Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reality Has An Anti-Conservative Bias

David French:

In an anti-truth world, honesty is a threat. Scrutiny is dangerous. And a candidate [Trump] and his supporters can say literally anything they want so long as it gets them past the news cycle and moves the ball down the political field. In the meantime, those who care about reality are mocked as suckers — as losers.
The aide [Rove] said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Yes, conservatives are bitching because the exploitive system they created and benefit from has been used against them. It makes you realize how whiny they all are. It makes everyone realize how weak they are. The Republican elite must shut down Trump or every future primary will be a circus. When they do shut him down they will have to write off a portion of their base; Trump's fans are the conservatives who turned anti-establishment (but not anti-authoritarian).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Narrowing Gyre Of Wonk

Shorter Megan McArdle:

Yesteryear: We can't raise minimum wage because it will destroy jobs.

Today: We can't raise minimum wage because it will destroy jobs in small cities.

Tomorrow: We can't raise minimum wage because it will hurt the coffee shop where I buy my cappuccino, not the one downtown but the one further down the street, you know, the one with the green awning. That one. It'll be a disaster, trust me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How To Talk To The Poor If You Must By Megan McArdle

What did she say?
She said we were revolting!

Oh boy, this is going to be good.

Bloomberg obviously told Megan McArdle that it might be time to throw the poors a few bones and calm them down before they do anything hasty. It's true that this is just speculation but it would be irresponsible not to do so. Thus her (one and only) post last week telling her devoted readers that capitalism was aces but it did create a few victims along the way, who would just have to suck it up so others might grow rich.

The well-trod path from the Republican party and its backers to the little mouthpiece propagandists like McArdle, Ross Douthat and David Brooks is highlighted by the heightened speed of recent events. For one instance, Charles Pierce describes Nick Kristof's surprise and chagrin at the brand-spanking-new realization that the Wingnut Wurlitzer exists and might--might!--have inadvertently undercut the success of the party. Now that everyone else has chimed in, Megan McArdle finally joins the party.

Last week, I talked about why market liberalism is, despite its upsets, the right program for America. Today I’m going to talk about why American elites are doing such a bad job of selling it, and why I think people in both parties are revolting so strongly against their influence.

The problem is that our elite are not doing a very good job of explaining why their worsening poverty is utterly unavoidable.

Any government policy creates winners and losers; that is simply unavoidable. That’s why I am always leery of articles about policy that consist of saying “This person has been helped” or “This person has been hurt.” Even the Soviet economy worked well -- for the commissars. But you cannot run a nation of 300 million people by competitive anecdote.

Although you can run a Bloomberg column that way. But we must be leery of people who say, "this can be done" or "that shouldn't be done" because nothing can ever be actually "done."

Market liberalism is no exception to this problem. The dynamic forces of creative destruction make many people better off, especially the descendants who will inherit the collective fruits of generations of American ingenuity. It also makes some people indisputably and permanently worse off, as previously stable and profitable careers are made obsolete. Those people are not going to accept that they’ll just have to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team, no matter how logically elegant your arguments.

Excuse me, I have to vomit.

Okay, I'm back.

Mrs. "children should rush gunmen" McArdle is no doubt proud of her elegant arguments but every argument needs two sides and the other side isn't living up to its side of the bargain. The poors must accept the fact that failure and success are both structural and non-structural and therefore nothing should be done to prevent failure and nothing can be done to create success. Things just... happen.

That said, the arguments for market liberalism are bound to sound a lot less convincing when they invariably issue from the folks who aren’t expected to take one for the team -- who are, in fact, being made better off, thanks to skills that are prized by the global market and thanks to trade, automation and immigration that have put more goods and services within their reach.

No shit, Sherlock.

It’s not so easy to remedy that problem, since academic economists and policy analysts are among the knowledge workers who have benefited greatly from liberalization. On the other hand, those people could stop being so tone deaf in the way that they talk about these things, and so blithely sure that what is good for them is, always and everywhere, good for everyone else.

Since McArdle just blithely asserted that what was good for her must be accepted by everyone else, this is going to be interesting.

To see what I mean, let’s look at something that elites consistently fail to talk about in any meaningful way: good jobs. Oh, we talk around those things. We talk about trade and immigration, if forced, though we do not of course do any listening on the same topic. We talk about inequality, and paid leave. We talk about education. Politicians make ritual obeisances toward the necessity of decent work, promising that some policy, laughably inadequate to the task, will provide thousands of good jobs doing something we want to do for completely different reasons, like reducing carbon emissions.

McArdle said open trade was wonderful because it meant she had cheaper goods and services, although sucks to be you, of course. She denied any meaningful income inequality existed. She said people don't deserve retirement, which she called a vacation. She said the government should not make student loans available. She said not everyone should go to college; we need better servants anyway. She said any stimulus jobs were useless make-work. Megan McArdle has done her damnedest to downplay any talk or action that might help anyone else but Megan McArdle.

But neither party has any meaningful policy to foster good work -- by which I mean work that offers opportunity, stability, respect and enough money to raise a family.  The closest either party comes is the $15-an-hour minimum wage, a policy with the slight drawback that it may throw a lot of people out of work.

McArdle sticks in that "may" because there is ample proof that $15/hr does not put that many people out of work. She is lying by omission and implication but nobody cares. It is possible to find meaningful liberal policies to create jobs--it isn't that hard--but McArdle omits/lies about that too. Also, she has no problem with people being unable to find good work. She thinks they're lucky because they can pick up Uber fares between school, work, child care, and their third job.

Instead of asking how we have ended up with an economy that offers stability and reward only to the holders of a college diploma, and how we might change that, elites of both parties focus on the things they want for themselves. Republicans offer tax cuts and deregulation, as if everyone in America were going to become an entrepreneur. Democrats offer free college tuition and paid maternity leave, as if these things were a great benefit to people who don’t have the ability, preparation or inclination to sit through four years of college, and as a result, can’t find a decent job from which to take their leave.

Getting a college degree is no longer a guarantee of a good job. McArdle should know that and probably does.

I'm only a half a dozen paragraphs in and already the lies are too thick to explicate. Liberal elites don't offer free college tuition. They offer exactly what we gained under the last eight years of a Democratic president: more poverty and some social gains. Democrats emphasize talking about providing jobs, not just tuition, although both parties say that getting an education will lead to getting a good job.

While there are a lot of things on the parties' agendas that primarily benefit the educated, there are very few that primarily benefit people who aren’t like us. The implicit assumption of elites in both parties is that the solution for the rest of the country is to become more like us, either through education or entrepreneurship. Rarely does anyone discuss how we might build an economy that works for people who aren’t like us and don’t want to turn into us.

For once and for all: Megan McArdle is not an elite. She is a servant of the elite. Her father became wealthy but his wealth is nothing compared to the wealth of the people who sign her paychecks. Without the billionaire media moguls, McArdle would be a middle manager at whatever company in which her father could get her a position. She's Dwight Schrute in a wrap-around dress.

And the giant hole at the center of this discussion we aren’t having is work. We talk a lot about how to palliate the effects of a labor market that no longer offers many rewards to the less educated. We act as if jobs inevitably grow, like weeds, in the fertile soil of capitalism. Or worse, as if they were a sort of optional intermediary step in the important business of distributing money and fringe benefits. Given how central work is to the lives of the elite, how fearful we are of losing our own careers, this belief is somewhat inexplicable. It’s also politically suicidal, as the current moment now shows us.

McArdle never got over the shock of being dumped by Wall Street. And she should be afraid of losing her career because she is very bad at it and times are changing. The elite will need to hire a few working class journalists, or at least elite journalists who can pretend to be working class, until all this poverty nonsense is over with and things can go back to normal.

People have been pondering the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, wondering why people are suddenly so exercised by populism at a moment when employment is all right, incomes are not plummeting, China is faltering, and Mexican immigration is flowing south across the border rather than north. The simple answer is that people don’t worry about statistics. They worry about their own lives, and especially, they worry about work.

Even if they are still consuming the same amount of stuff, even if their incomes are all right for the moment, if people feel that they cannot count on work, then they will feel helpless and frightened, and they will turn to politicians who can assuage those fears by pointing to specific enemies who can be vanquished to secure their safety.

In the past McArdle told herself and us that income inequality didn't matter as long as there were consumption equality, which she determined to be the ownership of a tv and refrigerator.

Democrats convinced that they have the answer to populism in the form of more social welfare programs are as gravely mistaken as the Republicans who focused on the same old pro-business program while the populist revolution was rising in their own party. Populist movements do not arise because people are desperately worried about inadequate tuition subsidies. They arise because people are worried about their physical security and their ability to make a decent life for themselves.

Bernie Sanders does not exist for the purpose of this essay, evidently.

And “for themselves” is the important phrase in that sentence. Of course it is true that no man is an island; anything you have beyond what you could wring out of the land with your own hands without benefit of modern tools is as much a product of the society around you as it is of your own efforts. But that does not mean that most people will be content to be the well-fed wards of that society, or for that matter, to be the wardens. Most people want to be in a reciprocal relationship with the society around them, providing valued labor in return for valued goods and services. Giving them the goods and services without the work is as unsatisfying as giving someone an Olympic gold medal for a sport they’ve never competed in.

I thought people were poor because they were lazy and slutty?

There is no better example of the folly of the elites than the current fashion for a universal basic income among both liberals and libertarians. Instead of trying to figure out something hard, like how to build an economy that provides adequate work for everyone, the idea is to do something easy, like give them checks.

Free money is only for people who have the right Daddies. Inheritances, as she said above, are very good things to have but the UBI gives her a sad. This is a bait-and-switch as well, of course. Success is structural and there's nothing we can do to build a fair economy, as McArdle said.

I’ve argued about the technical aspects of this before -- how much it would cost, what it would mean for immigration policy, how difficult it would actually be to replace many of the welfare programs that are supposed to be cut to pay for it with a straight-out cash transfer. Leave those aside. The idea that a universal basic income can substitute for a job is exactly the sort of thing that makes sense to an educated elite that already has a lot of other sources of status and reward in our society.

So far McArdle's plans to help the poor are rather thin. She tells us that people are terrified of losing their source of income to the point of embracing Trump's fascist tendencies but we mustn't cut people checks for money to survive because it wouldn't be emotionally satisfying. Cutting checks for tax cuts is fine, however, as long as it serves its purpose: helping the elite get away with cutting themselves even bigger checks. I'm sure when McArdle gets her tax refund back she sits down and cries because the US can't afford tax deductions.

I’ve sat on a lot of panels on this topic, and inevitably someone waxes lyrical about the creative possibilities that will be unleashed by a universal basic income, the opportunities for art, community service, political activism, cultivation of family and friends. This is, needless to say, completely divorced from the actual experience of communities with high rates of long-term dependence, whether they are American communities where Social Security disability has become a substitute for long-gone industrial work, or European countries with a long-term dole.

The opportunities for milk and cereal, shoes, bus fare, rent are completely divorced from the reality of people with disabilities or the unemployed.

Being out of work makes people unhappy and depressed, even when they have an income stream to take care of their basic needs. What those unhappy depressed people mostly increase when they are out of work is their sleeping and television-watching; during the great recession, volunteering, education and exercise basically didn’t budge.

You know that she's talking about herself, right? She admitted once that she didn't try hard enough to find work. She was wretchedly unhappy to be unable to buy new "frocks." She probably gained weight. Because McArdle acted miserably, so will everyone else.

By the way, I am not providing links to most of my claims because I've made and linked them countless times before, McArdle's past output is deliberately difficult to find, and I only have so much time to waste on McArdle.

But how many of today’s mandarin class are actually intimately familiar with those types of communities? Very few, so instead they imagine the only dependent community they are familiar with: a college dormitory.

It's still McArdle talking about herself.

I will give the universal basic income people this much; even if they aren’t really grappling with the need for work, at least they understand that there is a problem in the labor markets. That’s more than you’d gather from the major speeches or the policy programs of our two main political parties.

If the elites want to sell market liberalism, and immigration, and all the rest of the package, then the first thing they have to do is stop talking to each other about these things, and start thinking about how to listen and talk to everyone else.

Now that McArdle has catalogued her own failures, she needs to come up with a way to ensure her career does not falter. She, and Douthat, Brooks, Kristof, et. al  now want to tell us how to correct our mistake (listening to them) by listening to them some more.

Remember that McArdle was absent from her blog for most of a week and then came up with her suddenly faux-sympathetic take on the poor. What follows is probably the result of a meeting with her higher-ups, and their advice for success in this brave new world of poor people.

Don’t answer every question about jobs with boilerplate about clean energy, or entrepreneurship, or anything that assumes that the solution to our problems is to somehow arrange for everyone in America to get a four-year degree.

The old crap won't work. Come up with some new crap.

Don’t assume that the rest of the country is full of Morlocks who do not need what you have for yourself: a stable job that connects you to other people, gives you a sense of usefulness and security, and offers you some chance at an even better future.

Don't refer to your readers as Morlocks. (Whoops!!)

