldn’t bring myself to take our David seriously enough to expend that much effort. And anyway, after you read this closing line…

We have a crisis of solidarity. That makes it hard to solve every other problem we have. When you stand and sing the national anthem, you are building a little solidarity, and you’re singing a radical song about a radical place.

…and then recall this passage in that “radical song”:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

What else is there to do but point and laugh?…

Then weep.



SATSQ: Conservative wonk edition

Via Vox, an answer to stupid or evil:

This revisionism, according to Roy, points to a much bigger conservative delusion: They cannot admit that their party’s voters are motivated far more by white identity politics than by conservative ideals.

“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.”

No fucking shit.

At least it updates our priors to weight willfully blind if not stupid.

Open thread



An Exercise For The Reader

It’s too nice a Friday afternoon to waste time fisking another of the exercises in bathos that is a David Brooks column.  So, to offload the pleasure to the friendliest snarling pack of jackals you’ll ever meet, here’s an amuse bouche for you to masticate.

The left is nostalgic for the relative economic equality of that era. The right is nostalgic for the cultural cohesion.

The exercise:  in how many ways is this brief passage a steaming pile of horse-shit?

Richard_Waitt_-_The_Cromartie_Fool_-_Google_Art_Project

There’s much more at the link, though none of it truly worth minutes you could use usefully — say reorganizing your socks.*

So bash a way on our BeauBaux, and anything else that catches your fancy.

*I’ll say this — Brooks does make an awkward nod toward reality at the end of the column — but from a foundation of argument so desperately avoiding the actual matters at hand as to be both incomprehensible and utterly unpersuasive.  Such is life, when the entire edifice on which you’ve built a public persona as collapsed around you.

Image: Richard Waitt, The Cromartie Fool, 1731



Panic at the Applebee’s salad bar

Bobo recommends we tune in, turn on, drop by the Applebee’s salad bar:

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.Trump will have his gruesome moment. The time is best spent elsewhere, meeting the neighbors who have become strangers, and listening to what they have to say.

It’s not surprising, and hardly a crime, that many, maybe most, people socialize primarily with people similar to themselves, but….most people haven’t made a career out of pretending to be experts on “patio men” and chain restaurants.

I liked condescendingly jokey Bobo better than sad panda Bobo, I’ll admit it. But, to paraphrase the great Joe Cabot, I’ve got a joke for you. A bunch of Republican elites, sitting in the “Meet The Press Greenroom”. All wondering how the fuck Donald Trump got to be their nominee. What should we have done, what didn’t we do, who’s fault is it, is it my fault, your fault, his fault, all that bullshit. Then one of them says, hey. Wait a minute. When we were planning the conservative movement, all we did was sit around telling jokes about Al Gore and other dirty hippies. Get the message?



The inanity, it burns

Two very dumb things are making the rounds today.  The first is from Tad Devine, Sander’s campaign manager:

 

This actually makes some sense if we are to assume that the Sanders campaign is fundamentally a message and viewpoint campaign. Those campaigns are a valued part of the American political process and most cycles will have a couple of single issue candidates run in order to air their ideas to a much wider audience and hopefully get their party’s front-runners to bend their positions more closely to the single issue priority. If we analyze the Sander’s campaign in this fashion, then the statement makes a lot of sense and the Sanders’ campaign has been successful.

Maximizing a message opportunity is a very different objective than maximizing the probability of winning sufficient delegates to be nominated.  Hillary Clinton is running on a delegate optimization mode as she is running to actually be nominated.  That was her theory of her campaign in the spring of 2015 (and spring of 2007).  She needs to campaign everywhere to get delegates, while Sanders needs to stay plausible enough to get a microphone so spending resources and losing minimizes the microphone opportunity.  Two very different beasts being run with very different optimization functions.

But saying this outloud while still proclaiming that Sanders is running an actual campaign to get the nomination is stupid.

