Thursday, August 27, 2015


In 2013 Katrina Trinko told USA Today readers that, instead of raising the minimum wage to help those moocher fast-food workers make a living, right-thinking consumers should "pressure fast-food companies to allow tip jars, so that people who wanted to pass on more to the workers had a way to do so." Well, big cities are still raising the wage, and Trinko has turned around, in a way: At Acculturated she now says she'll even countenance the evil of a minimum wage hike if it's used as a substitute for tipping in restaurants.

It's neither an obviously terrible nor an unheard-of idea. Is Trinko attempting conservative outreach to working people in election season? She certainly expects to benefit from a no-tip world herself: "I’m ready for relaxing dinners that don’t end with me having to calculate percentages." And she makes a feint at arguing that the waiters would benefit, too:
Imagine getting a performance review from someone who had worked with you part of one day (a day that might or might not be typical of your experience), and who likely knew little to nothing about your job. Most of us would (rightfully!) protest. We’d point out that the person simply wasn’t qualified to rate how well or poorly we did our job.
But the more she talks about it, the clearer it becomes that she's not worried that this poor performance metric harms waiters; she's mainly concerned that it's inefficient ("the data show that when it comes to judging the excellence of restaurant servers, we are lousy"). The real object of her concern comes out in a passage I'm surprised they left in:
Businesses have other ways besides tips to hold workers accountable for customer service. When I worked at Borders (R.I.P, non-virtual bookstore), managers constantly observed our interactions with customers, and mystery shoppers and callers made sure we stayed on our best behavior.
See, there's an alternative model! You get the feeling that Trinko is more concerned waiters might be getting away with something than that they might be under-compensated -- like she saw the scene from The Grapes of Wrath where the truckers leave a large tip for a waitress ("What's it to ya?"), and her face burned at the injustice of it.

Coincidentally, I saw a story in MIT Technology Review today about workers on a construction project "being monitored by drones and software that can automatically flag slow progress." It includes one of the more depressing gifs I've seen in a while:

Again, getting rid of tipping might be great, and feel free to debate it in comments. But I am very aware that the scene above is what innovation generally means to the people who cut paychecks, and that's why, when people like Trinko make even reasonable-sounding neoliberal proposals about improving the world of work, I keep my guard up. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


David French has always been -- or has been at least since first I encountered his terrible columns at National Review -- tightly wound, but his latest, about the rape accusations at elite prep St. Paul's, takes it a little further than usual. First, he explains that Saint Paul’s is "an 'elite' boarding school in New Hampshire (and Secretary of State John Kerry’s alma mater)"; the school's alumni also include John Jacob Astor, William Randolph Hearst, and J.P. Morgan, but hacks gotta cheapshot and there's no percentage for a Christo-conservative to associate long-dead press and robber barons with rape when the real issue is the mortal sin epidemic of our corrupt modern age:
For me, the legal and evidentiary analysis is difficult, but the cultural analysis? Not so much.
Fasten your chastity belts, boys and girls. For even if there was consent all around,
that doesn’t change the fact that something is deeply wrong on campus — in high schools and at college. The moral code that valorizes the orgasm and establishes consent as the only limitation on sensation and experience is the moral code that gives us the “senior salute,” the drunken hook-up, and the broken, regretful hearts that contribute to soaring rates of anxiety and depression...
You let people have sex whenever they want it with willing partners and what else can you expect besides pain? (BTW everyone should have guns, that's just common sense.)
The sexual revolution is built on a fundamental lie — that the rejection of traditional sexual virtue leads to individual liberty and personal fulfillment. In reality, “liberty” depends on the ultimate backstop of taking another human life to keep the party going...
Taking another human -- what, they have blood orgies? Oh, abortion, right -- in French's demo, they no longer bother to explain their signifiers: That we normals have not risen up and mass-Tillered Planned Parenthood proves we're all damned anyways.
...while “fulfillment” is elusive as the human heart defies the animalistic ideology of the secular Left.
I envision a human heart, shaped like Bobby Jindal perhaps, wrestling a priapic Left, and grow faint of heart and upturned of stomach, yet press on --
It turns out that the connection inherent in the sexual act is not so easily discarded — especially by women — and a sex act without a relationship not only is unfulfilling, but actually causes deep and painful emotional wounds.
I see he's already decided that the slut is lying, but (liberal) society's to blame.
And so a purely legalistic analysis of campus sexual culture will always be lacking. Even in the celebrated cases where reports of crimes prove exaggerated or false, something wrong generally still occurred.
Trimmed of some of its excess verbiage and pretensions, this sounds like something Gladys Kravitz would say before her husband told her to stop spying on the Stephenses and let him read his paper in peace. "I tell you something was going on over there!"
By equating the sacred with something as banal as a good buzz on a Saturday night, the sexual revolutionaries are plunging an entire culture into a doomed crusade to reject thousands of years of human wisdom and experience. Since time immemorial, men and women have sought to test sexual limits, and since time immemorial, the efforts to escape the constraints of sexual virtue have brought personal and even civilizational ruin.
That's what happened to the Romans, you know. Those lie-beral profs will tell you it was imperial overreach and Christianity, but in reality they fucked themselves to ruin, and succumbed to the Goths, who were more interested in whiteface and shitty music.
With the Obergefell decision, Bruce Jenner’s “transition,” and the continued fracturing of the family...
Yeah, we can stop there. So to sum up: Sex destroys everything, not only billions of preborns but also the delicate sensibilities of young people who don't know enough to channel their energy into clinic protests and exorcisms. You heathens have been warned!

