Finer than frog’s hair

Even than this frog’s hair: 

That’s a favorite answer of my Dad’s to “howyadoin?” and variations, and a reply to a kind inquiry from Mr. Miller via e-mail.  Apparently, I’m such a loudmouth that a couple days not blogging or extensively e-mailing about my latest tribulations causes people to wonder about my health.  Either that, or Mr. Miller was just being friendly.

I did tell him, though, that I thought we were “evil losers” for not not finding a way to bring more of our recent e-mail correspondence more to the “surface” via the blog.  That goes for some of the rest of you, too, and you know who you are, or maybe you don’t, but that’s a philosophical question, and Socrates is dead, long dead, or elsewise reincarnated, and wasn’t much good for answers when he was alive, come to think of it, not his thing, usually, if we can trust Plato’s narratives, though come to think of it we can’t.  Oh well, not even a Socrates’ ghost of a non-answer answer, looks like.

But I don’t mean that the whole correspondence or any particular correspondence needs to be out here for all the world to see, but sometimes some of y’all write things like “here’s an interesting link, I didn’t submit it in the RecBrow cuz I assume not everyone’s interested.”  Go ahead.  If you’re interested, that’s justification enough.  What’s interesting enough for this blog is purely a product of what we collectively or individually decide is interesting to us.  Blogging is whatever we make it.  Doesn’t have to be about politics and the news.  I’m finding politics and the news pretty durn stupidly boring lately, myself – though fear I’m tempting fate by saying so. 
Good thing the world doesn’t care about my temptations too much.  If it did, we might have a war this afternoon.  So fingers crossed I’m as insignificant as I honestly I believe I must be.  Though for all I know, 1 billion people are having the same thought.  Could be a powerful incentive to fate…  So maybe we should all clear our calendars and get ready to spend the day watching the news instead of basketball or whatever George likes to do when some of the rest of us are checking out the Heat, the Celts, the Lakers, and oh yeah the Rockets.

I could say something about what Mr. Miller is doing that has been one subject of our correspondence, but I won’t say any more because to say more might be to interfere with his process without his permission.  I’ll just say that if he feels like “crowd-sourcing” some of it, whatever it is, now or at some point, in my opinion the only reason to resist the feeling is that it might be bad for that process, not because it’s some kind of infraction or offense to the Holy Rules of Blogging.  Same goes for the subject of a certain other correspondence with a certain other contributor, and for something else I’ve been e-mailing on lately, and am thinking about seeing whether I can surface.

Though what Mr. Miller really owes the world or at least my world is his take on the NBA – the mythic or tragic truth of the NBA this year, what must happen that matters in a way that even George might find interesting – ok, maybe that’s too much to expect…

I’ve already told Mr. Miller that.  I also told him, that, just to prove the other point, I was going to post most of the e-mail – which I’ve now done, except for this last:  Also told him that in my opinion he shouldn’t feel restricted to “comments” for replying.  If he has or anyone else has a substantial reply to make, y’all otter feel free to respond via a brand new post.

“It’s just a blog”

…that’s meant to convey both that it probably helps not to treat anything we can possibly do here as too terribly important – even if it happens by Nietzschean process to recur eternally, it’s still such a teensy-tiny to the power of a negative zillion thing, why worry?  But it’s also meant to convey or help realize the opposite:  There’s nothing we can think about what we might do – that it could be more pointed, more relevant, better-written, better-formed, more current, bloggier – that’s likely more important than actually doing it.

(h/t to Fred Lapides/Goodshit for the Ranito image)

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TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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