The rallying cry to rally!
Rally your progressive base, Mr. President!
… Then again, maybe not
The middle has always been the prize in American politics. It was for Scott Brown in January. It will be for Dems in November. The president is now shoring up the Bernie Sanders vote to avoid an outright massacre. But the real goal is to nab enough of the moderate middle – and Obama isn’t connecting with them.
What are they up to now?
A suspicious Michael Lewis
wonders why Wall Street firms are abandoning the proprietary trading units that they recently fought so hard to keep:
To see Wall Street turn its back on money is as unsettling as watching a shark’s fin veer away, and then sink from view. It leaves you wanting to know where the shark has gone, and why.
None of the firms have offered a good explanation for their new and seemingly improved behavior, but it’s not hard to think up several.
Lewis knows – and we know – it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts. So what's up? ... ML via RCM
Gordon, Gordon, Gordon! Part II
The real-life Gordon Gekkos aren't very impressed
with the new Wall Street 2 movie. Not realistic enough, they say. ... Joe Nocera
also wasn't impressed. Oliver Stone didn't even try to get to the heart of what caused the financial crisis, he says. ... Hub Blog still wants to see the flick. I'll make up my own mind. I have a hunch I'll side more with the movie critics, who seem to grasp that weaving credit-default swaps into a Holywood script is easier said than done.
The almost inevitable collapse has begun
. Cahill is a very solid candidate, but he hasn't quite tapped into the zeitgeist out there. He senses it. But he can't convince enough people he genuinely sympathizes with it. ... Too early to make final predictions about the gubernatorial race. But it's looking better and better for Charlie Baker. My hunch is that he's going to pull it off if Cahill fades for good.Update
-- Now the campaign manager is bolting.
-- Bert writes in about the rats jumping the Cahill ship:
Somebody got to Meldrum and Weaver. Look to the friend of a friend of whatever campaigns they go to next.
Should Cahill have known they would fly home when they were called? Would it have made a difference if he did? A man without a party has limited choices for who he throws in with. If he was smart he got his people some seasoning from these guys while they were pretending to be on his side.
I think he stays in out of spite. Does the defection of those two sink him further? I don’t think so. These guys weren’t going to do so much in the last month that they’ll be missed. His supporters already knew he wasn’t going to win. And his numbers were going to sink in the last 3-4 weeks the way they do with most spoilers.
Gordon, Gordon, Gordon!
Reviewers of Oliver Stone's new "Wall Street" flick seem to agree it's a highly enjoyable mess. So was his original "Wall Street." So I'll take it. Reviews here
We’re all Preppies now
Lisa Birnbach has come out with an update
to her “Official Preppy Handbook" of 1980. Some have said the original OPM served as almost an ode to a dying WASP culture in America. But I’ve always maintained – and Birnbach seems to agree -- that OPH merely helped define and spawn new generations of non-WASPs imitating old WASPs, aspiring to get into the same prep schools and colleges, dressing in roughly the same deliberately casual clothes, replacing duck decoys with black Labradors, etc. Hub Blog would even argue that the huge influx of Ivy League grads to Wall Street has something to do with a gentry-like desire to have the right type of job (“finance” sounds so much more dignified than having to explain you’ve taken a job in your father’s plumbing-fixture factory in Ohio).
Anyway, from the Washington Post article:
Whether you read Birnbach's books seriously or for laughs, you know that prep is central to American pop culture -- rappers wear Top-Siders and Twitter's overcapacity symbol is a whale. Then there's skater-prep: black eyeliner, some plaid and Vans. Thirty years after "OPH," there's a huge preppy blogosphere dominated by 20-somethings obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer, pearls and pink-and-green. …
Thanks to retailers like Ralph Lauren, anyone can be a preppy. But the look and lifestyle are evolving just as much as they're staying the same. The duck is no longer the most beloved of all prep totems (seeing it on wastebaskets may have been the deal-breaker), and musical tastes have broadened beyond Sinatra and Motown to include Vampire Weekend and Kanye West.
