Cruel But Fair

I’m a little behind on my Internet so I missed this prime comment. (via) Open thread.

52 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    I hope that “Douthat” for “bad date” does as well as Santorum has done.

  2. 2
    John Cole +0 says:

    Oh, sweet jeebus. Click through the Gawker link and I challenge you to read more than a paragraph before you want to gargle cyanide.

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    I can’t imagine what Douthat, the least imaginative, creative, or empathetic creature in the known universe, could have to say that was interesting about movies. I mean for fuck’s sake the guy is stuck in premature senescence as his mode, with a world view that is straight outta the 13 hundreds spiritually speaking.

  4. 4
    Betty Cracker says:

    Yeah, no. I’d sooner subject myself to a hairstyle guide authored by Donald Trump. No doubt it’ll provide bountiful snark fodder though.

  5. 5
    Emma says:

    @John Cole +0: Tried it. Stopped myself just in time from grabbing my father’s filleting knife. Still don’t know if suicide or homicide would have ensued.

  6. 6
    c u n d gulag says:

    So, they’re no longer known as “Bobo’s?”
    Sorry Brooksie…

  7. 7
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:


    I can’t imagine what Douthat, the least imaginative, creative, or empathetic creature in the known universe, could have to say that was interesting about movies.

    Plenty, actually. Most of it negative and all seen through the lens of his prudish and easily startled psyche. I was curious and had a look. Don’t.

  8. 8
    Wag says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    Bobos were already in a relationship with each other and tried to become role models for leading the virtuous life of intellectual and financial superiority.

  9. 9
    Suffern ACE says:

    Imagine. You are tasked with shoring up the times sagging sales. You could do a crossover, you think. A series where Green Arrow and Aqua-man have an adventure. Or Wolverine and Hulking give it a go.

    Somehow, that idea morphs into “frank and Ross talk about what movies they’ve seen.” Which is probably why they are doomed.

  10. 10
    GregB says:

    Douthat is just going to review The Name of the Rose and The DaVinci Codes series over and over and over and over….

  11. 11
    dmsilev says:

    So, basically the Times’ paywall is for our protection. Or perhaps it’s a non-too-subtle form of extortion. “Pay us, or we will unleash this horror upon the world. Don’t make us add Thomas Friedman to this group. Or Maureen Dowd.”

  12. 12
    dmsilev says:

    Also, can we preemptively ban Douthat from watching any movies featuring Reese Witherspoon? For the good of humanity.

  13. 13
    Suffern ACE says:

    Joe Torre talks home decorating with Kathleen Battle. I might read that. That might reveal things I didn’t know.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    A better series would be making overpaid Times columnists answer questions from real people. Every time they ducked a question or used a cliche they had to live a week on minimum wage. Yes, follow up questions are allowed.

  15. 15
    Botsplainer says:

    It’s worse than you think. I clicked through to the Bruni-Douthat dialogue, and the thing is beyond awful.

    I would pay to spectate the slow roasting of Douthat 1.5 feet over a tray of votive candles burning in front of a Marian shrine.

  16. 16

    Open Thread? Every writer who publishes through Amazon this morning woke up to an email asking us to write hate mail to Hatchette. Yes, this is as bizarre an experience as it sounds.

  17. 17
    MattF says:

    @Botsplainer: Douthat probably wants to be a martyr. And I’m not being metaphorical. So, be calm.

  18. 18
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Imagine. You are tasked with shoring up the times sagging sales.

    1. Change the name to the “New York Penny Shopper”
    2. Fill it with Barney’s ads (or equivalent local large chains)
    3. Let the current editorial staff *pay you* to write for them.
    4. ?
    5. Profit!

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    Bear in mind that ChunkyBo is the movie critic at National Review.

    I read the banter thing all the way through. The New York Times used to (maybe still does) have this weekly banter thing with Gail Collins and Regular Bobo. It consisted mostly of Gail mocking Bobo and Bobo being oblivious to it. This new banter thing is kind of like that. I’m not sure if Bruni has Gail Collins’ gift/inclination for mockery, but Douthat certainly makes a rich target for it.

  20. 20
    JPL says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I read the banter thing all the way through

    How many times did you yawn? I couldn’t finish it because I found my mind wandering I imagined what it would be like sitting next to Douthat at the movies.

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    FICO to discount medical debt from credit scores

    New rules will improve credit scores, help lenders better assess risk
    August 8, 2014 9:14PM ET

    A move by personal credit score provider FICO to leave out or discount medical debt from its scores will boost the credit ratings of many borrowers, while helping lenders to better assess risk.

    Moreover, FICO won’t consider past overdue bills borrowers have already paid, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The new score will be available to lenders through U.S. credit reporting agencies starting this fall, FICO said.

