Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Soldier Excited To Take Over Father’s Old Afghanistan Patrol Route"

"At press time, a tear fell from Corcoran's eye as he hugged his dad goodbye in the very same manner he remembered his father doing to him when he was a toddler."

From The Onion.

"Federal Programs Reinforced Segregation"

"Suburban expansion financed by the Federal Housing Administration, another New Deal agency, was also discriminatory. In the Los Angeles area, Panorama City, developed by Henry J. Kaiser in the late 1940s, and Lakewood, developed by Mark Taper and his partners, were FHA-supported on explicit condition that African Americans be barred. FHA rules stated that 'incompatible racial elements' would disqualify builders from essential federally backed loans. The FHA also frequently required that property deeds prohibit resale to African Americans."

Richard Rothstein in the Los Angeles Times writes that "government's unconstitutional and systematic insistence on segregated housing in the mid-20th century" created "patterns that persist to this day."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"The Candidate Himself Was Less Important Than What His Candidacy Signified"

"The growing literature on the plight of Appalachia deflects attention from the struggles of dwindling ethnic Catholic communities. For so many ethnic hamlets in Michigan or Pennsylvania, a middle-class existence either evaporated or never arrived. Their cash strapped local governments fail to provide adequate services. Rapid demographic change overwhelms their school districts and neighborhoods. Manufacturers announce layoffs and retail malls close. 
"The collective effect erodes any semblance of social cohesion. In these communities, individuals live in the same neighborhoods where their immigrant Catholic families arrived a century before. But the jobs are gone and their parish is consolidated or closed. These Democratic strongholds supported the labor movement, disproportionately served in the First and Second World Wars, and rallied around Kennedy in the hope of cultural vindication. This coalition remembers when Kennedy famously asked what Americans could do for their country. After reading this masterful study, one cannot help but ask what the current Democratic party has done for working-class Catholics."

Charles F. McElwee III at The American Conservative reviews Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie's The Road to Camelot.

"On a Stage, Being Musicians, Being Indians, Being Americans, Playing Rock 'n' Roll"

"There's Mildred Bailey, who grew up on a Coeur D'Alene reservation in Idaho and became one of the greatest and most important vocalists in prewar American jazz. (Tony Bennett is featured in the film, proclaiming Bailey as one of his formative vocal influences.) There's Jesse Ed Davis, born in Oklahoma to a Comanche father and Kiowa mother, who would go on to become one of the most sought-after session guitarists of his generation, playing with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Jackson Browne. These figures are more than worthy of full documentaries entirely to themselves. Another artist featured in the film, Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton, whose grandmother was thought to be Cherokee, is quite simply one of the most important musicians of the 20th century and probably worthy of at least a hundred such films."

Jack Hamilton at Slate reviews the new documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Protection of Slavery From the Perceived Threat to Its Long-Term Survival Posed by Lincoln’s Election in 1860 Was, in Fact, the Dominant Theme in Secessionist Rhetoric"

"As Gary Gallagher notes in his introduction to The Myth of the Lost Cause, 'White Southerners emerged from the Civil War thoroughly beaten but largely unrepentant.' Some proponents of the Lost Cause remained candid about the racial ideology that sustained the Confederacy. The unrepentant Edward Pollard, wartime editor of the Richmond Examiner, wrote the first history of the Confederacy, with the appropriate title The Lost Cause. The war had ended slavery, Pollard acknowledged, but it 'did not decide negro equality…. This new cause—or rather the true question of the war revived—is the supremacy of the white race.'17 In a speech to Confederate veterans in 1890, a former captain in the 7th Georgia Volunteer Infantry echoed Pollard: 'We fought for the supremacy of the white race in America.'"

In a 2001 New York Review of Books article, James M. McPherson looks at publications concerning the cause of the Civil War.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"It's Not Necessary to Live Like This"

"On the other hand, every white man who played vigilante in Charlottesville this weekend went home unharmed to his family, having successfully overawed the police—and having sent a chilling message of warning to lawful protesters.
"No other democracy on Earth tolerates such antics. When libertarian-minded Americans lament the over-militarization of police, they might give some thought to what it takes to police a society where potential lawbreakers think it their right to accumulate force that would do credit to a Somali warlord. And not only accumulate it, but carry that force into public to brandish against fellow citizens who think differently from their local paramilitaries."

David Frum at The Atlantic criticizes the "carrying of firearms by random citizens into public places."

And Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate write that "[r]allies with guns cannot be treated, for First Amendment purposes, in the same fashion as rallies with no guns."

