Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the December 2011 - January 2012 issue

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The New York Times's Paul Krugman has been away.

Washington Post

A very unfortunate lapse into racial insensitivity from Herman Cain, capitalist of color, as pointed out by the moral colossus Colbert I. King:

Was it really necessary for Cain to tell a Tea Party audience in Florida this spring that “they,” meaning the mainstream media, are scared that a “real black man” may run against Barack Obama? As others, such as the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates [sic], have noted, that was an unsavory resort to identity politics.

Nor was it helpful for Cain to suggest in a Fox News interview this week that he “left the Democratic plantation a long time ago.” Or for him to tell a CNN interviewer that most blacks would probably not vote for him because they have been brainwashed into not even considering a conservative view.

(October 15, 2011)

The Cape Codder

Another exciting adventure in the life of our absent-minded secretary of the treasury, the one who forgot to pay his federal income taxes and God knows what else, artfully told by a local reporter for the semi-literate TCC:

Cody Day, 19, was working at Bill’s Sunoco or Route 6A on Aug. 12 when he thought he recognized a fellow pumping gas. He mentioned it to Karl Eiler, who co-owns the station.

Day said he looked like U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Eiler remembers. Eiler, who is relatively apolitical, just shrugged and said he wouldn’t recognize the vice president if he was fueling up.

Turns out Day was right. A few minutes later a regular customer came in and turned in a Maryland license, an American Express card and a few other bank cards.

“He left everything at pump number 8,” Eiler said. Sunoco called the police department who [sic] came down and picked up the plastic and brought it to the station. Scott MacDonald, deputy chief of police, said they [sic] called the home of Geithner’s parents, who live in town, and he [who?] came to the station to retrieve the items.

Geithner also returned to the station to pump a little more gas and say thank you, said Eiler.

(September 2–8, 2011)

New York Times Magazine

A laid-back query to the Times’s “Ethicist” from the newspaper’s average reader on the street:

I smoke a fair amount of marijuana. Sometimes I ask my friends if they want me to pick up weed for them as well, in which case they give me the money upfront. As with any other commodity, prices are usually cheaper when buying in bulk. I will often not give the change to my friends and instead use the few dollars to further my own discount. Is this unethical? I’m the one going through the effort of gathering buyers and conducting the illegal transaction. Or does that just make me a drug dealer?

Name Withheld

(October 16, 2011)

The Nation

Miss Patricia J. Williams recollects her anguished journey along the Association of American Law Schools’ terrifying “long hallway” by way of introducing a symposium on Anita Hill, titled “We Still Believe Her” in the Nation. Incidentally, the Nation still believes Alger Hiss too:

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was just five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools [sic] meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of the eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas. I remember how still and dignified she was at the center of that howling hurricane of mockery, meanness and machismo.

(October 24, 2011)

The New Republic

A hilarious riposte by the witty Congressman Barney Frank, who has actually had conversations with dining room tables and chintz lounges, and an ottoman in Istanbul:

Barney Frank does not suffer fools. During a town hall in which a constituent compared Obama’s health care reform to a “Nazi policy,” he showed no restraint in his dismissal. “Trying to have a conversation with you,” he said, “would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing so.”

(November 3, 2011)

CNN.com

Aided and abetted by the remorseless pollution of the Kultursmog, young David Frum(p) of the Davidian wing of the Republican Party strikes a blow against the Party’s Ku Kluxers, wherever they may be:

There’s a lot to like about Herman Cain. He’s funny and personable. He’s a great success story. His 9-9-9 tax plan may be half-baked, but the concept behind the plan—replace the corporate income tax with in effect a consumption tax—has a lot to recommend it. (Although, the plan has a lot of problems, too.) Finally, in a political cycle that has seen too many coded racial attacks on President Obama and his family, it’s a source of great pride to me to see an African-American topping my party’s polls.

(October 17, 2011)

The Progressive

He whom the New York Times allegedly called “quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today,” Will Durst, makes another painful try at it:

Can’t understand why folks are so mad at Obama. After all, he hasn’t done anything. Except collapse faster than an overused supply tunnel in a Chilean coal mine.

(October 2011)

From the Archives

Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past

(December 1991)

New Republic

Manly boasts from a New Age he-man, writing a policy piece for progressives entitled “My Vasectomy”—and just when we thought Miss Anita Hill had doomed the New Openness forever:

In the days following my operation, the minor discomforts (“In the next week,” my doctor told me, “gravity will be your enemy and your jockstrap will be your friend”) were well outweighed by the good feelings that came from finally doing my part. In its search for uniquely male experiences that are socially constructive, the new men’s movement would do well to consider vasectomy. Getting one was a small but clear way of putting my body ever so slightly on the line so that my wife could take hers ever so slightly off. What I had originally dreaded turned out to be about the most personally and socially responsible thing I’ve done in a long time. A simple procedure, yes. And a simple virtue.

(October 14, 1991)

Mendocino Beacon

The astounding ornithological learning of Tony Maksak, owner of the Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle’s, two cultural meccas not to be missed when next you hit downtown Mendocino—and forget not that Tony can also tell you the names of 243 types of rodents, 333 types of amphibians, and 7,000 types of insects!

Publishers have discovered that plastic “peanuts” are a quick and cheap way to fill in the gaps around books before shipping.…Some mornings I stand on the Kasten Street sidewalk listening to the surf and watching the odd peanut or two blow down the street toward the Mendocino Bay. I wonder if a Brown Pelican, California Gull, Brandt’s Cormorant, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Coot, Surf Scoter, Black Turnstone, Killdeer, Oystercatcher, Grebe, Phalarope, Sandpiper Curlew, Godwit, Clapper Rail or Wandering Tattler may decide to try one of those crunchy plastic things for breakfast.

(September 19, 1991)

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