More than half – 52% — of people surveyed said the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, who was recently seen calling for President Barack Obama’s impeachment in a Breitbart News column, should just “be quiet.”

Ms. Palin, still a tea party favorite and who maintains an active television and social media presence, scored worse than fellow former pols Jesse Jackson (45%), Dick Cheney (42%) and Newt Gingrich (39%).

Mr. Jackson’s numbers are a bit of a mystery, given that he has not been in the national media much of late. More than half of people surveyed who are 50 years or older – who perhaps remember the civil rights activist when he was more prominent and a potential Democratic presidential nominee – said Mr. Jackson should be quiet. Only 35% of people aged 18-34 said the same.

The Journal/NBC/Annenberg poll was kinder to Bill Clinton (31%) and Al Gore (37%), though about half of Republicans said they would prefer that the 1990s Democratic team in the White House would be quiet.

Poll: Most Americans Want to Hear Less From Palin - Washington Wire - WSJ (via waitingonoblivion)

I mean, I don’t think this poll really means much of anything — you’re asking people about something they probably aren’t thinking about and have no means of effecting anyways, but the Jesse Jackson bit is interesting. Conservatives seem to still like invoking him as a proxy for Black People Who Say Terrible Things — Al Sharpton is another favorite in this realm — so I sorta suspect the poll finding is just that 45 per cent want black people in general to shut up.

This book.

This book.



The Singles Jukebox is seeking writers!

Hey, Wikipedia and I are on the same page for once.

Hey, Wikipedia and I are on the same page for once.

Jul 06

Each national culture has a point about which it is most defensive, because on that point it has its own most serious doubts. You can’t provoke most Americans by pointing out that the country has had a very warlike record for a very long time. Many Americans view this heritage as an achievement rather than a failing, and even those who don’t aren’t likely to feel insulted or personally threatened by this critique.

Yet let a foreigner tell an American that the country is “declining,” and there will be a reaction. Denial, assent, an argument that there’s still hope — something. The intensity of the reaction obviously underscores the point that this is one of Americans’ longstanding sources of self-doubt. Other countries — Japan, Germany, England, Russia — have similar points of defensiveness. What is most deeply concerning to a culture (as for most individuals or families) is often the most difficult or infuriating for outsiders to bring up.

James Fallows, China Airborne (2012)

As Jim suggests in his still wonderful 2010 essay, “How America Can Rise Again,” this isn’t a new insecurity for the United States. I connect it to the nation’s exceptionalist roots — Winthrop’s City Upon a Hill; Jefferson’s self-evident truths — which create not just an ideal but also its negative: if America is the world’s last best hope, that means that hope might fail. To consider America to be the world’s one indispensable nation, we must imagine a world in which America has been dispensed with.

I’d add to the fear of decline that America’s other insecurity is the notion that it might not be united. I say, not infrequently, that to discern a country’s deepest anxieties, one must look to its name: Democratic Republics Of Wherever are usually not, and such. And the United States is so insistent on its unity because it fears so deeply that, unlike other nations, which are built on ancient ethnic bonds, its polity, built on ideology, might not be able to endure.

This is why the spectre of extreme partisanship is so important to American political discourse, why George Washington feared party politics, and why every president who comes along promises to mend the electorate’s divides. It’s why region is so important to Americans, and why the national bonds between Northerner and Southerner, or Easterner and Westerner, or between black and white, that appear so obvious to the outsider can seem so fragile to the insider. It’s why the Civil War is always so central to America’s understanding of itself and the way it shapes its future: this is the moment the country came closest to disunity, but was also its most forceful affirmation of its unity.

Jim goes on:

In modern China, one of these always sensitive subjects is the idea of China’s full “equality” or maturity in modern international society, especially to the white Western nations that for centuries have been in economic and political control. (Competition with Japan is a separate and equally tangled political question.) This is the significance of the phrase “Hundred Years of Humiliation” to describe China’s period of subjugation to foreigners and the repeated insistence by Chinese spokesmen on full dignity, equality, and respect in international dealings.

And later, on Chinese concerns of “splittism”:

Chinese people who are familiar with American history point out the many similarities between the current Han attitude and the drive toward Manifest Destiny thinking in the United States from the nineteenth century onward.