    Lenders have become extremely wary of any blemishes on borrowers’ credit scores, following the economy-crippling sub-prime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s, where banks wrote predatory adjustable rate mortgages for years to people who were not creditworthy. As the house of cards collapsed, their interest rates shot up to levels they couldn’t pay.

    With FICO’s new rules, negotiated between lending groups and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), that era of tight lending practices could be coming to an end — increasing the chances that borrowers will get their loan applications approved or pay lower interest rates.

    The FICO change comes after the CFPB said in a report this year that credit scores overly penalize people with medical debt compared to other types of debt.

    “Given the critical role that credit scores play in consumers’ lives, we welcome steps by industry to adjust how it weighs medical debt in order to be as precise as possible in predicting the creditworthiness of a consumer,” a CFPB spokesman said on Friday.

    In the previous arrangement, after a debt collector calls, a consumer might pay the debt immediately but still take a hit to his or her credit score, according to the CFPB.

  22. 22
    WereBear says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: The world is wide open!

    We can diss George Orwell and take a stand! Or something.

    I admit I didn’t read all of it :)

  23. 23
    rikyrah says:

    ‘Aunt Jemima’ Heirs File $2 Billion Lawsuit Against Pepsi and Quaker Oats
    Media | By Jason Hughes on August 8, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

    Suit alleges Quaker Oats wrongfully procured Anna Short Harrington aka Aunt Jemima’s recipes and failed to pay royalties for her recipes and image to her family after her death

    D.W. Hunter, the great grandson of Anna Short Harrington, the woman who became “Aunt Jemima,” has filed a class action lawsuit against PepsiCo, The Quaker Oats Company, Pinnacle Foods Group and The Hillshire Brands Company on behalf of all of her great grandchildren. He is seeking $2 billion, plus punitive damages to be determined at trial.

    Hunter alleges that the companies conspired to deny that Harrington had been an employee of Quaker Oats, all the while exploiting her image and recipes for profit, while refusing to pay an “equitable fair share of royalties” to her heirs for more than 60 years.

  24. 24
    Botsplainer says:


    Winner winner, chicken dinner.

    I’m excited about the “turn Ross into a martyr” project. Let’s make it happen – everybody gets what they want!

    Maybe we can fund it via a kickstarter. Say about two hundred tall votives with glass holders (along with about 50 spares), a rack to hold them, a height adjustable cattle-weight spit, some sort of metal clamps to affix him to the spit, a big cheesy 50s era Catholic depiction of Mary (suitably framed), an ihome/iPod combo with downloads of a combo of candy assed modern Catholic hymns, some older Latin chants, some modern Evangelical praise music, and Lee Greenwood. Top that off, we’ll need a top notch webcam and site design.

    Should all come in under 10K, but will return far more to the kickstarter investors, as the livestreams alone should net 50 times that at $19.95, and the recorded action sales at $3.99 per download could yield an income stream for many years to come. That’s a lot of shekels for some quality entertainment for the consumer.

  25. 25

    No, you wouldn’t. It was more than a page of densely packed text, all singing hosannas to the majesty of holy Amazon. All I can compare it to is waking up to a voice mail full of drunk-dialed messages from someone you broke up with long ago. Utterly surreal.

  26. 26
    Amir Khalid says:

    I didn’t actually yawn, but I did find it tedious. Neither Bruni nor Douthat seems to have an interesting thought in his head about movies.

  27. 27
    Cassidy says:

    @rikyrah: I’ve always felt that our banks were aggressively trying create a renter class by denying home loans.

  28. 28
    Keith P says:

    Every time I read that damn name, my brain keeps reading out “Douche-hat”. I know that is no more a thing than “douche canoe”, but that’s what my brain reads.

  29. 29

    @John Cole +0: I tried yesterday. It had the same effect as Vogon poetry.

  30. 30
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: they have the same thoughts about what makes a good movie. Their back and forth would be better if, say, Bruni were a fan of art house dramas about teens and Ross liked campy horror. But they will be going to discuss the same films. Even with their “different perspectives”, it will be like watching a debate on whether Merchant or Ivory was more important.

  31. 31
    Botsplainer says:


    This is a very welcome development. The scoring system that has been in place the last several years has been ridiculously punitive regarding old resolved debt, and provided both retail and subprime lenders an excuse to pick the pockets of middle income families on home and car loans to the tune of thousands of dollars annually.

    I’ve never been in one of those families that could just call and make bank funding happen. I know they’re out there – I’ve seen those loans go sour over and over again when dealing with the aftermath. I also find that the most frequent recipients of retail banker no doc/low doc love are white guys from “good” families.

    Imagine that.

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Keith P:
    In The Fault In Our Stars, Hazel calls Peter van Houten a “douchepants”. (The movie, that is; I haven’t read the book yet.) I suspect pants don’t have anything to do with douching either, but it seems the general idea is that “douche” + (name of garment) = derogatory epithet. I suppose that one of these days someone is going to get called a “douchesocks”.

