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Category: General

“De-politicizing Art”

[ 65 ] April 28, 2017 |
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I’m gonna be honest with you: this is s a long, hard slog. I found big chunks of it incomprehensible.

When I was young my dad–mostly–made a living writing and often hammered home the charms of concision. These charms have yet to be discovered by any Federalist writer and this screed is no exception. Even the passages she quotes are nearly unreadable.

So I’m gonna squint my way through this, tilting my head like a confused dog, and try to tell you what I think she’s getting at.

  1. Art should be apolitical. I don’t know why or if it even can be. We imbue nearly everything with politics. Even food is political, for crying out loud. How, exactly, does one extract politics from art, and why would you want to?
  2. Art is currently dominated by women, which is bad for reasons.
  3. People of Arab descent cannot make art criticizing the West because Americans made Photoshop…or something.
  4. Women don’t like logic.
  5. Modern art is silly.

Anyway, that was my takeaway, but I’m gonna leave you with a couple of quotes, because this woman sure does have a way with words…

Also an overwhelmingly female one. At SVA, seven of this year’s eight graduate projects are curated by women. One is a collaborative effort by eight women. The sex imbalance tallies with a 2012 survey by Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies citing a preponderance of young women entering the field. That ratio brings with it a bent toward performance art—feminist panty raids on patriarchal culture and its categories.

I’m gonna be thinking about “feminist panty raids on patriarchal culture” for a long time, not gonna lie.

In sum, ending the endowments will not relieve us of art that prefers social practice and intellectual pretension to the cultivation of excellence. Truth and beauty are outcasts among creatures of the academic brain. They will remain in exile without the NEA. And art will remain an artifact of ideology so long as the academy keeps its grip on artists’ training.

I…um…well…ok. Is this truthful and beautiful enough for you?


Trump Is Succeeding on His Own Terms

[ 58 ] April 28, 2017 |


It’s been a great grift:

Yet since his ascension to the White House, conventional wisdom has developed an odd tendency to describe his inability to make major legislative changes as an indication that his presidency is failing. It’s certainly true that Paul Ryan’s speakership of the House is failing, arguable that Mitch McConnell’s tenure as majority leader of the Senate is failing, and indisputably true that the Koch brothers’ drive to infuse hardcore libertarian ideological zeal into the GOP is failing.

But Trump isn’t failing. He and his family appear to be making money hand over fist. It’s a spectacle the likes of which we’ve never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure.

I actually think McConnell isn’t failing; he got the Supreme Court justice he wanted, and I think he’d rather stay in power than repeal the ACA. Ryan is certainly a joke in many respects, although my guess is that he will still get the one thing he wants most (upper-class tax cuts.)

Will the grift last for 8 years?

Donald Trump is currently a moderately unpopular president, and it’s entirely typical for the president’s party to lose ground in the midterms. Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Democrats swept to a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives in 2018, which would put them in a position to launch the kind of oversight and investigations that could bring the Trump clan to heel.

Then again, the basic outline of the 2018 Senate map is so favorable to Republicans that for Democrats to net as much as one seat would be a remarkable achievement. And district boundaries in the House are so favorable to the GOP that Democrats could win the national House popular vote by a bit over 5 percent and the GOP would retain their majority.

After that, who knows. Most presidents are reelected. Congressional Republicans have made it clear that there will be no investigations into any potential scandals as long as they run the show. Perhaps there will be a recession in 2020 or Trump will get us embroiled in a war that causes a large number of American casualties. But one hopes he won’t.

It is certainly possible for Trump to get re-elected, but I’m not sure I’d put much weight on the “most presidents are reelected” metric. Most presidents were actually more popular than their opponents on Election Day and aren’t unpopular from Day 1 — historical patterns are going to be of limited value when dealing with something that is in many ways unprecedented. But I do agree that he’s more likely to lose if Dems take over the House in 2018 — it’s hard to overstate the importance of the midterms both substantively and politically.

DumpsterFyre Festival

[ 135 ] April 28, 2017 |

This is the future liberals want.

It was billed as an Instagram-worthy luxury festival in the Bahamas – but the supposedly glamorous Fyre festival seems to be anything but.

Tickets for the festival, which was co-organised by the rapper Ja Rule, cost up to $12,780 for a luxury four-person package. Festivalgoers were promised “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food”.

Ticketholders have called Fyre festival a “complete disaster”, saying the tents were half-built and the luxury food also failed to meet with their expectations. Now, some are stranded in the Bahamas.

