Good news from Philip N. Cohen:
Women’s increasing independence and men’s increasing insecurity don’t bode well for the traditional institution of marriage.
Good news from Philip N. Cohen:
Women’s increasing independence and men’s increasing insecurity don’t bode well for the traditional institution of marriage.
(...) the fact is that the first world war was a time when Muslims were generally used as pawns in European imperial games—whether they were Indians who fought for Britain, Senegalese or Algerians who fought for France or Turks who fought on the German side. Fighting on any side in the first world war was a pretty miserable experience, and that certainly deserves to be remembered. But Islam's collective memory of that period is probably a bit different from the European one.
Sugary excerpt from Sandy Levinson's must read article on the ever extending polarization of American society:
(...) our national polity is like a Thanksgiving from hell, in which the members of the family stare at each other with daggers, insult one another, and then get drunk, while everyone resolves to try to be elsewhere come next Thanksgiving.
This is a country that likes trials of the century—a couple of them a year, if possible. We’ve also, as politicians remind us, been convulsed as a nation by the September 11th attacks, which are supposed to have changed our expectations of everything from Presidents to airplane rides and privacy. The one thing that the memory of 9/11 hasn’t had the power to do, strangely, is get us engrossed in the actual judicial proceedings involving members of Al Qaeda. When it comes to bringing terrorists to justice in a courtroom, we seem to get bored.
<div><iframe width="480" height="270" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="http://player.canalplus.fr/embed/?param=cplus&vid=1023017"></iframe></div><div style="width:472px;font-size:11px; background:#EBEBEB; border:1px solid #D6D6D6; margin-top:5px; padding:4px 0 4px 6px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; -moz-border-radius:3px; -webkit-border-radius:3px;"><a target="_blank" style="text-decoration:none; color:#666;" href="http://www.canalplus.fr/c-divertissement/c-le-grand-journal/pid6298-les-extraits.html?vid=1023017&sc_cmpid=SharePlayerEmbed"><span style="color:#000; font-weight:bold;">Appel de BHL sur la situation en Ukraine</span> - Le Grand Journal du 18/02</a></div>
Awesome stuff from Paul Krugman:
The whole politics of poverty since the 70s has rested on the popular belief that the poor are Those People, not like us hard-working real Americans. This belief has been out of touch with reality for decades — but only now does reality seem to be breaking in. But what it means now is that conservatives claiming that character defects are the source of poverty, and that poverty programs are bad because they make life too easy, are now talking to an audience with large numbers of Not Those People who realize that they are among those who sometimes need help from the safety net.
I agree with this :
For news-media creators, potentially catastrophic events like the shutdown are the deep source of the currency we seek: page views, forwards and links. The shutdown captivates the attention of the fickle public, tearing it momentarily away from the spectacle of a naked Miley Cyrus gripping giant construction apparatus between her legs. (That spectacle itself, of course, is a different type of calculated attention-getting "controversy" constructed by a number of self-interested media players, not least of them Ms Cyrus herself.) Journalists and bloggers swarm over the shutdown like ants on a dropped twinkie. But in an even more symbiotic relationship, we also create the controversy we feed on by swarming to it. Bloggers, tweeters, politicians and everyone else have an incentive to focus on the shutdown, to intensify the controversy, in order to drink from the resulting fount of public attention.(...) Nowadays, however, almost everyone who participates in social media understands it. A very large number of Americans are now adept at identifying potentially viral memes, and then ramping up the hype in order to both create and piggyback on them. In the general media viral memes may often be merely weird or titillating, but in politics, since politicians have not yet figured out how to use sex scandals to win (rather than lose) elections, they are almost always divisive, insulting, controversial and infused with prophecies of doom. So in politics the effect of increasingly widespread participation in this dynamic has been to exacerbate the American public's already deep attachment to apocalypticism.
I agree with Professor Bainbridge on this:
Bush was bad enough, but Obama's not much better and in some ways worse. We seem to be living in a permanent security state that is gradually morphing into something disturbingly authoritarian. (...) We're losing the moral high ground to criticize places like Russia and China, as we allow our freedoms to continually erode.
Old, but great stuff fromm Amitava Kumar:
As an Indian, I’m raising my kids in the firm belief that sooner or later, everyone in this country [America] is going to look like Kal Penn.
That would make America the handsomest country in the world and an Abercrombie & Fitch's wet dream!
From Jane McManus:
With too many tragedies to report in such a short period of time — Newtown, the Boston bombings, Hurricane Sandy, the deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant and others — there seems to be a desire to move straight from the tragic to the silver lining.
I have nothing against the woman who found her dog in the rubble, or the few horses that survived a direct hit of an F5 tornado at the Orr Family Farm.
But in an everything-happens-for-a-reason culture, where happy aphorisms greet you every time you log onto a social media site, the premature positivity feels forced. I know polls constantly tell station managers that the public wants good news, not so much bad news. But news itself doesn’t have a point of view, it just is — when reported objectively.
But once the cloud of national news outlets descend and the news cycle is all day long, you can see how the same threads get teased from the wreckage.
No wonder Camus thought that America lacked a sense of the tragic for in the US, whenever shit happens, the news story rarely focuses on the agony and the consequences to avoid being about fatality, tragedy and its meaninglessness instead of survival and triumph over adversity.
Foreseeable crap from Eugene Kontorovich:
Russia only succeeded in suprresing the Chechen Islamists with extremely brutal tactics that would never find support in the U.S – essentially leveling the Chechen capital. Yet dealing with such a threat would also be impossible with a politically correct approach to counter-terror that, for example, turns away from talking frankly about the terrorists profiles and motives.
Yeah let's transform America into Russia, it won't be too difficult for Obama has at least one thing in common with Putin.
Is it possible to wait to now more facts before advocating ideological measures in the name of security?
Pertinent stuff from Any Davidson on the Steubenville's rape trial:
There is something deeply harmful in all of the adults reinforcing the idea that the lives of teen-age boys are destroyed when a girl says what they have done. There is also something incomplete about just replying that they deserved the consequences (as much as they do). For one thing, it can mean asking a sixteen-year-old to be the one to judge the weight of her own trauma. It isn’t trivializing the seriousness of the sentence to say that teen-agers always think, when one door is closed, that everything is over, and that it’s the job of grownups to explain that it isn’t. A different life is not a worthless one. (Absent parents, not incidentally, are a theme of this story.)
The problem is that Americans are as obsessed with absolute justice as they are with absolute freedom.
Pertinent stuff from Carly Lewis:
Male writers have had decades to remedy themselves, but still write jejunely about women, accentuating one isolated, exploitable trait (attractive, rebellious, sweet, rude, slutty, rich) for the sake of producing more easily understood subject matter. Until they learn (or at least try to learn) how to write about female subjects in a way that does not purposefully weave paternalistic generalizations into every paragraph, I propose a moratorium on this stagnant approach to literary writing. Let’s allow women to write about women for a little while. Maybe then we can swap the prevalent illusions of femininity for realistic portraits of women as complex human characters. I’m not saying that women are better writers than men, and I’m not saying all men lack the will to rise above stereotypes in their work (do you hear that, comment section?). I’m saying that something needs to change in the way literary profiles are written and the way the lives within them are handled, and that this would be a good step toward smoothing out what is currently an unbalanced gender structure in literary journalism. Too often, the privileged male writers whose bylines dominate the publications we read fail to write about women in a way that doesn’t simplify female existences into condescending phrases like “sassy kitten” and “bombshell.”
Words I munched on all weekend from Norm Gerras:
Racist incidents are, indeed, not just a matter of what is intended, as I have argued many times on this blog. But neither is the 'perception of other people' an adequate criterion. If it were, anyone could claim any word or gesture to be racist and that would settle the issue of whether it was. You could not have a flimsy or unfounded accusation of racism. There has to be some basis in the history and symbolism of the particular racism being alleged - whether anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-Romani, anti-Chinese, or whatever - linking the incident or utterance in question with that 'tradition' of racial prejudice and persecution.
