Showing posts with label walter russell mead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label walter russell mead. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


"The New York Times Shows Why the Blue Model Is Doomed," says Walter Russell Mead. The Times ran a story, see, in which some guy left "hot, crowded Austin, Tex., and moved into an apartment on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Me., with a commanding view of Casco Bay only steps away." OK, good for him. So?
This is told as a fantastic story of human empowerment and social transformation, which it is. More and more of us are escaping the tyranny of location; thanks to the telecom revolution we can work where we want and when we want. 
The rise of telecommuting will lead to better, richer lives. Families will be stronger. The environment will benefit from less commuting. All good. 
But it also represents the death of the political philosophy and economic system that the Times is otherwise prepared to defend to the last: the blue social model. If this revolution continues—and it will—fewer and fewer people will be stuck in big, high tax, over-regulated cities. While some will still choose to live there, many, especially those raising children, will not.
Quite apart from the "three's a trend, unless you're on deadline in which case one will do" angle, I have to say I'm amazed that conservatives are still doing this. We live in an era of mass migration to the cities. It's not like New York, San Francisco, Philly, Minneapolis, et alia, are emptying out. In fact rents in most big cities are going up -- and surely conservatives know that when people pay more for something it's because they prefer it.

This is an old routine for the brethren. For years I've been following Joel Kotkin's crusade to make everyone hate urban life and move to the suburbs and exurbs like Real Americans, or to pretend this has already happened, all evidence to the contrary. And Mead's "rise of telecommuting" reminds me of Ole Perfesser Instapundit Glenn Reynolds himself pushing hard for telecommuting 11 years ago as an alternative to commie light rail. Reynolds actually proposed as a benefit of telecommuting that unions don't like it "because it's harder to organize workers who aren't all in one place."

Which, incidentally, reminds me of one big reason why people flock to the cities: Because that's where the jobs are. Some of you may remember a few years back when conservatives were trying to send poor people to North Dakota to soak up those big oil boom bucks (or to get a long-haul trucking job -- but that was always an obvious fraud). During that boom, capitalism did what capitalism does and drove housing prices in boom towns sky-high. Michael Warren at the Weekly Standard called these oil-boom immigrants "The New Pioneers" -- "The oil boom that began in 2007 has transformed this area of sleepy ranching communities into America’s new energy powerhouse," Warren gushed, and he said that whether you were young or old, whether you were an able-bodied pipe-fitter or "a receptionist at a man camp, those groupings of dorm-like lodgings for temporary workers that flank the highways of the Bakken," there was a place for you in this bright economic future-land.

Well, fast forward a few economic cycles and things ain't looking so great. Thanks, @jfxgillis, for pointing out this September 2015 Bloomberg story of what happened in the Bakken:
Fracking’s success has created another glut, and crude prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the past year. Now North Dakota’s white-hot economy is slowing. More than 4,000 workers lost their jobs in the first quarter, according to the state’s Labor Market Information Center. Taxable sales in counties at the center of the nation’s second-largest oil region dropped as much as 10 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data from the Office of the State Tax Commissioner show... 
With the region’s drilling-rig count at a six-year low of 74 and roughnecks coping with cuts in overtime and per-diem pay, the vacancy rates in Williams County man camps are as high as 70 percent. Meanwhile the average occupancy rate of new units in Williston was 65 percent in August, even as 1,347 apartments are under construction or have been approved there.
It's all well and good for Mead to tell people that telecommuting's where the boom is now, sonny! But you actually have to provide the jobs to back that up, and unless I'm missing something there is no boom in internet jobs that pay a living wage.

So why do guys like Mead tell people -- people who probably trust him; they aren't reading his shit for the scintillating prose style -- that cities are over and they should avoid them? That's easy. Look how people in the cities vote. The only hope for wingnuts is to keep their dwindling pool of supporters in the outlands -- cut off from culture, from minorities and foreigners, from the experience of living among crowds without packing heat all the time, from anything that would show them that one could have a pretty good life without fear, isolation, and bigotry. (And if you can't guarantee that your peeps will stay in Fritters, Alabama, at least give them the idea that they can live the dream on the internet, so it doesn't matter whether they relocate by choice or necessity, they'll still be isolated, and you may yet keep them in the fold.)

Then you can keep dangling the Next Big Boom in front of them -- some Eden of free enterprise where they'll be able to shoot off guns and make a living with their hands and no goddamn unions or homos. And they won't know it's a con. How would they? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013


...about the recent election and how bummed it made the brethren. It's extra-long!