P.S. -- President Obama isn't the only post-OPH preppy to get into the White House. George Bush I and II were born and raised in the culture. Bill Clinton spent much of his early adulthood establishing a preppy pedigree (Rhodes scholar and Yale Law, later vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, etc.). Ditto for Hillary.
Reason #2,437 why nation building won't work in Afghanistan
Where to start with this one?
I don't know. ... A heart-to-heart talk with the mother and father?
'Become what you behold'
takes a whack at the ‘implosion of intellectual conservatism.’ Hub Blog can do John's post one better by merely pointing to David Kahane’s new book
to confirm the implosion of intellectual conservatism.
Some blurbs for 'Rules for Radical Conservatives: Beating the Left at Its Own Game to Take Back America’:
“A manual for the counter-revolution.” — Ann Coulter
“The Art of War for conservatives.” — Rob Long, contributing editor, National Review
“A deadly—and deadly funny—dissection of the people who brought us to this critical moment in America’s history” -- Mark Levin, author of Liberty and Tyranny
But wait! There's more! The book provides some handy-dandy guidelines for conservatives to follow so they too can be as obnoxious as their lefty opponents:
• Know your enemy, his intentions, his weapons, and his weaknesses. You too can play relentless, on-message hardball with every scandal, hypocrisy, lie, and fundamentally flawed policy your adversaries dish up.
• Become what you behold. Adopt some of our scorched-earth tactics, best described in David Mamet’s Untouchables: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun.” ...
• Never cede anything to the other side, philosophically speaking. ...
Radical conservatives haven't become mirror-image opponents
of lefties through simple osmossis. They're actively striving to become like them. ... The conservative-implosion ball is back in your court, John.
P.S. -- The conservative movement's intellectual inferiority complex: Generations in the making!
Gentry liberals vs. public unions
From Reader No. 1:
I don't think this story quite lives up to the "war" label and it won't as long as gentry liberals have options like private school for their children (and of course, an increasing number of gentry liberals are Baby Boomers-turned-young seniors). But it is a trend in Dem politics worth noting. Update
- On a related subject: The illusion of public pension savings.
... Via JE
Boston College: Et tu, UMass? Part II
Reader AM on the changing collegiate football landscape in New England:
Yes, Boston is a pro sports town (as per CHB) -- in yesterday's Globe UMass-Michigan, the first college game story, ran on page 14 of the sports section. BC's response, for many years, has been to try to establish themselves as the big-time college sports franchise in the area, and make everyone else the Lowell Spinners. They tried with basketball... oops! In football, they no doubt felt they couldn't take the risk of not being in a BCS conference, but I'm convinced they also wanted to avoid playing UConn. The ACC, in some respects a reasonable fit for BC, has bad geography for them, and no natural rivalries. I'd bet against this plan working out in the long run.
Switching gears, I can't say much about the Pats-Jets game that others haven't already said. But two quickie observations: 1.) The Pats' defense is going to be a problem child all season long unless something is done. 2.) The Pats are in a three-way fight for a division championship and playoff spot, and I'm not that encouraged about their prospects.Update
-- Reader No. 1 is also in quasi-speechless mode about the Pats: "No comment on Pats, other than most of the games we lose are lost in this fashion - strong start, no finish - call it the 'Fade Route.' "
Boston College: Et tu, UMass?
The biggest local football game of the weekend? Technically, it will be today's Pats-Jets game. But something incredible
almost happened yesterday in Michigan. ... This can't be good for Boston College. First, UConn
. Now, UMass. Two additional regional powers competing for both fans and recruits. ... More on the exciting UMass vs. Michigan game here
. A day later, it's still jarring to think that UMass even played Michigan, let alone almost beat one of the most storied teams in college football history.
Have you heard the one about the politician who tried to cross the street?
Mitt's lucky he wasn't hooked off the stage
at the Value Voters Summit.
If only Johnny Most was around to call the Pats-Jets game
From Reader No. 1:
Predict Pats-Jets will resemble the Celts-76ers of yore as in "Moses Malone just SLAMMED Danny Ainge to the floor and there's no call!" Jets will commit so many penalties of defense refs can't call them all. On offense, Pretty Boy Mark Sanchez takes one Stanislavski after another to keep drives going. In fairness, the Jet loss Monday night was made possible by a Baltimore Stanislavski, but fairness aside - this is New York, and this is war!
