Saturday, 5/13/23

Rank Politics

More on the CNN forum

If I were the president of CNN I’d feel like the Alec Guinness character at the end of “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Suddenly he realizes that all his work, his entire mission, only helped the bad people he meant to oppose. “What have I done?”

Ramesh Ponnuru in the Washington Post offered the kind of questions he wished had been asked: Why have so many high-level officials of your own administration, including an attorney general, national security adviser, defense secretary and two communications directors, turned against you? Are you bad at hiring people? With Republicans holding both the House and Senate in the first two years of your presidency, why didn’t you get funding for the border wall? Were you rolled by Speaker Paul Ryan, or did you just drop the ball?

Mr. Trump’s critics, foes and competitors will say that he often lied. Of course he did, over and over. It’s what he does. Dogs bark, bears relieve themselves in the woods; we can’t keep “discovering” this.

His special talent, his truest superpower, is seeming to believe whatever pops out of his mouth, and sticking to it. Observers shake their heads despairingly: “He lies and people believe him.” I think it’s worse than that. He lies and a lot of supporters can tell it’s a lie—they know from their own memory it’s a lie, that, say, Jan. 6 wasn’t a “beautiful day” of “patriots” full of “love”—but they don’t mind. They admire his sheer ability to spin it out.

Peggy Noonan, CNN Brings Donald Trump Back

One of my two Senators shows some balls

U.S. Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, was a bit salty the morning after Donald Trump’s Wednesday night town hall on CNN, telling reporters that he didn’t plan to support the former president for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Why?, he was asked. “Where do I begin?” Based on video collected in social media posts, Young disagreed with Trump’s stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That was for starters, when it came to Young’s impression of a Trump for ’24 run. According to HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic’s social media feed, Young said: “You want a nominee to win the general election. As President Trump says, I prefer winners. He just consistently loses. In fact, he has a habit of losing not just his own elections, but losing elections for others. … I don’t think conservatives would be well-served by electing someone whose core competency seems to be owning someone on Twitter.”

Via Dave Bangert, Based in Lafayette, a Substack from a retired local newspaper guy who’s entering his third year of doing an awfully good job as his former employer fades away.

Indiana Sen. Todd Young made no bones about his opposition to Trump the day after the town hall. Asked to list his reasons, Young replied, “Where do I begin?” And others may soon be so emboldened.

If the point of lying down is to avoid the fight, including Trump pushing another raft of low-quality Senate candidates in key races, how does it look if it’s not a one-time decision but a daily struggle? What if, like Mike Pence, you do everything you can to serve Trump and he still ends up sending a murderous mob after you?

If you have to take a beating either way, there’s got to be some appeal to starting on your own two feet instead of flat on your back.

Chris Stirewalt

Sen. Young has finally done something that might just persuade me to vote for him. (We live in an age where the bar for statesmanship is tragically low.)

The tragedy of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a very successful sociopath … [His] tantrums and threats stem entirely from a narcissistic grandiosity and sense of entitlement only possible for someone who has made a lifetime of immoral choices and has either come out the better for it or simply paid no discernable price …

… Barring some last-minute conversion, his soul is lost. But the compulsion to defend Trump is doing damage to the souls of his defenders.

Jonah Goldberg

I hope for the salvation of everyone, no exceptions. But the hope is thinner for some than for others.

But maybe prosperity gospel heretic Paula White (who was his adviser and now identifies as his pastor) gave Trump some magic salvation words to say back in 2015-16, and that’s why partisan Evangelical hacks were assuring America’s most gullible voters that Trump was now “a baby Christian.”

Less rank politics

Not holding my breath

Mainstream media really should put a hold on Harlan Crowe and Clarence Thomas so it can give the Biden family grift the attention it deserves.

Why does public safety “code Right” in the US?

We have an Englishman staying with us right now, and it’s funny talking to someone from a country where liberals want, fight for, and actually expect clean, safe subways and clean, safe parks. In England and much of Europe, these aren’t controversial goals. Public transit is a point of pride, a brilliant use of public funds. Here in the US of A, for some godforsaken reason, the good liberals who run cities have decided that wanting safe subways and clean, fentanyl-free parks is right-wing and lame. Which leads us to Emma Vigeland, an influential leftist media personality, co-host of The Majority Report, a perfect representative of the movement, so here’s her full quote this week:

“I was hit, at one point, sitting on the subway by a man who was having a mental health episode. . . hit me in the face and body and it was jarring, right?” Vigeland says. “Every one of us who’s taken public transit has had this kind of situation happen. . . . And I was scared, I was hit. But my fear is not the primary object of what we should be focusing on right now; it’s the fact that this person is in pain. The politics of dehumanization privileges the bourgeois concern of people’s immediate discomfort in this narrow, narrow instance.”

Like me, Emma went to fancy private schools before she became a socialist and I became. . .  whatever this is. Anyway, I love her private school-meets-American-socialism dig at the people who want safe subways: She calls it “bridge-and-tunneler anti-homeless hysteria.” Emma, I agree there are some bridge-and-tunnel vibes going on in the subway conversation. Like ugh, all these women who don’t want to be punched in the face, wandering around with ugly purses. It’s jarring!

Nellie Bowles

Not politics

Central Park

I’ve moved away from mass media and the megaworld and simply go walk in the park and admire the nameless walkers. benchwarmers, birdwatchers, ballplayers, and realize that celebrity being so widespread, it is anonymity that is special. Fame is an old story and the nameless are a delightful mystery.

It’s Central Park, 840 acres in the middle of Manhattan, land bought by the state legislature in 1856 at the urging of idealists like the poet William Cullen Bryant, designed by the landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and the work was completed in 1876, a peaceful paradise where a person can move at a stately pace or perch in a peaceful spot and observe vegetation, wildlife, humanity, or consult the heart, whatever appeals at the moment.

Timing is everything. In 1856, the tract was rocky, swampy, unurbanized, and had the legislature not moved promptly, developers would’ve figured out how to drain and level the land and the grid would’ve swallowed it and today it would be blocks and blocks of rectangles. Instead we enjoy this fabulous gift from the 19th century.

That the seed was sown by a famous poet is astonishing. Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” was his big hit; my grandma Dora knew passages of it by heart, especially his admonition to go to your grave unafraid, with unfailing trust, as one wraps a blanket around himself and lies down to sleep.

Well, they didn’t have TikTok back then so they had to do their best with what they had, such as poetry.

Garrison Keillor, A day in May sitting in the Park

I remain grateful

It seems I’m one of few college graduates in my age cohort that has never tried marijuana — not even without inhaling. Vacationing in states that have legalized it, and driving past all the dispensaries cashing in, I’ve had fleeting thoughts of “what the heck, should I see what all the buzz is about?” and then answered “Nah.”

Seems that this has been a good life choice. Apart from never gaining even more weight that would have come with heavy use (and the consequent appetite stimulation), I may have avoided worse:

Heavy marijuana use increases the rate of schizophrenia: A new analysis of nearly 7 million Danish health records found that heavy marijuana use correlates with schizophrenia. The study claims that marijuana played a role in 15 percent of schizophrenia cases. And that “one-fifth of cases of schizophrenia among young males might be prevented” by avoiding heavy marijuana use. One new problem is that weed has gotten too good (i.e., too strong). The study was published in Psychological Medicine, and its authors are clearly super lame and total narcs.

Via Nellie Bowles

Wordplay, aphorisms and memorables

I’ve left Twitter now — as so many of you regularly lobbied me to, and it does indeed feel better. But I still look at it, the way you look at your own poo before flushing.

Andrew Sullivan, The Intermission Is Over

It’s the damnedest thing, but a race to the bottom does produce a winner.

Chris Stirewalt quoting Sen. Kevin Cramer on the prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024.

If Trump was back in his old fighting form, congressional Republicans were back in their old roles too: a broom and shovel brigade cleaning up behind him.

Chris Stirewalt

For all its piety and fervor, today’s United States needs to be recognized for what it really is: not a Christian country, but a nation of heretics.

Ross Douthat, Bad Religion

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

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