Journal 10/28/2012 (a.m.)

    • Thus, Mitt Romney’s psychopathology manifests itself in the world of politics as a man in a never-ending process of battling to keep his head up before the truth pulls him under — the drowning truth of his own past statements.


      For the sociopath that is Mitt Romney, every campaign, every speech, every political moment becomes an attempt to convince the listener that the truth is in fact the opposite of what it really is

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Journal 10/27/2012 (a.m.)

    • IUSED to think, back when all the foodie stuff was gathering steam (this would have been about 1994, when everyone was eating arugula and going on about, I don’t know, first-press organic broccoli rabe) that our newfound taste for food would lead, in time, to a taste for art.
    • Americans were discovering their senses — learning to value pleasure, distinguish subtle differences, and make fine judgments — and sensual responsiveness is the basis of artistic sensibility.
    • But what has happened is not that food has led to art, but that it has replaced it. Foodism has taken on the sociological characteristics of what used to be known — in the days of the rising postwar middle class, when Mortimer Adler was peddling the Great Books and Leonard Bernstein was on television — as culture. It is costly. It requires knowledge and connoisseurship, which are themselves costly to develop. It is a badge of membership in the higher classes, an ideal example of what Thorstein Veblen, the great social critic of the Gilded Age, called conspicuous consumption. It is a vehicle of status aspiration and competition, an ever-present occasion for snobbery, one-upmanship and social aggression.
    • Like art, food is also a genuine passion that people like to share with their friends. Many try their hands at it as amateurs — the weekend chef is what the Sunday painter used to be — while avowing their respect for the professionals and their veneration for the geniuses. It has developed, of late, an elaborate cultural apparatus that parallels the one that exists for art, a whole literature of criticism, journalism, appreciation, memoir and theoretical debate. It has its awards, its maestros, its televised performances. It has become a matter of local and national pride, while maintaining, as culture did in the old days, a sense of deference toward the European centers and traditions — enriched at a later stage, in both cases, by a globally minded eclecticism.
    • Just as aestheticism, the religion of art, inherited the position of Christianity among the progressive classes around the turn of the 20th century, so has foodism taken over from aestheticism around the turn of the 21st. Now we read the gospel according, not to Joyce or Proust, but to Michael Pollan and Alice Waters.
    • But food, for all that, is not art. Both begin by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops. It is not narrative or representational, does not organize and express emotion. An apple is not a story, even if we can tell a story about it. A curry is not an idea, even if its creation is the result of one. Meals can evoke emotions, but only very roughly and generally, and only within a very limited range — comfort, delight, perhaps nostalgia, but not anger, say, or sorrow, or a thousand other things. Food is highly developed as a system of sensations, extremely crude as a system of symbols.
    • “I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view, but I believe that life begins at conception,” Mourdock said at a debate with Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly and libertarian Andrew Horning. “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother.”


      Mourdock added: “I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

    • Still, in Gallup’s most recent survey, 50 percent of adults identified themselves “pro-life” while 41 percent called themselves “pro-choice.” That’s the lowest percentage of “pro-choice” Americans ever recorded by Gallup — even though people’s views on the legality of abortion didn’t actually change that much.
    • This was supposed to be an election in which the economy dominated the debate, social issues took a backseat and the culture wars were put on hold.

      Yet in the homestretch of the 2012 campaign, abortion politics is coloring races up and down the ticket.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Journal 10/23/2012 (a.m.)

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Journal 10/22/2012 (a.m.)

    • There are several problems with this happy talk. One is that many economists dispute any such tidy correlation between tax cuts and quick, consequential growth.

       Another problem is that growth on the scale he’s suggesting isn’t really a plan or policy. If it were that controllable, we’d be growing like a punch-drunk weed, quarter after merry quarter. It’s a goal. A hope.

       But the biggest problem is that growth is the one putative solution that asks nothing of us: no trade-offs, no sacrifices. It perpetuates the seductive and irresponsible illusion that we can get our house in fiscal order without any terrible inconvenience after all

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.