Showing posts sorted by date for query marriage makes you rich. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query marriage makes you rich. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Friday, September 22, 2023


Dig these crazy beats!

Those of us in the Northeast are feeling autumn if not autumnal. Maybe because of my somewhat recent change of address the weather shift is not exciting thoughts of death and diminution so much as curiosity – like, how will cooler weather change the pace of life in the neighborhood, and will the boiler still work? 

But whatever the season, Roy Edroso Breaks It Down goes on, five days a week, and Friday means freebies for the joy-poppers. (Get a subscription, ya cheap bastids, it lasts longer.) 

First up is one about the recent revival of the conservative “Marriage Makes You Rich” routine – you know, the idea that you don’t have to give impoverished Americans any money or job programs, you just run them through the chapel and presto, their earnings jump!   

The MacGuffin in this case is some think-tanker’s book, but I believe the wingnuts have jumped on it hard for a couple of reasons, which you’ll learn if you read the thing. Sadly I wrote it before Megan McArdle offered her contribution, which is predictably hilair:

Yet it feels nearly impossible to say “[single parenthood] is a very bad thing” as frankly — and as often — as we’ll need to if we’re going to address this critical issue, both because the first step to fix any problem is admitting we have one, and because saying “that’s bad, actually” is one of the ways that we remove risky behaviors from our cultural script.

Of course McArdle and her fellow scolds have been nagging single parents for decades, and even running marriage promotion scams based on their nagging, without moving the needle. In fact, McArdle seems to think if anything she’s been too inhibited by her fellow-feeling for single moms to nag effectively:

Yet even those of us on the center-right who privately tell pollsters that marriage is important might be reluctant to say so forthrightly in public... I cannot get through even half a sentence without an overwhelming urge to load it down with caveats, for example, that no one should ever stay with an abusive partner for the sake of the children.

So the temptation is to talk about something else, to play down the facts or, at least, sugarcoat them.

Oh, be brave, Megan! Go through the poor neighborhoods with a sound truck crying MARRIAGE MAKES YOU RICH, YOU STUPID PAUPERS!  Remember, it’s for their own good.

Even funnier in its tweetstorm version, in which McArdle answers critics who say we should help working people get jobs that can support a family first (she’s “skeptical of the power of policy change on its own,” lol) so now it’s all up to nagging and she’s tired of doing it all alone, dammit, and wants “public intellectuals” and Hollywood to help:

I’m trying to remember what the last real “marriage sux” show on TV was… “Married… With Children,” maybe? Well, now that Murdoch has left Fox, maybe at last we can get some real conservative pro-marriage programming in there! 

The other freebie, inspired by the news that Marjorie Taylor Greene is working on a book about Marjorie Taylor Greene, is an exclusive look at the book’s preface. It’s a shoo-in for a Puke-lister Prize! 

UPDATE: Rebecca Traister:

It’s not just the think-tank-economist-columnist class prescribing the marriage cure. It’s also hard-right commentators and politicians pushing policies aimed to re-center (hetero) marriage as the organizing- principle of American family life by reversing the progress — from legal abortion to affirmative action to no-fault divorce — that has enabled women to have economic and social stability independent of marriage.


Monday, January 21, 2019


Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, guys. As I did in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017, I have taken a tour of the conservative sites celebrating this year's edition.

At National Review, Congressional Liberty Caucus troll Mike Lee:
Toward the end of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. turned his attention from an exclusive focus on racial justice to unequal opportunity more generally. The United States was “a nation gorged on money,” he wrote, “while millions of its citizens are denied a good education, adequate health services, decent housing, meaningful employment, and even respect, and are then told to be responsible.” He specifically blamed federal policymakers for “subsidies of the rich and unemployment and underemployment of the poor.”
This may put you and I in mind of King's proposed guaranteed income plan, but Lee is all about the Constitutional right to starve (in both the transitive and the intransitive sense), and so celebrates Martin Luther King by comparing him to one of his Fox News heroes:
King’s indictment against the status quo of his time, and against the political and economic elite responsible for it, could be leveled almost word for word today. Indeed, some people — and not just liberals — are still making that indictment today. 
In the wake of Tucker Carlson’s viral populist manifesto earlier this month, populist- and libertarian-leaning conservatives have been debating the same point King raised over 50 years ago. Does economic inequality depend on individuals’ good and bad choices, or on the social circumstances in which individuals make those decisions?
In case you missed it, Carlson's speech -- widely heralded in the rightwing intellectual Kingdom of the Blind -- mainly complained that capitalism wasn't doing enough for poor white people. Lee is also worried about whitey, but spares a thought for black folk, who suffer from the bitter legacy of slavery -- not because of continued racism by whites, but because slavery discouraged marriage ("Husbands and fathers were prohibited from exercising the authority that men at the time were supposed to wield") and, as we all know, marriage makes you rich, so we can show our solidarity with our black brothers and sisters by nagging them into wedlock and cutting food stamps.

Elsewhere, the Daily Signal talks with King's anti-abortion crackpot daughter Alveda ("the baby’s not her body. Where’s the lawyer for the baby?"). At Liberty Unyielding Mark Angelides does the traditional wingnut yak about how while King's "clarion call to look past race, color, and creed... has been distorted by the left and become nothing more than a hierarchical structure based on characteristics rather than character." Shorter: You're the real racist! Angelides -- who, "hailing from the UK... specializes in EU politics and provides a conservative/libertarian voice on all things from across the pond" -- then goes further, blaming the media for "its overvaluing of content based on protected characteristics" of the sort found in civil rights legislation, which is presumably the real racism. The argument of a British Brexit operative should count just as much as that of your local blackamoors!

And God help us, Jeff Jacoby:
As MLK Foresaw, Racism in America Has Been Largely Overcome 
“I have no despair about the future,” wrote the Rev. Martin Luther King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in April 1963. “I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham…. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.” 
He was right.
Thus Jacoby reduces King from a civil rights leader to a crystal-ball gazer, like Criswell. He was the real Negrodamus! Racism is "only a minor problem now," says Jacoby, "one that has grown steadily less toxic and less entrenched." The polls all say so! If you're still complaining, you're just a Gloomy Gus, because like V-E Day and V-J Day, MLK Day is about celebrating the end of something bad.

And John Hinderaker at Power Line pretends to be puzzled that a basketball team from a predominantly black high school refused to play a rural white team whose fans displayed a Trump banner at their game on MLK Day. To anyone with half a brain the situation is obvious, but Hinderaker plays dumb -- "I don’t think it is particularly appropriate, but why does Walker think the fact that his team is predominantly black is somehow relevant? President Trump has done a great deal more for black Americans than Barack Obama ever did" -- and then throws up his hands: "Oh, please. 'People of color in the U.S.' are among the most privileged people on the planet." By the way, in case you were wondering why people think the Covington students' defense by other prominent conservatives is bullshit, this is why.

Thursday, August 02, 2018


If you see less of me here than previously, overwork at my cott-damn job and sloth are only part of the reason. So many of the conservative tantrums I see in print or online these days are dull beyond imagining and it's often hard to get inspired. Trumpism has made many of the brethren lazy; remember when they felt obliged to construct elaborate fantasies to defend their stupid ideas -- for instance, that marriage makes you rich? I sort of miss those days. I recall they used to even promote actual policies that were almost as funny as their rages against Lena Dunham. but why bother to try and make it look good when the most overt rightwing grifting and racism are now national policy, and your comrades in the Q miasma are coming up with ever more outlandish conspiracy theories for you to believe in? In this environment even my usual punching bags like Jonah Goldberg have lost quite a bit of sawdust; I mean, look at this shit. You see my dilemma.

