I think I’m going to cut back on this blog – or whatever it can be called – to 2-3 times a week. More frequently is a drain on my fading energy and my readers’ and visitors’ attention. So there ’tis.
I must say, all this hoohah about the Russians and the election strikes me as more than faintly ridiculous. What are campaigns, anyway, if not propaganda – – con as much as pro. If it can be shown that Comey was paid off by Moscow to intervene at that late moment, that’s one thing. If sinister people in bad suits speaking bad English were observed crouched behind voting machines, tinkering with the machinery, that’s another. Anyway, this morally pluperfect nation has a long record of meddling in other countries’ politics, going way back over sixty years to the CIA-engineered coup in Iraq in 1953. I’m like a lot of people – Alan Bennett, whom I admire, has a real gasping pearl-twister on this matter in the latest London Review of Books – who woke up November 9th with a vague but generalized feeling that the world had changed irreversibly for the worse overnight. But the more I look at the numbers, the more I think back to other elections and White House changes in my lifetime, going back to the Truman succession in 1945, the more my hysteria abates. Obama’s presidency has been 99% a triumph of style, in my opinion. His big accomplishment, the ACA, doesn’t seem to work actuarially, and it has to, if universal health insurance is to be something other than a redistribution of middle-level resources (the income/wealth cohort to which my wife belongs, not yet 65, belongs: at 80, I enjoy Medicare (also getting more expensive – deduction adjustments for premiums are about to reduce my monthly Social Security payout by over 10%) to those with little or no money. The Executive Class needn’t worry; their gilt-edged health plans are paid for by the stockholders.
I voted for Obama twice. The first time with real hope and faith, but two weeks after the 2008 election, with the Summers-Geithner “leak,” I began to suspect I’d been played for a sucker, that the Wall Street fix was in (hence my novel Fixers). Continuing the bailout engineered by the Bushies was akin to giving a medal to the commander of the Japanese fleet that did for Pearl Harbor. Talk about not letting the punishment fit the crime! My suspicions were confirmed by O’s curiously flat first inaugural address (also discussed in Fixers). Where was FDR a la 1936: “Wall Street hates me, and I welcome their hatred!” All hat and no cattle, as they say: a perception not lost on McConnell and the other hog-shrewd GOP pols on Capitol Hill, who managed to back into a corner a president-elect whose party held majorities in both houses of Congress. I suspect they feared that the successful implementation over 30 years of “the Powell Memorandum” (qv.) might be undone. Instead, by employing the intransigent attitude and intellectual style of a child who refuses to eat liver against a president whose sense of politics was based on the approval and advice of his mirror, they now control the games in town, and the strategy seems more solid than ever.
Still, I voted for Obama again in 2012. I found Romney personable and highly intelligent, but he made his money – too much of it – from work that doesn’t deserve to get paid that well, work in which I simply don’t believe, making a few people a lot of dough while costing thousand jobs and pensions and wrecking the tax base of not a few communities.
Let’s be devil’s advocate and say Putin does not want a war with U.S. on any basis. In that instance, based on the record, he’d prefer Trump to Hillary.
More anon. Have to deal with the litter box. Preferable these days to trying to talk common sense about politics, Trump, Obama.
Searchers after common sense will like this. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/01/trumps-win-americas-failures-of-representation-and-prospects-for-democracy.html I’d also like to see it circulated from the top down in the new administration, not that it’s likely to win over ideologues.
Interesting if obvious. http://www.cjr.org/the_feature/trump_journalism_press_freedom_global.php
For any number of reasons, I’m a keen student of what “society”, properly considered, is and isn’t. Indispensable to my studies are websites devoted to the coming and going, getting and spending, of the sorry, unmannerly lot that we are given to believe constitutes la jeunesse doreee. One of the most revolting is called “Guest of a Guest”. Yesterday, my trawling yielded this: http://guestofaguest.com/london/nyc-society/a-mans-world-inside-londons-most-exclusive-gentelmens-club The club in question is White’s, on St. James’s St. in London, descended from a coffee house founded in the mid-17th century. According to GofaG, the annual dues at White’s are $112,000! I seriously doubt this, since White’s includes some of the biggest freeloaders in the world. How would I know? How do you spell the word “duke.”? Let me skip ahead to another statement in GofaG‘s White’s post: “Much later, David Cameron publicly renounced his membership in 2008. Never had a member disaffiliated. The only way to terminate a membership was either naturally (death) or being ejected (very rare).” This is patently untrue. How would I know? Let me just say that my wife is married to a man who resigned from White’s – back in the mid-1990s, after I’d been a member for almost twenty years. Among my motives was that after the Lloyd’s debacle went through the individual mites of the White’s membership like the wolf on the fold, the club, seeking to make up the revenue from straitened Debrett’s types without obliging them to resign, raised the annual subscription to the level (notionally) paid by UK members (not even within two zeros of today’s purported level). I thought this was wrong, especially since I seldom visited the club, although frequently in London (one time I went, I took a bookseller friend into the snug bar mainly populated by assholes discussing money while pretending to be talking about grouse-shooting and the results of the 4:45 at Cheltenham, and was afterwards reprimanded for bringing a “not our sort” chap into the sacred precincts.) I preferred the Garrick, to which I then had access. Resigning from White’s wasn’t easy, let me say. I got several letters from London friends (sic) that included the words “How a man of your social and financial standing…” Well, I was born into what was called “society” – as defined by its bought-and-paid for sycophants and publicists – and my life has constituted a gradual withdrawal. Some years ago I resigned from one of Manhattan’s most sought-after men’s clubs, where I had been a member for twenty years, when it admitted a former Secretary of State for whom I then and now felt undisguised contempt. Anyway, my White’s time did furnish me a bon mot that I’ve always been rather proud of. Here’s the background. Whatever its failings in my perception, White’s has the best loos in the world: great spacious cabins with ample knee room and soft tissue (no rugged Gordonstoun butt-wiping here, even though the DofE is a member) and furnished with an excellent range in reading matter. Keep this fact in mind. Now recall that every year during this time, Private Eye magazine ran an annual competition for “White’s Club Shit of the Year.” Put these together, and you will grasp why, when asked if I went to White’s when I was in London, I came up with the rejoinder: “I only go to White’s to take a shit – or to meet one.” Rather good, don’t you think, Your Grace?
