While We’re On a Journalistic Accountability Kick

I was looking for some old posts in the archives today and found a few posts about Conor Freidersdorf and his role in the smear of Shirley Sharrod by Breitbart, back when Breitbart was alive and the DC media thought he was “fresh” and “provocative”.  In short, Conor treated it as a legitimate controversy rather than the smear job that it was, and along the way he got some very basic facts wrong out of laziness or the desire to get more hits. It wasn’t as bad as the Iraq War cheerleading, but it was the same kind of herd behavior from a guy that gets a lot of, to me, inexplicable respect from some progressive bloggers.

Also, too: open thread.

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101 replies
  1. 1
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    We watched the restored version of the film My Fair Lady last night. It’s beautiful again and Henry Higgins is still a colossal dick.
    What man, no matter his wealth, position, education, class or professional achievements has a right to treat any human being that way? He was a monster and deserved to scrub pots in a soup kitchen for his sins. Appalling.

  2. 2
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Every time Young Conor’s name comes up, I link to this:

    Dear Jonah Goldberg,

    I’m writing this letter as a fan – I’ve tremendous respect for the pioneering work you did at National Review Online, your attempts to inject humor into political writing, and the enjoyable debates you’ve done with Peter Beinart.

    Anyone who thinks Jonah Goldberg is anything other than a shitstain in a gotee and tie is beneath contempt.

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I just puked in my mouth a little.

  4. 4
    maya says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Perhaps Henry Higgins was a monster, but Baron Von Frankenstein was much worse.

  5. 5
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Good thing Higgins wasn’t a D-1 basketball coach, huh?

  6. 6
    Wag says:

    @maya:

    So both sides do it?

  7. 7
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @maya:

    The Baron made a monster with a human mind out of bits of people. The Professor made over one human being into a superficially preferable type of person by harassing and browbeating her. Then he took all the credit and prepared to cast her aside. Did Shaw mean Pygmalion as an indictment of the English class system? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  8. 8
    Bruce S says:

    Regarding the chained CPI deal coming out of the White House, (which as has been noted would make President Obama the first Democratic Prez to suggest cuts to Social Security) – “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded to the president’s offer on Friday by suggesting that if he wants to cut Social Security, he should just go ahead and do it.”

    Who could have predicted? There will be no deal, but any congressional Democrat who gets behind this White House budget proposal is an idiot because it will generate campaign ads in ’14. Dems don’t have senior votes in a majority, but it’s imperative not to lose what we DO have, nor to disconnect from the base and from swing voters on what is an extremely unpopular proposal (not to mention bad policy.)

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:
    @maya:
    I remember the review of You’ve Got Mail that my buddy wrote for The Star. He said Meg Ryan’s character was stupid and Tom Hank’s was manipulative. I agree.

  10. 10

    Is this http://dlisted.com/2013/04/06/.....ait-studio a picture of soonergrunt? That dog looks like his. It is irresponsible not to speculate.

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:

    @ranchandsyrup: BWAHAHAHAHA!! You made me look you damn banana!

  12. 12
    Citizen_X says:

    @maya:

    Henry Higgins was a monster, but Baron Von Frankenstein was much worse.

    I’m glad they’re both dead.

    What? Too soon?

  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Oops. I seem to have left an italics tag unclosed. Can someone help?

  14. 14
    maya says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: GB Shaw wrote Pygmalion, not My Fair Lady, the musicated version of the former.

    At the end of Pygmalion, Shaw gives an epilogue where Eliza recognizes that HH is a confirmed bachelor, marries Freddie and opens up a flower shop. No matter how HH acted with Eliza she overcomes his overbearing manipulations and is better off then when he found her – thanks to her own mind in the matter.

    MFL has a more ambiguous ending – will Eliza return to HH or won’t she? Every viewer is left with their own belief.

    You do realize these are fictional characters.

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: FWIW it’s not breaking the blog like it used to. At least not for me.

  16. 16
    Chris says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Pioneering?

    ?????????

    Do they mean “Liberal Fascism?” That’s the only thing I can think of ever to come from that guy that might be considered original.

  17. 17
    Bruce S says:

    @Chris:

    “Liberal Fascism” was original? My guess is that he lifted the title from some rant in a Free Republic comments section. I’ve heard that same argument, albeit without footnotes, from cranks on the far right for decades.

  18. 18
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Bruce S:

    Who could have predicted? There will be no deal…

    Obama has been offering the GOP chained-CPI for months. The offer has been on WH.gov for months. But the GOP has refused to bite because the offer is contingent on a series of other policies, including increased revenue, they can’t abide. Obama knows this.

    Obama wants credit for offering it, without actually cutting SS. He wants the media to tell the public that he has made concessions but the wingnuts won’t budge.

    FWIW, I think chasing the Village’s help is a fool’s errand, but it’s obviously the strategy Obama has been pursuing for the last couple of years.

    As an aside, I think the President has been playing footsie with the wingnuts since the election in order to get gun control and immigration reform passed. Once those fight are resolved, I think he’ll really start hammering economic policy again. By that time the sequester’s effects will be far more apparent, which should give him some more leverage.

  19. 19
    nellcote says:

    Why did Rick Warren’s son have a gun when they’ve know about his mental issues for years?

  20. 20
    Chris says:

    @Bruce S:

    Yeah, I said “might be considered” because I wasn’t sure (it was just the only thing I could think of that I thought might fit the picture).

    When did they make the transition from “fascists are cool, okay maybe not completely cool but at least they’re killing liberals and lefties, and what’s wrong with that” to “fascists aren’t cool, but they’re liberals and lefties anyway, so QED”? Definitely wasn’t in Buckley’s National Review.

  21. 21
    Yutsano says:

    @nellcote: Becuz FREEDUMB!!

    @Hill Dweller: JINX!! Where’s mah refreshing fizzy beverage?

  22. 22
    Hill Dweller says:

    @nellcote:

    Why did Rick Warren’s son have a gun when they’ve know about his mental issues for years?

    FREEDOM!

  23. 23
    Karmus says:

    @nellcote: You don’t take away a man’s guns! Why, you might as well start gay-marrying Mexicans in your church.

  24. 24
    Ben Franklin says:

    Trolling the archives…slow news day.

    North Korea? Bird-flu? Nah.

  25. 25
    maya says:

    @Wag:For “both sides do it”, we would need to analyze Misery, Fatal Attraction and Ilsa, The Wicked Warden.

  26. 26
    Bruce S says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    “fools errand” – agreed. Obama is far from a fool, but I don’t think the White House team has been brilliant at strategy OR policy in regard to basic economic and even budget-politics issues. Way too much deference to CrazyTalk deficit hysteria without much pushback, and way too much deference to the likes of Timothy Geithner and Rubin-Dems on economic and post-crisis policies.

    It’s been a very tough place to be – and frankly I believe the “base” failed Obama after the election by letting the Tea Party take center stage in activism, while a lot of us were patting ourselves on the back for all of the great work in getting Obama elected. The aggressively ignorant gained tremendous legitimacy in the “national conversation” just for showing up and making noise – with, of course, the advantage of spewing nonsense that echoed a lot of the Village idiocy.

    I know Obama didn’t anticipate this mess during almost the entirety of the time he spent seeking the Presidency, but a lot of what ensued after was a lot less than I would have hoped for. Among other things, the failure to take serious measures to stop the loss of homes – while giving the banks a total pass on “moral hazard” – was just wrong. There were plenty of creative ways the government could have stepped in and stopped the bleeding in housing that would have also strengthened the economic recovery, but they came up with band-aids that had virtually zero impact.

  27. 27
    Chris says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    By that time the sequester’s effects will be far more apparent, which should give him some more leverage.

    Only if the public blames Republicans for the sequester instead of falling for the “both sides do it” chickenshitbullshit the media’s been peddling. Not that I necessarily think it’s a bad play, just pointing out where it could go wrong.

  28. 28
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Hill Dweller: I think he’ll get immigration reform (Republicans need more Latino voters) but I don’t see him getting any gun control at all. Republicans see little incentive in going against the NRA and I don’t see any public outcry (except for polling) that would force them to abandon their gunned up base.

  29. 29
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Hill Dweller: I think he genuinely thinks that structuring SS with a reasonable minimum benefit and a shallower rate of increase in benefits thereafter would be a good idea. Is it possible that the government is overstating inflation and hence that benefits for the middle and top of the scale are, or will become, too generous? I don’t know if it’s true, but it might be, and if it were, this wouldn’t be a bad way to approach solving the problem. I don’t really like the idea that when we’re talking about what the government should spend money on, we have to take as given that it’s an obviously great policy to pay ever-increasing retirement benefits for already rich people.

  30. 30
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @maya:

    I love this anecdote (from Wikipedia):

    Pygmalion was the most broadly appealing of all Shaw’s plays. But popular audiences, looking for pleasant entertainment with big stars in a West End venue, wanted a “happy ending” for the characters they liked so well, as did some critics. During the 1914 run, to Shaw’s exasperation but not to his surprise, Tree sought to sweeten Shaw’s ending to please himself and his record houses. Shaw returned for the 100th performance and watched Higgins, standing at the window, toss a bouquet down to Eliza. “My ending makes money, you ought to be grateful,” protested Tree. “Your ending is damnable; you ought to be shot.”

  31. 31
    Susan S says:

    Do any of you mind if I go off on a tangent..a real John-Cole-cuddling-his-babies-late-at-nite-one?..Well, skip this if so but it will really help me right now to talk a little. Today Pacific Galleries in Seattle will be selling some of my favorite treasures, a number of lithographs from Jacob Lawrence’s Toussaint series, including a printer’s proof of The General, Toussaint and a precious small oil “Girl in Armchair” done by Gwendolyn Knight in 1950. I love these works..they spoke to me when I was young, raising my family, trying to immerse them as fully as possible in their culture and away from my “pink-toed” one. I bought them all by the month..had a nice sized craftsman house with walls painted to highlight the colors..[matching Mr. Lawrence’s greys in the days before computers took weeks!]

    Then life intruded, I grew older and now they are going away. I shall miss their beauty, their depth,,the expression in the slaves’ eyes..and the grace of Ms. Knight’s flowers..she was the most singularly elegant lady I ever met..period. They came to Seattle in the 70s, and decided to stay. They were generous with their thoughts and their history. I do believe that artists like Jacob Lawrence literally see the world thru a different lens.. and in one discussion he said he saw color, angles, texture.. but not faces, when he looked at an audience.

    My daughter and I attended a discussion at a local prep school with the artists and one singularly unpleasant lady. Mr. Lawrence had a gift for explaining to non-artist how an Artist saw, thought, worked. He was incredibly soft spoken. Pitifully,most of the questions were White Idiot Liberal to the extreme..
    “How did he feel about being famous?”{ The man was in his late 80s and his work was in the Museum of Modern Art in his 20s!]..”Who did he know in the Harlem Renaissance..[they were teenagers at the time..

    And most damning, after two magical hours of listening to this wonderful couple speak of their lives, their art, their love..Ms. Twit asked him..wait for it..”Do you consider yourself a “Black Artist” or an “artist.” Every pale person in that audience wanted to leap to their feet and scream WE DIDN’T ASK THAT!!! And he looked at her, softly rubbed his cheek [if you don’t know what that means, find a nice person of color and ask them]..and said..”Well, I am black but I consider my self an artist”

    When my works go..I will still have the memories and the books. One perfect evening..we were at an early showing of the last retrospective of Jacob Lawrence’s works at the Seattle Art Museum, just after he had passed. A very beautiful, very gracious lady of nine plus decades gestured me over. I don’t think she knew my name but she did know I loved her works..her cats, her flowers, her dancers, her jazz musicians..all in a very different style than her husband and yet not. And for thirty of the best moments in my life, Ms. Gwendolyn Knight walked through these paintings by the brilliant love of her life, leaning on my arm, and telling me about the moments they represented of Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence.

    If you waded through all this, thank you. It did help. If you get a chance, go to ArtFacts today under “Prints”..The face of the auction is Girl in Armchair. Inside are more..if they go for nothing..well, I hope someone nice gets them! Happy Sunday!!

  32. 32
    Ted & Hellen says:

    from a guy that gets a lot of, to me, inexplicable respect from some progressive bloggers.

    Jealous much?

  33. 33
    patroclus says:

    Both Breitbart and Kelly resemble Pygmalion but without the Henry Higgins upgrade and Pol Pot was way worse than Frankenstein and Obama seems just trying to impress fanboys like Conor and President Barski should have watched the Mike Rice viral video last fall and Rick Warren’s son was purpose-driven in buying a gun.

  34. 34

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: It pains me to say it, but apparently Rex Harrison in real life was obnoxious as well. Nasty to women (married many times) and an antisemite.

  35. 35
    Poopyman says:

    @nellcote: @Yutsano: @Hill Dweller: Because even though he’s had mental issues for years, it’s a big leap to “mentally incompetent”, which is where they’d have to go to deny a 20-something’s rights to self-determination.

    For full disclosure, we (and probably many, many people) had the same issue with my 80-something year-old gun-owning father, who was getting noticeably wiftier as the years rolled on. And let’s not even talk about him insisting on driving ….

  36. 36
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    I think he’ll get immigration reform (Republicans need more Latino voters) but I don’t see him getting any gun control at all. Republicans see little incentive in going against the NRA and I don’t see any public outcry (except for polling) that would force them to abandon their gunned up base.

    On assault weapons and large ammo clip bans, I agree. But blocking something as sensible as background checks could cost the wingnuts. The NRA releasing their own background check proposal is a tacit acknowledgement of the risk, in my view.

  37. 37

    speaking about journalistic accountability, I just wrote a blog post on it:

    http://www.hillaryrettig.com/2.....ork-times/

  38. 38
    Bruce S says:

    @Chris:

    I think the difference has been between the more “consistent” Hayek-Rand “Freedom” crowd and the traditionalists like Buckley who actually had a family history of support for Franco. Buckley also shifted some over his own life, and of course his son broke with NR. For what it’s worth, on that split between the “Freedom!” ideologues and old-school conservatives, one of the most interesting take-downs of Ayn Rand – a total evisceration – appeared in National Review under Whittaker Chambers by-line sometime in the ’50s. Now, of course, the nut-case Rand is probably revered more than the erudite and relatively nuanced and pragmatic Buckley among the contemporary GOP.

  39. 39
    Yutsano says:

    @Poopyman: I’m not necessarily talking about the state taking the guns away. Why didn’t his family make sure he didn’t have something dangerous like that at hand? They had to know his history of mental illness.

