David Brooks actually did have a Point

David Brooks is catching a fair amount of grief for one paragraph of his column. Well, when one writes this, it’s not overly surprising.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

And yep, it reads elitist and snark-worthy as all get out. But maybe there is a bit more to it than that. I hold no brief for David Brooks, but he is a pretty decent writer, who can get his ideas, however wrong or silly, into words, effectively. Erick Erickson has some thoughts.

The rich keep up with David Foster Wallace and raise eyebrows at the rubes reading Proverbs. They look down on Chick-Fil-A while eating at their artisan sandwich shops that get reviewed in the backs of location specific vanity magazines. Then they tax the poor guy’s coke and plastic grocery bag. They shut down the Christian baker who just wants to be left alone and put hedonism on a pedestal they can afford that the poor could not. Abortion on demand is the left’s preferred equalizer, but as the poor descend into the rich’s hedonistic lifestyle, they cannot afford the STD’s, addiction problems, etc. that the rich can paper over with money.

He’s right, and part of the reason I am uneasy with the instant snark that comes, especially from Twitter. It’s fun, and often very funny, but sometimes there is a nuance buried in there that snark hides forever. And that’s not good either, we need to talk together more, and snark at each other less. I don’t know any more than you how this begins, but it needs to.

Way back when I started blogging one of the first people to follow here was Michael O. Church. Over the years, I’ve found him fascinating, sometimes infuriating, sometimes agreeable, and always original. I disagree with him a lot, but always respect how he got there, and I remember that his journey is not my journey, in either time or place. He too wrote about that David Brooks piece. Here’s a bit.

We have a problem in this country. The economic elite is destroying it, and the intellectual elite is largely powerless to stop the wreckage, and while there are many sources of our powerlessness, one of the main ones is that we get the bulk of the hate. The plebeians lump us all together, because the economic elite has told them to do so. They make no distinction between the magazine columnist, who can barely afford her studio in Brooklyn, and the private-jet billionaire who just fired them by changing numbers in a spreadsheet.

Brooks has some good points, and the essay that I linked to is worth reading, not because he’s right on every call, but because he’s not wrong. For example, he writes:

Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

If that isn’t true, well you’ve been vacationing in sunny Antartica. Do not, Do Not Ever in current America, get between a parent (especially a mother) and her dreams for her kid(s). Not even if you are that kid. That’s always been true, of course. But it seems like now, that kid must be successful no matter what, whether he can read or not, whether he bothered to do the coursework, or not, whether or not he ever showed up. Hate to say back in the day, but back in the day the pressure was different, it was on the kids to earn their way, not be given a free ride because…well I guess because (s)he managed to learn to breathe. With that pressure, even going to school could be optional, Lincoln went to school less than a year, but he managed to learn a fair amount.

Brooks also says:

Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

[…]

All true. All valid. Except, the emphasis is completely wrong. He implies that well-educated people are the problem. No. This is like the conservative contention that anti-vaxxers are liberal. Scientifically illiterate anti-intellectuals (on the left and right) are the problem, not leftists. Some of the NIMBYs are well-educated, and some are not.

The zoning/housing issue has little to do with educational pedigree. It’s generational. Boomers got into the housing market when prices were fair; then, they passed a bunch of self-serving legislation to thwart supply growth (as noted) and let a bunch of nonresident scumbags buy coastal real estate in order to spike land prices and apartment rents. Generation X was affected, but Millennials just got screwed. Further, Boomers have perpetuated a work culture based on hierarchy and socio-physical dominance, making it difficult to have a career in a company unless one works on-site in close proximity to the (very wealthy) people at the top. This creates abnormal demand for real estate in major cities, because peoples’ careers depend on them living there, even though the Internet was supposed to make location irrelevant. Consequently, we have a bipolar nation where one stretch of the country has affordable houses, even in beautiful locations, but offers no jobs; and the other offers jobs but offers no path to homeownership other than winning a hedge-fund or startup lottery.

Sounds likely to me, but my experience is different, but I’m a Boomer and live in the interior so it would be.