  33. 33
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:


    I’ve always felt that our banks were aggressively trying create a renter class by denying home loans.

    Not to be contrarian, but the tax laws that favor home ownership create a certain inflexibility in the workforce that can make it difficult for labor to go where it’s needed. It’s been estimated that the optimum amount of home ownership to allow a mobile workforce is around 50%, considerably lower than historical numbers.
    If that renter class had the advantages of easily moving without taking a hit on income tax it would benefit a lot of them.

  34. 34
    Botsplainer says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Totally with you on the mobility thing. If I had it to do all over again, I’d never own a house. I’d rent on 3-5 year leases, in smaller spaces while acquiring less stuff, tax consequences be damned. It would be cheaper and less stressful for me on a personal level.

  35. 35
    chuckbutcher says:

    The NYT has had quite a few bad ideas over the past decade and while this may not be the worst it certainly qualifies as a Really Bad One.

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Neither Bruni nor Douthat seems to have an interesting thought in his head about movies.

    Did you really need to include those last two words?

  37. 37
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Hearing about the idea of movie reviews by Ross Douthat all I can picture is something like the “News for Parrots” bit that Monty Python did.

    “Good evening. No conservative Christians were involved in the movie I saw today. The plot didn’t involve people abstaining from sex, and the theme wasn’t about the ickiness of sex in general. As for the cast, there were no proselytizing heavily-religious Christians among the actors.

    Now we continue with this evening’s film offering, “A Tale of Two Cities” reworked for Conservatives, the action taking place in our version in Provo, Utah and Lubbock, Texas.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Bruni: Ross, Ross, Ross. It’s summertime and we’re talking art-house fare. We must belong to one of two categories. We are big, pale nerds, or we are Op-Ed columnists for The New York Times.

    I invite you all to let your imaginations run wild with other categories to place these two vile sacks of shit in.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rikyrah: When you decide to monetize something, particularly the image of an actual human being, and you fail to share with said human being, this is what happens.

    Greed is the undoing of humanity.

  40. 40
    Betsy says:

    @c u n d gulag: bobo dates can only occur with baby boomers, perhaps.

  41. 41
    WereBear says:

    @Keith P: I do too!

    I figured it was a mind-cross based on his personality.

  42. 42
    Nicole says:

    The comments section after the Gawker piece also includes an excellent GIF, expressing the commenter’s feelings about the Times’ new team up.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Nicole: OK, are you referring to the boat wipe out GIF or the “Nope” GIF?

    Because both are pretty good. The boat wipe out GIF features babes in bikinis.

  44. 44
    Bex says:

    @Amir Khalid: I think she calls him that in the book too. I’d recommend you read it–the movie was very well done I thought, but there’s more detail and character study in the book. I usually don’t read YA so I wasn’t familiar with John Green’s writing. He has real insight into that age group. He’s an interesting person and you might enjoy reading about his background and also some of the interviews he’d done. The New Yorker did a great profile of him in the June 9 & 16 issue.

  45. 45
    scav says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: They really seem to have lost the plot, haven’t they? I find that clueless about social media and that universe, clueless about how most authors are, let alone how people are. Ham-fisted astro-turfing is remarkably dumb and remarkably doomed and there was no way it was going to go under the radar.

  46. 46
    Bob In Portland says:

    This distinctly sounds like a modified limited hangout. But for your perusal. When the original story has completely fallen apart there will have to be a fallback, and fascist former Minister of the Interior Parubiy is being positioned for the fall.

  47. 47
    Xantar says:

    @Keith P:

    I also do that. Between him and Steve Douchey on Fox & Friends, I easily get my regular quota of inner 9-year old giggles.

  48. 48
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Bob In Portland:
    Who are these US intelligence analysts whom Robert Parry cites but doesn’t name? Does Parry himself know if they even exist?

    As for the side-by-side visual comparison between the planes: The presidential IL-96 has four engines, a Boeing 777 two. The Ilyushin has a shorter and much stubbier fuselage than the Boeing. The stripe running the length of the fuselage is blue on top and red below on the former, the other way around on the latter. The Russian flag on the IL-96’s tail looks nothing like the moon kite on the 777’s. And so on.

    As we say in my neck of the woods, you persist in trying to make a wet thread stand erect.

  49. 49
    J R in WV says:

    The LA Times has a good article reviewing the dispute between Amazon (which is not a publisher) and Hatchette, which publishes many well regarded and popular authors. Amazon seeks a monopoly, which the government weakly tried to prevent. Hatchette is the first publisher Amazon seeks to swallow, refuses to participate in the auto de fe.

