Whale watch Archives

October 13, 2005

Deluge or delusion

Donkeys take a lot of beatings, and even so, just the slightest scent of distant prickle-pears has 'em capering in their harnesses. A case in point bloomed into print today in the New York Times:

" Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 [for] a sweeping midterm election"

A return to Democratic control of Congress? Yup, that's the dream. And not just a half-ass set-up, not just a new razor's edge Senate; no madame no, there's to be a House takeover too, "an anti-incumbent, 1994-style" tsunami.

Dream on.

The donkey won't see such good times till Hillary is burnt at the stake. And if you don't believe me, here's the gray lady's squint :

"New polling .... shows the approval rating for Congressional Republican leaders at 32 percent with 52 percent disapproving, a sharp deterioration .... "

Sounds good, right? Well, guess what:

"The ratings of Democratic leaders stood at 32 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval."

I.e. 32 versus 32 approving, 52 vs 48 disapproving -- where's the hee-haw in that? To think this ridiculous less-than-a-dime's-worth of difference is the stuff donkey dreams are made of.

Ah, but there's more hope on the horizon:

"48 percent say they want a Democratic-led Congress compared to 39 percent who prefer Republican control."

Any well-funded bunch of corporate PR types can drown that lead in Grover Norquist's bathtub, surely? But let's move on.

So what if the Republicans are "swimming in a culture of cronyism and corruption"? Is that enough to get it done? Or do the D's need (as the Times suggests) their own "Contract With America"? And if so -- just what are the "broad themes" to be ?

Well, the Times obligingly revels a top secret Demo poop sheet. The bullet points:

"energy independence"
"broader access to health care and college education"
"government reform"
"economic security"
[insert trumpet fanfare here]
"Iraq and national security."

Now naturally that last theme is the jazzerciser, right ? -- since all the others are as venerably stale and eminently defeatable as they were back in the 94 98 and 02 platforms.

So -- how about that Iraq thing? Will it be -- go for it -- a cry of "out of Iraq"?

Well, the Times isn't coming flat out of the closet on this -- probably because there's no closet to come out of. They write: "Iraq is the most divisive issue for the Democrats." I'll translate for ya: Peace now on the Euphrates ... Not gonna happen.

Oh, before you beam off -- Here's a final money graph from this same NYT article: it seems Democrats have a "long-running argument" going on amongst themselves whether to "offer alternatives or simply critique the Republicans." Seems it's this Gordian knot that so far, anyway, has limited the party's collective war bray to this:

"America Can Do Better."

Well. Yes. Indeed she can.

March 22, 2006

Wild in the streets; all quiet in the Times

Of course I'm as pleased as Punch about the huge upheaval against the vile CPE law in France. Not only are the kids turning out against it, but two-thirds of the public supports them! I really do love the French.

My hometown paper, though, is not giving it much play. Here's today's spin, buried inconspicuously in the International>Europe section of the online Gray Lady -- the work of the ineffable Craig S. Smith, no relation of mine, I'm glad to say:

Facing crippling strikes and growing civil unrest, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of France on Tuesday discussed watering down his contentious new labor law with legislators...

"The prime minister was very closed last week, but was more open to the idea of amending the law today," said Éric Woerth, a party legislator who attended the meeting. "Almost everyone agrees that we must do something, not because of the mobilization of the unions, but because the battle of explaining the law has been lost with the young."

Any significant weakening of the law will represent a serious blow to the prime minister, who hopes to run for president next year. It will also signal another defeat in France's long struggle to break the stranglehold of its rigid social-welfare system, which economists say has kept growth sluggish and unemployment high for decades. While there is no guarantee that the new law will create jobs, as the government contends, bowing to student and union pressure on it will call into question the current administration's ability to restructure the system.

France has a strong tradition of often violent demonstrations and paralyzing strikes that is largely tolerated by the broader population, which has a cultural mistrust of government even as it retains a deep sense of dependency on the state. The resulting tendency to rebel against any attempt to curtail entitlements has cowed many administrations into backing down from bold policies that might have helped remake the system in the past.

March 31, 2006

Ignore it, maybe it'll go away

A week or so back, Tim D called our attention, in a comment, to the recent Mearsheimer/Walt report on the Israel lobby (a condensed version, without footnotes, is online at the London Review of Books). A few juicy excerpts:
Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest....

The Israel lobby... wants America to help Israel remain the dominant regional power. The Israeli government and pro-Israel groups in the United States have worked together to shape the administration’s policy towards Iraq, Syria and Iran, as well as its grand scheme for reordering the Middle East.

Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure.

Now of course this is not news, in one sense. People like Noam Chomsky and Michael Neumann and Norman Finkelstein have told this story before. What's news about the Mearsheimer/Walt broadside is that these are two very Establishment guys: Walt is the dean of Harvard's Kennedy Center and Mearsheimer is a professor at the University of Chicago, not exactly a hotbed of left-wing sentiment.

Is this a straw in the wind? Are significant sectors of elite opinion starting to get tired of being joined at the hip to an embarrassment like Israel? I'd love to think so.

I've often scratched my head trying to account for the irrationality of the Empire's policy in regard to Israel -- it doesn't do anything for us, at least since the end of the Cold War if not longer, and in fact it's a net liability. How can the managers of the Empire allow this to happen?

