Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Summer has arrived and many of you are planning to invite me to your barbeque parties.  Now, I am not one to tell others what to eat or serve. When I was a vegetarian and I was invited to dinner parties, I would lean in confidingly to my hostess and tell her I was willing to choke down anything she served, as long as it wasn't meat, poultry or fish.

"Guests should realize that the world wasn't put here to please them, and instead of placing orders to the hostess like she's a clown's mouth, you should bring your own food," I said, showing her the Asian noodle salad tucked in my minaudiere.

That said, I have strong views about the food you are about to serve vegetarians like the old me and as I am being paid a lot of money to explain economics to the upper classes, it is my duty to tell you what you are doing wrong.

In the past I was shocked to see that I was an afterthought in your outdoor grilling parties. There were hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, sausages, and even shrimp en brochette, but for the vegan/vegetarian? A box of frozen, depressed veggie burgers who could barely lift their corners to greet their purchaser. Three bean salad. Wet tofu, that you had not started draining the day before. You paid no thought at all to tantalizing my taste buds. You cared nothing for my happiness. And yet you congratulated yourself on your thoughtfulness for thinking of me at all!

The food you served me was disgusting. I mean, the burgers were crumbly and worse than nothing but at least they were edible, if you slapped and doused them and covered them with stuff.  As for sausages, well! All I can say is that those gray, paste-like things flopped limply on the plate, reminding me that my darling husband needed to call an Uber to take us home immediately.

So if you want to cater to someone as refined as myself, use my own recipes. They are the only ones that I consider suitable.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Anything Goes!

Hello, Central? Get me the Gossip Desk!

If time permits I will try to return to this post in which Megan McArdle attempts to protect the honor of her circle's revenue stream. For now, let's take a quick peek. It seems that organizations fat with donor cash who use that cash to sue their way to economic freedom might be smeared by the Peter Thiel/Gawker blowup.
In fact, there is a very long history of third parties using lawsuits to achieve public policy ends. As Eugene Kontorovich points out at the Volokh Conspiracy, if you’re a fan of legal aid societies, ACLU and civil-rights suits, or massive class action litigation, you’re a fan of third parties financing lawsuits -- often, yes, with carefully hand-picked test cases. And while much has been made of Peter Thiel’s revenge motive, it is also not unheard of for people with a personal stake in an issue to donate money to advance that cause through lawsuits. If someone who was a victim of racial oppression by the state of Mississippi later funded lawsuits aimed at fighting racism in the state, we’d be clapping, not wringing our hands.

Or maybe you're a fan of Citizen's United, or perhaps the Institute for Justice and all their bretheren, who are kind enough to keep Megan McArdle and her devoted partner, P. Suderman, boy runaway-spouse-to-be, hip deep in paper towels and kitchen appliances.  Speaking of which, you know how I keep pointing out McArdle's blatant conflicts of interest? Somebody either had a word with our Randian princess or her highness's highly developed sense of self-preservation kicked in.

Disclosure: My husband worked at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which was subpoenaed, before we met, and his current employer, the Reason Foundation, was also targeted. However, the column I wrote was written before the subpoena dropped on Reason, so I only disclosed the CEI connection in the original.
But I am wrong from time to time. Maybe it was the elusive butterfly of ideas, flitting hither and yon from cranium to cranium, pollinating the delicate flower of inspiration.

McArdle decides that both sides are wrong and right and nobody can do anything ever.

Peter Thiel can legitimately argue that he believes Gawker shouldn’t be allowed to publish gossip, and that he would like to advance the public interest by curbing this sort of thing through lawsuits. I disagree with his goal, as I’ve said, but it’s hard to come up with an actual principle that would justify stopping him -- other than “People I disagree with shouldn’t have the same rights as people I like.”
And that matters because -- as we so rarely seem to remember these days -- a vast, diverse country needs to be governed under broad and neutral principles. We can’t choose the winners and losers first and then jerry-rig a system that will produce the outcomes we want. Unfortunately, that’s what most people are doing when they talk about both Gawker’s journalistic standards and Peter Thiel’s lawsuits. My position on both is the same: I don’t really approve, but I also don’t see a way to stop it without endangering a lot of really important civic processes. So we’ll have to live with it.
Or endangering a lot of really important sources of money.