Gerras' definition makes me feel uneasy because history and traditions (or rather precisely perceptions and interpretations of them) can be and are often wrong/problematic.
From Rod Liddle:
I have lost count of the times my own penis — a harmless enough creature, really — has been invoked, most usually by women, during an attempted refutation of some point I have made in an article. It is, I have been assured, minuscule, or inoperative, or unwashed, or diseased, or nonexistent. Sometimes all of these things at once. And as with Mary [Beard], the remainder of my physical being is not left unremarked: fat, hideous, stinking, vile, ugly… oh, lordy, we could be here for weeks. It is nothing to do with misogyny; it is just what people reach for when they, perhaps temporarily, hate someone. I remember a short while ago a complaint that Muslims in the public eye were subjected to the most horrid nastiness — the journalist Mehdi Hasan was one of the loudest complainants. Again, no, Mehdi; it’s not your religion, or the colour of your skin — it’s you. It’s just you.
Aahh, the only answer to Liddle is it isn't your penis, it's you. That said, Rod Liddle is a dick!
Though a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal, several states retain trigger laws that would come into force if Roe v Wade were ever overturned (see map). Leaving them in place is a cheap way for politicians to place themselves on one side of a culture war without having to accept the consequences of their position.
Nowadays, in America and elsewhere, being successful in politics means being cheap!
Quote of the early morning from Karen J. Greenberg:
Hollywood, that one-time bastion of liberalism, has provided the final piece in the perfect blueprint for the whitewashing of torture policy. If that isn’t a happily-ever-after ending, what is?
Hollywood has never really been about liberalism as much as it has always been about triumphalism. It embraces torture through Zero Dark Thirty because it has no memory (it gets in the way of good and fluffy stories and of the romanticization of history) and believes that everything did indeed changed after 9/11 including what is permissible and forbidden.
Great stuff from Katherine Franke:
I wish Franke hadn't used Tom Friedman to ake such a poignant point.
In an ironic sort of way, sex and sexuality have been collateral victims of recent advances in the rights of gay people to the extent that their claims have been framed as a right to family, not a right to sexual freedom. Whether by design or by accident, some of the advocates of marriage equality who have defended and celebrated the sanctity, dignity and special-ness of marriage have fortified the rather conservative notion that sex outside of marriage (whether it be adultery or hook ups with people you find out the internet) is somehow indecent and worthy of reproach.Thomas Friedman famously observed that “9/11 made us stupid” – well, sex, it seems, makes us even stupider. At precisely the moment when gay people’s right to marry seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, sexuality is being driven back into the closet as something shameful and incompatible with honor (in the case of Petraeus) or decency (as in the case of Clash). How did we get to this curious place, a place with a politics that would be almost unimaginable to the sexual freedom fighters of Stonewall?
Sugary excerpt of the day from Conor Friedersdorf:
Obama and [John] Brennan may both be more thoughtful men than most, as their supporters argue. The problem with both is their excessive trust in their own judgment. A prudent person does not trust himself with the unchecked power to kill in secret, nor does he trust the executive branch with so extreme an unchecked power in a system constructed around checks and balances.
Our era is the one of Me so nothing new here.
Sugary excerpt from Stephen W. Smith must-read post on Congo and Rwanda on the London Review of Book's blog:
The post-genocidal regime in Rwanda has time and again been able to raid and plunder its Congolese neighbour with no, or little, risk of punitive sanctions. Britain finally seems to have reservations about the validity of washing away a genocide with a torrent of crimes against humanity, and the UN Security Council has demanded an end to outside support for the M23 rebels, but the United States is still shielding Kagame from blame. Thanks to American support, Rwanda is about to take up a two-year seat as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. (...)An estimated 700,000 Congolese have been driven from their homes during the last bout of fighting in the east. Tens of thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed by Rwandan forces in eastern Congo. An estimated five million have died as indirect victims of warfare, from hunger, displacement or disease. The combined charges against all the warlords so far indicted by the ICC, from the former Liberian president Charles Taylor to the M23 commander Bosco Ntaganda, a.k.a. ‘The Terminator’, fall short of the war crimes committed by President Kagame and documented by the UN. But the ICC doesn’t seem to know.