  40. 40
    Bruce S says:

    @Susan S:

    Thanks for that.

    Also had the opportunity to hear Lawrence and his wife speak – wonderful experience. Love his work. I’m hoping that someone like the Kinsey family who mount exhibits of their collection or some museums make these acquisitions so that we all have the opportunity to appreciate them.

  41. 41
    Hill Dweller says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I have no doubt Obama wants to put both medicare and SS on surer footing, but the devil is in the details. There are more progressive ways than chained-CPI to solve the problem, but they’re probably politically unrealistic right now.

    I still think SS will remain untouched while Obama is President. Inaction is always the preferred policy in DC.

  42. 42
    Poopyman says:

    @Yutsano: Yes, but they didn’t necessarily know he even owned a gun. If I had been paying attention to the case I might know where the gun came from, so pardon my ignorance if it’s known that the family did in fact know he had access.

  43. 43
    Joel (Macho Man Randy Savage) says:

    I’ll give Friersdorf something of a pass. The guy is maturing.

  44. 44
    Bruce S says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But “ever increasing retirement benefits for already rich people” is hardly what Social Security is all about. What bugs me most about putting this out there as part of a “budget deal” in 2013 is that (a) it helps validate an essentially phony narrative about a “crisis” in Social Security when there are far more urgent issues that are actually existing crises, and (b) that a form of benefit cut over time is being proposed before any proposal to bring SS revenues back into line with what Ronald Reagan believed was appropriate, i.e. taxing 90% of total personal income. That’s since fallen to 80% because of the growth in income inequality and most income gains going to folks whose incomes are already above the cap.

    IMHO – and with all due respect to a man that I admire – this proposal isn’t “shared sacrifice.” It’s putting the onus for long-term deficit reduction an already struggling middle-class. I know that there is a political reality of a crackpot GOP controlling Congress, which is why this probably won’t happen anyway – but if liberals aren’t honest about just how far to the right the economic discourse has shifted – even SINCE Reagan, we’re doing ourselves, the country and even the President a disservice. I just can’t see any win in this – or in making rationalizing it some priority as opposed to speaking out against a “national” discourse (actually an almost exclusively elite discourse) that prioritizes “entitlements” as what’s wrong with economic distribution and allocation of resources.

  45. 45
    JPL says:

    @Susan S: What a wonderful story and thank you for sharing. My knowledge of the world of art is limited but I enjoyed learning more about Gwendolyn Knight through the magic of the internet.
    Here is the link for Girl in Armchair
    http://www.askart.com/askart/a.....T_FOR_SALE

  46. 46
    patroclus says:

    Tom Friedman just said on GPS that it would be about 6 months before we’ll truly know what is happening in the DPRK.

  47. 47
    elmo says:

    [if you don’t know what that means, find a nice person of color and ask them]

    But you’re right here, and its Sunday afternoon. Can’t I ask you?
    (Seriously curious)

  48. 48
    Bruce S says:

    @patroclus:

    Before six months turns into a mushroom cloud, how about sending Friedman over there to tell Kim Jong-Un to “Suck on this!” That’ll show ’em.

  49. 49
    maya says:

    @Bruce S: I still maintain that the way to defuse the NorKor situation would be to invite Kimmy to a free trip through Disney World with a couple of low gag-reflex hookers.

  50. 50
    Bruce S says:

    @maya:

    A strategic thinker such as yourself should be a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, not Judy Miller and Dan Senor. I’m not kidding.

  51. 51
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @maya:

    Here’s an excerpt from the back cover of my Penguin Paperback edition of Pygmalion:

    “Shaw’s Dramatization of a flower girl’s metamorphosis into a lady not only is a delightful fantasy but also has much to say about social class, money, spiritual freedom and women’t independence. Its combination of ideas and social comment, together with its rich comic characterization make it one of the most enduring and entertaining of English comedies”

    Shaw was also an ardent Socialist. This leads me to believe that the play was partially a critique of the upper class, showing how easily they were fooled by superficial manners and how little they (in the person of Higgins) sometimes cared about the people that they were ‘improving’.

  52. 52
    Susan S says:

    @JPL: Thank you! That’s magical. I have no idea how you did that but its perfect..isn’t that the loveliest little painting..Ah well, I totally agree with Bruce S. Would be woderful to have it in museum. When I owned the entire series of Toussaint [it took about twenty years to complete, $350/m..” the Henry Gallery at the U of Wash borrowed it for a retrospective of his. All the works were lined up in sequence on one wall..I had never seen them like that..in our home, they hung in many different rooms. I looked at them and said to my buddy..Now, if I had sft instead…and then, I said..”NAAA..” I made the right move.

  53. 53
    maya says:

    @Bruce S: Well, thank you. On Day One I would change it to The Council of Foreign Felations.

  54. 54
    Susan S says:

    @elmo: Ah Elmo..a couple of soft strokes to the cheek is simply a way of saying “I am…black.” First time I saw it I had asked a friend a dumb question..and he just looked at me and softly smiled and gave that gesture. Glad to pass it on..kind of like knowing every Japanese American of third generation has a Japanese middle name. Want to startle a friend who is Sansei..ask what their middle name is.