Elle has more about the involuntary Lord of the Flies cosplay.

Laughing? I’m not laughing. Why would I – Bwahahahahahaaaaa!

Ready on Day None

[ 85 ] April 28, 2017 |

President Dick a l’Orange is the perfect embodiment of white supremacy.

He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

Privilege, vanity and laziness combined with a lack of empathy and curiosity create a 70-year-old human who isn’t ashamed of the fact he thought being President of the United States would be easier than being a pretend business genius.

This attitude does however help answer the Did He or Didn’t He (want to be POTUS)? question.

Certainly he wanted to win the election. tRUmp hates losing. Losing is for losers, which is #SAD. It follows then that he wanted to be POTUS. However, it’s becoming very clear that he had – and still has – his own ideas about what the job entails, and he can’t believe that reality is failing to confirm to his desires. #Unfair!

Considered as political satire, reality is getting a bit over the top

[ 163 ] April 28, 2017 |

He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is. President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

A wealthy businessman from New York, Trump assumed public office for the first time when he entered the White House on Jan. 20 after he defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an upset.

More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

I’m genuinely surprised by what an idiot this guy is.  That’s not snark: I realize one doesn’t need to be anything like an intellectual to be a good president, and many haven’t been, but it’s still surprising that someone this lazy, incurious, ignorant, and basically stupid could end up getting the job.  That’s democracy for you, as G. Montgomery Burns might say.



Flashback Friday: The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”

[ 27 ] April 28, 2017 |
You're a slave to money then you die

You’re a slave to money then you die

In what I hope to make a regular trend for myself on LGM I present to you a special new feature: Flashback Friday where I bring you songs and music videos from the past that linger in the present.

Today, it’s London Grammar covering The Verve’s 1997 hit “Bittersweet Symphony”.

Let’s travel back to the late 90’s when the Brits were ruling the alternative music scene. Frontman from The Verve, Richard Ashcroft, with his shaggy hair and pouty English lips stomps through a London street ignoring everything in his path and BOOM. So. Damn. Cool.

“Bittersweet Symphony” was nominated for Best Music Video of the Year, Best Group Video, and Best Alternative Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. NME magazine has listed it as one of the 50 best Indie Anthems. Every time the song comes up on my Spotify while I’m walking through London, I feel a sudden urge to bump into someone and then fail to apologize. Blogger Sam Keeper dissects the “irony” of the video when examined in the context of its lyrics here.

The video itself is a long one-shot take directed by Walter Stern, who also directed a number of videos for other English musicians like Massive Attack, the Prodigy, and David Bowie. More recently he’s directed commercials for the NHS and Vodafone and yes, they’re all kinda creepy.

London Grammar is a modern indie rock band that released their first album in 2013. Maybe they haven’t had a massive chart topper yet or won any awards, but I am in love with the deep vocalizations of Hannah Reid and their melancholy style.

From Australia, the band E^ST covers the song for Triple J‘s live cover series Like A Version and then shift into Massive Attack’s Teardrop. The band reveals they were born the year the song came out. Well, good for them for learning from their elders.

Unbeknownst to me before researching this song, this flashback was based on another flashback from The Rolling Stones. There were some legal disagreements, but they all seem to have worked out and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were added to the credits. Read more about the debate over corporate control and copyright over the song here.

Draft Etc. Open Thread

[ 143 ] April 27, 2017 |


It’s NFL Draft day. NHL playoffs. I guess there might be games to help decided who loses to Cleveland or Golden State. Discuss here if you wish! Tanier’s mock draft is useful; if you trust his analysis the 49ers definitely got the better of the trade down with the Bears.

Why ARE Conservative Women So Pretty?

[ 197 ] April 27, 2017 |

Henry Scanlon of–guess!…Oh, ok, The Federalist–attempts to answer the question. I was going to include this in a links post, but the title alone is so special I had to make this the focus of its own entry.

I realize the genre of fiction called “Lib Women Are Uggos” is a popular one, but this is a rather cheerful, good-natured spin on it, so let’s all enjoy!


The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women? It’s noticeable and remarkable. They are beautiful and stylish in the way French women often are

Imma not let you finish because…NO.

I sought counsel from my wife. She is European.

I love visiting the country of Europe. So sophisticated, so lovely.

I told her that the young women of CPAC reminded me of the women you see on the boulevards of Paris, and I asked her why women over there were so famously stylish.

