March 14, 2018

White guilt is not angst

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America's old bigotries--racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having "no name in the street" as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt's central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d'être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the '60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America's moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today's markers of white guilt--political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

Shelby Steele, author of "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country"

December 20, 2017

Is Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," one of Trump's inspirations ?

One of Trump's inspirations, judging by how often he used to tweet passages from it, is Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," which contains some instructions about how to maintain such loyalty.

"If soldiers are punished before a personal attachment to the leadership is formed," it says, "they will not submit, and if they do not submit, they are hard to employ." When it comes to voters, Trump turns out to have followed this advice quite closely. While promising them, at great length, the rebirth of the coal industry and the instant replacement of Obamacare, he instilled in them an enduring personal attachment.

And that bond has allowed him to characterize the incomplete realization of those promises as failures of the political machine he swore to combat, rather than as examples of his own inadequacy.

-- Sasha Chapin, author of the forthcoming book "The Perfect Information Game."

March 21, 2016

Smack or Smackdown ? Trump in poor white towns

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.

Donald Trump's speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn't analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt. -- Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review. This article originally appeared in the March 28, 2016, issue of National Review.

-- Kevin D. Williamson

January 25, 2016

Hillary's past

Hillary's fans always tout her experience but don't welcome any scrutiny of her record.

-- Doug Henwood.

March 25, 2014

Hacking viral growth in social software

"The most powerfully growing products," he says, "do three things at once: they make you look smart to the people you invite. They give real value to you when the people you invite join. And they give real value to the people you've invited once they sign up."

-- Stan Chudnovsky

December 23, 2012

Cézanne and Poussin put reason in the grass and tears in the sky.

Five months before he died, Paul Cézanne attended the unveiling of a bust of Émile Zola, his old soulmate, at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix. Numa Coste, friend to both, addressed the gathering. He reminded the attendees of Zola's autumnal insistence that "one thinks one has revolutionized the world, and then one finds out, at the end of the road, that one has not revolutionized anything at all." The elderly painter cried at the words.

John Rewald, preeminent authority on late-19th-century French painting, extended Zola's regrets to Cézanne himself. Concern with revolution was irrelevant, Rewald wrote in his 1986 biography of the painter. What mattered was that Cézanne had succeeded in adding "a new link in the chain to the past." Implicit in Rewald's tribute was recognition that artists build upon antecedents. Great art is as much the harvest of what came before--angles off precedents, bends in common practice--as individual endowment.

It was the concession of a scholar of the old school, for whom the discipline of history preceded the poetics of art appreciation. By contrast, Alex Danchev, self-described "unorthodox Professor of International Relations," is a jack-of-all-disciplines writing under the dispensations of the cultural studies movement. Traditional history, from Danchev's perspective, is a gray, unsmiling thing with the smell of the stacks about it; cultural studies, conversely, is blithe and nimble. In a 2009 essay on the presumed intersection of art and politics, Danchev illustrated the difference:

Cézanne is supposed to have said of Poussin that he put reason in the grass and tears in the sky. Reason and tears may be as good an encapsulation of International Relations as any.

Even metaphors obey some kind of logic. This one signals wide interpretive latitude: "Reason and tears" is a gnostic generality for rent; it can be leased to any purpose.

Continue reading "Cézanne and Poussin put reason in the grass and tears in the sky. " »

May 7, 2012

Douthat on the defensive conservatism of progressives in power

On the one hand, its public policy agenda is essentially a defense of existing arrangements no matter their effectiveness or sustainability, apparently premised on the assumption that American women can't make cost-benefit calculations or indeed do basic math. In addition to ignoring the taxes that will be required of its businesswoman heroine across her working life, "The Life of Julia" hails a program (Head Start) that may not work at all, touts education spending that hasn't done much for high school test scores or cut college costs, and never mentions that on the Obama administration's own budget trajectory, neither Medicare nor Social Security will be able to make good on its promises once today's 20-something Julias retire.

At the same time, the slide show's vision of the individual's relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of "the Life of Julia" doesn't envision government spending the way an older liberalism did -- as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness. It offers a more sweeping vision of government's place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision -- personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual -- can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.

-- Ross Douthat

February 21, 2010

Susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation

Anybody who says you can't have it both ways clearly hasn't been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but opinion polls over the last year reflect something altogether more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, climate change, and a whole host of other major problems. Sixty percent of Americans want stricter regulations of financial institutions. But nearly the same proportion says we're suffering from too much regulation on business. That kind of illogic--or, if you prefer, susceptibility to rhetorical manipulation--is what locks the status quo in place.

-- Jacob Weisberg

January 31, 2010

An efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day.

In this country, I believe regulation of large insurance companies operating over many states needs to be reviewed. We also face a large challenge in rebuilding an efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day.

-- Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, chairman of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Continue reading "An efficient, competitive private mortgage market, an area in which commercial bank participation is needed. Those are matters for another day." »

December 28, 2009

Class Warfare a Threat to US Recovery -- Art Cashin

If Only We Could Just Get Back To Work

"Jobless claims were actually even better than some down here [on Wall Street] thought," cashin said. But he cautioned that political conflict such as the ongoing health-care debate is constituting a form of class warfare -- which could hinder America's return to economic health.

"It's bubbling up again, all this 'Wall Street versis Main Street' stuff...If we could get back to work again instead of pointing fingers, things in this country would go a lot better."

Continue reading "Class Warfare a Threat to US Recovery -- Art Cashin" »

September 1, 2009

Republican fail ?

Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations. Bruce made a point that really resonated, and he was gracious enough to republish it.

I believe that political parties should do penance for their mistakes and just losing power is not enough. Part of that involves understanding why those mistakes were made and how to prevent them from happening again. Republicans, however, have done no penance. They just pretend that they did nothing wrong. But until they do penance they don't deserve any credibility and should be ignored until they do. That's what my attacks on Bush are all about. I want Republicans to admit they were wrong about him, accept blame for his mistakes, and take some meaningful action to keep them from happening again. Bush should be treated as a pariah, as Richard Nixon was for many years until he rebuilt his credibility by more or less coming clean about Watergate with David Frost and writing a number of thoughtful books.

One reason this isn't happening is because the media don't treat Republicans as if they are discredited. On the contrary, they often seem to be treated as if they have more credibility than the administration. Just look at the silly issue of death panels. The media should have laughed it out the window, ridiculed it or at least ignored it once it was determined that there was no basis to the charge. Instead, those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism, as if they are the ones with an ax to grind.

I am truly baffled by this situation, as I'm sure you are.

What if losing power was their mistake ?

May 2, 2009

Ecological awareness in America today

When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say 'global warming,' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.

-- ecoAmerica's president and founder, Robert M. Perkowitz

Continue reading "Ecological awareness in America today" »

January 20, 2009

Indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

BHO44, Managing Director, USA

Continue reading "Indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics" »

December 29, 2008

Pundit monoculture

Why does the mere sight of David Broder, Bob Shrum, E. J. Dionne, or Peggy Noonan on television make me want to kill myself?" Mr. Shafer wrote. Did he really need to ask?

-- Jack Shafer

Continue reading "Pundit monoculture" »

December 19, 2008

Jazz stylings keep Obama cool

High resolution NBC video sets a jazz mood for Obama.

November 9, 2008


The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place -- in cities all over America.

Frank Rich captures last Tuesday night.

Be Disappointed By Someone New


And yet, such a sweeping success could also breed trouble. "The risk is they vote for the first time, and then there's this incredible long-shot win -- 'Gee this is easy,' " said Kurt Andersen, a founder of Spy and former editor of New York Magazine. There is also "a risk of this generation conflating our iPhones with the substantive policy progress that the iPhones and laptops enable."

Inevitably, he said, "growing up is all about disappointment and things not going well -- so that is a natural next step."

Continue reading "Giddy" »

August 15, 2008

Background checks

"This is the lexis nexis search string that I use for AG appointments."
The string reads as follows:

[First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a
candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or
charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra
or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or
controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or
layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict!
or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired
or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or
controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or

Jan Williams, with Monica Goodling,at page 21.

August 1, 2008

The Obamas love, but question, America

A favorite theme, said Salil Mehra, now a law professor at Temple University, were the values and cultural touchstones that Americans share. Mr. Obama's case in point: his wife, Michelle, a black woman, loved "The Brady Bunch" so much that she could identify every episode by its opening shots.

After the fluff, the meat:

In the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection.

The Long Run: Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Apart
Published: July 30, 2008
In his 12 years as a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, Barack Obama was popular and enigmatic.

April 12, 2008

Another way of seeing

There is another way of seeing, but it never
occurs to us to remove our glasses.

-- Ben Wolfson.

May 31, 2007

Strike uneconomical laws

If the Supreme Court can strike down laws as unconstitutional,
why shouldn’t the Council of Economic Advisers be able to strike
down laws as “uneconomical”?

-- Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies.

April 22, 2007

The best American understands America

The best American is not the American who has been here
the longest or the one who just arrived, it is the one who
understands the principles of America the best because
we are a country held together by ideas.

Rudolph W. Giuliani

December 9, 2006

Long humanity, short torture

Don't think of normalizing torture as losing our
humanity, think of it as investing our humanity
while we defeat evil, after which we'll redeem
our humanity with interest.

June 18, 2006

O'Reilly viewers skew older

My values and my thinking have been going somewhat to the right.
I watch a lot of O'Reilly. I like a lot of what he says.

-- Perry Mann, 56.
The make love not war Founder of the Erotic Ball.

May 28, 2006

Innovative cities are liberal

Without exception the high-tech cities in the US
are also the most liberal. But it's not because liberals
are smarter that this is so. It's because liberal cities
tolerate odd ideas, and smart people by definition
have odd ideas.

Conversely, a town that gets praised for being "solid"
or representing "traditional values" may be a fine place
to live, but it's never going to succeed as a startup hub.

-- Paul Graham

April 29, 2006

Make space for silence in discussion

If students fidget, talk or walk out of class, the guide advises seminar
leaders not to "manage" such behaviors, but to explore their underlying
causes. Instructors must remember that to such characteristically
American cultural beliefs as the importance of morality, rationality
and personal responsibility, there are equally valid alternatives that
must be respected.

Instructors must be wary of spurious objectivity, such as a 0-100
grading scale; much better is a 0-5 scale, or, best of all, a check,
check-plus, check-minus scale. And finally, if students do not
contribute to discussions at all, seminar leaders should "make
space for silence."

Continue reading "Make space for silence in discussion" »

January 18, 2005

Front 242 - Funkahdafi (live)

Could this be the inaugural musical ?
As compelling today as it was twenty years ago.

Maybe next time !

Continue reading "Front 242 - Funkahdafi (live)" »

October 4, 2004

Pitch 04

John Kerry, man's man


GWB, throws like a girl

Baseball season is over, rejoice.

2009 update from the allstar game in Saint Louis.