  55. 55
    Poopyman says:

    @maya: I think we should send Dennis Rodman back. Clearly, his work there remains unfinished.

  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    Or it could be that Libertarianism is a movement for developmentally arrested white males, and he had no problems with seeing an uppity negress put in her place.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Bruce S:

    Don’t both strands of conservatism traditionally fall on the same side re fascism (“it’s not our thing, but it’s killing lefties and that’s good,” basically the eighty-years-ago version of “both sides do it but the left is worse?”)

  58. 58
    Susan S says:

    @Susan S: I blew the punchline! I looked at the Toussaint series and said to my friend..If I had bought Microsoft instead [I am an investment advisor..42 years this last month..I love my job but I crave great art! Anyone heard of Alfredo Arreguin. Incredible!

  59. 59
    Kathleen says:

    @Susan S: Susan: Thank you for sharing that story. You added joy to my day!

  60. 60
    Cacti says:

    @Bruce S:

    Regarding the chained CPI deal coming out of the White House, (which as has been noted would make President Obama the first Democratic Prez to suggest cuts to Social Security) – “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded to the president’s offer on Friday by suggesting that if he wants to cut Social Security, he should just go ahead and do it.”

    The great emo-prog chained CPI, Obama has betrayed us, argle bargle, meltdown thread was Friday.

    Little late to the party, aren’t you?

  61. 61
    LurkyLoo2 says:

    Susan thank you for the beautiful story.

  62. 62
    Susan S says:

    Ok guys..I have to get ready for the auction. So, let me throw you some real Social Security meat. I said, 42 years of getting people retired and then making modest savings last into their 90s. Soc Sec is critical..but the irony of the stupid inflation increases is that they give us who are retiring with $2000 plus a month benefits a chunk..and the 85 year old teacher who retired 25 or 30 years ago..much less. And they need it more. #2 We have never accounted for the low wage, low benefit, if any, jobs most of black America were forced to take up to and including the 70s. #3. Your Social Security contribution HAS ALREADY BEEN TAXED. NO CONTRIBUTIONS SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO TAX/; only once you pass your monies and start withdrawing earnings should any taxes be due on Soc Sec.
    #4.. I don’t want to pay Ann Romney’s Social Sec bebefit. If a couple is wealthy that a spouse doesn’t have to work outside the home, said still gets FULL BeNEFITS if retired spouse dies. Under any other pension system, if you want it to work that way, you have to take a reduced amount up front.

    Face it..the true remedies for Soc Sec come down to 2 issues..
    Stop taxing middle class money that has already been taxed; Make spouses take a reduced, just as any pension is calculated, if a surviving spouse benefit is desired. There, go for it. Will be fun to see your comments later on tonight.

    Thank you all..you helped me through a difficult couple of hours.

  63. 63
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bruce S: well, sure, benefits to the rich are not what SS is about, but the rich do benefit from SS in un-progressive ways. And I know why they do — we’re essentially buying them off so that they don’t balk about transfers and redistribution and such, and because of that SS has never been the flashpoint “welfare” is. But it’s really not good policy IMHO. That said, it’s not the primary problem facing America or the economy right now either.

    I still think Team Obama’s approach to economic and fiscal policy has been, or become, something like “if we’re going to have to talk about cuts, let’s be smart and wonky with our cuts (e.g. “Bending the cost curve” on health care spending), and maybe Democrats and Republicans can find some common ground.” It’s been a pipe dream, of course, and it’s not great politics, but I’d like to be able to talk about the thinking behind the policy (which is more than Chained CPI for the sake of Chained CPI), and THEN bash it. Otherwise we get into these situations where, for instance, a payroll tax holiday is first progressive (because stimulative), then a weakening of Social Security, then progressive again, depending on the prevailing winds.

  64. 64
    dollared says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Yes, but who really gets screwed in Obama’s plan? The college educated whites in the midrange incomes. They put in at or near the max, then get their benefits cut. They don’t get the poor people’s makeup payments, and they don’t get any benefit from the cap on taxable income.

    Fuck em. They are just the majority of voters.

  65. 65
    dollared says:

    @Hill Dweller: Because gun control is more important than the retirement security of 40 million Americans? If that is his strategy, then he is even worse at math than Megan McArglebargle

  66. 66
    Dead Ernest says:

    @maya: well Damn Maya, that clinches my vote.
    In fact, I think you should be in charge of naming all the various councils.

  67. 67
    CaseyL says:

    It’s a good thing Obama has a very, very high anger threshold, because if I had to deal with what he’s had to deal with since he took office, I likely would have gone insane by now and started shooting people. What with the racist neo-Confederates on the right, the purity trolls on the left, and the deadweights in the center, it’s amazing he’s gotten anything done at all.

