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On the University of Chicago’s Letter to Students Prospective Donors

[ 18 ] August 28, 2016 |

TriggerWarning-Link

The University of Chicago has issued a letter coming out against BIG POLITICALLY CORRECT. I think DeLong is right to subject it to “a hermeneutics of derp:”

It seems to me more likely than not that John Ellison is not talking to his future students here. It seems to me that he is more likely than not to be talking to those of their parents who spend an unhealthy amount of time glued to and being traumatized by Fox News. And he is doing so in the hope that those parents will send more students to U. of C. It’s a marketing ploy–not part of an orientation for new students.

[…]

But, Jesse, surely John Ellison can find a way to say “we welcome the contributions to the intellectual life of the college of Donald Trump supporters” that doesn’t also carry the very strong implication that Hillel and the Newman Center are in some sense illegitimate?

As I said, this is a very charitable reading he is engaging in here.

As I see it, a university is:

*first of all, a safe space for ideas.

*second, a safe place for scholars.

Those two imperatives do not forbid but rather mandate trigger warnings, whenever they are helpful in aiding the members of the University and scholars to grapple and process with difficult ideas or shocking facts.

Those two imperatives also require all members of the university to treat one another with respect–to avoid giving even a hint that other members do not belong or do not have rights or are not secure in their persons.

And these two imperatives require that sub-communities within the university have spaces that are safe–in which discussion can proceed accepting for the moment the premises of the sub-community.

I’ve never understood the argument that trigger warnings are some kind of inherent threat to free speech on campus and I still don’t. If you’re applauding the actions of Chicago’s administration, it sure can’t be because of academic freedom.

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The Near Future

[ 24 ] August 28, 2016 |

trump-rally-hillary-for-prison

It’s not like you needed any reminder that hard-core Republican obstructionism that has stopped any progressive legislation from being passed since 2009 is going to change one iota once Hillary Clinton takes office. But here’s a reminder anyway. And it’s not even about Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Could have been Joe Biden or Tim Kaine taking the Oval Office. The tactics wouldn’t change. It’s all obstruction, all the time.

Also, this article talks about Hillary Clinton being elected and having a “Grover Cleveland moment.” Have fun with that one. Maybe she can send in the Army to bust the Pullman Strike all over again.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 46

[ 12 ] August 28, 2016 |

This is the grave of Timothy Dwight.

2016-05-07 11.59.06

Timothy Dwight IV was born in 1752 in Northampton, Massachusetts. His family already had deep ties to Yale and not only was it inevitable that young Timmy would go there, but that he would become a leader in the institution. His mother was the daughter of Jonathan Edwards after all. He graduated from Yale in 1769 and became a minister. In 1777, he was appointed the chaplain for the Connecticut Continental Brigade, fighting for American independence. He gave many sermons about American nationalism and became a rising star in the ministerial world. He became president of Yale in 1795, where he served until his death in 1817. While there, he was known for his doctrinal and political conservatism and his hatred of anything having to do with the French Revolution. He turned Yale sharply to the right after he took over an institution in 1795 where students openly admired Voltaire and made it one of the most conservative colleges in the United States. He railed in speeches against Yale students being attracted to the twin doctrines of Jacobinism and atheism, which were connected in his head. He led the fight against the separation of church and state in Connecticut and was the head of the state’s Federalist Party. Of electing Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Dwight said “Is in an infidel? Then you cannot elect him without betraying our Lord.” In response, Jeffersonian papers said, “Connecticut is more under the administration of a pope than Italy.” Dwight died of prostate cancer in 1817, still president of Yale.

Timothy Dwight is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut

A conspicuous absence

[ 62 ] August 28, 2016 |

 

 

I don’t agree that there’s such a thing as an Alt-right that is distinct from The Right. However, I do understand why Clinton used the term in her speech directed to any Republicans who still maintain that they’re only in it for the small government and lower taxes and they’re just shocked by all of this racism thingy that just cropped up. Tossing anchors at people while yelling Swim little froggies! at them wouldn’t be presidential.

I also wonder if she was yanking their chains, just a little.

Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the Party to get out.

Ran against Bill Clinton, lost. (And now endorses Trump.)

The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims “love America just as much as I do.”

Is widely regarded as one of the worst things to ever hit the White House and that includes the British back in 1812.

In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat.  Senator McCain made sure they knew – Barack Obama is an American citizen and “a decent person.”

Was squished by Obama.

We need that kind of leadership again.

Yes. Republican leaders who lose to Democrats or remind people what a disaster it is to let Republicans near the levers of power.