The trouble here is as always that the people who could make a difference refuse to see the situation in ordinary terms and instead 'africanize' it. Doing so dehumanizes ordinary Congolese for the insistence that Africa is a country condemns very different olaces on that continent to remain the heart of darkness/blackness.
From Martha Stewart:
The internet is responsible for our short-term mindset.I am convinced of it. We think with our thumbs instead of our minds. It’s very damaging. When the internet started, I thought it was this extraordinary thing to save time, which is always what I want, because that then makes time: to create, to plant trees. But it has been just the opposite! It has become an all-consuming passion.
It's always easy, reassuring and popular to blame the internet for our own shortcomings.
This from John Quiggin disturbs me:
It strikes me that the best way to understand the distinctive characteristics of US voting patterns is to to treat “Southern White ” as an ethnicity, like Hispanic. With that classification each of the major parties becomes an coalition between a solid bloc vote from an ethnic minority and around half the votes of the “non-Southern white” ethnic majority, which is more likely to vote on class lines. The question then is which ethnic/class coalition is bigger. As in other countries, voting for the more rightwing party is correlated, though not perfectly with higher incomes and (conditional on income) lower education, and to shift according to broader ideological movements.(...) To the extent that white Southerners vote on ethnic lines, hostile to key Democratic ideas, it makes little sense to try for a class-based message that panders to (for example) Confederate nostalgia. Rather, the best hope is that younger generations will cease identifying with the South and regard themselves just as Americans or even (Utopianism alert) just as human beings.
Is it legitimate to treat Southern Whites as a separate ethnic group? Certainly, plenty of Southerners thought so at the time of the Civil War. Since then, Southern whites have made strong claims to a separate cultural heritage, defined in opposition both to blacks (and also through historic and recent conflicts with Hispanics) and to Northern Whites.
Really does ethnicity make one more likely to be stupid and to vote a certain way? It does in America because ethnicity is treated as a religion. Quiggin's point just illustrates what is wrong with the America's view of ethnicity and race for they are used to legitimate identical illusions and ignorance.
Come on now, whether one is a 'Southern White' or whatever else, in America, the fact remains that it is much easier and even comfortable to justify the unjustifiable by using ethnicity, culture, and identity as excuses for one's biases and irrationality and that is a problem for no matter what their heritage, people chose who/what to be.
I agree with Joanna Weiss on this:
The bigger question is why it took a sex scandal to get the nation to treat Petraeus as a human being.
In fact, when it comes to public figures, media coverage tends to swing between two conflicting narratives. On one hand, there’s the “let’s find out what’s wrong with the guy” school: a watchdog mentality, abetted by opposition research, that largely afflicts people running for office.
But we have a parallel tendency toward hero worship, an inclination — particularly when it comes to people who take admirable risks with their lives — to pick someone generally good and paint him as virtuous beyond compare.
Well America as a nation which believe religiously in its own uniqueness and greatness needs to remake people in its own image.
The sentence du jour from Glenn Greenwald on the Petraeus affair:
(...) there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside.
I still believe that it is way too creepy how much the state can know private lives.
I wish this were true:
Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don't have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter. By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.
It is impossible for the Republicans to break up with the religious right, the best thing to hope for is an open relationship.
From Walter Russell Mead:
We are simultaneously the most licentious and sexually open society since Nero was fiddling around in Rome, and the most uptight and rigid country this side of Saudi Arabia. Our social judgements and tolerance about sexual behavior swing back and forth between the views of the Marquis de Sade and those of Cotton Mather depending on complex and ever changing calculations.
As far as I can make out, the authorities American society listens to most on the subject of sex are Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem. We combine, somehow, a pleasure seeking hook up culture with a feminist puritanism that takes us back to the 19th century bluestockings, and the line between the libertine and the bluestocking in our culture is constantly shifting and highly politicized.