But there are some Trumpkins\ tropes that are worth recording if only for the historical record (though I suspect future generations will remember us mainly from Leibowitzian memorabilia). A major example is the I'm No Trump Voter But shtick. I normally refer to this in the context of Rod Dreher, who is constantly using it in "I'm no Trump fan, but"/ "I'm no Trump supporter, but"/ "I didn't vote for Trump, but" locutions. Here's a recent example:
Politically speaking, religious liberty is the most important issue to me. I wouldn’t rule out voting against Donald Trump in 2020, because some other issue was so urgent, and so important, that it justified voting against my religious liberty interests. But every time I start to think that, some progressive organizations will come out with statements that portray ordinary First Amendment backers like me as some sort of unique and horrible threat to decency.
Dreher's column starts out as a defense of Jeff Sessions' obviously anti-gay God Squad, which he starts defending by quoting sympathetic lefty milquetoasts. But when he runs out of those, he seems to realize all that's left for him is to defend it himself, which would make him look ridiculous; so he flips the table by talking about how libtards are making him, A Reasonable Conservative, vote for Trump, so there.

(For extra entertainment catch Dreher's update: "If your a liberal who can’t come up with anything more serious than, 'Christians are just mad that they can’t discriminate against blacks anymore' — seriously, this was one comment — then you shouldn’t waste your time commenting, because I’m not going to publish it." Sheesh, what a snowflake.)

Another fine example is John Kass' recent column at the Chicago Tribune, the news hook for which is Paul Manafort's trial. Kass takes Manafort's side, believe it or not ("Democrats are lathered up with the trial of this B-movie villain, this Manafort, whose alleged crimes took place long before he worked a few months for Trump"), and even quotes Mollie Hemningway, a hi-sign for Trump dead-enders. But, probably realizing (like Dreher) this tack will make him look stupid if he doesn't gussy it up somehow, Kass devotes most of his real estate to how the Media -- from which wingnut columnists always exempt themselves -- are dissing The Little People, and (everybody say it with me) This Is Why Trump Won. Kass declares himself Not A Trump Fan, of course -- "he wasn't my choice for president" -- but he kicks it up a notch by suggesting that even Trump's voters aren't Trump fans, either:
Many were shocked by Trump’s manner, by his bragging, his rude behavior, reference to his hand size, his boorishness, the way he treated women.

And still they voted for him. Why? Because they loathed the other side more. They loathed the establishment. They loathed the media. And their reservations about Trump were washed away by the laughter following Clinton’s “deplorables” line.
No wonder people seem so grumpy these days -- they all have a president that nobody wanted!

I've been trying to come up with a name for this line of guff. "Tsk-Tsk Trumpism" is one I like; @TelegramSam100 has offered "Trumpism Private Reserve (Not that yucky stuff the peasants drink)" ; @txoffender says "Trump Goggles." Any other ideas?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


"Fake Interview With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Satire, Not Hoax, Conservative Pundit Says," reports The InterceptSmart people are skeptical for reasons I can understand. The perps are basically bad faith personified, for one thing, and the reaction of the Trumpenproletariat gives the impression  — which may not be quite accurate, and I’ll get to that in a minute — that they’re swallowing it whole:
Before the satire language was added, the video spread throughout Facebook. Presidential candidate Lee Newton Rhodes shared the post, writing, “This is what the liberals democrats would rather offer the voters than me.” It was also shared -- seemingly as if it were real -- in numerous conservative and pro-Trump Facebook pages and groups, with some describing Cortez as “the new face of the Democrats” and saying the footage shows Democrats “are even stupider than I thought.” Commenters on the posts wrote that Ocasio-Cortez is a “stupid bitch,” “Dumbo the clown,” a “complete idiot”, a “dumbazz” and “dumber then (sic) dog poop,” and said she has “been lickin to (sic) many toilet seats”and that her “house play nts probably help her complete crossword puzzles.”
This portrayal by Media Matters' Alex Kaplan suggests these commenters have been hoaxed -- else why would they talk as if the debate were real?

But I don't think so. Certainly the thing from the CRTV network is not satire in any sense that Juvenal, Waugh or Swift or even Harvey Kurtzman would recognize; the fake interview, in which Allie Beth Stuckey says things like "Do you have any knowledge, whatsoever, about how our political system works?" and they cut to Ocasio-Cortez looking stupid, is a form of schoolyard humor similar to Bart making Moe in The Simpsons' "It's a Good Life" parody say "I'm a stupid moron with an ugly face and a big butt and my butt smells and I like to kiss my own butt."

That is, it's childish fun for those so inclined, and only something you'd profess to believe authentic if you were either a.) cognitively incapacitated, and thus really fooled by it; b.) an unscrupulous propagandist looking to lead such poor souls into error; or c.) in general indifferent or even slightly hostile toward the truth in certain areas of your life, like a woman who can’t deal with the fact that she’s about to lose her job or a man who’s in denial that his marriage is falling apart.

The thing is, while there may be a certain, even large number of mentally disabled people pimping this thing, and God knows plenty of con artists who might prey on their credulity, life experience tells me that most of the fake’s boosters know it’s fake and simply don’t care, and would consider your attempt to correct the record an unwarranted and unsportsmanlike attack on their good time.

Conservatives have been asked to believe nonsense for a long time -- that tax cuts for the rich trickle down and pay for themselves, that we'll be greeted as liberators, that there's no more racism, etc. These were tough lifts, but they had the help of intellectuals, or magazine writers who passed for them, to give them a line of gab that made these things sound reasonable, at least to themselves.

Recent years have not been kind to these beliefs, and Trumpism kind of blew the whole scene -- not just by being so mind-bendingly, outlandishly at variance with observable reality, but also by  presenting them with unitary Republican control of the government, thus making American politics a perfect playground for their fantasies.

Now instead of using the line of gab, they're just mouthing absurdities. Trump's budget-busting tax cuts have done nothing but damage to the economy yet they insist it's going to lift all boats. His racism is obvious and effective, yet they insist the people who point it out are the real racists. They've dropped the pretense of war as a tool of liberation, and now celebrate it as bloodsport and an electoral stratagem, and insist it's the road to peace. Etc.

It's like the entire George W. Bush administration happened in a couple of months, and no one had time to work on their second thoughts.

Outsiders look at this and think Trump's followers are bamboozled and perhaps brainwashed. But that assumes they really believe this stuff. I think their political philosophy has obliged them to pretend to believe it. When they complain about fake news, they're not saying it's not true; they're saying it's a Bad Thing they can wave away. It's only a very thin membrane of self-respect that prevents them from just saying "So what" instead.

As the title indicates, this has something to do with the Cohen revelation. The brethren seem rather rocked back on their heels about it -- even reliable propagandist Jim Hoft can only chase the headlines -- because it's extremely hard to explain away. I think some sentimental liberals may think this will get Trumpkins to see at last what a monster the guy is and start questioning their support -- like they're hypnotized and this might be the salutary shock that brings them round. But they're not hypnotized, though some of them may pretend to have been in the aftermath. Just give them time. They'll develop a spiel for this. Probably, as with the FBI investigations of Trump, the story will be that a corrupt party is trying to take down our beloved President through nefarious means -- that is, the story Trump's pushing -- and some garbled misapprehension of "fruit of the poisoned tree." Then, back to MAGA until the midterms, when the marshals break down the door.

