hippie bluegrass. the sound is remarkably traditional. every player here is just a master, though they might be under-rehearsed as a unit. richard greene is the best fiddler i ever saw: astonishing: halfway between squaredance and hard bop. but bill keith, grisman, clarence white: they are all entirely fundamental.
i went back and actually watched the full 1992 buchanan speech, embedded below. everyone might think the republican party is moving right, but this speech would be unimaginable this year. he just goes straight at gay rights, for example. it's quite disturbing from this angle. it's also remarkably gracious to bush, a model of the heal-the-party genre.
however, it is a remarkable text and a remarkable performance. this was one of the few times in this era that the speechwriter emerged from behind the curtain. certainly buchanan had minted priceless phrases for agnew and nixon. here he issues an incredible string of alliterative aphorisms. and he wrote them all himself: that's why he delivers them with such ownership and conviction. i'm sure obama is capable of writing a speech; i don't know how frequently he does. they certainly have that collaborative feel these days: written by committee, though no doubt a better committee than romney's. we'll see next week.
to a large extent, the american presidency is an expressive office, and to a large extent the expression consists of words, though of course it is multi-dimensional. but the words are too rarely his own, so the role and the person come apart in a disturbing way: a form of pervasive inauthenticity.
i guess the leftish consensus this morning is that eastwood was 'disrespectful.' this is the president of the united states. i think it was funny and actually kind of deft. he had obama cussing him (eastwood) out; he didn't cuss obama out. but the cult of political leadership needs to be deflated like that constantly. we do not have to be mere subordinates. let's say sean penn or someone was doing that with regard to bush or cheney or something. would that be bad and disrespectful to the office of the president of the united states? god i hope so.
it's incomprehensible to me that people think that was a good speech. but maybe they just don't have faith in their own actual impression. like david gergen last night; he's all like 'very solid. he did what he needed to do.' then he starts pointing out all the dimensions of failure. people are very focused on playing it safe.
11:19 any pundit who says that wasn't a miserable speech is a hack.
11:17 'america' is an abstraction a la 'horizon' by the time they're through with it. it's in every sentence. that's really what's wrong with strategic and incessantly repetitive discourse; the information decays every time it is re-transmitted.
11:15 balloon drop! dude that sucked. i mean the speech.
11:14 no one can be this white.
11:13 he grows even whinier as he builds to a crescendo. obama is an extremely fortunate man.
11:12 he's got them chanting 'no.' well, that's a clear contrast to the dems in 2008.
11:11 he just said he would return to the foreign policy of truman. ka-pow!!
11:10 straight up that's it: the voice is insufferable. i will not listen to it for years on end! that's why i'm voting for gary johnson.
11:09 'president obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans.' ok that's a good line.
11:06 oy the pandering. more women than men start businesses, they need an asshole who understands what they do.
11:04 he's bringing us a bright horizon. i'd like to cobble together phrases like that into a completely abstract, completely empty speech. maybe a single homeric metaphor: a horizon bright with the dawn of promise for america, as a new day breaks upon a future aflame with hogwash.
10:59 one problem is that romney has been definitively upstaged, by rubio and forgodsake eastwood. they'd have been better off switching rubio and christie, as it turns out. the contrast with eastwood, just completely comfortable in his own skin, is devastating.
10:50 mitt romney is a feminist.
10:48 i have had enough american exceptionalism. even though i might endorse a version. but no thought survives being expressed this incessantly.
10:46 romney's dad came from the mexican revolution. rode with villa.
10:45 gore's and kerry's convention speeches were miserable and meaningless. this too. 'the soles of neil armstrong's shoes touched our souls.' jesus christ, you couldn't afford a writer? 'if you asked anne and i' dude. 'me.'
10:42 'you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour': that got a standing o.
10:41 he has this kind of pseudo-emotive, just about to sob little whine in his voice. just a terribly unattractive person in my opinion.
10:40 you know the central theme of this convention is the immigrant experience. hmmmmm.
10:37 aww i thought he wasn't going to accept the nomination. too much humility. i wonder whether he and ryan actually do like each other. i wonder whether they will when it's over. mccain and palin want to gouge each others' eyes.
10:35 men's clothes really need to get more varied; everyone in the grey suit is kind of sad. we can do better!
10:30 romney's great-grandfather came from nothing. rubio at least isn't purveying the sheer narcissistic self-serving slop. he let his own sparkle be compelling.