"An Old Trope on the Conspiratorial Far Right"

"The Frankfurt School emerged during the rise of Nazism and Stalinism, both movements they opposed. What defined the Frankfurt School was their argument that a purely economic account of history was inadequate for accounting for the new dictatorships. Instead, there was a need for cultural analysis of authoritarianism, racism, and patriarchy.
"During the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse, then teaching in San Diego, rose to prominence as a mentor to the New Left. Angela Davis, who also studied with Adorno, was Marcuse's protege, and some New Left activists cited Marcuse’s abstruse works. Right-wing groups, notably the John Birch Society, made Marcuse a scapegoat for the upheavals of the 1960s. Marcuse himself received death threats from a right-wing militia. In a 1971 interview with Playboy, actor John Wayne blamed Marcuse for student protests, saying, 'Marcuse has become a hero only for an articulate clique. The men that give me faith in my country are fellas like Spiro Agnew, not the Marcuses.'
"The conspiracy theory was later revived in the 1980s by the paleo-conservative thinker William S. Lind, who claimed that the Frankfurt School was the foundation for political correctness. Via Lind, it has become a popular argument on the far right, often cited by figures like columnist Pat Buchanan and the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik."

Jeet Heer at the New Republic discusses the influence of "cultural Marxism" on Donald Trump.

"They Said in Effect: Political Violence Is a Line We Won't Cross"

"After Olympia, Rothermere and the Daily Mail also withdrew open support and the rest of the British press effectively boycotted Mosley, reporting only the continued violence that broke out at subsequent rallies but not details of his speeches. Newspapers that had previously been sympathetic—often catering to a public taste for appeasement of Hitler—changed their tune. British Blackshirts were branded as thugs.
"That also made attending Mosley’s meetings much less comfortable for MPs and government ministers. It was only after this shift in the way fascists were treated in the press and in political discourse that the realities of the Nazi threat finally penetrated the British public, helping them to coalesce behind the war when it broke out in 1939."

Katherine Pickering Antonova at The Washington Post explains "[h]ow the British defeated homegrown fascism."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"The Test Trump Failed"

"Fair or unfair, one of the burdens on modern leaders is the expectation that they will give a shape to the arc of distressing events, or at least will try to. Come to think of it, it's not an unreasonable expectation to place on them, for the enormous power they can wield at their whim.
"Donald Trump had an opportunity yesterday to show that he was more than the ignorant, impulsive, reckless opportunist he appeared to be during the election. To show, that is, that the  burdens and responsibilities of unmatched international power had in fact sobered him, and made him aware of his obligations to the nation as a whole.
"Of course, he failed.
"And those who stand with him, now, cannot claim the slightest illusion about what they are embracing."

James Fallows at The Atlantic laments Donald Trump's reaction to terror in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"We Have Here a Real Crack in the Wall"

"Of course, this is only the first glimmering of the larger sort of self-appraisal that must happen before Democrats turn things around. Building a real populist movement is going to require them to ditch not only their squishy prose but also their bankerly image, their love affair with Silicon Valley, and their summers hobnobbing with the billionaires on Martha's Vineyard.
"The Democrats will have to question the direction they have been traveling for decades. And there is every reason to expect the whole thing will quickly be forgotten amid the anti-Trump hysteria that saturates the culture of Washington, DC–every reason to expect that Democrats will find it easier to relax into the lazy assumption that they need do nothing more to defeat Donald Trump's horrifying Republicans than show up."

Thomas Frank at The Guardian gives qualified praise to the Democrats' "Better Deal."

"The Political Is Personal"

"Conservatives complain loudest about today's campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.
"There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early '60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it—especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.
"Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.
"And that is citizenship."

The Wall Street Journal runs an excerpt from Mark Lilla's The Once and Future Liberal.

As does The Chronicle of Higher Education.

And Rod Dreher at The American Conservative interviews Lilla.

As does Robert Siegel on NPR's All Things Considered.

David Linker reviews the book at The Week.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"My Brain Has Apparently Decided That It's Not Interested in Devoting More Neurons to That Guy"

"As Joseph Bottum wrote in 'An Anxious Age,' mainline Protestants created a kind of unifying culture that bound people of different political views. You could be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or atheist, but still you were influenced by certain mainline ideas—the Protestant work ethic, the WASP definition of a gentleman. Leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama hewed to a similar mainline standard for what is decent in public life and what is beyond the pale.
"Over the last several decades mainline Protestantism has withered. The country became more diverse. The WASPs lost their perch atop society. The mainline denominations lost their vitality.
"For a time, we lived off the moral capital of the past. But the election of Trump shows just how desiccated the mainline code has become. A nation guided by that ethic would not have elected a guy who is a daily affront to it, a guy who nakedly loves money, who boasts, who objectifies women, who is incapable of hypocrisy because he acknowledges no standard of propriety other than that which he feels like doing at any given moment."

David Brooks at The New York Times is finished with Donald Trump.

And he calls on the CEO of Google to resign over l'affaire James Damore.

