Politics postsThursday December 05, 2013
Major Burn on Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Jill Lepore is increasingly my favorite writer on staff at The New Yorker. This is from her recent piece, “Long Division: Measuring the polarization of American politics,” which is locked online, available only to subscribers. So subscribe already.
Lepore talks up the data compiled by scholars such as Warren E. Miller of the University of Michigan, whose research has been funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Poliltical Science Program, inaugurated in 1966. She says the research suggests that both voters and legislators are more polarized than at any time since the U.S. Civil War. Then she writes:
What's really going on could be anything from party realignment to the unraveling of the Republic. It's hard to know, though, what with a polarized Congress keen to defund the very scholarship that might cast light on the matter. [Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, who introduced legislation to abolish the Political Science Program] is untroubled. “The University of Michigan may have some interesting theories about recent elections,” he allowed, “but Americans who have an interest in electoral politics can turn to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the print media, and a seemingly endless numnber of political commentators on the Internet.” This is a little like saying, when your kitchen is on fire, that it's O.K. because, in a cupboard above the stove, you keep fifty boxes of matches.
Dibs on the Heist Movie
From The Economist, Nov. 23:
The world’s rich are increasingly investing in expensive stuff, and “freeports” such as Luxembourg’s are becoming their repositories of choice. Their attractions are similar to those offered by offshore financial centres: security and confidentiality, not much scrutiny, the ability for owners to hide behind nominees, and an array of tax advantages. This special treatment is possible because goods in freeports are technically in transit, even if in reality the ports are used more and more as permanent homes for accumulated wealth. If anyone knows how to game the rules, it is the super-rich and their advisers. ...
The goods they stash in the freeports range from paintings, fine wine and precious metals to tapestries and even classic cars. (Data storage is offered, too.) Clients include museums, galleries and art investment funds as well as private collectors. Storage fees vary, but are typically around $1,000 a year for a medium-sized painting and $5,000-12,000 to fill a small room.
How to Win Political Arguments in Your Sleep
Stupid political arguments have invaded my unconscious.
Last night I dreamed I was at work, but not my work, where me and a colleague were schmoozing a couple of loudmouths from the South. They were big, brash types who acted as if they knew it all; as if they had secret information we weren’t privy to. At one point I asked them where they were from. “Texas,” said the more heavyset man. Where in Texas? I asked. “You know Texas?” he asked. “Florida, Texas. Near Dallas.”
My dream self thought the place sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.
“Did they make a movie set there or something?” I asked.
The heavyset man cocked his head knowingly. “Movie? No, not a movie. History. You watch the news? You pay attention to what’s going on in the world?”
He began to go on about in Texas this and in Texas that, and I was nodding politely; then he launched into an anti-Obama argument. He claimed Obama was an illegitimate leader, a usurper, etc. etc., and my colleague was stunned but silent, so I looked over at the man and laid my cards on the table.
“Yeah, I know about Obama. I volunteered for his campaign in 2012. I donated $3,000 to his campaign.”
The dude came back with in Texas this and in Texas that, and the conversation quickly devolved, and the main thing I remember was being on top of the dude, my finger in his face, and saying the following:
“You may be from Texas, and they may do things a certain way there, but now you’re in Seattle. And in Seattle? I’m the conservative.”
When I woke up I thought it wasn’t a bad line for a dream, if a bit cheesey. I’m sure I’ve heard it in a similar context before.
Interpretations welcome. Particularly “Florida, Texas.”
Here's your info graphic of the day courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov:
Feel free to use it when talking to various right-wingers and Tea Partiers and FOX News watchers who complain about how out-of-control spending has gotten under Pres. Obama. Just don't expect them to listen. From Salman Rushdie's memoir of his fatwa years, “Joseph Anton,” pp. 70-71:
In February 1983 thirty-eight Shia Muslims, followers of a man named Sayyad Willayat Hussain Shah, were convinced by him that God would part the waters of the Arabian Sea at his request, so that they could make a pilgrimmage across the ocean floor to the holy city of Karbala in Iraq. They followed him into the waters and many of them were drowned. The most extraordinary part of the incident was that some of those who survived claimed, in spit of all evidence to the contrary, to have witnessed the miracle.
A Conservative Theology Becoming a Revolutionary Idea by Attracting the Non-Urban and Marginalized: A Quiz
Quick quiz about the following quote:
Here was a fascinating paradox: that an essentially conservative theology, looking backward with affection toward a vanishing culture, became a revolutionary idea, because the people whom it attracted most strongly were those who had been marginalized by urbanization—the disaffected poor, the street mob.
Who said it about whom? Was it:
- A: Andrew Sullivan on the Tea-Party-wing of the GOP
- B: Gore Vidal on the '64 Goldwater campaign
- C: Salman Rushdie on the birth of Islam
Answer in the comments section.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard