Fight Archive

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A Word on the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests

I don’t really understand what they’re all about, except in the sense that there is a relatively inchoate anger among my peers about the situation we find ourselves in, but I do have to agree with Keith Olbermann and his guest in the video below, that the reaction (or lack thereof) from the mainstream media is somewhat damning.

As they point out, if this were a Tea Party gathering of comparable size and the protesters were complaining about something batshit crazy, the Times and the Journal would be on it like white on rice. If there were a bunch of fat, old Aryan people calling for a return to the gold standard, Anderson Cooper would be live at the scene conducting interviews with octogenarians in electric wheelchairs. They’d be waving American flags, and shit. It’d make for great afternoon television. Instead, it’s people like me down there, disaffected 20-somethings who don’t vote enough to matter, but who understand loud and clear that our futures are mere bargaining chips for the Galtian overlords jockeying for position in the great Wall Street boondoggle. And of course, people like me are “just kids.” Kids are always complaining about something, because they’re dirty fucking hippies. Kids will grow out of it. Nothing to see here.

I don’t think it’s entirely too surprising that the media has been unable to grapple with the message that the protesters are conveying. The message is simply, “Fuck this.” Or, alternatively, “This is not what we signed up for.” We did not sign up for endless war, legally sanctioned torture, banks failing, failed bankers giving themselves golden parachutes, the requirement to incur thousands of dollars in student debt in order to be employable, housing bubbles, Social Security payments to nowhere, the rich getting richer, the middle class being decimated, food stamps, unpaid internships, raising the eligibility age for Medicare, or gutting the EPA’s budget. We did not sign up for the restriction of abortion rights, resurgent white rights movements in the era of an African-American president, or the odious phrase “illegal alien.” We signed up for progress, motherfuckers. And if you’re not going to help us get there, then get the fuck out of the way.

I don’t think that the protesters know exactly what they’re doing, but I think that’s perfectly okay. Fake it til you make it, and the best of luck to you all.

UPDATE: Also, what Greenwald said.

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Rick Hertzberg also had a problem with the last Tom Friedman op-ed

I was not the only one! But the guy from the New Yorker (pffffft) put his criticism of Tom Friedman slightly better than I did:

If one is a spokesman for the sensible center, one must be even-handed, mustn’t one?

On the one hand, the Republicans are lunatics dedicated above all to destroying the Obama Presidency.

On the other hand, Obama didn’t endorse all the provisions of the Simpson-Bowles report.*

See? They’re equally bad.

That’s it, folks. Show’s over.

(Read the whole thing, rly)

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Ross Douthat Takedown Watch

Susan of Texas pretty much has you covered for yesterday’s laugh-a-minute column from Douthat (no, I will not link it). If you want to see the hypocrisy of the country’s (and specifically the right’s) death penalty advocacy barbarism, there you go.

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On Class Warfare

What kind of phenomenon is Tom Friedman? What does he think about as he sips his morning coffee? Does he honestly believe that the United States would be a better place if his particular brand of “enlightened” oligarchy were to be implemented? Could he possibly endorse the tripe he peddles in the nation’s most important newspaper twice a week? Would he maintain that it’s worth the salary he makes, the position of influence he holds? What does he really think of himself? Does he go to bed satisfied with the life he’s led? Does he have regrets? Can the sheer lack of self-awareness that he demonstrates in column after column really and truly be genuine? What makes the Mustache of Understanding tick?

I bring these questions up because The Friedman wrote a particularly egregious column today. Or, if not particularly egregious, then at least rather telling. In the process of whining about how we need Leadership For A Grand Bargain Otherwise Herbert Hoover, Friedman lays all of his cards out on the table:

All I know is this: If either of you [Boehner and Obama] had been a real leader truly committed to a Grand Bargain — which you both know is what we need — you wouldn’t have just walked away from your negotiations. You would have taken the issue to the country and not let up until the other guy came back to the table.

Instead you both mumbled publicly about a Grand Bargain and how you were prepared for it but the other guy folded — and then retreated to your bases. Boehner went back to his base, arguing that more tax cuts can get us out of this, and Obama moved back to his base, with his focus on taxing millionaires. (In my next life, I want to be a member of the “base” — any base. They seem to have so much more fun and influence.)

That’s it. That’s Tom Friedman. Sorry there’s so much bold, but it really needs to sink in for a second. So let’s unpack this really quickly.

First, “all [he] know[s] is” completely wrong. Let’s take it one step at a time. 1) Obama offered the Republicans everything but the kitchen sink (though he did offer some of the dishes!) for the Grand Bargain, 2) Boehner couldn’t get his nutbag caucus in line because he’s facing a power struggle with Eric Cantor, who epitomizes House Republican craziness, 3) Republicans threatened to ruin the economy if they didn’t get everything they wanted, 4) …? 5) “Both sides do it!!!”

The “neither of you is a TRUE leader, nyah!” stuff is equally repellent. Again, Friedman is a man who gets paid — paid very well! —  to follow politics very carefully, but his analysis reads like that of someone with absolutely no knowledge of how the wheels of American government work. He’s too thick to realize that there was nothing that either of these leaders could do at the time. Obama could not allow his presidency to adopt a full-metal wingnut economic policy if he expected to be taken seriously as a Democrat in the next election; Boehner could not control his caucus, and very nearly lost his speakership over the debt ceiling, “Grand Bargain” fiasco. The country was quite literally held hostage by an intransigent group of extreme Republicans — highlighting, in fact, the crises our democracy might more regularly undergo if these people are given more power — but Friedman treats it as though it’s a lack of leadership that brought us to this place. “If you were real leaders, you wouldn’t have walked away from negotiations,” Friedman says, but did it ever occur to him that you can’t negotiate with nihilists — even if, as in Boehner’s case, you happen to share a good part of your endgame with them?

Of course it didn’t, because that was two months ago, and Friedman’s ideological filters have since transformed what actually happened into what he would prefer to have happened. Which, of course, goes like this: Left = bad, right = bad, center = good. Both sides do it, and there is no monopoly on truth, regardless of what the facts are.

The real tell, though, the part that I thought was revealing, was this (which I’ll quote again in full, for the lazy):

Instead you both mumbled publicly about a Grand Bargain… and then retreated to your bases. Boehner went back to his base, arguing that more tax cuts can get us out of this, and Obama moved back to his base, with his focus on taxing millionaires. (In my next life, I want to be a member of the “base” — any base. They seem to have so much more fun and influence.)

Nowhere in this “analysis” does Friedman assess the merit of the two bases’ arguments. For him, and other Village centrists, bases are irrational by definition, so there’s no need to investigate any further. Case closed, as it were. But what’s most galling is Friedman’s assertion that he’s not part of any base — that, moreover, the “bases” he so clearly disdains seem to have much more “influence” than people like him. Let me make this as plain as I can.

Earlier in the column, Friedman advises Obama, et al:

[U]nlike [Herbert] Hoover, who was just practicing the conventional economic wisdom of his day when we fell into the Depression, you have no excuses. We know what to do — a Grand Bargain: short-term stimulus to ease us through this deleveraging process, debt restructuring in the housing market and long-term budget-cutting to put our fiscal house in order.

What kind of history is this? Amity fucking Shlaes? “We know what to do,” Friedman says, “and yet I’m going to pretend that the Roosevelt administration didn’t exist, that John Maynard Keynes didn’t exist, and that my fellow columnist Paul Krugman does not exist. Because history is just a set of facts, and grand narratives are so much more fun, even when they’re wrong.”

Which brings me back to Friedman’s assertion that he is of no base, but that he sincerely wishes he were because of all the “fun” and “influence” he would have. It brings me back to my rhetorical questions in the beginning, which can be summed up basically as, “Does Tom Friedman have a soul, and if so, how hard is he going to hell anyway?” The answers to which are simply, “No,” and “Very.” Friedman is a man who will do everything in his power to make sure that people like him, the political taste-makers and shot-callers, are comfortably sated till the day they die. He will peddle transparent crap like “entitlement reform” while decrying Obama for his “focus on taxing millionaires,” of which he is, of course, one. He will claim to be of no party or clique, and then shamelessly plug for the very wealthy under the guise of speaking for the hardworking man everywhere.

Of course, your everyday New York Times reader doesn’t have digs quite like this:

Nor does your everyday Times reader support “entitlement reform.” (Though, curiously, she does endorse higher taxes on millionaires.)

But then, Tom Friedman isn’t exactly your average Joe. He just plays one on TV.

Tom Friedman can call for slashing Social Security benefits because he’ll never have to rely on them. He can talk about raising the Medicare eligibility age, because his financial adviser informed him that he was a fucking multimillionaire and he will never ever be without leisure, never mind without a refill of a prescription. He can call for short term stimulus and long term austerity, because he’ll be fine either way. It’s all of a piece with Tom Friedman. He represents the interests of the very well-off to an audience of the well-off and the fairly well-off; he disguises it as sober analysis amid a flurry of cliches; and then he cashes his check and goes home to his mansion. He goes back to his base. His base isn’t left or right. It’s that sweet spot right in the middle, the one that caters to the interests of the wealthy under the patina of being above the fray. It’s the visage of cool, calm, and collected centrism — the “both sides do it” nonsense. The epitome of intellectual laziness: “In the final analysis, splitting the difference is the only sensible policy.” That mentality has never made less sense than it does now, as one of the country’s two political parties has been taken over by complete loons.

