January 28, 2015

"Americans think Pats cheated, rooting for Seahawks."

Public Policy Polling finds. Also:
The Packers remain the most popular team in the country. They have a +36 net favorability rating with 54% of Americans viewing them favorably to 18% with a negative opinion. The only other teams above +20 are the Seahawks (+25 at 45/20) and the Broncos (+24 at 44/20). The Packers also win out when voters are asked to name their single favorite team — 15% pick the Packers to 13% for the Cowboys, 10% for the Seahawks, and 9% each for the Broncos, Patriots, and Steelers.

"Why Your Workout Should Be High-Intensity."

A NYT article by Jane E. Brody that you might enjoy reading and talking about. I'm not one for high-intensity workouts, and nothing that could possibly be said on the subject is ever going to change me. I'm linking because I love the illustration by James O'Brien. Nice work!

Did Saudi television blur Michelle Obama out of the broadcast of Obama's meeting with new Saudi king in Riyadh?

"Several videos posted on Saudis' Facebook pages obscured Michelle Obama's face. They were removed shortly after they were posted," writes Josh Rogin at Bloomberg View.

Well, who knows? Saudi officials say it didn't happen. If it did happen, why did it happen? Was it to erase her presence as a woman or was it because she was wearing somewhat festively patterned blue baggy fabric coverage (instead of plain black baggy fabric coverage) and no headscarf?

"I first ran into the term 'Politically correct' in '67 in San Francisco. It was a leftist term then as now."

Writes John Henry in the comments to "Why Jonathan Chait thinks political correctness 'went into a long remission' and now has returned." Henry continues:
For example: "It is not politically correct to mention that the Viet Cong are murdering villagers who take US medical aid." It may have been factually correct, but since it harmed the cause, it was not "politically" correct to mention it.

I later, reading Lenin, found that he used something very like the term. For example: "It is not correct to say that people are dying of starvation in Moscow." He admitted that it was factually true but it should not be said because it made the party look bad.

When something is "politically incorrect", it generally is also factually correct.

I did not realize that the term ever went out of fashion.The concept certainly never has.
And then there was the time the U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson said "This is not politically correct" back in 1793:
The states, rather than the people, for whose sakes the states exist, are frequently the objects which attract and arrest our principal attention.... Sentiments and expressions of this inaccurate kind prevail in our common, even in our convivial, language. Is a toast asked? "The United states," instead of the "People of the United states," is the toast given. This is not politically correct. The toast is meant to present to view the first great object in the Union: it presents only the second. It presents only the artificial person, instead of the natural persons who spoke it into existence. A state I cheerfully fully  admit, is the noblest work of Man. But, Man himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God.

You may call it "Brutalism," but "the government center was conceived with lofty social aspirations" — a vision "of energetic governance as a democratic ideal."

Michael Kimmelman champions a frighteningly ugly government building, Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center.

He seems to especially like the ideas that underlie the design, as if beautiful abstractions can transform how the tangible thing looks and feels. Actually, I don't get the aesthetic grandeur of the abstraction of "energetic governance," so even if I was sure the building embodied the ideal, it wouldn't make me see the building as beautiful.

Kimmelman stresses that the building is on the "global watch list" of the World Monuments Fund "alongside landmarks like Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China." But it's on the endangered monuments list because it's endangered, not because it's of equal distinction.

Maybe it should be preserved because it's a distinctive example of a style of architecture that seemed good at the time but most of us happen to hate right now. That swooping arc of taste tells us to be careful. I remember in the 1970s when modern buildings were loved with a doctrinaire certainty and overdecorated buildings reviled. I used to look at Grand Central Station every day, back then, and think that it was a monument to the misguided taste of the past.

Would I have torn it down? No. I have a conservative streak, and I don't trust transitory judgment. I would, however, if given the power, have ripped out that damned Pan Am building that filled the visual space above it.

Why Jonathan Chait thinks political correctness "went into a long remission" and now has returned.

My post about Chait's NY Magazine polemic — "Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say/How the language police are perverting liberalism" — blithely puzzled over Chait's assertion that political correctness was a late-80s/early-90s phenomenon that "burst onto the academic scene" and "went into a long remission" and now "has returned."