"Used to Promote a Campaign of Fear"

"This is government by anecdote, not evidence—the proliferation of often imaginary and sometimes exaggerated stories that exist to validate the worldview of a man who owes his job to racial resentment. Trump, of course, couldn’t sell this vision if there weren’t millions of people who wanted to believe it and a political party who wanted to buy it. The president’s lies about immigration have become our national agenda, and the Republican Party has abetted Trump every step of the way."

Jeremy Stahl at Slate explains how Donald Trump exploited the death of Kate Steinle.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

"History Is What the Present Chooses to Remember About the Past"

"There's a couple of things that I often repeat to my students. Oscar Wilde, I believe, said, 'The only obligation we have to history is to rewrite it,' which I think is a good one. Ernest Renan, the 19th century French historian, said something to the effect of—this is a rough translation—'the historian is the enemy of the nation.' I often ask students, what does he mean by that? 'The enemy of the nation.' Does that mean we’re traitors? No, what he's saying is nations are built on myths, historical myths, and then the historian comes along and if he's doing his job, shatters those myths, and often that makes the historian very unpopular. People like their myths but 'myth' is not a good way of understanding how the society developed to where it is today."

Erik Moshe at History News Network interviews Eric Foner.

"Exactly What Putin Wants"

"The overarching goal of Vladimir Putin's hacking and disinformation campaign, according to the Jan. 6 report, wasn't to elect Trump or defeat Hillary Clinton. It was to 'undermine public faith in the US democratic process.' An appendix to the report noted that Russian propaganda in the U.S. 'aimed at promoting popular dissatisfaction with the US Government.' A separate expert analysis prepared in October by the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies and outlined to Congress in March described Russia’s strategy of sabotaging democracies by 'deepening political divides,' 'weakening the internal cohesion of societies,' and 'using democratically elected individuals in positions of power to challenge the liberal system from within.'
"As president, Trump has pursued this mission with gusto. That doesn't mean he has served Putin deliberately; I doubt he has. But Trump has attacked the fabric of America in unprecedented ways."

Will Saletan at Slate writes that Donald Trump has "has pursued the central Russian objective."

Monday, August 07, 2017

"Their Nonstop Need to Hector Others Is Fundamental to Who They Are"

"It wasn’t that long ago—say, the early 1990s—when Republicans were perceived as intruding into people’s private lives by talking about family values, saying no to drugs, and framing issues in moral terms. Today there can be little doubt that the broad American wish to be left alone is more strongly identified with the GOP, and that the Democratic party is providing a lavishly welcoming political home for the busybodies."

Kyle Smith at The National Review argues that Democrats have a "hamburger problem."

"In Truth, However, They Are Its Unlikeliest Allies"

"Antifa's perceived legitimacy is inversely correlated with the government's. Which is why, in the Trump era, the movement is growing like never before. As the president derides and subverts liberal-democratic norms, progressives face a choice. They can recommit to the rules of fair play, and try to limit the president's corrosive effect, though they will often fail. Or they can, in revulsion or fear or righteous rage, try to deny racists and Trump supporters their political rights. From Middlebury to Berkeley to Portland, the latter approach is on the rise, especially among young people."

Peter Beinart at The Atlantic discusses the rise of "antifa."

As does Bob Moser at the New Republic.

"The Marketplace of Ideas Is Experiencing Market Failure"

"Information is everywhere, but good information is not. Why? Because the barriers to entry are so low. In the Middle Ages, when paper was a sign of wealth and books were locked up in monasteries, knowledge was considered valuable and creating it was costly. To be sure, there was some flat-earthy nonsense locked up in those tomes and religious and political rulers used their claims to knowledge as political weapons. Today the challenge is different. We now live at the opposite extreme, where anyone—from foreign adversaries to any crackpot with a conspiracy theory—can post original 'research' online. And they do. Telling the difference between fact and fiction isn't so easy. A few months ago, one of my graduate student researchers included information in a paper that I found oddly inaccurate, so I checked the footnotes. The source was 'RT'—as in the outlet formerly known as Russia Today, a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. Stanford students aren’t the only ones struggling with real fake news. In December, the Pakistani defense minister rattled his nuclear saber in response to an Israeli tweet. Except the Israeli tweet wasn't real."

Amy Zigart at The Atlantic identifies "three paradoxes" of technology that led to the rise of Donald Trump.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

"'Freewriting, Hoping That Children Will Learn or Gain a Love of Writing, Hasn't Worked'"

"Along the way, students are learning to recall meaningful content from math, social studies, science and literature. By middle school, teachers should be crafting essay questions that prompt sophisticated writing; not 'What were the events leading up to the Civil War?'—which could result in a list—but 'Trace the events leading up to the Civil War,' which requires a historical narrative of cause and effect."

Dana Goldstein at The New York Times discusses approaches to teaching writing.

