Category Archives: Society

Let’s Teach People Not To Care If They Can’t Feed Their Families

Garett Jones, writing, in Reason, about Thomas Piketty’s new study of capitalism and income inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty claims to have uncovered “the central contradiction of capitalism.” When a major scholar like Piketty—a man who has made genuine contributions to empirical economics—makes such a bold claim, it deserves to be taken seriously.

That’s the opening paragraph. He then proceeds, for the next two pages, not to take Piketty seriously.


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GOP Gets Well-Deserved Smack for Holding Up Bundy Family as “Patriots”

Conservatives begin backing away after Cliven Bundy’s remarks disparaging ‘the Negro’ (via Raw Story )

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal…

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White Is the Default Skin Color

Ann Althouse, feather-weighting in on the hysteria generated at Faux News by Aisha Harris’s Slate piece about Santa Claus being depicted as a white man (bolds mine):

Merritt informs us that Jesus, being a first-century Jew, probably had dark skin. Jews are not white? One ceases to be white if one’s skin is sufficiently dark? It may be silly to use the term “white” to label people by race, but white is a big category, and it includes a pretty broad spectrum of skin colors, such as, for example, the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman. Maybe we should call Jesus a “white Semitic” to heighten the awareness of the subcategories of whiteness. Is that what Jonathan Merritt requires to avoid falling into “serious error”? Megyn Kelly was arguing for less racialism, and Merritt is arguing for more.

“Merritt informs us” refers to an article at The Atlantic today by Jonathan Merritt, taking Fox’s Megyn Kelly to task for “bad history and bad theology“:

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.”Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Setting aside the ridiculousness of creating rigidly racial depictions of a fictitious character that does not actually exist—sorry, kids—like Santa, Kelly has made a more serious error about Jesus. The scholarly consensus is actually that Jesus was, like most first-century Jews, probably a dark-skinned man. If he were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, Jesus might be profiled for additional security screening by TSA.

Harris’s original article is here, and a follow-up, published today, is here.

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The Thoreau Answer

The story goes that when Henry David Thoreau’s friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, came to visit Thoreau after he was jailed for refusing to pay taxes in protest against slavery, Emerson asked his friend, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau’s reply: “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

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Brave New World, Indeed

This is disturbing on so many levels.

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The Crisis Next Time

So the government is open again and the debt ceiling will not be breached — for now. And yes, that’s good, and it’s good that the deal that ended this latest crisis did not include any concessions to Republicans (except, of course, the Obama income verification thing — more on that later). But I’m not calling this a victory until the possibility that Republicans can again take the entire nation and the global economy hostage is eliminated for good.

Those who say that Republicans have learned a lesson and won’t let the crazies who have taken over their party do this again are, in my view, deluded. No matter what Mitch McConnell says. Because, as John Dickerson said on CBS News last night, it’s the fighting that matters to them, not the winning. So Ted Cruz and his pack of far right anarchists don’t see the beating Republicans took in the polls as a defeat. Indeed, they don’t believe the polls. They think they won. They think the American people support them. And as they’ve said and shown many times, they are willing to go to any lengths to get their way. More to the point, though, I haven’t seen or heard anything from Old Guard Republicans that would lead me to believe they would have the guts to NOT let the Cruzians steamroll over them again, in January and February.

To wit, here is Jim DeMint in today’s Wall Street Journal, telling us that elections, as far as he is concerned, don’t have consequences (emphasis is mine):

Yes, I can hear many conservative friends saying to me right around this point: “Jim, we agree with you that ObamaCare is going to wreck the country, but elections have consequences.” I have three responses.

The first is that ObamaCare was not the central fight in 2012, much to the disappointment of conservatives. Republicans hoped that negative economic news would sweep them to victory, and exit polls confirmed that the economy, not health care, was the top issue. The best thing is to declare last year’s election a mistrial on ObamaCare.

Second, the lives of most Americans are not dominated by the electoral cycle. They shouldn’t have to wait three more years for Congress to give them relief from this law, especially when the president has so frequently given waivers to his friends. Full legislative repeal may not be possible while President Obama remains in office, but delaying implementation by withholding funds from a law that is proven to be unfair, unworkable and unaffordable is a reasonable and necessary fight.

There’s a third reason not to stop fighting. Forget the consultants, the pundits and the pollsters; good policy is good politics. If the Republicans had not fought on ObamaCare, the compromise would have been over the budget sequester. Instead, they have retained the sequester and for the past three months ObamaCare and its failings have been front and center in the national debate. Its disastrous launch was spotlighted by our defund struggle, not overshadowed, as some contend. With a revived and engaged electorate, ObamaCare will now be the issue for the next few years.

These are the reasons we fought so hard to get Washington to listen to the American people and take action to stop ObamaCare, and it is why so many are thankful for the courageous leadership of people like Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and conservatives in the House of Representatives. The law is economically unstable, financially irresponsible and harmful to hardworking Americans.

Forget the substantive problems with DeMint’s arguments. The point here is that he and his fellow right-wing nuts believe in them. And they think that closing the government and breaching the debt ceiling is gaining them nothing but gold stars from their base.

Here are Ted Cruz and David Vitter in the Washington Post today, reiterating their ends-justify-the-means philosophy about the Affordable Care Act:

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a tea party favorite who said he would not rule out pushing for another government shutdown.

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders announced Thursday that they will hold a hearing Oct. 24 to scrutinize the law’s implementation. They also sent Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter, asking her to reconsider the administration’s decision not to participate.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who tried unsuccessfully to insert a provision in Wednesday’s continuing resolution that would have denied federal health insurance subsidies to lawmakers and their aides, said he will revive the proposal as soon as possible.

“I guarantee it will be back,” Vitter said on Fox News. “I’m not going away, and this issue is certainly not going away.”

Furthermore, the shutdown and near-breach of the debt ceiling got the GOP at least one substantive win, despite Pres. Obama’s vow that he would not allow any policy concessions until the government reopened and the debt ceiling was raised. Although opinions on the left differ as to how significant the income verification requirement for subsidized insurance policies on the exchanges will prove to be, what is not arguable is that Democrats DID make the concession. I don’t see how that can do anything but embolden the Cruzians, given that they have made it clear they don’t even need tangible signs of success to believe they can get rid of Obamacare by shutting down the government.


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Charles Pierce on Ross Douthat on “Bad Religion”

Ross Douthat has a new book out on what he calls “bad religion” (any form of religious expression that does not go through formal, orthodox, organized, hierarchical, authoritarian channels). Charles Pierce demolishes it:

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