“Surrendered Dads”

[ 80 ] August 28, 2016 |
IMG_9516

Tiny Tyrants

Home Game may be an entirely readable account of Michael Lewis’ experiences raising three young children.  It may be perfectly awful.  Toby Young’s ode to the MRA movement surely sheds no light:

In the most affluent parts of the Western world, a historic transference of power has taken place that is greater than anything achieved by the trade-union movement, the women’s movement or the civil-rights movement — and it hasn’t even been extended the courtesy of being called a movement. Fathers, who enjoyed absolute authority within the household for several millennia, now find themselves at the beck and call of their wives and children.

Stop here. It’s a short essay, and you can’t fault the author for failing to undertake a historical ethnography of the development of the family in what we may broadly call “Western” society, but the term “absolute authority within the household for several millennia” is every bit as empirically accurate as declaring that the Earth “enjoyed an absolutely central role in the universe for several millennia.” It takes no account of how families actually functioned in agrarian economic conditions, or of how the industrial revolution changed those conditions, or of how mothers and fathers have negotiated (and imposed) roles and responsibilities for millennia.  One man’s funny throwaway line is another’s lazy nonsense.

We’re also, of course, going to set aside all of the instances in which fathers abandoned the title of benevolent authoritarian, in favor either of actual abandonment, or of explicit, tyrannical, domestic violence, executed upon the bodies of the woman and children they were notionally protecting.

Indeed, most of my male friends are not fathers in any traditional sense at all; they occupy roughly the same status in their households as the help. They don’t guide their children through the moral quandaries of life — they guide them to their extracurricular activities from behind the wheel of a Dodge minivan.

Isn’t this also what moms do?  And doesn’t that mean that Young views women, and their appropriate position within in the home, as falling under the term “the help?” Is it genuinely useful, at this point in American political and social life, to publish an essay written explicitly from the point of view that family relations ought to be constituted on authoritarian terms, with the man acting as (albeit distant) tyrant over the woman and the children?

“Home Game,” Mr. Lewis’s account of becoming a father to his three children, begins promisingly. “At some point in the last few decades, the American male sat down at the negotiating table with the American female and — let us be frank — got fleeced,” he writes.

The poor sucker agreed to take on responsibility for all sorts of menial tasks — tasks that his own father was barely aware of — and received nothing in return.

He did get the opportunity to spend time with his children, a reward which can surely be overstated, but that many fathers consider quite valuable. It’s apparent that Young profoundly dislikes his own children, and would rather not be forced to spend any time around them (see the vasectomy comments below). I know it sounds crazy, but no small percentage of fathers enjoy, and derive great satisfaction from, the daily demands of active parenthood. It turns out that many of the moral quandaries of life can, in fact, benefit from conversations conduction from behind the wheel of a Dodge minivan.

If he was hoping for some gratitude, he was mistaken. According to Mr. Lewis: “Women may smile at a man pushing a baby stroller, but it is with the gentle condescension of a high officer of an army toward a village that surrendered without a fight.”

American men now find themselves in the same position as Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Having done the decent thing, and ceded power without bloodshed, they are now looked on with good-humored disdain. (Full disclosure: I am a father of four living in London and can confirm that the situation for British men is no better.)

This is, indeed, good stuff; men have voluntarily given up their position as domestic tyrant, and with hardly any work at all! The participants in successive waves of feminist thinking surely view their victory as both complete, and bloodless; men will now grudgingly drive the children to soccer practice!  Break out the champagne and bon bons!

This is good stuff — the American male is a pitiful creature — and it is followed by plenty of examples from Mr. Lewis’s own life. No sooner has his first daughter arrived than he is transformed into a surrendered husband, forced to take her to a succession of “Mommy and me” classes. At one point, while living in Paris, he ends up in a swimming pool with “a dozen scantily clad Frenchmen,” all accompanied by their newborn babies. It isn’t long before he has been thoroughly brainwashed by the politically correct mumbo-jumbo that passes for wisdom in “parenting courses.” “I understood that my job was no longer to force the party line upon Quinn,” he writes. “My job was to validate her feelings.” His wife, who used to look up to him as a glamorous writer, begins to view him as an “unreliable employee.”

The notion that a member of the family should someone be involved in the family, and (worse) should be asked to educate himself about the basics of child development, is surely beyond the pale.