10:24 rubio: 'faith in the creator is the most important american value of them all.' ok now play this through all the serious mormonism and catholicism we've seen among republican figures; gingrich and santorum, e.g.. first off, perhaps a pretty clear coalition is emerging, another wave of the theocratic right, which is always an element. but...romney is perhaps much more positioned to be central in that than he has expressed publicly. the whole romney public persona is obviously false. so, that leaves room for speculation.
10:24 i genuinely resonate to the individualist rhetoric, of course. it needs to have more than an economic form, and a more theorized frame for sophisticates. i wouldn't myself rest the whole thing on god, of course.
10:20 what worries me about mormonism is its too-americanness, its wonderbread served by stepford wives vibe. but, i've never actually known a mormon, i think. too busy hangin out with jews and mennonites.
10:17 uh oh marco rubio is going to tell his frigging story again. eastwood did loosen up the crowd and the mood. rubio is also quite the natural. marco rubio's father came from nothing.
10:12 this is the right tone from eastwood: "we own this country. politicians are our employees." the old perot tune. but not a favorite of contemporary pols.
10:03 think what you like. clint eastwood has a completely undeniable cool factor. plus he's actually a very fine artist. not like rolling out an ancient john wayne or charlton heston. plus he's actually kicking ass. he's beyond assured in this context. uh oh he better keep it reasonably brief though.
10:02 wolf really built up this video, calling it 'amazing' and saying AND NOW with considerable emphasis. that is incomprehensible. nobody can actually look forward to something like that.
10:00 and catholics too have flexed their muscles this year in this provisional inter-faith right coalition. but who among us non-mormons have really thought through the political implications of mormonism?
9:52 the stuff those mormon folks testified to was rather remarkable. they described him as their pastor. a guy who was once his assistant pastor said he spent '10, 15, or 20 hours' of time every week counseling and helping people, and a variety of people described quite above-and-beyond efforts to help specific people. now, i ain't got 20 hours of energy like that, and i have one of the least strictly demanding jobs in the world. this guy was rolling on an extremely high-powered business career. well, i think you have to take that seriously, and i also don't see any specific reason to think that he's not a principled person in his private life, which is not always what you get, and it bleeds into the public actions (cf. nixon, clinton).
but it's also emerging that he's an extremely religious person. well, huckabee was a baptist minister. but no one thinks about mitt in those terms, and 'the religious right' in our heads is southern evangelicals. i will note one thing: the mormon church is a church-state and brgham young ran a theocracy strict as iran's.
7:49 i got to be out and about for a cuple of hours, but i intend to get back to blog romney.
6:25 the common defense of romney from his 'unrelateableness' is that he's just so humble. he hates to talk about himself or brag. really? have you ever heard him talk? he touts his accomplishments. one of his favorite sentences is this: "i will lead." etc etc. he has never struck me as genuinely humble; quite the reverse. now maybe he does have a noblesse-type attitude where you don't talk about your actual specific good deeds. maybe.
'relateable' has made its way from sophomore girls to everywhere all the time. i am against it, on the grounds that that 'relate' needs the preposition ('to'). so it sounds very wrong: your need 'relatable-to,' which would itself be a nightmare. for that matter 'relate' - as in 'i relate' - was like a seventies fad, and it's not itself my favorite usage. 'connect' is better. but if you have to, i would not say 'mitt romney is not relateable,' i would say people find it difficult to relate, or rather connect, to him. or people don't like him.
11:06 there was an excellent moment when ryan described twenty-somethings, living again in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at faded obama posters and wondering what they can do with their lives. really, it was quite an excellent and devastating speech. i would probably even go read the text.
11:01 'our rights come from nature and god' again. what does 'nature' do here? it must have something to do with something he believes. but what, exactly? or maybe it's just an off appeal to the concept of natural right.
11:00 even the tribute to romney seems heartfelt. geez. giving some religion now. he's got this arena in his palm.
10:56 this is really taking off. nice writing in this speech, actuallly. 'what matters is not the economy that obama inherited, and it's not the one he envisions. it's the one we're living.' and he's really giving this free enterprise and anti-dependency thing a nice runout. so, so much better than romney.
10:54 rice and ryan, among many others, accuse obama of weakness in foreign affairs, and they say that under a romney administration people will know when the rise up against oppressive diictators and demand freedom, america is with them. i actually would think obama deserves some credit in this regard, though i really wish he would take it out on bashar.
