Yes they DO, by their very nature!

warning money

Just got this email from the nice folks at Columbia Regional Business Report.

I know they mean well. They see this as their way of being helpful. But I must disagree, and most vehemently.

But how can they bring themselves to say something so absurd as “Money Matters don’t have to be frightening?”

By its very nature, the phrase “Money Matters” is a grim and urgent warning. It tells us that we are about to be subjected to at least several seconds, if not excruciating minutes, of words having to do with the most painfully soporific subject on the planet… money.

It’s a dead giveaway. There is no way that anything pleasant can follow a headline with “Money Matters” in it. It says, Here I come! You’d better run!

If you’re not quick enough, the initial words (ugly and mysterious words, like “accrual” and “debentures”) will give way to spreadsheets, if you’ll forgive me for mentioning something so unpleasant.

There are people, I am told, who enjoy talking about money. But they are from another planet, one with characteristics in common with the Bizarro World.

In any case, I appreciate the warning. Let’s skedaddle…

Be happy. Be like #GreenShirtGuy

If only we could all be like this guy, we’d all be living in happier times.

He seems like… an earlier version of ourselves. A Regular Guy from pre-2016. He’s never seen or heard this kind of nonsense before, so the stupidity of it all just cracks him up. Or maybe it’s the woman tugging at her cutoffs while she makes her earnest statement. Or the guy next to her who apparently prepared a handmade sign for the occasion, but when the time comes can’t be bothered to put down his supersized sugary drink.

In any case, we need to be as philosophical as Alex Kack

greenshirtguy

Open Thread for Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Parker-Mustian

Yes, I’m back from vacation.

While I was gone, there was of course the Democratic debates, which were tiresome and off-putting. I can’t wait to see this nomination process come to an (successful, I hope) end.

Talk of that was swept away over the weekend by violence in Texas and Ohio, and threatened violence here at home.

To plunge in:

  1. Mass murder in Texas and Ohio — Again, the horror sweeps the nation. And again, our political system will prove itself completely incapable of reducing the risk of such incidents in the future. The utter futility is reflective of the soul-sickness in our country. It’s related to why Trump is president. It’s related to why I can hardly bear to watch these debates. There’s so much foolishness, and so little rational action. American government, and American politics, is stricken with an impotence, accompanied by pointless sound and fury. It didn’t used to be like this — and I know that sets off some of you, who simply don’t recall when the nation actually used to rise up and deal with problems when they confronted us. You’re wrong, but I’ve learned I won’t convince you of that. Anyway… will we ever snap out of this, and what will it take?
  2. Threatened violence, and real racial hatred, here at home — There’s the public conversation, which talks about what this former Cardinal Newman student did and threatened to do, and what the school and law enforcement did and didn’t do about it — a circumscribed conversation, limited in the MSM by the longstanding prohibition against identifying minors. Then there’s the sort of sub rosa conversation, in which everyone knows who he is and who his family is, and lots of talk reflects the reverberations of all that. Setting the gossip aside, let me raise a question that addresses the heart of this: I’ve seen a suggestion that what this boy was doing was simply trying to win a competition among his peers to see who could be the most outrageous. Which is more shocking: The threatened violence, or the fact that our society is so sick that children could conceive of such a competition?

You know what? That’s all I’m going to post for now. Somehow I find myself not as interested in utterly unnecessary, manufactured trade wars with China or whatever. But y’all can bring up whatever you like.

Where I was last week. It was crowded this day, but mostly pleasant the rest of the time.

Where I was last week. It was crowded this day, but mostly pleasant the rest of the time.

Thoughts on the Democratic debate(s)?

July 31 debate

Last night I got a text from a friend and colleague in Columbia, asking “Are you watching the debate? I was looking for your twitter commentary.”

(Yes, some real people actually LIKE it when I riff on social media during these events, and miss it when I don’t do it. So there.)

But I wasn’t on the Twitters because a) I’m on vacation, and any time I spend on a keyboard is dedicated to something I just have to do for work or whatever (this post being a notable exception); b) it was my wife’s birthday, and we were having a family celebration; and c) having watched most of the debate the previous night (and Tweeted a bit), I was thoroughly fed up with this reality-TV mockery of our politics, and had no appetite for any more of it.

I had started Tuesday night willing to have fun with it…

…and ended up just disgusted:

So, even if I hadn’t been busy with more important things, I would not have watched Wednesday night with any, shall we say, gusto.

Anyway, today I’ve read a number of accounts of it, and I don’t think I missed much.

Here’s a summary: Joe did all right. That’s all that matters. He didn’t set the world on fire, but the consensus was that he wasn’t damaged and is unlikely to lose his dominant position in the polls — despite the increasingly desperate efforts of the wannabes to pull him down, extending to some really strategically stupid stuff like tearing down President Obama and his legacy.

For me, the only point in watching other than to make sure Joe’s OK would be to see if anyone emerges as a good backup option if he doesn’t make it. And that has not even come close to happening (based on my watching and reading). And not because my mind is closed. I’d like to have a backup plan. I don’t like not having a backup plan. I makes me uneasy. But I’m not going to lie to myself. I’m not going to pretend that someone else looks good just to ease my own mind.