“Home Game” ends with Mr. Lewis’s description of getting a vasectomy — at the request of his wife, naturally. Having submitted to metaphorical castration, he decides to go the whole nine yards. It reminded me of the final scene in “The Stepford Wives” in which we see the lobotomized Katharine Ross wandering down a supermarket aisle. Mr. Lewis laughs off the indignities of the surgical procedure, as he does all the other humiliations that his wife and children inflict on him, but beneath all the jokes there’s a sense of loss, a nostalgia for the time when fathers weren’t objects of ridicule. This is a profound and far-reaching change in American family life, and it deserves more serious consideration from one of America’s finest writers.

Because having determined that the American man has been utterly subjugated by wife and children, the appropriate response is surely the production of additional children! One begins to wonder about the good sense of allocating authoritarian power to such irrational, status-paranoid, emotionally driven creatures in the first place.

You can’t wear that!

[ 126 ] August 27, 2016 |

Two sentences confirmed my most cynical beliefs about the apparel industry.

Most glaringly, Banana Republic has acknowledged that it struggled to sell a blazer last year because women couldn’t fit their arms into the armholes. Yes, a venerable clothing brand that raked in $2.65 billion in 2015, manufactured a jacket that was physically unwearable.

Tsk and for shame. What silly ladyfolks thought they had the right to put their arms in armholes? Didn’t they know the correct thing to do was buy the jacket and then drape it over their shoulders? Or better yet, go to the nearest Who the Hell Named this Store? Banana Republic, give a clerk a wad of cash and leave without causing a fuss.

No really, how did this happen? Did BR use a fit model with arms the size of straws? Or did it decide fit models were too expensive, someone came up with some random numbers and called that a measurement?

No doubt it was something even dumber, but all the CEO would admit is that errors sort of happened in the general vicinity of the jacket, so I doubt I’ll ever know, but I will assume not giving a fuck was a key cause of the problem.

As an aside, the article touches on what I think is the biggest problem with women’s clothing – It is about as durable as single-ply toilet paper, so that the retail price of 99.9% of all women’s clothing is at least a gazillion percent more than what it took to make it.

Did Banana Republic think women wouldn’t notice that some of its dress pants cost $98, but are unlined and made of synthetic fabric? Did Anthropologie think shoppers would blindly plunk down $88 for a shapeless T-shirt dress made of spandex and jersey?

Sure, why not? The market demands that women buy shoddy clothing that loses its shape when subjected to such extreme conditions as body heat or humidity above 30%, so we damn well ought to!

 

What’s on Your Vagenda Today?

[ 122 ] August 27, 2016 |

A little levity for your Saturday

Also put this wonderful Sara Benincasa answer to “Why Am I So Fat?” on your vagenda.

Supply Chains in Burma

[ 40 ] August 27, 2016 |

factoryworker

H&M can say that it’s outraged by finding out its clothes are made by 14 year olds in Burma all it wants to. But when H&M decides to contract out with clothing manufacturers in Burma, it’s doing so knowing damn well that there is basically no labor oversight in that country and that children are going to be doing much of the work. Given that child labor has been the open goal of the textile industry for over 200 years and that the labor conditions of nations like Burma, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are well known, H&M has no space to claim ignorance or outrage. Or they do have space to claim it because avoiding claims of responsibility and day-to-day control over things like working conditions (not cost or on-time delivery of course) is the central point of the textile supply chain. H&M cares about one thing–cost. So long as they get the clothes for very cheap, the executives are happy. Now, a story like this coming out might spawn some sort of concern precisely because it threatens profit if consumers are turned off, but it’s not like these executives give two whits whether Burmese girls live or die. H&M absolutely could do plenty about this. It could agree to international inspections, binding fines for violations paid by the company, etc. But at least from what I can tell, it is not agreeing to any of this. Nonetheless, American companies are significantly worse and openly callous. The European social climate demands a little more of their corporations on issues like this so there’s a little more hope here than there is for Walmart or Target, who flat out don’t care.

Donald Trump’s Race-Baiting of the Hour

[ 117 ] August 27, 2016 |

What a guy:

NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin Nykea Aldridge was fatally shot Friday pushing a child in a stroller in a Chicago.

Less than 24 hours later, Donald Trump said her death was evidence that African-Americans will vote for him in November.

As always, there are ways in which Trump’s bluntness is relatively unusual. But the underlying idea — African-Americans will leave the DEMOCRAT PARTY PLANTATION because BLACK-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE is not exactly rare in Republican circles.

