Political Calculations has the charts.
- James Lindsay, co-author with Helen Pluckrose of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity and Why This Harms Everybody
Antonin Becvar and Josef Stankovsky were on the roof, walking around the statues. It wasn't a dangerous job - the statues were on a balustrade and the roof was relatively flat. Julius Schlesinger, a Municipal official and a candidate for the SS - not even for the Elite Guard, but the plain, ordinary SS - was afraid to go out on the roof. Had he a higher rank, he wouldn't have had to waste time like this here. He might have found more lucrative work with the Gestapo. Still, a job at Municipal was more comfortable. Anyway, how far could he advance as a former locksmith? Unless they sent him to the front, out there in the East, and that would be a bad thing. Until this moment he had been doing pretty well in the Municipal division. But now things were beginning to go wrong.
- From Mendelssohn Is on the Roof by Jiří Weil
Spiked: Fraser Myers on why the actions of the media elites on the Biden corruption story are more troubling than the story itself. An excerpt:The implications for after the election are stark. Matt Taibbi has warned that ‘this same press corps might be weeks away from assuming responsibility for challenging a Biden administration. If they’ve already calculated once that a true story may be buried for political reasons, because the other “side” is worse, they will surely make that same calculation again.’
Read all of Lance Morrow's essay in City Journal.
Cultural Offering provides historian Victor Davis Hanson's contrasting argument to the assertions heard in much of the mainstream media.
[Photo by Andrew Neel at Unsplash]
Law professor Jonathan Turley notes historian Jon Meacham's vivid description of Trump supporters.
Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, takes a break from making better angels to describe Trump supporters as lizard-brained.
I've recently been asked to assume a role that requires deep immersion in bylaws and policy manuals.
You know, exciting stuff.
And yet, they really are because bylaws and policy manuals can, in so many ways, determine whether an organization succeeds.
Ignore them and the factions run wild. Ignore them and in a short amount of time they will have conflicting provisions. Ignore the bigger picture and you'll soon have a board involved in staff activities and a staff stomping on board territory. The results are chaos, ineffectiveness, and the loss of accountability.
So the work will be fun.
On a step-by-step basis.
Other media platforms, too, have moved on from disinterested presentation and examination of the facts to explicitly supporting particular political causes. National Public Radio, for example, announced that it would have nothing to do with the Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories,” a managing editor explained, “and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” (In August, NPR felt that an excellent use of its journalists and listeners’ time was a long, sympathetic interview with Vicky Osterweil, who had written the book In Defense of Looting.) Similarly, Glenn Reynolds devoted one of his weekly USA Today columns to Facebook and Twitter’s efforts to halt the spread of the Post’s story on the Bidens. USA Today spiked the column without explanation; it was available only to readers of Reynolds’s blog.
Read the rest of William Voegeli's essay in City Journal.
It was in March 1947, as they were collecting information for the Nuremberg trials, that staff of the American prosecutor made the discovery. Stamped "Geheime Reichssache" - "Secret Reich Matter" - and tucked away in a German Foreign Office folder were the minutes of a meeting. The meeting had involved fifteen top Nazi civil servants, SS officials, and party representatives and had taken place on January 20, 1942, in a grand Berlin villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee. The Americans had stumbled across the only surviving copy of the minutes, number sixteen out of an original thirty.
- From The Wannsee Conference and The Final Solution: A Reconsideration by Mark Roseman
A briefcase with papers and books. Plenty of pens. A smartphone. A notepad and a plan.
Waiting for the mechanics to finish repairing my car will not be time wasted.
It will be a valuable opportunity to think.
A waiting room can be a monastery.
[Photo by Alvaro Serrano at Unsplash]
I recently attended a board meeting for a state agency. Almost four hours long. No breaks. I sat in an auditorium with other board members while the wiser members attended via Zoom.
The Zoomers had the better deal. They were at home and comfortable and were shamelessly sipping cool drinks and leaning back in comfortable chairs while those of us in the auditorium got to stare at them on a large screen while rubbing our trick knees.
