It’s every bit as terrible as you might imagine.
So instead of quoting this garbage, let’s quote Pierce instead:
Look, I like you people. I really do. But do I have to go on with this? Either Brooks is stoned to the gills, or the Times gave every editor in its payroll a free trip to Neptune. And actually, what Henry did was withdraw to the tavern, get roaring drunk in evil company, fuck whatever tavern wench happened to fall in his lap, and in all ways engage in pursuits that an unstoned David Brooks otherwise would find appalling among those people who eat government cheese in their double-wides while watching Cops and having the sexytime without his permission. This is behavior, of course, that bothers Brooks not at all when engaged in by the world’s proper owners. Sucking up to the Plantagenets. Wow. You have to love a courtier pundit who tries to curry favor with a ruling elite that lost its power in 14-goddamn-85.
You can always count on Digby to completely tear apart someone like Fareed Zakaria, who blathered on about the need for Democrats to follow the lead of Andrew Cuomo and destroy public sector unions. It’s all about the middle-class sacrificing when you are rich. Zakaria serves his masters well.
Amidst this conversation, host of PBS’s Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, repeated a highly misleading talking point, contributing. It’s a claim you’ve probably seen it a hundred times before, that the wealth of the six Waltons, who own Walmart, is greater than the wealth of the bottom 30%. It sounds astounding, and it is a true fact. But it is also highly misleading. The fact is meant to tell you something problematic about the Waltons’ wealth, but in actuality it tells you almost nothing about their wealth. This is clear if you consider that Amy Goodman herself almost certainly has more wealth than the bottom 30% of households. In fact everyone on the Up With Chris Hayes panel probably has more wealth than the bottom 30%.
For a full debunking of this claim see Tim Worstall or Felix Salmon, but what you mostly need to know is that almost 25% of household have zero or negative wealth. So anyone with any positive wealth has more than them. Around 37% of households have $12,000 or less in total wealth, so it seems fairly likely that Amy Goodman is worth more than the bottom 30%. This fact is entirely about the wealth at the bottom tail of the distribution, not the top tail. As the story is told by Goodman and others it implies that the opposite is true. This may not be a lie, or a literally false claim, but it is completely misleading and decreases rather than increases understanding.
If Amy Goodman wants the media to be better and less post-truth she should start by doing a better job herself. In this moment she contributed to the problem.
Ozimek continues his seemingly life-long project of obfuscating poverty and actual human suffering behind adherence to his version of the field of economics. There are obviously many ways to measure wealth. Total wealth might be one way, where you do have a lot of Americans with negative assets. And I guess you can then equate the Walton heirs with Amy Goodman and then say that leftists saying bad things about the media are full of it. Or you could measure wealth by earned income from salary, investments, etc., which would note that the Waltons have more money than god, or, more specifically, than the bottom 30% of the population. To note this would suggest that there was a problem with extreme wealth in the midst of growing poverty, but Ozimek has no problem with this. A far greater crime is Amy Goodman saying the media doesn’t tell the truth about poverty. And in Ozimek’s case, she’s right.
Another Ozimek greatest hit was saying that Mark Bittman fell into “self-parody” when he blamed restaurant corporations for paying their workers terrible wages, no sick days, vacation pay, etc. Asking “why should the bill falls on employers,” Ozimek uses the same semantic outrage as against Goodman, challenging his definition of the word “sustainability” rather than discuss Bittman’s points.
And then there’s my very favorite recent Ozimek piece where he makes fun of Chris Bertram for suggesting that unions could help prevent sexual harassment of immigrants at work, instead pointing to what really gives workers protection: “a competitive labor market.” Ah yes, the problems of agricultural labor is because the government has too big a role in regulating it!!!
I just don’t understand some types of liberals. This is particularly true of the self-hating liberal who consistently believes that if we only ignored those naughty conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and find the many reasonable voices of the Right, we could bring the nation out of decline. That means we need to quit listening to nihilist voices like Jon Stewart and instead explore common ground with unnamed Republicans who do not actually exist.
Unfortunately, this species of liberalism is heaven sent for those who serve the Beltway and thus the Times published Steve Almond’s column with the actual title, “Liberals Are Ruining America. I Know Because I Am One.”
Ruben Navarrette suffers from the condition known as Beltwayitis. It’s when pundits and politicians hang out together all the time without ever discussing anything of substance that might get in the way of people being invited to Megan McArdle’s or Tom Daschle’s or whoever’s Christmas party. Navarrette, in discussing the typical but pretty bad negative ad in the Texas Republican primary for the Senate accusing Ted Cruz of being pro-amnesty for undocumented immigrants with no evidence than he’s brown, shows the classic symptoms of the disease:
That sounds awfully thin. I’ve known Cruz for about 10 years, and I couldn’t tell you what his immigration views are. I do know that, during this campaign, he has lurched to the right in order to snuggle up to the tea party and that he said during one interview that he “categorically opposes amnesty.”
So Navarrette is a conservative Latino Beltway insider. And Cruz is a conservative Latino politician. And Navarrette has no idea what Cruz believes on immigration? That sounds like classic Beltwayitis to me. Unless Navarrette is just fabricating this. Which is another symptom of the disease.
Jon Lovett just completely destroys Lanny Davis in one of the greatest takedowns of 2012. See Lanny got mad because Lovett said this on Twitter after Davis defended Cory Booker:
There is too much wrong with Washington to say “So and so represents everything that’s wrong with Washington.” But it’s Lanny Davis.
Davis tweeted in reply:
Proving my pt, @jonlovett engages in personal attack w/o subst for cheap joke. Name-calling is juvenile. I want 2 debate issues.@corybooker
Unfortunately for Lanny, he took a knife to a gun fight. Lovett’s reply, in part:
Let’s unpack this!