As for Australia’s national insecurity, I’m tempted to suggest something about fairness, but that might be too myopic, too concerned with current political disputes, and too ignorant of our underlying paranoias, the sort I can’t easily grapple with because, like all my countrypeople, I’m captive to them. So perhaps the correct answer is the question of whether Australia matters: are we influential, do people care about us, does the world realize that we are as important as we think we are? Or, to ground that question in familiar terms: has the tyranny of distance defeated us?

(I don’t know enough about Japan to guess at what its point of national defensiveness might be.)


Today’s look is patriotic normcore.
(Not smiling because selfies are too complicated for smiling.)

Today’s look is patriotic normcore.

(Not smiling because selfies are too complicated for smiling.)

[T]he Supreme Court has become a frequent refuge for religious conservatives rather than just their reliable bete noir, is itself partially the result of liberal gains in the political and cultural sphere, which have reduced religious traditionalists to making the kind of defensive appeals to liberty and pluralism and minority rights that tend to end up adjudicated in the courts. And such a liberalism would take ownership of its own ascendance and take more responsibility for (and pride in!) its own aggressions, rather than perpetually crying “theocracy” whenever its advance is interrupted.

Ross Douthat, “The Culture War’s Sore Winners,” The New York Times, July 1, 2014

Douthat channels Christian victimhood, which understands freedom of religion as not the freedom of anyone to practice his or her faith, but the ability to impose that faith on an entire society. (He makes reference to  another recent post, in which he’s less candid but refers to conservatives “looking to the courts … for protection" — my emphasis; protection from what?)

According to this outlook, Christianity can only be freely practiced if it is inescapable; if its prayers are conducted within public schools, if its moral proscriptions are written into law, if public money goes toward its festivals and institutions. For religion to be merely a personal practice is for religion to be under attack — and this is a vaunted moderate conservative talking, a reformist. An America that does not exist under the authority of Christian diktat, Douthat says, is one in which Christianity is under assault. He puts pluralism on one side and Christianity on the other, inextricably opposed forces.

Over, at the other blog, I have a post arguing that Hobby Lobby is the Supremes’ worst decision since Bush v Gore:

[A] craft shop can’t have a religion. A corporation can’t have a religion. Belief requires consciousness, and whatever our strides in artificial intelligence, corporations aren’t conscious.

Particularly since Citizens United, liberals have frequently expressed my philosophical objection by mocking the idea that “corporations are people.” Yet, as Matt Yglesias explains here, there is nothing wrong per se with the idea of corporate personhood. “Forming corporations wouldn’t make much sense unless corporations had many of the legal rights of persons, including most notably the right to own property and enter into contracts.” The ability of people to create legal entities that can act as people has been of great benefit to our society.

But corporations should be considered people with rights and responsibilities only to the extent that they pertain to corporate practise. This is why I think Hobby Lobby is worse than Citizens United. Speech is a valid part of corporate activity — think, for instance, of advertising. Religious practice has absolutely nothing to do with corporate activity, and hence it’s completely illogical for a corporation to be considered a person with religious beliefs.

There’s more.

Reality TV inspires a great deal of invective but one thing it has managed to do in Australia, other than consistently achieve incredible ratings, is to portray the wonderful diversity that exists in this country.

Whilst the overwhelming majority of local productions seem to have instituted their own White Australia policy, reality TV and in particular talent programs display the true face of modern Australia with its multitude of colours, creeds and races.

One look at The Voice, The Voice Kids, X Factor and their predecessor Australian Idol and you can’t help but notice the varied backgrounds of the contestants. Not only is every skin colour represented but the backstories often reveal the rich diversity and interracial backgrounds of those taking part.

That is the real Australia: a colourful, and for the most part cohesive, melting pot rarely represented on national television. Local productions are tired, uninspired and typically vanilla white in not just their storylines but the faces of the characters. A few programs have thrown in a token ethnic here and there but they’re not fooling anybody.

Rita Panahi, “Australian TV’s Anglo obsession challenged by reality programs,” The Herald Sun, June 30, 2014

This (h/t Erin) is a really good piece. For all the ways the US can be lousy on race, it’s far ahead of Australia in terms of understanding the importance of representing diversity in media. Australia seems happier to have Chris Lilley dress up in yellowface (or blackface!) or to pretend to be Tongan than to put actual non-white folks on TV.

oh hell yes.

oh hell yes.

(Source: fiercegifs)

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11