UPDATE. Here's a good one -- Giuliani says they're actually saying "Boo-urns":
“It’s a little bit hard to hear, but I assure you that we listened to it numerous, numerous times, and the transcript makes it quite clear at the end that President Trump says, quote, ‘Don’t pay with cash,’” Giuliani told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. He also countered Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis’ calls to the CNN audience to hear the evidence for themselves. “Go online. Listen to your broadcast… The third time you play it, it’ll become clear,” Giuliani said.
This fits nicely with Trump's insistence -- absurd but accepted by the diehards -- that "I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'" in his Putin press conference last week. Looks like we're getting closer to that long-anticipated "I was never president" moment.

Thursday, April 05, 2018


Hey, Megan McArdle’s at the Washington Post! Let’s see what she’s up to now:
What caused the 1968 riots? A lack of respect.
If this headline had appeared over anyone else’s column, you might think, okay, maybe there's a new editor at the Post who's not so great at condensing the author’s point; but, this being McArdle, we may assume it’s perfectly apt (and we'd be right!), since part of her shtick is to declare that whatever misfortune is suffered by the non-rich in this country, the government has no role in alleviating it except maybe to call in the troops to shoot the looters.
Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, the scars of the riots that followed are only now fully healed in Washington. In other cities, they still aren’t. And we still don’t know exactly why they happened — or for that matter why the 1960s as a whole saw more rioting than the decades before or since.
Yeah, who knows why blacks would riot in the 1960s, particularly after Martin Luther King was murdered (not to mention, after centuries of ill-treatment at the hands of white supremacist society)? It’s a mystery!
What we can say with some confidence is that we can’t simply explain them as a function of unemployment and poverty.
That would be like saying if the ghettos that went up in flames hadn't been ghettos but were instead rich gated communities, their residents wouldn't have torched them, and that just doesn’t make sense! And if you think it does, you know what you are?
Marxism as an ideology was crushed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but as a method of analysis it still thrives.
Like many rightwing idées fixes, this is projection; McArdle, as previously mentioned here and elsewhere in this space, is averse to all solutions that require government money that should be returned to the Koch Brothers via tax breaks. That’s why she keeps insisting Marriage Makes You Rich — sure, a college degree is more strongly correlated with greater earning power, but scholarships require a wealth transfer to poor people.
What did cause the riots, then? Well, rage and despair and a lot of hard-to-quantify socio-political factors. But taking them all in total, I’d sum them all up with one word: respect. Whatever our economic conditions, we also want — we need — to command a certain minimal amount of admiration from our fellow citizens. 
The great victories of the civil rights movement changed many things. Schools were integrated; funding disparities eased. But that didn’t obliterate the racism that still followed black people around stores, eyed them suspiciously on the street, dogged them in job interviews and caused the police to stop them for “walking while black.”
Generous of McArdle to acknowledge endemic racism, but guess who else suffers from a lack of respect?
There are vast differences, of course, between the race riots of the 1960s and the 2016 election. But when we explain these events, the tendency toward economic reductionism looks very similar, as does its implausibility.
This is good place to mention that the average Trump voter is mainly middle class and makes a shit-ton more than the average black American, even today, never mind in the 1960s. But let's hear how that Trump guy, like your 60s rioter, suffers from disrespect:
Many places that voted for Trump never had many factories to lose to China or Mexico; many factory towns turned to Trump only after decades of decline. What most consistently motivates the Trump supporters I’ve met is not jobs or racism but anger at a culturally powerful elite that veers between ignoring them and disrespecting every facet of their lives.
Thus, the Trump people are sore because them fancy folks in Warshington and Hollyweird look down on them and force them to… live comfortable middle-class lives, but without the fancy folks’ respect. Kinda like a dream deferred, right?

McArdle closes:
We lean on economics because unlike “disaffection,” it’s relatively easy to quantify. And unlike “systemic racism” or “a rural/urban cultural divide,” it feels like something that government policy can address. We are the proverbial drunks looking for our keys under the lamppost, instead of where we dropped them. And somehow, we are perpetually surprised that we never find what we’re looking for.
Actually if we seem drunk, it’s because we’ve been stunned by a 2x4. And as to those allegedly ineffectual economic remedies, we have barely made an effort, as the man whose death 50 years ago spurred so much anger and despair knew and wished to correct.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Much has been made today of Megan McArdle’s promotion to the Washington Post. (I thought the Times was more likely to take her, but one “Liberal Media” outfit is just as good as another.) There have been some good new considerations of her nightmarish career, and renewed interest in old ones.

These get the broad outlines well enough — her libertarian lack of concern for people unlike herself (recently epitomized by her amazing column on the Grenfell Tower tragedy), her impressive imperviousness to alternate points of view — the elements, that is, that made her rise inevitable.  But these miss some of the shadings, the characteristics that make characters, as Forster had it, round rather than flat. That job needs more time to do properly than I have at present, but I can perhaps put a blush on the marble.

For one thing, McArdle likes to play the serious centrist, which position somehow always turns out to be right wing; for example, she has portrayed herself in the climate-change debate as a “lukewarmist,” that is, someone who believes climate science is “guesswork” and is darn sick of those slovenly radicals who practice it calling her a “denialist.” Being serious-centrist, she can admit, okay, there’s  “a small chance of climate catastrophe” — comparable to that of the earth being destroyed by an asteroid — and as a way of addressing it bids her followers read a nine-part essay by a guy who writes for Watts Up With That. There, now -- isn't that even-handed?

When climate scientists laughed her off for this, she declared them adherents to the “hypothesis” that “name calling will advance the cause,” rather than experts who found her self-satisfied ignorance ridiculous. (She really hates to be laughed at, which, given how frequently she has proven dunkworthy, may constitute the only genuine hardship she has ever experienced.)

McArdle is a great advocate of the Marriage Makes You Rich philosophy, which she has claimed liberals wouldn’t admit because they're jealous of the happily married. She has also said that people should get married as soon in life as possible — notwithstanding that McArdle married in her late 30s. No, she didn’t think she made a mistake -- come on, now! -- but —
Obviously, you can choose not to settle. I did. But I’ll be honest: that decision is a lot scarier at 33 than it would have been a decade earlier.
— there are rules for peons, and there are rules for McArdle.

Generally, on the subject of the poor and money, she is given to statements like, “it's all too common for well-meaning middle class people to think that if the poor just had the same stuff we do, they wouldn't be poor any more…” (Put it this way: were you to tell her the famous Hemingway-Fitzgerald story about the rich being very different from you and me, she wouldn’t get the joke.)

McArdle has supported this what's-money-got-to-do-with-poverty POV by telling readers about a girl she knew who, even though she “grew up in a middle class home which would happily have paid for college,” wound up “on the Section 8 waiting list,” which seemed to prove to her that helping is futile — “more money… would solve the sort of problems that stem from a simple lack of money. But it would not turn [the poor] into different people.” That's what the poor need -- not money, but personal transformation, like you get from a yoga weekend. If you disagreed with her and still wanted to shunt more of America’s resources to these waste-cases, well, you were just “imagining away their humanity, and replacing it with an automaton,” which is just like a liberal.