All I said was "I missed that remission... or Chait missed the nonremission." In case you couldn't tell, that's my way of saying there was no remission, but I didn't delve into why Chait experienced a remission, why the late-80s/early-90s political correctness affected Chait and he's affected again. I did say that Chait is reacting now because he and people like him are getting attacked from the left — "women and [people of color] are getting really cranked up and free-speaking and it's making him feel threatened." In this light, Chait is not so much a proponent of free speech at all, but a silencer of critics.

Liberals present themselves as the good people, and lefties — if they choose to attack liberals — puncture that smugness. But the left attack on liberals that burst onto the academic scene in late-80s/early-90s — I was there to see it — was a pre-internet, anti-free speech movement. Chait mentions "the theories of Catharine MacKinnon, a law professor at the university" — the "radical feminist critique of the First Amendment as a tool of male privilege" — and the "pro-p.c. activists" who pushed campus speech codes "purporting to restrict all manner of discriminatory speech." The left critique at the time said that free speech empowered those who were already powerful and that repression of speech was needed in support of true, substantive freedom and equality.

But that's not the left-wing of today. Alex Pareene does a nice job of explaining the difference:
Chait, like many liberal commentators with his background, is used to writing off left-wing critics and reserving his real writerly firepower for (frequently deserving) right-wingers. That was, for years, how things worked at the center-left opinion journalism shops, because it was simply assumed that no one important—no one who really matters—took the opinions of people to the left of the center-left opinion shop seriously. That was a safe and largely correct assumption. But the destruction of the magazine industry and the growth of the open-forum internet have amplified formerly marginal voices. Now, in other words, writers of color can be just as condescending and dismissive of Chait as he always was toward the left. And he hates it.... Now, not only is it harder to avoid reading negative feedback from people with different perspectives than you, especially if you engage online at all, but there are actually important people—people with status, who've won awards and hold positions of authority—who listen to those people with different perspectives. Ta-Nehisi Coates is at The Atlantic, for godssake, not In These Times.
That is, today's left attacks on liberals don't rely on the old shut-up-you're-silencing-me demands. The left is getting its speech out there. Lefties are employing the good old-fashioned "more speech" remedy that liberal recommended back in the late-80s/early-90s to the lefties who complained that they were being silenced by the overpowering speech of affluent white males.

It is, ironically, Chait who's feeling silenced and flummoxed by all this new speech.

Maybe that recommendation of more speech was in bad faith back in the late-80s/early-90, when the dominating white male liberals had reason to believe their speech would always be far louder and more widely distributed. Now, with the internet, everybody's talking and jostling for position.

A Facebook billionaire took over The New Republic, which had been Chait's lofty platform of liberalism, and Chait wrote "A Eulogy for The New Republic." He's in mourning! He's in mourning for the death of the cultural dominance of elite liberal media. Shhhh!

How perfectly amusing! Liberals are force-fed their own "more speech" remedy, and they don't like it. Another twist in the glorious history of American free speech.

January 27, 2015

"Nearly every time I have mentioned the subject of p.c. to a female writer I know, she has told me about Binders Full of Women Writers..."

"... an invitation-only Facebook group started last year for women authors," writes Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.
The name came from Mitt Romney’s awkwardly phrased debate boast that as Massachusetts governor he had solicited names of female candidates for high-level posts, and became a form of viral mockery. Binders was created to give women writers a “laid-back” and “no-pressure” environment for conversation and professional networking. It was an attempt to alleviate the systemic under­representation of women in just about every aspect of American journalism and literature, and many members initially greeted the group as a welcome and even exhilarating source of social comfort and professional opportunity. “Suddenly you had the most powerful women in journalism and media all on the same page,” one former member, a liberal journalist in her 30s, recalls.

Binders, however, soon found itself frequently distracted by bitter identity-­politics recriminations, endlessly litigating the fraught requirements of p.c. discourse....

"White House Drone Crash Is Tied to Drinking by Intelligence Worker."

"A man who says he operated a drone that crashed on the White House grounds early Monday is an employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to law enforcement officials. He told Secret Service investigators that he had been drinking at an apartment nearby before he lost control of the craft, the officials said."

The NYT reports.

"Scott Walker forms committee in preparation for 2016 presidential bid."