The road to dogma, Part II
Reader No. 1 sends in a good conservative rebuttal
to the David Brooks column
I cited the other day, all tying back to an earlier Arthur Brooks and Paul Ryan piece
in the WSJ about the role of government in society and the economy.
Though the rebuttal arguments are impressive, I’m still with David Brooks on this one. There’s simply too much evidence that conservative and Republican establishment types have been flirting with dogmantic forms of utopian libertarianism.
Arthur Brooks and Paul Ryan may say that “nobody” wants to “take away Grandma's Social Security check.” But it’s an odd comment to make when the immediate former president of the United States only recently traveled across the country advocating privatization of the Social Security system.
It’s also odd to see them cite Friedrich Hayek’s support of “rectifying market failures” when we just went through a grand experiment in “efficient market theory”
that blew up in the faces of Alan Greenspan and others who worshiped at the altar of Atlas Shrugged – and when so many conservatives and Republicans were, and still are, in denial about Wall Street’s role in the events of two years ago.*
Now conservatives and Republicans are once again talking about a “government shutdown” if they achieve power in November.
The anti-government rhetoric is also heating up as Brooks/Paul declare we’re marching “one program at a time” toward “serfdom,” as if health-care and financial-industry reforms are slippery slopes to … what? Gulags?
David Brooks is right: This is simplistic dogma. I’ll take his “energetic but limited government” formulation any day over the overwrought 'road to serfdom' rhetoric on the right.
* - Speaking of ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ Ayn Rand’s classic defense of individualism and Hayek’s 'Road to Serfdom' were written (in 1957 and 1944, respectively) at a time when totalitarian utopianism, especially on the left, was still an intellectually attractive ideology to many, especially in Europe and elsewhere. ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘Road to Serfdom’ were powerful warnings about what was at stake, as were Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ (1945) and ‘1984’ (1949). All four books contained enduring truths.
But the times have also changed. Conservatives and Republicans today are engaging in pure hyperbole when they warn that each and every new program or tax hike is somehow leading toward “serfdom.” The rhetoric lacks historical perspective and common sense. The last time I checked, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Switzerland, Sweden etc. were functioning democracies. So is the United States, with or without health-care and financial reforms.
Laurence Maroney: Gone at last
He was a good guy and loyal team player. But I won't miss
Laurence Maroney's stupid stutter-step style of running. The stutter-step drove me nuts. He'd see a big hole to pound through -- and still stutter-step. ...
Reminds me of my own basketball foibles as a youth. I had exactly one (1) head-fake move under the basket. It'd work on the first play of a game against a new opponent, but that's about it. It's all I knew. I'd keep using that stupid head-fake just about every other shot, long after opponents had figured it out and kept stuffing the ball down my throat. Every time I saw Maroney pull one of his useless stutter-step moves, I'd think of my own deeply ingrained head-fake days. ...
The road to dogma
takes apart the “road to serfdom” argument by some conservatives, saying it veers away from the traditional “limited-but-energetic” role of government in America. … David S. Reynolds makes roughly the same argument in his book ‘Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson.’
It’s amazing how active government was in promoting free-market trade in the early 19th century, from the building of canals to handing out land grants. The Obama administration has gone way beyond that tradition, promoting more of a European-style social democracy and welfare state. But that doesn’t mean Republicans get it. They don’t. They’ve backed themselves into their own ideological corner, hauling out road-to-serfdom clichés and flirting with utopian libertarianism. …
Newport, R.I.: ‘Momsie, Popsie, Biff is here!’
Imagine if Al Czervik, the nouveau riche loud-mouth played by Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Caddyshack
, bought a mansion in one of the most exclusive all-time snobbiest neighborhoods in America.It happened.
It’s a great story. Enjoy.