More than she likes anything — except, perhaps, her kitchen accessories, and power — McArdle hates liberals, particularly the unreasonable hippies who told her she was wrong about the Iraq War and were so smug about it and made her so mad that she quit the internet for a brief while.  Thus, in almost every argument she makes, you can see her trying to Own the Libs, as the kids say; even when it comes to rainbow-flavored positions that young and groovy conservatives are allowed to have, like gay marriage not being the end of the world, McArdle is compelled to portray them as a comeuppance to liberals: now that homosexuals were getting hitched, she said, “the forces of bourgeois repression have won”:
That's right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they'll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats. 
That’ll show you liberal-tines! Then she went back into her Marriage Makes You Rich routine (“the disastrous collapse of marriage outside the elite”) and again pushed early marriage, graciously adding “I married at 37 myself, so I'm not judging, here. But if we want childbearing to take place inside marriage” blah blah blah.

Speaking of childbearing, which she has also not personally performed, she was annoyed that Democrats wanted to include contraceptive coverage in Obamacare, and explained her feeling thus: “according to the reasoning… I am being denied something every time my employer refuses to buy it for me: cars, homes, Hummel collectible figurines.” Things McArdle doesn’t need are by definition luxuries.

On race, she is capable of writing something like this
I really don't want this post to come out as "See--black people don't understand how hard white people have it!" Rather, I'm continuing what I tried to say in this post: that both communities, because they have a less than perfect understanding of the others' experience, are more suspicious of each other than they need to be.
And if you’re gasfaced over that, let us step back a few grafs:
I think it's safe to assume that minorities and women know more about life in the dominant group than the reverse--if for no other reason than the ways that media centers around their experience. But that can be tricky. Have you ever noticed how Europeans think they know way more about life in America than they actually do, because they watch our television and movies?
You’ve seen all the Vince Vaughn movies, my black friend, but you’ve never been to me!

But soft, the glow-worm shows the matin to be near; this should give you noobs some idea of what to expect. Look out below!

Thursday, July 27, 2017


When an article at The Federalist has a hed like this...
How Embedding Women With Contraception May Keep Them In Poverty know it's gonna be a lulu, and this one sure is. For stretches it's semi-sane and only expectedly disingenuous; author Elizabeth Bauer objects to giving poverty-prone women price breaks on long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) for reasons you might imagine -- and no, her reasons don't include the grim historical resonance of offering even temporary sterilization to black women; Bauer seems not to feel that at all. (Couldn't she have stuck in something about how Margaret Sanger was a eugencist? That used to be de rigueur. Maybe Federalist editors have decided, times being what they are, their audience doesn’t need them to pretend to care what happens to black people.)

Instead Bauer argues that LARCs might discourage them from using condoms, leaving them prey to STDs, and that there's no data supporting the judgment that not getting pregnant gives young women a better chance to thrive. Then things get weird: she suggests girls will be "pressured to use LARCs," perhaps by the all-powerful state; she claims somebody "dreams that every woman is automatically LARC’d until she is ready to plan her first pregnancy" but she never says who. Also, these women's "relationships with men" will be altered if they are perceived as “sexually available." I have not hung on street corners for a long time, but when I did I don't recall my fellow dogs trading tips on where to find chicks with IUDs, maybe with a magnet. Plus there's the traditional disgust with recreational sex -- by offering them long-term contraception, says Bauer, we're just telling these ladies "that being sexually active is a perfectly normal part of adolescence and young adulthood, something to explore and enjoy with no limits except ensuring all parties have obtained consent from the other(s)," etc.

It takes a while for Bauer to tell us how LARCs "May Keep Them In Poverty" -- but it's worth waiting for:
But there is another possibility, and that’s that LARC usage “short-circuits” the success sequence.
For pill or condom users, or for the non-sexually active in environments where the norm of one’s peers is sex, “not getting pregnant” requires self-discipline in one form or another, and this, repeated consistently, is self-reinforcing. Alternately, poor girls who make it through their teen and young adult years without pregnancy may succeed not due to their childlessness but because of the same personal characteristics that enabled them to avoid pregnancy. Consenting to having an implant or IUD is not the same. It may be that “lack of pregnancy” may mean little in isolation.
Translation: If you make not getting pregnant too easy for them, they lose valuable pussy-defending skills that would serve them well in today's competitive job market. Maybe they can put it on their resumes! It's bound to make a difference when they tell that interviewer, "No, no children -- and I did it the hard way!" with a big wink.

I invite readers to read and explain Bauer’s closing paragraphs, which I found almost indecipherable, but which seem to say that it's cruel to give poor women the idea that taking steps to avoid poverty (besides marriage, which makes you rich!) will help them get "middle-class" jobs, because --
Are there enough jobs at “middle class” pay rates? Who performs the low-paying jobs that for now still exist, and cannot all universally be taken by teens working part-time, or retirees, or by these young people, working at low wages only temporarily until they move on, or others who don’t “need” a support-a-family wage?
-- society has already decided who gets those good jobs, and it's not poor black women.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Old-fashioned straight-up racism is a tougher sell in the age of Black Lives Matter than it used to be, so racists (and the people hired to get votes from them) must modernize. Some conservatives (including the allegedly reformed Andrew Sullivan) remain quite comfortable saying or at least dogwhistling that black people are treated unequally in this society because they're Bell Curve inferiors. But even they must qualify it: Look, we're not racist because we admit Asians are smarter than us! Look, we're only defending Charles Murray's right to free speech!

There's always the "Liberals are The Real Racist" dodge. But that's usually an unsatisfying balm conservatives apply after they've been laughed off the stage. However, maybe they'll get more pro-active with it -- David Brooks is working in his sociological meth lab to strip the "white" out of "white privilege" and put "liberal" in instead.

How's he doing it? By taking out the actual political and philosophical parts of liberalism, and leaving only the stereotype of sissies who like fancy books, food, and leisure activities, think they're better than you, and have found a way to be rich without quite being capitalists (sneaky buggers!).

Brooks' column, generously titled "How We Are Ruining America" (it's the last acknowledgement of his own possible complicity, though), starts with a long wheeze about how "upper-middle-class" people are soaking up all the good things -- education for their kids, "behavior codes" (presumably like marriage, which makes you rich!), maternity leave, etc. While a socialist, or a Christian or a decent human being, might think, okay, then let's use government to give less upper-middle people better access to such things, Brooks explains that what's really causing these inequalities are "the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent."

This isn't about the black guy who can't get a cab -- why, the fact that he's presuming to hail one shows he's in the upper 20 percent, and thus just as much an oppressor as the whites. The real oppressors are the ones who can pronounce simple Italian words, or who don't freak out when they can't (a sure sign of effeteness):
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree...
BULLSHIT BUZZER ALERT! Maybe she's his nanny. lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named "Padrino" and "Pomodoro" and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
What sort of person is class-shamed by an Italian deli? Mmmmaybe the "friend" was Mexican; maybe she'd just come up from Gopher Holler, where they have a Chipotle but not a salumeria. Here's how Brooks explains it:
American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”
Those fucking Italians! Always trying to make you feel small because you don't know which gabagool to use for the fish course!

