Thursday, February 08, 2018


It's nice to find a newish band you kinda like

•   Last week Megan McArdle shared with the world her 12-point secret to happiness which somehow did not contain "get paid a lot to write terrible shit." Most of it was about being nice to people -- not peons, just those near and dear, and perhaps donors -- and one item was "save 25 percent of your income," which led to her being smacked around by people who understood that saving 25 percent of one's income may be easy for her, but hard for low earners who did not, as McArdle did, come from moneyed professionals. This led to a McArdle Twitter tirade about how she had to eat ramen for a while and how the left was mean to her. Later she wrote about how rent control would be very bad for rents, as if rents could get any goddamn worse. All this reminded me, not only of how terrible McArdle is, but how fucked out conservatism is in general -- that is, that sliver of conservatism not devoted to Trumpian nationalism, the kind that six-figure columnists have to push. Increasingly our citizens are taking a second look at socialism, rent control, single payer etc. because uncontrolled Reagan-style capitalism has obviously fucked us over, and all its handmaidens like McArdle can do is groan NOOOOO DOOON'T IT WILL BE VENEZUELLLAAA with a flashlight under their chins and talk bootstrap penny-saved-is-a-penny-earned gush. What market is there for that, besides New York Times managing editors? At least the full-on Trumpkins offer the pleasure of unreasoning hate. Yet still they heap money on her and I'm wearing a cardboard belt! Sigh, I am too childish-foolish for this world.

•   Further proof that conservatism is fucked out: Not one but two idiotic National Review columns on how it's great to pray to Jesus for your football team to win. "Yes, God Cares about Football" by -- who else? -- David French is excruciating; French starts by basically admitting that there's no reason to talk about this -- there's been no recent backlash against God-bothering footballers for him to defend against ("Perhaps event militant atheists were grateful to see the Patriots lose") -- but he figures he'll go ahead and homilize anyway, and oh how I'd like to know what great preachers like John Donne would make of this:
Moreover, there’s something specific about football — distinct from other sports — that can concentrate a person’s faith. Yes, football is more religious in part because of its southern strongholds (the South is more religious). Yes, football is more religious in part because it’s disproportionately black (African Americans are more religious). But I’d also posit that something else is in play: keen awareness of human fragility...
So football is God's Favorite Sport, as opposed to basketball -- which, French has previously told us, is too "clustered in progressive urban centers" (pushes in nose, pushes out lower lip and tongue) for His taste. What could be worse? Well, French actually inspired colleague Nicholas Frankovich to chime in, and Frankovich manages to work in the paranoia French was too embarrassed to affect:
The question [Is it appropriate to pray for victory in sports?] embarrasses believers who are anxious to be taken seriously in public and goes to the heart of why they feel that anxiety to begin with. In theory, they still enjoy freedom of religion in the public square, but the social reality is that what they enjoy is the freedom to worship in private. Under the law, they are free to speak as if those parts of their religion that clash with materialism were true, but they risk some loss of social stature and credibility among peers when they exercise that right. Their problem in this regard is not legal or political. It’s social, cultural, and intellectual...
The "freedom to worship in private" bit is actually related to a fundamentalist trope about how Godless liberals are trying to trick believers into being grateful they can go to the church of their choice when real freedom means raving and snake-handling in public. Only, in this case, the allegedly proscribed conduct is praying for Jesus to cover the spread. Man, why do these Christians even stay in this country if they don't like it here?

• I don't commend our comments section enough, so I will do so now, with special attention to commenter keta's own version of McArdle's 12 Steps. Sample: "If you're going to praise someone, lay it on thick. Nobody ever died thinking, 'geez, I wish I hadn't been such an obnoxious phony suck-up without an ounce of integrity in my entire being.' Get that nose up in there." But really, they're all winners.

• Aha, this again: "San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus Of Residents," reports a local CBS News outlet. The proof points are a study from the kind of think tank that has David Brooks do their keynote address; some lady from San Jose who's moving to Tennessee to escape SJ's "sanctuary city status"; and "Operators of a San Jose U-Haul business" who "say one of their biggest problems is getting its rental moving vans back because so many are on a one-way ticket out of town." This of course is being repeated credulously by wingnuts ("IT’S OFFICIAL: There’s a mass exodus happening in San Francisco"). But I've seen this sort of "Har everyone's leaving the blue cities" yak before -- sometimes even with moving company stats!-- yet San Francisco is still growing, as are other big cities, because nobody wants to live out in Bumfuck if they can help it. Part of the Trump strategy is to make sure fewer Americans can help it, of course, and also to strip wealth from the cities and make them less attractive, because keeping people stuck out in the great land of meth and assault weapons helps turn them angry and crazy enough to vote Republican. But that could take years to move the needle if it happens at all. Meantime they can just go on telling themselves that cities are expensive and crowded because no one wants to live in them -- which contradicts their alleged economic beliefs but, as we just saw with the budget bill, they don't really believe that shit anyway.

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