Don’t try to assuage security concerns about immigration by comparing terrorism to car accidents, or any other impersonal and undeterrable force. In other words, treat people as people, with normal people-type emotions, rather than abstract statistics, or undifferentiated blobs of human potential waiting to be molded into your image.

Moving discussion from a practical, real-world discussion to an elevated, impersonal academic discussion no longer works. Pretend to care about each nasty couch-surfing, Cheetos-eating, Target-wearing littlebrain.

That improved conversation is not an answer to either the political or the economic problems that Americans are facing. But at least it’s a start.

To the next stage of her brilliant career. Meanwhile the poor will no doubt be extraordinarily grateful that the elite no longer talk down to them while they are ripping off the poor of everything they might ever own. Big Thinker Solution for the win!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Money Talks

Daddy made billions selling defective armor/CDOs/poisoned water/munitions and paid no taxes but my wealth is structural. Sucks to be you, darling.

Maisie McLazy finally managed to get to the keyboard to tell us that our poverty is structural and there's nothing anyone can do about it. McArdle tells us that some people on both sides are upset that "free trade" made them poor and after shedding one crystalline tear, she briskly informs her audience that tvs would cost far too much if we eliminated competition in the marketplace.

It's just a matter of the lesser of two evils.

Does market liberalism create some outcomes that many, even most, people won’t like? Yes.  But the defense of market liberalism is not that it is perfect, only that it is less imperfect than any of the alternatives we can see.

The problem is that growing numbers of people are experiencing the imperfections of free markets right now. The industries that supported their parents have disappeared. They see no path to the financial security that Americans once felt. So what if the market liberals are perfectly correct? So what if this impersonal system of specialization and exchange has produced the greatest flowering of prosperity, health and opportunity in human history? That's small comfort to those Americans who are not feeling prosperous or healthy. That's small comfort to the Americans who have lost opportunities while others have gained them.

No one likes to be told that they are at the mercy of impersonal forces, however ultimately benign. The populists proposing protectionism may not be able to offer prosperity, but they can offer the illusion of control. In times of great uncertainty, that’s an easy sell. 
On the other side, the people trying to sell the benefits of the free market face a real hurdle. And not just because they are the people who benefit the most from that system. In a future column, I’ll talk about why the death grip of the educated elites on the policy priorities of both parties has become such a big problem -- for them, for American workers, and for the entire political system.

Yes, Megan McArdle is richsplaining why you have to be poor: You are at the mercy of benign impersonal forces that just happened to spontaneously spring up to make the very rich much richer and the middle and lower classes much poorer.

She thinks you're stupid enough to believe she cares and she deeply believes that she must be right and the lower classes must be wrong. Money talks and it told her so.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Overheard at The Cafe

I cannot begin to tell you the irony of Ted Cruz going after Devon Anderson. She was the one who opened the investigation in the first place. She was appointed by Rick Perry!

Charles Pierce:
Even before the Brussels attacks took over the news cycle, it has been lost in the campaign coverage that the Tailgunner really has let his authoritarian freak flag fly. Regularly, on the stump, he promises to unleash the full weight of the Department of Justice on Planned Parenthood. He also said he would pardon the two ratfckers who phonied up the famous videos.
Listen, as a Texan, as a Houstonian, I was deeply dismayed and disappointed to see the Harris County district attorney bringing criminal charges against someone who went undercover to expose what appears to be vast criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood. I think he performed an incredible public service and I'll tell you this. I've pledged if I'm elected president, on the very first day in office, I intend to instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and to prosecute any and all criminal conduct by that organization.

Let Ross Douthat Do Your Thinking For You

People who go to mind-bogglingly expensive schools are much smarter than the rest of us.

Ross Douthat is still lying to his readers but don't worry, it's for their own good.

POLITICAL parties are mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, and the party nominating process offers few of the protections associated with the ideal of “one man one vote.” Voters in early states have far more influence than voters in later ones. Votes in hard-to-attend caucuses effectively count more than votes in high-turnout primaries. Some primaries are open to party loyalists; others to all comers. The rules that assign convention delegates are byzantine, the delegate selection process is various, and a few states rely on conventions and cut the voters out entirely.

Since the primary process is imperfect we should ignore its results.

As Donald Trump attempts to clamber to the Republican nomination over a still-divided opposition, there will be a lot of talk about how all these rules and quirks and complexities are just a way for insiders to steal the nomination away from him, in a kind of establishment coup against his otherwise inevitable victory.

People will tell the truth. Be ready for that. But pretend that it's "a kind of establishment coup" instead of a real one.

We can expect to hear this case from Trump’s growing host of thralls and acolytes. (Ben Carson, come on down!) But we will also hear it from the officially neutral press, where there will be much brow-furrowed concern over the perils of party resistance to Trump’s progress, the “bad optics” of denying him the nomination if he arrives at the convention with the most delegates, the backlash sure to come if his uprising is somehow, well, trumped by the party apparatus. Americans speak and think in the language of democracy, and so these arguments will find an audience, including among party leaders and delegates themselves.

Conservatives, Ross Douthat is why you are losing and why you have earned Trump. After everything that has happened he is still lying to you. The press is biased towards money; the first color they see is green. Carson was bought off.

Douthat makes every attempt to belittle opposition to the scheme he is desperately trying to peddle: "Bad optics." "Brow-furrowed concern." We also see that Douthat is worried that the thin green line between the elite and the mob won't hold and that the elite will succumb to the interloper.

But they cut against the deeper wisdom of the American political tradition. The less-than-democratic side of party nominations is a virtue of our system, not a flaw, and it has often been a necessary check on the passions (Trumpian or otherwise) that mass democracy constantly threatens to unleash.

Douthat dangles the mob over his fellow elite to keep them in mind. For a moron, Douthat is clever. But the only thing conservatives teach their children is how to manipulate people; it's the parenting style. We must have the elite to think and act for us, we are children, and greedy, violent, destructive children at that. We are the mob.

They think we are stupid. When you ask yourself, "Why did that person just talk to me like I'm stupid?" the answer will always be that that person thinks you are stupid.

That check has weakened with the decline of machines, bosses and smoke-filled rooms. But in many ways it remains very much in force — confronting would-be demagogues with complicated ballot requirements, insisting that a potential Coriolanus or a Sulla count delegates in Guam and South Dakota, asking men who aspire to awesome power to submit to the veto of state chairmen and local newspapers, the town meeting and the caucus hall.

Subverting democracy is a good thing. It's a humble thing.