Even worse:
In her thorough book “The Sum of Small Things,” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues that the educated class establishes class barriers not through material consumption and wealth display but by establishing practices that can be accessed only by those who possess rarefied information.
That "rareified information" being the code to the security systems at their McMansions.
To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.
I know what all this shit is; I must be rich. Rich and rareified! Yet I'm wearing a cardboard belt. Why don't I just leave this stupid job I'm stealing time from to write this, and live on information?
The educated class has built an ever more intricate net to cradle us in and ease everyone else out. It’s not really the prices that ensure 80 percent of your co-shoppers at Whole Foods are, comfortingly, also college grads; it’s the cultural codes.
I showed the cashiers that I know how to pronounce quinoa, but they still called security when I left without paying.
Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.
If you're still wondering why Brooks downplays the role of money as well as the role of race here, I'll spell it out: His target is not people of color, who don't need David Brooks to tell them what time it is, but 1.) the Trump voters out in the heartland who might resent that they can't afford a block of Pilates classes (but let's face it, they don't read David Brooks nor even know who he is, and would take him for one o' them liberal sissies if they ever saw him); and, more likely, 2.) rightwing operatives who have been peddling arugula-Grey Poupon visions of liberalism forever, and hope that the recent uptick in class consciousness can be exploited against liberals rather than against their coprorate masters -- perhaps with "I am the 80%" t-shirts, and symbolic anti-elitist state-lege bills taxing reiki or requiring yoga studios sell cigarettes, and rhymes like "If you're lib, I like the cut of your gib, if you're centrist, you get a good dentist, but if you're Right, brother, good night, good night."

As America goes further down the crapper, a lot of people are going to get mad at the rich, and the donors might find it worth their while to fund propaganda that says "Don't guillotine you, don't guillotine me, guillotine that liberal hugging that tree." Maybe they'll outfit their Porsches to roll coal so the rabble know they're alright. Since saner policies are out of the question, it's worth a try.

UPDATE. Holy shit, every wingnut in wingnuttia rushed to defend Brooks' imbecilic column. Here's the crest of Megan McArdle's tweetstream:

I mean, all those liberals have to have the same exalted social status as she, haven't they? Otherwise why would Twitter allow them to talk to her? And she knows lots of genuine working class people, like that lady who said such nice things to her on the bus -- although, hmm, that lady was black, so maybe she was on welfare.

Chris Arnade comes in with his usual bullshit -- "I would add, where David Brooks uses upscale delis, I use McDonald's to show the difference in cultural capital between front-row & back-row" -- just in case Brooks is thinking of jumping line, Chris Arnade has McDonald's, bitch (and possibly a licensing deal -- "ba ba ba ba ba, white working class!"). On and on he goes about how oh, you liberals all sneer at McDonald's! Like we're all 23, have trust funds, and dine at Le Diplomate every night -- or that the amount of crap food one has eaten (and I've eaten plenty in my time) is the measure of one's authentic something-or-otherness, instead of a marker for pre-diabetes.

This may be Arnade's nadir: "The online reaction to David Brooks column is largely this -- Snark from people who have cultural capital but not economic."  As if we could ruin people's hopes and dreams by making snide remarks from our studio apartments and crappy jobs! Again, we see the insistence that money has nothing to do with it, and therefore money can't help. It's a great excuse for not supporting government interventions -- because the real power is in positive thinking, and if we just reward that and punish "snark," then by the law of supply and demand we'll Make America Great Again.

This brings us back around to Murray who, looking to diversify from his Bell Curve shtick a few years back, promoted that Fishtown/Belmont "bubble test" hooey, purporting to show that if you didn't watch the right TV shows and listen to modern crap country music (not that rap stuff, though -- only you-know-whats listen to that), you were an elitist and therefore had nothing to say to the Little People. This led to the spectacle of pencil-necked wingnuts imagining themselves butch because they knew the names of some pickup trucks. And now we have the logical end result of this ridiculous obsession, Donald Trump -- on the one hand, the People's Choice, whom no one would call elitist; on the other hand, a golden-palace-dwelling narcissist, the ultimate Bubble Boy. It is amazing what lengths we'll go to as a country to evade paying the butcher's bill -- but I have a hunch the butcher will get real insistent real soon.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Megan McArdle has seen the future and it's Mormons! She has returned from Salt Lake City to tell us that religious and racial homogeneity makes everything better. As does marriage, of course!

Utah is sparsely populated and its government is tightly intertwined with the LDS Church, which (as Chris Lehmann points out on his excellent McArdle reponse at The Baffler) is rich as fuck -- imagine Vatican City as a U.S. state. The Utah government spends big money on getting businesses to relocate to Utah, but, unlike in other theo-Republican states, a lot of money also gets spent on -- record scratch! -- social services, much of it directly by the Church rather than the government, via projects like "Welfare Square," through which Church elders give their pauper charges food that will "sustain human life, not lifestyle" so they don't get too comfortable.

How much is Church and how much is State? McArdle's kind of hazy on that:
Once I got there, I found that it’s hard to even get a complete picture of how Utah combats poverty, because so much of the work is done by the Mormon Church, which does not compile neat stacks of government figures for the perusal of eager reporters.
That's one of the benefits of small-government, big-religion -- no tedious supporting documents! Of course you could, if you were interested, find some government paperwork like the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission 2016 report which would tell you that "the federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary funding source for Utah’s child care system." It also contains nuggets like "It is worth noting that participation in [SNAP, child care subsidies, Medicaid, CHIP, et alia] does not necessarily reveal dependence on public assistance." Big Government on the downlow!

But McArdle doesn't want to get into "sanitary, clinical terms" like economists use to describe this paradise because "these are easier to quantify than a dream, but also less satisfying." And she has found a Dream -- the best kind: The American!-- in Utah. Salt Lake City has more upward mobility than Charlotte, North Carolina -- there a person has a nearly 11% "likelihood of moving from the poorest quintile to the richest" as opposed to 4%. Why, that's almost like getting three lottery tickets for the price of one! And since the Church is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, she doesn't have to give Big Government any props.

But if you know McArdle, you know she can't quite come out and say the solution is to have everyone join this religion -- that would be blasphemous to Mammon. But she does suggest some ways we can replicate Utah's results. Naturally there's a lot of her customary marriage-makes-you-rich guff. And there's an element that's even creepier. McArdle finds the poverty discussions she has with the Utahns don't include any mention of race -- "No proposal was immediately decried as racist. Truly surreal to a Washingtonian and a recovering New Yorker," ha ha, amirite -- and intuits it's because Utah has very few black people, mainly because the Church spent years trying to keep them out.

She could have just moved on from there, but it's like she can't help herself:
This near-absence of racial diversity means that racism is largely left out of Utah’s conversations about economic inequality. That leads to some conversations around inequality that would be unbearably fraught elsewhere. When the poor people are, by and large, the same race as the richer ones, people find it easier to talk about them the way they might talk about, well, family members — as folks who may have made some mistakes and started with some disadvantages, but also as folks who could be self-sufficient after a little help from an uncle or a sister. It’s a very different conversation from “victim”/“oppressor” and “us”/“them”: a conversation that recognizes that poor people often make choices that keep them in poverty, but also that the constraints of poverty, including the social environment of poor neighborhoods, make it very difficult to make another choice.
If only we didn't have to deal with this "victim"/"oppressor" stuff! Then we could really talk, as if these people were members of our family (except, ha ha, come on).

Inevitably we get the Putnam Maneuver, the polite conservative's way of saying stick to your own kind:
It’s not clear that we can have those same sorts of conversations in the places that are still struggling more openly and frequently with the legacy of slavery, or the inevitable clashes that come from throwing a lot of different cultures together in a small space. The many benefits of diversity have been so frequently and thoroughly extolled that I need not rehearse the refrain here.
I mean, diversity blah blah blah, after a while you almost forget you're white.
But there has been a growing disquiet in recent years with diversity’s costs. About 10 years ago, public policy professor Robert Putnam began quietly pointing out that along with enhancing positive qualities like creativity, diversity also created conflict and reduced the level of social trust.