Women of great traditional beauty, but also those who would not be described that way, all had the ability to move through the world with manifest and undeniable élan, self-confidence, and personal style, some of the ingredients of a world-renowned attractiveness, so much so that it has been remarked upon for centuries. Her answer was immediate, as if it was obvious, or should be. “It’s because they enjoy being a woman. And they’re glad they’re not men.”

Oh. Maybe it’s that simple.

Well, then let’s call it a day! Oh no, wait. There’s more.


The women of the Right are allowed to believe things that the women of the Left are not. They are allowed to believe there is a difference between women and men, female and male, and that those differences are real, not a false cultural construct imposed by a self-interested, manipulative patriarchy. Unlike Gloria Steinem, they can express their femininity in any way they choose to, without fear of being accused of a calumnization of the sisterhood.

Ah yes, that stodgy old Steinem, who was so conventionally attractive she convincingly posed as a Playboy bunny. Good example.

Even more, women of the Right are allowed to accept obvious things rather than engage in exhausting psychic gymnastics to get to a place that is politically correct, while preposterous. If a thug murders a pregnant woman, he should be charged with two murders, not just one, and women of the Right feel no compulsion to weary themselves by filing amicus briefs on behalf of the murderer to nullify the second killing because the unborn baby does not qualify as human life.

That’s right, pondering things deeply is not gonna give our girls ugly thinkin’ lines.

They are allowed to go through life treating people—all people—with dignity, respect, and friendship, and not be concerned about being called racist, even if they are called racist, because they know they are not.

They know it.

Maybe it is for these reasons and many similar ones that the women of CPAC walk with a bounce in their step and a light in their eyes, and maybe that is the engine of their attractiveness, the source of their ability to light up the room. They don’t mind being—no, they revel in being—attractive and stylish and a woman in any way they choose to do that, and they make short, confident work of the notion that they ought to, instead, get hip to the struggle and head for gender studies class.

They don’t mind being—no, they revel in being—attractive and stylish and a woman in any way they choose.

Whatever it is, it is real, and when you get down to it, what it looks like is redemption. Check it out: It will make you feel good about America.

Make you feel good about America IN YOUR PANTS.

Put another way, maybe what I’m noticing is simply women who have been liberated by their worldview to be who they are, uniquely and confidently, unabashedly and apologetically, unencumbered by the politically correct constraints imposed on women of the Left, and the result is a kind of essential womanhood that, far from being oppressive, as the Left would have it, is instead, miraculous and quintessential, and, you could say, God-given.

Ah, so it was God who gave Ivanka her second face. Dude’s an incredible surgeon on top of everything else.

Purdue Chases the Cash

[ 43 ] April 27, 2017 |



Purdue University said Thursday it has acquired for-profit Kaplan University to extend its reach into online and adult education, an unusual move for a public institution.

“None of us knows how fast or in what direction online higher education will evolve, but we know its role will grow, and we intend that Purdue be positioned to be a leader as that happens,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in a statement. “A careful analysis made it clear that we are very ill-equipped to build the necessary capabilities ourselves, and that the smart course would be to acquire them if we could.”

Instead of folding the for-profit school into its operations, Purdue plans to form a new university comprised of all 15 campuses and learning centers of Kaplan University, as well as 32,000 students and 3,000 employees. All existing Kaplan students and faculty will transition to the new school that has yet to be named.

The newly formed school will rely on tuition and fundraising to cover operating expenses, not state appropriations. It will primarily operate online, with no plans to expand the physical footprint beyond the existing 15 locations. Indiana residents will receive discounted tuition.

Mitch Daniels, so this is hardly surprising. You’d like to think that what this would do is provide greater accountability to for-profit colleges and bring them into the standards of real universities where, you know, students are actually educated and not exploited. But I think we all know that under Daniels’ leadership, what this is going to do is bring public education closer to the for-profit, online model, much to the damage of the poor students forced into this “courses.”

Charter Myth Busting

[ 71 ] April 27, 2017 |


Rachel Cohen has an outstanding article in Democracy Journal on the real evolution of charter schools. There’s a pervasive myth that American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker started the idea, and this myth has been powerful for charter advocates because it sounds like it comes from the unions that are now fighting it. Shanker did comment on charters and he said some unfortunate things that can be contextualized by what was happening with education at the time. But it is damaging. Where do charter schools really originate?

In the 1970s, deregulation was the name of the game.
Efforts to deregulate major sectors of government took root under Ford and Carter, and continued to escalate throughout the 1980s under Reagan. From banking and energy to airlines and transportation, liberals and conservatives both worked to promote deregulatory initiatives spanning vast sectors of public policy.