    I’m not sure if he really and truly “gets” that a permanently malfunctioning government is exactly what the GOP wants. I’m not sure if he really and truly gets that the GOP is a grift operation from top to bottom. Maybe that keeps him from being truly effective – or maybe that’s what’s keeping him from going around the bend.

    On a personal note: I had foot surgery Friday, it went fine, and I am enjoying 5 days of doctor-ordered inactivity. Keeping my foot elevated, walking around as little as possible. Doing a lot of sleeping late, reading, and catching up on TV shows (watched The Americans all in one swoop and am now hooked). Other than not being able to go out shopping or hiking, this is possibly the best “vacation” I’ve had in years.

  68. 68
    👽 Martin says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Is it possible that the government is overstating inflation and hence that benefits for the middle and top of the scale are, or will become, too generous?

    Relative to poverty and a number of other measures, SS benefits have increased over time. But again, the problem is SSDI.

  69. 69
    maya says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: GBS wrote Pygmalion in 1912, the cusp of WWI when social and political mores were beginning to unravel. So, yes, of course he was lampooning the upper class. Probably meant to shake up the lower class too, although it may have been lost on them – not being able to afford the admission.
    It was, above all, a comedy, which historically is the form that many social commentaries take. Eliza grows in spite of HH, but, at the same time, where would she have wound up without his meddling?

    Where would Hillary Clinton be without Dick Morris?

  70. 70
    👽 Martin says:

    @dollared: Wait, $200K is midrange and the majority of voters. How mighty privileged of you. Majority of voters earn ¼ that. $200K+ is about the top 4%.

  71. 71
    Hill Dweller says:

    @dollared:

    Because gun control is more important than the retirement security of 40 million Americans? If that is his strategy, then he is even worse at math than Megan McArglebargle

    I won’t even pretend to know what this means.

    Gun control and immigration reform are sucking up all the oxygen right now. Once those are resolved, which should happen relatively quickly, the budget debate will take center stage.

  72. 72
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @👽 Martin: Chris Hayes had a segment on SSDI on Friday’s show.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @CaseyL:

    It’s a good thing Obama has a very, very high anger threshold, because if I had to deal with what he’s had to deal with since he took office, I likely would have gone insane by now and started shooting people. What with the racist neo-Confederates on the right, the purity trolls on the left, and the deadweights in the center, it’s amazing he’s gotten anything done at all.

    Being in politics requires an incredibly thick skin. (Though not all politicians have it, as we’ve seen with Ann Romney’s “STOP it! This is HARD!” and Palin’s years of screeds about her supposed martyrization by the supposed liberal media). That’s already a lot more true for a Democrat than a Republican, and a black Democrat… yikes. I do have a ton of respect for Obama simply for his ability to put up with this much horseshit.

    I’m not sure if he really and truly “gets” that a permanently malfunctioning government is exactly what the GOP wants. I’m not sure if he really and truly gets that the GOP is a grift operation from top to bottom. Maybe that keeps him from being truly effective – or maybe that’s what’s keeping him from going around the bend.

    I wonder if he does. Certainly the general public doesn’t and at least a good chunk of the Democratic Party either doesn’t or doesn’t care.

    Thing is, even if he does, there are sharp limits to what he can do about considering the extent to which the deck is stacked (not just by Republicans but Blue Dogs). Washington remains “a town wired for Republicans.”

    On a personal note: I had foot surgery Friday, it went fine, and I am enjoying 5 days of doctor-ordered inactivity. Keeping my foot elevated, walking around as little as possible. Doing a lot of sleeping late, reading, and catching up on TV shows (watched The Americans all in one swoop and am now hooked). Other than not being able to go out shopping or hiking, this is possibly the best “vacation” I’ve had in years.

    I am pleased that the foot surgery was successful and at the doctor-ordered R&R. “The Americans” that good? I’d been meaning to check it out but haven’t gotten around to it.

  74. 74
    Yutsano says:

    @CaseyL:

    On a personal note: I had foot surgery Friday, it went fine, and I am enjoying 5 days of doctor-ordered inactivity

    So MikeJ and I can stop by and raid the fridge? :)

  75. 75
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Just finished a 22 mile ride. I feel pretty good given that I just got my bike back on the road on Thursday and this was only my fourth time out.

  76. 76
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I feel pretty good given that I just got my bike back on the road on Thursday and this was only my fourth time out.

    You say that now…

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: I didn’t try for speed – I took an hour and 45 minutes to do it – so I should be okay. Not saying I won’t feel it a bit tomorrow, but it should be something with which I can deal.

  78. 78
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Just did 10 yesterday, only second time out since the temp has crept up. It’s going to be good to get back on the road.

  79. 79
    CaseyL says:

    @Chris: Oh, yes. It’s a hard show in some ways because the main characters – the ones the audience is generally most invested in – are spies whose job is to damage the US. The writers are being very careful with that, having the main characters’ associates do the worst things. There’s a faint taste of Le Carre, showing how intelligence/espionage work damages everyone who does it, turns all of their relationships into transactions, including the ones that are supposed to be “real.” It’s a complex, intelligent show.