10:50 as he's paying tribute to his mom, his daughter goes over and hugs grandma. lord that is a lucky piece of choreography. cutest kiddies since obama.
10:47 ryan's dad always says that you can part of the problem or part of the solution. his dad was eldridge cleaver.
10:45 he's ragging on obama and allies' claim that his basic problem is not communicating well enough. ryan only had to roll his eyes a little on that one. obama's problem is that he's not cloaking the thing effectively in a cloud of jive, and ours is that we're not good enough listeners? (that's a paraphrase.)
10:43 he's definitely picking up steam, and he's relatively gently brutalizing obama. but he is twisting the frigging knife. this is a very good model for their rhetoric going forward.
10:41 he's good though swift on medicare, bringing in his grandma with alzheimer's and his mom the florida retiree. medicare is a promise and we will keep that promise, &c.
10:38 the reps are having a good convention; relatively compelling figures, and certainly plenty to complain about. there should be a bounce. how much depends on how romney does tomorrow night. but i wouldn't expect him to metamorphose into someone else before then.
10:36 i think he's quite nervous. stumbling a bit an can't find a rhythm yet. but the approach is relatively compelling and slightly specific; nice attack on the stimulus, which 'wasn't just spent and wasted, but borrowe, spent, and wasted."
10:32 ryan's dad was a lawyer. this is a problem because he didn't start with nothing. but he made up for it by dying, i suppose. he finished in nothing.
10:30 ryan fucked up his first line. 'i am honored to for vice president of the united states.' i'm kind of glasd i've never spoken to a full arena and a television audience of millions. i'd be pretty nerve-wracked.
10:18 when she was little girl, she carried a .357 magnum. new mexico has a pretty kick-ass governor, i guess. probably she's strapped right now, in case bono shows after all. either way, she's throwing down in a distinctive manner. i don't think i'd seen her before.
10:17 susana martinez's parents started with nothing. imagine that!
10:14 condi, too, hardly bothered to build up romney. everybody, from every wing, has terrible misgivings.
10:11 'the crisis in k-12 education is a threat to our future," etc. well, that there sentence could have produced at any time since the early sixties. it's been a half-century-long crisis so far. we must do something, but we won't. get over it. give up. you can't force people to learn. i guess you could grab a new fad.
10:10 she's attacking the anti-immigrant wing.
10:05 i wish i could take all this deficit stuff seriously. as many have said, you can't sit there talking about tax cuts and increased military spending and have any credibility on deficits. i don't believe they'd cut anything, except maybe a symbolic ax on the nat endowment for the humanities or something. that neither of these parties has any actual commitment to putting the budget in order is what really led to the tea party, and you might see the resurgence, expecially if romney is elected.
9:57 it's hard not to like condi rice. i'm not sure why, exactly. if she were the veep candidate, romney would win, perhaps by substantial margins.
9:53 huck is paying tribute to and quoting bono. i don't think u2 would play this convention, or else they wouldn't have turned to the lead singer of night ranger. however, if u2 was playing the transitions, i'd turn the channel, as the extremely impressive lightshow flashes and bono bellowed. huck didn't really hit the social issues: no doubt instructed in the wake of akin.
9:49 'i care less about where mitt romney takes his family to church, and more about where he takes the country.' notice that this does not entail that huck doesn't have serious misgivings about where mitt takes his family to church.
9:47 huck's parents apparently told him not to wait for 'uncle sugar to feed, lead, and bleed' him. actually a pretty good line.
9:41 huckabee just said he heard a horrible noise from he next hotel room: debbie wasserman-schultz practicing her speech for the dnc. damn, son. though i can see how dws might profoundly irritate someone like huck. he's put that famous weight back on.
9:37 well i lost that big santorum entry. but one thing about santorum: almost unqiquely he does not seem like an egomaniac. pawlenty, christie, mcdonnell: they basically just gave their own stump speeches, told their little canned autobiographies. all that really matters to them is themselves, which is one reason that the anarchist approach is plausible: otherwise you basically get guys like that. pawlenty is doing a bit more for romney, though: "he's smart, gracious, and wise." er.
9:30 tim pawlenty's up now. man they have whole line in bashing biden.
10:53 it must be 'humbling' experience for mitt to sit there soaking up the praise. 'mitt romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear.' wait, like mitch mcconnell you've got him confused with yourself.
10:51 but i do like christie's hardass here's-the-truth rhetorical stance, or the whole frame in terms of truth. on the deficit, e.g. but he does twist it around to jive too.