Y’all know what I want. I look forward to the day that all this slapstick nonsense is over and Joe is the nominee and we can get on with the real business.

Anyway, what did y’all think?

I’m almost as tired of the Mueller saga as Mueller is

The first screen of The Post's homepage was all Mueller...

The first screen of The Post’s homepage was all Mueller…

At one point this morning, I Tweeted this:

But I wasn’t done with the Mueller hearing, or perhaps I should say it wasn’t done with me. There it was, wherever I turned — on social media, on the radio in my truck, even when I tried listening to NPR.org while I was getting some steps in in the middle of the day. (Fortunately, there were podcasts on other subjects.)

All of it was awful — the bits I heard, anyway:

  • I found it tiresome to listen to the Democratic questioners, because they were so eager to establish… what? OK, so they want to make sure that the public, which isn’t going to read a 400-page report, knows all the ways that it shows Donald Trump to be an ethical nightmare. But then what? Are you really convinced that this is going to change things so that impeachment proceedings are a good idea, one that leads to electoral success in 2020? I’m not sure how you could be.
  • It was far, far worse to listen to the Republican questioners. At my age, I’m more than tired of waking up each day and discovering that human beings can sink to depths I previously did not suspect. But hearing these guys adamantly, furiously, relentlessly trying to twist things so that Trump doesn’t come across as a slimeball is just so disheartening, so depressing….
  • Finally, it was pretty awful hearing Mueller himself, who sounded just as weary of it all as he looked when I saw him on that screen with the sound off this morning. The man’s done enough for his country. Let him go to his rest…

I just want to fast-forward through this time in our history. I want to skim ahead to a time when Joe Biden has secured the Democratic nomination (and if the future holds something else, let me skim past the next four years of politics as well). No more enduring absurd “debates” with Joe on stage with a score of people, each of whom knows his or her way to victory lies through tearing Joe down, and not one of whom holds out much hope of doing what I think Joe can do — beat Trump.

Let’s just get on with it. Because the country’s one real chance of putting Trump behind us awaits us in November 2020.

Oh, and if you doubt that Joe is the guy to beat Trump, let me tell you about this one podcast I listened to while walking.

It was brought to my attention by this Tweet from Third Way, which seems to be published by Democrats who have not lost their freaking minds:

So I went and listened to The Daily, and I heard some home truths laid out, including the mathematically obvious one mentioned in the Tweet. None of it was mysterious or anything. It was stuff like this:

  • The persuadable people Democrats have to reach, and flip, to beat Trump are white working-class (and to a lesser extent middle-class) voters in the Midwest, people who voted for Obama in 2008 but for Trump in 2016.
  • Right now Trump is positioned to possibly do slightly better in those areas — places such as the environs of Milwaukee — than he did in 2016.
  • Of course, he remains unpopular as ever, and may lose the national popular vote by even more than he lost to Hillary, but…
  • There’s this thing called the Electoral College (and rail about it all you want, Dems, but the rules of the game are not changing between now and Election Day next year), so all Trump needs to do is squeak by in those places that are neither entirely red nor blue.
  • Democrats are doing better in the Sun Belt than in the past, but not so much better that the Democrat will win there, and most states are Winner Take All in the Electoral College. So… back to the swing states…
  • So… what are you gonna do to reach those persuadable white voters in Flyover Land?

And the whole time I’m listening, I’m thinking the only thing you can possibly do if you have a lick of sense is nominate plain ol’ Joe from Scranton, PA.

And in fact, Michael Barbaro, the host of The Daily, finally has to just ask Nate Cohn — the guy running through the math — outright, So… you mean the Dems need to nominate Biden, right?

Cohn, if I recall correctly, was kind of noncommittal in his answer, but there really is no honest answer but this one: Right….

 

Well, they hired Caslen today, and I’m kind of surprised…

I’m surprised that the trustees went ahead and hired Gen. Caslen today. Some of you will protest that it was obvious that they would, and yes, in a conventional political strategy sense, you don’t precipitate something like this unless you’re sure you’ve got the votes.

You’re right. That’s conventional wisdom, on one level. But I didn’t think they would do it, at least not today, for two reasons:

  • I can’t think of the last time I saw the USC Board of Trustees step out and do something this risky, this controversial. Especially after they backed down so quickly before in response to protests, even though this was the guy they wanted — kind of absurdly quickly, it seemed at the time. It was like, We don’t want ANY trouble… That convinced me that they were super risk-averse on this. Yeah, I know that among the more emotional protesters there’s a belief that “The Man” always does mean, oppressive, insensitive stuff (which is the way they interpret this), but no — not this “Man.” Not normally. Not in my experience.
  • The Faculty Senate vote the other day. Everything else, I could see them brushing aside if this was really what they wanted to do — the student protests, even Darla Moore’s objections. And if it had just been a mild or even moderate expression of concern from the faculty, that too seemed surmountable. But a unanimous vote of no confidence in Caslen? Wow. I thought that was kind of extreme — like really, not ONE member of the body thought he might be OK? But it was unanimous, and now this guy’s starting a job with the entire faculty against him (assuming, of course, that the senate is truly representative). That would give me pause no matter how much I wanted to hire somebody.

