Drive It Home

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:

and 2016

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.

We even have a poll out of Iowa now, showing Scott Walker in the lead with an I-guess-that’s-formidible 15%. And Marco Rubio won the straw poll at the Koch event.

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 …

Is it wrong for me to enjoy watching Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin snipe at each other?


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.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • orionblair  On February 3, 2015 at 3:27 am

    I am curious to know more about your talk in Billerica. I can’t attend, as I am now in Hanoi! I worked here 24 years ago for the American Friends Service Committee and return from time to time to see friends. On my return to NH in two weeks (I live in Harrisville, work mostly in Peterborough, I’ll join a group that is talking about faith-based community organizing in the Monadnock Region. I am searching for the intersection between my spiritual and political lives – rather, for the way that the two are going to flow together at this particular time in my life. Hence my interest in your talk. My email is orionblair@gmail.com if you’d like to respond in that way. I invite you to visit http://www.mariposamuseum.org to see something of my life work since 2002. Best, David Blair

    • weeklysift  On February 3, 2015 at 7:42 am

      The texts of my religious talks always appear on my other blog, Free and Responsible Search.

      • weeklysift  On February 9, 2015 at 6:35 am

        It turns out that church was snowed out yesterday, so I didn’t give the talk. Presumably I will give some version of it somewhere eventually, and the text will show up on F&RS then.

  • Porlock Junior  On February 8, 2015 at 2:19 am

    The definitive word on the Seattle pass play came from Don Asmussen, who does the SF Chronicle column/comic called the Bad Reporter:
    The Seahawks have admitted it that it was a strategic error to call for a bunt on the play.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: