Saturday, 3/5/16

  1. Who needs a middle class?
  2. Identifying by sexuality
  3. Where to turn to get away from Trump
  4. Paleo, Vegan Pegan
  5. Even a blind pig
  6. Catharsis
  7. Crypto-Trump?
  8. Expatriation

1

“You might think France is sitting on a powder keg, that its heavily immigrant suburbs are about to “blow.” But that is not exactly what is going on.”

So transitions a Weekly Standard article by Christopher Caldwell. (H/T Rod Dreher) Dreher and Caldwell both think similar things are happening in the U.S.

Caldwell continues:

There is a new political configuration in France, which is best addressed by looking first not at ethnicity, class, or ideology but at territory, which explains them all. In his 2014 book La France Périphérique, “geographer” Christophe Guilluy, whom we would call a sociologist, provides a thoroughly original way of looking at France. It also sheds light on our own country.

France has been cut in two by the globalization of its economy. The urban upper classes of Paris and a couple of other cities (aeronautical Toulouse, for instance, or bohemian Montpellier) have never been better off. They are in like Flynn. But the benefits have been poorly spread. The middle class is shrinking. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Thus far the analysis is conventional. But Guilluy changes it all by asking a bold question: Why would you expect Paris to have a middle class?

Paris’s prospects have improved because it has specialized. The division of labor has become global. Paris is now a place for couturiers, writers, film directors, CEOs, and other “symbolic analysts,” the people who design, direct, conceive, and analyze things. But the jobs the middle class used to do all over France — manufacturing, mostly — are best done elsewhere. You would not expect a middle class in Paris any more than you would expect one on a cattle ranch. That’s not what Paris is for. Guilluy measures this shift by looking at the “appropriation of working-class housing stock”— what we call gentrification — by rich people who can use Paris in a way that the old working and middle class cannot.

Even if Paris does not need a middle class, it desperately needs a lowerclass. Those symbolic analysts require people to chop their sushi, mix their cocktails, dust their apartments, and push their children’s strollers and their parents’ wheelchairs. This means immigrants — and increasingly it means only immigrants. Because who would you rather have washing your bathtub for 12 euros an hour? A laid-off factory worker who used to get 30 euros an hour and seven weeks’ vacation and who is now looking daggers at you? Or a polite woman from Mali, for whom the smell of Formula 409 is the smell of liberation?

This explains why the political promises of reduced immigration are a lie. Not only do we need them for the reasons stated, but we need them in the U.S. to pay Social Security taxes that our own contracepted or aborted ghosts — 50 million plus just of the aborted — are not paying.

It evokes much more than that:

Surely something similar is at work in our own politics. Consider the Democratic primaries. Whether one likes the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders or not, everyone will agree that he has a more coherent political program than Hillary Clinton. But everyone is wrong. Sanders’s textbook socialism makes sense for an industrial proletariat of 100 years ago, but this proletariat is an imaginary friend. In fact, Sanders is using a program designed for the wretched of the earth to appeal to the party of globalization’s winners. Not all Democrats are winning the same way — life is improving for the party’s bloc of billionaire plutocrats in a qualitatively different way than it is improving for its bloc of activist gays or blacks — but it is improving for all of them. For these groups Hillary is the better ideological match. This is not to deny she has shortcomings, but they are personal, not political. She lacks the charisma to lead any party. Similarly, if one uses Guilluy’s model to think of the Republicans as the party of those, from the top of the social scale to the bottom, for whom globalization has made things worse, one can see that Donald Trump — again, like him or not— has been winning primaries because he has thus far been the best candidate, with “best” not meant in any condescending way. His success rests not on demagogic tricks but on a truth about the global division of labor that has eluded other candidates. Whatever that truth is, it has something to do with the word “again” in “Make America Great Again.”

I serve it up, you digest. Don’t forget there’s more to the meal.

2

Deacon James Russell has just knocked one item off my to-do list: thinking through and then analyzing for publication just what’s wrong with identifying by one’s sexual orientation.

I’ve felt, as I’ve read a surprising amount of “gay Christian” writing, that the whole endeavor of these, my gay fellow Christians, might be built on the perniciously defective foundation of making desire into identity.