Douthat is clever but he isn't smart. He thinks that people who refer to the ancient Greeks and Romans are terribly well-educated and brilliant intellectual leaders so he name-checks a few. It's what his people do. That's why they go to Ivy League schools; the idiot sons and daughters of the elite don't go there to learn how to think, they go there to learn the Secret Code Words Of Smartness that will get them jobs at The Atlantic and The New York Times. Douthat is completely and utterly clueless otherwise.

The weird rigors of this process have not always protected the parties from politically disastrous nominees, like Barry Goldwater or George McGovern. But Goldwater and McGovern were both men of principle and experience and civic virtue, leading factions that had not yet come to full maturity. This made them political losers; it did not make them demagogues.

Cruz is just as bad as Trump, with added crazy Jesus-ness. Both would be disastrous for the country. Maybe Trump would edge out Cruz in world-wide negative repercussions but maybe not.

Trump, though, is cut from a very different cloth. He’s an authoritarian, not an ideologue, and his antecedents aren’t Goldwater or McGovern; they’re figures like George Wallace and Huey Long, with a side of the fictional Buzz Windrip from Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here.” No modern political party has nominated a candidate like this; no serious political party ever should.

Sarah. Palin.

Between Palin and Trump, the Republicans can no longer claim that they are not the party of Crazy.

Republicans are authoritarians. Douthat is an authoritarian.

Because such figures speak — as Wallace did, and Long, and Ross Perot, and others — to real grievances, the process of dealing with them is necessarily painful, and often involves a third-party bid and a difficult reckoning thereafter. Trump would be no exception: Denying him the nomination would indeed be an ugly exercise, one that would weaken or crush the party’s general election chances, and leave the G.O.P. with a long hard climb back up to unity and health.

The lies they tell are killing the Republicans. Their wounds are entirely self-inflicted. Douthat demands that the little people suffer so he can prosper. Third-party bids don't happen "often." The Republicans are going to lose no matter who they nominate. The GOP will never climb back up to health because they were never healthy.

But if that exercise is painful, it’s also the correct path to choose. A man so transparently unfit for office should not be placed before the American people as a candidate for president under any kind of imprimatur save his own. And there is no point in even having a party apparatus, no point in all those chairmen and state conventions and delegate rosters, if they cannot be mobilized to prevent 35 percent of the Republican primary electorate from imposing a Trump nomination on the party.

Sooner or later Douthat is going to tell his followers to vote for Cruz or Ryan, both of whom are unfit to successfully lead the US.

What Trump has demonstrated is that in our present cultural environment, and in the Republican Party’s present state of bankruptcy, the first lines of defense against a demagogue no longer hold. Because he’s loud and rich and famous, because he’s run his campaign like a reality TV show, because he’s horribly compelling and, yes, sometimes even right, Trump has come this far without many endorsements or institutional support, without much in the way of a normal organization, clearing hurdle after hurdle where people expected him to fall.

You built this cupcake.#

But the party’s convention rules, in all their anachronistic, undemocratic and highly-negotiable intricacy, are also a line of defense, also a hurdle, also a place where a man unfit for office can be turned aside.

This should expose the con for all time but people don't see what they don't want to see. Sure, I want to subvert democracy but it's for your own good. And it'll make me rich. It's win-win! Or, in your case, lose-lose!

So in Cleveland this summer, the men and women of the Republican Party may face a straightforward choice: Betray the large minority of Republicans who cast their votes for Trump, or betray their obligations to their country. For a party proud of its patriotism, the choice should not be hard.

All those choices Douthat made over the year; were they just as easy? Supporting invasion, torture regimes, theocracy, subjugation of women? Of course they were. Douthat wants what Douthat wants and you need to give it to him because he is rich and important and you aren't.

It's for his own good.

Ross Douthat Is The Boxer

I am just a rich boy
And my story's often told,
I make you squander your resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

When I left my home
And my family,
I was no more than a boy
In the company of preppies
In the quiet of the luxury school,
Running scared,
Laying low,
Seeking out the hidden quarters
Where the geeky people go,
Looking for the places
Only they would know.


Asking only rich man's wages I come looking for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores
On National Review
I do declare,
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there.


Then I'm laying out my arguments
And wishing I was gone,
Going home....

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Ethics of the Elite

He has your best interest in mind. Promise!

Paul Krugman, via Economist's View:

Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. elite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. ... And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers.
The problems with this diagnosis should be obvious. Tens of millions of people don’t suffer a collapse in values for no reason. Remember, several decades ago the sociologist William Julius Wilson argued that the social ills of America’s black community ... were the result of disappearing economic opportunity. If he was right, you would have expected declining opportunity to have the same effect on whites, and sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Conservatives won't stop shaming and stiffing the poor just because reality states that poverty affects culture, rather than culture causing poverty. They are already blaming liberals for the "degeneracy" of poor whites, saying that the hippies perverted the culture will all their sex and atheism. And they are blaming the poor white conservatives for their culture as well, i.e. laziness and self-indulgence.  The economic class war must continue and it must never be spoken of.

The lower classes must let the militarized police shoot them at will, to set an example for those who don't respect law and order. They must not protest ill treatment. They must not fight back physically. They must not take economic action against the upper classes. The lower classes must, under no circumstances, defend themselves in this war.

The lower classes cannot flex political power by voting out the elite and voting in someone who will raise taxes back to the level they were in during the middle class's Golden Age. The lower classes must vote for the candidate provided to them or they are traitors to the upper classes, betraying them by refusing to exchange obedience for identity, purpose and belonging, that is, security. They must play by the elite's rules. The elite's only rule for itself is that rules are for the lower classes.

I have to admit, it was a cute trick. Tell the sheeple that government is bad and taxes are bad and money is good and you want to give them lots of money. Cut the taxes for the rich. Profit.

The rich got richer.

I wonder what happened around 1981?

We got poorer.

The elite believe that you are to blame for your own problems because you are inferior to the elite, by definition. Clinton has elite ethics, not middle class or lower class ethics. She will do what is best for the elite and tell you, more or less, that she's got this.

If we have another recession (when we have another recession), what will Clinton do? Will she spend massive amounts of money to help the poor or will she use austerity measures to preserve elite wealth?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Choosing Evil

I don't have a problem with DougJ but I do have a problem with settling for evil.
Choosing evil isn't wise. It's just choosing evil, and pretending it's wise because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate: we let people suffer and die for our own convenience and are complicit in our own eventual yet inevitable destruction.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why Do You Hate Us Oh Lord

Shorter Megan McArdle: My husband is a child.
Shorter Me: TMI

Hollow Davy and Goliath-Trump

Oh, Davy Brooks. You mean well (for yourself) but it's not easy for a soulless monster to fit into society.