The best explanation I could come up with was that imperial management doesn't optimize, it seeks only to perpetuate and expand. That is, imperial management will react very rationally to anything that's a threat or even a serious obstacle to its purposes, but if some clique or cabal within the loosely organized camarilla of dominant interests has a pet project, they will be allowed to indulge it as long as it doesn't threaten to disrupt business in any important way.

I figure that Israel falls into this category -- as if the Soprano family were to indulge some cousin in a peculiar and perhaps even illegal sexual kink, as long as it didn't start to pose a problem to the family generally.

But in the Israel case, I strongly suspect that some elite elements are starting to worry that Cousin Kinko may be a little off the reservation, drawing too much attention from the cops, pissing off the neighbors unnecessarily.

The Lobby and its outriders have reacted with predictable fury -- Alan Dershowitz, having found a platform perfectly suited to him in The New York Sun, is running in circles, frothing at the mouth and snapping at his own tail; Max Boot, in the LA Times, amusingly exhumes Richard Hofstadter. My congressman, Jerrold Nadler, bestirred his blubbery bulk to accuse Mearsheimer and Walt of finding “Jewish conspirators under every bed and controlling every major American institution”. Best of all, perhaps, is Mad Marty Peretz at the New Republic, who writes, "Support for Israel is, deep down, an expression of America's best view of itself," and goes on to suggest that Martin Indyk isn't pro-Israel enough.

Interestingly MIA in this donnybrook is everybody's Aunt Sadie on 43d Street, The New York Times, which as far as I can tell has published not one word on this story. I've always said the Times is more interesting when it doesn't write than when it does, and surely this studied silence is intensely interesting. I don't know quite what to make of it, actually, but it'll be fun to see how long they can keep it up, and what mouse the mountain will bring forth at last.

April 8, 2006

Wash off the blood before you touch the keys

That liberal but splendidly bipartisan newspaper, the New York Times, has a very long and remarkably fawning piece -- featured, at the moment I write this, at the very top of their Web site -- on Condoleezza Rice's fondness for chamber music. Apparently she is a very good pianist, who plays Brahms and Shostakovitch with a foursome of string-playing friends. It's always nice to see the human side of a prominent war criminal.

Condi has good things to say about Brahms -- "passionate without being sentimental" -- and even more to her credit, her piano is a nice mellow old Chickering, rather than what would be, in New York, the inevitable brazen-throated Steinway. To paraphrase Nabokov, you can always count on a murderer to have a sensitive ear.

But at least she plays, and apparently puts a lot of herself into it. Nixon used to play the piano -- though he couldn't read music and had to figure out everything by ear. Also, he could only play in the key of G; I don't know what to make of that.

Do any prominent Democrats do music? There's Clinton and his saxophone. Maybe that says it all.

May 11, 2006

De mortuis nil nisi bonum...

... so all I can say about AM Rosenthal's embarkation for the Other World is that I will miss him.

The Times' obit was entertainingly filled with the usual folie de grandeur -- Abe is described as

... a demanding editor who lifted The New York Times from economic doldrums in the 1970s and molded it into a journalistic juggernaut known for distinguished reporting of national and world affairs....

Rosenthal, known as Abe, spent virtually all of his working life at the Times, beginning as a lowly campus stringer in 1943. He rose to police reporter, foreign correspondent, managing editor and finally to the exalted office of executive editor, a post he held for nine years beginning in 1977.

''Abe was a giant among journalists,'' retired Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said in a statement. ''He was a great editor with extraordinary loyalty to his troops.''

Troops, giants, exalted offices, juggernauts -- it's a Lord Of The Rings life down there on 43d Street.

May 29, 2006

Pundophilia, a morbid kink

Walter Lippman

A fragment from my reading notes.... on a Henry Wallace bio:

We oughta find the hell out where they got that self-important flea Walter Lippmann buried. Go dig the guy up, and then we oughta periodically force one of these long-toed liberal elitist muscular-secularity types to make love to his dried remains -- Aztec style in June, and Eskimo style in mid-January.

May 30, 2006

Man bites dog

Found on my daily headline scan:
Now that's news.

June 15, 2006

Democratic centralism, with a capital D

Clearly, the folks at the New York Times don't get the Kos gig.

Mini-pundit Adam Cohen seems to fear a plebroots riot of unsynchronized digital brawling and other Jacksonian hoi-polloi misbehavior:

More input from the "net roots" -- the Internet version of grass roots -- may help the Democratic leadership avoid some bad decisions. But it may also make Democratic politics even more scattershot compared with the well-oiled Republican machine.
Little does he know his Kosikoffskis, eh? To expropriate a formulation from another political world -- democratic in form, central in essence.

July 31, 2006

Careful -- it might be a trap

Et tu, gray lady?

It's all over the map already: the New York Times has endorsed Lamont over that nutmeg muppet of Fort Zion, das Lieber-fiend.

Why, why, why? This can't be good. The Times, choosing just this moment to stab the pre-eminent acolyte of Mini-Me in the back?

There's a fair foulness in the air, dear hearts.