“In more diverse settings,” suggests Putnam, “Americans distrust not merely people who do not look like them, but even people who do.”

Utah’s willingness to help, and its ability to help, may arise from its homogeneity — a trait that won’t be exported to the diverse nation at large.
But that's okay -- soon gentrification will chase all the black people out of Petworth, and then D.C. can finally have better social services!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


The Federalist is going in heavy for I-don't-need-feminims stories today. For starters there's this amazing headline:

Nicole Russell tells us:
Over the past few decades, more women than men are going to college and getting higher degrees. Then they’re purchasing homes and putting off marriage and babies. Guess what: They’re miserable. (As Donald Trump would say, “Sad!”)
How does she know they're miserable?
In an interview with Maclean’s Camilla Paglia confirmed this...
Good enough for me! Now that we have statistical confirmation, why are these independent women miserable?
Problem is, the kind of men feminist padawans tend to attract are -- how do I say this politely? -- not really men. Studies even show contraception users are attracted to more passive, feminine men.
Whereas real burly men will gitcha pregnint -- and then probably not marry you, but that's for the "Marriage Makes You Rich" scold-story, not this one.

Then Russell tells us about these two ladies she knows: One married "a softer, but more romantic man who would do whatever she wanted at the drop of a hat." The other married "a more direct, straightforward man, however demanding and borderline-misogynist he was... guess which one is happier?" Surprise, it's the misogynist's wife! At least she says she's happy, but what's with all those notes she keeps trying to pass me when her husband's not looking?

That's basically it, theme-wise, but there are many mangoes along the way, e.g.:
Many men who encounter a true feminist basically cower, act indifferent, shrug, butter up, charm, demean, ignore, or attempt to flirt.
I feel this should be in a poster like the Heimlich Maneuver. "That man is saying 'you come here often?' and shrugging -- must be a feminist in here somewhere!"
Deep down in the confines of her soul where she hasn’t even bothered to look, much less understand, a woman wants a man who exudes masculinity, who remains a steady rock in her current-filled stream of emotions and hormones. Instead of a man who says he’ll eat at the restaurant of her choice for the fifteenth time that month, she wants a man who cooks a meal she’s never tried before.
"Here, bitch, I used milk with the cheese powder instead of water. Now suck my cock." Swoon!

Elsewhere at The Federalist, Joy Pullman tells us how the secret of "mind-blowing sex" is marriage -- and a thousand Rodney Dangerfield jokes pummeled her back into the sea where she belongs. Kidding. Pullman warms us up by informing us that "a higher number of sex partners correlates with psychological and health problems" and if that doesn't make you want to drop the walk of shame for the walk down the aisle, she also has studies that show "two in five will orgasm during a hookup, but four in five will with a committed lover" -- but if you're thinking of just living together with your committed lover to redeem those orgasms, Pullman will have you know that "cohabitation reduces sex frequency and increases relationship conflict" -- whereas if your lover is "committed" by marriage, he can't run away!

If you're happy for Pullman but want to stay single anyway, be warned that she wants to share this gift with everyone, preferably before they get too educated to know better: society, she says, must "rethink the life script that requires young people to wait a decade or two between puberty and marriage." Old enough to bleed, old enough to butcher -- I mean, to have mind-blowing sex!

Rule of three demands we consider D.C. McAllister's "Why Girls Still Play Dumb To Get Guys," and it turns out that, duh, the mens like it:
While they want equal partners, there is a natural disposition in men to want to be dominant, to be the strong leader, and to be the protector. I’ll go ahead and use the antiquated term: most men, deep down, appreciate a woman who is submissive. They don’t want to be constantly challenged. They value deference.
At last! I thought. Someone at The Federalist was coming out for consensual roleplay! But for McAllister, it's not a kink, nor even a lifestyle, but just the way things ought to be -- for everyone. Today's men "don’t stand up for a woman when she leaves the table, open a car door, or show her the respect she deserves" because "our feminized culture has told him he shouldn’t." In fact, those feminims are just a buncha bull-dykes trying to spoil your submission:
These are the feminists who think a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. She doesn’t need him. If anything, she should dominate him....
Likewise, ladies, you don’t need to be a dominant bullish Amazon woman to prove your worth, either. If a man likes that, then so be it. I wish him well in finding his man parts at some point in his life.
Man, these red-pill chicks have very specific ideas of gender roles. And that's cool! America's a big, beautiful rainbow flag of sexual choice. But I have a nagging feeling that they wouldn't agree it's a choice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Some other folks wandered out of the National Review freak show tent looking spooked, so I wandered in and got a load of Kevin D. Williamson's latest outrage. It is indeed a corker. His thesis is that the declining state of working-class whites in America (which seems to spur them to support Donald Trump) has nothing really to do with economic circumstances such as job flight -- the figures may say it's massive but look, here's a factory town that died many years ago, so there! -- and their troubles are their own damn fault and they should open a map, look up Opportunity, and go find some:
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.
Most of the discussion I've seen around this marvels that Williamson dares to spit on "the base" -- those normally reliable masses of Republican voters who need only the merest sign that the leadership shares their concerns, prejudices, and objects of worship to be kept aboard. Why was he abandoning such a successful shtick? You just show some concern for their increasingly tenuous employment prospects, and (while continuing tax policies that encourage offshoring) promise to kick out Mexicans and to immiserate the other, darker poor so these good sons of the sod will never be mistaken for them, and they follow you like baby ducklings. It worked for decades! And you didn't even have to give a shit.

But in truth, conservatives have been losing that knack for a long time. I notice the one traditional conservative instrument Williamson employs in his essay is Marriage & Morality Nagging. We're rich because we no longer worry about meat shortages, says Williamson, but "the family-life numbers, on the other hand, came down on us like a meteor... divorce in 1960 was so rare as to carry a hint of scandalous glamour... add to that the violence of abortion, which fundamentally alters the relationship between men, women, and children," etc.

So Williamson does blame heathenism -- but he shows no sympathy for the poor crackers he says suffer from it. It sort of makes sense -- after all, backwoods preachers (on whose act modern scolds base their own) didn't show sympathy for adulterers, they called down wrath and invited shame.

Other conservative thinkers who specialize in M&MN may be gentler that Williamson, but they're not so much sympathetic as clinical. Charles Murray, in his Fishtown/Belmont mode as poor-white diagnostician, wants the enlightened richie class to "drop its condescending 'nonjudgmentalism'" and "start preaching what it practices" -- that is, telling white wastrels to get married and do other things richies do, presumably ballet lessons for the kids, golf for the men and service on charity boards for the ladies, which the poors will afford by floating a loan.

And there's Williamson's colleage, David French. When word got around about the elevated suicide and drug abuse rate among working class white people last year, French shook his moralizing fist. His target then was liberals; thanks to their "celebrating hedonism" with love-ins and pot parties, "the sexual revolution is gutting the working class," he cried, and not only that, these "cultural aristocrats" look down on their victims, the poor whites, because "mocking poor whites is among the last acceptable forms of bigotry."