You look around and try to figure out how that "feelings" thing works. You read lots of books and studies that explain what people do, why they do it, and what they think when they do that voodoo that they do. You try to understand why wives yell at and insult you when you try to cheat on them.

But it's never enough. The empty vessel is repeatedly filled up but it's not exactly a vessel, is it? It's a colander.

An expensive, super-fancy colander, but an empty bowl filled with holes nonetheless.

The voters have spoken.

Isn't Davy a voter too? It's not a good sign when the first sentence sets up a distance between Americans and the real people, the elite.
In convincing fashion, Republican voters seem to be selecting Donald Trump as their nominee. And in a democracy, victory has legitimacy to it. Voters are rarely wise but are usually sensible. They understand their own problems.
 I've noticed pundits are rarely wise and Brooks never is,  but I'm just a voter and therefore probably don't understand thinky stuff.

And so deference is generally paid to the candidate who wins.

It's called an "election" and yes, whoever wins, wins, unless Republicans can find a way to overturn that win as they did with Bush v. Gore. Obviously Brooks expects only the Republican Party elite to pick the president, not the rest of the idiots voters.

This is why I say the elite thinks you are stupid. It thinks you think David Brooks is a wise, smart, elite person who we need to tell us what to think and do. It thinks it can tell you that Nancy Reagan was a crusader against AIDS. The elite thinks you are dumb. After all, if you were smart you would be elite like them.
And deference is being paid. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is urging Republicans to coalesce around Trump. Pundits are coming out with their “What We Can Learn” commentaries. Those commentaries are built on a hidden respect for the outcome, that this is a rejection of a Republicanism that wasn’t working and it points in some better direction.
Very hidden. Positively Waldo-ian. Practically invisible.

The commentaries went right out and said that the voters were too stupid to pick their own leader and that they, the elite, had no intention whatsoever of letting them. That isn't respect, that's a deep, fundamental contempt for both them and America, which supposedly is superior because it is a democracy and the home of the free.
The question is: Should deference be paid to this victor? Should we bow down to the judgment of these voters?
 David Brooks assumes that democracy is something he can bestow on the populace when they do what they are told and that he can take it away when they are disobedient. He thinks he would have to humble himself to let the peons pick their own leader. He'd have to bow down before someone he thinks is vastly inferior.

Brooks has supported worse people and worse actions. The only reason he is against Trump is because Trump might be an elite but he is not Brooks' elite. He didn't give Brooks a job. He doesn't owe Brooks decades of favors and didn't give Brooks decades of book and speaking contracts.

Worse of all, Trump destroys the illusion of scholarship and good governance in the Republican Party. Brooks can't pretend that Cato and AEI are bastions of intellectual policy-making when Trump is the head of the party. Brooks can't tell himself that Republicans aren't racists or phobics or authoritarian weaklings. Brooks can't lie to himself or anyone else anymore.

His career would be over.

Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.
 No, Davy. You have done everything in your power to ensure those lost jobs, wages, and dreams. You did everything you could to keep the con running as long as possible to please your paymasters. And you used all of that power to drown out liberal truth-telling.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.
Shit, now David Brooks is going to show up in the all-minority suburban dead-end neighborhoods  surrounding my city, makin' it real with the little people and learning of their mysterious ways. Thanks a lot, Trump.

 Davy still wants to tell us that the problem with the poors is that the elite don't see them and therefore accidently-deliberately impoverish them, militarized the police, cast a web of security and surveillance over everything we do, and took total control over the monetary system down to the last penny. Screw you, Davy.

And yet reality is reality.
Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.
This is the reality. We, the poor, are going to tear this whole structure down and remake it so we can have a dignified life. Either help, get out of the way, or be ready to fight.

If we don't, Trump will be the least of our worries. The climate, the Middle East, the economy, will all worsen and maybe the next guy won't be a reality star with Kruggerands for brains and life-time supply of Viagra. Maybe he'll be the death of us all.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.
He's running against Rubio and Cruz, remember.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.
It's a shame that Republicans told their voters for decades that they don't have to worry their little brains about science, facts or logic. Now they can't think and Davy wants to blame Trump.

“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.
So what's new?
He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?” he asks.
Rubio looks like his mother constantly yanks his thumb out of his mouth. The Reagans pretended they were the Windsors. Clinton's e-mails were most notable for the sycophancy of their senders.

In some rare cases, political victors do not deserve our respect. George Wallace won elections, but to endorse those outcomes would be a moral failure.
He wants so very desperately to pretend that his party (and he) care about anything but keeping the poor as far away from them as humanly possible, especially if they are a scary minority. But I repeat myself.

And so it is with Trump.
History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.”
And yet their success is fragile: “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed.”
The Bible, Davy? Do you really think waving the Bible around is going to get people to hate Trump? Hasn't it dawned on you that this was how you got in this fix in the first place?

The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.

Tell that to all the people we killed just in my lifetime. Good god! They wash our planet in blood and expect everyone to agree with their homicidal delusions. No, Davy, you are not decent or gracious or patient or humble. You are a monster.

The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.

You have no integrity. You're Republicans.
Worse, there are certain standards more important than one year’s election. There are certain codes that if you betray them, you suffer something much worse than a political defeat.

Let me guess---you'll destroy the culture and America will fall!! Since he's been saying for decades that liberals ruined the culture and Blacks ruined the culture and immigration ruined the culture and the media ruined the culture...well, that worn-out threat doesn't have the same punch it used to have.
Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

Welcome to our world, Princess.
As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.

In other words, he's a Republican.
Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.
I am really going to enjoy watching Davy Brooks kiss Trump's ass to get on the good side of people who intend to use their new-found discovery of the poor's existence to leverage their careers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Passing On The Messages

Megan McArdle's latest post is relentlessly uninteresting but there are couple of things I'd like to point out.

She discusses a cash-less society and says that it might be this but will probably be that, but let's skip her mental meanderings and pull out a few quotes.

Remember when McArdle said her mother came from humble dairy farmer stock and didn't have a plastic bag to protect her shoes or a pot to piss in despite her grandfather's top-ten-percent income?
(My grandfather, a survivor of the Great Depression, adopted in his latter years the habit of stashing piles of cash around the house, just in case. My grandmother almost gave $10,000 to the church rummage sale, saved only by a last-minute decision to wash out the ancient teapot in which he had tucked the cash.)
Imagine not missing $10,000 in income. Most of us will be spending our golden years counting out the days until our next social security check. No wonder McArdle is frothing at the mouth to eliminate her Social Security and Medicare taxes.