I wonder if Buckley knew this was coming and that's what killed him.

Monday, August 24, 2015


There are a couple of quasi-Trumpers at National Review, but by and large they are embarrassed by him, which they naturally express with belligerent stupidity. (Here for example is Kevin D. Williamson, in a column called "National Fronts," tying the rightist-racist parties of Europe to Trump -- and Bernie Sanders, because National Socialist get it; plus, Sanders is racist against Mexicans because he complained the Koch Brothers want "all kinds of people" to "work for $2 and $3" -- which is the kind of stretch that, had it been employed by a black person as evidence of racism, would have spurred a National Review special double issue.)

Why embarrassed? Well, there's an election coming up, and when this whole Trump thing blows over they'll want the voters to remember that National Review supported sensible conservatism, such as that championed by their author David French. For example:

Not even kidding. (Actually, before they changed it the teaser read "Satanists Reveal the Abortion Movement's Rotten Core." See, they do too have editors!) Let's read a bit:
One story is interesting, two stories even more so. But six stories are a trend, in this case a particularly appropriate one: Satanists are become a leading public voice for abortion rights. In their mockery of Christianity they reveal the dark heart of abortion-on-demand: the radical worship of self.
You laugh, but I predict that "radical worship of self" thing gets a big cheer for some 5 pm speaker at the GOP Convention next year.

And what are these six Satanic stories? One, Wendy Davis supporters mocked some holy rollers with "Hail Satan." Satan and mockery -- that's SatanAlinsky! Then the Satanists cheekily filed suit against some anti-abortion laws... wait a minute -- are these all jokes French is complaining about?
And many on the Left gleefully passed around a Salon article declaring that a Satanic Temple spokesperson took Megyn Kelly “to law school” in an appearance over the Temple’s desire to place a statue of Baphomet at the Oklahoma state capitol.
Never mind Salon, that gag got coverage everywhere from Boing Boing to Bloomberg. The only thing worse than a joke about Satan is a popular joke about Satan, apparently. And oh wait, here comes a good one:
With the release of the Planned Parenthood videos, abortion sympathizers are upping their Satanic game. At a Chicago Planned Parenthood protest, speakers apparently located inside the clinic broadcast “horror music” at pro-life advocates in an effort to drown them out.
Horror music leads to Satan just like show tunes make you gay. Eventually French is reduced to sputtering:
[Satanists] also declare that man is “just another animal.” It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate set of doctrines for the rutting life of the sexual revolution, where restraint is evil, physical experience is king, and people are simply sentient mammals trying to get the best out of life. A baby is thus no more sacred — and often less — than any other animal. Just ask Cecil the Lion.
Cecil the Lion! Maybe I've been getting them all wrong, and National Review stories are all basically drinking games.

In some ways this is the best part:
While the vast, vast majority of abortion-rights supporters don’t identify with Satanists and would recoil from comparison with the Church of Satan, prominent Satanist involvement in the abortion debate does have a clarifying effect.
This is being said by the same guy who a few months ago was telling us why his love of the Confederate flag doesn't mean he's racist.