The idea of this book makes great sense, especially when you consider that this country seemed to function best when WW2 and Korea were alive in the idea of conscriptive national service. http://www.wsj.com/articles/democracy-is-dependent-on-war-1483741787
Frank Johnson, the late editor of the London Spectator, once asked: “What exactly is a public intellectual?” His answer was mischievous: “Is it the same principle as a public convenience? Excuse me, officer, I’ve been caught short conceptually. Could you direct me to the nearest public intellectual?” (from WSJ review of a book about so-called “public intellectuals”.
Conrad Black’s new book, Backward Glances, has arrived. Conrad can be a bit bumptious, and for a man as bright as he is, is surprisingly deferential to the sort of people one thinks of when someone says “Palm Beach,” but he is indelibly etched in my memory for something he said to me once. It was back toward the end of the ’90s, and Conrad was fiddling with the notion of buying The New York Observer, for which I was then writing a weekly column and at the height (about three feet above sea level, if that) of my modest reclame. A mutual friend brought Conrad and me together for drinks. At some point, I asked him, “What do you think of the Observer as a newspaper?” He shook his head. “The Observer isn’t a newspaper,” he replied. “It’s a mascot.” Truer words have seldom been spoken.
Does it get any better? http://observer.com/2017/01/joey-no-socks-mobster-hospitality-award-donald-trump/?utm_campaign=Observer_ArtsEntertainment&utm_content=A%2BE%202017-01-06&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=New%20York%20Observer%20Culture
Money quote from an article on Obama’s speeches. “These orations come to us as the lucubrations of a solitary wise man, grappling with American history, with race, with fate and freedom. They suggest writerliness.” I think this is meant as praise, but I would suggest that it is really an admission of what went wrong with Obama’s presidency. Less writerliness (sic), I would argue, is what’s needed. I’m not going to dignify this jejune piffle with a link, but it’s a typical extract from n+1, a magazine edited by a young friend of mine – whom I intend to take aside and have a quiet word with.
Here’s another n+1 gem: “We look at Ivanka Trump — perhaps the most privileged woman in America, the beneficiary of an international domestic-labor market that frees her from housework by leaving it to underpaid women from Asia, Africa, and South America; a woman who hardly pays her factory workers in Dongguan for sixteen-hour days making Ivanka Trump shoes; who poses for Vogue while her Chinese nanny, Xixi, watches her three children — we look at this woman and think even she needs feminism. What else could compel her to change?”
Well, for openers, I wouldn’t call Ivanka the most privileged woman in America. I can think of a dozen more privileged. I would submit that Ivanka is “freed” from housework by her family’s – father’s and husband’s – wealth and nothing else, certainly not “the international domestic-labor market”, whatever that might be. I suspect that the supplier of Ivanka shoes pays the going rate in Donguan, and I assume that Ivanka got into the shoe business long after it had left this country (her customers don’t ordinarily wear Rockport or Sam. Hubbard.) Ask the nanny XiXi if she’s happy with her job; she watches the kids while Mommy works (which, in fashion, with stuff to sell, means posing for Vogue). What Ivanka doesn’t need, nor does the nation, is more juvenile socially illiterate assholism – whether it styles itself as “feminism” or some other form of whining gender victimization.
Day’s End: After reading n+1 and looking over Facebook, I’ve concluded (with Plato) that there is an absolute need in a democracy for censorship, and that the only possible censor must be intelligence (not the spy variety). Unfortunately, we have rendered that species extinct.