Oppositional culture for an occupied age

Putnam predicts American “caste society”

Harvard academic Robert Putnam, who has come all this way with no one saying anything to him about his beard

Harvard academic Robert Putnam, looking crazy

Robert Putnam, author of the unfalsifiable big-think text Bowling Alone, told Maclean’s last week that “America is moving toward a caste society.” His next book is called Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, which sounds pretty exciting if you, like me, are obsessed with the question of whether life in America is easier or harder than it was 30 years ago. In this case, “easier” means “more fair.” I think we can agree that in the ideal America, the decisions an individual makes would be more important to the course of her life than the circumstances of her birth. Getting born to two married, upper-class parents is difficult to pull off, and we should probably offer a second chance to the kids who blow this crucial first choice.

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Against the self-employment tax


Today is tax day, when I swing conservative more than any other day of the year. You may have noticed my conversion to libertarian politics last night: as the moon turned red and eventually disappeared, I began to agree with Ron Paul. I paid my taxes yesterday at an effective rate of 24%. By contrast, Mitt Romney famously paid 14% in 2011. I did not make Romney money last year, but I paid nearly double Romney’s rate, thanks to the self-employment tax. I am here to tell you that the self-employment tax is bullshit.

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Shapiro on Colbert’s “vile political blackface”


If you told me twenty years ago that conservative commenters would one day compare everything to the historical struggles of Jews and African Americans, I would have laughed and gone back to hacky sack. But here we are in 2014, and those right-wing pundits who are not still beating the straw man of political correctness are casting themselves as an oppressed people. Case in point: Ben Shapiro’s argument that The Colbert Report is analogous to a minstrel show. I quote:

This routine, in which Colbert plays at conservatism in order to portray it as unendingly ugly, should be labeled for what it is: vile political blackface. When Colbert plays “Colbert,” it’s not mere mockery or satire or spoof. It’s something far nastier.

Vile, I say—vile! Also, Shapiro put an enormous picture of a white comedian in blackface at the top of his column, because he had to.

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Friday links! Serve the humans edition

What's that? Do I hear pussy talk?

What’s that? Do I hear pussy talk?

Well, it happened: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned before I could record the rap lyric I serve humans like Kathleen Sebelius, / reading Jack Handy and Marcus Aurelius. She also resigned before I could design and construct the machine that would allow me to join the Beastie Boys in a time when that rhyme scheme was appropriate, but that’s the thing about building a time machine. You can finish it whenever.  Today is Friday, and we’ll bestow our gifts on the people when we damn well please. Won’t you do a basically adequate job of serving humanity with me?

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Close Readings: SC state senators prevent lesbian play

Leigh Hendrix as Butchy McDyke in How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less

Leigh Hendrix as Butchy McDyke in “How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less”

It’s good that South Carolina Upstate university has canceled its presentation of Leigh Hendrix’s one-woman show How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less, because now Hendrix won’t have to contend with people shouting “fewer!” whenever she says the title. Maybe that wouldn’t have been a problem at SC Upstate. Regardless, satirically-named South Carolina senator Mike Fair (R–Greenville) has convinced the university to shut down the satirically-named play, arguing that it was a recruiting tool for homosexuality. Fair, you fool—any theater on a college campus is a recruiting tool for homosexuality. Also, you played quarterback for the Cocks. But biography is orthogonal here. All we care about is the text, because it’s time for another Close Reading.

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