August 1, 2006

A tale of a tail

Recent events in the Levant have put me in mind the big flap a couple of months back about the Mearsheimer-Walt report, which argued for the tail-wags-dog reading of US-Israel relations. Most Lefties didn't buy the M-W thesis and continued to put their faith in what you might call the Monolithic Empire theory, which holds that Israel is a mere sockpuppet of imperial chessmasters back in Washington, or perhaps Wall Street.

Condi Rice's apparent success, a day or two ago, in putting the lid on Israel's Guernica-Part-Deux in Lebanon had the Monolithic Empire lefties congratulating themselves on their penetration. But of course here's the latest:

As Israel fought more aggressively on the ground, it continued to keep down its number of airstrikes in the second day of a 48-hour pause in the air campaign it promised the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Israel said that it would halt air operations for two days while it investigates the deaths of dozens of civilians in Qana, but said it would make exceptions to respond to "imminent threats," like rocket-launching teams, and to support ground forces.

Ms. Rice said she had accepted Israel’s explanation for resuming airstrikes barely 12 hours after the suspension was announced.

Condi "accepts" it, does she? Puts me in mind of Carlyle's comment, as narrated by William James:
"I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!"
Postscript: Obsessive augurs given to examining the Times' entrails might find it interesting to compare the online and print versions of the item quoted above. The print headline was "Israel Presses on Despite Agreeing to Airstrike Lull"; online it was "Israel Expands Offensive to Drive Back Hezbollah." The broken promise to poor Condi was in the lead graf in print, and buried in graf 8 online. The wording changed, too; that silly little whistling-in-the-dark spin about Israel "keeping down" its terror bombing was entirely absent in the print edition.

February 10, 2007


From the Overdue Posts Queue:

Every so often a contraband copy of the New York Times will be left lying around, like a basking copperhead, on my kitchen table, and my bleary morning eye will land upon it before I've had enough coffee to realize the danger. Once I start reading, of course, it's too late.

I got bit this way a few days ago by a review, from the busy pen of Michigan Kakufoni, or whatever her name is, that Carlos the Jackal among book-assassins. Michigan was dealing very severely with the ludicrous Dinesh D'Souza. "Willfully incendiary... preposterous... embarrassing," she called Dinesh's latest flight of fancy, The Enemy At Home, a "partisan screed... of illogical arguments, distorted and cherry-picked information, ridiculous generalizations and nutty asides." This from a woman who, the week before, treated "Chucky" Schumer's partisan screed with the greatest deference, though all the strictures just quoted might be applied with equal justice to it.

Michigan and her editors gave the clownish D'Souza thirty column inches of detailed refutation, plus a rather endearing author photo, credited to one Dixie D'Souza -- sounds like a Carl Hiaasen heroine, doesn't it? -- that makes jug-earned Dinesh look like Rowan Atkinson in the role of Mr Bean.

What cries out for explanation here is why the Times would pay so much attention to such a silly book. Evidently, even though Dinesh is a raving loony, he's still enough of a somebody to merit attention, and his ideas, crazy as they are, must be taken seriously enough to argue with.

Michigan's lede establishes Dinesh's credentials as "the Rishwain research scholar at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University" -- honest, she put that whole jawbreaker into her first sentence. And she allows as how John Philip D'Souza's 1991 Illiberal Education "did have some illuminating points... about the excesses of political correctness on college campuses." But now, she says, the former illuminator has turned himself into "the Ann Coulter of the think-tank set," and, most damning of all, he has written a book that is -- brace yourself -- "irresponsible."

Dinesh, I think, has constituted himself, in Michigan's eyes, as something like a rogue cop. While he was plying his nightstick against the vagaries of the campus left, such as it is, he had a useful, if modest, MP's berth in the American ideological fleet -- whose flagship is the mighty dreadnought wherein Michigan herself sails the seas of thought. But now Dinesh has gone for a buccaneer, popgunning at "mainstream politicians like Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd and Jimmy Carter," at Garry Wills and Seymour Hersh, and at -- oho! -- "several New York Times columnists."

It's amazing, really, how many levels of gatekeepers we seem to need. Those must be some very vulnerable gates. Let's not even mention the educational gatekeepers; but even after you've squeaked through the sheepskin gate, like Giles Goat-Boy, there are agents, and editors, and publishers, all of whom have the thumb down by default. And if you get through that crowd -- if, for example, Bill Buckley is taken with your dusky, sloe-eyed, moon-faced charm -- you still have to deal with the Millikan Cacafuegoes.

Of course, the Mulligans are a comparatively small peril after all your other adventures. It's as if Odysseus should pass through Scylla and Charybdis and storm and shipwreck and finally crawl ashore to confront the fangs of a really angry miniature poodle, yapping on and on through thirty column inches of who-cares prose.

I don't suppose McGillicuddy will have much effect on Dinesh's bottom line -- in fact, her carpet-chewing will probably stand him in good stead among his reference group. Come to think of it, I greatly envy old Dinesh. If only I could make Miching Millecho that angry!

On the other hand -- if I'd have to cozy up to Bill Buckley to get there -- well, I'd consider it. But surely, surely! there's another way?

May 20, 2007

Maureen Dowd, space alien?

Ole Maureen has been whalin' away at Paul Wolfowitz again, who of course richly deserves a lot worse savaging than Maureen can give him. She's really trying, but her liberal rhetoric engine seems to pulled a muscle, or gotten stuck in overdrive, or something:
Resume of Doom

Paul Wolfowitz may be out of a job soon, but think of what an amazing resume he'll be shopping around:

Work Experience

President of World Bank: 2005-2007

Achievements: Paralyzed the international lending apparatus...

