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April 14, 2012

certain uncomfortable truths about the appeal of conservatism

So Fred Barnes (remember him?) mentioned in an op-ed that a Romney adviser had said that Mitt's private belief on an issue (immigration) was different that the position he was taking on the campaign trail.  This predictable inflamed Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne:
What exactly does that mean? Does it mean Romney said things that he doesn’t really believe? What are we supposed to make of a candidate who takes certain public positions to court one group of voters — and then tries to reassure an entirely different group of voters by leaking the fact that he doesn’t really believe what he said to win votes from the first group? How many other “private” positions does Romney hold that we don’t know about?

I can help with that!  Not to take away Dionne's opportunity of outrage, but the exigencies of electoral democracy dictate that candidate's sometimes hold opinions that differ from the official tenets of the campaign.  For example, candidate may think that farming is oversubsidized, but if candidate is running for, say, governor of Kansas, then candidate will damn well support the oversubsidization of farming because the point of the exercise is not to unburden oneself of one's personal feelings but rather to get elected.  This also extends to after the election — if one's constituents overwhelmingly support a specific policy, then sometimes the elected official will assume the position of support of this policy.  It's how things work.  Omelets made; eggs broken.

Not to say that Mitt Romney is somewhat elastic in his dogma, but then let's stretch this out one more step.  Mitt Romney will always be open to this criticism because it is accepted as truth that one must assume certain positions to obtain the support of certain conservatives, which positions need to be back-pedaled in order to appeal to the general electorate.  Again, that's just the way it is.

But to me it's illuminating, because it can be boiled down to: the tenets of this certain sort of conservatism are poisonous to the general voting public.  I mean, you and I know this, but come to find out that the conservatives do to — they just don't like to admit it.  Conservatives tacitly agree that their best candidate is someone who espouses their principles, but rather the candidate that will adhere to their principles while finding a way to trick everyone into voting for them.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:46 AM

April 12, 2012

oh right, there's an apostrophe in dunkin' donuts

In the middle of a couple of things right now, but I did have enough time to notice, walking to work, that the Dunkin' Donuts (which one? Can't remember. One of the four that I pass twice a day.) is now offering an Artisan Bagel.  Wait, they certainly must be promoting this on the web, too.  Oh, yeah, right here.  And here's the press release:
Dunkin' Donuts, America's all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods, is boasting big bagel news this spring, today rolling out new Artisan Bagels, available all day long at participating Dunkin' Donuts restaurants nationwide. Dunkin' Donuts, the number one retailer of bagels in the United States*, has reinvented its bagel recipe, delivering a new line of bagels that features a soft and chewy texture with bolder flavors. The new Artisan Bagels are available in all of Dunkin' Donuts' classic bagel selections such as Sesame, Poppy Seed, Cinnamon Raisin and more. Additionally, two new seasonal flavor varieties, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pumpernickel, are now available for a limited time. Rounding out the brand's newest bagel innovations, Dunkin' Donuts has also introduced new reduced-fat Artichoke Spinach Cream Cheese.

(Emphasis preserved from the original.)

There are a bunch of greater points to be made over this, ranging from the semiotics of of press releases to Dunkin' Donuts peculiar success story muscling into the prepared foods market to the growing trend of faux-sophistication of fast food menus.  There's plenty of time for that!  (And that last one would be a great topic for David Roth, who is somewhat of an expert on the subject.)

But, without even glancing at a dictionary, I'm gonna state the obvious and say that anything bought from a Dunkin' Donuts is a priori not artisanal.

But if you're hot for some reduced-fat Spinach Artichoke Cream Cheese, then by all means make that happen.  I'm sure it's the best reduced-fat Spinach Artichoke Cream Cheese a test tube can make.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:32 AM

April 11, 2012

santorum out

I can't let Rick Santorum "suspending his campaign" (which is Doublespeak for quitting) go without note, because when I'm flipping through these posts X years from now, it'll be the small historic moments like this that will anchor it in time.

Other than that?  I guess it'll be kind of sad not to have Rick Santorum not to kick around.  An "everyman" who spent six years lining his pockets as a lobbyist for companies he pulled strings for while senator, a "conservative" whose Catholic devotion leads him to refight social issues that were settled a century ago, and just an all-around crypto-racist — no matter his appeal to the Righteous, I can say that he is a genuinely bad person without the personality traits that make fellow bad-person Newt Gingrich at least interesting.

Two things to keep an eye out for: first is the grudging support of Mitt Romney by social conservatives.  Will the Southern Baptists and the Tea Partiers get behind Mitt while holding their nose, or will they stay home?  Or will they outwardly rebel?  I've long ago given up pretending that I could predict the actions of those crazy people.

And the second: will Santorum's place as Conservative Leader of Men survive the oxygen given him by comparison to Romney?  Will he get many Sunday talker slots, or will he go back to being a sad irrelevancy that had the poor judgement to pick a fight with the Internet?

(I'm hoping for the latter.)

Posted by mrbrent at 9:42 AM

April 10, 2012

three tenets of neoliberalism

This is a brief thought that deserves a longer answer, probably not from me but rather someone that actually knows what they're talking about.  So we're all passing familiar with Greece and the economic situation they're facing.  No, not the rampant austerity which is making life miserable for Greeks all over Greece (though that's related), but rather how they have a bunch of debt and have been hammering deals with the creditors to reduce such debt.

Now, it's taken as a given that in exchange for bail-out funds and debt swap from the IMF and the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Greece has to "reform" its economy.  This economic reformation is described (as yanked from this NYT story on the recalcitrant Greek seeking last-minute exemptions:

In all, more than 90 such budget-busting proposals have been floated as lawmakers scramble to push through last-minute amendments to bills otherwise intended to meet the demands of creditors who want Greece to liberalize its job market, cut red tape and shrink state payrolls.

So the question I have is this: since when did "liberalizing job markets, cutting red tape and shrinking state pay payrolls become acceptable conditions for financial aid, be it to a city, state or country?  And I'm not being facetious asking this question — I've read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine and am familiar that those are the three tenets of neoliberal nation-building.  But my point is: sez who?

It just sounds an awful lot more like a campaign platform than it does sound macroeconomics.

Again: just asking.  If you can answer the question, or know someone who can, shout at me.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:30 AM