Shorter Verbatim BoBo: “I have been trying to think of some wisdom I have acquired over the past three decades, and I’m drawing a blank.”
Tag: "free dahlia lithwick"
Apparently, her stance on the ethics of plagiarism has changed considerably over the decades. And, of course, her plagiarism is much worse, since nobody (except perhaps some PUMAs and right-wing bloggers) actually expects contemporary politicians to always write their own stuff.
Shorter Charles Krauthammer: “I have an open-and-shut case for a “ticking time bomb” scenario that justifies torture. In this case, there was no ticking time bomb, and the torture didn’t work. See?”
See also. Man, this is pathetic stuff. But when you try to justify torture, this is the quality of argument you get…
Shorter Verbatim Ross Douthat: “The pro-life movement is arguably more comfortable with the language of rights and liberties than its opponents. Abortion foes are defending a right to life grounded in the Declaration of Independence, after all, whereas pro-choicers are defending more nebulous rights (privacy, autonomy, etc.) supposedly grounded in “penumbras” and “emanations” from the Constitution.”
Yes, I would have to say that nothing says “freedom” to me like “using (inevitably arbitrarily applied) state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies to term.” And I guess the American public’s massive comfort with the right to privacy is manifested in such things as strong majority support for Roe v. Wade, the fact that no nominee who explicitly denied the right to privacy could be confirmed to the Supreme Court, etc.
Later, he goes on to repeat his frankly absurd implication that there has been no “rollback of Roe’s near-absolute guarantee of abortion rights.” Again, “making clear that virtually every regulation short of a ban is constitutional” is a very curious form of “absolutism.” (Were that Douthat were right that Akron was still good law.) And perhaps some day he’ll explain why there’s some moral significance to pre-viability abortions that occur during the second as opposed to first trimester, but I’m not holding my breath.
…in response to complaints that the linked data is not sufficiently up-to-date, the most recent survey asking about support for Roe v. Wade shows public support for upholding the decision by nearly 20 points, which as anyone who knows anything about the subject knows has been remarkably consistent (like most aspects of public opinion about abortion since the early 70s.) How people answer ancillary questions about abortion is, of course, beside the point in this context.
Ezra notes that “it’s really worth distinguishing what are two separate arguments. The first is that we can’t claw back the bonuses. That’s what outside counsel told AIG Chairman Edward Liddy (Liddy was appointed by the government in 2008 and will not receive any bonuses) but legal experts don’t think it’s true. If the government is sufficiently interested in pulling back the funds, it can do so. The second is that we shouldn’t claw back the bonuses. That’s what’s animating Liddy’s argument that “we cannot attract or retain the best and brightest talent” if the government is mucking with their compensation packages.” In addition to this, I can imagine a hard-headed pragmatic argument that it would cost the taxpayers more to rescind the bonuses than it would cost to keep them and the people who sold the world for magic beans would get most of their money anyway.
What’s amazing about Ruth Marcus’s column is that it’s primarily motivated not by potentially defensible 1) and 3) but the utterly indefensible moralistic version of #2. She starts off sounding like she’s making argument #3: “in the short run, hammering the AIG employees to give back their bonuses risks costing the government more than honoring the contracts would.” I would need some evidence for this, but maybe. But she then continues, and essentially argues that the idiots are morally entitled to received performance bonuses for ghastly performance and retention bonuses even if many of them leave:
The worst malefactors at AIG are gone. The new top management isn’t taking bonuses. Those in the bonus pool are making sums that for most of us would be astronomical but that are significantly less than what they used to make. Driving away the very people who understand how to fix this complicated mess may make everyone else feel better, but it isn’t particularly cost-effective.
Oh my, people responsible for losing a billion dollars a week and largely responsible for plunging the world into economic chaos are receiving a somewhat lower astronomical level of compensation — only a Millionaire Pundit Values Fred Hiatt minion could cry a river of tears over that one. The rest of her argument collapses on itself. If they were responsible for the massive losses they obviously don’t deserve the money. If none of the remaining people are among “the worst malefactors” — if they were just functionaries carrying out tasks conceived by others — how indispensable can they possibly be? And most remarkably, Marcus seems to place no weight on the fact that the people who made the company insolvent wouldn’t be receiving one thin dime if the market were being allowed to operate and the company deservedly went out of business.