Deputy Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush: 2001-2005

Achievements: ... Shattered the system of international diplomacy that kept the peace for 50 years. Undermined the credibility of American intelligence operations. Needlessly brought humankind to the brink of nuclear war. Destroyed Iraq.

If Wolfie really had "paralyzed the international lending apparatus," of course he would deserve the thanks of every decent person on Earth. But Maureen seems to come from a planet where the World Bank is a benign institution.

On her planet, it would also seem that the last fifty years have been peaceful ones. There is a country on her planet called the United States which until recently had "credible" intelligence operations, and another country called Iraq that was not well into the process of destruction under the current President's predecessors.

I don't know whether I would like to live on the planet Maureenia or not. Perhaps not, in spite of its peacefulness and the benignity of its institutions; those institutions seem to loom awfully large there.

I do, however, rather wish Maureen would hop in her spacecraft and return home.

December 30, 2007

You can't fight here, this is the War Room

So now William Kristol is going to be a regular on the New York Times op-ed page. It's a matter of balance -- all those right-wing Zionists need to be balanced by an ultra-right-wing Zionist.

Here's cherubic little Andrew Rosenthal on the subject:

Times' editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views....We have views on our op-ed page that are as hawkish or more so than Bill....

“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”

Boy, this is quite something to unpack, isn't it? Having yet another slavering mad dog on the page is fine because we already have so many. Oh, and of course the Times is "giving" Kristol a "voice" -- as if he'd been crying in the wilderness up till now.

The Times is a funny outfit. The Limbaughs et al. are quite right to characterize it as a "liberal" publication, and it is that, to the marrow of its bones. Yet it has a noticeable openness to thoroughly crazy right-wing teppichfressers and their crazy ideas. Kristol on the Op-Ed page is just another chapter in the picaresque story that includes such shining moments as Judith Miller on Iraqi WMD.

I say "yet," but in fact there's no "yet" about it. The nature of liberalism is to split the difference. If you're little Pinch Sulzberger, or little Andy Rosenthal, and the spectrum of opinion you hear at Manhattan parties from loud, overbearing, well-respected, legend-in-their-own-time Sir Oracles ranges from insane to really insane, naturally you will conclude that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Reflect that the Times sits on the commanding heights of ideological formation for the American postgraduate class; imagine how hard the Kristols and their ilk work to get a foot in the door. Pinch and Andy must have these purple-faced spit-spraying loons lined up outside their offices, all the way to the elevator. I bet they can't go anywhere without being buttonholed by some Likudnik mad dog baying at the moon about how hard it is to get their "voices" heard.

So I can't really blame Pinch and Andy. And if it helps discredit the Times, well then, my hat's off to Bill Kristol.

On a more personal note, it's pure pleasure to see the son of Irving Kristol get a job from the son of Abe Rosenthal. It's very Old Testament -- The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.

May 18, 2008

If the cops say it, it must be so

The New York Times (and, to be fair, every other aptly-named media "outlet" I've seen) has swallowed whole, and reported as Gospel truth, a patent, glaring lie from Interpol about the computer equipment Colombia seized from FARC last March.

The actual Interpol report, a monstrous indigestible bolus of bureaucratic memo-graphy, contains, when you boil it down, two consequential statements:

1) "Interpol said its forensic experts had found no signs that Colombia had altered files" on the seized equipment;

2) "Interpol’s experts verified that the [Colombian military's handling of the equipment] had not altered the content of the archives."

The first of these statements can legitimately be made and supported by a computer-forensic investigation; the second cannot. Tampering with data on a computer disk or "thumb drive" may leave traces, and if so a competent forensic investigation will find them. But it is also possible, even for a person of modest technical skill, to tamper with such devices in a way that leaves no trace at all. (I make part of my modest living doing this stuff, so I know.)

Interpol's confident -- and unjustifiable -- claim to know definitely that the Colombian military "had not altered" the data appears to be a case of telling the customer what he wants to hear.

Neither the Times nor any other media organization appears to have asked any independent expert for an assessment of what Interpol said. Surprise, surprise.

Hugo Chavez' characterization of Interpol chief Ronald Noble as a "gringo policeman" and a "clown" is, as usual for Chavez, right on target.

Noble is a Clinton protege, though he made his earlier Justice Department career in the previous two administrations. He has a long history of, shall we say, political sensitivity. My favorite example:

In 2003, Noble sounded a warning about fake consumer goods after an Interpol investigation linked them to shadowy political organizations such as Al Qaeda. He called the illegal trade in counterfeit designer wear such as shoes and purses "the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups," according to an International Herald Tribune article by David Johnston.
So if you buy that fake Gucci handbag from the sidewalk vendor, then you're supporting terrorism. More thorough intellectual-property enforcement will make the world a safer place for all of us.

June 13, 2008

Tim Who?

Couple of hours ago, a person near and dear to me asked, "Did you hear? Tim Russert died!"

My response: Tim who?

I may be the only person in North America who doesn't know who Tim Russert is, or was. Judging by the unanimous outpouring of grief at his passing, I feel entitled to consider this fact a mark of some distinction. Conventional wisdom is always wrong -- in fact, conventional wisdom is always diametrically wrong.

Or no, that's a little too sweeping. A stopped clock is right twice a day. Better to say that betting against conventional wisdom is always a good idea. You may not win quite so often, but you feel very elated when you do. One time pays for all.

The reason for my ignorance about the newly-sainted Russert is not far to seek: I don't watch TV much anymore. Particularly TV news. Last time I watched "Meet The Press" was maybe 1972. Okay, 1973. Early 1973.

Here's some elegiac dribble on the late Tim:

Tim Russert, a political lifer who made a TV career of his passion with unrelenting questioning of the powerful and influential, died suddenly Friday.... Praise poured in from the biggest names in politics....

NBC interrupted its regular programming with news of Russert's death and continued for several hours of coverage without commercial break....

Familiar NBC faces... took turns mourning his loss....

"I can say from experience that joining Tim on "Meet the Press" was one of the greatest tests any public official could face," said Rep. John Boehner....

Russert was also a senior vice president at NBC, and this year Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

He had ... a Democratic pedigree that came from his turn as an aide to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.

Lawmakers from both parties lined up to sing his praises after his sudden death.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said [dribble]...

[Dribble], Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, told reporters...

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama's rival for the White House, hailed Russert as [dribble]...

[Russert] won an Emmy for his role in the coverage of President Ronald Reagan's funeral in 2004.

Anybody this deeply loved by the well-known and powerful just must have been a creep.

Oh, I'm sure his wife and kids didn't think so -- well, no, on reflection, let's leave the wife out of it; any wife who doesn't think her husband is a creep has got a screw loose. But the kids loved him. Probably. So let's give him and the kids the benefit of the doubt and shed a tear on their behalf.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Everybody seems to have loved this supposedly tough guy. So... one wonders how tough he really was.

For me, the Moynihan connection would be enough to cast the guy into outer darkness -- even without the emmy-winning reportage on The Mummy's funeral. Retch.

March 19, 2009

The Dissociated Press...

... erm, that is Associated Press, has inadvertently given us a little glimpse of how the the news is produced ("een the pheesical sense"), via

I innocently followed a link in somebody's email and got this story:

Obama seeks patience, warns of expecting too much
By Associated Press Writer Charles Babington -- 31 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES – Facing largely adoring crowds far from Washington, President Barack Obama on Thursday asked Americans to back his far-reaching economic and health policies, but warned them not to expect too much from him or the federal government.

Well, sez I to myself, this calls for a blog post. I even have a subject heading for it already: Lower Your Expectations.

So of course I gotta give a link. Now I like to give links to the print version -- easier to read, and helps balk the advertisers.

But -- oho! Here's the print version:

Obama asks patience, guarantees better days ahead
By Associated Press Writer Charles Babington -- 2 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES – Buoyed by adoring crowds far from Washington's political wars, President Barack Obama guaranteed Americans on Thursday that the nation's economy will recover, though he asked them for patience....

"We will come out on the other side stronger and a more prosperous nation," he said, acknowledging the nation's economic crisis. "That I can guarantee you. I can't tell you how long it will take, what obstacles we'll face along the way, but I promise you this: There will be brighter days ahead."

The comments brought [a] roar of approval....

For people who enjoy the whodunnitude of text criticism, both versions are available, at least until AP's lawyers get in touch with me.

June 13, 2009

The one and only...

... dear Alex has a fine one over at his site:

Who Needs Yesterday's Papers?

"I read the anguished valedictories to our sinking newspaper industry, the calls for some sort of government bailout or subsidy, with mounting incredulity. It’s like hearing the witches in Macbeth evoked as if they were Aphrodite and her rivals vying for the judgment of Paris. Sonorous phrases about “public service” mingle with fearful yelps about the “dramatically diminished version of democracy” that looms over America if the old corporate print press goes the way of the steam engine. "

He can touch the sweet spot just right, can't he?

July 28, 2009

Sources state

A previous contributor here has come through again:

URL, if the embed doesn't work:

Favorite lines:

But they didn't try to censor me
I guess they didn't see the need.

September 29, 2009


The New York Times captioned this picture as follows:

Iran showed new defiance Sunday by test-firing three short-range missiles near the city of Qum.
The article to which this image was attached explained how Obie was going to improve on his predecessor by adopting a more aggressive attitude toward Iran. I suppose that counts as change, though it doesn't give me, personally, much hope.

But let's return to this trope of "defiance".

France has missiles. England has missiles. The US and China and Russia and India have missiles, and Israel has more missiles than a beggar has fleas. Having armed forces -- and missiles -- seems to be a privilege of sovereign nations. So how, exactly, is it "defiance" on Iran's part to have what other countries have?

This is what is known as "logic", but just try explaining it to an enlightened liberal American Obamaphile. You'll get a pitying smile, and perhaps your interlocutor will condescend to explain to you that you're being a silly head-in-the-clouds pedant. Everybody knows that Iran can't be compared to France, or England, or China or India because... because... because, well, just because. If you read the New York Times sedulously enough, it will all begin to make sense.