But they did it, and I’m surprised. And at the same time, kind of… impressed… after the way they rolled so easily the first time.Caslen mug

What stiffened their spines?

To be clear, I’ve never had a problem with Caslen. I thought the excuse students gave for objecting to him originally was silly, and from what I could tell he was at least as qualified as the other finalists, and probably more so.

And my old boss James likes him, and I trust James’ instincts on this. Molly Spearman was impressed with him, too. And those are two thoughtful, reasonable people. And I tend to give more weight to reasonable people saying reasonable things despite an emotionally fraught situation than I do to a crowd shouting “Shame!” repeatedly.

But I’m still kind of bewildered at what just happened. I’m still mystified at what caused Henry to take the sudden, unprecedented step he took last week. And I’m puzzled that the trustees went along with him.

Maybe they’ve all been saying to each other in private for the last couple of months that they wished they hadn’t given up so easily before. Maybe they’ve been steeling themselves to do this for some time.

But I’m still surprised.

Well, he’s going to be president of our flagship university now, and I wish him all the luck in the world. He’s gonna need it. That, and some stupendous leadership skills….

USC mess: My question is, what’s Henry’s motivation?

Wherever possible, folks stood in the shade....

Wherever possible, folks stood in the shade….

I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of heat stroke.

I’m talking about this one, over at USC:

Jennifer was ONE of the speakers, along with Steve Benjamin, Bakari Sellers, and students and faculty members I didn’t know. I’m not sure who all ended up speaking, but this was the official roster in advance:

  • Todd Shaw – Associate Professor of Political Science
  • Zechariah Willoughby – Student
  • Christian Anderson – Associate Professor of Education
  • Steve Benjamin – Former UofSC Student Body President & Mayor of Columbia
  • Jennifer Clyburn Reed – Alumna & Center Director, College of Education
  • Elizabeth Regan – Department Chair, Integrated Information Technology
  • Bakari Sellers – Law School Alumnus & Former SC State Representative
  • Lyric Swinton – Student

And all through it, I kept wondering what I’ve been wondering from the start about all this: What’s Henry McMaster’s motivation? Why stir this pot?

The thing is, what he’s done is get a lot of folks who didn’t care one way or the other about this Caslen guy to get all mad because of the ham-handed way he’s gone about it.

What will happen on Friday? What’s happening behind the scenes between now and Friday? Is all this worth it? And if so, to whom?

Some of the speakers, awaiting their turns...

Some of the speakers, awaiting their turns…

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"I've called you all hear today to announce..." Oops! wrong photo...

“I’ve called you all hear today to announce…” Oops! wrong photo…

Some things I’ve been meaning to post about the last few days, but have been too busy:

  1. Mark Sanford considers presidential run against Trump — Yikes. Beyond that, this one actually has me speechless. Of all the people out there in the GOP who probably SHOULD run — John Kasich, anyone? — this is what we get. He may run against him, and he may even do it for the right reasons (and not just, you know, for revenge). But he’s still, well, Mark Sanford….
  2. What’s up with ‘Prime Day,’ anyway? — Did any of y’all participate in this attempt to have a Black Friday in July? Did you get a good deal, or do you just feel manipulated and maybe even duped?
  3. Trump’s racist Tweets — Were they racist, or just nativist… or xenophobic? Or is that a distinction without a difference? In any case, they were stupid, crude and beyond the bounds of decent society — in other words, par for the Trump course. What bugs me is that, by attacking AOC et al., he’s distracted from the previous story I really wanted to talk about, which is…
  4. What Is Nancy Pelosi Thinking? — I thought this was a pretty stupid headline on a usually smart podcast — “The Argument” at the NYT. It refers to her coming down on the young folks who call themselves “the Squad.” Well, I’ll tell you what she’s thinking: Shes thinking she likes having a Democratic majority. You know what gave her a Democratic majority? Moderate Democrats beating Republican incumbents in purple districts. AOC didn’t do squat to help in this goal — she beat a Democratic incumbent — and daily she does all she can to endanger those essential moderates in the next election. At any other time, I would say freshmen should be seen and not heard, and not even seen much for that matter. At this moment, it goes double. Anyway, that’s what the speaker’s thinking…
  5. How Nikki went to the UN, and Henry got to be governor — You already pretty much know the story: Trump owed McMaster something fierce, for being the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse his presidential bid. And Henry wanted to be governor. So Trump made Nikki Haley, a person with no known qualifications for the job, the nation’s ambassador to the U.N. Anyway, it’s spelled out in narrative form in that book you keep hearing about.
  6. ‘I don’t care if they have to stay in these facilities for 400 days’ — Jaime Harrison, who’s running against him, brought my attention to this quote from Lindsey Graham about not caring if detainees at the border have to stay locked up. It’s a bit more nuanced than that — he was talking about a subset of men he claims are criminals. But that’s usually Trump’s excuse, too. We know for whom the dog whistle blows. It’s not for people who do nuance.

400 days

I’m losing my photographic memory for trivia!

Huskers

Is that a sign of aging?