“Engages in personal attack”: That’s totally true. I basically called him the living embodiment of what’s broken in America’s political life, and that’s pretty personal. I was shaming him as a human being. So, yes. Point to Lanny.
“w/o subst”: Again, spot on. It was a tweet. There wasn’t room for substance! I considered a series of explanatory tweets, but frankly, when you make a joke about Lanny Davis, people just get it. I suppose I could have pointed to his deceptive campaign on behalf of unnecessary additives in infant formula or his shilling on behalf of a strongman in the Ivory Coast who was systematically murdering his opposition. But I didn’t, and I hope he appreciates the efforts I’m taking here to dive into the substance of why I claimed that if anyone represents everything that’s wrong with Washington, it’s Lanny Davis.
“cheap joke”: Now, this upset me. It was a fine joke; not my best, not my worst. The fun contradiction between the two sentences was, I thought, a nice twist on an old standby. This would be a cheaper joke:
What’s the difference between Lanny Davis and a toaster? A toaster doesn’t slowly degrade the democratic process by allowing money to distort political debates in ways that leave the American people profoundly distrustful of the media and their elected leaders.
“Name-calling is juvenile”: In this case I didn’t call him a name. But to his larger point: Name-calling is juvenile when it’s juvenile. It’s wrong when it’s vicious and uncalled for. And we absolutely should err on the side of civility. But sometimes people act in ways so contemptible and wrong than they ought to be called names, and sometimes civility is used as a shield by those who don’t deserve to be treated with it.
“@corybooker”: Lanny wants Cory Booker to know about this. He wants Cory Booker involved.
What’s the difference between Lanny Davis and a toaster. I have to remember that one.
E.J. Dionne’s op-ed today imbibes deeply in a mythological view of conservatism’s past. Noting what he sees as a traditional conservative embrace of community over individualism, Dionne cherry-picks his way through a mythological conservative past to find a supposedly better conservatism than what we see today. There are many gems–trying to say that people like Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln were conservatives for instance, as if such comparisons would even be valuable. I assume his calculus here is Federalists lead to Whigs lead to Republicans, but that’s as silly as saying that Democrats today are the party of racism because of John Sparkman.
But it’s the core of Dionne’s constructed mythological past I want to focus on here.
True, conservatives continue to preach the importance of the family as a communal unit. But for Nisbet and many other conservatives of his era, the movement was about something larger. It “insisted upon the primacy of society to the individual — historically, logically and ethically.”
Because of the depth of our commitment to individual liberty, Americans never fully adopted this all-encompassing view of community. But we never fully rejected it, either. And therein lies the genius of the American tradition: We were born with a divided political heart. From the beginning, we have been torn by a deep but healthy tension between individualism and community. We are communitarian individualists or individualistic communitarians, but we have rarely been comfortable with being all one or all the other.
The great American conservative William F. Buckley Jr. certainly understood this. In his book “Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country,” he quotes approvingly John Stuart Mill’s insistence that “everyone who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit.” With liberty comes responsibility to the community.
So what is this great community the respectable conservatives of the past supported? Was is this?
Or maybe this?
We know that “great conservative” Bill Buckley supported all Tailgunner Joe, busting heads during the civil rights movement and fighting against busing. The actual implications of this “community” conservatives supposedly used to value go completely unexamined in Dionne’s Beltway mind. Conservatives might have railed against “individualism” when they meant acid, amnesty, and abortion, but they were all about their own individualism–such as the individual right of the homeowner to not have his property value decline by allowing blacks into the neighborhood. As several books on the history white flight and suburbs have shown (see Kevin Kruse’s White Flight or Robert Self’s American Babylon for instance), conservatives have always been more than happy to exclude the unwanted from their community by using the rhetoric of individual rights.
Dionne then goes on to note the good conservatism of past Republican presidents, noting that Reagan never wanted to dismantle the New Deal (although not noting that Reagan certainly wanted to dismantle the New Deal). And then we get to George W. Bush:
George W. Bush, who promoted “compassionate conservatism,” built on old progressive programs with his No Child Left Behind law, using federal aid to education as a lever for reform. And he added a prescription-drug benefit to the Medicare program that Lyndon B. Johnson pushed into law.
Wait, wasn’t Bush president like 4 years ago? Does Dionne actually believe that Bush practiced a “compassionate conservatism?” If that means attacking teachers unions through No Child Left Behind, I guess he does. Because I don’t see any actual evidence behind Bush caring about community except in rhetoric. I suppose he deserves credit for not wanting to deport all the Mexicans because he wanted his rich business friends to have access to cheap labor. Great. Where was that compassion in Guantanamo? In Iraq? In tying our communities together through civil liberties?
But that’s the Beltway pundit class for you. Rhetoric means more than actions. Headnods toward bipartisanship make a politician a hero. The past was always a more sensible time than the present. And conservatism is based upon a halcyon vision of a mythological past rather than in its reality of race-baiting, segregation, union-busting, imperialism, and class warfare.
I’m glad the highly principled Lanny Davis has come to the defense of helpless Cory Booker and against Democrats’ mean attacks on both the mayor of Newark and Mittens’ experience at Bain Capital.
It turns out Harold Ford also agrees. So Booker is in the finest company one can imagine!
It’s hardly news that Douthat is an irredeemable hack, but this piece about Obama and gay marriage drove me crazy.
Indeed, if you accept the framing of the debate that many liberals (and many journalists) embrace, then you have to acknowledge that President Obama has spent the last four years lying to the American people about his convictions on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, and giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry in the service of his other political priorities.
Well, if there’s anyone who knows about giving aid and comfort to bigots, it’s Ross Douthat!