Maybe they should embrace Trump. It's their best hope of going mainstream.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Peter Wood at National Review:
Compare Mr. Trump with the episode in 1968 when William F. Buckley Jr. responded to a taunt by Gore Vidal on ABC in televised commentary on the Democratic Convention in Chicago. The famous exchange — Vidal calls Buckley a “crypto-Nazi” and Buckley responds by calling Vidal a “queer” — is receiving fresh attention in the documentary Best of Enemies. Buckley, in the words of Hendrik Hertzberg writing in The New Yorker, “immediately regretted” the slur, “and eventually wrote that he had returned to his dressing room in a state of despair.” But “Vidal had no such regrets about calling his opponent a crypto-Nazi. He knew he had triumphed.” 
Buckley, the man of traditional values, despairs because his flash of verbal anger is a failure of self-control. Vidal, a man of the new era, exults because his taunt succeeded in breaking his opponent’s reserve. Today, Trump plays the part of Vidal, sneering at those over whom he would triumph.
Yes, you read that right -- someone compared Donald Trump to Gore Vidal. If this degeneration of conventional wisdom continues, by next week they'll be comparing him to Adlai Stevenson.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Franz von Papen (From Wikipedia):
Under the Weimar Constitution, the Chancellor was a fairly weak figure, serving as little more than a chairman. Moreover, Cabinet decisions were made by majority vote. With this in mind, Papen anticipated "boxing Hitler in," believing that his conservative friends' majority in the Cabinet and his closeness to Hindenburg would keep Hitler in check. Papen boasted to intimates that "Within two months we will have pushed Hitler so far in the corner that he'll squeak." To the warning that he was placing himself in Hitler's hands, Papen replied, "You are mistaken. We've hired him."
Ross Douthat, "How Trump Might Help Reform Conservatives":
First, I’m not sure it’s true that Trump’s campaign is substance free: Detail free, maybe, but he’s clearly associated himself with a kind of nationalistic politics that bears some resemblance to the Perot phenomenon, and some resemblance to European right-populism.. That’s a combination of ideas that conspicuously lacks support within the nation’s elite -- but it’s one that has a fair amount of popular and bipartisan appeal... 
Now of course as manifested by Trump this anti-Bloombergist spirit is crude, clownish, extreme, politically unrealistic, and so on down the list... 
But there’s a real opportunity here for reformers as well. Because so long as a protean, ideologically-flexible figure like Trump is setting the populist agenda in the party, you’re less likely to have stringent ideological tests applied to other candidates and their ideas; so long as the voter anxieties he’s tapping into are front and center in the debate, you’re less likely to see other candidates ignoring those anxieties while chasing support from donors or ideological enforcers instead.
As I've shown previously, the "reformcons" Douthat endorses are more con than reform -- a bunch of pencil-necked repackagers of Gilded Age philosophy, looking for jobs in the upcoming GOP Bureau of Bold New Boondoggles. I can appreciate, from a comedy perspective, blinkered and hubristic social policy wonks as well as much as the next fellow -- but to see them holding up a broken chair and cracking a licorice whip against a charismatic buffoon bully-boy, and imagining that they're the ones in control, strikes me as a formula for disaster.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Michael C. Moynihan, formerly of Reason (the magazine, not the capacity for consciously making sense of things, obviously), goes blar har over the latest political correctness:

His buddies concur: "Good grief. How about 'might not contain the same views as yours. Go ahead and listen; stretch your personal envelope,'" "What, did someone in the program use a gender-specific pronoun or something?" etc.

You may recall that Buckley was a full-throated segregationist and white supremacist:
He didn’t stop there. In 1957, Buckley wrote National Review’s most infamous editorial, entitled “Why the South Must Prevail.” Is the white community in the South, he asked, “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?” His answer was crystal clear: “The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because for the time being, it is the advanced race.” Buckley cited unfounded statistics demonstrating the superiority of white over black, and concluded that, “it is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.” He added definitively: “the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.”
And this is from the WNYC broadcast descriptor:
During the question period [Buckley] endorses the concept of a "white backlash" if it means repudiating the views of such black leaders as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Bayard Rustin.
Maybe these are the kind of sentiments that WNYC wanted to warn visitors about. Do these guys really think it's a bad thing if the website thinks some black kid might like a simple heads-up before opening a file from an advocate of "white backlash"? Probably -- I expect they think the Pure Food and Drug Act was a big statist nuisance too, depriving consumers of the freedom to discover poison in their food by eating it.

I'm not crazy about trigger warnings and other sissy evasions of rough and tumble public discourse, but if someone wants to warn Jews that Hitler's about to make his big pitch, or warn blacks that William F. Buckley is about to speak, I count that as elementary good manners.

