The Washington Examiner admired the inadvertent irony.
He couldnâ€™t wear a regular wristwatch. It had to be a Rolex. That’s just a little awkward for Brian Flynn.
The top Democrat running in New Yorkâ€™s 19th Congressional District took out a full page ad in the Albany Times Union slamming the â€œbillionairesâ€ and the â€œcorporationsâ€ who â€œhave rigged the system against us.â€ It is a pretty typical political ad. He looks stern with his arms crossed and his sleeves rolled up on his blue dress shirt â€” literally a blue collar! And then, there’s the $8,950 timepiece on his wrist.
Connoisseurs looking at his social media will recognize the watch as the Rolex GMT Master-II. The choice of fighter pilots and frat boys with large trust funds, it makes a statement but not the kind a progressive politician might want to make. …
First introduced in 1955 for international aviators, the Rolex GMT Master-II can tell the time in three time zones simultaneously. And so, it was fitting that when English and French test pilots climbed aboard the Concord, they were wearing the Rolex GMT Master-II. To this day, the brochure advertises the watch as â€œsupersonic luxury.â€
Flynn looks like the kind of guy who can appreciate the finer qualities of the Rolex GMT Master-II. Before entering politics as a candidate, he worked as an executive at Citibank, and later, he went on to become president of a large medical manufacturing company.
No one should begrudge him his wealth, of course. No one can question his taste either (as weâ€™ve established, the Rolex GMT Master-II is exquisite). The Rolex GMT Master-II definitely fits that aesthetic of Flynn the businessman. Unfortunately, it clashes with the style of Flynn the progressive warrior.
HT: Glenn Reynolds.
Unless, of course, it’s a case of a member of a prominent leftist Nomenklatura family seeking to enforce property rights, as one oblivious Yale alumnus from the Class of 1972 inadvertently reveals in this month’s Class Notes.
The most interesting thing I learned was that [PL]â€™s law firm represented Woody Guthrieâ€™s daughter Nora, fighting an unjustified attempt to put â€˜This Land Is Your Landâ€™ into the public domain. Woody wrote it in 1940. (It was originally titled â€˜God Blessed America For Meâ€™ in his manuscriptâ€”which Iâ€™ve seenâ€”as a protest against â€˜God Bless Americaâ€™ from Irving Berlinâ€™s jingoistic World War I musical, Yip, Yip, Yaphank and later recorded by Kate Smith to sell war bonds in the â€™40s.) It includes my favorite verse: â€˜As I went walking, I saw a sign there, And on the sign it said No Trespassing. But on the other side it didnâ€™t say nothing; that side was made for you and me.â€™ (Emphasis is my own: a very important, influential American protest song, not just a folk anthem.)
I guess “This Song Isn’t Your Song.”
"Hamilton" the Musical, Alexander Hamilton, American History, Community of Fashion, Inadvertent Irony, Ron Chernow
Matt Stoller explores all the multiplicitous ironies of the chattering class’s embrace of the hip hop musical about the fellow John Adams described as “the bastard brat of a Scots peddler.”
Before it was even written, the play was nurtured at the highest levels of the political establishment. While working through its material, Miranda road-tested song lyrics at the White House with President Obama. When it was performed, Obama, naturally, loved it. Hamilton, he said, â€œreminds us of the vital, crazy, kinetic energy thatâ€™s at the heart of America.â€ Michelle Obama pronounced it the best art she had ever seen.
The first coupleâ€™s comments were just the leading edge of a cultural explosion of praise. Actress Kerry Washington called it â€œlife changing.â€ Lena Dunham said, â€œIf every kid in America could see Hamilton they would thirst for historical knowledge and then show up to vote.â€ Saturday Night Live featured a sketch wherein Lorne Michaels begged guest host Miranda for Hamilton tickets (â€œI can do a matinee!â€). Itâ€™s perhaps harder to list celebrities who havenâ€™t seen Hamilton than those who have. And in Washington, D.C., politicians who havenâ€™t seen the show are considered uncool.
Admiration for the play crossed the political spectrum. Conservative pop-historian Niall Ferguson opened up a book talk, according to one witness on Twitter, â€œwith a rap set to music inspired by Hamilton.â€ Former secretaries of the treasury praised it, from Tim Geithner to Jack Lew to Hank Paulson. So did Dick Cheney, prompting Obama to note that the wonder of the play was perhaps the only thing the two men agreed on. Trevor Noah asked if Bernie Sanders, who had just seen the play, ran for president just so he would be able to get tickets. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and former White House chief of staff, raised eyebrows by jetting off to New York City to see a performance of Hamilton the night after Chicago teachers went on strike.
Itâ€™s not just that Hamilton is about a founding father, and thus inherently making statements about who we are as a culture. Itâ€™s become a status symbol within the Democratic establishment, offering them the chastened consolation that they might still claim solidarity with the nascent American democracy of the eighteenth century thatâ€™s stubbornly eluded them in the present-day political scene. Hillary Clinton quoted the play in her speech accepting the Democratic nomination, and told a young voter, â€œIâ€™ve seen the show three times and Iâ€™ve cried every timeâ€”and danced hard in my seat.â€ The play has become a political football in the era of Trump. When Trumpâ€™s vice president, Mike Pence, saw the show, one of the cast members read him a special note, written by Miranda and several cast members, asking Pence to protect all of America. Hamilton cast members helped lead the Womenâ€™s March in Chicago to protest Trumpâ€™s inauguration. Right-wing website Breitbart has a hostile mini-Hamilton beat, noting that the playâ€™s producers specifically requested non-white actors to fill the cast.
