Do I have to turn in my liberal card if I’m not excited about this?  Yes, I think it was a stupid policy to exclude women, but frankly I don’t see why the whole thing got made into such a big deal.  It’s a place for rich people to hang out with other rich people and do, I don’t know, rich people stuff.  And play golf.

I seriously doubt that this will open new career paths for Condoleeza Rice or Darla Moore.  Rice was the Secretary of State; I’m guessing that carries more weight for networking purposes than being a member of some fancy golf club.  I bet when she was picked to be Secretary of State, her first thought wasn’t “Great!  Now maybe I can finally get into that golf club!”

Look at this list of famous people in this club.  I bet none of them got where they are by becoming members of that club.  I’m thinking their success was the cause, rather than the effect, of their membership.

It would be one thing if it were the only golf course in the world, or if the ladies they admitted were, for example, too poor to go to another location to golf.  As it is, why, surely there are adequate substitute golf clubs that Rice and Moore could go to if they wanted.  Maybe loyal reader and golfer P.M. Prescott can explain why this particular place would be so special.

I don’t actually see how discrimination really hurts anyone in this particular case, except for the discriminators.  Since the entire point of the club appears to be propagating a prestigious reputation that it has manufactured for itself, the bad P.R. for being “the place that doesn’t admit women” could get to be very damaging, as indeed it ultimately did.  I’m not defending their policy, but I don’t see that it was hurting anyone except the people who made it.

Bottom line: I think the people running Augusta National were being stupid by not admitting women.  However, I think people need to quit acting like the change in policy is some kind of giant feminist victory. It’s nothing of the kind.

I was watching The Dick Van Dyke Show on TV last night.  The episode I saw was called “The Bad Old Days“.  In a nutshell, it went like this: one of Rob’s colleagues tells him about an article on “the decline of the American male”, and how men are becoming more subservient to their wives.  This worries Rob, who starts to fear that Laura too often tells him what to do.  The episode culminates in a hilarious dream sequence, in which Rob imagines himself as an overbearing, bullying 19th-century-style husband, who makes his wife do all the housework and forces his son to work in a factory.  Of course, Rob wakes up and realizes that this wasn’t such a great way to live, after all.

It’s kind of funny to me, because you often hear this complaint of “feminized” men being subordinated to their wives these days, especially in conservative and “alt-right” circles.  Often, the 1950s and early ’60s are considered the archetype of a more restrictive and socially conservative era, and to some extent the setup of The Dick Van Dyke Show is emblematic of that.  I remember my blogger-friend Thingy contrasting Mary Tyler Moore’s accommodating housewife character on Dick Van Dyke with her independent, single, career-woman character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the ’70s.

But then, here we have an episode of Dick Van Dyke from 1962 that addresses this same “men are too subservient to their wives” idea.  So, it seems like that idea must have been in the air even back then.  Which, in turn, suggests the possibility that perhaps there is an ever-recurring nostalgia among authoritarian men of every era, that they had it better in, as Rob says, “the bad old days”.

Well, that’s enough sociological musing!  The point is, it was a very funny show.  It does amaze me that the best thing on TV some nights is a show from 50 years ago, but there you have it.

Check out this BuzzFeed article about a Scholastic Books series called Survive Anything!  The article claims that the books are “misogynistic” because there is an edition for boys and an edition for girls.  The boys’ edition teaches things like “How to Survive a Tornado”, “How to Survive a Broken Leg” and, perhaps least usefully, “How to Survive a T-Rex”. (Oughtn’t they at least teach how to survive time-travel first?)  The girls’ edition, on the other hand, teaches stuff like “How to survive a BFF Fight”, “How to Show You’re Sorry” and “Top Tips for Speechmaking”.

This, the writer at BuzzFeed says, is not right.  Why do girls get tips on emotional, domestic-type stuff when boys get tips on how to survive in the wild?

Well, I agree it’s not right, of course. But I don’t think it’s misogynistic.  It’s really just sexist. But if you must use a stronger term, it’s misandrist.  Surviving a tornado is a useful skill, although frankly, unless you already have tornado shelter built, it’s purely a matter of luck.  Most of the Indiana Jones-like scenarios the boys’ version seems to cover are situations that (a) probably will never happen and (b) would be decided mostly by chance if they did happen.