Title for the committee: "Our American Revival."
"Our American Revival encompasses the shared values that make our country great; limiting the powers of the federal government to those defined in the Constitution while creating a leaner, more efficient, more effective and more accountable government to the American people,” Walker said in a statement in the release announcing the committee.
To parse that statement, giving significance to the semicolon, I see 2 items, one much more important than the other:

1. "Shared values." This speaks to the "values voters" and social conservatives. You are acknowledged, but this won't be the emphasis, because only what is shared widely will be part of the revival.

2.  Improving the federal government. This is the real emphasis of the campaign. It has 2 parts, the second of which is more important: 1. Constitutional (limited, enumerated powers), and 2. Practical (lean, efficient, effective, and accountable).

That's my analysis, admittedly seen through the lens of my own preference.

ADDED: If that semi-colon were a colon, the text be quite different, suggesting that our only shared values relate to limited, workable government. Forget those social issues.

"Is it really worth it to accumulate debt for such an epistemically poor education?"

I thought it would be helpful to isolate the last question in the last paragraph of an op-ed in The Daily Californian titled "Occupy the syllabus":
So, if you have taken classes in the social sciences and humanities, we challenge you: Count the readings authored by white males and those authored by the majority of humanity. Then ask yourself: Are your identities and the identities of people you love reflected on these syllabi? Whose perspectives and life experiences are excluded? Is it really worth it to accumulate debt for such an epistemically poor education?
I got there via Instapundit, who wrote:
U.C. Berkeley Students Complain About Having To Read Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault. In course on classic social theory. And if that makes it hard for you to focus on the course material, cupcakes, you don’t belong in college"
And I must add 2 things:

1. What a bad line drawing at the first link. I especially love the flatness of the disapprobation on the face of this lady:


2. What's this comfortably left-wing enclave known as Berkeley coming to when a professor can't get to the end of a lecture on Marx without tripping up trying to joke his way out of a challenge about the exclusion of underincluded identities?
For example, when lecturing on Marx’s idea of the “natural division of labor between men and women,” the professor attributed some intellectual merit to this idea because men and women are biologically distinct from each other, because women give birth while men do not. One student asked, “What about trans* people?” to which the professor retorted, “There will always be exceptions.” Then, laughing, the professor teased, “We may all be transgender in the future.” Although one might be tempted to dismiss these remarks as a harmless attempt at humor, mocking trans* people and calling them “exceptions” is unacceptable.

"The Mormon Church today announced that it will support national and local anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians..."

"... provided such laws also respect the rights of religious groups. Church leaders called the offer a new 'way forward' to balance religious freedom and legal protection for people in the LGBT community."

Says breaking news email from CNN.

At the CNN website: "Mormon church backs LGBT rights -- with one condition."

"SCENE: Murdoch sitting with Valerie Jarrett gushing over Jeb, immigration..."

Drudge teaser, linking the NYT "As in 2012, Romney Can Do No Right in Murdoch’s Eyes."

This scene is most helpful to the reputation of...
pollcode.com free polls

This scene is least helpful to the reputation of...
pollcode.com free polls

The NYT was well aware of whose reputation was hurt and helped by its description of this scene.
pollcode.com free polls

"They are calling this storm 'historic' which…. Well I didn’t know you could call a thing historic if it hasn’t happened yet."

"But I’m not one to defy future historic events. And I have to be respectful of the responsibility I have to the 15,000 people who are holding tickets to the show and could be stranded somewhere historically trying to get to or from my show. I think it’s clearly better that I alter history in the name of safety and cancel. Besides, if you’ve ever tried to get your deposit back when you rent a banquet hall for a wedding that gets snowed out, you don’t want to even know what the deposit is on Madison Square Jesus Christing Garden is. So. No show. I will be on Letterman tonight, though. So you can yell boo right at my stupid and very handsome face on your tv screen or on your paper towel or your watch or whatever you view Letterman on."

Wrote Louis C.K.

"It may seem ironic that Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's extreme right Front National, rooted for the extreme left Syriza in yesterday's Greek election and rejoiced at its landslide victory."

"Yet there's nothing unusual about it: Syriza, Front National and other European anti-establishment parties are partners in a political revolution that appears to be about to sweep the continent, giving back the original meaning to political terms such as 'left' and 'right' — and helping Russian President Vladimir Putin in the process."

So begins a column at Bloomberg by Leonid Bershidsky titled "Syriza, Le Pen and the Power of Big Ideas."