And after Trump won, Hamilton became a refuge. Journalist Nancy Youssef tweeted she overheard someone at the Pentagon say, â€œI am reaffirming my belief in democracy by listening to the Hamilton soundtrack.â€
Whatâ€™s strange about all of this praise is how it presumes that Alexander Hamilton was a figure for whom social justice and democracy were key animating traits. Given how Democrats, in particular, embraced the show and Hamilton himself as a paragon of social justice, you would think that he had fought to enlarge the democratic rights of all Americans. But Alexander Hamilton simply didnâ€™t believe in democracy, which he labeled an American â€œdisease.â€ He foughtâ€”with military forceâ€”any model of organizing the American political economy that might promote egalitarian politics. He was an authoritarian, and proud of it. …
[I]tâ€™s useful to recognize that Hamilton the play is not the real story of Alexander Hamilton; rather, as historian Nancy Isenberg has noted, itâ€™s a revealing parable about the politics of the finance-friendly Obama era. The play is based on Ron Chernowâ€™s eight-hundred-page 2004 biography of Hamilton. Chernow argues that â€œHamilton was an abolitionist who opposed statesâ€™ rights, favored an activist central government, a very liberal interpretation of the Constitution and executive rather than legislative powers.â€ Hamilton, he notes, â€œsounds . . . like a modern Democrat.â€ The abolition arguments are laughably false; Hamilton married into a slaveholding family and traded slaves himself. But they are only part of a much broader obfuscation of Hamiltonâ€™s politics. …
Hamilton had tremendous courage, insight, and brilliance. He is an important Founder, and not just because he structured early American finance. His life sheds light on some deep-rooted anti-democratic forces that have always existed in America, and in particular, on Wall Street. Much of the far-reaching contemporary Hamilton PR offensive is connected to the Gilder Lehman Institute, which is financed by bankers who back the right-wing Club for Growth and American Enterprise Institute (and support Hamiltonâ€™s beloved gold standard). Robert Rubin in 2004 started the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, which laid out the framework for the Obama administrationâ€™s financial policies. Chernow has made millions on books fawning over J. P. Morgan, the Warburg financial family, and John D. Rockefeller. And thanks largely to the runaway success of Hamilton the musical, Chernow is now, bizarrely, regarded as a court historian of American democracy in the mold of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Read the whole thing.
Leah Libresco Sergeant Y’11 contemplates Yale’s renaming of Calhoun College, and observes that, in a peculiar way, the Jacobins and their toadies are really honoring John C. Calhoun.
Late last week, Yale announced that it would remove the name of John C. Calhoun from one of its residential collegesâ€”but clarified that the name would not be expunged wherever it was literally written in stone as part of the buildingâ€™s architecture. While the college will officially bear the new name of Grace Hopper College, honoring a pioneering computer scientist and veteran, to chisel off Calhounâ€™s name would be to neglect the â€œobligation not to efface the history.â€ (It would be expensive, to boot.)
Other than the physical presence of the name, thereâ€™s little else to erase about Calhoun. The drawn-out fights (and serial committees) questioning the appropriateness of Calhounâ€™s name miss how little tradition exists to be expungedâ€”in Calhounâ€™s namesake college, or in any of the other Yale colleges.
When I was an undergraduate, John C. Calhoun went largely unmentioned and unthought of in residential college life. If the college had instead been named (as a puckish friend suggested) for William Barron Calhoun (Yale class of 1814, a lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, ardent opponent of slavery), nothing about the day-to-day life of the college would have been different.
Yaleâ€™s residential colleges derive very little personality from their namesakes, or from anything else. Freshmen are assigned to them randomly, which prevents the colleges from developing reputations (as â€œthe arty oneâ€ or â€œthe sporty oneâ€). And Yaleâ€™s goal in recent years has been to homogenize the residential colleges even further, pooling money that alumni had given to their own colleges and distributing it equally, so that no college may have more or do more than another. …
Why have a namesake at all, if the college is not to be colored by his or her character? In my own college, Jonathan Edwards, there was never a mention of the Puritan preacherâ€™s theologyâ€”except that our intramural team was called the Spiders, a reference to his â€œSinners in the Hands of an Angry Godâ€ sermon. Jonathan Edwardsâ€™s theology exists for J.E. students only as a quaint, even comical, historical artifact. Why give a man the trappings of honor without ceding him any respect?
John C. Calhoun, in being removed, was awarded an odd sort of honor: His ideas were treated as relevant and dangerous. …
At Ricochet, Son of Spengler notes that the more Obama and other democrats attack private ownership of firearms the more gun sales occur and stocks of firearm manufacturers shoot upward.
[This effect] is driven by a fundamental paradox of gun control: In their push to restrict access to firearms, the president and his allies are unintentionally highlighting the governmentâ€™s failure to maintain public safety. …
Ironically, the more the White House insists we are unsafe, the more apparent it becomes that we are exposed. If our leaders are unable (or unwilling) to distinguish the obvious sources of recent gun violence â€” terrorism, mental illness, gang violence, inner-city lawlessness â€” then there is no way the government can effectively protect us from those threats. Indeed, the White Houseâ€™s obsession with guns raises legitimate questions about governmental competence. A government distracted by red herrings will be incapable of fulfilling its mission to protect its citizenry from real threats.
So, as our government falls down on the job, the mature and rational course of action is to take responsibility for oneâ€™s own self-protection. In no small part, that means buying a gun and learning how to use it.