My take on the subject is that America has no problem with sex as long as it remains a form of entertainment, which doesn't shake the foundations of its society.
Sex in America can't be about solely pleasure and amorality. That's why Americans have less of a problem with Porn stars whom it believes just work the money than it does with cheating/sexually adventurous politicians whom it believes are just bad people.
I agree with Chris Dillow on this:
Why do people go on protest marches? Why do so many countries ban drugs? Why don't we euthanize unhealthy old people? The answer lies not in cost-benefit thinking, but in symbolic utility.
Silver has repeatedly, and not very convincingly, tried to explain his percentage forecasts in the context of a football game: Romney is behind, but could still win with a last-minute touchdown. The problem with this metaphor — as, of course, Silver has acknowledged — is that we don't actually know the score of the game. We're standing outside the stadium and guessing the score based on crowd noise. So the source of uncertainty resides at least as much in the potential for mismeasurement as in the potential for last-minute game changers.
What Silver's 80.9% forecast technically means is that, if the Obama-Romney 2012 election were contested 1000 times, he thinks Obama would win 809 of them. This is a way of thinking derived from games of chance, which is where modern ideas about probability originated. In poker or blackjack or roulette or craps, you can (until you run out of money) repeat many iterations of the same gamble. But this particular election is only being contested once. So the closest approximation to the games-of-chance approach would be to expect that, if Silver forecasts four-fifths odds of victory in five different elections, he should correctly pick the winner four times. That's a ridiculously tiny sample size, though. You'd really want to look at dozens or hundreds of elections to judge Silver's reliability. Maybe, if he keeps doing this for another couple of decades, we'll be able to judge him by that standard. In the meantime, it's Silver's reasoning that probably offers the best clues to whether his forecasts are credible.
I agree with both Silver and Fox.
From Duleep Allirajah over at Spiked on the fight against racism in English football:
Racist speech is, in other words, a modern taboo. It is no longer seen as the expression of a political ideology but as something more akin to a sin. Anti-racism, by the same token, is no longer a political project but an inquisition against racial name-calling.
Hum, something is rotten in the State of Denmark...I suspect that it is the fact that modern societies are too eager to abdicate the responsibility that they have in educating their members rather than to criminalize all of their shortcomings whether or not they become criminal acts.
From Glenn Greenwald:
One of the primary reasons war - especially protracted war - is so destructive is not merely that it kills the populations at whom it is aimed, but it also radically degrades the character of the citizenry that wages it. That's what enables one of America's most celebrated pundits to go on the most mainstream of TV programs and coldly justify the killing of 4-year-olds, without so much as batting an eyelash or even paying lip service to the heinous tragedy of that, and have it be barely noticed. Joe Klein is the face not only of the Obama legacy, but also mainstream US political culture.
I'm not sure this is just an American 'thing' for it has to do with power and the complacency that comes with a sense of entitlement.
I agree totally with Tony Junod on this:
We have been told, many times, that each killing carried out by the administration is accompanied by vigorous and even agonized debate about its legality, advisability, efficacy, and morality. That debate, however has remained staunchly internal — has remained secret — and it has become clear that the only way to find out what our two presidential candidates think about the implications of the Lethal Presidency is to ask them, tonight, at the debate in Florida. President Obama has limited his comments to all but the most self-serving circumstance, and Governor Romney has spoken only through inference and through the often confounding comments of his foreign-policy surrogates. Bob Schieffer should know that if he does not ask a question about targeted killing tonight, he is — we are — unlikely to get another chance.
Unfortunately,the main concern of most journalists and of most Americans is to protect America by whichever means necessary. Thus, until Americans feel secure, they are going to be willing to let the president do whatever it takes to keep them safe even if they sense that the means used are wrong and will mean apologizing and regretting them in the future.
Sugary excerpt on which I munch all weekend from Lawrence Pintak:
But journalism is not supposed to be a firebomb. The goal is to inform, not inflame; to understand, not distort. Isn’t that what separates it from propaganda?