10:43 "tonight we're going to choose respect over love." wait. awhen you ut it like that . . .
10:39 my father was born with nothing. but he still kicked your father's ass.
10:35 sometimes it's hard to follow your own intro video. christie is as jersey as springsteen.
10:20 everybody is descended from a coal miner. me it's all newspapermen, the only dirtier profession.
10:18 it will be amazing if she gets through this without telling some canned anecdote about someone she met on the campaign trail.
10:17 well, she could be a lot worse. she is really a pretty weird contrast to him, quite girlish and sincere with a hint of steel. maybe it works in bed though. when she says it's the moms of america that hold us together, she's got a point.
10:08 no political wife fo my money can compare to the magnificent michelle. looking at a line of candy crowley, cokie roberts, and andrea mitchell. rather a formidable crew!
10:08 i agree with haley that america deserves mitt romney.
10:00 soon, soon, mitt romney will be revealed in all his peeply hearsonal doomanity, just like hikki naily.
9:57 artur davis accuses the democrats of partisanship. we need to turn to the republicans to heal our divisions, har har.
9:38 orioles 6, white sox 0.
9:35 wow he completely dicked romney. not a word about romney or ryan in that speech. left it to the last phrase.
9:30 santorum is quite an above-average speaker though; this 'hands that built this country' thing is good, almost jesse jackson-style in its patterns of repetition. the religious thing always lurks behind the rhetoric and the rhythm, and he's definitely connecting, for the first time this convention. he's given so so many speeches in the last year and a half; he's got the beat, baby.
9:27 as soon as the other party gets in power, you go all: "no man is above the law."
9:25 santorum: "half of all americans are receiving some form of government benefits." i have heard this used as an argument on the other side; it's like we've got you over a barrel; look you can't vote against your own interest. of course, we created the structure of interests. but one thing you've got to say; it should constitute an electoral advantage for democrats. and the wider the spread of the programs the greater the advantage. and we do need to ask as we go along: leaving aside the next ten years of program x, is this the way we want to live?
9:20 oh hell santorum's digging up his autobiography again. his grandfather has already died a thousand times.
9:00 but scott walker got a standing o even just announcing wisconsin's delegate count. still he's fundamentally pretty dull.
8:54 speakers may never get much more than a tepid response in the arena; they decided not to go in the direction of something anyone could possibly be enthusiastic about; pure whitebrad hooha. maybe they can pipe in recorded crowd noise from sarah palin rallies.
8:50 mcdonnell of va: "we need a dynamic opportunity society." he is extraordinarily repulsive, a rising star.
8:21 'machines run by taxpayers like us'. and vice versa.
8:18 obamacare makes kelly ayotte cry. she just loves this fucking country so fucking much.
8:15 i'm assuming there are protests. but i have seen no coverage.
8:07 the oak ridge boys!
8:02 cnn's headline leading off the hour: "isaac closes in on the gulf coast. a complication for republicans." wait. what did you say?
7:42 this mia love person - a young black mormon from utah - is very compelling. actually we've had some great black female politicians. shirley chisholm and barbara jordan, e.g. but also some clunkers; i'm not feeling sheila jackson lee or maxine waters, for example. mia's preaching self-reliance right now. and she's an aerobics instructor! her reading of the cliches cobbled together by romney's sub-sub staff is at least passionate. and brief always goes over well.
7:30 'barack obama doesn't understand the american dream.' that reince priebus is a rather unimpressive person in this context.
7:20 as you know, my primary goal in life is not to have my death reported as having been caused by auto-erotic asphyxiation. another great aspiration of mine is to live in such a way that my spouse, if any, is never called upon to 'humanize' me in the media.
6:48 amazing how that isaac kind of spun itself into a perfect galactic hurricane just as it blew ashore. it wound itself up like a top. might be worse than they thought. i mean it it looks like nothing until it spirals into landfall. they're saying the pressure is dropping.
6:10 boehner managed not even to announce paul's total. you know, dissing people tends to irritate them. funny but the outcome of the election could turn on paul's enthusiastic endorsement of gary johnson. if you go to johnson's website, it's more about paul than about himself, which is sort of pitiful. i'm assuming that democratic super-pacs coud fund the libertarian party?
5:54 like, rhode island promoted 'adele's lemonade': it's like, so very american. 'the pheasant hunting capital of the world': south dakota. wait don't they realize that herman cain is the next president of the united states?
5:44 these ron paul people never made any sense in the republican party. they have to see that now.
5:31 the way c-span is doing the score is a bummer. just romney and 'others.' maine got 14 for romney, 10 for paul. minnesota: 33 paul, 6 romney. nevada 17 paul, 5 romney.
5:20 nothing is more quaint than the roll-call vote. i just wish paul had hundreds. it's sinking in now, state by state: shit we're nominating mitt romney! ok florida came in with 3 for paul. hawaii too. iowa!? 22 for paul, 6 for romney?! somebody is pissed. mitch mconnell proudly cast all his seed for 'mitch i mean mitt.' this is about me i mean you.
4:07 you know what's sad? republicans really have trouble rounding up decent entertainment. the, um, oak ridge boys? wait actually that's g.e. smith up on stage with someone now, while matrons do the hustle. it's like the saturday night live band from 1992. could be worse. throwing down some blues.
3:39 back in 2000, the philly inquirer got me to write with a late deadline on at least the first couple of nights of the dem convention. i gave them this, which they did print. (well they held the hole and it was 10:30). but i worked for them less after that. anyway, it shows you some of the ways things have changed since then. it was a simpler, more innocent time, before we realized that man is mortal or that shit goes awry.
3:10 if 'welfare' means 'black,' is it possible to debate welfare policy at all? or are all such programs exempt from examination?
3:07 on the other hand, i'm very not looking forward to ann romney's attempt to 'humanize' mitt romney, to 'give a deeply personal point of view,' etc. it sucks that the cops got the anarchists' pile of rocks.
believe it or not i have had many fond and vicious moments watching political conventions on television. john yang just now trying to make his way through the scrum on the floor to talk to ron paul and getting shoved out of the way on msnbc: classic. the first i remember was dems and yippies in chicago in '68; well, that will never be surpassed. but how about the chaos dems of 1972, or ford v reagan in 1976, or teddy v jimmy 1980. vidal v buckley. there actually have been pretty classic speeches, pat buchanan seting off high explosives, e.g. now in this time of candidates who fail the turing test, such as gore, kerry, or romney, few interesting things can possibly happen speechwise; however, you can always hope for things to go terribly terribly wrong on national television, which also does happen. looking forward to chris christie tonight. the most insufferable moments are the tribute videos: 100% visual, verbal, and musical cliches. god looks down upon convention videos and grows weary, infinitely weary. He of course recreates all that is at every moment, keeping it in existence by sheer force of will, at least until he nods off. at any rate, i will blog bits this evening. i guess the medium would be twitter, but i'm not on twitter.
this washpost editorial is substantive and devastating. this nytimes editorial is an empty exercise in mindless peer pressure. but the 'paul ryan is so weird' approach is completely puzzling strategically as well as rationally. so you chant 'paul ryan is an extremist.' now: what effect, on whom, do you expect that to have? it can't change anyone's mind who sympathizes with ryan's views; it's just an insult to them as well as him, without giving any reasons to think they're wrong. i guess for liberals, they can't hear this enough (evidence: they all produce the very same sentence to the tune of dozens of times each.) but they already agree with the positions. it has the function of trying to enhance polarization, without any actual cognitive content or engagement with actual arguments etc. really the only sense i can make of this rhetorical approach is that it is intended as self-esteem enhancement for the authors and like-minded readers: absolutely all it says is 'he's not like us.' but as in middle school, say, this is a way of saying: look how great (= how normal) we are.
mitt romney's extreme whiteness and barack's semi-blackness does kind of suggest a final racial polarization of american politics. he's polling at 0% among african-americans. now i would think that this is disturbing. and i have to admit, it is incomprehensible to me that republicans don't try to do better in outreach etc. it just don't make no sense. just start by connecting positions on social issues into the african-american church communities.
awww, you really gonna spend days on no one's asking for my birth certificate? you know, everyone purports to want both candidates, especially romney, to loosen up and act more human and stuff. well, then you're going to have to tolerate stray remarks.
