July 21, 2014, 2:19 pm

Burying the Lede

The Senate is paralyzed, Paul Kane of the Washington Post points out. Why? Personalities:

Senators say that they increasingly feel like pawns caught between Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose deep personal and political antagonisms have almost immobilized the Senate. The two men so distrust each other, and each is so determined to deny the other even the smallest political success, that their approach to running the Senate has been reduced to a campaign of mutually assured dysfunction.

“Mutually assured dysfunction” is nicely turned, and Kane goes on for several paragraphs about Senators discussing the personal antagonism between Reid and McConnell and several interventions which have taken place to try and resolve things.

The real reason doesn’t emerge until much later:

Much of that hopelessness has to do with the aspirations…

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June 21, 2013, 9:13 pm

The Joy Of Start Points

David Brooks clearly hadn’t read Ben Schmidt’s excellent analysis of the humanities crisis before writing today’s op-ed piece. Brooks argues that the humanities are going downhill because their practitioners have lost all passion for the topic:

The humanist’s job was to cultivate this ground — imposing intellectual order upon it, educating the emotions with art in order to refine it, offering inspiring exemplars to get it properly oriented.

Somewhere along the way, many people in the humanities lost faith in this uplifting mission. The humanities turned from an inward to an outward focus. They were less about the old notions of truth, beauty and goodness and more about political and social categories like race, class and gender. Liberal arts professors grew more moralistic when talking about politics but more tentative about private morality because they didn’t want to offend an…

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November 15, 2012, 11:01 pm

Eisenhower and Summersby

Eisenhower at the German surrender. Summersby in the background

Oh shoot. Almost immediately after nobly declaiming on how too many blog posts are about “someone is wrong on the Internet” I find myself writing another one, this time about the historical parallels between the Petraueus scandal and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s relationship with Kay Summersby. Amy Davidson, at the New Yorker, argues that comparing the two is “sophistry.” Davidson starts with the quite reasonable argument that:

Is it good that a scandal about Eisenhower didn’t disrupt the war in Europe? Yes, but that means we were lucky, not that Ike did everything right. It’s a reason to be glad that an earlier general was reasonably careful about his (still alleged) affair—not to give a later one license to cheat.

She is exactly right. The “everyone is doing it” defense is not one that carries much weight past, well,…

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