Back in 2006, after the frenzy over publication of the first set of Muhammad cartoons, many Muslim journalists simply couldn’t understand why Western news organizations would republish the offensive images just because they had the legal right to do so.
“When I insult your religion or your feelings, it is crossing the limits of freedom of expression,” Salama Ahmed Salama, the respected Egyptian columnist, told me at the time. It is a sentiment widely shared among his colleagues. In surveys I have conducted among journalists across the Muslim world, aspirations toward objectivity are always tempered by a sense that they must “balance the need to inform with the need to show respect.”
It’s likely the same reason most Western news organizations haven’t republished the topless Kate Middleton pix. Or why most US newspapers do not show dead soldiers. Or why, as I write this, I have told the head of my college’s NPR network that we will not publish the name of an underage rape victim, even though state law gives us the legal right. Such restraint does not damage our journalism.
I don't completely agree with Pintak, but he is on to something for he has the merit to go beyond the obvious and to do more than reasserting the principles behind the freedom of expression, That said, the issue here is one of culture in the literary sense of the word for our age is one of hurt feelings because journalists have become everyday people who hang to their own inculture and in fact do propagandize.
The following words from Hugh Roberts make me uncomfortable:
The reason Muslims have been demonstrating from Tunis to Jakarta is not that they are exceptionally thin-skinned and liable to throw tantrums at the drop of a hat, nor even that US policy has given them plenty of other grounds for grievance over the years. It is that Islamist movements now collectively dominate but nowhere monopolise the political field and are bound to mobilise their supporters to the hilt whenever any of their rivals begin to do so. This is what the eclipse of the modernist nationalist tradition has led to, and Western – and by no means solely American – policy is responsible for it. The result is growing anarchy in the region from which Americans and American interests cannot realistically expect to remain immune.
Do we really live in a world where there are masters who act freely and slaves who submit and suffer from the actions of the all-powerful?
I am having a literary crush on Pankaj Mishra, which just intensifies when he says things like this:
The other thing that influenced me was the post-9/11 political climate in the West. How such a wide range of politicians, policymakers, journalists and columnists could re-embrace the delusions of empire - those you thought had been effectively shattered by decolonisation 50-60 years ago; how they could bring themselves to believe that the Afghans and the Iraqis were just longing to suck on the big sticks proffered to them by American soldiers, as [decorated New York Times foreign affairs columnist] Thomas Friedman inimitably recommended…
All this was just staggering to me, and people like myself who share a reflexive suspicion of armed imperialists claiming to be missionaries.
I have to admit that I am ashamed to have once taken Tom Friedman seriously...
Interesting excerpt of the conversation between Robert Wright, whom I'm finding hard to resist, and Baratunde Thurston about race, racism and the media. It reminds me of the whole brouhaha about the 'native informer' concept which points to the fact that America, although it was never a colonial power in the normal sense of the word, did and still does have the colonial impulse to understand the barbarians in order to placate them when it listens to its conscience or to civilize them when it follows its Hobbesian instincts.
It isn't a race or racist thing, it is a power and domination struggle.
I'm going to be munching on this sugary excerpt from Rob Marchant this week-end:
[...]something lies deep in the psyche of the European left, which still, despite all logical evidence to the contrary, wants to see these jihadists in Iraq, the Arabian peninsula or Palestine in some degree as freedom fighters. Sticking it to the man: the man in question being the West, the Establishment, the US.
It is a dangerous fantasy, and one which ultimately puts in jeopardy everything we believe in, because those outside our narrow political club do not see things the same way. The disturbing thing is that we can’t see that this kind of coincidence, of a bunch of Jewish-related news stories since the start of the year in the national press, in a country where we’re talking about a tiny proportion of the population. It wasn’t happening ten years ago, or even five. We can’t see that anti-Semitism is back on the agenda in a big way, as I wrote in the New Statesman back in October, and the left is ignoring it.
Marchant isn't wrong but I think it is necessary to enlarge the picture to view all the trees.