Some excerpts:

For years to come, a range of experts and armchair analysts will likely argue about the origins of same-sex attraction and “gender” confusion and to what extent either counts as a psychological disorder. But there is one aspect of the LGBTQ(etc.) phenomenon that, seems to me, is beyond dispute: basing identity on attractions and feelings has become the dominant social disorder of our time.

The shorthand answer to the question of why people are willing to let their attractions and emotions become either major or minor components of their identity—who they are rather than what they experience—is a pretty simple chain of consequences: 1) Public self-identification (coming out) as gay or lesbian (or other “out” labels) leads to entry into and acceptance from a community. 2) Participation in the community leads to group identification as a minority. 3) Identification as a minority leads to shaping the conversation regarding rights and discrimination issues. 4) Shaping that conversation then leads to dramatic social change that favors the perspective and agenda of the minority.

Does anyone really wonder why LGBTQ identity language is so incredibly difficult for individuals to set aside? As a social phenomenon, it’s a time-proven method for social change that results in a profound affirmation of the very attractions and feelings one has to deal with on a very personal level. Rather than resisting the feelings, by publicly affirming them at the personal level by “coming out,” that basic affirmation is eventually amplified a hundred-fold by these four steps.

What does the celibate gay Catholic’s minority report look like? While there is no push for changing Church teaching on homosexual acts, there is an implicit (and sometimes explicit) push against the Church’s anthropology. By continuing to embrace an identity based on attraction, the celibate gay Catholic contradicts the Church’s understanding that our sexual identity is either man or woman. Nothing else. Further, there is an effort to make room for expressions of some same-sex attractions that are claimed to be not objectively disordered inclinations. There are also calls for “vowed friendships” between the same-sex-attracted and for seeing the “good” in gay sexual identity.

I’m in awe. “Can you top this?” No. I don’t even expect to try. It strives to understand and to sympathize with the “Spiritual Friendship” friends, but stands on firm bedrock. If you build on defective anthopology, it’s apt sure to fail.

3

I read three national Newspapers online daily. I pay for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Washington Post comes with Amazon Prime.

The three have much different flavors, with different things to like and dislike about layouts. I know some of them look best on iPad, with apps rather than web browsers.

But now that I’m withdrawing emotionally from the distressing Presidential campaigns, the Wall Street Journal is the most comfortable, as it seems the only one capable of covering anything other than Trump on its Opinion pages. That’s my sense at the moment anyway.

Even its Trump coverage is more nuanced. Peggy Noonan, a WSJ exclusive, is someone “political” I’ll still read in my fading hope for insight:

If trends continue—and political trends tend to—Mr. Trump will win or come very close to winning by the convention in July. If party forces succeed in finagling him out of the nomination his supporters will bolt, which will break the party. And it’s hard to see what kind of special sauce, what enduring loyalty would make them come back in the future.

If, on the other hand, Mr. Trump is given the crown in Cleveland, party political figures, operatives, loyalists, journalists and intellectuals, not to mention sophisticated suburbanites and, God knows, donors will themselves bolt. That is a smaller but not insignificant group. And again it’s hard to imagine the special sauce—the shared interests, the basic worldview—that would allow them to reconcile with Trump supporters down the road.

It’s no longer clear what shared principles endure. Everything got stretched to the breaking point the past 15 years.

This column has been pretty devoted the past nine months to everything that gave rise to this moment, to Mr. Trump. His supporters disrespect the system—fair enough, it’s earned disrespect. They see Washington dysfunction and want to break through it—fair enough. In a world of thugs, they say, he will be our thug. Politics is a freak show? He’s our freak. They know they’re lowering standards by giving the top political job in America to a man who never held office. But they feel Washington lowered all standards first. They hate political correctness—there is no one in the country the past quarter-century who has not been embarrassed or humiliated for using the wrong word or concept or having the wrong thought—and see his rudeness as proof he hates PC too.

Her title? “The Republican Party Is Shattering.”

Beyond the newspapers, and the American Conservative magazine and blog, I look forward to The Browser for incitements to think about something other than politics. Prufrock (Micah Mattix) and Arts & Letters Daily would be good, too, were I more attuned to things literary.

I thought you might want to know.

4

Sigh! I’ve lost weight on low carbohydrate, eating omelettes for breakfast, prime rib for supper (Protein Power — I think it came with an evolutionary Just So Story, as these diets tend to). I think I’d lose weight on plant-based, low fat (Forks Over Knives) though there are social obstacles and time constraints. Now, I’m confidently steered to a pegan diet:

Q. What do you say to scientists who argue that saturated fat does in fact cause heart disease?
A. I think the challenge with the research is that a lot of the data combines saturated fat in the context of a high-carbohydrate diet. The real danger is sweet fat. If you eat fat with sweets – so sugar and fat, or refined carbohydrates and fat – then insulin will rise and it’ll make you fat. But if you eliminate the refined carbs and sugar, that doesn’t happen. I think saturated fats can be bad in the context of a high-carbohydrate diet. But in the absence of that, they’re not.
Q. What foods do you eat and recommend to your patients?
A. What I eat is a cross between paleo and vegan diets. It combines elements of the two, so I call it a “pegan” diet. It’s low in sugars and refined carbs, and it’s very high in plant foods. About 70 to 80 percent of your diet should be plant foods. It should also include good-quality fats like nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil and fatty fish. It should basically include whole, fresh food that’s unprocessed and high in fiber and phytonutrients. I always say that vegetables should make up 50 to 75 percent of your plate.
Sounds do-able.

5

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is an enduring tale for a reason. The Movement Conservatives® have not often covered themselves with glory when seeking scandal among the more progressive. But even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while:

In one email from April 2012, aide Jake Sullivan forwarded Mrs. Clinton a blog post from a jihadist group. Mrs. Clinton replied: “If not classified or otherwise inappropriate, can you send to the NYTimes reporters who interviewed me today?”

The fact that Mrs. Clinton had to ask if this one was classified suggests she knew that people were sending sensitive information to her unsecure server. The new email dump also shows then-Sen. John Kerry sending Mrs. Clinton intelligence he’d obtained from top Pakistani generals.

This seems pretty solid to me.

(Wolves. Pigs. Where would we be without figures of speech and aphorisms?)

6

Bruce Jenner supports Ted Cruz.

There. I said it. “Bruce.” Bruce, Bruce, Bruce!

If you need an explanation, you wouldn’t understand the explanation. Ted Cruz needs no explanation.

7

A very old friend, as part of a rambling e-mail about the election (which famously can drive people insane), makes some points presumably in favor of Trump (there are reasons for bad or eccentric formatting that I won’t go into):

I… think so many wealthy and/or capable folks are NOT willing to leave their money-making or whatever comfort zone they are in and face the persecutions from the liberal media and even from R I N Os of today, who, in my mind, are about as harsh as the liberals are.

It is hard to campaign: change of time zones, expense galore, criticisms galore, one’s words twisted out of context, montages built of one’s statements from YEARS back and join senselessly to show how someone “lied”.

I for one believe folks can and do change, as they see more light.  E.g., just because someone donated to obama in /08 doesn’t mean that person hasn’t seen the truth and changed.  That the person didn’t donate to obama in /12 should demonstrate that change.

I appreciate someone who wants a strong military, who has worked to build big business—that itself isn’t easy, either.

Most of all, I appreciate someone, who spends his OWN funds for the campaign.  This means he isn’t OBLIGATED to the CONTROLLERS, the establishment R I N Os who have raised millions to campaign against the one, who is paying for his own campaign.

At least, THAT self-payer won’t be obligated to listen to pay BACK these “control” Super PACS!

 I’ll give him that: he won’t be beholden to anybody. But that’s a two-edged sword. And note that she never comes out and supports him as if he were a plausible President.

8

You can measure a lot of evocative stuff on the internet:

When Donald Trump won most of the Republican presidential primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, the prospect of the former reality-TV star taking the oath of office in January became a little bit less theoretical. That notion apparently prompted a surge in Google searches for the phrase “how to move to Canada,” which got 350 percent more popular as Tuesday evening went on.

Ishaan Tharoor, Which country should you move to if Donald Trump is elected president? Depends what of many features about Trump repel you.

Trump’s popularity makes me feel like Pauline Kael. I’ll be traveling in Europe briefly in June and I need to memorize this:

America is very divided right now. I have some theories about that, but the key point is that I do not support Trump, have never thought Trump was admirable for anything, including business, and don’t even know anyone who’ll go further in supporting him than to say “at least he’d create chaos and maybe will smash this system.”

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.