The Unimportance of Being Earnest

The Democrats’ characteristic form of cowardice is risk aversion. For the Republicans, it’s moral weakness.

The Rotten Core of Our Political System, by George Packer, The Atlantic May 18, 2022

George Packer’s two-sentence bon mot is as perceptive a summation of our present political ignominy as any out there, which makes it especially welcome in times like these, when two sentences are about as much punditry as anyone can stand. Does anyone still doubt that our pundits are as clueless as our politicians are about what’s coming, or believe that they have anything to tell us that we don’t already know? Yes, we’re aware that it’s coming. No, don’t bother, we’ll figure that out when it gets here. In the meantime, we just found these truly awesome earplugs on Amazon….

Signs

1. Putin’s table being longer than Trump’s necktie.

2. Representative Boebert mistaking her Glock for a sex toy on national TV.

3. Sinema verité (Interviews with bamboozled Arizona Democrats)

4. Chickenhawk on the menu again.

5. Republican state governors offering official sanction to volunteer vigilantes and informers. The Nazi term for this was Gleichschaltung. Look it up.

Freudian Slipperiness In the House

From CNN, Updated 1:38 PM EST February 10, 2022:

White House records obtained so far by January 6 committee show no record of calls to and from Trump during riot

“Whether it is the absence of data or phone logs or willing testimony, inevitably, we have different sources to get that information because these are conversations that require more than one participant,” committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy said.

“So even if there is one node that isn’t forthcoming, there are inevitably other points of information that we can use to build a more fulsome picture of what happened on January 6,” the Florida Democrat said.

Fulsome /fulsəm/
adjective
1a — characterized by abundance
1b — generous in amount, extent, or spirit
2 — unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech
syn: buttery, oily, oleaginous, smarmy, soapy, unctuous

I Shall Wear the Bottoms of My Trousers Rolled

On Outliving the Language I Was Taught

Toe the line/Tow the line: We don’t have draft centers any more, where hundreds of young men at a time were once directed to stand with their toes against a line painted on the floor, then step forward in unison and take the administered oath. Your soul may belong to Jesus, son, but your ass belongs to the Army.

Jibes with/Jives with: I guess there aren’t as many sailors in the world as there used to be.

Set foot in/Step foot in: To step is/was an intransitive verb, except maybe for the military’s Step it up back there! (As in step up the pace, which, come to think of it, may be a different verb altogether — something like to upstep, a remnant of those pesky Germanic separable-prefix verbs which seem to be so deeply embedded in modern colloquial English: fuck up, fuck over, fuck off, fuck with, etc.)

How fun!: Fun used to be a noun. (O, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.) Sleigh is still a noun, but only Santa ever rides in one these days. (Vermonters, Canadians, Russians, work with me here.)

A Cold Day in Hell

Today Paul Krugman has discovered that, gasp, technological unemployment is really real! And it’s really, finally here! And it really, really will result in a permanent transfer of wealth from labor to capital, no matter how many college degrees laborers go into debt to acquire! (and, coincidentally, of course, this also seems to imply that Marx might actually have been a bit smarter than we thought.)

I’m being unfair, or at least uncharitable, to the penitent Dr. Krugman, who’s a nice guy, and would be a nice guy even if he weren’t an economist. Still, this is an amazingly belated observation on his part. I thought that these economist guys all knew this stuff, but were afraid to mention it for fear of devaluing their Keynesian cheerleading. Horrifying to think that they didn’t actually know it at all.

Defaming Youth

He (or she) is a teacher (or an employer.)

These kids today — I deal with a lot of them.

No. Not this. Not again.

They don’t like to work, and they don’t know anything. They can’t spell, they can’t add a column of figures. They can’t find France on a map, fer Chrissake.

I pull my iPhone 4S out of my pocket, hold it up to my ear.

Tell me about France, I say.

Five seconds later, the screen shows a zoomable map of France, with a virtual red push-pin sticking out of Paris. I hold out my hand, palm up.

Do you know the average age of Apple’s work force? I ask him (or her.)

The answer is 33. For Google, (which provided the map) it’s 31. Whatever is wrong with the country today, young people aren’t it.