URLs du Jour

2018-11-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg writes on The Hollowing Out of American Political Parties.

    It is perhaps the central irony of our politics today: We live in an incredibly polarized and partisan moment, but our political parties have never been weaker.

    As odd as it sounds, political parties in democracies have an important anti-democratic function. Traditionally, the parties shaped the choices put to voters. Long before voters decided anything in the primary or general elections, party bosses worked to groom good candidates, weed out bad ones, organize interests, and frame issues.

    OK, the good old days had their problems. But, as Jonah notes, political power that used to reside with people in that business has now been farmed out to corruptible amateurs. And, as just two examples: "This is why every Academy Awards ceremony is peppered with asinine political jeremiads, and why late-night-comedy hosts serve as de facto Democratic-party organizers."

    (Also see Joy Behar, below.)


  • Andrew Marzoni, "a writer, editor and musician in Brooklyn", tells the truth in the Washington Post: Academia is a cult. And he knows whereof he speaks:

    As a teenager growing up in the Living Word Fellowship, an international Christian organization widely regarded as a cult, I aspired to be a writer. Instead, I spent seven days a week at church: It was where I worshiped, socialized, ate, volunteered and even went to school. One summer, at the fellowship’s “School of Prophets” camp in rural Iowa, a senior pastor took his turn at the pulpit to encourage the youth of the congregation to skip college, work for the church and live in one of its communal homes in Hawaii or Brazil, which many in my graduating class went on to do. My parents, who joined the cult as graduate students in the 1970s but have recently left, were an educated anomaly in a culture that valued faith over reason. I’m grateful for my father, who in passing later that day told the pastor in seriousness disguised as joviality, “Stay away from my kids.”

    So Andrew went to college. And started an academic career, But eventually came to realize…

    Looking back, the evidence was everywhere: I’d seen needless tears in the eyes of classmates, harangued in office hours for having the gall to request a letter of recommendation from an adviser. Others’ lives were put on hold for months or sometimes years by dissertation committee members’ refusal to schedule an exam or respond to an email. I met the wives and girlfriends of senior faculty members, often former and sometimes current advisees, and heard rumors of famed scholars whisked abroad to sister institutions in the wake of grad student affairs gone awry. I’d first come in contact with such unchecked power dynamics as a child, in the context of church. In adulthood, as both a student and an employee of a university, I found myself subject to them once again.

    It's not surprising that, in a country that (rightly) prides itself on "separation of church and state", that some other secular institution worms its way into a similar niche in the social ecosystem. With the hearty support, financial and otherwise, of the state. And develop the same misfeatures.


  • David Harsanyi notes that Democrats Aren’t Losing Faith In Our Constitutional System. They Just Don’t Like It.

    In the liberal imagination there are only four ways to lose elections — and none have to do with their increasingly leftist turn, their hysterics, or their one-dimensional identity politics. Democrats lose because of “gerrymandering,” “voter suppression” (sometimes known as “asking for ID”), Russian mind-control rays deployed by social media, and our antiquated and unfair Constitution.

    The final one of these excuses is becoming increasingly popular among liberal pundits who continue to invent new crises to freak out about.

    Sometimes it gets pretty silly, as with Joy Behar on The View complaining that Democrats lost US Senate races "because of gerrymandering".


  • In her column, Veronique de Rugy draws our attention to Another Republican Capitulation on Health Care.

    Republicans have established a clear pattern on health care. First, they rail against whatever big-government scheme Democrats propose. Then, after a half-hearted and incompetent effort to convince the public of the benefits of a market-oriented system, they abandon their principles and adopt the big-government idea as their own in order to win or hold power.

    The spectacle of Republican candidates tripping over themselves to announce their commitment to preserving requirements for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a key component of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the mandate most responsible for making insurance unaffordable for average Americans, is one example.

    Also, as Veronique points out, the recent announcement from the Trump administration to base Medicare Part B reimbursements on international drug prices, a significant step toward price controls.


  • And, ladies and gentlemen, in our occasional "I'm a Sucker For This Kind of Thing" department: These Are The 10 Most Stressed Out States In America.

    Which states sentence you to a life of long commutes, high unemployment, ridiculous rent prices, and grueling work hours?

    Yes, it's junk statistics, but it's fun. New Hampshire is in the middle, position #29. The least-stressed states are unsurprising: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

    Compare and contrast with the rankings made by "Mental Health America". Here, Minnesota is the sanest state, Nevada the nuttiest. NH comes in at #10, not too shabby for a state WHERE MOST OF THE PEOPLE ARE SECRETLY LIZARDS I TELL YOU.