Schools were not immune. Since at least the late 1970s, political leaders in Minnesota had been discussing ways to reduce direct public control of schools. A private school voucher bill died in the Minnesota legislature in 1977, and Minnesota’s Republican governor Al Quie, elected in 1979, was a vocal advocate for school choice.

Two prominent organizations were critical in advancing school deregulation in the state. One was the Minnesota Business Partnership, comprised of CEOs from the state’s largest private corporations; another was the Citizens League, a powerful, centrist Twin Cities policy group. When the League spoke, the legislature listened—and often enacted its proposals into law. In 1982 the Citizens League issued a report endorsing private school vouchers on the grounds that consumer choice could foster competition and improvement without increasing state spending, and backed a voucher bill in the legislature in 1983. The Business Partnership published its own report in 1984 calling for “profound structural change” in schooling, with recommendations for increased choice, deregulation, statewide testing, and accountability. The organized CEOs would play a major role throughout the 1980s lobbying for K-12 reform, as part of a broader agenda to limit taxes and state spending.

Efforts to tinker with public schooling took on greater urgency in 1983, when Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education released its report, A Nation At Risk. This influential (though empirically flawed) document panicked political leaders across the country. Among other things, the report concluded that American public schools were failing—“eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity”—with ill-prepared teachers and low-quality standards. Its authors tied the country’s economy and national security to the supposedly poor performance of U.S. public schools, and Reagan capitalized on the alarm. His narrative fit snugly within the larger Cold War panic, and as in Minnesota, national business leaders were happy to promote this new movement.

School choice was not specifically mentioned in A Nation at Risk, though Governor Quie, who was then serving as a member on the National Commission, tried to get such recommendations included. But reformers didn’t have to wait long for a national endorsement. In 1986, the National Governors Association, chaired by Tennessee’s Republican governor Lamar Alexander, backed school choice in its Time for Results report.

Back in Minnesota, Rudy Perpich, a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, was elected as governor for his second non-consecutive term in 1983. (He had first served from 1976-1979.) During the four years that Quie governed Minnesota, Perpich worked on a global business committee for a supercomputer firm, and returned to government deeply shaped by his corporate experience.

Ember Reichgott Junge, the state senator who would author Minnesota’s—and the nation’s—first charter school bill, described Perpich’s role bluntly: “According to the history books, Minnesota DFL governor Rudy Perpich had nothing to do with passage of chartering legislation. In reality, he had everything to do with it.”

I guess Minnesota has brought us more than just horrible food.

Anyway, the power of the Shanker myth is an important one and Cohen elaborates on it.

The mythological origin story of charter schools—the Shanker myth—has served an important role in keeping the charter coalition together. The idea that charters come from unions lends a certain weight-of-history inevitability to school reform. It suggests that everyone has agreed that change must come, and the only question is from who, and what it’ll look like in the end.

Besides, on some level, the dramatically compelling nature of the story—unions creating their own greatest antagonist—keeps people from digging deeper. As a writer, it’s easy to want to believe it. This author would know, having once subscribed to it herself.

But the Shanker tale may have also helped undermine progressive school choice advocates, who find themselves chasing a vision that has never played a major role in the inner circles of school reform. Most charters are more segregated than traditional public schools, are non-union, and when charter educators do mount union campaigns, they almost always face tremendous opposition. If the promise of unionized, integrated, teacher-centered charters has proven devilishly difficult to fulfill, it may be, in part, because the movement’s leaders never took it very seriously to begin with.

The Shanker myth also leaves those who support traditional public schooling, in its original form, stranded in a political no man’s land. And right now, those people are in the fight of their lives, looking for firmer footing. More broadly, the Democratic Party has grown wary of the Third Way policies of the 1990s, suspecting they provide little defense against a resurgent right. As the charter coalition enters a new, treacherous era, the consensus history of charter schools may at last meet some resistance.

Another Great Moment from Yesterday

[ 23 ] April 27, 2017 |


Above: Drill, Baby, Drill!

In the midst of Trump’s word diarrhea yesterday around everything from NAFTA (I feel like I should write about this but of course Trump doesn’t even understand what NAFTA is) to the 9th Circuit, he dropped something that is genuinely pretty concerning, and that’s potentially getting rid of the recent national monuments in the West created not only by Obama but also by Clinton.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president of the United States the power to designate lands and waters for permanent protection. Almost every president since Teddy Roosevelt has used the Act to place extraordinary archaeological, historic and natural sites under protection and out of reach of commercial exploitation.

Many sites originally designated as national monuments were later upgraded by Congress to become national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Saguaro and Death Valley. In many cases in the past, the Antiquities Act allowed presidents to protect vital natural and cultural resources when congressional leaders, often compromised by their ties to special interests representing coal, oil, timber and mining industries, were reluctant or unwilling to act.

A new Executive Order signed by President Trump on April 26th, 2017 puts this important regulatory tool for conservation and historic preservation at risk. The clear intention of the Executive Order is to lay the groundwork for shrinking national monuments or rescinding their designation entirely, in order to open currently protected public lands for untrammeled growth in coal, oil and minerals extraction.

The Executive Order requires the Secretary of the Interior to review all presidential designations since 1996 of national monuments over 100,000 acres in size. However, in the short-term it appears particularly aimed at reversing designations or reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments, which together comprise 3.23 million acres in Utah.

Remarkably, in its own press statement, the Department of the Interior (the federal agency responsible for managing and protecting our public lands) tips its hand and signals that it has no intention of undertaking a fair and independent review by describing Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears as the “bookends of modern Antiquities Act overreach”.

An attack on the Antiquities Act is an attack on all monuments and has huge implications for future presidents’ ability to protect important sites in the future.

Now, like all of Trump’s executive orders, which seems to be his preferred method of governing as he can sign something and then hold it up for the cameras, it’s really unclear what this means. It’s not clear if he has the authority to repeal or reduce national monuments unilaterally. But the Antiquities Act does allow the president to create national monuments unilaterally, so long as the land is federally owned. I am sure that there will lawsuits over a president’s ability to reduce monuments and I don’t know what will happen. But this is extremely alarming for those of us who care about western public lands.

Also, this is one of the issues that would have happened more or less the same way with any Republican. Bundyism is a central tenet of western Republicanism today. Trump might as well have named Cliven Bundy as Secretary of the Interior instead of Ryan Zinke, plus it would have saved me the indignity of having a former Oregon football player in the position.


[ 84 ] April 27, 2017 |

sessions trump

I’m beginning to think that the president may not be entirely competent:

While the Republican Congress has been laughably deficient in checking President Trump’s corruption and power grabs, the federal courts have been doing their job. On Tuesday, a federal district court judge blocked an executive order intending to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. The president of the United States wasted little time in reacting, tweeting “[f]irst the 9th Circuit rules against the ban and now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” and criticizing the winners of the suit for “judge shopping.” In a subsequent interview, he expressed agreement with “the many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit.”

Both the order itself and Trump’s reaction to the court’s ruling indicated why he’s had a rough ride in the courts so far: He has no idea what he’s doing.

The most obvious problem is that while U.S. District Judge William Orrick lives in the geographic area covered by the 9th Circuit — he is based in San Francisco — he does not in fact serve on that court. He’s a trial judge, not an appellate one. The fact that the same president issuing executive orders apparently doesn’t understand basic facts about the structure of the American judicial system is rather sobering.


It’s not exactly news that Trump’s tweets and interviews tend not to withstand rigorous, or even cursory, scrutiny. The bigger problem for Trump is that you can say the same thing about his sanctuary city order.

In a 1987 case which upheld the use of federal highway funds to establish a de facto national drinking age, the Supreme Court gave Congress a broad (although not unlimited) ability to use its spending power to persuade states to advance federal objectives. One of the limits that the Court placed, however, was that if Congress wants to put conditions on federal funding it “must do so unambiguously” so that states “exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation.” In addition, any conditions placed on spending must be “relevant to federal interest in the project and to the over-all objectives thereof.” Congress could withhold highway spending to compel states to raise their drinking ages because it was related to the federal interest in highway safety, but it could not accomplish the same goal by threatening to withhold Social Security spending.

These restrictions made it nearly inevitable that the courts would find Trump’s order unconstitutional. Judge Orrick’s holding that Trump’s order is not sufficiently related to the federal grants in question is debatable, although the case is strong. But it’s obvious that Congress did not “unambiguously” make clear that the grants in question were conditioned on local officials enforcing federal immigration law. The Supreme Court can revise its own precedents, but lower courts cannot — hence, Orrick had no real choice but to find that the order was unconstitutional.

I, for one, am shocked that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s commitment to the Noble Ideals of Federalism might be opportunistic and unprincipled. This is highly unusual for an Alabama politician!

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