Here's an outtake I'll share with you late-night Real People -- from the Washington Times, "A side of Cuccinelli voters don’t get to see; reluctant politician fan of ‘Rapper’s Delight’":
After record millions spent on TV advertising in Virginia’s governor race, Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II finds himself in the unenviable position of knowing there’s a side to him voters haven’t experienced. 
Portrayed by his opponents as a rigid social ideologue, he nevertheless can rap his own rendition of the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and is an unapologetic Monty Python fan.
Funny, I'd thought his whole approach to women's issues was kind of a "is your wife a goer" hommage.

UPDATE. In comments: To the news that Cuccinelli loves  "Rapper's Delight" and Monty Python, Haystack reasonably adds, "Him and 100,000 other annoying fratboys." Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard thinks Cuccinelli's favorite joint is actually "Raper's Delight." And smut clyde reacts to Walter Russell Mead's prediction, noted in my column, that "the real middle class will be driven out of the city bit by bit" under de Blasio: "Leaving behind the *spurious* middle class, who can recognised by the tell-tale trait of not agreeing with Mead. But the departure of the real middle class will make room for all those True Scotsmen."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR OUR LATINO OUTREACH!  As I've said before, I don't like to trawl comments sections, but sometimes it's too instructive to pass up.

Walter Russell Mead has an article called "Black Women Lead Shift To A Post-Blue World." As it's mainly about how black women are getting jobs -- "as increasing numbers of Black women enter the professional world, they are beginning to close the the earnings gap between themselves and their white peers" -- you might wonder where he was getting the "Post-Blue" thing. This seems to be the extent of it:
And the good news goes beyond the monetary: the [Washington Post] survey finds Black women to be more ambitious, more religious, and more optimistic about their future than many other groups, with a strong understanding of the value of hard work and achievement.

Condoleezza Rice, in other words, is not alone.
She's a Republican, see. (Unmentioned is this part of the Post story: "Half of black women surveyed call racism a 'big problem' in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against.")

Ole Perfesser Instapundit gets excited: "I wonder if their political views will evolve in response to this new entrepreneurialism?"

Well, you know what won't help? Mead's comments section:
Of course Black Woman are becoming entrepreneurs in greater numbers. The Govt has been picking winners and losers for a few decades now and Black Woman are at the top of their list... When a Govt takes from me to give a certain groups it deems “special” privileges that others do not get it’s called tyranny...

“Black women are setting up as entrepreneurs” — or as Affirmative Action gooberment or Big Corp. employees?...

They are essentially fronts for the men who know how to do the actual work...

I’d be ambitious and optimistic as well if the government was stacking the deck in my favor in the form of quotas and set-asides...

It is comic to hear you claim this is the result of “hard work and achievement”. It is anything but these. What silliness. Next you will be calling Obama competent...

To be sure, the fact that “…more and more Black women are setting up as entrepreneurs.” Is not good news overall.

Why does WRM capitalize “Black” while down-casing “white” when referring to the races? I thought we were striving for equality.
These aren't the fringe of Mead's comments -- they're the overwhelming majority. But what did you expect? They're the same people Mead cultivated with his Ooga Booga bullshit, and now they're understandably pissed that their hero said something nice about black women.

If only he could have tipped them off ahead of time that he was only doing it for propaganda purposes! Then we could have had a comments section full of "nudge nudge wink wink" and "Don't worry, Mead, I'm not gonna say that stuff I was gonna say about how they're all lazy." Well, maybe next time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

MORAL DEGENERATE. Just last week Daniel Foster was pissed because some mean liberal implied that the Penn State pedophilia scandal had something to do with white male hegemony. I knew right then and there that Foster was not expressing moral outrage but jealousy, and that the only reason real rightwing craziness hadn't ensued on the subject was that the central committee had been caught off-guard and had yet to work out an angle.

And so it turned out. Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has already torn up the idiotic Walter Russell Mead column about how the liberal 60s caused Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky, but there are other examples floating around, though none so ripe, to my mind, as the one at Bookworm Room:
Agrarian and frontier societies are, of necessity, self-reliant. (Yes, even Europeans once knew how to make do.) Right up until the 1960s, what separated America from other nations was that, until very recently in historic terms, it managed to be an amalgam of Western intellectualism and frontier self-reliance... And, by gosh, if self-reliance is the standard, those pioneers were virtuous.
You see where he's going: back in colonial times there weren't any child molesters! The usual villains are trotted out: Roosevelt, who "jump-started the notion of a comprehensive welfare system," and Obama, who because he disdained the Republican philosophy that "if you get sick, you’re on your own" shows "hostility to the classic American dream, one that believed it was a virtue for people to make it on their own."

