Message: I Care

You may have seen this elsewhere:

I'm old enough to remember Jonah Goldberg's classic column where he meditated on Republicans reading their stage directions. His classic example was George H. W. Bush during the 1992 campaign in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he actually uttered the three words in today's headline.

But, yeah: President Dotard doubled down on that.

There's even a TVTropes page about this malady; their lead example is from Friends, featuring Joey's clueless audition for a role:

Joey: I can't. Oh, I want to, long pause, but I can't.

Leonard: I'm sorry, sorry. You're not supposed to say "long pause".

Joey: Oh, oh, I thought that was your character's name, you know, I thought you were like an Indian or something.

Friends, "The One with the Mugging"

Even more amusing, the official White House transcript transcribes "Pause" as "(inaudible)".

Also of note:

  • So who had "Illegal FTC Power Grab" on their Biden impeachment bingo card? Get your dauber out. Eric Boehm notes, at Reason: Ban on Noncompete Agreements Is an Illegal Power Grab by the FTC.

    More than 30 million Americans have signed employment contracts that limit their ability to switch jobs to a competing company, and those contracts are regulated by laws in 47 states.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) swept all of that aside in one fell swoop this week, as the commission voted down party lines to ban future noncompete agreements and to block the enforcement of many of those existing contracts. (The retroactive ban on noncompete agreements does not apply to senior-level employees.) Even for an agency that has sought in recent years to stretch its regulatory reach, the new FTC rule banning noncompete agreements is a stunning expansion of federal power—one that courts almost certainly will be asked to rein in.

    Banning noncompete agreements is "not only unlawful but also a blatant power grab," said Suzanne P. Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. "This decision sets a dangerous precedent for government micromanagement of business and can harm employers, workers, and our economy."

    "Other than that, though, it's peachy keen."

  • If only Nate Silver had been around 55 years ago. I might have followed his advice:

    He expands on that at his substack: Go to a state school.

    Wait, was I serious about this one? Yeah, more or less. If I were advising a friend’s son or daughter facing Decision Day, I’d tell them to pass on the Ivy League and go to a high-quality state school instead under some conditions. Let me articulate some exceptions:

    And the exceptions are amusing:

    • If the student’s identity were deeply tied up into being a Princeton Man or a Cornell Woman or whatever, then I’d think that was a little weird — but by all means I’d tell them to go, I’m not here to kink-shame.

    • I’d also tell them to go with the elite private college if (i) they had a high degree of confidence in what they wanted to do with their degree and (ii) it was in a field like law that regards the credential as particularly valuable.

    • And I’d tell them to strongly consider going if they came from an economically disadvantaged background and had been offered a golden ticket to join the elite. I’m not super familiar with the literature on the selective college wage premium, but it’s among this group of disadvantaged students where the benefits seem to be concentrated.

    I should note that neither the University of Nebraska (where I lived as a high schooler), nor the University of New Hampshire appears on that list of "high quality state schools".

  • Some people forget that due process is a civil right. But not KC Johnson, so he calls it like it is: Biden’s Civil Rights Rollback.

    Last Friday, the Biden administration followed through on a promise: to roll back civil rights for college students accused of sexual misconduct. The new regulations come under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Set to go into effect in August, they will restore some of the worst excesses introduced when Biden was vice president under Obama.

    One of the most concerning is the return of the “single-investigator” model that was barred under Trump. This means “one administrator can act as detective, prosecutor, judge, and jury on a Title IX complaint.”


    The new rules damage due process in more ways than one:

    • Accused students will lose the right to have access to all evidence gathered in the university’s Title IX investigation;

    • They will lose the right to have a live hearing to adjudicate the claim against them;

    • They will no longer be able to have an adviser or attorney cross-examine adverse witnesses;

    • And the Biden administration has voided the basic requirement that any investigation open with a written complaint.

    It's a return to the bad old days of college star chambers.

  • If only Ayjay had posted this last year… Alan Jacobs on making rational choices about what books not to read:

    My own strategy for deciding what to read arises from these facts: Literary fiction in America has become a monoculture in which the writers and the editors are overwhelmingly products of the same few top-ranked universities and the same few top-ranked MFA programs — we’re still in The Program Era — and work in a moment that prizes above all else ideological uniformity. Such people tend also to live in the same tiny handful of places. And it is virtually impossible for anything really interesting, surprising, or provocative to emerge from an intellectual monoculture.

    With these facts in mind I have developed a three-strike system to help me decide whether to read contemporary fiction, with the following features:

    • The book is set in Brooklyn: Three strikes, you’re out
    • The author lives in Brooklyn: Three strikes, you’re out
    • The book is set anywhere else in New York City: Two strikes
    • The book is set in San Francisco: Two strikes
    • The book’s protagonist is a writer or artist or would-be writer or would-be artist: Two strikes
    • The author attended an Ivy League or Ivy-adjacent university or college: Two strikes
    • The book is set in Los Angeles: One strike
    • The author lives in San Francisco: One strike. 
    • The author has an MFA: One strike
    • The book is set in the present day: One strike

    I am not saying that any book that racks up three strikes cannot be good. I am saying that the odds against said book being good are enormous. It is vanishingly unlikely that a book that gets three strikes in my system will be worth reading, because any such book is overwhelmingly likely to reaffirm the views of its monoculture — to be a kind of comfort food for its readers. Even books as horrific as Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life — a novel I wish I had never read, and one of the key books that made me settle on this system — is comforting in the sense that we always know precisely whom we are to sympathize with and whom to hate. Daniel Mendelsohn is correct: “Yanagihara’s book sometimes feels less like a novel than like a seven-hundred-page-long pamphlet.” I would delete “sometimes.” 

    I read A Little Life last year, because it was on the New York Times Best Books of the Past 125 Years. Like Professor Jacobs, I found it to be not my cup of tea. (It gets "at least five strikes" under his system.)