In other Trump news, this picture of the doctor who wandered out of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie to to take 5 minutes writing up a report declaring Trump the healthiest presidential candidate in the history of history itself is the sole redeeming factor of his campaign:

harold-bornstein-trump-doctor

Above: the Cuervo Gold, the fine Colombian, make tonight a wonderful thing

Volkswagen and Its Supply Chains

[ 64 ] August 27, 2016 |

vw

Supply chains exist so that corporations can acquire necessary materials without holding any responsibility over conditions of labor, environmental management, logistical headaches, or anything else. They exist to protect the parent company from liability. So it’s hardly surprising that Volkswagen would respond to the discovery of their vast mendacious conspiracy to avoid American emission law by trying to push costs down the supply chain. Because VW doesn’t want to lose profit, it’s seeking to limit costs down the line. But there is a limit to how much this can happen. In order to reduce costs, VW and other companies have already often reduced their suppliers of products to one. So when a company that makes car seats and transmission parts for VW told them to jump in a lake, VW had to halt production entirely in some of its German plants, which no doubt will cost the company even more money. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company.

Will Hillary Clinton Listen to Progressives?

[ 186 ] August 27, 2016 |
Bernie Sanders, left, speaks with Hillary Clinton during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Bernie Sanders, left, speaks with Hillary Clinton during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

As Daniel Marans points out, while a lot of rank and file Bernie Sanders supporters think of Hillary Clinton as the Hildebeest rubbing her hands together to start coups in various Latin American nations while lighting cigars with money donating from Wall Street cronies, veteran liberal insiders are optimistic that a Clinton administration will be quite progressive.

Other observers ask a separate, but related question: If Clinton is courting Mitt Romney voters, neoconservative thought leaders and Bernie Sanders supporters alike, whose core interests will she fight for once in office? She cannot please all of them at once, and with progressives lacking an alternative in the two-party system, she is more likely to view their priorities as expendable, the theory goes.

Progressive optimists respond by noting that Clinton has not actually compromised her domestic policy platform to appeal to these “swing” voters. She still supports expanding Social Security, a public health insurance option, debt-free college and raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12. Most crucially of all, Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive trade accord negotiated by President Barack Obama, has only grown stronger over time. She now promises to oppose it before the election, after the election ― a tacit reference to the lame-duck session of Congress ― and as president.

The Democratic nominee is not coy about mentioning these plans on the campaign trail. Clinton put them at the center of her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July, as well as in a key economic policy address in Michigan last week.

Even if she doesn’t believe in progressive policies, she isn’t going to want to cross the Democratic Senate caucus of 2017, a very different world from the Democratic Senate caucus of 1997.

Warren was also not yet a senator when Obama took office, depriving her of the platform in the media that she has used so effectively. One can easily imagine Warren, a higher-profile Sanders and allies like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) taking their case to cable TV if a Clinton appointment is not to their liking.

“Clinton does not want to see multiple Antonio Weiss-style fights,” a senior aide to a progressive House Democrat said, referring to an Obama nominee for a top Treasury post. Weiss withdrew himself from consideration after Warren launched a public campaign against him.

As a banker, Weiss had worked at a firm that specialized in tax inversion, a technicality through which companies reincorporate overseas to avoid U.S. corporate taxes. (Obama has since named Weiss to a role that did not require Senate confirmation, where he supervises White House policy for the Puerto Rican debt crisis.)

A key test for Clinton will be whether she re-nominates to the Supreme Court Merrick Garland, Obama’s centrist nominee who is stuck in limbo due to Republicans’ refusal to grant him nomination hearings.

The aide to a progressive house Democrat said Clinton is “even cool on Senate Democrats’ push to get her to renominate Garland,” indicating she is acutely aware of progressive trepidation about Garland.

Obviously, a Clinton administration is going to be very good for progressives in some ways. And it’s going to be disappointing in others. Sometimes it might be infuriating. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The primary reason the Bill Clinton years were generally bad was that Democrats in Congress and the general public as well were far to the right of where they are today. Today, as was very much not the case 20 years ago, there is an active left-wing of Congress and there is an active and growing left wing in the general public. Had Sanders not put up such a strong challenge to her, I don’t think Hillary Clinton would realize this easily and there would be some Weiss-style fights in 2017. But now she’s quite cognizant of the left. So are her advisors. This is one of the many good things that will come from the Sanders campaign.

The Republican presidential race this week, last year

[ 12 ] August 27, 2016 |

Confusion 8/22/2015

If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong.

Delusion 8/27/2015

When the race settles down and begins to gel, the operating thinking is that Republican voters will also begin seriously weighing electability, which will begin to lead to Trump’s demise.

Slimy hypocritical fucks 8/25/2015

On Tuesday, Fox News chief Roger Ailes said in a statement Donald Trump should apologize for a tirade of tweets aimed at Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

SNAFU then, really.

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