And now the other piece of stupid from reactionary anti-health policy “wonk” Michael Cannon:

There is no sense in marking the ACA’s anniversary, however, because the ACA is no longer the law.

Realizing the law he signed was unconstitutional and unworkable, President Obama and the Supreme Court have since made a series of dramatic revisions that effectively replaced the ACA with something we now call “Obamacare.”

Unconstitutional does not mean what Mr. Cannon thinks it means.

Unconstitutional does not mean “I don’t like this” and “the embedding of liberterian doctrine into a document written at least three generations before the first liberterian thinkers has been obstructed”.  Unconstitutional does not mean that something is stupid or venial.

Unconstitutional means what five justices on the Supreme Court thinks that means. So far, there have been at least five justices who have said that PPACA is fundamentally allowed under our governing constraints.   Constitutionality does not in and of itself imply that an act is wise, good, desirable or prudent.  In this case, I think those descriptors are fair descriptors of the ACA, but those can be up for debate.

Constitutionality is not at this point.



What’s the 1,000th worse case

Nate Silver is arguing on Twitter that the current Republican primary and the probably Trump nomination is the GOP party elite’s 997th worse case. He offers the 998th (Watergate Part Deux) and 999th(Aliens)…

what is the 1000th worse case scenario for the Republican elites?



Pretty men to tell you all those pretty lies

As you may know, I am fueled creatively by my massive hatred of David Brooks. Sometimes, though, I forget that he’s not just a right-wing nut, he’s also exceptionally intellectually dishonest. Yesterday, in the wake of the Rubiobot’s dismal performance in New Hampshire, he wrote that:

Marco Rubio, who has become the most intellectually creative of the presidential contenders, has given us a book, “American Dreams.” He moves beyond the Reagan-era emphasis on top marginal tax rates. He moves beyond the Mitt Romney distinction between makers and takers.

The title of the column is Marco vs. Larry (which might be a good title for a rom-com where Michael Sera and Ryan Gosling compete for the affections of Emma Stone), and the idea is that Larry Summers also has some kind of a good economic plan but it’s not as good as Rubio’s because it’s not Burkean enough.

Anywho, it’s Rubio porn, meant to buck up the spirits of mythical moderate Republicans and/or get tote-baggers talking about what a serious guy Marco Rubio is. The least Bobo could have done was begin with “Dear Penthouse Forum”, so his readers would know where the column was going.

Contrast this with Michael Gerson’d dead-on piece about Donald Trump’s prospects in South Carolina:

Trump appeals fairly broadly in South Carolina — many opponents of Trump I talked with in the state report having some relative who loves him. But there are lots of angry, rural white males at his rallies. They have reason to feel disadvantaged in our economy and overlooked in our politics. This is mixed here (as elsewhere) with baser motives. On racial matters, according to one senior South Carolina Republican, Trump is using “not a dog whistle but a train whistle.”

[….]

Republicans who remain unreconciled to the Trump dynasty now comfort themselves with one scenario. After the shock of early Trump victories wears off, some candidate in a winnowed field will need to rise and restart the race. “Trump,” this heretofore mythic figure will argue, “has won some early primaries in the South. But he has a ceiling of support — just 35 percent in the GOP — that dooms him with the national electorate. So, here I am, the only candidate who can unite the party and win a majority in November.” At that point, the spigots of Republican money will open and the electoral terrain — in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio, and eventually in New York and California — will dramatically improve.

All of which depends on two questionable assumptions. First, I can remember when Trump’s ceiling was supposedly 25 percent. After a series of victories, it may rise again. Second, this scenario assumes that any of the mainstream candidates are capable of cutting the alpha down to size.

Gerson hates Trump at least as much as Bobo does (he’s devoted several columns to this topic) and in many ways he is just Bobo with extra Jesus sauce. But at least he has the decency to write columns about what is actually happening in the GOP primary, rather than mash notes to a pretty robot who probably won’t finish higher than third in the next primary.