    @Yutsano: Alas, there’s mostly healthy stuff in my fridge: salad fixings, juice, eggs, cheese. You and MikeJ can show up on my doorstep with a big bag of Chinese food, though :)

  80. 80
    Sly says:

    inexplicable respect from some progressive bloggers

    “Sensible Libertarians” are to self-identified Progressives what “Sensible Conservatives” are to self-identified Centrists.

    It’s the “he’s with us on everything but the war” in reverse, based upon a conceit derived from the impossible hope that a broad coalition can be formed around a very narrow intersection of interests held by both groups. Impossible because the former is so small that it doesn’t even constitute a viable political faction, and because it requires of the latter that it be blind to almost the totality of its platform in order to emphasize that narrow intersection.

  81. 81
    Bruce S says:

    @Cacti:

    Go fuck yourself. You’re an idiot with nothing useful to say. You should be embarrassed – but of course, you’re not.

  82. 82
    Bruce S says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “…because of that SS has never been the flashpoint ‘welfare’ is. But it’s really not good policy IMHO”

    I don’t know – that strikes me as the essence of “good policy” in context of a nation where social democracy is tenuous at best. If I were to change the way SS is distributed, I wouldn’t touch more than the very, very top of the economic elite for whom the Social Security check is equivalent to a “rounding error” in context of total income. (But more important, as has been mentioned, a better “floor” for folks who had lifetime low incomes.)

    Social systems where social democracy is relatively strong – say, France – don’t do things like charge wealthier people more for health services, so far as I know. It’s best to just embed some basic programs into the system overall, than put people through hoops to prove eligibility or to ferret out those who aren’t really in need of a service like national health insurance. The broader the better – especially in a country with such a legacy of racism and contempt for the poor that “welfare” is easily turned into a political dog-whistle. Tax policy is the best way to effect the necessary distributional shifts and to make the programs secure.

    I love the fact that a majority of Tea Baggers and GOP voters are against any cuts to Social Security. And, frankly, while Medicare can provide important leverage in reforming a totally dysfunctional health care system, I don’t want the frame of reforms to be “Medicare!” but fixing a system that is broken overall. Isolating Medicare as a “problem” – which it isn’t, so much as pointing in the direction of solutions – is dangerous and stupid.

  83. 83
    James E. Powell says:

    it was the same kind of herd behavior from a guy that gets a lot of, to me, inexplicable respect from some progressive bloggers.

    Respect? The only times I’ve seen him discussed were times when he was being pilloried. I mean, he’s not held in McMegan level contempt, but I never took him to be respected by anyone around here.

  84. 84
    Yutsano says:

    @CaseyL: I was thinking a nice Rickshaw raid with a couple of trashy movies. Hmm…I might have to call him!

  85. 85
    lojasmo says:

    @CaseyL:

    Glad your surgery went well.

    I’d be stir crazy by now.

  86. 86
    Bruce S says:

    @Chris:

    I believe – and I’m not a historian or student of the conservative movement – that the Hayek tradition was consistently “anti-statist” while the “tradtionalists” were the ones who often flirted overtly with fascism. But there there are some obvious anomalies – like Milton Friedman and the “Chicago Boys” helping out Pinochet. But my guess is that Hayek types equated Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and…FDR! Or at least explicitly claimed that FDR was the first mile on a path that would inevitably end up as a totalitarian state. European social democracy, among other things, has proven this ridiculous – although our Crazies like Wayne LaPierre either haven’t gotten the message or see fundraising opportunities by invoking Fear of a Black President who is coming to take away your guns. (Don’t quote me but part of me wishes they were right! Cold dead hands and all that…and I’m not particularly anti-gun per se. Just hate those fuckers. Meanwhile it looks like we won’t even get moderate rational stuff like full registration and bans on truly dangerous and fetishitic stuff like 33 round clips.)

  87. 87
    CaseyL says:

    @Yutsano: Must haz pot stickers and won ton soup! Tropic Thunder and Con Air are my trashy movie picks.

    @lojasmo: It’s actually kind of scary how much I’m enjoying not having to do anything or go anywhere.

  88. 88
    👽 Martin says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Oh, I missed it. I’ll try and get it off their website. Thanks.

  89. 89
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Did Shaw mean Pygmalion as an indictment of the English class system? I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Didn’t he?

  90. 90
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Bruce S: Agreed. Better to have all enjoy the benefits equally but tax progressively.

  91. 91
    Bruce S says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Here’s an interesting bit from Kevin Drum that also references the Hayes show (which was excellent):

    http://www.motherjones.com/kev.....ised-about

  92. 92
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bruce S: you’re right about the principle of having public services available to all, even people at the top. But if I can be a dick for a while (longer), something more like “welfare,” I.e. direct cash payments to poor people, would be more _progressive_ than what we do now. It might be worse policy or worse politics, but it would be more progressive narrowly considered. And that’s why I don’t like it when SS As We Know It is held up as a _progressive_ touchstone. You could make it more progressive pretty easily. But making it more progressive might make it worse policy or less popular. Those are the tradeoffs center-liberal-left politicians necessarily make.