Whatever it is, I’m shocked at something I couldn’t remember today.

Someone had said to me that Steph Curry had played basketball at Davidson, which I knew was supposed to impress me, but all it did was cause me to go look up “Steph Curry.” (And it turns out he IS quite impressive).

Because, you know, I don’t do real-life sports. I do frequently enjoy fictional sports (I like the idea of sports more than the reality), so I can tell you all about Roy Hobbs and Bartholomew “Bump” Bailey and Willie “Mays” Hayes and (now that Bryan has me watching “Friday Night Lights”) “Smash” Williams, Tim Riggins and Matt Saracen.

So anyway, defending myself, I boasted that while I don’t know this Curry guy, I can name all the Hickory Huskers from “Hoosiers.”

But then, privately, I tried to do so, and without looking them up, all I came up with was this:

  • Rade
  • Buddy
  • Shooter’s son
  • Ollie
  • Strap
  • Jimmy Chitwood
  • Buddy’s friend who said, “I ain’t no gizzard.”

Best I could do. Which is lame.

Can you flesh out the roster with full names?

You can check yourself against this

team

And look — there’s Merle! I forgot him altogether!…

… and my regards to Her Majesty. Mind how you go…

tumblr_pns5up2Dsh1rnn3e6o3_250

I had a brief contretemps with a Brit today, which as you can imagine — yours truly being such an unabashed Anglophile — made me frightfully uncomfortable.

But all ended well.

I tried to be a wag this morning with regard to Her Majesty’s former ambassador to her ancestors’ former colonies:

But one of our friends across the pond took it amiss:

I immediately sought to mend the rift:

Fortunately, my explanation was accepted:

So all is well, I believe. Fortunately, the English have no problem admitting error, unlike us. “Sorry” is their favorite word. Which is one of the things I love about them, in spite of my recent tour of Ireland, which should have radicalized me against the Sassenach. But it didn’t…

Make no mistake: I wish all the best to Mr. Darroch, and hope Her Majesty will find a good situation for him going forward. He’s the Queen’s good servant, and a friend to this country as well. It’s the truest friend who tells us what we need to hear.

So to all my friends over there, ones I’ve met and those I haven’t: God Save the Queen. And mind how you go…

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Williamson

It’s shaping up to be a busy news day. And there’s other stuff…

  1. McMaster forces vote on USC president while students are away — An illustration of the “When the mice are away, the cats will play” principle. Really? It’s come to this? The duly constituted authorities are so afraid of the kids in their charge that they can only act when school is not in session? What a weird, screwed-up world we are living in. And an odd calculation on McMaster’s part.
  2. President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, federal appeals court rules — This is fascinating, and here are my three reactions: 1) What a snowflake! The most powerful man in the world feels the need to block the people who disagree with him, and does it in a way that people can see it? 2) It’s always fun to see him lose another court battle. 3) I find the ruling disturbing. Trump’s feed is his feed. It is not a government program. It’s where he expresses his stupid self, and he should be able to edit it as he chooses. This seems a weird, contrary application of the First Amendment. It’s like saying newspapers have to run every letter to the editor that they get — which in the old days was physically impossible, but that’s not the point. The point is that editors, under the First Amendment, are empowered to decide what is published under their auspices. We edited in a way radically different from Trump — giving priority to letters that disagreed with us — but it was our choice to make.
  3. The Meaning of Marianne Williamson — In case you caught her act in the debate and are still going, “What the…?,” I pass this Ross Douthat column along. I like that it includes the term, Great Awokening, which cracked me up a bit, and that the blurb or subhed or whatever says, “There’s more in heaven and earth than what’s dreamed of by normal politicians.” Increasingly, we live in a world that rivals the ’60s for weirdness. We need a Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion to chronicle it for us.

Actually, I think I’ll stop with those three. The first two alone are plenty, and would have been separate posts if I weren’t so busy today…

4. Oh, another thing I forgot to mention: Was I supposed to know who this Epstein guy was before the sex scandal stuff? From the coverage, I get the impression I was supposed to know of him. But I didn’t…

5. Which reminds me: Speaking of billionaires or whatever, what’s with this Tom Steyer guy running for president? I’ll ask him the same thing I wondered when De Blasio got into it: Did you think the world was waiting just for you? You’re no Sexy Sadie

6. And speaking of billionaires and running for president, Ross Perot is dead.

OK, I’m done now.

I told you there was a lot going on. I just forgot some of it for a moment.

If it were up to me, the windows would just STAY dirty

Whoa! And there he was...

Whoa! And there he was…

I kept trying to ignore the ropes while eating my breakfast. It wasn’t easy. I was in a window seat, 25 floors up, and they were dancing, jerking, vibrating and jumping around, about a foot away from my head.

I knew there was a fellow human being at the end of them, dangling far above the sidewalk, washing the windows. And I couldn’t help identifying with his precarious state…

My fear of heights is such that normally, I can sorta kinda ignore that I’m so high up if there’s a nice, solid window between me and Kingdom Come. Like on an airplane. I think some trick of the brain pretends that it’s just a video screen or something. As long as I can’t feel the wind, I’m good (I was definitely NOT good atop Blarney Castle, where I suffered unprecedented vertigo the instant the wind hit my ear, and I was doing well not to throw up, much less kiss some stupid rock… let’s not talk about Blarney Castle…).