The "crackpot" is an important part of crackpot realism. The propaganda system requires not only adherence to certain beliefs and prejudices, it also requires downright unreason, the renunciation of the syllogism: countries have missiles, Iran is a country, therefore -- no no no, don't go there.

This aspect of the propaganda system is insufficiently appreciated. Social control requires not only that we be misled and misinformed, it requires us to embrace a thought disorder, and congratulate ourselves on having done so.

And of course the great thought-disorderers are our media megalotheria, the Times prominent among them. Daily they serve up a mile-long buffet of bare-faced illogic and unreason -- but they serve it with such bland assurance, such calm gravitas, such marmoreal magisterial confidence, that only a stubborn poorly-socialized person can resist getting sleepier, sleepier....

They are the gatekeepers of reality itself, and if they say that two plus two equals five, you better believe it.

October 2, 2009

There are patrons, and there are patrons

This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite human beings -- and believe me, this is said without the slightest irony or mental reservation.

I refer of course to the tortured giant shown above, Mr -- later Dr -- Samuel Johnson, the moody melancholy indolent ill-bred small-town boy from Lichfield who came practically barefoot to London and wrote the best essays anybody ever wrote, and the first and in some ways greatest of English dictionaries, and some damn good poems, oh and edited Shakespeare brilliantly, and became the subject of the greatest biography that ever was written, or I daresay ever will be written. Anybody who has read Boswell feels that he knows old Sam, which is partly because of Boswell's genius and partly because old Sam himself was, is, a personality of such intensity and force that the air we breathe is still reverberating with him.

I happened to be reading, today, a piece by Andrew O'Hagan in the New York Review discussing some recent additions to the extensive Johnson literature. It's a nice piece, by which I mean not just nicely written, though it is that, but also full of love for the mad old man -- love that recognizes what a monster he could be, but loves him anyway.

Now I enjoyed this piece so much that I hate to cavil. But there was one theme in it that seemed so glaringly wrong that I had to comment.

Everybody knows the story of Johnson's wonderful letter to Lord Chesterfield, spurning Chesterfield's patronage of the Dictionary. The conventions of literary history take this, not wrongly, as a marker of the end of the old era of patronage and the dawn of the era of commercial publishing.

O'Hagan writes:

Johnson ... freed subjectivity.... and brought both dignity and self-sufficiency to the writing game, allowing authors to be who they chose to be, unshackled from patronage and the requirement to please great men. We see it in his essays and we see it again in his Lives of the Poets : a writer's writer, beckoning individual creative power out of the mire of dependency, making the work answerable only to high standards of excellence stringently applied.

Johnson professionalized authorship not only for England but for the world, making the individual conscience responsive only to its own capacities and its own engagements.

This is our old friend the Whig Theory Of History -- which Johnson himself would, of course, have drubbed a lot more brutally than I can ever hope to do -- and it is also the voice of a successful and much-published and relatively young writer, who lives in the best of all possible worlds and has found a market for his "subjectivity" and his "individual creative power." And more power to him, of course.

Those of us who have not been so fortunate find ourselves confronting gatekeepers at least as coldly indifferent as Lord Chesterfield could ever be. They are no longer lords, though they have nicer manners than most corporate apparatchiks, but it is easy enough, these days, to find oneself (in Dr Johnson's words) "waiting in their outward Rooms, or being repulsed from their Door"; and if by chance one should ever succeed, one will look back -- again, in Johnson's slightly altered words -- and ask, "Is not a Publisher, My Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a Man struggling for Life in the water, and when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help?"

Grub Street was probably a livelier and more fluid place in Johnson's day: the booksellers were living as hand-to-mouth as the authors, or nearly so, and they had an insatiable thirst for material. Now, however, the publishers have either become lords in their own right, or been acquired by our brummagem equivalents -- the Rupert Murdochs, the Disneys. They still need material, of course, but there are only a very few of them, and there are so many who want to scribble that it's very much a buyer's market. What the gatekeepers want is to print and sell millions and millions of each title, and to the extent that this business model can be made to succeed, they don't need many titles -- or many writers. One Dan Brown, or Stephen King, asphyxiates ten thousand would-be Grub Streeters.

Back in the day of patronage, your fate was settled by some fatuous aristocrat's whim -- unless you could find another fatuous aristocrat who liked you better; and there were lots of fatuous aristocrats. Now it is settled by the publisher's internalized mental representation of the marketing department's spreadsheet. And there aren't lots of publishers, and they all have the same spreadsheet. Are we better off, or worse?

We might take a look at the bibliography.

The age of patronage gave us Chaucer and Shakespeare. In the world of music it gave us Handel and Bach and Mozart.

Now, after all this Whig progress that Andrew O'Hagan feels so good about, the likeliest authors to survive a cataclysm are the aforementioned Dan Brown and Stephen King, simply because there are so many copies of their work floating around. Ian McEwan or Nick Hornby or even Philip Roth would have the kind of prospects Tacitus had -- and what a miracle it is that we have anything of Tacitus.

As for music publishing -- two words: John Rutter.

I dunno, Andrew. I don't want to bring the Chesterfields back. But the narrative of progress needs a little revision.

October 18, 2009

Long overdue

The freak-geek prince of Chicago micro-economics -- ever the contrarian -- has bit the big one.

His unreleased sequel to cattle stampede hit "geek snarkonomics" takes on the green team's terminal climate menopause claims, and he's taking a vicious flock fuck of a pranging -- and well deserved, too.

Maybe you might start here:

November 14, 2009

Nailin' Palin

Usually the Times' bookmugger-in-chief, Michiko Kakutani, is kinder to women writers than men. But she's made quite an exception for Sarah Palin, and it's a better fun than she usually provides to read her gnashing her teeth and gnawing her carpet over la Palin's five-million-dollar payback book (I don't begrudge the moose-dresser a penny of it, either. Better her than Tom Friedman.)

Michiko is herself a very tedious, pedestrian, and humorless writer, with attitudes as predictable as the monsoon season, and a sturdy but limited stock of narrow conventional ideas. So it's not surprising, though deeply gratifying, to find her reproaching the Arctic fox for being.... unqualified!


The most sustained and vehement barbs in [Palin's] book are directed not at Democrats or liberals or the press, but at the McCain campaign. The very campaign that plucked her out of Alaska, anointed her the Republican vice-presidential nominee and made her one of the most talked about women on the planet — someone who could command a reported $5 million for writing this book.

... Some of Ms. Palin’s loudest complaints in this volume are directed at the McCain campaign’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, [who] was one of the aides to most forcefully make the case for putting her on the ticket in the first place.... [N]either Mr. Schmidt nor Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, apparently saw Ms. Palin’s “lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability” ....

[T]he McCain campaign... often feels like a desperate and cynical operation, willing to make a risky Hail Mary pass in order to try to score a tactical win, instead of making a considered judgment as to who might be genuinely qualified to sit a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

You've gotta love these people at the Times and their concern with qualifications. What qualified Willliam Safire(*) to write, for decades, a column about "language" -- apart from his own self-assured opinionated ignorance and boundless chutzpah? What qualifies the dull and schoolmarmish Michoko Kakutani, with her grudging B-minuses and C-plusses handed out to the likes of Philip Roth and John Updike, to tell us what to think about the books we read -- or, for that matter, which books we should read at all?

I used to kind of like newspapers. The paper, the ink, the daily ritual of fetching and folding, the columnists you liked and the ones you liked to hate: newspapers had their pleasures. I'll miss 'em when they're gone -- which should be happening any minute now.

But then I read Michiko Kakutani, this tiresome drudge, this shallow scribbling self-righteous subliterary Babbittess, ordained a Decider and gatekeeper by some unaccountable Sulzbergerian whim, and I think the end can't come too soon.


(*) Who famously thumbed his thesaurus long enough to give us the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism".

November 18, 2009

Stop the presses -- permanently

We recently had a bit of a dustup here about the value or non-value of newspapers.

Coincidentally, I spent a few minutes this evening gathering up, for recycling, a sheaf of recent issues of the New York Times, lying scattered about the house where I've flung them in rage. (Sometimes I get to page 3, sometimes the top front-page headline is enough to set me off.)

Last Sunday was certainly a first-section day, if not first-page. That's why I never got to this inner-section piece which I happened to find face-up tonight underneath the clavichord:

The Evolution of the God Gene

In the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, the archaeologists Joyce Marcus and Kent Flannery have gained a remarkable insight into the origin of religion.

During 15 years of excavation they have uncovered not some monumental temple but evidence of a critical transition in religious behavior. The record begins with a simple dancing floor, the arena for the communal religious dances held by hunter-gatherers in about 7,000 B.C. It moves to the ancestor-cult shrines that appeared after the beginning of corn-based agriculture around 1,500 B.C., and ends in A.D. 30 with the sophisticated, astronomically oriented temples of an early archaic state.

This and other research is pointing to a new perspective on religion, one that seeks to explain why religious behavior has occurred in societies at every stage of development and in every region of the world. Religion has the hallmarks of an evolved behavior, meaning that it exists because it was favored by natural selection.

Now this is pretty beathtaking. I'm sure the Oaxaca excavations are fantastically interesting and enlightening, but they can't possibly have any bearing at all on the claim Wade wants to make, which is that religion is a "wired-in", genetically-determined, biologically evolved and selected-for bump in the human brain.

The logical gap between the Oaxaca finds and Wade's made-up just-so story is wide enough to drive a galaxy through -- so wide that many Freshman Comp teachers might notice it, and write a mean little marginal note. But the Newspaper of Record has laid it out, accompanied as always by some nice attractive photographs, with the usual magisterial self-assurance. That's the way it is, folks. Science has spoken.

This slug-stupid and rat-ignorant piece, a thousand words of vapid wishful thinking and factless speculation, is the sort of thing subscribers to the Times pay for. It's a racket that needs to be closed down. Religion may be the opiate of the people, but the Times is the opiate of the Upper West Side, and it's time for us to go cold-turkey.

* * * * *

There's more involved here, of course, than just the familiar vulgar Philistinism of the Times. The reason that Wade's indigestible haggis of arm-waving illogic and irrelevant quick-study erudition passed editorial muster is simply this: the Times is the Vatican of American received opinion and ideological orthodoxy, and these days, there is absolutely nothing more central and fervently-believed in America than the idea that there is a biological explanation for everything.

Do you like sex with members of your own sex? Ah, you must have the Gay Gene.