But then it gets deep, brothers and sisters. Bookworm brings us "headlines in both England, where the dependency rot runs deep, and America," showing that in ObamaRoosevelt's America/England, "people abjure individual action," and that's how you get raped kids. These stories are about people failing to rescue distressed citizens, and this line from the peroration gives you a clear picture of Bookworm's reasoning:
That’s just two stories, right? What if I add a third, again from England?
Three! Holy shit, you're right, we're all moral degenerates! Eventually there's nothing for it but the Reich card:
Looking at these few examples, I can’t help but think of another culture that allowed itself to lapse into such a bureaucratic mindset that citizens either passively watched or actively engaged in the most heinous acts. I’m thinking, of course, of the Nazis.
By now Bookworm has worked himself into such a lather that he has to tell us how he'd have beat up Jerry Sandusky with judo or something ("I do martial arts because I really like it — but I also do it so that I can act").

Eventually he's all seethed out, and his mood swings skyward:
Fortunately, despite socialist government’s best efforts to mandate inaction (or, at least, to give people an excuse for failing to get involved), all is not lost. There will always be decent people who do get involved.
And then he starts telling us another kind of story -- tales of derring-do, heroism, moxie! You hope then that he'll realize that the ugly stories he repeated a few grafs back aren't an indictment of his fellow countrymen -- that ours is a big country with lots of different kinds of people in it, good and bad. We have no idea whether the heroes and villains were liberals or conservatives, only that all were tested and some found wanting -- surely that will remind him that not everything in this life is about his crappy little politics.

Recently, a motorcyclist trapped under a car was lucky enough to find himself in the presence of proactive people, unconstrained by analysis paralysis, government regulations, or career worries.
For him, that's the significant thing -- not that men were brave, but that in being brave they rose above the welfare state. Oh, and also:
Barack Obama has stated clearly that his goal is to create precisely the bureaucratic, dependency culture that makes Penn State’s (and Nazi Germany) possible.
A million 60s-vintage Jerry Rubins gibbering in unison couldn't beat that.
UPDATE. Commenters sure had fun with this. "It's like No True Scotsmen," says Spaghetti Lee, "but the Scotsmen in question are the cast of Trainspotting." DKF notes that "Republicans have created their own culture of dependency on strawmen." Some of the commenters talk about what things were really like back in the early days of the Republic -- hint: it wasn't all virtuous self-reliance and knitting -- but this is overkill; the past, present, future, and any conceivable fantasy/parallel universes are bound by no rules of logical consistency when rightbloggers are in this sort of dudgeon -- so long as they get in two buzzwords per paragraph and at least one affirmation of moral superiority before the close, the means of conveyance is practically irrelevant.

Monday, August 08, 2011

OOGA BOOGA REDUX. As I've mentioned before, the hip thing among conservatives these days is to pretend that a black crime wave is sweeping America, and to blame Obama. Not only racist cut-and-paste trolls promote the theory -- rightbloggers have been doing their part, and now more classy-like conservatives seem to be getting on board.

Take Walter Russell Mead. Last month he contributed a laughable essay in which he described modern American cities as urban hellholes out of old Death Wish movies, a characterization even tourists wouldn't buy these days. Now he's gone fully native, and joined the Ooga Booga brigade:
For some time now, residents of some US cities have noted occasional incidents of seemingly random, racially motivated violence in which young Black males are involved. The hot weather and bad economy seem to be combining to generate a small but possibly significant uptick this year.
"Occasional incidents," "small but significant uptick" -- sounds confident, doesn't he? Crime in U.S. cities is at historically low levels, yet Mead repeats some of the black-on-white crime stories that have excited the goobers into a Little-Colonel-versus-Silas-Lynch state, and proceeds into deep political analysis -- nearly all of it absolutely ludicrous (Obama and Oprah are involved, and years after welfare became workfare Mead's still bitching about the Great Society), but I'll confine myself to this:
Some whites resent what they see as excessive privilege for Blacks reflected in affirmative action. Many believe that the federal government and the (largely white) upper middle class establishment wants to marginalize the traditional white majority in the US through a combination of deliberate immigration policy aimed at reducing white preponderance in the population and by favoring immigrants and non-whites for education and employment.

For people who feel this way, the reluctance of the mainstream media to cover racial flash mobs is sinister and disturbing.
First, the "reluctance of the mainstream media to cover racial flash mobs" is rich, since Mead's citations are from the mainstream media -- in fact, one of his sources mentions that "my BlackBerry started blowing up with news about what happened Thursday night at the Wisconsin State Fair." Anyone who bothers to look will see that those incidents have been very well covered. I realize these guys have been yapping about liberal/Negro media bias for decades, but I'm still a little surprised when they ignore evidence that appears in their own screeds. I am too childish-foolish for this world.