But the ropes kept reminding me that it was real, and there was a person just dangling out there….

Then, when I got up to leave, a few tables away, there he was! And he was reaching out to clean this way and that as casually as though he were standing on the ground. I just barely got my phone out before he dropped out of sight.

There is no amount of money that would induce me to do such a job. I would starve first. My body would just betray me, my acrophobia is so bad.

If it depended on me, the windows would all have to just stay dirty…

And then before I could take a second shot, he was GONE...

And then before I could take a second shot, he was GONE…

Yep, young people think differently. And they’re wrong.

Reading Nicholas Kristof’s latest column this morning, “Stop the Knee-Jerk Liberalism That Hurts Its Own Cause,” I was reminded of several things. Such as, for instance, Bret Stephens’ column after the Democratic debates last week, “A Wretched Start for Democrats:”

In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country….

For liberals out there who want to dismiss whatever Stephens says because he’s a conservative, allow me to tell you why you’re wrong (I’m in that kind of mood): You should listen to Bret Stephens because he is the kind of person who will decide whether Donald Trump is re-elected. Stephens voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to try to stop Trump. (Several months later, he left The Wall Street Journal, where he was deputy editorial page editor, for The New York Times.)

Stephens has been begging Democrats to nominate someone he — and other conservatives, and independents — can vote for next year. Which is why his column before the one referenced above defended Joe Biden from the criticism he was getting over having worked with segregationists. Joe is a candidate, if not the candidate, non-Democrats can embrace. (The other candidates fell over each other trying to demonstrate that in the debates last week.) Which is an essential prerequisite to turning Donald Trump out of office.

But the association with the Stephens piece was based just on Kristof’s headline. As I got into the piece, I realize it had far more in common with a column written by David Brooks — another of the NYT’s in-house conservatives — two months ago. It was headlined “Understanding Student Mobbists.” I wanted to write about that one at the time, but it was hard to explain without quoting practically the whole thing, and I don’t want the NYT’s lawyers coming down on me for copyright infringement.

So before you read what I have to say about it, I urge you to go read the whole thing.

Then, I urge to go read all of Kristof’s latest piece.

Done? OK, then you probably see what I mean about them having a lot in common.

They’re both about how very, very differently “woke” young people in 2019 think about practically everything, but especially social justice issues. And when I say “think differently,” I don’t just mean holding different opinions, arriving at different conclusions. I’m saying the way they think is different — their brains operate in an entirely different fashion. The little cogs and gears turn in different directions, or whatever metaphor you prefer.

Both Brooks and Kristof bent over backwards to give the kids’ thought processes great deference (something the kinds of people they’re writing about would almost certainly not do with regard to the way these elders think), but neither quite succeeds in hiding how appalled he is.

That’s because the youthful phenomenon they’re discussing is a rejection, by the most fashionable current “progressives,” of fundamental principles of liberalism, principles upon which all the progress that Western civilization has yet achieved depend.

Some key excerpts from the Brooks piece:

I would begin my stab at understanding by acknowledging that I grew up in one era and they grew up in another. I came of age in the 1980s. In that time, there was an assumption that though the roots of human society were deep in tribalism, over the past 3,000 years we have developed a system of liberal democracy that gloriously transcended it, that put reason, compassion and compromise atop violence and brute force….

But certain things happened to cause the young to reject that worldview. The first was a reshaping of the way we talk about race. Then:

The second thing that happened was that reason, apparently, ceased to matter. Today’s young people were raised within an educational ideology that taught them that individual reason and emotion were less important than perspectivism — what perspective you bring as a white man, a black woman, a transgender Mexican, or whatever.david-brooks-thumbLarge-v2

These students were raised with the idea that individual reason is downstream from group identity….

If you were born after 1990, it’s not totally shocking that you would see public life as an inevitable war of tribe versus tribe…

A war being fought not within the moderating institutions of a liberal democracy, but in a Hobbesian state of nature, one assumes.

Anyway, let’s turn to the Kristof piece…

No, wait. First, I want to refer you to a podcast I heard not long after the Brooks piece ran, which provides a nice bridge. It was an episode of “Invisibilia” called, “The End Of Empathy.”

The role of Brooks and Kristof is played in this podcast by co-host Hannah Rosin. Again, if you have time (like, 52 minutes of time), you might want to listen to the whole thing. But to try to encapsulate it for you… A young contributor researched and presented a story for the podcast about a member of the “incel” movement who presents himself as having outgrown that, and is trying to move forward as something other than a woman-hater. But in the end, she — the contributor — can’t bring herself to see things his way and accept his version of himself.

“And why?” she asks. “Like, why should we see ourselves in him?”

Rosen’s partial response (the podcast goes on and on):

Why? Where did I get this idea that my job is to get you to empathize with a guy like Jack Peterson? When I was growing up, empathy was a kind of unquestioned thing. Like, of course, it was good. It was like puppies or sunshine….

I never thought of empathy as an ideology or creed, but I’ve since learned it was. Empathy was this obscure, psychobabble-y term up until the ’60s and ’70s. Social scientists and psychologists started to push it into the culture, basically, out of fear. Their idea was we were either headed for World War III or empathy. We were all going to kill each other or we were going to learn to see the world through each other’s eyes….

That’s what I learned about how you make the world better. Encounter a person you’re unfamiliar with or afraid of or even repulsed by. Don’t duck. Move closer. Figure out what they’re all about….

Starting 10 or 15 years ago, students just stopped buying the automatic logic of empathy. Like, why should they put themselves in the shoes of someone who is not them, much less someone they thought was harmful?

There’ve been surveys given to cross sections of high school and college students starting in the late ’60s….

And starting around 2000, the line starts to dip for all dimensions of empathy – either just understanding someone’s position, which is called perspective taking, and empathic concern, the one about tender feelings. More students start saying it’s not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else’s perspective….

Because if you do lose your conviction, you might not have the energy to march in the streets or get better laws to protect women from dangerous exes.

So the new rule is reserve it – not for your, quote, unquote, “enemies” but for the people you believe are hurt or you have decided need it the most – for the victims, for your own damn team. That’s how you make things better….

“Your own damn’ team.” That puts it pretty starkly. Lot of that going around… Now to the Kristof column. He writes of an argument that he had with his daughter while they were tossing around a football (I include that detail for those of you who thing we don’t have enough sports on this blog):

We were discussing a Harvard law professor, Ronald Sullivan. He had been pushed out of his secondary job as head of Harvard College’s Winthrop House after he helped give Harvey Weinstein, accused of sexual assault, the legal representation every defendant is entitled to.nicholas-kristof-thumbLarge-v2

To me, as a progressive baby boomer, this was a violation of hard-won liberal values, a troubling example of a university monoculture nurturing liberal intolerance. Of course no professor should be penalized for accepting an unpopular client.

To my daughter, of course a house dean should not defend a notorious alleged rapist. As she saw it, any professor is welcome to represent any felon, but not while caring for undergraduates: How can a house leader support students traumatized by sexual assault when he is also defending someone accused of rape?…

Progressives of my era often revere the adage misattributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” For young progressives, the priority is more about standing up to perceived racism, misogyny, Islamophobia and bigotry….

Kristof concludes:

As we head toward elections with monumental consequences, polarization will increase and mutual fear will surge. The challenge will be to stand up for our values — without betraying them.

I’ll do like Brooks and Kristof (who at least tried not to judge the young folks) to the extent of saying, of course you defend sexual assault victims, with all your might. But in doing so, you don’t throw out such liberal values as the right of the accused to counsel, or making the effort to see another person’s perspective, or trying to find common ground that you can build on.

If you reject those liberal values, and call yourself “progressive,” your brain isn’t working right. Which is why, in the end, I have to conclude that you’re wrong

Supreme Court pulls a Pontius Pilate on gerrymandering

court

By which I mean, of course, that they have washed their hands of any responsibility for the single problem doing the most to divide our country and destroy our constitutional system:

I’ve got to go get some work done, but I thought I’d establish a place for talking about this shocking development.

As Kagan said in her dissent, “The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections.”

Sending it to the states — that is to say, the legislatures who created the problem and are highly motivated to perpetuate it — is indeed, as Harry Harris said, the fox guarding the henhouse.

What are we going to do as a country?

Regarding last night’s prelim debate

prelim debate

Sorry, folks. Aside from being tired last night, my jaw thing was throbbing, and I just had to hit the hay with a pain pill.

Some of y’all already posted commentary back on this post. I’ll try to catch up.

I say “prelim,” of course, because there was only one contender on the stage, Elizabeth Warren, and her team had to be kind of frustrated that she didn’t make the cut for the real bout tonight. That put her in the position last night that Joe Biden will be in tonight — although Joe will have stiffer opposition. Interestingly, most of the commentary I’ve seen in the NYT and WashPost (such as Frank Bruni, and Aaron Blake) seems to be to the effect that she did great. I wasn’t that impressed. To me, she was just being Elizabeth Warren, and that has never worn particularly well with me.

Beyond that… a couple of you — Bud and Scout — have already ranked last night’s performances, and Doug has gone into what he liked and disliked in some detail (loves Tulsi, can’t stand Elizabeth). So I’ll take a stab at it myself:

  1. Amy Klobuchar
  2. Jay Inslee
  3. John Delaney
  4. Tim Ryan
  5. Cory Booker
  6. Elizabeth Warren
  7. Tulsi Gabbard
  8. Beto O’Rourke
  9. Julian Castro
  10. Bill de Blasio

Mind you, I wasn’t crazy about any of them, and there’s a big drop-off after Klobuchar, but that’s how I rank them without thinking too hard about it. You’ll note that Warren, whom so many think this debate was about, falls in the middle.

Briefly last night, Doug and I were in agreement about the ones we liked least…

… but I decided overnight I didn’t dislike Warren quite as much as some others.

That done, the real debate is tonight, with Joe facing Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg. Too bad we didn’t see how Warren would do against those four.