UPDATE. In comments, Maclean's cultural critic Jaime Weinman reminds us of the trigger-warnings-avant-la-lettre that have appeared before old cartoons that feature pickaninnies and whatnot for many years now:
I'm pretty reflexively anti-PC (or anti-anti-anti-PC?) but I also think the most important thing above all is to keep stuff available and uncut, whether it's a cartoon or a radio interview. And I don't think people realize that the choice is between sending this stuff out in public with a warning and not sending it out at all.
"No longer politically or socially appropriate" is awkward phrasing, I admit, but then Warner Brothers' first try at a content warning for cartoons had Whoopi Goldberg walking out to warn us. They replaced this with a disclaimer card. It's a work in progress.
I can understand how the degradation of black people might be something some viewers (including black people) would want to avoid; I can also understand why some viewers would want to see the cartoons as they were meant to be presented, not shot full of censor-holes. (I should mention that syndicates also cut non-racial things out of cartoons, like Porky and Daffy's iron lung gag.) The warning seems a reasonable accommodation, but I can also understand how that lets libertarians out.


Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds says capitalism is great and you stupid intellectuals are just jealous of capitalism because you don't make as much money as capitalists. (It seems Donald Trump's influence on the movement is really spreading.) Reynolds writes:
At the same time, markets deliver the bad news whether you want to hear it or not, but delivering the bad news is not a sign of failure, it is a characteristic of systems that work. When you stub your toe, the neurons in between your foot and your head don’t try to figure out ways not to send the news to your brain. If they did, you’d trip a lot more often. Likewise, in a market, bad decisions show up pretty rapidly: Build a car that nobody wants, and you’re stuck with a bunch of expensive unsold cars; invest in new technologies that don’t work, and you lose a lot of money and have nothing to show for it. These painful consequences mean that people are pretty careful in their investments, at least so long as they’re investing their own money.
If that's true, how'd the Perfesser and all his pals miss the 2008 recession? The neurons in his economic foot weren't working too goddamn good then.

Well, I expect there's an excuse having to do with "crony capitalism" somewhere. Lagniappe: The Perfesser bolsters his case by making fun of foreign socialist dictators out of Bananas:
It is simple really: When the "Great Leader" builds a new stadium, everyone sees the construction. Nobody sees the more worthwhile projects that didn’t get done instead because the capital was diverted, through taxation, from less visible but possibly more worthwhile ventures — a thousand tailor shops, bakeries or physician offices.
Or did he just get confused and use Scott Walker as an example?

UPDATE. In comments, ADHDJ: "Remember when Reynolds was predicting in early 2009 Obama was going to destroy the stock market? The DJIA has more than doubled in the seven years since he made that pronouncement. I'm sure Reynolds' opinion of Obama has changed accordingly -- the market demands it!"

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Jonah Goldberg explains that Donald Trump isn't the "politically correct" he-man he purports to be:
So first let me say, as I said to the caller, that I agree that political correctness is a huge problem, one I’ve written about many times (often punctuated with many un-PC jokes). 
One can imagine. ("So black not even The Man can keep it down!")
Second, as I also said to him, maybe I’m not the one who is befuddled. Perchance Trump fans are the ones who are confused, while I see the man more clearly... 
It is a lie that Donald Trump stands athwart political correctness, yelling Stop. For example, you may recall that Donald Trump and I got into a Twitter fight a few months back. At one point I wrote that he was “relentlessly tweeting like a 14-year-old girl.” 
How did Trump respond? If you guessed with Churchillian statesmanship, you guessed wrong. If you guessed with anti-PC fearlessness, you guessed wrong again
Instead, he played the political-correctness card. He said my tweet was a “horrible insult to women. Resign now or later!”  
I still love the “or later."

He followed up with more demands that I lose my job because of my insult to women.
In our debased era, portents of societal decay are all around us, like confetti at a Rip Taylor show. But this is a doozy: The author of a book about how liberals are fascists telling his Donald Trump fans that they should abandon their new idol because he played the war-on-women card like a PC sissy. Yeah, that'll move the needle. Doesn't Goldberg realize that none of Trump's followers, dumb as they may be, are so very dumb that they would take that "insult to women" stuff seriously? They recognize it for what it is, a mean joke -- because among guys like them, what else could a profession of sensitivity toward women possibly be?

If this is how Goldberg expects to keep the punters in the National Review tent, things must be worse than I thought. Perhaps it's time to drop the prices on those NR cruises, and add more proletarian on-board entertainments, like Goldberg on a dunking stool.