Second, who are these folks who believe in this media bias, and "resent what they see as excessive privilege for Blacks reflected in affirmative action"? In a word, racists. They actually think African-Americans, whose poverty levels and other social indicators reveal them to have things much harder than white Americans, are getting away with something. This is a rejection of objective fact to support a racially-obsessed idea of how society is rigged against them -- which is pretty much the definition of racism.

And there's no earthly reason to take the fantasies of such people seriously, unless you're a rightwing tool hoping to gin up a lot of race hatred in time for the next Presidential election.

I hate to be rude about it, but I'm sick of these fucking peckerwoods doing old Lester Maddox routines and thinking no one will notice because their jackets have patched elbows and they're gesturing with a briar pipe. That goes for Glenn Reynolds and the rest of those high-end bottom-feeders who peddle this swill. Let them fuck off to their own survivalist compound instead of trying to turn the whole country into one.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

OOGA BOOGA, CONTINUED. I noticed earlier that conservatives are reviving the 70s-vintage idea of life in big cities as one continuous loop of scenes from Death Wish and The Wanderers. Crime has been plummeting in American cities for years, yet the brethren seem to have recently decided that our metropoli are jam-packed with depraved minorities randomly spraying bullets with one hand and pushing drugs with the other.

Walter Russell Mead is doing his bit. This is from his essay about LBJ's War on Poverty:
...even as Great Society era programs worked for some, conditions in the inner cities worsened for many who remained.

The result is the urban quagmire in which we now find ourselves. We are spending massive amounts of money and conditions are getting worse. Liberals recognize this as a problem in Afghanistan; they are more reluctant to see it in St. Louis — but it is true. What we are doing now isn’t working and while some of the reforms being tried (especially in education and perhaps also new ways of handling drug issues) offer promise, there is no light at the end of the urban tunnel.
"No light at the end of the urban tunnel!" Too bad newsweeklies are dying; this just screams for a cover image of little black children standing against a graffiti-scarred wall, crack vials and hypodermic needles at their feet.

The Mead article also describes cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Seattle, et alia* as "a holocaust of youth and hope on a scale hard to match" and "an unsustainable drag on the national economy"; bids us worry that urban drug gangs will team up with Al Qaeda; and wonders why Democrats want to take money from "poor children in the inner city" and give it to unions. (Not that the kids need it -- you will be unsurprised that Mead's solution for the uncontrolled turmoil of ghetto life is not increased spending, but bootstraps, charter schools, and stern-talkings-to.)

Even the tourists know cities aren't so bad anymore, so why are these guys bringing the old ooga-booga so hard? My guess is that they're trying to draw backwoodsmen to the polls for the next election. If a black President does not in and of himself make their blood boil, and if they consider our government's depredations a bipartisan thing rather than the fault of the socialist Othello, it may be time to break out the raw stereotypes. Surely nothing riles a redneck's blood more than the idea of fancy coastal cities full of welfare queens and strapping young bucks bullying the local whites into submission, not because they have to live in them but because they believe it reverses what they consider the natural order of the universe. If this doesn't work, maybe they can get Lee Stranahan and the Big Hollywood boys to remake Birth of a Nation.

*UPDATE. I should clarify that Mead doesn't mention these specific cities in his essay (except for a reference to New York's abortion rate "with higher rates among Blacks"), referring mainly to cities in general as a mega-blight; the only other city he directly cites is St. Louis, which is indeed troubled, though its crime rate has been declining. One may as well talk about the dynamic job growth in the United States today, defend the proposition with generalities, and cite Texas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A GRIM DUTY. Walter Russell Mead, seconded by such as Ole Perfesser Reynolds, dances victoriously with the news that some top-100 lists of public high schools in the U.S. have Red State schools in the top positions. This, he declares, means that teachers' unions are through, America needs more home-schooling, etc.

If you think about it for a couple of seconds, you remember that America has many thousands of high schools, and that the presence of a shining example or two in Texas doesn't make that state an education winner any more than the presence of Michael Jordan made the Washington Wizards NBA Champions.