The girls edition teaches all sorts of things that might actually occur.  I’m a man, and I’ve never needed to know how to survive my parachute failing, but I have had to give speeches and say “I’m sorry” for things.  But these books merely assume that men would never be concerned with such things.  Well, enough of that prejudiced thinking, say I!  I resent the notion that we fellas are only good for feats of brute strength and endurance, and that the civilized arts of diplomacy are closed to us!

You have all heard Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life”, and subsequent apology. You have all also probably heard the liberals saying she shouldn’t have apologized; as she was entirely right.

My take: Rosen was sort of right, but she spoke clumsily and was right to both clarify and apologize. But it’s not really Rosen’s fault. Nor is it Mrs. Romney’s fault. It’s not even Mr. Romney’s fault, although he was misleading people with the comments he made that started the whole thing. It’s Simon Kuznets’s fault. (I hate that tired, cliché ending: “the economist did it.”)

Kuznets invented the Gross Domestic Product, a measure of economic output which does not include household work. So, for this and other reasons, it is not an accurate measure of economic output. Kuznets himself said it was not a good measure of economic welfare, but he seems to have been ignored on that score.

So, what Rosen should have said by way of apologizing was: “Ann Romney has not done work that is counted in the widely-used measure for economic welfare. Therefore, her comments and advice aren’t relevant to women participating in the economy as it is presently measured by politicians and economists. I apologize for implying Mrs. Romney did no work at all.”

Samantha Brick is not that pretty. Look, I’m sorry to have to say that, and I really don’t like commenting on a woman’s looks like that, but when you write an article about how hard it is being so beautiful, you make the question of your looks material to the case. That’s just how it is.

She’s not bad looking, to be sure. In good shape for someone her age, no doubt, but not beautiful. Not even really pretty. I know many women about her age who are much better-looking, and who, more importantly, would never be so narcissistic as to drone at length about how terrible it all is and why the ugly women won’t just accept the fact that they can’t get as far in life.

She reminds me a little of the character Jenna Maroney on the television show 30 Rock, both in looks (Brick is a bit plainer) and in vanity. She begins her column talking about how strangers buy her wine, and she proceeds to give quite a good whine of her own. She closes by saying:

Perhaps then the sisterhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like, and instead accept me for who I am.

I suspect you really don’t want that, lady. For some unaccountable reason, this makes me think of Bill Cosby’s quote about cocaine.

Speaking of which, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco–who, curiously, has the same mustache as Samantha Brick’s husband–has said he’s the best quarterback in the league. He has not, alas, been given an entire column in Sports Illustrated or The Sporting News to explain his new quarterback rating system, but on the plus side, I bet more people have watched him fail to beat Manning or Roethlisberger or Brady in the play-offs than read The Daily Mail.

There is a difference between “believing in yourself”, or “having confidence” and just acting like you’ve lost your grip on reality in thinking about how great you are.

I’m going to talk about Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Sandra Fluke here, but first, a reading from Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West:

The abundant proliferation of primitive people is a natural phenomenon, which is not even thought about, still less judged as to its utility or the reverse. When reasons have to be put forward at all in a question of life, life itself has become questionable. At that point begins prudent limitation of the number of births. The primary woman, the peasant woman, is mother. The whole vocation towards which she has yearned from childhood is included in that one word. But now emerges the Ibsen woman, the comrade, the heroine of a whole megalopolitan literature… Instead of children, she has soul conflicts; marriage is a craft-art for the achievement of “mutual understanding.” [Chapter 13, p. 245]

That part is from the chapter wherein Spengler is contrasting city people and rural people. It is kind of like “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse“, as written by a pessimistic, nationalistic German philosopher. Reading Spengler is very disturbing  to a cosmopolitan liberal such as myself, since I can’t help but sense a hostility on his part towards that type of person. And yet, the other types he liked so much are also those least likely to ever read the works of an obscure philosopher, so there it is.

But you are no doubt wondering: why did I drag a long-dead and half-forgotten German nationalist writer in today? Well, first I wanted to note that he is noting a difference in attitudes towards birth control between city people and rural people. This difference matches up nicely with the broader differences between cosmopolitan city-dwellers and nationalist farmers that we often see. (I talked about this a little in this post about why Sarah Palin likes “small town America” so much.)