McArdle is mostly concerned with how anything will affect her.
There’s a lot to like about the idea of a cashless society, starting with its effect on crime. The payoff to mugging people or snatching their bags has already declined dramatically, simply because fewer and fewer people are carrying cash around. I myself almost never have any of the stuff on hand.
I guess she quietly abandoned the Dave Ramsey method of using cash instead of cards and credit. Nobody cares but it would have been an interesting economic lesson, if this were anyone but McArdle.
Now consider what might happen if the government made a mistake. When I was just starting out as a journalist, the State of New York swooped down and seized all the money out of one of my bank accounts. It turned out -- much later, after a series of telephone calls -- that they had lost my tax return for the year that I had resided in both Illinois and New York, discovered income on my federal tax return that had not appeared on my New York State tax return, sent some letters to that effect to an old address I hadn’t lived at for some time, and neatly lifted all the money out of my bank. It took months to get it back.
Going by past history, McArdle probably messed up her paperwork and didn't bother to forward her mail.
I didn’t starve, merely fretted. In our world of cash, friends and family can help out someone in a situation like that.
It's a lot easier to be poor when your family cleans up after you every time, and a lot easier to be callous to everyone else.
In a cashless society, the government might intercept any transaction in which someone tried to lend money to the accused.
As a punchline to her anecdote, that statement is idiotic. Otherwise, yes, the government will use the financial industry to manipulate citizens as they always have and so will businesses.
Unmonitored resources like cash create opportunities for criminals. But they also create a sort of cushion between ordinary people and a government with extraordinary powers. Removing that cushion leaves people who aren’t criminals vulnerable to intrusion into every remote corner of their lives. We probably won’t notice how much this power grows every time we swipe a card instead of paying cash. The danger is that by the time we do notice, it will be too late. If we want to move toward a cashless society -- and apparently we do -- then we also need to think seriously about limiting the ability of the government to use the payments system as an instrument to control the behavior of its citizens.
Of course the government wants to use money to control its citizens. So does McArdle. She just thinks the rules and her recommendations should only apply to the lower classes, not to her. They should watch every dollar; she can charge and debit. The poor should have their every penny counted so they can't steal from solid citizens like McArdle, serial liar and deceiver, but laws might infringe on people giving McArdle money, which cannot be tolerated.

I hate the idea of a cashless society for some of the reasons McArdle mentions and many others but  "Koch" McArdle is primarily concerned with maximizing personal freedom and pursuit of wealth for herself and her benefactors. With all that's going on in the world right now I have to wonder if someone wound her up and set her teeth to chattering.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Veruca Salt Speaks

After telling everyone to vote strategically to get her boy Marco Rubio into the White House, Megan McArdle is not best pleased that people want to vote strategically to get their person in office.

The link says:

 Democrat in Ohio tells he & 172 other Ds in his county voting for Trump today to divide GOP. Will vote Hillary/Bernie in November.

Yes, she finds it perfectly natural to become upset when other people do what she herself does. If Megan wants it, she should have it. If you want it, she should still have it. Like the Koches, she thinks everything in the world belongs to her by right of birth. Some people think they are better than others, that other people are trash.

We see this in McArdle's attitudes towards the poor, towards Blacks, towards anyone that isn't just like her or can't make her richer or more famous. Richer people are better, more moral, harder working, smarter. Of course it's a lie. McArdle is stupid, greedy and vain and she's going to be rich as soon as she can squeeze enough money out of billionaires. All she has to do is sell her soul and sell out her countrymen.

Friday, March 11, 2016

It's About Power

He had it coming.

Megan McArdle is extremely indignant about violence against protesters except when she is laughing about violence against protesters. She laughs at the thought of liberals being beaten with a 2x4, makes excuses for Tea Party violence against a man in a wheel chair, lies about and excuses violence against a woman at a Paul Ryan rally, and loathes Occupy Wall Street protesters.

But McArdle has different views of protesters depending on their political alliance. She squeals when others used invective against her side and is gleeful when she used invective against the other side. She hates liberal protesters. However, conservative protesters who want to carry guns at health care townhalls and violent Tea Party protesters are just defending freedom. And the enemy of her enemy can be used to attack her enemy, which is why she is now indignant that Trump's followers attacked a liberal protester.

It's really incredible, when you think about it. We are so accustomed to conservative hypocrisy that we seldom stop and marvel at how blatantly brazen they have become.
He said he didn’t condone the violence that had taken place at his rallies, and then, when confronted with his own words suggesting violence against protesters, suggested -- in suitably subdued tones -- that, well, they deserved it.
McArdle, too, said protesters deserved violence.
They declined to attack him even on questions that should have been obvious gimmes, like, “Should Donald Trump be calling for people to attack protesters at his rallies?”

Thanks to people like McArdle who normalize violence against protesters and everyone else considered an enemy, the Republican party is a lot more callous about violence. The right has been using violence to engage the base for decades. The audiences are primed and ready to be pumped. They can't wait to finally get a chance to act when they have only been able to talk up a big assassination and elimination game.
This capitulation [to Trump] is neither morally acceptable, nor likely to work. And yet, I can’t help but feel sorry for Republicans facing an impossible choice. Trump’s outrages have a certain hydra-like quality to them: hack away at one of the heads, and it simply grows back twice as strong. No one knows quite what to say that will convince Trump’s supporters that they really ought to be concerned about things like his praise for the Tiananmen Square massacre, or the exhortations to pummel his hecklers, much less his comparatively minor offenses against the truth.
Violence is fine as long as you control it, not somebody else. The elite was able to control the violence it stoked but now Trump has stolen that power out from under them, the power of his fans' votes and the power of their violence. If our McArdle-eque elite don't own the violence they are susceptible to it and the last thing the powerful ever want to feel is powerless.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Megan McArdle says Megan McArdle is an Entitled Asshole

She thinks she's Rose Wilder Lane but she's really Nellie Olsen.

Shorter Megan McArdle: Back when I went to my Spartan college, our parents paid tuition so we didn't have luxurious housing. School loans for the poor and middle classes are bad.

McMegan went to the Riverdale County Day School in New York.

“One can't help being taken by the physical beauty of Riverdale – the lush lawns, the beautiful trees, the tennis courts and playing fields, the historic buildings, the view of Van Cortlandt Park from the dining room – Riverdale is as beautiful as any northeast boarding school with the wonderful advantage that you see your children at dinnertime.” Riverdale Upper School Parent

 Hill Campus
Located on 19.5 verdant acres with sweeping views of Van Cortlandt Park, the Hill Campus provides exemplary academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students in grades 6 through 12.
The campus is comprised of six academic buildings, including two dedicated science buildings with discipline-specific laboratories, an arts center for the study of drawing, painting, photography, and other mediums, and a "maker's lab" for design and construction projects.
Riverdale athletes practice and compete right on campus; the athletic facilities include three full-size playing fields, tennis courts, a 9,600-square-foot gymnasium, a 25-meter indoor pool, a fitness center, and a fencing room. The student center is the hub of the Middle and Upper Schools, offering bright, airy spaces for talking, meeting, and eating, and an outdoor balcony overlooking Van Cortlandt Park and featuring cafe-style tables. [School website description]

McArdle also went to Ivy League The University of Pennsylvania. Here is a picture of some of their dorms.