This is not a balanced country, politically speaking. First, while we have two parties, we’ve become polarized to such a point that most places suffer under a local one-party system.

He’s absolutely right here, as are the conclusions he draws.

When I look around in my circle, I don’t see an exclusive “intellectual elite”. I see people from all sorts of backgrounds: black, Latino, transgender, Midwestern, Southern, European, Asian, sons of restaurant owners and daughters of coal miners. We accept people who are different from us. If you’re smart, no one cares where you’re from; we don’t even really care where you went to college, because it’s correlated with almost nothing after age 30. Most of the best writers and artists don’t have elite degrees at all.

For a contrast, how often do you see Davos Men hang around with anyone but other Davos Men? Never. How much do corporate executives care about people who weren’t born into their milieu. They don’t.

My circles are like that, too, and it’s the way I want them. I skipped quite a bit here that you need to read, a good part of it I disagree with, but I was wrong once or twice as well. So read it and see what you think. But the point he makes about the intellectual elite should always be true, it’s about merit, nothing else. I see much more of that on the right than the left, but I, like everybody have an internal echo chamber, where what is memorable to me is what I agree with. And while the short form is ‘the intellectual elite’ far more often the right is talking about the university itself, which ties back to his point on the plans of parents for their children, maybe.

If you want to hate me for the books I read or words I use or food I eat, go ahead. Let’s not get distracted. We have a shared enemy. The country isn’t being destroyed by people using the word “intersectionality”. No, it’s being wrecked by the weakening of unions, corporate downsizing, accumulated environmental damage, rising anti-intellectualism, and creeping plutocracy. We have a real enemy and it’s time to put our (very mild) differences aside and fight.

There’s a lot of that I disagree with, and yet, I see much the same thing happening, so maybe he has a point. He surely has a point of view and the reasoning process to make it valid. So read the articles, and see where they take you. Hiding in a cave never solved a damned thing, after all.

The Rule of Law (UK Style)

On NEO there are 228 articles dealing with the ‘Rule of Law‘ or so says the search box. It’s been one of the most common topics here since day one. It continues to be, for cause. Here’s why, from the £ Daily Mail.

An ‘extraordinary’ Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover with a bread-knife could be spared jail after a judge said a custodial sentence would damage her future career as a heart surgeon.

Lavinia Woodward, 24,  swiped at her boyfriend with the blade, before stabbing him in the leg.

She then hurled a laptop, a glass and a jam jar at him, during the drink and drug-fuelled clash at Christ Church college, Oxford.

Woodward, who currently lives in Milan, Italy, previously admitted unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.

Judge Ian Pringle said the offence would normally mean a prison term, but instead delayed sentencing and slapped her with a restraining order to stay drug-free and not to re-offend.

He told the court: ‘It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe.

‘What you did will never, I know, leave you but it was pretty awful, and normally it would attract a custodial sentence, whether it is immediate or suspended.’

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said Woodward met her ex online and at the time of the attack, September 30, her behaviour ‘deteriorated’.

The student’s boyfriend called Woodward’s mother on Skype, and his then-girlfriend punched him in the face before assaulting him with the knife.

Defending, James Sturman QC said his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon were ‘almost impossible’ as her conviction would have to be disclosed.

Woodward had a ‘very troubled life’, struggled with drug addiction, and had been abused by another ex, Mr Sturman said.

Lavinia Woodward will be sentenced on September 25.

To American eyes, British sentencing looks pretty mild at any time, but even there one would expect a custodial sentence for a drugged binge, including assault with a deadly weapon on one partner, even if one were attending Oxford hoping to be a doctor. You know, us provincial Americans, “You do the crime, you do the time”. Yeah, we know a woman, especially a fairly cute one, won’t catch as severe a sentence usually, that’s a bit wrong, but it’s a cultural thing with us, and not that big a deal, because women usually aren’t as violent as men anyway.

But this is well beyond that point, It’s a hard thing to ruin someone’s future, even for cause, but it seems hardly a good thing for the average Briton to have unstable, drug abusing, prone to violence, heart surgeons. That’s why we take people off the street, not so much to punish them (in theory, anyway) but to help them get their life straightened out.

