Obvi, the most dangerous piece of legislation Congress ever passed was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which encouraged armed posses to cross the Mason-Dixon line and abduct black people. You know who agrees with me? Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-NH)—that’s why he put Obamacare and the Fugitive Slave Act in a tie. He seems to have been wrong, along with a great many pundits, commentators, chimerical celebrity/politician hybrids—you name it. Lots of people were vociferously wrong about Obamacare, as Krug Man points out in the New York Times. Shouldn’t they have to admit their mistakes? Bring them to Krug Man, so they may be cleansed. All hail Krug Man!
Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this excellent essay by Tim Kreider, in which the former political cartoonist notes how much more dangerous art seems to be for Islamists and North Koreans than it is for anyone in the West. That’s good: most of the reason we’re not afraid of art is that our civil society is stable and well-developed, and we’re confident enough in our ideologies that we don’t have to silence anyone who suggests they’re flawed. But part of it, as Kreider points out, is that contemporary Western culture has made art frivolous and anodyne:
“In the mature democracies of the West, there’s no longer any need for purges or fatwas or book-burnings. Why waste bullets shooting artists when you can just not pay them? Why bother banning books when nobody reads anyway, and the national literature is so provincial, insular and narcissistic it poses no troublesome questions?”
Kreider is good at the relieved lament, and he finds in the international outrage at the Charlie Hebdo attacks “a small, irrational twinge of guilt that we’re not doing anything worth shooting us over.”
The phrase “young artist” is probably a contradiction in terms. An artist is defined by what he or she makes, and young ones have by definition not had much time to make stuff. Interestingly, the per capita number of self-identified artists in any population goes way up as the population gets younger. Most people decide they are artists first, and then they make some art. Today is Friday, and artistry—if not artistic achievement—is mostly a state of mind. Won’t you romanticize your dysfunction with me?
Earlier this year, the Federal Election Commission did not rule that candidates who provide B-roll footage to super PACs are are violating the prohibition against coordination set down in Citizens United v. FEC. The commission didn’t rule that such behavior is okay, either. It simply deadlocked, with three Democratic commissioners determining that exchanging footage constituted coordination, and three Republican commissioners determining that it didn’t. The tie meant that the FEC didn’t do anything and therefore operatively approved—something that’s been happening a a lot lately, according to the New York Times.
Adam Nagourney gets big points for including the clause “tucked away on a stretch of gun stores and pornography shops” in his report on midterm elections at the state level, but otherwise he has depressed the fudge out of me. The overall thrust of the article is that this year’s elections will provide parties with opportunities to control both statehouses and the governor’s mansion in several states—opportunities they will use to stymie each other. By “parties,” we mean the Republican Party. And they’re not just stymying each other; they’re also passing legislation that conflicts with federal law. Welcome to a world of black despair: the Times series on single-party control of state governments.