McRat also went to the University of Chicago. Here is her business school.
But the reason off campus housing is so luxurious is because students are taking out loans and saying what the fuck might as well borrow enough to live like a king, thereby forcing the school to build luxurious facilities.

The Authoritarian Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat retreats from reality with Father Teddy.

I am going to look at Ross Douthat's idea of authoritarianism, which bears little resemblance to reality, so let's define the word first. From Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians:

Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians. Psychologically these followers have personalities featuring:

1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;

2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and

3) a high level of conventionalism.

Because the submission occurs to traditional authority, I call these followers rightwing authoritarians. I’m using the word “right” in one of its earliest meanings, for in Old English “riht”(pronounced “writ”) as an adjective meant lawful, proper, correct, doing what the authorities said....

In North America people who submit to the established authorities to extraordinary degrees often turn out to be political conservatives,  so you can call them “right-wingers” both in my new-fangled psychological sense and in the usual political sense as well. But someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger.

So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics. Rightwing authoritarianism is a personality trait, like being characteristically bashful or happy or grumpy or dopey.

Authoritarianism is also indoctrinated in children.

Americans are raised to be authoritarian. It is bred into us. There are many reasons why but first that fact must be established.

We are taught to be Godly, which means we are taught that we exist to serve and please an authority far, far above us.

We are taught to be patriotic, to believe that some countries are better than others and ours is the best, and our God loves and favors our country above all others.

We are taught to be good little consumers, that buying and selling are the highest goals of mankind, that the rich are winners and the poor are losers and there is no other way of life but this rat race.

We are taught to separate and rank and grab the highest slot we can reach while kissing up to the higher levels and kicking down to the lower.

But we are not more Godly, more patriotic, more entrepreneurial, more better. We just think we are exceptional. It's not true. We are authoritarian, unless we decide that we won't be anymore-which many of us do. Most people gladly choose obedience to authority once they take a look at the drawbacks.

No gods: no heaven, no rewards, no punishments, no justice. No unconditional love, no emotional support in difficult times. No God-given sense of purpose, identity, self-esteem, direction, structure.

No patriotism: the crushing weight of realization that we kill for convenience and profit, that our dead die for nothing, that sacrifice is a slick con, that everything we think we stand for means nothing to people who see us as malignant, malevolent, shrikes of death who top off their crimes with their fake, simpering, hypocritical piety.

No class identification; No middle-class complacency or upper class self-satisfaction; choosing to side with the poor marks you as a loser in our society. Violence to gain perfect freedom for wealthy white Americans against fantasies of pure evil is celebrated while violence to gain equality is derided. Inequality kills; for a decade a few economics have been warning everyone else that people die when governing is ignored and a government starved, and the structures and infrastructures that protect our society fail.

It is so sad. People say it's just human nature but that's not true. It is human nature twisted and poisoned by mistreatment and it is completely unnecessary. We are so much more than this but we will never find out what we might have been capable of.

As you might have noticed, this is all horribly depressing. The truth hurts, a lot. Which is why we thank Imaginary Much Better Daddy Substitute every day that He gives us so many authoritarian assholes to laugh at. For instance, Ross Douthat.

Grossly authoritarian theocrat Douthat wants to convince us that "authoritarian" doesn't mean what you think it means. From a recent post of his in The New York Times:

MAYBE Donald Trump is doing us a favor.


The United States has long been spared a truly authoritarian element in our politics.


Since Southern apartheid was crushed and far-left terrorism died away, we’ve had very little organized political violence, and few homegrown movements that manifest the authoritarian temptation.


Yes, our political institutions are creaking, and our presidency is increasingly imperial.

Because of all the lies.

But there are still basic norms that both parties and every major politician claim to honor and respect.


What Trump is doing, then, is showing us something different, something that less fortunate countries know all too well: how authoritarianism works, how it seduces, and ultimately how it wins.

And there is the Big Lie, that authoritarianism is something that is done to innocent farm hands and dairy maids, seduced from their labors by evil.

But — God willing — he’s doing it in a way that’s sufficiently chaotic, ridiculous and ultimately unpopular that he will pass from the scene without actually taking power, leaving us to absorb the lessons of his rise.

Trump is currently the frontrunner in the Republican primary race so pious wishful thinking based on Douthat's personal preferences makes a poor argument.

That rise has four building blocks. First, his strongest supporters have entirely legitimate grievances. The core of that support is a white working class that the Democratic Party has half-abandoned and the Republican Party has poorly served — a cohort facing social breakdown and economic stagnation, and stuck with a liberal party offering condescension and open borders and a conservative party offering foreign quagmires and capital gains tax cuts.

The Republican party's elite looted and then blew up the economy and elite Democrats helped them because "Republican" and "Democratic" are merely silly little adjectives compared to the all-importance of the word "elite." The very rich became much richer and the poor and middle class became much poorer. This was not a problem for a long time; everyone expects to have a terrace apartment in America, don't they?

But when you cut off the lower classes from prosperity they lose any connection to the American myth of superiority. They lose faith in authority. They become anti-authoritarian. This is a very big problem for the upper classes. Losing faith in authority is losing obedience to authority, the bedrock upon which authoritarian societies sit.

The new poor can't afford establishment schools or get establishment jobs. They aren't going to inherit property, stocks, bonds, or fat bank accounts. They don't go to establishment churches, which tell you that you would be successful if you were a better person. They don't vote for the establishment candidate, who also told them that their troubles are their own fault. They can't afford in live in suburbs or have nice cars. They have very little to lose.

Trump’s support is broader than just these voters, but they’re the reason he’s a phenomenon, a force.

No. The elite of our country stole billions while undermining the elite to win elections. This created a power vacuum into which Trump stepped. Since Douthat is the lackey of those elites he lies to make himself look better.

Second, you have the opportunists — the politicians and media figures who have seen some advantage from elevating Trump. The first wave of these boosters, including Ted Cruz and various talk radio hosts, clearly imagined that Trump would flare and die, and by being in his corner early they could win his voters later, or gain his fans as listeners. But the next wave, upon us now, thinks that Trump is here to stay, and their hope is to join his inner circle (if they’re politicians), shape his policy proposals (if they’re idea peddlers), or be the voice of the Trump era (if they’re Sean Hannity).