But then came Trump and now look at French: He has a post called "Working-Class Whites Have Moral Responsibilities -- In Defense of Kevin Williamson." No longer does he rage at hippies for sexing up the honky proles -- though he sticks in a brief mumble over "the role of progressive culture and progressive policies in cultural decline," perhaps by reflex. Mostly he rages, or rather sighs dismissively, at the proles themselves:
For generations, conservatives have rightly railed against deterministic progressive notions that put human choices at the mercy of race, class, history, or economics. Those factors can create additional challenges, but they do not relieve any human being of the moral obligation to do their best. 
Yet millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying.
As proof, he tells us how his church tried to help a bunch of these meth-addled hillbillies and it didn't work -- so obviously it wasn't the church's approach that was the problem, it was the trailer trash's "sense of entitlement": was consistently astounding how little effort most parents and their teen children made to improve their lives. If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school. If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor.
In short, it's everything they've been laying on their traditional enemies -- the hippies, the blacks -- except now they're turning on their traditional friends. I'm not quite sure why. Maybe grifts don't always die when the sucker catches on -- or even, as the Trump phenomenon suggests, when the sucker moves on to a splashier grift. Maybe grifts also die when the confidence man loses his confidence.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Am I the only one left who loves Hank Thompson? He's ridiculous,
and this song is just absurd, but it fills me with delight -- especially 
"None of the animals had a clock/But everybody knew it was time to rock."

•    Byron York -- one is tempted to call him "poor Byron York" in this instance, but fuck him -- does his best with the exploding cigar that was the  Benghazi hearing, but his best is a passive-aggressive sulk that will convince nobody except other conservative Pity Partiers. First, in order to avoid being laughed out of all cognizance, York has to acknowledge up front that things worked out better for Clinton than for the Republicans. Then he starts making excuses: "The Benghazi Committee has made incremental advances in the public's knowledge of the circumstances of the death of four Americans in Libya on September 11, 2012," he claims. "But incremental advances — nuggets of information — don't make for dramatic hearings." Of course I, like any other subscriber to wingnut publications, have been getting BENGHAZI BOMBSHELL emails for years -- e.g., from high-end vendors like from Sharyl Attkinsson at the Daily Signal ("Benghazi Bombshell: Clinton State Department Official Reveals Details of Alleged Document Review") to "BENGHAZI BOMBSHELL COMING OUT ANY DAY: THERE IS BOUND TO BE A TREASON CHARGE!" -- so there was always drama aplenty if you consider Clinton to be Snidely Whiplash.  Similarly, York admits that the committee members' "near-obsession" with Sidney Blumenthal was a little weird, but then rushes to remind us that Blumenthal is pure evil -- indeed, "a master of misdirection" who is "probably happy to be the villain of the day, to the extent that it ensures Hillary Clinton will not be the villain of the day." See, he set it all up himself to make Republicans look bad -- O why won't anyone believe us! York finally says "the committee did find some good nuggets..." Again with the nuggets! This is exactly how you would expect someone who considers the hearings a serious inquiry into the death of four Americans to portray it. Well, on to Congressional hearings over the harsh treatment of Marine Todd.

•    Bonus Benghazi: Clinton sent out a fundraising letter based on the hearings, and at National Review Jim Geraghty sniffs this is "in poor taste." Where to begin...

•    It's at National Review and it's by Mona Charen, which is two strikes right off the bat, but I thought you might enjoy the first graf:
"It’s about what these women will let guys get away with.” You may not expect to hear commentary like that at your garden variety think tank panel discussion, but it got pretty lively at the American Enterprise Institute discussion on the topic “Do Healthy Families Affect the Wealth of States?”
Hot stuff indeed! But wait for the punchline:
Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View is author of the above comment.
Siddown! The rest is the usual Marriage-Makes-You-Rich gibberish, with only a few Charen pratfalls  to brighten it up. e.g.:
Life ain’t fair, and cannot be made perfectly fair. But it almost seems a conspiracy of silence among the college educated to keep from the working class the key secret to their success.
Rich Liberal 1: Isn't being married just the best?
Rich Liberal 2: I know! Look at this Tesla I bought with my marriage coupons!
Rich Liberal 1: They weren't going to let us refinance our mansion but I just slapped that marriage certificate down on his desk and dude was like why didn't you say so?
Bum (sidling up): Hi guys whatcha talking about.
Rich Liberal 1: Umm, Hillary Clinton.
Rich Liberal 2: Yeah we like her.
Rich Liberal 1: Def not about being married which sucks.
Rich Liberal 2: Yeah don't even man.

•    Speaking of Congressional hearings, yeah, this'll work great.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The latest surge of Poors-Must-Learn-Morals-from-Their-Betters gush, inspired by the new Robert Putnam book but rooted in traditional Marriage Makes You Rich boilerplate, is best known by its David Brooks effusion, covered here. Since then we've had Ross Douthat and all manner of idiots shaking the scold-stick on this subject. But leave it to Megan McArdle to accelerate the stupid like a Hadron Collider:
There is one place this change might come from: Hollywood. Entertainment is a surprisingly powerful venue for articulating social norms, and if Hollywood decided that it had a social responsibility to promote stable families and changed its story lines accordingly, that might actually do some good. 
Yes, the Artist Formerly Known as Jane Galt wants private enterprise to pitch in with some free propaganda.
I'm not talking about sticking a few propaganda story lines into Very Special Episodes of some sitcom, which wouldn't do a darn thing. Rather, I'm saying that if Hollywood actually believed that married two-parent families were overwhelmingly optimal, that would naturally shape what they wrote, in a way that would in turn probably shape what Americans believe, and do.
Hang on -- this suggests that Hollywood product currently militates against marriage. Is that so? I must have missed the successful sitcoms "How I Met Your Baby-Momma" and "My Three Sons (from Separate Mothers)." And looking at last year's top-grossing films, I'm having a hard time figuring how they could have shoehorned marriage into movies about wizards and superheroes; maybe they could have had Katniss from the Hunger Games movies falter until a priest rushes in to marry her to some guy, like Popeye deriving strength from spinach.

Of course, McArdle's offer isn't serious --
But this is an inherently socially conservative message, and Hollywood is about the furthest thing you can name from socially conservative -- our entertainment industry tends to send socially conservative messages only accidentally, as it did with "16 and Pregnant." And there is nearly as much social distance between David Brooks and your average Hollywood show runner as there is between David Brooks and the kids whose lives he wants to change.
-- it's just more ressentiment for the regular crowd, who sometimes need help believing that social-net-shredding policies have less to do with the parlous state of the poor than evil Hollyweird cokewhores.

UPDATE. Hang on, asks Meanie-meanie, tickle a person in comments: "Hollywood who? Or is that a surname? Joe Hollywood from Detroit? Or maybe Frank Hollywood from Miami?" Tsk, Meanie -- it's a metonym for the cultural apparat -- you know, what such people used to call "Jews." Or maybe McArdle doesn't know this, and imagines herself handing out Operation Hitching Post slide decks to a bunch of guys who look like Robert Loggia, wear their shirts unbuttoned to the plexus, chomp fancy cigars, and produce all the movies.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

MARIO CUOMO, 1932-2015.

You probably know, and there are lots of good writers talking now, about the career of Mario Cuomo -- about his early days as a ballplayer, "Hamlet on the Hudson," his Notre Dame address on abortion, and that barn-burning speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention that made him a national figure. A few things may be overlooked. Here, for example, is a nice story from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning about Cuomo standing up for some Corona residents who were resisting eviction by real estate developers, and how that living-room campaign became his entree, thanks to the notice of Jimmy Breslin and John Lindsay, into politics. You might say he started out as a community organizer.