Not My Tempo

"Drummer Greg Ellis wants listeners to begin thinking about sound like food—as something they physically ingest that has a quantifiable impact on their wellbeing. These days, he believes most people are consuming the musical equivalent of McDonalds: processed, mass produced, and limited in flavor."

Shelby Hartman at Quartz blames the digital metronome for the "aural blandness" of today's pop music.

And Daniel Sanchez at Digital Music News says that songs written by committees are also a problem.

"His Administration Is a Disaster"

"Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was an utterly forgettable political hack. But he said one thing before he was dismissed that’s worth reflecting on: 'There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. Okay?' Scaramucci was right about that. We know these people, and we admire them. We wish them every success."

Stephen F. Hayes at The Weekly Standard denounces Donald Trump.

And Jonathan Chait at New York argues that "Trump’s Fledgling Presidency Has Already Collapsed."

Saturday, August 05, 2017

"Local Dipshit Planning On Fighting Trump Administration Through Art"

"The dumbfuck, who said he has recently been inspired to take on more ambitious projects that will 'reveal this administration's treachery for all the world to see,' noted that he was particularly excited about an upcoming 'Resistance Cabaret' that he is arranging with several of his equally stupid friends. According to the colossal dope, the evening of music, dance, and short theatrical pieces will conclude with the performers duct-taping their mouths shut and wearing the names of GOP lawmakers on signs around their necks to send a 'powerful message' to Republicans complicit in Trump's agenda.
"The audience for the event, scheduled to take place in the back room of a local coffee shop next Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m., is expected to include some of the most prominent idiots in the community."

From The Onion.

Friday, August 04, 2017

"And Then, Like Justice, Came the Ramones"

"Money rained down upon the proggers. Bands went on tour with orchestras in tow; Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Greg Lake stood onstage on his own private patch of Persian rug. But prog's doom was built in. It had to die. As a breed, the proggers were hook-averse, earworm-allergic; they disdained the tune, which is the infinitely precious sound of the universe rhyming with one's own brain. What's more, they showed no reverence before the sacred mystery of repetition, before its power as what the music critic Ben Ratliff called 'the expansion of an idea.' Instead, like mad professors, they threw everything in there: the ideas, the complexity, the guitars with two necks, the groove-bedeviling tempo shifts. To all this, the relative crudity of punk rock was simply a biological corrective—a healing, if you like. Also, economics intervened. In 1979, as Weigel explains, record sales declined 20 percent in Britain and 11 percent in the United States, and there was a corresponding crash in the inclination of labels to indulge their progged-out artistes."

James Parker at The Atlantic criticizes prog rock.

It's Money That Matters

"When he doesn't force himself to write songs, meanwhile, Newman gets to enjoy the cushy existence of Hollywood hired help, his genius hidden in plain sight. What's made him perhaps the greatest-ever songwriter on the subject of hypocrisy is that he sees not only its evils but its inevitability. He despises greed and intolerance, but he doesn't anticipate them ever going away, and he can live with that with only mild chronic discomfort."

Upon the release of a new Randy Newman album, Carl Wilson in Slate considers the career of the singer-songwriter.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

"A Guide Through the American Status System"

"Fussell intends to draw blood, and does. Reading this book—especially if, like me, you grew up middle-class and never gave the matter much thought—is like getting one of those massages that pulls each of your bones apart before snapping it back onto your torso.
"For the tyro reader, Fussell dispatches early the notion that class has much to do with how much money you have. Those who've paid any attention 'perceive that taste, values, ideas, style and behavior are indispensable criteria of class, regardless of money or occupation.' Donald J. Trump is an instructive specimen in this regard."

In The New York Times, Dwight Garner revisits Paul Fussell's Class.

"They've All Been Replaced by Virtual Spaces"

"You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and designed to be nationally representative, has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991. The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy."

The Atlantic runs an excerpt of Jean M. Twenge's iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

"Decidedly Illiberal Causes"

"I can already hear the pushback. What's a few impolitic tweets and photos compared to the horror show of this administration? Save your outrage for the transgender ban in the military, for the lies that spew forth daily from the press briefing room, for the cuts to Planned Parenthood, the shady business with Russia, and, and, and.
"But the nightmare of the Trump administration is the proof text for why all of this matters. We just saw what happens to legitimate political parties when they fall prey to movements that are, at base, anti-American. That is true of the populist, racist alt-right that helped deliver Mr. Trump the White House and are now hollowing out the Republican Party. And it can be true of the progressive 'resistance'—regardless of how chic, Instagrammable and celebrity-laden the movement may seem."

Bari Weiss at The New York Times criticizes four feminist activists.

Ryan Cooper at The Week criticizes Weiss.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

"Can't Close the Deal"

"He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies' man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words ('negotiator') and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, 'bigly,' 'major,' 'world-class,' 'top,' and superlatives), but he isn't much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity."

Kevin D. Williamson at National Review describes Donald Trump as "the political version of a pickup artist."