Aside from issues with the meeting's environment, I noticed a sizable reluctance to comment on various issues. Those in the auditorium had to wave over a person with a microphone before they could speak to the group. I'm sure there were also people on Zoom who found the Zoom process to be awkward. The result was a stilted atmosphere that encouraged silence.
And a reluctance to speak produces information gaps.
Unfortunately, even small gaps can be hazardous.
[Photo by Chris Montgomery at Unsplash]
"It featured no podiums, no list of topics, no fixed rotation of questions, no time limits on answers, and no formal closing statements. Bill Clinton and the other Democrats seeking the nomination sat around a table for a discussion moderated by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, the PBS anchors. Instead of dictating who spoke when and for how long about which issue, the moderators threw out general questions and let the candidates talk to one another. The moderators occasionally intervened to ask for specifics or keep the discussion from wandering, but they mostly let the candidates run the show."
Read the rest of John Tierney's essay in City Journal.
There are times when rocks and gravel must be moved to find a pebble with the appropriate shape or, even better, a gem.
It is time-consuming but there is no other way to get to the top of the mountain and know you're on the right peak.
[Photo by Joshua Earle at Unsplash]
These sessions are likely illegal. As U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has argued, racially segregated training sessions violate the 1964 act, which prohibits employers from segregating employees based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The Department of Justice is already investigating Seattle’s segregated diversity trainings. It should expand its investigation to include the King County Library System, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, and the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System. Segregation in the name of social justice is still segregation—and it has no place in our public institutions.
Read the rest of Christopher F. Rufo's article in City Journal.
Back by popular demand: Here is an old but interesting column by Sam Steiger who was one of the true characters of Arizona politics. It appeared in the Prescott Courier. After the car dealer provided very smooth but ineffective service, Sam said:"I want you to go out and find me a dirty, rude, overalled son of a gun who can fix my car."
It is beneficial to know how much you know but it is even more valuable to have a good sense of how much you don't know and how unlikely it is that you'll ever know it.
Unlike many of those leading the French Revolution, America's founders had a sense of humility about the range of their knowledge and even their virtue. They created a political structure of checks and balances because they knew the weaknesses of even the best and the brightest.
And so it goes with all of us but personality types can be deceiving. I have known cocky and even arrogant executives who respect key boundaries and modest, self-effacing ones who roll right over important restraints. Each group has a different form of hubris. The first is related to personal style while the second relates to structure.
The second type, however, personally pleasant, is the more dangerous.
Writing in City Journal, Nicole Gelinas notes the problems but also sees industries that can recover. An excerpt:
And in this crisis, New York is faring far worse than the rest of America. By late July, the nation had lost 8.1 percent of its jobs. But locally, industry after industry isn’t just in recession; it’s virtually nonexistent. New York is missing 53 percent of its 471,800 pre-Covid leisure and hospitality workers. The arts and entertainment field has lost 65,200 jobs, or more than two-thirds, and the restaurant and hotel field has hemorrhaged 184,500 jobs, or 49.2 percent. Retail outlets have laid off 45,300 people, or 13.2 percent. All these declines outpace national losses.
The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor was published in 1956. A highly entertaining novel about the mayoral campaign of Frank Skeffington - an old school Irish American politician - it is also quite informative on the ways of municipal (and even national) politics. An excerpt:
The reporter had been persistent. "Which great books, Governor?"
Skeffington's eyes had opened, the silver head had lifted, and once more the reporters met the deadpan look. "I don't know whether you'd know them or not," he had said thoughtfully. "The Bible, which is a book composed of two parts, commonly called the Old and the New Testaments. The poems and plays of Shakespeare, an Englishman. And during the winter months I would also take the paper which you represent."
The reporter had said warily, "Thanks for the compliment, Governor. I suppose there's some special reason?"