What I remember most clearly about Cuomo from my own years in New York is his first debate against Lew Lehrman in 1982. Lehrman at the time ran the Rite-Aid chain that's still all over New York. He was a rich, sleek avatar of the then-ascendant Reaganite movement whom the Christian Science Monitor described thus:
In [campaign] ads, as well as in person, Lehrman comes across as an affable, straightforward, well-meaning individual who wants to use his wide experience as a businessman for the public good... 
Lehrman esposes economic policies similiar to the proposals Ronald Reagan put forth in his 1980 presidential campaign... 
But as much as Cuomo tries to link Lehrman with Reaganomics, analysts point to a concern by many New York State voters that some of the state's economic woes -- including some of the highest taxes in the nation -- can be directly traced to overspending by state Democrats over the last two years of the administration of Gov. Hugh Carey and his lieutenant governor, Mario Cuomo...
He was also hot for bringing back the death penalty. Yeah, I know, he sounds like a nightmare, but you have to remember this kind of thing went over big with the yuppies and Reagan Democrats back then, and the race was close. When it came time to debate -- well, let Murray Rothbard, of all people, tell it:
Mario Cuomo, in contrast, proved to be a delightful candidate, a quintessential New Yorker: warm, fast, bright, and very funny. Even the fanatically pro-Lehrman New York Post admitted that Cuomo crushed Lehrman in their first and major TV debate -- a victory so blatant that the Cuomo forces actually worried about a sympathy backlash for Lehrman. In contrast, Lehrman came across as cold, serioso, monomaniacal.
Rothbard recalls some of the zingers Cuomo pulled on Lehrman -- including taking note of the fancy watch the Republican was wearing. I recall Lehrman was also wearing red suspenders that night, presumably to telegraph to the folks that he was a Wall Street honcho-type who would free-market them unto glory. At one point, Rothbard reports, "when Lehrman argued that businesses are fleeing New York because of its taxes and regulations, Cuomo riposted: 'Rite-Aid [Lehrman's drug chain] came to New York, and did very well, Lew.'" I remember this got big applause, and thereafter Lehrman spent a lot of time with his hands on his hips, perhaps to push back his jacket and show off those red suspenders, or to dissipate the considerable heat Cuomo put on him.

Cuomo managed to squeak into office then, and continued to stand up for the old-fashioned lunch-bucket Democratic values that pretty much everyone else in his Party was abandoning for third-way, neoliberal bullshit. He wasn't perfect, but he was one of a very few prominent, powerful liberals in the 80s and 90s who hung tough and held the line against the rapid sell-out of the poor and middle-class to the rich. Look at Jacob Weisberg marveling in 1994, "Nor has Cuomo gotten into the spirit of deregulation... Nor has he tried to get rid of rent control..." Weisberg meant these as criticisms, but after decades of asset-stripping by armies of Lehrmans, I see them as badges of honor. Oh, here's more Weisberg '94:
Cuomo has also often indulged, as in a speech he gave at Harvard in 1992, in old-fashioned liberal cant. Talking about the culture of dependency, he said, was blaming the victim. Welfare, he insisted, was a small part of the federal budget. Reform, he said, was “not the solution.” He has excused the rise in single-parent families by calling it “nothing new.” This is truly inexcusable. 
Cuomo's POV was certainly passing out of favor, and Weisberg's into it; very shortly thereafter, Clinton and Gingrich would make pauper-punching a bi-partisan sport, and their heirs are still trying to make poor people's lives more miserable and peddling marriage-makes-you-rich hokum. I'd say Cuomo will be missed, but I think we've been missing him a long time already.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Some online conservatives, who haven't had proper media training,  express their feelings thus:

The better-trained ones mostly settle on the notion that the simple-minded black folk of Ferguson would not be angry but for the Liberal Media, who have riled them to violence so they can Smash the State. Radio shouter Mark Levin:
Ferguson burns and violence has been unleashed thanks to the reckless liberal media, the lawless administration (especially Eric Holder) exploiting the shooting to smear police departments across the nation, phony civil rights demagogues, race-baiting politicians, and radical hate groups.
Missing from this list is "a white cop getting away with killing an unarmed black kid." To Levin, of course Brown got what was coming -- fired upon, he raced away from and then back toward the source of the gunfire, which makes perfect sense. Levin demands that we now  turn our attention to the real victims:
What we are witnessing now is the left's war on the civil society. It's time to speak out in defense of law enforcement and others trying to protect the community and uphold the rule law.
Well, so much for that GOP Libertarian Moment, huh? I expect a lot of conservatives who made meek objections to "militarized police" last summer will now return to their previous tut-tutting over obstreperous people of color.'s Ben Shapiro also condemns "the media’s attempted racial assassination of Officer Darren Wilson." But even though Wilson got off, Shapiro remains so terrified of black people that he perceives President Obama's after-verdict speech, universally acknowledged as milquetoast, as having "fueled the flames for future racial conflagrations... Obama doesn't want to prevent crime," etc. And the column is topped by the most ooga-booga picture of Obama could find. I expect if Obama sneezed Shapiro would consider it biological warfare against Caucasians.

It's almost worse when they make a feeble pretense of caring. "I am trying to see this through the eyes of those I disagree with," claims Jonah Goldberg, by which he means allowing as how it's too bad Michael Brown's family lost their boy before starting this rhetorical pee-dance:
Beyond that, I think critics who see Robert McCulloch as too pro-police have a point. Or at least I can see where they are coming from. His statement tonight was very powerful and very persuasive, but not what you would expect from a prosecutor in other circumstances. If McCulloch wanted an indictment, I think he could have gotten one (prosecutors and ham sandwiches and all that). Whether he should have gotten one is open to debate. I certainly think you could make the case that the country would be better off in the long run if there was an open and transparent public trial. On the other hand, we don’t have trials of innocent men simply for appearances’ sake. Having a trial just for show is too close to a show trial as far as I’m concerned.
That's it. Goldberg's prose reminds me of how, when you toss a coin on a hard surface, it rattles side-to-side with increasing speed before coming to a dead stop. (Later Goldberg makes fun of a guy who felt sorry for the kids who mugged him. Must've been a relief for him to drop the brief pretense of empathy.)

I should also mention National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy, who thinks Republican Administrations can torture suspects if they like and who insists that you can impeach Obama for spitting on the sidewalk, suddenly arguing for prosecutorial restraint now that it appears a rare instance of it got Wilson off.

But really, it's no better or worse than what they usually come up with when a white guy gets away with killing a black guy. And there's no reason why it would change, so long as there's a political upside to it.

UPDATE. Good for some grim laughs: The comments thread on a riot post at Reason, flagship publication of conservatives who identify as libertarians. The consensus at present is that it's all Al Sharpton's fault ("This is certainly one of those issues that reasonable people can agree upon....that is, it's being pumped up by the race baiters and media and others who make a buck off tragedy").

UPDATE 2. Speaking of which, a Republican Senator appears in Time, blames Ferguson on the War on Poverty, and peddles the traditional marriage-makes-you-rich bullshit...
The link between poverty, lack of education, and children outside of marriage is staggering and cuts across all racial groups. Statistics uniformly show that waiting to have children in marriage and obtaining an education are an invaluable part of escaping poverty. well as bootstrap philosophy...
While a hand-up can be part of the plan, if the plan doesn’t include the self-discovery of education, work, and the self-esteem that comes with work, the cycle of poverty will continue.
But in an exciting twist, he mixes this ancient bunk with promises to end the drug war -- aw yeah, you caught on, it's Rand Paul, trying to maintain his libertarian USP in the GOP while talking traditional culture-scold rot. Well, what the hell, it's all just marketing anyway -- you might even say it's Uber for social conservatism!