Here are my Tweets, so you can see how I was reacting in real time:

(And yes, that was an allusion to this skit…)

 

Feeling kinda lumpy, and kinda ratty, too… but grateful to have figured out what’s wrong (I think)

lumpy

The swelling on my right side — your left — has flattened out some, but it’s still there.

About three weeks ago, I had a headache, in the sinus above my right eye. Then, it moved to my teeth on that side, both upper and lower. Then to my inner right ear. Then to my face, along a line running under my right cheekbone, from the teeth to the ear.

Then, it started getting intense. It was a particularly bad brain freeze, although it would surge for several minutes rather than seconds. It would ease off for awhile, then come back with a vengeance.

My regular doctor, I learned, was out of the country. So I went to an urgent care, where I was told it might be a number of things, including shingles. Yikes. I’d been meaning for years to get that vaccine — like 95 percent of adults, I had chicken pox as a kid — but had not gotten around to it.

But I was told it would only be that if my face broke out in a rash along that same lateral line under my cheekbone. I was given a prescription for an antiviral med to fill and start taking if that happened. In the meantime, I was given a prescription for prednisone to start taking right away, to reduce the inflammation that was apparently pressing on that facial nerve.

I headed for my pharmacy, thinking “Shingles! How absurd!” But worried about it nonetheless. When I handed the prescription to the pharmacist and explained what it was for, drawing my finger across the line of pain, he said, “Shingles?” Which really worried me.

But it wasn’t shingles, and the prednisone helped almost right away. For the next three weeks, I’d have an occasional twinge, but that was it. But being on the alert for that caused me to be more conscious of chronic sensitivity to cold in some of my teeth on that side. My wife, upon learning that I’d been ignoring warnings from the dentist that I needed three crowns, told me to get started on that.

Then, night before last, when I was going in for a crown the next morning at 8, I was awakened by the facial pain — not terrible, but enough to keep me awake.

Which I mentioned at the dentist, as they were shooting preliminary x-rays. And the dentist pointed out something on one of the x-rays, and told me I didn’t need a crown at the moment; I needed a root canal. I had an abscess, right in the part of the mouth where my pain sometimes resided. And that, he said, was probably what had been causing the whole problem.

On my way to the pharmacy yet again, I felt something that made me unconsciously touch my right cheek, and it was all swollen and sore. That had not been the case when I got up that morning. So things were getting rapidly worse, all of a sudden.

Miraculously, I was able to get an endodontist appointment for the root canal at 1:45 that afternoon. I think it helped that I went there in person to make the appointment, and the receptionist could see how swollen my face was.

It took at least six shots of novacaine before I was numb enough — the endodontist said infection can interfere with the effectiveness of the local anesthetic. But eventually, I was comfortably numb, and we got it done.

I’m feeling better today, although the diminished lump is still palpable and sore, so I decided not to shave this morning, as you can see above. So I’m feeling sort of ratty. But grateful to all who helped figure this out, and acted so quickly to help.

Oh, and that’s why I didn’t post anything yesterday. Which is my point…

A fun SNL skit to look back at as debates loom

First, this is just plain hilarious, so enjoy.

Second, it’s relevant. As brilliant as Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin was, it’s easy to forget how good a job Jason Sudeikis did with Joe Biden. And the Joe Biden that he was making fun of in 2008 is the same Joe Biden we see today.

It seems particularly relevant in light of Joe’s statements last week about working with everyone who will agree to help (even segregationists). What he was trying to say (which I understood perfectly, as did John Lewis and Jim Clyburn, although some people claim to be confused) last week was a lot like what Sudeikis’ Biden is saying about John McCain. I mean that in the sense of Joe’s ability to happily and cheerfully “hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

Or in the sense of his willingness to disagree vehemently with someone, but still regard him as a fellow human.

It’s a message that’s counterintuitive for people who believe that left is left and right is right and never the twain shall (or should) meet. And that’s where the humor comes from in these lines:

Well, I would do what I have done my whole career, whether it’s been dealing with violence against women or putting 100,000 police officers in the streets. I would reach across the aisle. Like I’ve done with so many members of the other party. Members like John McCain. Because, look, I LOVE John McCain. He is one of my dearest friends. But, at the same time, he’s also dangerously unbalanced. I mean, let’s be frank, John McCain — and again, this is a man I would take a bullet for — is bad at his job and is mentally unstable. As my mother would say, “God love him, but he’s a raging maniac…” and a dear, dear friend….

In order to be hilarious, it’s exaggerated. But it also expresses something about who Joe Biden is. And America knows Joe Biden is this way, which is one of the reasons he’s been leading in the polls.

But whether you love or hate the way he is, whether you think it makes him a better candidate or disqualifies him, I thought you might get a laugh out of this look back.

So enjoy…

"As my mother would say, 'God love him, but he’s a raging maniac…' and a dear, dear friend."

“As my mother would say, ‘God love him, but he’s a raging maniac…’ and a dear, dear friend.”