funny thing about birtherism. people think it's straight-up racism. i don't think so, exactly. who can be more american, pretty much according to everybody, than a black dude? know what i'm saying? i never would have thought of african-americans as aliens in our midst, and actually i don't really think this is a trope of american racism. is it? like i often think, if someone doubts that i am american, they should just talk to me for ten minutes. it wouldn't take that long for anyone with, say, chris rock: you'd need less than a sentence. the only rival group for paradigmatic americanism is giterdone rednecks, such as myself. i guess maybe white politicians have wanted to send black folks back to africa; that really hasn't been that popular since the civil war, except among black people. american racism teaches many stupid things, but does it really teach that african-americans are not americans or that they're like illegal mexicans or something? it's interesting, but everyone still implicitly completely understands the difference between people jumping the fence to get in to a land not their own and the middle passage of two hundred years ago. whatever white people might think or believe, they can't be affronted by the presence of black people; no white privilege without it, for one thing. and no america as we understand it.
way late on this, but something is weird all the way round. i don't doubt that many people view obama through the lens of race; but i do sort of doubt the birtherism=racism doctrine. i actually think it's more part of a long history of associating american liberalism with foreign ideologies: turning us into europe etc. then there's the arabic-sounding name, but being anti-islamic is not precisely anti-black racism. i will say this: no one has ever been whiter than mitt romney: he radiates whiteness like a toothpaste. if you want to understand how a white american teenager becomes a wigger, all you have to do is see the emptiness at the heart of whiteness by looking in mitt romney's eyes. i'm surprised his seventeen sons aren't all hip hop artists.
update: actually, melissa harris-perry was good on this this morning on up. she's like: he's not exactly an african-american in the most usual sense; which helped him get elected but makes him hard to read. like, he knows exactly where his family is from in africa, what language they spoke, etc. she pointed out that no one is asking for michelle's birth certificate: look she's just obviously as american as mitt romney. but barack is a hard case. he just doesn't flow smoothly into our little racial dualism, even with all its complexities. but one thing about the dualism: it's american, on both sides, and both sides do at least read it like that. harris-perry is thinking, not just picking up the nearest club or unanimous simplification.
authorities are worried about the threat of anarchists and anti-government extremists in tampa. since paul ryan is described by a chorus of voices as an anti-government extremist, i assume he's who they mean. the mayor says that his guys have found an 'anarchist-related stash of bricks and rocks.' an additional threat is provided by all the uniformed men with weapons.
msnbc reporter at the empire state building: 'you know, there's a big police presence at all these tourist centers: the empire state building, grand central, the statue of liberty. and that's how police were able to apprehend oops i mean kill the suspect.' it's also why there was a chaotic exchange of gunfire on a crowded street, in which perhaps everyone who got shot except the initial victim (11ish people) was shot by police.
chris hedges introduces a piece in salon on oxycontin in coal-mining country as follows: "During the two years Joe Sacco and I reported from the poorest pockets of the United States, areas that have been sacrificed before the altar of unfettered and unregulated capitalism," etc. let's say the rest of the piece doesn't really support this diagnosis:
About half of those living in McDowell County depend on some kind of relief check such as Social Security, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, retirement benefits, and unemployment to survive. They live on the margins, check to check, expecting no improvement in their lives and seeing none. The most common billboards along the roads are for law firms that file disability claims and seek state and federal payments. “Disability and Injury Lawyers,” reads one. It promises to handle “Social Security. Car Wrecks. Veterans. Workers’ Comp.” The 800 number ends in COMP.
Harry M. Caudill, in his monumental 1963 book Night Comes to the Cumberlands,describes how relief checks became a kind of bribe for the rural poor in Appalachia. The decimated region was the pilot project for outside government assistance, which had issued the first food stamps in 1961 to a household of fifteen in Paynesville, West Virginia. “Welfarism” began to be practiced, as Caudill wrote, “on a scale unequalled elsewhere in America and scarcely surpassed anywhere in the world.” Government “handouts,” he observed, were “speedily recognized as a lode from which dollars could be mined more easily than from any coal seam.”
Obtaining the monthly “handout” became an art form. People were reduced to what Caudill called “the tragic status of ‘symptom hunters.’ If they could find enough symptoms of illness, they might convince the physicians they were ‘sick enough to draw’… to indicate such a disability as incapacitating the men from working. Then his children, as public charges, could draw enough money to feed the family.”
now i suppose you could regard the capitalism as the prob. or you could regard the problem as not enough capitalism. or you could regard the problem as precisely these government programs, which have dominated the economy of the area for decades without curing its difficulties. or you could represent the problem as insufficiently elaborate welfare-type programs, despite the fact that he describes the area as having been subjected to the some of the most elaborate welfare programs in the history of the world. anyway, before you feed everything into your socialist interpretive machine, you might want to think about the information you are yourelf developing.
the only thing that gives me pause about pussy riot is the fact that sting has expressed his support. they are quite delightful, though, like diy superhero girls! plus they all-at-once destroyed the taboo on 'pussy': in itself an amazing accomplishment.
watching up with chris hayes, to which i'm kind of addicted. hayes is extremely bright. at any rate, they had the average-person interview with a woman whose family used to make 100k but now subsists on unemployment, food stamps, and student loans. they introduced her with a clip of ryan saying that an economy ("the obama economy") with expanding social programs like those encourages dependency and is "demeaning." we have to create a ladder of opportunity in the private economy so people can take care of themselves. ok our woman on the street starts in with "that is ridiculous!" she portrays the result of the election as a matter literally of life and death to her family. (damn the addition of ryan has really gotten people focused, even if overwrought.) then she says: we hate these programs. we hate the fact that we're dependent on these programs. we have a plan to get off of these programs. really, i have to say, she confirmed ryan's basic point. then the panel is like: of course no one wants to be on these programs. in other words, they are still stigmatized by the left. you know, you might survey people who are recipients of these programs about how they view them, both in general and in detail: what is it like negotiating the bureaucracies that control your benefits? and how vulnerable do you feel to the programs and bureaucrats who run them? how do you feel about yourself as a recipient? this is an odd question: but to what extent do you feel yourself to be fully a citizen of the united states? then we've got to start trying to conceive alternatives. we're frozen in this duality where it's only more or less govt spending.
well, i'm grateful to the times's stone blog, just for throwing philosophy into the popular press. and unlikely as this seems, one fermin debrabander seems to occupy a position that i once did at mica. however, this, i feel, is not the stone's best moment. the freud stuff with which he starts is a useless argument for general determinism: the worst sort of argument because you'd have to accept freudianism to agree with it. and if you think anti-individualism follows from sheer determinism, you are not a competent philosopher. of course the basic opinion is just this week's leftist whinge: he's just lifting his little voice in chorus. one should expect no better from a collectivist, i suppose; on his own view, no better is possible. debrabander makes the argument that none of us actually think for ourselves, then illustrates it as well as he can. just one more time: when such people say 'the interdependence of us all,' they mean 'coercion.' i mean, the interdependence of us all is both sort of a reality and what could be an inspiring aspiration, but judt etc just effortlessly use it synonymously with increasingly comprehensive state power. that's why the vision is chilling and the argument extremely insincere or self-deluded as well as demonstrably dangerous. it would be more dangerous if it were more plausible; it's just a tissue of elisions.
the reason that the argument is so bad is because the group is so unanimous; everyone loves the conclusion, so they're not too particular about the premises. it may be that debrabander has hardly interacted with anyone, or been edited by anyone, who might disagree. each time someone says it, it becomes more autonomic for everyone to say it. like i say, the argument is not only an example of that, it is an argument for it.
it's ridiculous and instructive that romney and ryan are going around accusing obama of cutting medicare by $700 billion. one might think: well, they're just trying to manipulate people; they'll say anything. but instead of considering their strategy, think about their actual position and argument: they think they can accuse obama of doing more or less what they themselves endorse. in other words, maybe their goal is to manipulate, but what they actually construct is a ridiculous scatter of contradictions. we should hold people responsible for that: only really stupid people - people without the slightest notion of logical thinking - could take up simultaneously the positions that they endorse. it's annoying that 'strategic communication' (a contradiction in terms) leads politicians to treat us as idiots. but it should embarass them that it leads them to become idiots. politicians and the folks who teach this sort of 'communications' should stop thinking of themselves as firendishly clever manipulators of the populace and start thinking about what they are actualy encouraging people to say.
'now the election is no longer a referendum on obama, but a contest between two visions': it's amazing that every single pundit on all cable networks as well as a variety of op-ed columnists have all produced the very same 'idea' in the very same words for days, each with a flourish, as though pulling a rabbit out of a hat. how can a professional opinion-expresser not do better than that?