Alright, enough of that. What are the nationalists in our own day and age up to? Well, as you all have heard, Rush Limbaugh has been calling Sandra Fluke various insults and making disgusting insinuations and suggestions. That is quite a reprehensible and loathsome thing to do–not to mention unchivalrous, if we use the language of Limbaugh’s longed-for days before feminism. His full comments are these:

Well, what would you call someone who wants us to pay for her to have sex? What would you call that woman? You’d call ’em a slut, a prostitute or whatever.

He is, in addition to being rude, completely wrong. These terms do not apply, and moreover this is not even what Ms. Fluke is asking for. She is actually asking for insurance companies to cover contraceptives. At best, Limbaugh could argue that people are paying indirectly by causing these companies to raise rates, but then one can just as easily argue that those who refuse to take steps to ameliorate the disastrous effects of changes in the climate are forcing me to pay for their reckless behavior, since increased storms mean increased insurance costs.

In any event, part of Limbaugh’s job is to shock people, and this he has certainly done, yet again. I am not optimistic about attempts to make companies pull advertising–though it’s certainly worth a try–because I fear that there are a great many people who agree with him. Whether they have come by their opinions honestly, or simply by dint of listening to Limbaugh is hard to say, but as long as he has a fanbase, he will continue to have advertisers.

On being accused of misogyny, Limbaugh quoted H.L. Mencken’s definition of a misogynist as “a man who hates women as much as women hate one another.” I am not sure why he mentioned this, or what it means, or how it is relevant, but there you have it. And then Limbaugh said the following amazing statement to explain why he is not “a Danger to the Women of America”:

They want to blame me as being the person they should fear, when in fact the people doing all these things I just said I have no power to do, the Democrat Party is doing. That’s who everybody’s afraid of in this country… They’re afraid of Democrat Party.  They’re afraid of the Obama administration.  The Obama administration will take away your birth control, and if you let ’em do that, they’ll tell you when you can and can’t take it. And then they’ll tell you when you can and can’t have sex, and then they will tell you when you can or cannot have an abortion!

You give them this power, that’s what they want.

Now, I think I kind of understand what he’s trying–and failing–to say here. It’s similar to the idea that Gerald Ford was expressing when he said “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

Except that has no relevance here. Fluke was asking for the government to make contraceptives cheaper. Now, it is certainly true that the power of the State is such that it could take this away, also. However, they would only take it away if the control of the state were handed to people who want to do so–the Rush Limbaughs of the world, in other words.

So, this last statement is a brilliant exercise in what Orwell called doublethink, but we have come to expect that from Limbaugh. But what’s worse is that I suspect he must have a sizeable number of listeners who agree with him. As Ferrerman mentioned, there are many others who think like Limbaugh. It would be a fine thing if he were punished for his remarks, but the truth is that the real problem with Limbaugh and his odious sentiments is not that he says them, but that when he says them, he is, alas, speaking for many others.

UPDATE 3/3/2012 7:41 PM: Limbaugh apologizes to Fluke. I have to say, I’m surprised. I would have expected his show to end before he would do that.

It’s always, ah, interesting to read the ultra-conservative blogs. For instance, I see Robert Stacy McCain (no relation to John) linked to this piece on “Women on the Left” at a site called “Alternative Right“.

The author, Alex Kurtagic, makes two basic arguments–the first, particularly, is a very basic argument, in much the same way that an abacus is a very basic supercomputer. This argument is this: liberal women are less attractive than conservative women. This argument is (a) not true and (b) irrelevant to the merits of the ideologies. It’s this sort of thing that gives internet political discourse a bad name.

But I’m not here to tell you that our conservative friends oftentimes say ridiculous things. You already know that. What I want to get to is Kurtagic’s other point, which is that the change from women being housewives to getting jobs is bad. He says:

“[W]hat the Left has done for women is trade one form of slavery for another… 

Some women certainly enjoy sacrificing everything for a remunerative career, and some even achieve those careers, but they comprise a minority. Most women, like most people, work only to pay the bills, and only tell themselves they enjoy their work because that is the only way they can stand it: most women, like most people, are bored by it and spend their weeks longing for the next weekend and dreading the following Monday.” 

Well, amazingly, I think this is probably true. It sounds plausible, anyway, which is more than you can say for the other claim. But I doubt it was because “the Left” is secretly a misogynist conspiracy and more of a case of poor estimation on the changes in wage rates over half a century. And of course, the fact that women asked for this freedom suggests they thought it was preferable to the current “find a man” model of the time.

The really interesting thing, though, is the quite devastating critique embedded in this article of capitalism and its effects on workers. It’s a pretty tough, but fair, in my view, assessment of the way business treats its employees. And yet, for all that, if somebody as mainstream conservative as R.S. McCain is linking to it, it likely means it is approved of by the free-market, supply-side crowd, even though I gather that “Alternative Right” is a site dedicated to pushing “social conservatism”.   Or, to use my preferred term, it is a site for nationalists.  (Kurtagic hints that laissez-faire capitalism is a flavor of liberalism, implying that it is bad.)

I bring this up only as one more data point demonstrating the incredible contradictions between the two wings of the Republican party.

Deborah Siegel decries sexism towards our most prominent female Presidential candidate and possible female Presidential candidate:

Palin, of course, has been characterized for some time now as ambitious, devious and none-too-bright. Bachmann takes hits for her brightly colored attire and “unhinged” statements. Such charges just don’t stick to men in the same way.

I don’t know that I’ve heard Bachmann criticized for her outfits. I’m sure it’s happened, but I don’t think it’s going to be a campaign-ending problem. (Also, I bet if Mitt Romney wore a bright yellow suit, people would talk.)  As for “unhinged statements”, there are men who’ve been criticized for unhinged statements. (Barry Goldwater.)

As for the Palin allegations, lots of male politicians have been considered too “ambitious” (Barack Obama, and almost every other candidate–it’s a last resort) “devious” (Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton) and “none-too-bright” (Dan Quayle, George W. Bush)

I’m sure there are people who hate Bachmann and Palin because they are women. There are, alas, bound to be misogynist attacks against them. I don’t doubt that. But none of the things Siegel lists for Palin and Bachmann seem to qualify. This is all the more interesting because, in the preceding paragraph, she lists several insults against female politicians that do qualify, so it’s not like she doesn’t know how to find them.

As you may have heard, Scott Adams, the guy who writes the comic strip “Dilbert”, asked for people to submit a topic for him to blog about and what ultimately got picked was “Men’s rights”. So he wrote a post about it which provoked such an outrage that Adams deleted it from his site and it’s still causing quite a stir among bloggers.

What’s more interesting to me than the post itself, though, is this passage from Adams’ subsequent clarification of it:

“I don’t believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some… But I do think people benefit by exposure to ideas that are different from whatever they are hearing, even when the ideas are worse. That’s my niche: something different. That approach springs from my observation that brains are like investment portfolios, where diversification is generally a good strategy. I’m not trying to move you to my point of view; I’m trying to add diversity to your portfolio of thoughts.”

An interesting plan, though one which has its risks, as Adams discovered. Putting different-but-worse ideas out for people to read is dangerous. On the other hand, if you argue that exposure to different-but-worse ideas needs to be limited, it seems to me that you’re essentially advocating censorship.

Interesting post by Sady at Tiger Beatdown. It’s worth reading the whole thing (unless you don’t like strong language), but here’s the main thing:

“Every time I yell at some pathetic anonymous commenter and people cheer, every time I get all righteously outraged without talking about what I’ve done that is the same or worse as what the person I’m outraged about has done, every time I play the toreador and gore a bull for your entertainment, I shudder a little. Because I’m helping it happen: Aiding in the creation of a discussion where we reward outrage and scorn and hatred and Othering of the ideologically impure, the bad feminists and unfeminists and anti-feminists…” 

Hmmm. This reminds me of something…. But she goes on:

“I’m letting you glorify me; I’m giving you a false impression of how things actually work, letting you believe that the world consists of Good People and Bad People. I’m telling you that I am Good, and that you are Good to the extent you agree with me, and that people — other people, people on the outside of this discussion, not us, certainly — are Bad if they disagree with us. I mean: This is basically how every terrible thing in the history of humanity has started, the decision that there’s an Us and a Them and the former is good and the latter is bad.”

She’s right, I suppose. But what she describes is not merely the cause of “every terrible thing in the history of humanity”. It is the history of humanity.