Nevertheless, you can count on people like Tom Friedman to keep counseling us about the error of our ways. “We don’t compromise enough,” he’ll warn. “We need to bargain more grandly! Everyone’s opinion is valid, there’s plenty of blame to go around (except when it comes to people like me, of course — it’s you left- and right-wingers who are the real problem).”

“Are they stupid or crazy?” is a question that gets asked a lot about the Republican party these days. The answer is always, “Both.” But when we’re talking about people like Tom Friedman, or David Brooks, or Fred Hiatt, or Mark Halperin, or any of the other pundits I don’t feel like rattling off right now, I think you should add a third possibility. The question should be, “Are they stupid or crazy or craven?”

To which the answer is, “Yes.”

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Even The Weekly Standard was Horrified by Last Night’s Republican Presidential Debate

It truly was awful, and though I live tweeted for as long as I could bear to watch, eventually I simply had to bail. Booing a gay soldier? Yelping about “magnet” states for illegal immigrants undocumented workers? Word salads avec fromage from Bachmann and Perry? No, sir. No, thank you. I’ve had just about enough of that.

Christ, even Bill Kristol was horrified:

Reading the reactions of thoughtful commentators after the stage emptied, talking with conservative policy types and GOP political operatives later last evening and this morning, we know we’re not alone. Most won’t express publicly just how horrified—or at least how demoralized—they are. After all, they still want to beat Obama—as do we. And they want to get along with the possible nominee and the other candidates and their supporters. They don’t want to rock the boat too much. But maybe the GOP presidential boat needs rocking.

The e-mails flooding into our inbox during the evening were less guarded. Early on, we received this missive from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

Well, duh.

Or, as Instaputz (from whom I stole the link, btw) put it: “It obviously was his first GOP debate, because they’ve been sounding like crazy people for the past decade and a half.”

Amen. I honestly don’t know how one can be a “bright young conservative” and not have realized this already. The modern GOP is Bircherism writ large: xenophobic, homophobic, racist, sexist, nationalistic, imperial-minded, “Christian,” and dumb as a bag of bricks. Their policy preferences range from stupid to insane to Randian, and then back to stupid again, as “Randian” can pretty much always be replaced with “stupid.” It’s not a secret that this is so. It’s in the newspaper everyday. It’s on the teevee 24/7. It’s rampant in the blogosphere (where, perhaps, it finds its purest expression). If you watch the Republican party, listen to what its members say, and if you are honest with yourself, you must force yourself to conclude that these people are either a) crazy, b) stupid, or c) both. It’s really not that difficult.

I mean, take a look at this. This is the current Republican presidential front runner fielding a question about what he would do if a stray Pakistani nuclear weapon found its way into terrorists’ hands. This is his reply.

The FUCK you just say, Rick Perry? Just say, “Pakistan is an ally. India is an ally. Afghanistan is an ally. We’d all work together and stop that shit, America fuck yeah.” That’s all he had to say to appease his base. Instead, in an attempt to sound like he knows what he’s talking about, he proves that he doesn’t when he mixes up his talking points.

This, my friends, is the modern GOP. And the talking points they’re always mixing up are bad for the country.

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The Customer is Always and an Asshole

From my customer feedback on Amazon this morning (which, I should add, after seeing a show last night and being way too hungover/underslept to be functional at work today, just isn’t going well):

“Arrived on time but lots of wear on cover and book.”

This fucking idiot paid $4.60 for some shitty ass book about “fame” being an addiction, or some stupid shit. Whatever. He or she is an idiot. The book was listed as being in “Good” condition. Here’s what Amazon says in its used book policy about what “good” constitutes:

Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include “From the library of” labels.

Wahh, wahh, wahh, customer. Go buy a “New” copy of the book if you don’t want it to have wear on the cover. Or, fuck it, I dunno –  buy a “Like New” used copy, or a “Very Good” one. Don’t give me bad feedback because you’re fucking retarded and don’t know how to read the English language.

/angry rant

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Mickey Kaus is Concerned

And he’s concern-trolling like a champion over at Tucker Carlson’s vanity project (Wha? Kaus works there now? I guess it was only a matter of time.) Anyway, since the unemployed apparently have TOO MUCH POWER (!!!!!!!!!!) in this country, Mickey Kaus wants to make sure that they never have the option to sue employers who discriminate against them on the basis of their unemployment. Because, heaven forbid, what kind of message would that send to our Galtian overlords?

Worst Idea in the Speech? Charles Lane notes that, to ease employers’ fears of regulatory and legal uncertainty, Obama wants to create another dubious grounds for people to sue employers. The provisions of the law “[p]rohibiting employers from discriminating aginst unemployed workers” seem almost reasonable until you realize that all those reasonable provisions have to be litigated by well-paid lawyers at someone’s expense. A museum-quality case  of liberal legalism ignoring the economic cost of the mechanisms of liberal legalism. ….

You know why the Job Creators aren’t creating any jobs? It’s because they’re worried about a law that does not exist’s potential to one day exist, which would obviously carry a huge “economic cost” because trial lawyers and John Edwards and lawsuits, oh my. I mean, so what if unemployed people get fucked in the ass every day in this country. If they had the legal means to address some of their grievances, “someone” would have to bear an “expense.” Mickey Kaus himself might go Galt. WHAT WOULD BECOME OF OUR DEAR, DEAR NATION THEN?

(via Tyler Cowen, who cites this drivel… approvingly?)

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Wait for it…

My cat puked on my shoes this morning, because he’s an idiot. Here is a cat video, in which I can live vicariously through someone else’s sweet, sweet revenge on felines everywhere.

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College Students: Not Necessarily Altogether Too Bright

K. So let’s say you’re a university professor, and you’re talking one day in class about, oh, I dunno… intellectual ivory tower matters… and you’re doing, like, a thought experiment — or something equally crazy and academic!!! — and, perhaps maybe suppose it’s about “opinions” (whatever those are). And let’s say you’re playing Farmville on the old Facebooks (amirite? i’mrite) when you hear your professor say, and here I use the scholarly quotation methodology, “Jews should be sterilized.” Do you:

a) Assume that this is a genuine sentiment your Jewish professor is espousing before the class, and launch a national media campaign against him denouncing his outrageous beliefs?

b) Assume that because you’ve been playing Farmville you might have missed some relevant context?

c) Ignore it, because “no big deal” (you play an anti-Semite in this scenario).

Ding, ding, ding! The answer is A, sheeple.

Yesterday, we brought you the story of Sarah Grunfeld, the 22 year-old student at York University who ran out and publicly accused her (Jewish) sociology professor of anti-Semitism when he said the phrase “Jews should be sterilized”—as an example of a bad opinion. Grunfeld’s reasoning: “The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”

So we would be remiss if we did not bring you the following STATEMENT from Sarah Grunfeld, which B’nai Brith Canada is circulating, apparently under the misguided notion that Sarah Grunfeld is deserving of sympathy. If she apologized for the simple misunderstanding, then sure. But Sarah Grunfeld is doubling down on her outrage. And victimhood!

The worst part of Grunfeld’s aforementioned STATEMENT is the opening paragraph, because it shows what a detestable twit she is. Here I quote:

TORONTO, 14 September 2011 : Sarah Grunfeld, fourth year York University student has made the following statement relating to the recent incident in Professor Cameron Johnston’s class at York University, and has asked B’nai Brith Canada to circulate it to interested parties on her behalf. This statement of her position is onlyto be used in its entirety…

She’s kind of asking for anything that follows with a salvo like that. To which I say, Come at me, Sarah Grunfeld. Bring the pain!

Here is her statement, as it should have read verbatim.

stand by my initial concern… that all Jews should be sterilized[.]

I have since been grossly misquoted and ridiculed by the media… to assign blame to me… for [t]his “miscommunication”.

This is in spite of the fact that in a meeting with Martin Singer, Dean, (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York) and Rhonda Lenton (Vice Provost Academic), I was assured that they believed [this] was ‘terribly regretful’, and that they expected and would encourage… an unambiguous in-class apology.

It has been a very painful experience for me to see how the university has closed ranks and reneged on its assurances to me. I understand that there may have been a miscommunication, but… [t]he media has been complicit in allowing a false interpretation of my actions to be circulated widely, which can only have a chilling effect on the ability of students to have any kind of a voice on campus.

END OF STUDENT STATEMENT

Fucking context. How does it work?

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Elizabeth Warren to be next kick-ass senator from Massachusetts

Unless, you know, Handsome Scott wins another term (in a Presidential election year in Massachusetts? Nevahgunnahappenkid):

“There’s been a lot of very powerful interests who have tried to shut me down, squeeze me, push me sideways and so far it just hasn’t worked,” Warren said. “I’m willing to throw my body in front of a bus to try to stop bad ideas that are going to be harmful to the middle class.”

Warren was heavily courted by Democrats hoping to win back the seat long held by Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009 after a long battle with brain cancer. Democrats are also trying to hold onto their narrow Senate majority by ousting Brown.

Warren was tapped by President Barack Obama last year to set up a new consumer protection agency, but congressional Republicans opposed her leading the office. She returned to Massachusetts this summer.

Since it is apparently .gif day at Brutish&Short, here is a classic of Warren reacting to an asshole Republican who had just called her a liar. Enjoy!

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