You heard her, folks. If you have a sex tape of Megan McArdle, game on.*

*I'm joking. For the love of God keep it to yourself.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

From Soup To Nuts


I couldn't think of an image so here's a Warhol I saw yesterday. It was awesome.

Our story begins with Devin Watkins

Devin Watkins formerly worked at the Institute for Justice and graduated with honors from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Prior to his legal career he was a senior software developer at Intel and WebMD. In 2012, he represented Oregon at the Republican National Convention.

Watkins moved from the Koch-spawned Institute for Justice, beloved of Koch-bred Megan McArdle and Uber, to ASSLaw at Koch U. He must be very smart because he is a lawyer, presuming he's passed the bar. That will be important later.

Like Megan McArdle, Watkins is a defender of guns and their right to own people in DC. It was extremely magnanimous of McArdle to be so eager for DC residents to have guns, considering there are so many "urban" people in DC and also considering how McArdle feels about "urban" people and their violence and crime, inferior "culture," child-like inability to delay gratification, and mental deficiency. Perhaps she wishes to keep them in between her and any mobs that storm the Capitol. Watkins is generous as well, and is irate that there might be a hitch in his gun-toting giddy-up.
Less than a year ago, Kim Davis ignored a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and refused to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples. She was held in contempt of court, served five days in jail, and was ruthlessly attacked in the media.
Now the office of Karl Racine, the Washington, D.C. attorney general, has ordered D.C. government employees to ignore a court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The order by the D.C. District Court Judge Richard Leon was to stop denying individuals applying for a concealed-carry permit from requiring a “good reason,” and to immediately update the forms to no longer require that.
Watkins doesn't give a source for his scoop, which turns out to be understandable under the circumstances, which are he appears to have made the whole thing up. After the court order, Watkins said, he scurried over to get a permit for his very self. Until this moment, anyone in DC had to give a reason for wanting a gun, and not all reasons were considered to be good reasons.

I am not sure why Watkins waited so long to get a concealed carry permit; surely he is old enough to wear long pants and therefore carry a gun. What was he waiting for, Christmas? Anyway, now that he could get a permit for no reason at all the intoxicating freedom went to his head and he hied hither.
After the order, I went to apply for a concealed-carry permit in the District of Columbia. The police officers there told me the D.C. attorney general’s office had ordered them to ignore the court order and continue to deny applications. Thinking there might be some kind of mistake, I contacted the AG’s office, which explicitly told me if I had a complaint about what they did I could file that complaint online.
To be clear:

Watkins went to (presumably) a police station to apply for a concealed carry gun permit.
The police told him that the DC AG ordered them to ignore the court order.
Watkins called the AG's office.
The AG's office told him explicitly that they did tell the police to ignore the court order and to complain about it online.

Watkins goes on to huff and puff about Kim Davis' persecution and assassination as performed by the employees of the government under the direction of the President of the USA.

However, if you go to the website of DC's AG, you will see an update dated a week ago:
Update, 5/19/2016
In light of the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Grace v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 15-2234, the Metropolitan Police Department will not require applicants to comport with the “Good Reason” requirement under D.C. Official Code § 7-2509.11(1)(A) & (B), while the injunction is effective (see “Grace Preliminary Injunction” document, attached below).
Applicants must still meet all other requirements when applying for a license to carry a concealed firearm. Applicants who were previously denied pursuant to the “Good Reason” requirement may submit a new application. The application fee for re-applicants meeting this criteria will be waived. New applicants should use the existing forms until such time as the Department is able to revise forms in accordance with the court’s order. Questions should be directed to the Firearms Registration Section at (202) 727-4275.
It's very odd that the AG's office would make an official announcement that they were putting the order into effect and then turn around and tell the police to ignore the order. In fact, it's unbelievable. Which is, no doubt, why the AG's office e-mailed Watkins and told him they had done no such thing.
UPDATE: Rob Marus, communications director for the D.C. attorney general’s office, responded to this article with the following.
“[T]he Office of the Attorney General has not and would not instruct any officer of the District government to ignore any Court order. As the District stated in its reply brief filed with the Court yesterday (copy attached), the Metropolitan Police Department last week revised its concealed-carry licensing website
Besides a correction regarding Kim Davis, at this time there have been no other additions or corrections. We don't know if Watkins contacted the police to ask them why he was told the permits were being denied. Did he talk to the person at the AG's office again to find out why she lied to him?