Elizabeth Drew has the best comment I've read so far on the Limbaugh/Fluke/contraception/safe sex/ religious freedom affair; her conclusion is particularly on point:
In the end the noisy and often passionate argument over insurance coverage for contraception came down not to “religious freedom,” nor even to women’s health, but to a contest over whether the issue would be more efficacious for turning out the Democrats’ or the Republicans’ base in November.
The trouble with the 'politics of safe sex' to use Drew's expression is precisely the fact that it is possible in America to play politics with safe sex and with women's bodies. It isn't about the fact that there are good and bad guys, but cunning politicians using private issues. to win elections.
Quote of the day from Saint and culture warrior Rick Santorum (hat tip: Alex Massie):
I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.
I'm speechless! Even Newt Gingrich wouldn't say this, no correction, he would say, but he wouldn't mean it, the trouble with Santorum is that he means what he says.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Austin at Democracy in America:
(...) a presidential nominee isn't really analogous to a husband. If anything, he's a boyfriend. That changes the stakes. A vote is not a vow. Supporting someone in the primary is perhaps analogous to going on a mini-break with someone. It implies some emotional investment, and it could lead to something more, but it involves no legal obligations and no financial entanglement. To carry this slightly absurd metaphor to its logical conclusion, Republicans shouldn't be too distressed that they haven't found Mr Right. They can make do with Mr Right Now.
I have to admit that it is a bi unsettling and extremely comical to watch Conservatives behave like Liberals and want to fall in love with their nominee. The example of the love story between liberals and Obama (or the one of Conservatives with Reagan) shows that being in love with a president is dangerous because it transforms politics into romance, which most of the time may make Americans feel good, but are bad for America.
I want to agree wit Nathalie Rothschild on this, but I cannot mostly because I believe that there is a meaningful and essential difference between being a loose cannon to refuse to pander and being commercially authentic (which both Gingrich and Obama are) by pretending to be oneself at the cost of political calculations:
(...) being a loose cannon should not be seen as such a problem in the world of politics. On the contrary, it would be refreshing if more political candidates were less concerned with having carefully crafted images and with watching their words. At least then the public would be in a better position to judge a candidate’s genuine character and opinions.
Sentences to munch on this weekend from Stefany Anne Golberg :
In a way, new technologies have made us all like Baudelaire. We are intoxicated by the multitude but cannot ignore its troubling aspects. Like Baudelaire, we are trying to find our private life in the crowd while protecting our “real” selves in a public persona. Blogs and social networking sites are like diaries with broken locks. They are confessions written for an audience. They let us feel as if we can fabricate a personal world for ourselves, a world we can control. We listen to music no one else can hear and read emails while standing on a crowded bus because we are looking for privacy. Baudelaire used poetry and fashion; we use PDAs and e-readers and the Internet. With boundless access to information, we can easily observe the crowd. But we cannot escape being observed. And we wonder if we can find the private life we’re looking for, either in the public space of the real world or in the virtual one.
Baudelaire wrote about the romance of throwing oneself alone, directionless, into the crush of public life. And it is exhilarating — spending your days wandering from shop to shop, fact to fact, video to video, stranger to stranger.
Words to munch on this weekend from Mitsuko Uchida:
For me, what counts is judging things on their merit. That’s why I am against positive discrimination for African-Americans. [In the US] every board has to bend over backwards to select African-Americans. It’s a fact – they really need to push it. Music schools and orchestras have to be seen to have them. If there are two people applying for a place, they take the African-American, even if the other is a little bit better. That’s reverse racism. I don’t go for colour, race or sex. I don’t give a damn. I’m not a feminist. If there is a heaven – I’m not a Christian – and if I arrive at the gate and they ask me what I am, all I will say is, ‘Musician.’”
I'm going to have to find out why Uchida's words don't offend me [even though they make me uncomfortable].
Sugary excerpt of the day from Ta-nehisi Coates:
If you paid more attention to Obama's skin color, than to his speeches, the voluminous amounts of journalism noting his moderation, his two books which are, themselves, exercises in moderation, then you have chosen to be ignorant.