But here’s where it gets really bad:
But, you ask, what about autoworkers who are being squeezed to renegotiate their contracts? Those renegotiations mostly involve the future terms of employment, though, it is true, they also could affect retiree health benefits. If an autoworker doesn’t want to show up on the assembly line under the terms of a new deal, he or she doesn’t have to.
The “true” qualification gives away the show. So, if I understand correctly, the agreed-upon non-salaried compensation of white collar workers is absolutely sacrosanct, while that of blue-collar workers can be casually dispensed with. And if blue collar workers don’t like re-written contracts they know where the door is, but if white collar workers who are either inconsequential or responsible for turning a profitable multinational corporation into a zombie wealth-destroyer threaten to leave into a horrible labor market — heavens to Betsy, let’s find a few more million to keep them aboard! Perhaps we can take it from the health benefits of retired manual laborers!
I think I understand the Marcus worldview, and boy, is it ugly.
In re: MoDo, what Chait and Yglesias and Benen said. In criticizing Dowd for focusing almost entirely on inane personal trivia larded with her bizarre gender obsessions, I might have implied that she should write more about politics and policy. This, however, would be misleading. This would be a bad idea, because of course she doesn’t know anything about politics and policy, so it’s not as if the few columns she writes that are nominally about these things are any less vacuous. Rather, the question is why the Times has chosen to use Dowd to fill a position that should be occupied by someone who has some idea what they’re talking about about something.
Social Security is, as we all know, a very popular and very successful program. For a variety of reasons, centrist pundits in general and the Washington Post in particular have a huge fetish about undermining it in various ways. Recently, CeCi Connolly — yes, the same one whose gruesomely bad campaign reporting helped to put George W. Bush in the White House — got into the act, asserting that a “handful of changes that would prevent the retirement fund from going bankrupt.” Of course, Social Security and its large dedicated funding stream are not going to “run out of money” or “go bankrupt” ever; there’s a (far from certain) possibility that the trust fund generated by Social Security tax surpluses will run out of money. This is a different issue, but of course if you state the issue honestly it’s hard to generate support for gutting Social Security decades before a not-terribly-difficult-to-resolve problem may or may not need solving.
So, of course, it makes perfect stance for the Washington Post to stand by their man George Will. After all, they’re willing to let Connolly tell bald-faced whoppers about Social Security just like she invented statements and attributed them to Al Gore. And if you can do it on their news pages, I suppose their op-ed pundits deserve no less consideration.
[X-Posted to TAPPED.]
Shorter Verbatim Wan Juilliams: “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going.”
NPR’s Ombudsman, in response, asserts that Williams is “now paid to give his opinion, and with three decades in the news business, it is often a valuable take on today’s politics.” I, for one, would love to hear some actual examples of some of this valuable analysis. But there is something instructive in the idea that if someone has held the same kind of pundit sinecures for decades they must be saying interesting things.
All-star commenter IB says:
(Noted because: About a week ago, someone (SL, I think, but correct me if I’m wrong) argued a la Somerby that one’s saying something unfair about Al Gore in 2000 should forever banish one from publication. I defended Rich by saying that, while he has certainly on occasion been wrong, he is more often right and worth reading. So here’s what I feel confident is the first of many examples offered in treal time.)
Well, first of all, “something unfair” is one thing, “making up lies about Al Gore when not obsessing about trivia while repeatedly arguing that he was indistinguishable from George W. Bush” quite another. (And, to be frank, I am in fact inclined to think that someone who thought that it wouldn’t make any difference whether Al Gore or George Bush is in the White House really shouldn’t be pulling down six figures a year to write about politics.) At any rate, while I will concede that (as with many of his columns) there’s nothing especially objectionable about this one, I would also be interested in IB (or anyone else) IDing the point at which Rich tells any mildly informed liberal anything they don’t already know. Parties engage in circular firing squads after losing elections? You don’t say!
I should also say that, to the extent that Rich’s point isn’t banal, I don’t actually agree with it. Obviously, comparisons to 1936 are silly; the Republicans, working in exceptionally bad structural conditions, got 162 electoral votes (as opposed to, say, 8) and lost several other states by very close margins. They maintain a solid regional base that is going to gain electoral votes in 2010, and their coalition remains probably more internally coherent than that of the typical large brokerage party in a two-party system. Party fissures are always more apparent in defeat, but it’s premature at best to think that 2008 portends a major realignment in American politics.