Oh, Mr. Limbaugh? Over here, Mr. Limbaugh! Did you know that you are being auditioned for Republican Trump Scapegoat? And that when one is casting one's gaze around to find scapegoats you are very difficult to overlook?

Douthat might be more convincing were it not for the fact that he is one of the politicians and media figures who hope to have seen some advantage from elevating Rubio.

There is no real ideological consistency to this group: Trump’s expanding circle of apologists includes Sarah Palin and Steve Forbes, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie; he has anti-immigration populists and Wall Street supply-siders, True Conservatives and self-conscious moderates, evangelical preachers and avowed white nationalists. The only common threads are cynicism, ambition and a sense of Trump as a ticket to influence they couldn’t get any other way.

Actually, another common thread is authoritarianism.

Then third, you have the institutionalists — less cynical, not at all enamored of Trump, but unwilling to do all that much to stop him. These are people who mostly just want Republican politics to go back to normal, who fear risk and breakage and schism too much to go all in against him.

The get-along-to-go-along authoritarians, who always look around to see what everyone else is doing to cover up their massive insecurity, afraid to be wrong or different from anyone else. They are more moderately authoritarian and will go whichever way the wind blows.

The institutionalists include the party apparatchiks who imagine they can manage and constrain Trump if he gets the nomination. They include the donors who’ve been reluctant to fund the kind of scorched-earth assault that the Democrats surely have waiting. They include the rivals who denounce Trump as a con artist but promise to vote for him in the fall. They include Republicans who keep telling themselves stories about how Trump will appoint conservative justices or Trump is expanding the party to pretend that Trump versus Hillary would be a normal sort of vote. And they even include the occasional liberal convinced that Trump-the-dealmaker is someone the Democrats can eventually do business with.

Douthat is indignant that nobody will get rid of Trump for him. He wants to continue the con without revealing the con. So does everyone else running a con.

Then, finally, you have the inevitabilists — not Trump supporters, but Trump enablers, who encourage the institutionalists in their paralysis by acting and talking as if the support of 35 percent of the primary electorate means Trump Cannot Be Stopped. Some inevitabilists are intoxicated with celebrity and star power. Cable news is riddled with such voices, who daily manifest Orwell’s dictum, “Power worship blurs political judgment,” so that, “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.”

We can't have Sean Hannity edge out Ross, can we? The Republican "elite" have burned their wingnut welfare bridges with Trump. If Trump won, could pundit jobs dry up?

Others, especially in the intelligentsia, have a kind of highbrow nihilism about our politics, a sense that American democracy’s decadence — or the Republican Party’s decadence, in particular — is so advanced that a cleansing Trumpian fire might be just the thing we need.

There is no right wing intelligentsia. There is the wingnut welfare system and the elite who control it.

I have a little bit of the last vice, which is why I spent a long time being anti-anti-Trump: not rooting for him to win, but appreciating his truth-telling on certain issues, his capacity to upset the stagnant status quo.

You'd need a corkscrew to unpack that sentence. Douthat is attempting oh-so-delicately to position himself to dash to whichever side offers him the most personal advancement, like Tom Hanks trying to get an elevator in Splash, only without the charm or the desire to have sex with a beautiful woman. Douthat loves the status quo, even if it isn't Jesus-y enough to suit him. It got him to prep school, Harvard, and The New York Times.

Which is the way it so often works with authoritarians.

This is the reason for this entire exercise in doh. Douthat is the authoritarian follower and wanna-be leader. Trump is the authoritarian leader. Douthat is completely authoritarian. His work is authoritarian; he attempts to create a more authoritarian world. Douthat is in fact more authoritarian than Trump, whose self-indulgence keeps him too busy to worry about others' personal lives.  Douthat doesn't like these facts so he ignores them and pretends that "authoritarian" means "bad man" and therefore he can twist the word into any use he finds convenient.

They promise a purgation that many people at some level already desire, and only too late do you realize that the purge will extend too far, and burn away too much.

Douthat just wanted to purify the world of sin and the wicked. He's a Godly, special man. It's Trump's fault that while truth-telling he went too far. He says that Black culture is to blame for their exploitation. Douthat tells everyone that Muslim culture will persecute and eliminate Christians and Western culture. He incites the violent, who incite violence. His hands are clean. Trump is inciting violence directly. He goes to far and burns away too much camouflage.

Fortunately Trump’s fire should still be contained, by the wider electorate if not by his hapless party.

Fortunately he’s still more a comic-opera demagogue than a clear and present danger. Fortunately this is just history giving us a lesson in what could happen, how the republic could slide into a strongman’s hands.


The right created this mess and now it's trying to ooze away from assuming any responsibility for it, blaming Obama and everyone else for the mess Ross Douthat, for one, helped create.

Bob Altemeyer, long before the Trump phenomenon:

First, if you are concerned about what has happened in America since a radical right-wing segment of the population began taking control of the government about a dozen years ago, I think you'll find a lot in this book that says your fears are well founded. As many have pointed out, the Republic is once again passing through perilous times. The concept of a constitutional democracy has been under attack--and by the American government no less! The mid-term elections of 2006 give hope that the best values and traditions of the country will ultimately prevail. But it could prove a huge mistake to think that the enemies of freedom and equality have lost the war just because they were recently rebuffed at the polls. I’ll be very much surprised if their leaders don’t frame the setback as a test of the followers’ faith, causing them to redouble their efforts. They came so close to getting what they want, they’re not likely to pack up and go away without an all-out drive. But even if their leaders cannot find an acceptable presidential candidate for 2008, even if authoritarians play a much diminished role in the next election, even if they temporarily fade from view, they will still be there, aching for a dictatorship that will force their views on everyone. And they will surely be energized again, as they were in 1994, if a new administration infuriates them while carrying out its mandate. The country is not out of danger.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Importance Of Being McMegan

My turn-ons are defrosting chicken legs, ordering paper towels on Amazon, and shafting the poor. Squeek!

I could do a long post explaining how Megan McArdle's opionions and facts change with her masters' goals but let's just get to the facts.

When McArdle wanted to downplay the effects of Citizen's United she said campaign donations don't matter. When she wanted to get rid of Trump she said they did.

There is no such thing as a conservative or libertarian intelligentsia. There are only shills and the rich people who pay them to say whatever the rich want said. McArdle is not so stupid that she believes two contradictory ideas. She is a liar who lies for money. She is not a whore. Whores give pleasure when they take money. She is a rat-fucker.