You are now being punished for that ignorance. No one should feel sorry for you. Try not being racist.
I agree with Coates except that voluntarily and disingenuously, he stops in the middle of the road in order not to drive his truck in the ditch. Obama is indeed what he does as I have always argued and the fact that he is black/says that he is black or African-American doesn't change that. However, too many are making race a part of his presidency to either objectify him by making him a victim or an intelligent little man or to give him a pass for his failures and for the fact that he has shown that to the contrary to he argued in 2008 experience does matter and that he is afraid to lose. The point is that Obama is the POTUS and his actions or inactions speak louder than his words or his 'race.'
Acting black and being black in America and unfortunately in most of the world is about nothing more than following stereotypes and submitting to traditional and nonsensical notions about what blackness is when it is nothing more than an illusion created to soothe thoughtlessness and ideology.
In short, Coates and America are going to realize when the love/lust is really gone with the help of Obama that there is such as things as black people. Obama has so much more in common with Mitt Romney than he does with Ta-nehsi Coates!
I agree with Professor Bainbridge on this:
Supporting wars of choice where no vital national interests are at stake is not a very good litmus test of one's patriotism.
Even though I agree with Bainbridge, I wonder whether it is possible to be a dove even in cases of wars of necessity and to be a patriot. Does patriotism has anything or rather everything to do with wars or rather with supporting them? I have the feeling the answer is much more complicated that suggested above, but at least Professor Bainbridge begins to denounce the simplistic and vile notion that in wars, there are only two sides the patriotic and the unpatriotic ones.
Another great point from Chris Dillow whose writing I find addictive (it is both a good and a bad thing):
So, far from applauding ambition we should, in most cases, oppose it.
Of course, everything I’ve said applies to men’s ambition as well as women’s. So why pick on feminism? In one big sense we shouldn’t. But there are two things that worry me.
One is that this particular form of feminism helps to legitimate ambition. And people are never more ruthless than when they believe they have right on their side.
The other is that feminism - in this sense - is a diversion. In encouraging women to climb up hierarchies, it deflects attention from the question: should our economic and political life be structured hierarchically at all?
Feminism is always a diversion because it has refused to evolve and to widen its perspectives on gender.
Sentence of the day from Paul Krugman on the IMF and the process by which it chooses its director:
I hope for the best if it is indeed Lagarde; but things are already off to a bad start.
I agree with Krugman and believe that there is something bothersome about this whole process. My discomfort has little to do with Lagarde, but with the ways the IMF chooses its leader. On a humorous note, there ought to have been more outrage about the fact that the only 'African' candidate Stan Fischer as disqualified. Man, where are the advocates of diversity when the one they ought to be fighting for is the most competent for the j.o.b!!!!
Sugary excerpt of the day from the always pertinent Chris Dillow:
Successful power structures persist in large part because the way in which power is exercised is hidden from us. The importance of class and the lack of discussion of it are two sides of the same fact.
For some reason, I have this unnerving feeling that we are back in the time of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Molière) when class was determinative, what saddens/disturbs me is that that reality is true particularly in America where there is a strong and maniacal denial about the existence and the relevance of 'class.'
Pertinent words from Ali Smith on Google:
Google is so strange. It promises everything, but everything isn’t there. You type in the words for what you need, and what you need becomes superfluous in an instant, shadowed instantaneously by the things you really need, and none of them answerable by Google.
I can't remember how I started a relationship with Google, but what is more troubling is that I know that I'm staying not out of love, but because there is nothing out there better and that although I'm not unhappy without being neither at peace nor at ease, I fed something that fills me up some of the time.
I like John McWhorter and Glenn Loury and their conversation on race is fascinating especially for somebody like me who believes she got beyond race. That isn't to say that race doesn't matter, but rather that it does because people want it to matter in order to make the world simple and to put people within tiny and beautiful boxes.
To talk about Cornel West, I think he epitomizes of the fact that race forces people to be inauthentic and to hold on to bad faith in a pointless, vile and desperate attempt to make race matter more than anything else.