But I wonder if the Mail provided us with the answer, after all. Here’s another picture of poor Lavinia.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m pretty sure that ain’t cattle class on Ryanair. Yep, it’s a private jet of some kind, and they are not economy class. Mind, one doesn’t have to be close to being Donald Trump to have one, and they often make business sense, but it is not the way we usually go off to Podunk U, to fulfill our dreams.

I won’t say there is bribery involved here, although there certainly could be, in one manner or another. After all, not all bribes are money, many are access, or influence, or other things, and they may actually be more harmful.

But even that is problematic, what I really suspect is that it is simply class solidarity, can’t send our kind to prison, she’d have to deal with all those [insert your own group] here.

And that is why it is pernicious. What has made Great Britain, America, and very few more countries what we are is that the law applies equally to everyone.

And forgetting that will destroy much of the reason they work.

100 Days and Firing Squads

In case you missed it, PE Trump called a meeting with some of the major media figures and unloaded some truth on them. Needless to say, they didn’t like it. Well, one gets to lie in the bed one makes, and Trump, like many of us, is apparently tired of being lied about. Bill Whittle had something to say about it, as well.

Here, listen to the man, not the spin.

Nothing here that troubles me in the least, nor is there anything extra-legal. Too often our leadership has forgotten that the primary purpose of the US Government is to defend and support the United States. Trump seems to understand that.

Soon we will speak here of the people he has asked to join him in the government, while some would not be my choices, they look to me like a very strong team. In fact, they echo the old canard, “First-rate men hire the best men they can find, second-rate men hire third-rate men, and third-rate men hire lackeys who tell them what they want to hear. More to come on this, and soon.

 

Hillary, Comey, and the Rule of Law

imagesAnd so it happened, as I said it would, Hillary Clinton will not be indicted. Well, I thought it pretty obvious that the Obama administration would not indict the Democratic nominee, pretty much no matter how strong the evidence. Here is FBI director James Comey’s statement on the matter.

I like so many others, see it as 1:) a gross miscarriage of justice, and 2:) the breakdown of the Rule of Law, specifically of equality under the law. My view of its ramifications is very well stated by Kurt Schlichter in Town Hall.

Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. It is high time to declare our personal independence from any remnant of obligation to those who have spit upon the rule of law. We owe them nothing – not respect, not loyalty, not obedience.

Think about it. If you are out driving at 3 a.m., do you stop at a stop sign when there’s no one coming? Of course you do. You don’t need a cop to be there to make you stop. You do it voluntarily because this is America and America is a country where obeying the law is the right thing to do because the law was justly made and is justly applied. Or it used to be.

The law mattered. It applied equally to everyone. We demanded that it did, all of us – politicians, the media, and regular citizens. Oh, there were mistakes and miscarriages of justice but they weren’t common and they weren’t celebrated – they were universally reviled. And, more importantly, they weren’t part and parcel of the ideology of one particular party. There was once a time where you could imagine a Democrat scandal where the media actually called for the head of the Democrat instead of deploying to cover it up.

People assumed that the law mattered, that the same rules applied to everyone. That duly enacted laws would be enforced equally until repealed. That the Constitution set the foundation and that its guarantees would be honored even if we disliked the result in a particular case. But that’s not our country today.

The idea of the rule of law today is a lie. There is no law. There is no justice. There are only lies.

Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.

via: You Owe Them Nothing – Not Respect, Not Loyalty, Not Obedience

And yet, it’s true, Comey is caught in the middle between very powerful forces, including his oath. John Hinderaker makes some valid points on this on the PowerlineBlog.

I don’t disagree with those who are disappointed that FBI Director James Comey more or less re-wrote federal law to avoid criminally prosecuting a leading contender for the presidency, four months before the election. On the other hand, I can’t really say that I blame him. It seems to me that Comey left the judgment on Hillary to be rendered by the American people. And he certainly made it clear what the FBI thinks of the Democrats’ nominee.

