Pure awesomeness

I read a lot of children’s books.  And I really like dark humor.  So, as you might imagine, I really loved this collection of “Bad Children’s Books” covers.  (Via Kottke).  A few favorites:


Done with the 47%

Well, not really, but I did want to clear out some links with commentary on the matter.

1) Chait:

Instead the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party. He believes that market incomes in the United States are a perfect reflection of merit. Far from seeing his own privileged upbringing as the private-school educated son of an auto executive-turned-governor as an obvious refutation of that belief, Romney cites his own life, preposterously, as a confirmation of it. (“I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.”)

It is possible to cling to some version of this dogma and still believe, or to convince yourself, that cutting taxes for the rich or reducing benefits for the poor will eventually help the latter, by teaching them personal responsibility or freeing up Job Creators to favor them with opportunity. Instead Romney regards them as something akin to a permanent enemy class — “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

2) Frum:

The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class.

Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist. Only by donating to my think tank, buying my book, watching my network, going to my movie, can you – can we – stop him before he seizes everything to give to his base of “bums,” as Charles Murray memorably called them.

And what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey’s army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer’s fields. Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.

The only radical mass movement in this country is the Tea Party, a movement to defend the interests of elderly incumbent beneficiaries of the existing welfare state. [emphasis mine]

3) Matt Miler:

To be so insultingly tone deaf and self-destructive even while being dead wrong and hypocritical on the substance is a perverse sort of accomplishment. It’s not easy to be this bad — but, like Roger Federer in his chosen field, Romney somehow makes it look effortless.

The interesting question is how this faulty“makers versus takers” narrative became so pervasive and unquestioned on the right that its casual endorsement by a GOP presidential candidate became a campaign crisis waiting to happen. What we’re learning is that this premise has become integral to the worldview of a broad swath of conservatism — even among presumably savvy donors who nod their heads in agreement when Romney offers it up, tut-tutting at the sad state of affairs to which the United States has descended…

So how do these warped perspectives come to exercise such a grip on one side of the debate — even among GOP financiers who in their business lives wouldn’t think of making an investment without the kind of fact-based due diligence that they plainly don’t apply when it comes to forming their political views?

My hunch is we’re seeing the outgrowth of the self-contained opinion bubbles that leave even smart people dangerously insulated and thus prey to half-baked ideas.

The elites

I think Ross Douthat tries a little too hard to be even-handed in this one, but I think he’s basically and and it’s a very thought-provoking column.  Read it, you should:

In both cases [Romney on the 47%; Obama on clinging to guns and religion], a presidential candidate was speaking about poorer people to a room full of rich people; in both cases, he was pandering to those rich people’s fearful stereotypes about a way of life that they don’t understand or share.

For rich Republicans, the stereotype is all about the money: They have it, other Americans don’t, and those resentful, entitled others might just have enough votes to wage class warfare and redistribute the donors’ hard-earned millions to the indolent and irresponsible.

For rich Democrats, the stereotype is all about the culture wars: They think they’ve built an enlightened society, liberated from archaic beliefs and antique hang-ups, and yet these Jesus freaks in flyover country are mobilizing to restore the patriarchy.

Both groups of donors seem to be haunted by dystopian scenarios in which the masses rise up and tear down everything the upper class has built. For Republicans, the dystopia is (inevitably) “Atlas Shrugged.” For liberals, it’s one part “Turner Diaries,” one part “Handmaid’s Tale.” …

What does it say that rich Republicans are unable to entertain the possibility that Americans who depend on government programs during the worst recession in generations might have legitimate economic grievances?

What does it say that rich Democrats can’t fathom why working class Americans might look askance at an elite that’s presided over a long slow social breakdown and often regards their fundamental religious convictions as obstacles to progress?

What does it say that our politicians, in settings where they’re at least pretending to open up and reveal their true perspective, feel comfortable embracing the most self-serving elite stereotypes about ordinary citizens who vote for the other party?

Nothing good, I think.

A conservative history of the United States

Man, the day fills up fast when you have various students in your office for 90 minutes straight!  Anyway, here’ s some great satire from Jack Hitt in the New Yorker.  A sampling:

1775: Paul Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”—Sarah Palin.

1776: The Founding Synod signs the Declaration of Independence: “…those fifty-six brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.”—Mike Huckabee

1916: Planned Parenthood opens genocide clinics: “When Margaret Sanger—check my history—started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.”—Herman Cain

1961: Barack Obama is born, in Africa: “And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya.”—Mike Huckabee

1964: Republicans fight for the Civil Rights Act: “We were the people who passed the civil-rights bills back in the sixties without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle.”—Representative Virginia Foxx

Plenty more good stuff at the link.

Photo of the day

From N&O’s

day’s best.  Just love how an ordinary street scene is transformed into something dramatic by great composition:

A large U.S. flag, left, waves in gusty winds and pedestrians cross the street under red streetlights in Newark, N.J. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Jesus’ wife

So, this is interesting:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

The finding is being made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by the historian Karen L. King, who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

Well, that does it.  If Jesus had a wife I don’t know how I can be expected to continue to be a Christian.

Quote of the day

It’s a very inside baseball post, but if you are interested in the complexities of how political polling is actually done, this is very much worth a read.  Otherwise, just enjoy the quote from Nate Cohn:

If the election was conducted over a live telephone interview, Obama would probably win and clearly.

Of course, it’s not.  And that’s where things get complicated.

Old people for Romney

Bill Keller had a column the other day about how the Republican Party was rapidly becoming the “Grand Old Straight White Men’s Party.”  Reminded me of the demographic breakdown in this recent poll:


Basically, Romney is solidly ahead among the over 65 crowd and trails by varying degrees among everyone else.  The problem for the future of the Republican Party is that those people over 65 are gradually dying off and there’s no evidence that these younger groups are going to get more Republican as they get older.  It did work great for them in 2010 as old people voted in midterm elections way better than younger people.  (There’s also some more nice demographic breakdowns if you follow the link).

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