Some of Mead's commenters point this out; others refer to flaws in the surveys' methodologies, etc. But none of that matters and you know it; it does as much good as reading Shakespeare to sea lions. Among the belligerati, the notion that schools in Republican territories are naturally, vastly superior to those found in fancy-pants states now spurs the usual internet chest-bumps, and will do so long into the future; when their local education budgets have been voided out because they're socialist, and their grandkids know only the Bible, the Turner Diaries, and how to cook meth, they're still be talking about how their schools (or, as they will then be known, "l'arnin' sheds") are the best in the nation Because Low Taxes.

I had expected to get to bed early and wasn't even going to mention this story. I mean, who needs the aggravation? People like Mead and Reynolds do this and worse pretty much every couple of minutes. Keeping track of it is a lost cause.

Well, maybe that's the point. It's good to be reminded that, any given moment, these guys are busy driving up our national rate of flying bullshit. (I think we're up around Tulipmania now, and fast approaching levels not seen in nations before, but only in cults and Amway seminars.) If you can't catch all the incoming, at least you have some idea where the smell is coming from.

UPDATE. The subject is depressing for other reasons, too -- commenter N.C. looks at his local listings and says, "I'm totally super excited about the two-tiered future of public education: great schools for rich kids and math nerds with good test-taking skills, and Junior Sing-Sing (Now With Books) for everybody else."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

MORE NOTES FROM THE URBAN HELLHOLE. Here's one of those staples of modern social discourse, the weeping over gang-infested urban hellholes, where "drug addicted young women desperately sell their bodies in the age of HIV; their unwanted, uncared for children grow up as best they can," and "children and teenagers can be fooled into thinking that the images generated by our pleasure-seeking and irresponsible commercial entertainment complex define the meaning of life."

Author Walter Russell Mead posits the "failure of the blue social model" to prevent the Warriors hellscape in which I supposedly live. (As a marginally-employed New York City resident, I assume his concern extends to me.)

Reading these things from New York is always amusing, and Mead may have sensed he would have this effect, as partway through he expands his purview to embrace slummy cities worldwide, so my own Lefferts Gardens address gets lumped in with Kibera and City of God. Looks much worse now, doesn't it?

Here's another good bit:
Restless, violent and poor urban communities have been with us for a long time. What often seems to happen is that poor people migrate to the cities in hopes of more exciting and rewarding lives...

But many of those migrants found sadder fates; cities were not very healthy places, and the combination of poor sanitation and sewer facilities, bad diet and poorly preserved foods, poverty and violence meant that many cities had to constantly draw on the countryside to keep their populations up. In the last 150 years, the flow to the cities increased with the mechanization of agriculture and improvements in transportation — and developments in public health meant that more of those migrants lived and had children, even if they failed to find the kind of upward mobility they hoped for.

What this means, not only in the United States, but in cities around the world, is that we now have something new: vast urban conglomerations whose populations include second, third and even fourth generations of people who know nothing but the city — and lack the opportunity and ability to earn their way out of the slums through normal, legal channels.
Two words that do not occur in this historical analysis: "labor unions." You will be unsurprised to learn that the author is unconcerned with any means of providing jobs and decent livings to underprivileged urbanites. In fact, it kind of sounds like he's not sure those "developments in public health" aren't a mixed blessing at best, seeing as they curse future generations to life in metropoli.

What's Mead want to give them instead of the "Great Society blue social model," then? Jesus.
If we are serious about changing lives in the inner cities, we need to think about strengthening the capacity of these churches.
He does suggest that these God squads dispense social services along with the Gospel, which is a good idea, as Republicans are working hard to make sure that the government can no longer do so.

Link found via Ole Perfesser Instapundit. I assume he was just attracted to the city-hating, though it's possible he was trying to shore up his libertarian cred.

UPDATE. Like the crackling of thorns under the pot is the laughter of our commenters. "I've been waiting thousands of years for someone to suggest religion as the answer to social problems," claims Nom de Plume. "The major portion of Mead's research was listening hard to Stevie Wonder's 'Livin' For The City,'" hypothesizes Glenn Kenny. And mds sees the solution: "You know what a godless urban wasteland like Lower Manhattan needs? A religiously-motivated community center!"

More seriously, R. Porrofatto directs us to Mead's "Black And Blue 2: Blacks Flee Blue States in Droves" (the folks in my neighborhood must be holdouts, then), where Mead does in fact refer to unions, thus: "high public union membership," "high costs of public union urban services," "the interests of teacher unions," "high wage scales for unionized public servants," etc. So he's not unaware of ways to improve poor people's wages and hopes for the future -- he just doesn't approve of them. He does recommend "more effective government... to ensure that American citizens are not undercut in the labor market by desperate illegals," and of course Jesus, who must be wondering about now what he did to deserve this kind of treatment.