now perhaps i lost a bit of credibility when i described sarah palin at her introduction as 'the best politician ever" and predicted a mccain victory. but at any rate, obviously ryan has energized the romney campaign; people actually came voluntarily to see them at rallies over the weekend. and i think that the entitlement stuff is liable to cut a little closer to even than people think. the tea party initially was galvanized by deficits and debt, blaming both parties. people care about it, for whatever reason. i think it sells pretty well to seniors, using the trope of 'mortgaging our children's future' etc. and it's worth noting that few things in ryan's plan actually affect anyone's existing benefits; he's not taking away your medicare. (now, whether ryan's plan actually reduces the debt quickly enough, or whether doing it all with cuts takes it with sufficient seriousness is another matter.) at any rate, i think even in the swing states ryan's liable to be a wash at worst.
paul ryan: extremist, of course. so we'll go through a few weeks of this sort of thing. honestly, everyone who disagrees with the new york times editorial page, even slightly, is an extremist. well the same is true of the wall street journal. this is the basic means by which we enforce a narrow range of possibilities - a political spectrum an inch wide - on our beautiful-but-wack nation. you know, gingrich is all about how obama has an extremist socialist vision etc. i'd like to cobble together an extremist party: we could strike extreme fear in the main stream by proposing a 2% tax increase on dog-owners or something. i do so love 'extremist' or 'out of the mainstream': the sheer fact that you are capable of a tiny bit of independent intellection disaqualifies you entirely. 'extremist extremist': all it means is " disagrees with me.' but it tries to shape this stunning criticism through inventing a people to apply peer pressure to even slight deflectors of the weight of public opinion as articulated by the writer. it is the rhetorical stance of extreme cowardice, proceeding from fear to try to strike fear. there's no argument at all except: look he's different than us! crush, batter, kill. i'm going to assume until you stop that slop that you've got no actual reasons to take the positions you do. or rather, that you have no idea what would or would not constitute a good reason to believe anything. i am going to treat you as a pitiable idiot.
i realize this is unlikely, but i'll make you a deal: you stop trying to manipulate me socially into agreeing with you, and i'll stop insulting you.
yipes the olympic closing show. probably a pretty amazing light show live, incredibly static and bloated on television. plus the bellowing, pounding sound seems like it's coming out of a tunnel. pure mud. i won't presume to pronounce on the history of british taste that is on display.
david halperin is one of the people trying to re-enrich gayness after the genetic meltdown. well, among other things, this is a foucault approach, and halperin has been one of the very best readers of foucault.
“Gayness,” Mr. Halperin declares, “is not a state or condition. It’s a mode of perception, an attitude, an ethos: in short, it is a practice.” The great value of traditional gay male culture, he further posits, perhaps even more challengingly, “resides in some of its most despised and repudiated features: gay male femininity, diva worship, aestheticism, snobbery, drama, adoration of glamour, caricature of women and obsession with the figure of the mother.”
now let me ask me this: what does it mean - how does it relate to my heterosexuality or to my homophobia - that i reject the gay aesthetic repertoire more or less entirely? and i don't mean that i sit there and think 'that's too gay': i mean just flatly coming on such things i dislike them without effort or reflection; i wouldn't spend any money on them, e.g. i try to avoid divas of any kind at all costs in life or in entertainment. it's not that broadway musicals never had a good moment, but i find the whole style basically uninteresting: wow you just burst into extremely predictable song and dance there right in the middle of your life. cool. fun. oops i'm really fucking bored. the figure of judy garland does not interest me at all, or no more than a thousand other dead actors or celebrities. i abhor glamour. i would go far out of my way to avoid any exposure to opera of any kind, except maybe gilbert and sullivan. i do so love a snob, though, har har.
so my aesthetic repertoire is just the opposite of gay, i guess (not that there might not be the occasional overlap). and i certainly developed the basic set of preferences before i fully understood the sexual sub-culture signifiers (to the extent they were in place in 1972 or whatever). but i did develop these preferences at the same time that i was trying - i'd say with some embattledness - to establish a straight sexual identity. in a way, maybe every time i put on a merle haggard record i am fending off gayness or experessing homophobia.
but on the other hand, no one is really a monster in virtue of their sheer aesthetic preferences. can it be morally wrong to prefer flatt and scruggs to verdi or to dislike rococo interiors? first off, it's not under my control, exactly; i just do, though of course tastes can be pursued or cultivated. and second: it's not that i can't make actual arguments for these preferences; i do it all the time.
at any rate, i propose to criticize my own homophobic tendencies in almost any dimension but the aesthetic. i intend to promote equality and liberty for all god's creatures. but i don't propose to pretend that i think judy garland made better music than muddy waters. we're in a great gay moment. i propose to approve this politically with all my heart and soul while rolling my eyes at its aesthetic products.