Watkins did not wax indignant that he had been given bad information and thus denied his constitutional right to be armed for no reason. He did not threaten to sue anyone, and he is a conservative lawyer.

His post was picked up by others. Many, many others, including Brian Doherty at Reason, who checked up on the story.
In a phone interview with Watkins, I got him to elaborate. The city has 90 days to consider the application, so he has not officially been denied yet. The incident occurred on May 17.
But Watkins says what the receiving officer told him—he did not get the name—strongly implied that his lack of listing the "good reason" would mean he would be denied, and that they had been told by the attorney general's office to ignore the ruling.
Watkins handed in a copy of that ruling along with his application. He does not know the name or position of the person at the attorney general's office who responded to his complaint about the matter with telling him he should just file a complaint online.  
As Watkins wrote in a follow up email:
I told [the officer taking his application] “you do understand that ignoring a court order could potentially find you in contempt of court.” They said “look sir, this is not a court of law. We just do what our superiors like the AGs office order us to do.” I insisted that they take my application anyway even if they were going to deny it in the end.
The city did on May 18 write in a press release that "we believe that the District's gun laws are reasonable and necessary to ensure public safety in a dense urban area, and we will request a stay of this decision while we appeal."
But Robert Marus, a press officer for the D.C. attorney general's office, vigorously denied that they'd given any such order to disobey the order in the meantime.
And what could be more convincing than a changing story with anonymous villains?

 Thanks to Megan McArdle we know that ideas aren't passed around, they just grow in people's head out of nowhere, but despite her elite wisdom we see that among the dozens of others who took note, Charles C. Wigglesworth Cooke saw the alleged injustice and ran with it, re-tweeting it for his devoted followers.
And speaking of the devil, McArdle re-tweeted Cooke's tweet. But that's not all! She also called for the resignation of  Karl Racine, the AG of DC (band name!).
Yes, a Bloomberg columnist called for the resignation of the DC AG over a dubious re-tweet.

It was a strange journey from Watkins to McArdle but at least we know it's not just another wingnut ginning up controversy for dollars and the entire conservative propaganda apparatus spreading it hither and yon. Because Megan McArdle said so.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't Worry America, Megan McArdle Has Your Back

It's odd that Megan McArdle has written a post that seems to defend Donald Trump from accusations of dictatorship when she despises him so, but buried in the oh-so-many-words is a tiny clue.

While McArdle appears to be upset that The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik states Trump will be a dictator and the country won't recover, the political is always personal with her.
Now for the embrace. One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.’
No, you can’t. One can argue about whether to call him a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke made in a nightmare shared between Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe, but under any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is.
McArdle enthusiastically supported the #NeverTrump "movement." Gopnik insulted her and them. He pointed out they were powerless fools, without principles or spine. For that...he must die!!

McArdle's evidence that the US could never be taken over and permanently damaged by a dictatorship in modern times:

1. Nobody knows anything, so there's no way to tell whether or not countries recover from dictatorships.
Moreover, the “modern times” restriction makes it hard to generalize, simply because there just aren’t that many modern democracies around, or enough years of history to study from them.
2. You cannot prove a man will be a dictator; you can only find out after he dictators over everything.
And that assumes that Trump, having taken power, would turn into a Peron or a Lenin, and not, say, just a bad president. Leave aside for now the argument over whether he has genuinely scary-dictator instincts (I see worrying signs that he does, but this is unprovable until he tries to do scary-dictator things rather than just bray about them).
3. Just because armed men backed by the biggest, most deadly military in the world take over a country doesn't mean people will obey the folks threatening to kill them. McArdle knows this because FDR tried to become a dictator and he was stopped.
There are two stages to becoming a scary autocrat. First, you have to get into a position to seize power. The most traditional routes are the military (a task for which Donald Trump’s bone spurs left him tragically disqualified), or winning elected office to abolish or corrupt the electoral process. The former route has its risks, but once you’ve safely arrived in the presidential palace, it’s pretty easy to dispense with democracy, since you have all the guns. The latter route means you need the rest of government, including all the folks with guns, to go along with you.
This certainly does happen, even in countries that have been practicing democracies for a while. But it’s by no means a given. Franklin D. Roosevelt took a certain amount of constitutional liberty with his wackier notions, and when the courts pushed back, he hit on the scary idea of basically throwing out some Supreme Court justices and replacing them with others who would rubber-stamp his policies. (The phrasing was nicer than that, but this was the basic idea, and just the sort of first step that dictators like to take toward cementing themselves as Autocrat for Life). FDR’s own party rebelled, but the Supreme Court began cooperating, too.
4. Dictator FDR was unsuccessful in part because the FBI would never tap a phone on the president's order, or to gain power, or protect itself from a dictator's revenge, or protect their jobs....
There’s clearly a portion of the electorate that thrills to the more authoritarian and violent parts of his message, and presumably some of those folks are in the military and the civil service. But I’m still fairly confident that the FBI is not, say, going to start tapping journalists’ phones to find out if they’re making fun of President Trump’s comb-over, or disappearing the ones who do.
5. America's institutions are too strong to let a dictator take over the US.
All-out dictatorship is pretty low on the list, because American institutions do not seem weak enough to allow it.
No doubt the Republican Party will stop Trump if he tries to run for office. They're a long-standing, powerful American institution.

Oh, wait. They accepted him as their party's nominee and are backing his run, because Hiltery will be worse.

Sucks to be you, Republicans.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Cultivation Of Ideas

McArdle and friends in a brainstorming session.

Megan McArdle yesterday:

My theory is: You don’t put ideas in peoples’ heads; they just grow there.

Megan McArdle, after Kevin Drum wrote (and later deleted) an erroneous post saying "Millennials Are the First Generation In Which Men Outnumber Women":

She believes every dumb damn thing she ever heard, as long as it's from her tribe. Then she tells everyone that ideas come from nowhere. I suppose the words"sex selective abortion" just grew in her head like chia seeds.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Megan McArdle: Trump Voters Are Not To Blame For Trump Votes

Small government conservatives show their support for their fiscal guru.

Megan McArdle has had enough of all y'all and your anti-conservative attacks.
Until a few early polls started coming out showing Donald Trump pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton, liberals could be forgiven a certain amount of schadenfreude. After 20 years of relentless partisanship and personal attacks, the monster that Republican leaders created had broken free of its chains and was hell bent on destroying its former master.
Yes, it's true that the right's followers have decided to destroy their "masters," a rather medieval way of putting the relationship between voter and candidate. McArdle never forgets the pecking order. Her authoritarian love of hierarchy drives her to create a fantasy world in which she is, by birth and by right due to merit, an elite lording it over the peasantry.
Or maybe those liberals shouldn't be forgiven so easily. I’ve been pondering these theories -- advanced by everyone from Barack Obama and Harry Reid to Bill Maher -- and the thing is, they don’t make a heck of a lot of sense. They seem to posit a Republican electorate that is, on the one hand, so malleable that the GOP leadership could create the emotional conditions for a Trump candidacy -- and on the other hand, a Republican electorate so surly and unmanageable that it has ignored the horrified pleading of conservative leaders and intellectuals, in order to rally behind Trump.
McArdle has read about people who read studies on conservative authoritarianism. She complained about them in this I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I? post.
Conservatives are conservative because they're authoritarian and resistant to new ideas. Everyone knows that, right? There's a bunch of social-science research that even proves it. If only conservatives were more open and less dogmatically attached to their tribe and their traditions, the world would be a much better place. A lot of smart people endorse some version of this story. And yes, research surveys show that conservatives do express a much stronger affinity for obedience, authority and in-group loyalty than do liberals. But there's a question those surveys can't answer: How does what people say translate into what people actually do?
McArdle admits conservatives are authoritarian but denies that conservatives are authoritarian but says that so is everyone else. Now, when she wants to disavow her own tribe's allegiance to the Trump buffoon, she pretends that conservatives can't be molded. If that were true she wouldn't have a job.

