Category Archives: Popular Culture

In A World Of Self-Driving Cars

…we’ll still need the Miata.

Yes. Two counterpoints, though.

First, I don’t think I’d be able to read or write while being driven; in my experience that can make me car sick. I have to be in control.

Second, I very much fear that in a world of self-driving cars, it will be considered socially irresponsible and dangerous to drive yourself, and probably made illegal.

Katie Couric

…decried “edited Planned Parenthood video,” then doctors an interview with a gun owner.

How perky of her.

[Update a while later]

Who cares about Hillary’s emails? Not we in the media.

[Update a while later]

The networks refuse to cover her perfidy against journalism. Yes, I’m shocked, too.

[Update a few minutes later]

Related: The media snoozed when Obama was tyrannically expanding the power of the executive branch, but they’ll pay more attention when Trump does it.

it’s nice to see the prospect of a Trump administration reminding folks on the left of this, particularly as the journalist and pundit classes are dominated by lefties. It’s terrible, we’re told, that Trump is issuing veiled threats to journalists — though Obama joked about auditing his enemies, seized journalist phone records and threatened a journalist who refused to reveal sources with imprisonment. Trump would be a warmonger, we’re told, although in fact Barack Obama has been at war longer than any other U.S. president, if without any particular success. Trump would arrogantly ride roughshod over any opposition, though Barack Obama famously used “I won” as an excuse to ignore opponents and bragged that he had a “pen (and) a phone” to bypass congressional disagreement. (And he’s used them a lot.)

Many of the journalists and pundits who see Trump as the next imperial president were silent over these Obama actions. Like Ron Silver with his fighter jets, they saw Obama’s envelope-pushing as fine because it was by their own president.

Yes, this is (sadly) why we have to have a white Republican in the White House. When it’s a Democrat, the media are lapdogs, not watchdogs.

[Update a while later]

Crickets from documentary film makers on Couric’s doctoring of the video. Because it’s not about the truth, it’s about the narrative.

[Saturday-morning update]

From Ace: Why I hate the media. One gets the sense that he is annoyed.

Pot, Kettle On Line One

In the latest display of his utter lack of a sense of irony, Barack Obama says that world leaders are “rattled” by Trump’s “ignorance” and “cavalier attitude.”

Pretty rich coming from the guy who’s very life has been a textbook example of the Dunning–Kruger Effect in action. Which is why Obama likely has no idea that Trump is his doppelganger.


Trump And The Economy

His policies would crush the winners:

Like Google and Facebook, Amazon is under attack by European antitrust regulators. If Trump were really the economic nationalist he plays on TV, he would be defending these U.S. stars. But in his picture of the economy, these companies simply don’t count, perhaps because they weren’t around during his 1980s business heyday. Trump is neither pro-market nor pro-business, the usual Republican choices. He’s just pro-Trump.

He’s oblivious to most U.S. success stories. On just about any list of excellence — the most admired companies, the most valuable brands, the world’s supply-chain leaders — U.S. enterprises dominate. Nike has even surpassed long-time champion Louis Vuitton as the world’s most valuable apparel brand, a triumph for American culture as well as a U.S. business. The chemists coming up with new products at 3M or Procter & Gamble are no more important to Trump than the FedEx and UPS drivers delivering packages, the longshoremen offloading cargo at the ports of Long Beach and Charleston, the animators creating new films for Pixar, or the buyers finding bargains for T.J. Maxx. Whether you work for a U.S. company or a foreign company with U.S. operations, if you’re a successful player in a global supply chain, you simply don’t exist to him.

This is a candidate who promised to bring big steel back to Pittsburgh without considering why it disappeared. In Trump’s version of the economy, the only threat to established industries comes from diabolical foreigners and stupid U.S. trade negotiators. (Never mind that Chinese steelmakers already face nearly 500 percent punitive tariffs for corrosion-resistant products, with more tariffs for other types of steel potentially on the way.) He can’t imagine disruption that comes from changing demand or better ideas.

He’s an economic ignoramus, or a demagogue, or both.

But one possible good outcome; could he cause “progressives” to rethink big government?

Having watched the rise of Trumpism — and, now, having seen the beginning of violence in its name — who out there is having second thoughts as to the wisdom of imbuing our central state with massive power? Have progressives joined conservatives in worrying aloud about the wholesale abuse of power?

That’s a serious, not a rhetorical, question. I would genuinely love to know how many “liberals” have begun to suspect that there are some pretty meaningful downsides to the consolidation of state authority. I’d like to know how many of my ideological opponents saying with a smirk that “it couldn’t happen here” have begun to wonder if it could. I’d like to know how many fervent critics of the Second Amendment have caught themselves wondering whether the right to keep and bear arms isn’t a welcome safety valve after all.

Furthermore, I’d like to know if the everything-is-better-in-Europe brigade is still yearning for a parliamentary system that would allow the elected leader to push through his agenda pretty much unchecked; if “gridlock” is still seen as a devastating flaw in the system; if the Senate is still such an irritant; and if the considerable power that the states retain is still resented as before. Certainly, there are many on the left who are mistrustful of government and many on the right who are happy to indulge its metastasis. But as a rule, progressives favor harsher intrusion into our civil society than do their political opposites. Are they still as sure that this is shrewd?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure they’re really capable of thinking those sorts of things through.

[Update a while later]

“Even within the private sector, Trump’s background does not extend to the sorts of decision-making situations that would confront, say, the chief executive officer of a large, well-established corporation. Instead, Trump’s career, apart from his flings at presidential campaigning, has almost exclusively been about deal-making aimed at personal enrichment and enhancing recognition of the Trump brand name. Against the backdrop of U.S. history and past U.S. presidents, Trump’s personal qualifications are breathtakingly narrow and shallow, and his endeavors inwardly oriented.”

You don’t say.

The Trump Phenomenon

Thoughts from Walter Russell Mead:

I don’t think the system is quite as corrupt as some Trump supporters believe or, perhaps more accurately, I lack their confidence that burning down the old house is the best way to build something new. But it would be equally wrong and perhaps more dangerous to take the view that there is nothing more fueling his rise than ignorance, racism and hate. The failure of the center-Left to transform its institutional and intellectual dominance into policy achievements that actually stabilize middle class life, and the failure of the center-Right to articulate a workable alternative have left a giant intellectual and political vacuum in the heart of American life. The Trump movement is not an answer to our problems, but the social instinct of revolt and rejection that powers it is a sign of social health. The tailors are frauds and the emperor is not in fact wearing any clothes: it is a good sign and not a bad sign that so many Americans are willing to say so out loud.

Those of us who care about policy, propriety and the other bourgeois values without which no democratic society can long thrive need to spend less time wringing our hands about the shortcomings of candidate Trump and the movement that has brought him this far, and more time both analyzing the establishment failures that have brought the country to this pass, and developing a new vision for the American future.

Yes, as I’ve been saying for months, I get that people are angry, and I get why; the current political class is the worst in memory, and I’m angry too. I just can’t see a willful ignoramus and reality-show con artist who doesn’t even know what liquified natural gas is as the solution.

Facebook And Conservatives

Some interesting (and surprising) observations from Glenn Beck:

It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.

I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? I want to be very clear — I am not referring to every person in the room. There were probably 25–30 people and a number of them, I believe, felt like I did. But the overall tenor, to me, felt like the Salem Witch Trial: ‘Facebook, you must admit that you are screwing us, because if not, it proves you are screwing us.’

What happened to us? When did we become them? When did we become the people who demand the Oscars add black actors based on race?

Good questions. I agree that Facebook should do whatever it wants to do, but that it should be transparent.

[Update a while later]

The real built-in bias at Facebook.

Trump’s Wealth

I’m sure that you’ll be as shocked as I was to learn that he probably greatly exaggerates it. This is a great end quote:

“A fellow asked me that once and I said, ‘I don’t know,” Nelson Bunker Hunt once told a congressional panel grilling him about his net worth. “But I do know people who know how much they are worth generally aren’t worth much.”

Similarly, people who are always bragging about how smart they are generally aren’t that bright.

Trump 42, Clinton 37

Those are the latest numbers from Rasmussen. I’ve never been one to say that Trump can’t beat Hillary; I just think that would be almost as terrible an outcome as him not beating Hillary.

But what I find interesting is not who gets a higher plurality, but how many people share my desire for another candidate (at one in five, by that poll). And that doesn’t count the number who would switch from Trump or Hillary if someone else were in the race. There has never been a more promising year for a good independent candidate than this one.

[Update a while later]

Get ready for a Bernie third-party run.

It would be interesting to see a four-way race, if there were an actual conservative running. I think he or she would have a good chance.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Pop the corn, “liberal” pundits eating their own.

Trump Versus Clinton

Tim Carney: You don’t have to choose the lesser of two evils:

As a conservative, I weigh the candidates against each other by considering the worst-case scenarios. On that score, there’s an irony: Hillary’s time as secretary of state — especially her disastrous and illegal war in Libya — doesn’t suggest supreme competence; Trump’s rhetoric, meanwhile makes many people think of fascism. But the “fascism” threat (an overblown word, of course) is probably greater with Hillary, and the incompetence threat is far greater with Trump.

They’re both incompetent fascist wannabes.