    I have never purchased anything from Amazon I could procure any other way, including meeting a big guy named Dawg under a streetlight (broken) at 1 am. Ordered a charger for an Android tablet once, that’s it as far as I can recall. Don’t use Paypal either, nor eBay much.

    I hope publishers combine to refuse to allow Amazon to sell their products. As a unionized group they could put Amazon out of the books business, which would crimp Bezos’s style. No respect for people who attempt to deal unfairly with anyone. Hate that whole syndrome.

    I realize that turns the relationship between unions and bosses upside down, but don’t authors and publishers have the right to combine to protect their business from the effect of what in slightly different conditions would be a mob take-over attempt? If the DA won’t shut down the mob, don’t the Longshoremen have the right to protect their working environment?

    I wonder if Bezos was stupid enough to approve this or his higher-up managers did it on their own? If someone did this working for me they would have already been escorted off the premises… so if there hasn’t been a series of public firings at Amazon HQ then Bezos must approve of thugish behavior on his company’s part !!!

    I like to read may of those guys – Iain Banks is (was) a great author, just for one example. Grrr.

  50. 50
    Bob In Portland says:

    Parry’s got a whole circle of intelligence analysts who work with him, check out the names of some of the authors on his site. He’s been gathering them since Iran-contra. They themselves have sources within the intelligence community. That certainly doesn’t mean that what he gets is necessarily true.

    More important, you have to look at this as what Nixon’s henchmen used to call a “modified limited hangout”. When the original story begins falling apart you advance an alternate story which still isn’t the truth but which is believable enough to be accepted without losing your whole propaganda story.

    You may have noticed that Ukrainian Interior Minister Parubiy resigned this week. In some of the earliest stories after the crash the Ukrainian fighter jets in the area were said to be under the command of the Ministry of the Interior. Parubiy, despite being whitewashed in the western press, including the NY Times, is a stone-cold fascist, a founder of Svoboda. He fought against Russia in the Chechen war. He’s had irregular units of Pravy Sector under his command and may or may not have been in control of the fascists who burned people alive in Odessa. He’s even more likely to be connected to the massacre in Mariupol, since fingers there point directly to Pravy Sector.

    In short, if someone has to take the fall he would be the guy. He’s popular with the street Nazis but it’s not like he’s an oligarch with real power.

    It’s been two and a half weeks with the British having the black boxes. At worst they should have gotten the information within two days. Why the delay? Why hasn’t anyone in the western media asked where the information is? Where are the air traffic controller conversations with the plane? (Ukraine immediately seized them and has refused to release them.) Where are the American satellite photos? Ukrainian radar? How come there are no witnesses on the ground who saw any contrails from a surface to air BUK?

    Russia produced radar showing a jet fighter accompanying the airliner. If Russia is not lying, and the State Department has been ignoring it over dubious You Tube posts because it doesn’t want to address the implications of a Ukrainian fighter jet in the area (especially with evidence of the cockpit being machine gunned) then I would say that the Russian radar released becomes more and more likely to be true. And that jet would have been in the area for one of two reasons: either to shoot down the airliner or steer it over a BUK site. I suspect the former.

    But these things are fluid. We wait for more information. The US and Ukraine and their NATO allies have been very slow in producing evidence to confirm or deny their or Russia’s version of the events. On a simple propaganda need, the damage to Russia has already been done, and the longer it stews in the minds of the consumers of western propaganda (BJers, for ex) the harder it will be for the consumers to change their notions. (It’s been proven that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a US invention to expand the Vietnam War but I bet that most Americans have no idea of that fifty years later.)

    I offer this not because I think that there was an accidental shoot down instead of hitting Putin’s plane, but because, as stated above, the US and Ukraine need a modified limited hangout. Expect this story to float around the corners of the news as a sort of “Well, if not, then maybe…” kind of story.


    Meanwhile, Ukraine is threatening to shut down Russian gas crossing its territory. That must be making the businesses in Europe extremely unhappy, knowing that they’ve not only lost their Russian markets because of the fascist bunch in Kiev but now they’ll be facing winter without energy.

  51. 51
    Amir Khalid says:

    If Ukrainian authorities have been withholding important evidence like ATC-aircraft conversations, why have we not heard about it from the Dutch-led investigation? And as I’ve mentioned before, those conversations should be on the cockpit voice recorder, which arrived in Farnborough intact.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is threatening to shut down Russian gas crossing its territory. That must be making the businesses in Europe extremely unhappy, knowing that they’ve not only lost their Russian markets because of the fascist bunch in Kiev but now they’ll be facing winter without energy.

    And Russia is banning imports of European fruit and veg, which will cost Putin the votes of the bears in Moscow Zoo, and maybe even the votes of human Russians as well.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid: The guy has no problem with fascist dickwads if they speak with Russian accents.

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