We know why the right has rejected their old elite to fasten upon a new elite who hasn't disappointed them yet. The old elite foolishly pushed the followers too far, giving them power and influence and encouraging their rages and hatreds. They also undermined the followers' allegiance to authority by constantly telling the followers that everyone in government was corrupt. Because they are followers, the right's base believed them and turned to a new leader who wasn't in government. McArdle must ignore all the evidence before her so she can claim that her party is not the party of greedy, racist fools.
Perhaps because I have spent the last 15 years trying to convince other people of my opinions, I have an alternate theory. My theory is: You don’t put ideas in peoples’ heads; they just grow there. Consider the five major planks of the “Everything is the fault of the Republican Party” argument:
McArdle might actually believe this. She says advertising doesn't affect people's choices and money doesn't affect politics. Naturally, she says this because she doesn't have the faintest idea where her own ideas come from. She "thinks" from the gut, having emotional reactions to stimuli and then rationalizing her response with intellectual arguments afterwards, if at all. She believes whatever satisfies her emotional needs.

It's not that her media and social circle tell her to consume her way to elite status. She just really, really likes to spend money on marginally useful elite consume goods. The truth is that persuasion, propaganda, and bribery don't work.
1.Talk radio and Fox News made conservatives crazy. Now, I don’t particularly care for most talk radio. (There are plenty of exceptions, which can be roughly inferred from finding out which conservative talk radio shows I have appeared on.) The name calling and buzzwords are juvenile, and the level of policy debate is not high enough to hold my interest, regardless of whether I agree with some of the chatter. And blissfully freed from the necessity of actually governing, or getting elected, talk-radio folks are prone to urge counterproductive tactical extremism that is great for their ratings and terrible for the political causes they are allegedly trying to advance.
The extremists are not extreme because decades of talk radio have whipped them into extremism, although talk radio has been whipping them into extremism for decades.
That said, media follows its audience, rather than leading it. Opinion columnists who spend any time at all interacting with their readers are well aware of how pitifully rarely we manage to change anyone’s mind about anything. I’m not saying that it never happens, because it does. But mostly, folks read us because they agree with us, and they enjoy having us agree with them. The best evidence that conservative media has any impact on the opinions of its audience shows that the introduction of Fox News to cable systems very slightly moved those election districts to the right -- by about the margin in a white-knuckled squeaker of an election. This can’t explain the last 10 years of electoral results or the current cycle.
The strawman of "change anyone's mind" is manfully overcome and beaten, leaving the original argument sitting there like a crow on corn. Talk radio peddled anti-liberal hate and scorn, and actively drove their audience to act on their orders. But since talk radio alone did not change electoral results (she says), it did virtually nothing at all.
2.Blocking president Obama’s legislation. This theory, as advanced by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, holds that by relentlessly delegitimizing Obama, Republicans somehow paved the way for the rise of Trump and his “no holds barred” style of politics. Now, again, I have been pretty harsh on some of the more theatrical exhibitions of pointless political power over the last eight years. But this explanation for Trump's rise is absurd. First of all, the leadership was frantically trying to stop those folks, and was unable to because the conservative base elected hard-liners who wouldn’t cooperate. Second, as this implies, the impetus for the shutdowns and the legislative blockades came from very conservative voters in the Republican base, the kind who can swing House primary races, yet Trump’s support was strongest among moderate Republicans. You could theorize that Republican obstructionism paved the way for Trump by alienating those voters, except that there’s no evidence for this; few Trump fans seem to be wildly outraged bygreen-energy initiatives, health-care expansions or the failure to cut taxes deeper and faster. When I've asked them what they’re most mad about, it’s that the leadership seemed too cooperative with Obama on immigration reform.
Actually, one of the things they are most outraged about is one of McArdle's biggest enemies: regulation.

They also hold the Confederate Flag near and dear to their hearts, no doubt because state's rights are so important to them. Perhaps they think "Blacks who can’t get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition" because they believe in personal responsibility, not because they think poorly of Blacks. If they don't want to be arrested, beaten, choked, and murdered they can just stop being so culturally inferior, not to mention stupid (maybe!).

After realizing that they no longer had control of their electorate, the conservative elite tried to wrestle back control but it was too late. The hard-liners, who had been very deliberately empowered and incited by the leadership, were now too strong. And let us also not forget that Megan McArdle aided an abetted the Tea Party along with her husband. He worked for them, making fake grassroots videos to discourage voters from supporting any taxpayer bailouts while Mrs. Rat-f*cker went to work stumping for bank bailouts. McArdle claimed the Koches weren't backing the Tea Party (they later admitted they were) and got a story about the connection pulled from Playboy magazine. They were quite the little power couple and got rich off of it.