Skeffington had nodded. "During the long winter months a glowing fire might be welcome," he had said. "And I have found that your paper burns very well. Makes grand kindling. I don't imagine that most people are aware of that. If they were, your paper's very small circulation might be substantially increased. Any more questions, gentlemen?"
"I grew up in the media. In seventies Massachusetts, my father took a job at a fledgling ABC affiliate called WCVB-TV. These being the glory days of local television news, my childhood ended up being a lot like the movie Anchorman."
- From Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another by Matt Taibbi
Amid all of the weirdness, I am re-reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Here is its first sentence:
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
"Kanai spotted her the moment he stepped onto the crowded platform: he was deceived neither by her close-cropped black hair nor by her clothes, which were those of a teenage boy - loose cotton pants and an oversized white shirt. Winding unerringly through the snack vendors and tea sellers who were hawking their wares on the station's platform, his eyes settled on her slim, shapely figure. Her face was long and narrow, with an elegance of line markedly at odds with the severity of her haircut. There was no bindi on her forehead and her arms were free of bangles and bracelets, but on one of her ears was a silver stud, glinting brightly against the sun-deepened darkness of her skin."
- From The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
What unnerves those who lived under Soviet communism is this similarity: Elites and elite institutions [in the West] are abandoning old-fashioned liberalism, based in defending the right of the individual, and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups - ethnic, sexual, and otherwise - and to think of Good and Evil as a matter of power dynamics among the groups. A utopian vision drives these progressives, one that compels them to seek to rewrite history and reinvent language to reflect their ideals of social justice.
- From To Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher
Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon's tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: "I need a man."
"I have something in common with that mayor of Bordeaux."
City Journal: Theodore Dalrymple discusses the mayor of Bordeaux who regards those who oppose his decision to veto the annual city Christmas tree as - no surprise - fascists.
It wasn't that long ago when the French knew about real fascists.
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's account of his experience in a Nazi death camp deserves periodic study. An excerpt:
"What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."
Until recently, it was easy to define our most widely known corporations. Any third grader could describe their essence. Exxon sells oil; McDonald's makes hamburgers; Walmart is a place to buy stuff. This is no longer so. The ascendant monopolies of today aspire to encompass all of existence. Some of these companies have named themselves for their limitless aspirations. Amazon, as in the most voluminous river on the planet, has a logo that points from A to Z; Google derives from googol, a number (1 followed by 100 zeros) that mathematicians use as shorthand for unimaginably large quantities.
- From World Without End: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
They said they'd tried one approach and it was unsuccessful.
But they had not tried several other, equally obvious, approaches which might be successful.
They said they'd contacted one group that might provide a solution although that group was undependable.
But they had not contacted four to five other groups that could provide serious assistance.
The question in the back of my mind centered on whether they genuinely wanted to find a solution or instead simply desired to craft an eloquent excuse for doing next to nothing.
[Photo by Nick Fewings at Unsplash]
The New York Times: Donald G. McNeil Jr. believes the medical cavalry is coming.
Magnus excused. Magnus excuses everybody. Magnus picked his way delicately between imaginary obstacles to the door, smiling and empathising and excusing, while Mary chatted all the more brightly to provide him with covering fire. But as the door closed behind him something unforeseen occurred. Grant Lederer glanced at Bee, and Bee Lederer glanced at Grant. And Mary caught them at it and her blood ran cold.
- From A Perfect Spy by John le Carré
Quillette: Samuel Kronen on "The Prescience of Shelby Steele." An excerpt:
What we need, according to Steele, is a revitalization of individualism in our society—an emphasis on black autonomy as against the historical determinism of the cultural Left, and an American humanism that appreciates our common bonds as citizens over racial and ethnic differences. This means discarding all forms of race essentialism and separatism.
Sometimes, a stranger who sees deeper and farther than the crowd appears to warn of trouble coming. These stories often end with people disbelieving the prophet and suffering for their blindness. Here, though, is a tale about a people who heard the prophet's warnings, did as he advised, and were ready when the crisis struck.
- From Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher