After the gold rush

I’ve mostly lost interest in David Brooks. He’s bad, but day in day out, he can’t quite match the awfulness of Frank Bruni or David Von Drehle. He’s self-involved, but not as self-involved as Bruni. He’s dumb, but not as dumb as Von Drehle. I just don’t think he matches up well against either of them.

What makes Brooks special when he’s at his best/worst, is his ability to get fixated on a random word. It could be a word he heard at a TED talk, it could be something he saw on a menu at a deli. Or it could be something he made up. Today he decides to describe guys who are just trying to get laid as “prospectors”. I think this is a real gem because it combines glib both sides stupidity with an awkward phrase that no one in history has ever uttered before:

In the political world, for example, partisans of left and right rationalize their support for Bill Clinton or Donald Trump because they could tell themselves in effect, “Oh, he’s just a horny prospector.”

Who do you think is the worst columnist working at a major outlet right now? Tom L think it’s still Bobo, but I think Bruni has far surpassed him, this shining example notwithstanding.



From the country to the town

A bunch of Third Way wankers did a tour of flyover country and were saddened by all the negativity. For some reason, I decided to skim the article about their trip, and I liked where these unions guys were coming from:

At the Labor Temple Lounge in Eau Claire, nine gruff, tough-looking union men sat around a table. One had the acronym of his guild, the Laborers International Union of North America, tattooed on a bulging bicep. The men pinned the blame for most of their problems squarely on Republicans, from Trump to Governor Scott Walker. School funding, the minimum wage, college debt, income inequality, gerrymandering, health care, union rights: It was all, in their view, the GOP’s fault. A member of the bricklayers’ union lamented Walker’s cuts to public services: “If we can’t help each other,” he said, “what are we, a pack of wolves—we eat the weakest one? It’s shameful.”

But their negativity toward Republicans didn’t translate to rosy feelings for the Democrats, who, they said, too frequently ignored working-class people. And some of the blame, they said, fell on their fellow workers, many of whom supported Republicans against their own interests. “The membership”—the union rank-and-file—“voted for these Republicans because of them damn guns,” a Laborers Union official said. “You cannot push it out of their head. A lot of ‘em loved it when Walker kicked our ass.”

This made the Third Wayers sad:

Debriefing after this particular group, the Third Way listeners said they found the union men demoralizing. “I feel like they can’t see their way out,” Hale said.

“They were very negative,” Paul Neaville, another researcher, concurred.

They were so fixated on blaming Republicans, Hale fretted. “It was very us-and-them.”

Here’s the thing though: those union guys are fucking right. If the right-wing really is out to fuck you, and they are, you should hate them and see it as us-and-them.

Doesn’t reality count for anything with centrists?



Let me understand your plan

What are the odds that Corker sticks to this?

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who announced last week that he won’t seek re-election next year, told NBC News he will not vote for a tax reform package if “we’re adding one penny to the deficit.”

He added: “I am not going to be for it, OK. I’m sorry. It is the greatest threat to our nation.”

My guess is Republicans come up with some kind of creative accounting that “allows” them to say that not one penny is being added to the deficit and Corker then votes for the thing.

But maybe since he’s retiring he can show some backbone. I doubt it though.



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?”