The most important factor regarding Trump voters, however, is the same factor that divides Clinton and Sanders supporters: their authoritarianism, the very thing that McArdle claims doesn't exist (more or less). They want a strong leader who attacks their enemies and protects them. They want to follow, not lead.
3.Personal attacks on Democrats. This is just -- I have no words for what it is. At least, not words that can be printed in a family-friendly column. It is triple-distilled balderdash … high-test twaddle … self-congratulatory swill … nonsense on stilts. It suggests that the Republican leadership could have somehow shut down all such attacks, which would have, at the very least, involved both government censorship and flagrant violation of our nation’s campaign finance laws. And of course, it suggests that climbing further up the moral high ground would have somehow instilled a sense of shame in Trump or the folks who enjoy his outrages, a theory which has been thoroughly and conclusively disproved by the events of the last six months. Should the Republicans have been more forthright in denouncing Donald Trump’s birth certificate nonsense? Absolutely, and while they’re at it they should call their mothers more, and donate more of their personal funds to global malaria eradication. But it’s a pretty big stretch to suggest that any of these things would have somehow impinged on his popularity.
Not only did the Republican elite not try to rein in Trump, they encouraged his birther accusations. They might have been able to undercut his eventual elevation to a plausible political candidate; we'll never know because they were afraid of alienating Trump's racist followers.
4.Fox News gave him so much air time. C’mon. C’mon. Every time I tuned into MSNBC or CNN, I thought I had mistakenly woken up in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, where television stations were legally required to air hours of the off-the-cuff ramblings of their local strongman. There is a lively debate to be had over whether the networks should have chased ratings by giving Trump a couple of billion dollars' worth of free airtime. That debate does not end in the conclusion that somehow, it’s all the fault of Fox News.
It is very amusing to see conservatives blame Fox for Trump after decades of vacuous support.  Fox didn't support Trump at first but they did a very fine job of whipping up their audience to help get conservatives elected. It's not all Fox's fault but they certainly helped a great deal.

It's strange that McArdle can list numerous reasons why conservatives created Trump, eliminate them one-by-one as not being the sole cause of the rise of Trump, and then conclude that the right had nothing to do with Trump's rise.
5.The Southern strategy. In this theory, the original sin was the GOP’s Southern strategy, in which they cynically decided to go after the South’s angry white racist vote with a code-word-laden campaign about law and order. Eventually, this culminated in the nomination of an outspoken racist for the party leadership.
I have a somewhat more nuanced view of the Southern strategy. First of all, the idea that law and order concerns were all about appealing to Southern racists is frankly nuts; law and order concerns were mostly about appealing to voters who were appalled by the explosion of violence and disorder from the '60s to the early '90s. We can certainly argue about whether the policies enacted in response to that explosion were just, right or effective, but the idea that Republicans somehow invented this to cover up their attempt to reinvent the KKK as a major political party is just shockingly ahistorical.
This little bit of offal demonstrates why McArdle is and always will be a shill. She is an agnotologist, deliberately attempting to create ignorance to advance her own welfare.  It is so transparently dishonest, so "shockingly ahistorical," that I will just leave it there; smelly, bloody, and oozing with dishonesty.
And second of all, to the extent that Republicans were tapping into such sentiments, some of it was simply because with crime and welfare benefits unequally racially distributed, any party that favored tough law enforcement and was skeptical of social spending was going to appeal more to whites than to minorities, and especially to whites who had strong negative feelings about the minorities who committed a disproportionate share of the crimes and collected a disproportionate share of the poverty benefits. This makes the “Southern strategy” look more deliberate than it was; part of what we’re looking at is simply a party realignment away from regional blocs and the old business/labor split and toward ideological size-of-government and culture war fault lines. The fact that small-government policies appealed to racists doesn’t mean that this was the motivation of the folks pushing those policies.
It's not that our society is racist, it's just that Blacks are inferior and violent.
Which brings me to my third point, which is that to the extent that it was deliberate, the Republican Party was chasing those voters, not leading them. The racial animus behind Jim Crow was not created by political leadership; it was often reinforced by law, but it was a culture-wide systematic bias that caused, rather than reflected, Jim Crow, and which outlived the demise of its legal manifestation. You can argue that Republicans should simply have declined to have those voters in their coalition but … how? The rest of the party really did want small-government policies for a variety of ideological and personal reasons. Were they supposed to abandon the policy positions because racists also liked them? Better shut down Planned Parenthood, then, because Margaret Sanger had some incredibly unappealing views on eugenics. (Hint: She was for it.)
It's not about racism, it's about ethics in small government policy.
I don’t like the fact that there are virulent racists and anti-Semites in our electorate. I don’t know how big a percentage they compose of Trump’s support, but they are obviously some portion, because I, like other right-leaning columnists, have been enjoying a bile fountain from those folks for months. I would rather those people let go of their vile hatreds and embraced better, kinder ideas about the world and the people in it. But they’re still my fellow Americans, and they have exactly as much right as I do to have their votes count. And there’s no way to keep their preferences out of the policy process unless you’re prepared to advocate that both parties should systematically collude to disenfranchise these folks, and split the remaining vote between them. That’s both impractical and more than a little creepy.
And there's nothing one can do if small government voters are racist, what are the right to do, renounce them and chase them out? That would be fascist.
So whose fault is Trump then, if not the leadership of the Republican Party and the conservative movement?
McArdle actually thinks she's provided a winning argument.
I tend to think that’s a bad question. It is politics-as-novel, rather than politics-as-system. We are a large, fractious nation full of clashing interest groups and wildly differing opinions, as well as differing levels of engagement with politics. That system will often spit out results that most of us don’t like very much. Trying to ascribe those results to a person, or even a small group, is like blaming the weatherman because it’s raining, or an economist for a recession. You have selected the most visible target, not the most likely one. And, in the case of Democrats who fault Republicans for Trump, a very convenient target as well.
There are no villains, the people who voted for Trump are not responsible for Trump, and the right is a party of small government, not-really-racists, and fluffy kittens.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mother Drum