Open Thread for Monday, June 24, 2019

Trump Haley

A few things going on out there…

  1. Trump imposes new sanctions on Iran — Just because it’s the latest and it’s also, you know, important…
  2. Oped: Trump-Haley in 2020 — OK, when you stop screaming after reading that headline,  consider that the piece begins with these words: “I’m proud to have founded the Democrats for Trump movement in 2016.” Yikes, who knew there was such a thing? Kind of starts this guy, Andrew Stein, in a bit of a credibility hole, doesn’t it? Also, Bill Kristol asserts that the guy “pled guilty to lying in a financial fraud.” Oh, and he looks the part.
  3. ‘We don’t trust you!’: After fatal police shooting, black residents confront Buttigieg — And apparently, some of them are ticked that he took off in the middle of this crisis to come to Columbia on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how the young man handles this situation.
  4. What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues — I learned a few things from this piece about how Amazon does very little to prevent the sale of shoddy, counterfeit books via its platform. Here’s a sidebar story…
  5. OK, I’m envious of Jeff Bezos — No, not because he’s a gazillionaire, although that’s a nice bonus, but because of the way he is able to order his working day. His goal “Make three good decisions a day and no meetings before 10 a.m.” Sounds like the perfect job description to me. I’d be glad to do it for 1 percent of what he makes.
  6. Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance — Probably the most interesting opinion piece I read over the weekend. I liked it, but what I liked best wasn’t the main point. (His main point was that oppressed groups seldom end the oppression on their own.) I liked a secondary, perhaps you would even say implied, point: That demonstrations are not the best way to effect social and political change. Bit of a hobby-horse of mine, as y’all know. I need to make a point to check out more by this guy, Kwame Anthony Appiah. He’s sufficiently iconoclastic that there’s no telling where he might go, so I might end up hating his stuff. But I doubt he’d be boring.

The most presidential candidates EVER in one place?

signs

I mean, it’s gotta be, right?

I don’t remember a time when there were this many people running for a major-party presidential nomination before, and almost all of them (21!) were right there today in the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Of course, MY candidate went last, as I had a feeling he would. And after waiting through a bunch of the prelims I finally went home to get a late (about 3) lunch and watch the rest on my iPad via MSNBC.

Joe did not disappoint. Personally, I didn’t need him to rattle off all those policy proposals he recited — I guess Elizabeth Warren has made him think he needs to do that — but he did great. I got a little irritated when someone off-screen tried to hurry him right when he got to the podium, saying standing there receiving applause was using up his time (he’d only been standing there a few seconds), but hey, he didn’t get rattled and he did fine.

The next two best among the ones I heard (I missed some of the early ones, including Warren, Harris and Buttigieg) were probably Andrew Yang and Jay Inslee. Interestingly, Yang was a smoother speaker than veteran pol Inslee, but I could still see why Bud likes him.

Anyway, I’ll just post my Tweets here as a conversation-starter, and then I want to know what y’all thought if you were watching. And if you weren’t, here’s some coverage by The State and the Post and Courier:

And then, finally, Joe. Which was a great note to end on…

Joe Wilson’s potential Democratic opponent

This came out a couple of months ago, but I just ran across it.

I knew former Justice Department attorney Adair Ford Boroughs had announced she was going to go after Joe Wilson next year, but hadn’t seen the video until now. It caused me to check out her website as well.

Random observations, in no particular order:

  • First, while I need to know more, she’s probably got my vote. Not because of this or that thing Joe has said or done, but because — as she correctly points out — Joe has done nothing in his almost 18 years in Congress. Joe loves being a congressman — he gets all breathless when he expresses how much he loves it — but he doesn’t seem interested in doing anything in the position.
  • Second, the odds are way, way against her. The district is drawn for a Republican, big-time. And once the Lexington County votes come in, it tends to be over for the Democrat.
  • This is neither here nor there, but I got a little confused, thinking “Adair” was her last name. Everywhere you look, it’s “Adair for Congress,” and since I’ve always seen it as a surname, well…. Interestingly, I can’t even find “Boroughs” on the home page of her website. It doesn’t mean anything; I just don’t remember seeing this before.
  • The video is OK, and probably the best part about it is the way it drives home the point I mentioned above — that Joe has gotten only one bill passed in all these years, and it was to change the name of a local post office. There are some things I’m not that crazy about, such as the populist cliches about “career politicians” and “good ol’ boy politicians.” Those are such tired expressions. If you’re going to go there, and least come up with a fresh way to say it.
  • Speaking of populism, I’m also not thrilled by the “going after corporations and millionaires who cheated on their taxes” stuff either. I’m all for getting people to pay the taxes they owe, but that smacks a bit of the class conflict stuff that’s so popular on the left now, which leaves me kind of cold. (By that I mean it seems to suggest she went after them because they were “corporations and millionaires” as much as because they were tax cheats. Maybe that’s unintentional, but the vibe is there.
  • I see she clerked for District Judge Richard M. Gergel, and I have a lot of respect for Richard, and if he chose to hire her, she must have something going for her.
  • Of course, I’d rather see someone who has done more in the public sphere — someone who has been a judge rather than a judge’s clerk, or someone who has held some lower office before shooting for Congress. Y’all know me. But when you’re going up against someone who has done as little as Joe has with the office, that’s not as important as it might be under other circumstances.

Anyway, it’s early, and I’m going to watch this with interest…

Adair