"Please stop using our music in any way .. . we literally hate you !!!"

"Love, Dropkick Murphys."

"You" = Scott Walker.

That asteroid...

... had its own moon.

"A uni-moon is one of those terrible modern trends of taking individual honeymoons attached to work trips."

"So she took hers in the Dominican Republic, and I took mine in Paris because we couldn't coordinate our honeymoons together because of over-scheduling."

Just admit that you travel separately and leave the moon out of this.

(Feel free to use that as the title of your next novel: Leave the Moon Out of This. Background reference: "Don't Mention the Moon.")

"When I went to Oberlin, I had a Facebook group called ‘Political Correctness is Totally Gay.'"

Says Lena Dunham, adding:
"In hindsight, it’s not something I would have done, and I loved Oberlin, but when I got to school I was so distressed by the level of censorship. I thought, 'We all share politics here, we’re all people who are trying to urge the world forward with our liberal ideas, but there’s a thought police element here that makes me really uncomfortable.'"
"In hindsight, it’s not something I would have done..." — that's a tellingly awkward locution. In hindsight, it is something that you did, so how does the "would" function? She could mean: With hindsight, I see it's something I should not have done. Or: If I could have known then what I know now, I would not have done that.

And let's take apart this summary of her college-age thinking: "We all share politics here, we’re all people who are trying to urge the world forward with our liberal ideas, but there’s a thought police element here that makes me really uncomfortable." What I question about that — what makes me sad and reminds me of my law school days, circa 1980s — is the unexamined assumption that, of course, we are all liberals, we must be liberals, that's the common ground, and you would never want to get off that common ground.

Notice that Dunham still needs that assumed premise: We're all liberals here. We're all moving the world forward. We are all the good people, the liberals, and as I find out what the liberal position is on whatever we proceed to talk about, you can rest assured that I will be there, standing with all of you, on this common ground.

And then the one dissonant observation that blips through is: I'm stultified!

All that internalized restriction is stultifying... and yet, to go any deeper, to escape from that uncomfortableness is to risk losing the comfort of the common ground, the place you share with everyone you know.

Isn't it sad to look back on your school days, when you could have had all these exciting debates about everything, and to see that you missed out on all that, because everyone wanted to be good, everyone wanted to be lovable?

Oh, but you did have that Facebook group — "Political Correctness is Totally Gay" — you did let out a peep about the stultification, and instead of now saying I should have done much more, you're saying I shouldn't even have done that.

"That's not the observation of some wingnut in search of an idol..."

"... it's from a story by John Dickerson, political reporter for Slate, a publication that not too long ago held a navel-gazing session on the topic of 'Is Slate Too Liberal?'"

Writes Steve Elbow, a reporter for the Madison newspaper the Capital Times, in a piece titled "Scott Walker's Iowa triumph: Is this really getting serious?" Here's what he quoted from Dickerson's "Best in Show/Wisconsin’s Scott Walker outshines the competition in Iowa.":
"Before the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday, one Republican activist summed up Gov. Scott Walker’s challenge this way: 'He doesn’t make the flashbulbs go off.' But at the end of the marathon day of speeches before conservatives, the Wisconsin governor emerged as the leading light."
It's weird for people in Wisconsin — or at least in Madison — to see our governor — who's been hounded and belittled for the last 4 years — bursting out onto the national stage and suddenly seeming like the strongest candidate for President.

Elbow mentions some things Rush Limbaugh said about Walker yesterday, but he leaves out the part where Rush rejects the suddenly-last-Saturday template:

When he met with Obama, Indian Prime Minister Modi was wearing a suit that looked like it had gold pinstripes...

... but those stripes were his name, embroidered over and over, in tiny letters.

And that's not all:
When he met the president at the airport – a break from tradition – Modi was clad in a cream-colored outfit with a bright orange shawl with paisley at the ends draped over his shoulder. He donned a green safa with a large, red, circular plume and an orange scarf attached at the back to Monday’s Republic Day parade.

... During a reception in the lavish garden of the presidential palace Monday afternoon, Modi wore a bright orange shirt and a cream-colored shawl draped over both shoulders. He wore another orange piece at the India-U.S. CEO forum later that day – what appeared to be a vest with a neutral shirt underneath.
ADDED: For comparison: The "Fuck You" tie.