No, this isn't condescending at all.

How to Deal with Cretinous Twitter Mobs: A Bleg  
[by] Kevin Drum
I'm going to venture into dangerous territory and just hope that everyone will give this a sympathetic reading. I'm not trying to shift blame or dismiss a real problem.
The problem in question is the treatment of women by men on Twitter and other social platforms. In a word (or two), there's a subset of really loathsome assholes out there who harass women mercilessly: comments about looks, about rape, about death threats, etc. etc. The best solution, of course, is to get these men to knock it off, but there's no way that will happen quickly. At best, it will take many years to leach this kind of misogyny out of the internet. 
In the meantime, the problem is that this treatment causes women genuine pain and stress. I don't get anywhere near this kind of abuse, but I sometimes get a bit of it, and it's no fun. So I have at least a glimmer of what it's like.
Women can handle pain and stress, they do it all the time. But the main point is true; there's no excuse for abusive Twitter behavior towards women.

However, the same argument is used when women are criticized on Twitter. This is one reason why it useful to pay women writers to criticize women elite. The whole sexism issue is relegated to the background and people can concentrate on whether the criticism is abusive or valid, instead of whether the critic is abusive.

Unfortunately Drum goes on to place the responsibility for change on the women who are attacked/criticized. His belief that women should be protected does not preclude his belief that women need to toughen up, the sensitive little dears.
So here's my question: is there any kind of relatively simple therapy that can train people not to succumb to panic attacks over Twitter mobs attacking them? I'm not talking about ignoring genuine threats, like folks posting addresses and suggesting someone should be raped. Those should go straight to the police. It's all the rest that I'd like to learn to take in stride as nothing more than the meaningless ravings of cretinous sad sacks.
So: Is there anything like this? Does anyone know a reliable method for building up a thicker skin? Sort of like the hypnosis of Peter Gibbons in Office Space, except something that actually works. I know we shouldn't have to, but sometimes it's worth it even if it's galling that we need to do it at all.
 Sure there is. Hire people who like to fight, not people who feel bad when someone criticizes them. Pay people who will punch back twice as hard when they are punched. And by "people" I mean women.

Unless you think women are warm, tender creatures who need to be protected from battle wounds, what's the problem?