Thursday, 1/29/15

  1. How to unmanipulate an economy
  2. Maybe he needed two steps back
  3. The least bad choice?
  4. Christophobia on frequent parade
  5. Authenticity’s everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made
  6. Gay Bob, Christian Bob, perceptive Noah
  7. Shameless Hugh Bait
  8. You’re better than those people, Gentle Readers

1

There is no way to painlessly unmanipulate an economy that has grown dependent on manipulation. Addiction can only be broken by going cold turkey: ending all the manipulation and forcing the economy to adjust to the discipline of reality and an unfettered market for money, credit and risk.
The U.S. can survive the demise of its bloated, unproductive banking sector, the Federal Reserve that enforces the sector’s power, and the eradication of its numerous classes of parasites and leeches. Every parasitic vested interest will claim it is essential to the well-being of the nation; the truth is entirely the opposite–each is terribly and intrinsically destructive to the fabric of the nation.
Each parasitic vested interest will sob and moan and threaten to hold its breath, whimpering that the discipline of reality and the unfettered market will kill it. If the discipline of reality and the unfettered market will kill the vested interest, then it is in the best interests of the nation to hurry its demise, as breaking the stranglehold of vested interests is the essential step to rebuilding an economy that isn’t dysfunctionally dependent on manipulated money and statistics.

2

Obama’s White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made the following absurd statement on Sunday regarding the U.S.-Israel relationship:

Let’s take a step back: This is the most important relationship we have in the world [bold mine-DL].

It is nonsense to claim that the relationship with Israel is the “most important” one that the U.S. has. This isn’t some technically false statement. It is preposterous. Israel is a small client state that doesn’t contribute very much and doesn’t do much to help advance U.S. interests anywhere. There are dozens of international relationships that the U.S. has that are more important than this one, starting with our treaty allies and closest neighbors. Even if we grant that flattery of this kind is sometimes needed in diplomacy, there is really no excuse for indulging in such over-the-top dishonesty. It is definitely the wrong way to talk about a bilateral relationship when the government of the other country is going out of its way to undermine and sabotage a major U.S. diplomatic initiative.

(Daniel Larison)

3

[Wisconsin Governor Scott] Walker doesn’t seem to have well-defined foreign-policy views, but he’s probably said the least that will automatically repel realists, libertarians, and others on the right looking for a more cautious and restrained approach to military force abroad. That includes Kasich, who like the Republican Party itself was less interventionist in the 1990s and then more hawkish after 9/11 under George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney, who has vacillated between cartoonish saber-rattling and occasional acknowledgements that a repeat of the Iraq War would be a bad idea.

(W. James Antle III)

4

Rod Dreher hyperbolically calls it a “Crush on Islam.” That’s pretty extreme, but the Left is apt to fight the Right with any weapon that comes to hand (vice-versa, too, I suppose). That, I think, is why the Left so often is rhetorically soft on Islamism: they want to be more open-minded than the Right.

So one sees things like implying that fear of Sharia is a Religious Right thing, while bien pensants know that fundamentalist Christians are the real threat.

You had noticed the relentless march of Fundamentalist theocracy, hadn’t you?

5

Amen to this!

[N]othing could be more phony than to try to “re-brand himself as authentic.” Maybe authenticity is overrated in our political culture, but if it means anything it is something that can’t be invented as part of a “re-branding” exercise. The fact that Romney doesn’t seem to understand this guarantees that whatever persona he assumes in another campaign will be correctly perceived to be just as fake as all of the others that have preceded it.

(Daniel Larison, The Unbearable Fakeness of Being Romney)

6

Rod Dreher posted a thought experiment, giving credit to one Mike Cosper, about neighbors “Gay Bob & Christian Bob.” His American Conservative colleague Noah Millman gave it much thought, and responded in some surprising ways.

  • The whole “dialogue depends on our already having classified both sides as being within the realm of the tolerable as opposed to the intolerable.” Otherwise, it’s almost instantly implausible – e.g., Pedophile Bob and Christian Identity Bob.
  • “The dialogue builds to a moment of empathy … they each recognize that this treatment is unjustified.”
  • In the right circumstances, what you’d never tolerate in a neighbor now would be tolerable, if highly distasteful, because of your alignment on something more important or at least more urgent.
  • Being “out” makes it harder for people not to tolerate you: “Quiet hostility is no longer a choice. One must be openly, frankly hostile – or affirm that the other is deserving of respect, and honor.”
  • Coming “out” about some things, though, “would cause immediate disorientation.”

Fine work, Mr. Millman. Not a demolition job, but a real contribution.

7

A British court has decided that it’s okay to outlaw female genital mutilation while allowing male circumcision. Hugh the “Intactivism” troll posted the one and only comment to Prof. Friedman’s news item.

8

Always eager to skewer a liberal at the New York Times (i.e., almost everyone at the New York Times), James Taranto at the crosstown Wall Street Journal dissects an odd Nicholas Kristoff column. The column was about the death of a high school chum, Green. It gave me the willies, though I didn’t stop to figure out why:

Dan Calabrese argues that it is not Green over whom Kristof wishes to assert his higher status: “Kristof needed to let us know all the failures in Kevin Green’s life because he wanted to tell us something about Nicholas Kristof, which is: Kevin Green made all these mistakes and lived all these failures, but Nicholas Kristof did not judge him, unlike all you horrible people. Nicholas Kristof is morally superior to you.”

It seems to us Calabrese doesn’t quite hit the target here, though he comes close. Kristof’s ideal reader is one who shares his sense of moral superiority. The message is more like: Nicholas Kristof did not judge him, unlike all those horrible people. You are morally superior to them.

In his 1899 book, “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” economist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” to refer to displays of luxury for the purpose of asserting one’s status. The Kristof column, like much of his work, is an example of conspicuous compassion—an ostentatious, status-seeking display of empathy.

To be sure, Kristof is no gentleman of leisure. He is an industrious journalist who produces close to 100 columns a year, plus blog posts and the occasional book. His affluent readers eagerly consume his work, which reinforces their own high moral status. It’s nice work if you can get it.

Taranto’s right on multiple counts if not all, including that Kristoff is an industrious journalist who, alas, sometimes meets deadline with a real dud.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.