  93. 93
    Bruce S says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    All other considerations aside, I think the less bureaucracy associated with social programs the better – both in actual delivery and in terms of public image. Not that the IRS isn’t a bureaucracy, but why not just deal with that one which we already inevitably will have. (Of course, I’m gliding over how one gets rational tax policies enacted with this GOP – clearly we won’t have decent policy until the electorate goes through some dual transition of waking up to reality and a certain demographic cohort being replaced by new blood. Looks like it’s in the cards in a decade or so…)

  94. 94
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @👽 Martin: I would hasten to say that I don’t really think the answer is “yes.” I truly don’t know. But hypothetically it’s possible that a COLA formula could be over-generous, in which case “cutting benefits” by adjusting the formula might be a good idea. Like I said, I don’t intend to say that we have that situation in effect right now.

  95. 95
    Kay says:

    The whole Pigford thing was so clearly being framed by the Right as “reperations” that you’d really have to be a dope not to get what they were on about.
    Just absolutely disgusting behavior.

  96. 96
    David Koch says:

    a guy that gets a lot of, to me, inexplicable respect from some progressive bloggers.

    it’s not inexplicable.

    rather, it’s an age old formulation. for some True Progressives, “the enemy of my enemy [in this obummer] is my friend”.

  97. 97
    dollared says:

    @👽 Martin: No, where does $200k come from? more of your fantasy math? 50% to 100% of the cap ($53k to $106k annual income) covers a majority of *voters*. The poors don’t vote, remember?

    My point again: don’t screw working people between $50k and $100k of income. The money matters to them. A lot. They are already pissed that they don’t get college aid as much as the poors. Obama SS plan explicitly fucks them. That is stupid.

    And please, your sympathy for the poor is touching. Don’t forget that when you suggest we make the disabled homeless.

  98. 98
    dollared says:

    @FlipYrWhig: No, it is clearly established that the COLA is not overgenerous. If you look at the cost of living of seniors, it undercounts. And Chained CPI explicitly does not track the cost of living. It explicitly says “buy cheaper shit if you’re getting poorer. You may not be as happy or as healthy, but we’re forcing you to substitute.”

  99. 99
    Bruce S says:

    @David Koch:

    “some”, and I would add so-called – it’s always useful when making these observations to name names, or it just becomes another lazy conceit to grind one’s dull ax. I’ve experienced so much bullshit rhetoric indicting “progressives” of one or another red herring in recent threads that I’m tired of careless word-slinging. Currently one of the “True Supporters of President Obama” – People’s View – is equating MoveOn with the NRA. The only reason I know this trivial factoid is because I followed a linked quote that was directed against my comments on chained CPI, and I was stunned by the inherent dishonesty in the quoted clip. But I would hardly be comfortable – or honest – if I suggested that it was an “age old formulation” of Supporters of President Obama to lump MoveOn and the NRA together in some “both sides do it” aggregation. Yet “some” – the cranks at People’s View who were cited here in commments as a saner voice than myself on “chained CPI” – are engaging in just that level of heinous horseshit. But that miniscule fact is beside the point of any serious discussion…

    Not sure what Conor Friedersdorf has to do with folks who gather under the “Progressive” rubric. (I happen not to like the term because I think it’s empty of any substantive content – prefer to call myself an activist liberal or, as a matter of ideology, a social democrat. (“Progressive” strikes me as stale and overly “positivistic” in a way that most of the history of the 20th Century should have disabused thinking people. I don’t know what the fuck the supposedly simple notion of “progress” means anymore in the context of mature capitalism.)

  100. 100
    Corner Stone says:

    But again, the problem is SSDI.

    Hmmm, who to believe? Martin, who has been shown repeatedly to be wrong about C-CPI, so much so to the point that he’s completely dropped that and has conveniently shifted to SSDI – or Michael Astrue, a former commissioner of the Social Security Administration?

    “One of the points he made was this: Nothing has skyrocketed. Nothing has suddenly spiraled out of control. The program today is spending exactly as much as it was forecast to spend back in 1994, the last time Congress revised the disability law.”
    /Michael Astrue

    Damn! This is a tough one.

    “These factors have been responsible for only a small extra blip in the number of people approved for disability payments. The blip in outlays is a bit bigger, but that’s mostly a mirage: the recession reduced taxable income below forecast, which artificially inflates the outlay figure because it’s calculated as a percentage of income. By far the majority of the growth in the disability program has been due to simple demographics (as the boomer generation ages, more of them go on disability), and it was baked into the forecast two decades ago. We shouldn’t act shocked now that the forecast is coming true.”

    The cited KJ on MJ article

  101. 101
    dollared says:

    @Corner Stone: Thanks. I was getting tired of Martin killing Crippled Olds.

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