When teetotalers are the only ones willing to say “maybe you’ve had one too many,” because your friends are worried about sounding like abstemious scolds, the advice is a lot easier to dismiss. Which is fine until it’s time to drive home.
— Julian Sanchez, “Chait Speech“
This week’s featured post is “The Liberal-on-Liberal Debate Over Political Correctness“.
If you’re in the area, you can hear me speak next Sunday at First Parish Church in Billerica, Massachusetts. I’ll be talking more about religion than politics, but some of you may find it interesting.
This week everybody was talking about political correctness
Jonathan Chait’s “Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say” should be written up in textbooks as an example of how to make yourself the center of an argument on the internet. It’s simple:
- Start with a controversial topic, preferably one centering on a buzzword that different people use differently.
- Take a position your usual friends will hate and your usual enemies will love.
- Don’t do a particularly good job, so that the people who hate what you say have a lot to work with.
- Make sure there’s a legitimate point somewhere in the background, so that the people who agree with that point will have to come rescue it, even if they don’t want to rescue you.
I am in awe of the master. And I collect some of the best points people made (and at least one bad one) in “The Liberal-on-Liberal Debate Over Political Correctness“.
and in Europe, Greece was the word
A quote that’s been attributed to various people at various times goes something like this:
If I owe a million dollars and can’t pay, I am lost. If I owe a billion dollars and can’t pay, the banker is lost.
That’s usually when some government steps in with a bail-out. It may look like the debtor is getting bailed out, but really the rescue helicopter is coming for the banker.
The illusion that the debtor is the beneficiary, though, is usually used to get some concessions out of him. But if the conditions of the bail-out are too harsh, eventually the debtor starts asking, “What exactly am I getting out of this?”
That’s more-or-less what happened in the recent Greek elections, where the left-wing party Syriza won, making its leader, Alexis Tsipras the new prime minister. The new government is giving hints in both directions, saying sometimes that its creditors will just have to write off some of its debt, and at others that it will pay everything off.
An even more interesting question is whether the revolt of voters in debt-ridden countries against the bankers will spread to larger European countries like, say, Spain, where the local left-wing party held this demonstration:
As recently as last week, I was making fun of people who wanted to talk about 2016 already. But now Republicans are out there in front of real audiences of activists and donors, trying out their stump speeches and seeing if they can raise some interest.
The conservative activists were at the Iowa Freedom Summit. You can watch the YouTubes of the speeches. I thought Ted Cruz did a good job staking his claim as the true leader of the anti-Obama movement. Scott Walker impressed a lot of people, and is rumored to be the first choice of establishment donors who want a new face rather than, say, Jeb Bush. I thought Rick Perry did surprising well. Maybe his problem in 2011 really was that medication for his back made him ditzy. (What’s Sarah Palin’s explanation for her disjointed speech? The model Jonathan Korman presented in 2013, using the Orwellian term duckspeak, seems to work better and better all the time.)
Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers were putting on the invitation-only Freedom Partners candidate forum to help its network of donors decide who to support. It was mostly behind closed doors, but the discussion among Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul was public (transcript). And if you want to see the full influence of big-money donors on today’s politics, watch Rubio, Cruz, and Paul tiptoe around the idea that big-money donors might have too much influence.
And finally, Mitt called it quits on a third run for the presidency, which started a rush to claim his donors, most of whom are believed to be shifting to Jeb Bush. Among my friends, I hear people starting to panic about a third Bush presidency. But I remember how inevitable Rick Perry seemed for a brief moment in 2011. Money matters, but performance on the campaign trail also matters. There’s a long way to go.
and the weather
Well over two feet of snow here, and more falling as I type. I loved this tweet from Ringo Starr.
and you also might be interested in …
As a New Englander and a Patriots fan, it’s best I say as little as possible about the Super Bowl. But Matt Yglesias has a plausible explanation of what Pete Carroll was thinking when he called that pass.
And you don’t have to be a football fan at all to appreciate the night Malcolm Butler had. Beginning the year as an undrafted rookie (i.e., a player nobody really wanted), he was first the victim of one of the craziest bounces in Super Bowl history, and then (two plays later) the guy who won the game.
Last year in “What Should ‘Racism’ Mean?” I recalled a a series of examples to illustrate this claim:
There’s a type of faux scandal that’s been happening … well, I haven’t exactly kept track, but it seems like there’s a new one every month or two. They all fit this pattern: President Obama does something that symbolically asserts his status as president, and the right-wing press gets outraged by how he’s “disrespecting” something-or-other related to the presidency.
Well, this week we had another one: The flap over Michelle not covering her head at King Abdullah’s funeral. Nobody much cared when Laura Bush left her head uncovered in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Guillotine bait: A guy who got rich shorting subprime mortgages says
America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence.
Naturally, he doesn’t mean himself. His own five mansions aren’t going anywhere.
Vox does one of its 3-minute explanations about what’s wrong with American Sniper.
and let’s close with the best school-cancellation announcement ever
The Moses Brown School of Providence, Rhode Island, did a parody of Frozen‘s “Let it Go”. If you’re a kid with an unexpected day off school, the cold never bothered you anyway.