I agree with Roger Simon, who writes: “Did Comey Actually Destroy Hillary Clinton by ‘Exonerating’ Her?”

He may have let her off the hook legally, but personally he has left the putative Democratic candidate scarred almost beyond recognition.

By getting out in front of the Justice Department, the FBI director, speaking publicly in an admittedly unusual fashion, was able to frame the case in a manner that Attorney General Loretta Lynch in all probability never would have.

I think that is correct. […]

via: Can Hillary Survive?

You know, I think there is a lot of truth in that, as well. Trying to thread the needle in a very toxic situation is not easy. We all like to think we would do the honorable thing, and if the evidence shows that a crime was committed, we would ask the government to indict. But, these waters are definitely shark infested, and I suspect we are fooling ourselves if we think we would stick our neck out that far.

Say he did ask for an indictment, and then the Department of Justice Botched it, then it’s over, forever. The way it is now, it could possibly be revisited, and he did a reasonable job of putting the facts out there, before the American people. It may not be what Washington would have done, but it’s not a completely unreasonable thing to do, whatever I (and you) may think.

Frankly, I’m very glad that I don’t have to walk a mile in his shoes. Yes, he volunteered for the job, but how many of us see clearly enough to see this sort of maelstrom on the horizon. I don’t think there are any winners in this, not Hillary, not Comey, not Lynch, not Obama, and certainly not We, the People. Sometimes, life sucks for pretty much everyone.

At Last – A Justice Secretary who Believes in Justice – slightly_grumpy – My Telegraph

This is a short post because there just isn’t much to add.  Michael Gove recently was the education Secretary in Great Britain, and he got into a certain amount of trouble, mostly because he insisted on high standards.

He now has a new job: Justice Minister and Lord High Chancellor. He’s likely, I suspect to get into more trouble making statements like this:

The sealing of Magna Carta, the calling of the first Parliament by Simon de Montfort, the establishment of habeas corpus, the challenge to the operation of the Star Chamber in early Stuart times, the fight by Parliament against the Crown under Charles the First, the Glorious Revolution, the Bill of Rights, the judgement of Lord Mansfield that affirmed the air of England too pure for any slave to breathe, Catholic Emancipation, the removal of discrimination against Jewish citizens, universal suffrage, the principle of judicial review of the executive – all of these are acts which have contributed to making us who we are – a people bound by rules and guided by precedent who settle issues by debate in Parliament and argument in courts, and who afford equal protection to all and cherish liberty as a birthright. These historic acts are what constitute our nation – they are our constitution. And it is my duty, as Lord Chancellor, to safeguard the principles that underlie that constitution.

From: At Last – A Justice Secretary who Believes in Justice – slightly_grumpy – My Telegraph.

Wish we had a few like that in our Department of Justice, let alone as Attorney General, or even heaven forfend, on the Supreme Court.

King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree

shutterstock_199125452-998x666In the next week, we are going to talk quite a lot about the “Rule of Law” as opposed to the prerogative power. here’s a foretaste of why it is so important.

[…] The president’s remarks come as the Supreme Court is preparing this month to decide King v. Burwell, a case that challenges whether the law ever actually authorized subsidies for health coverage paid out through federal exchanges. The details of Burwell reveal the degree to which the Obama administration’s handling of the ACA is ultimately at odds with ideals and aspirations that really are woven into the fabric of America: the rule of law and the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The ACA says plainly that subsidies may only be administered “through an Exchange established by the State.” But when it became clear that dozens of states were not going to create exchanges, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), at the behest of the White House, simply issued a rule saying that subsidies could flow through exchanges created and operated by the federal government.

The Obama Administration Embodies Will to Power

In other words, the challengers in King v. Burwell contend that the White House illegally authorized billions of dollars of taxes and spending, circumventing Congress and flouting the statutory text of the ACA by administrative decree. The accusation isn’t a stretch. After all, governing by decree has become commonplace in the Obama era—from the ACA’s many unauthorized delays, to the president’s executive order on immigration last year, to the State Department’s recent gun speech gag order.

Continue readin: King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree.

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