P.S. – There’s even a special appearance by a hangers-on architect/designer who inadvertently does a great imitation of Otho
from the movie Beetlejuice
P.S.P.S. - Come to think of it, Gloria Nagy and Richard Saul Wurman are kind of like Beetlejuice’s Charles and Delia Deetz
in reverse. The word ‘campy’ never appears once in the NYT article – a curious ommission considering that's the essence of Gloria and Richard's reverse-snobbery persona. Maybe the joke is
on Gloria and Richard -- or on readers like yours truly who too easily buy into unspoken kitsch/camp narratives. But it’s still a good piece.
The Worst American Generals, Part II
Reader AM chimes in:
Either Gates or Arnold must be given credit for the victory at Saratoga, which ought to count for something. Both, however, were ultimately disloyal in ways that go beyond insubordination. If that, rather than strictly military competence, is Rick's main standard, as it appears to be, he certainly should have included James Wilkinson (who claimed credit for Saratoga, but was just getting started). George S. Brown (USAF) and Stanley McChrystal are lesser but real contenders of more recent times.
The Worst American Generals: The List
Curious, I asked Armchair Gen. Savin Hill for his reponse to Tom Rick's list
of the 10 worst American generals of all time. Here it is:
I have a problem with MacArthur as the "worst." I think Ricks is overplaying his hand. Or maybe his definition of "worst" is an insufferable personality. On that count his list totally makes sense.
I don't see how you put scheming, dandy scaredy cats like McClelland or Gates up with MacArhur. Benedict Arnold puzzles me. He was a smart, brave resourceful -- and successful -- general. Aside from the defection thing, he was great. Burnside was certainly godawful. Don't know how you distinguish between a Ned Almond and a Don Carlos Buell, though. Let's not let Mead off the hook for failing to pursue Lee after Gettysburg. That could have been a game-ender.
And how does Gen. Otis of the Philippine-American War not get on the list? Talk about someone responsible for pursuing a pointless, bloody war! He wasn't "insubordinate" -- he started that war!
It's not like MacArthur didn't win any major campaigns (um, the Pacific?) and Inchon was probably the most well-executed amphib operations in US military history. He didn't exactly "lose" Korea now did he? And Benedict Arnold? Really? Aside from the whole switching-sides-business he was a smart and brave leader at many key revolutionary battles: Ticonderoga, Saratoga.
Nations and career choices
touches on a subject I’ve been thinking about lately: How the nation’s destiny is tied to the career choices and prejudices of its citizens. It seems too many people don’t want to get their fingernails dirty – or have anything to do with industries in which fingernails get dirty. David explains it better:
America’s brightest minds have been abandoning industry and technical enterprise in favor of more prestigious but less productive fields like law, finance, consulting and nonprofit activism.
It would be embarrassing or at least countercultural for an Ivy League grad to go to Akron and work for a small manufacturing company. By contrast, in 2007, 58 percent of male Harvard graduates and 43 percent of female graduates went into finance and consulting.
The shift away from commercial values has been expressed well by Michelle Obama in a series of speeches. “Don’t go into corporate America,” she told a group of women in Ohio. “You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. ... Make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry.”
Did Michelle Obama really say that? If so, it’s one of the more damning quotes about the ‘as we did’ mindset of those occupying the White House. … Wonder why the administration has a hard time connecting with small-business owners? They get along fine with their fellow Ivy League grads and service-sector types on Wall Street. But they'll never quite connect with the struggling owner of a small sheet-metal factory in Illinois as long as they look down on the profession.
‘Even this city’
The NYT is dismayed, discouraged and sad
to discover that a strong majority of fellow New Yorkers (“even this city”) want the downtown mosque moved away from Ground Zero. The NYT’s ultimate insult: “New Yorkers, like other Americans, have a way to go.” … You can’t make this stuff up. A mini-classic of clueless and effortless elitism.
'We should have eaten those toxic assets'
says we still haven't fixed the banking system. Keynesian economics. Supply-side economics. Doesn't matter what we use. Neither will work as long as the banks are screwed up. ... Thanks to Reader No. 1 for the Kessler piece. He sent in some other good links. Hope to post them later.
Celts to bring back Delonte West?
I like Delonte. But is this really necessary?