Maybe it was just that 1/20th of a second, but Barack Obama looks really, really tired. Perhaps his facial muscles aren’t used to his new “fuck it, we’ll do it live” approach to governing. Since the 2014 election, when Democrats across the country ran from his agenda and lost anyway, the president has both embraced bold action and reaped the benefit of long-term policies. The stock market is at an all-time high, he has outperformed Reagan on job growth—or not, depending on whom you ask—and his approval rating now approaches that of Reagan in his sixth year. Ronald Reagan! The greatest president in American history, provided you pieced together American history from Sarah Palin speeches. But I presume conservatives will rally behind Obama now, since the indicators suggest they should.
The internet likes nothing better than a stunt food, so Arby’s Meat Mountain has gotten a lot of coverage over the last two weeks. Over at Slate, however, LV Anderson wonders whether the ostensibly grassroots demand for this wad of processed protein wasn’t manufactured by corporate. First of all, this story on whether people really want a particular Arby’s menu item appears in Slate’s “Brow Beat” section, ostensibly devoted to high culture. That’s not the kind of high I thought they meant. Second, a technical note: because possessive nouns are difficult to pluralize in American English, this post will use the generally accepted plural of Arby’s, “landfills.”
As you would know if you weren’t so preoccupied trying to choose worst crab, Monday was the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananman Square massacre, when the Chinese government rolled out tanks to quash pro-democracy demonstrations and killed several hundred protestors. They don’t like to talk about it. “They,” in this case, means the leaders of whatever weirdo system of government used to be run by the Chinese communist party, now the fabulously wealthy leaders of a billion-person market police state. When “they” refers to the Chinese people, they would like to talk about stuff like Tiananmen Square a lot. That’s why they/they were delighted/alarmed when the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell exactly 64.89 points on Monday, evoking the date 6/4/89.
I am officially not a New Yorker anymore, since A) I don’t live there and B) the city has added a tourist attraction since I left. The Astor Place Building was bad enough, but now that the 9/11 memorial is finished I have to accept that my mental map of the city is not only imprecise, like a dream, but inaccurate, like the dream where Catherine Keener says I’m pretty. It’s fitting that it should happen this way. The September 11th attacks—more specifically, the baffling torrent of people who did not live in the city on September 11, 2001 but still consider 9/11 a personal tragedy—were what made me feel like a New Yorker in the first place. The feeling is an odd mixture of loyalty and cynicism, which you can simulate for yourself after the jump by reading a quote from this New York Times article.
Speaking to the City Club of Cleveland yesterday, Representative John Boehner (R–OH, net worth $4.1 million) said that President Obama had failed to revive the economy, that his entire economic team should resign, and that voters should elect Republicans in November. That much was unremarkable. The audacity of the second claim was kind of cool, but since it seems unlikely that Boehner’s policy recommendation will be implemented, I suspect he said it just to get a rise out of Joe Biden.* What was notable about Boehner’s speech was his repeated deployment of the phrase “uncertainty” to explain our continued recession. “Uncertainty,” in his formulation, is the hesitation of business owners to hire new employees or expand their operations because they’re worried about how health care, financial reform and other government regulations will be implemented. “America’s employers are afraid to invest in an economy stalled by stimulus spending and hamstrung by uncertainty,” Boehner said in one of nine uses of the word counted by Slate. “The prospect of higher taxes, stricter rules, and more regulations has employers sitting on their hands.”