Do you not enjoy school, and are you uninterested in pleasing your teachers? You must have the Learning Disability Gene.

Are you upset about the state of the world, and the mess you're leaving to your gay, learning-disabled children? You must have the Sour Old Depressed Guy gene, which only gets activated at the age of 50.

How could such a gene get into the genome, and stay there? I have no idea, but I bet Nicholas Wade could come up with an attractive story, in less time than they give you to take the SAT. He couldn't cite any real evidence in support of it, but we couldn't disprove it either -- it's notoriously hard to prove a negative.

Dr Johnson observes somewhere that there are but two causes of belief: evidence and inclination. There's no evidence for sociobiological novelettes like Wade's; but there is a strong inclination in the culture to wish that they were true.

Of course it's otiose to point out that this is part of the (amazingly) still-ongoing reaction to the Sixties.

Our masters clearly hated it when we decided, back then, that the sky was the limit and anything was possible. The genetic explanation for everything was the response: it's all programmed in the genome, and human agency is an illusion.

What's puzzling is how we've embraced it, across the board. From liberals to libertarians, everybody seems to have bought the idea that genes are everything.

Why are we so eager to deny our own competence and autonomy -- our own capacity to act, our own agency, as the buzzword goes? Why do we desire so strongly to believe that our lives are pre-scripted in that silly scrap of DNA?

I dunno exactly, but it's worth pondering. I can tell it's inclination and not evidence. But to explain the inclination -- hoc opus, hic labor est!

March 11, 2010

Paine in love

There is something all too twisted in me. Take my new heartthrob, the rather aquiline Catherine Rampell. I find her as entrancing as a glass case full of birthday cakes, and she works for Father Smiff's NYT, no less -- in fact, she edits their online econ-con efforts, and writes stuff too, like this, f'rinstance:

"Rather than obsessing over Washington’s rubbery backbones, perhaps we should find ways to align the interests of the country with those of the politicians who are guiding it. Put another way, how can we get politicians elected on a short-term basis to think about the long-term good of the country?...

Historically, fiscal crises have followed financial crises [yup, like the one we just had], so now is probably the time to start planning.... It has been difficult to spook Americans too much because it has been so blissfully long since we had a budget crisis; the last time the government technically defaulted on its debt was during the Great Depression.

Alas, we don’t have a color-coded alert system to warn us about our fiscal condition.

We do, however, have credit rating agencies. Moody’s recently warned that it might downgrade America’s top-notch sovereign credit rating, which could alarm the markets and eventually make it harder for the government to borrow. Once upon a time it seemed we needed the government to save the financial markets; perhaps now it is the financial markets that will keep the government in line."

Pardon me while I swoon in a puddle of thwarted desire and enraged masochism.

Now here's one for my darker side:

"The question of why so many Jews have been so good at making money is a touchy one...From Aristotle through the Renaissance (and then again in the 19th century, thanks to that Jew-baiting former Jew Karl Marx), thinkers believed that money should be considered sterile, a mere means of exchange incapable of producing additional value. Only labor could be truly productive, it was thought, and anyone who extracted money from money alone — that is, through interest — must surely be a parasite, or at the very least a fraud...

Lending at interest was thus forbidden across Christian Europe — for Christians. Jews, however, were permitted by the Roman Catholic Church to charge interest; since they were going to hell anyway, why not let them help growing economies function more efficiently? (According to Halakha, or Jewish law, Jews were not allowed to charge interest to one another, just to gentiles.)...

The exorbitant interest rates they charged — sometimes as high as 60 percent — only fed the fury. But considering the economic climate, such rates probably made good business sense: capital was scarce, and lenders frequently risked having their debtors’ obligations canceled or their own assets arbitrarily seized by the crown...

This early, semi-exclusive exposure to finance, coupled with a culture that valued literacy, abstract thinking, trade and specialization (the Babylonian Talmud amazingly presaged Adam Smith’s paradigmatic pin factory), gave Jews the human capital necessary to succeed in modern capitalism. It also helped that Judaism, unlike many strains of Christianity, did not consider poverty particularly ennobling...

For centuries, poverty, paranoia and financial illiteracy have combined into a dangerous brew — one that has made economic virtuosity look suspiciously like social vice, [inspiring] resentment among history’s economic also-rans."

... And she went to Andover and Princeton and grew up in South Florida -- as she sez, "the New York part".

I may die with her image swimming past my unshut eyes.

June 20, 2010

Brain rotter deplores brain rot

The Wall Street Journal is very worried about our brains:

Does the Internet Make You Dumber?

The cognitive effects are measurable: We're turning into shallow thinkers, says Nicholas Carr.

The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best 2,000 years ago: "To be everywhere is to be nowhere." Today, the Internet grants us easy access to unprecedented amounts of information. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is also turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

You know you're in trouble when an essay starts by citing "the Roman philosopher Seneca," a thinker than whom only Cicero was shallower. One suspects that a thesaurus lurks somewhere backstage. As Carr begins, so he drives on:
The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought....

Only when we pay deep attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it "meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory," writes the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel....

In an article published in Science last year, Patricia Greenfield, a leading developmental psychologist, reviewed dozens of studies on how different media technologies influence our cognitive abilities. Some of the studies indicated that certain computer tasks, like playing video games, can enhance "visual literacy skills," increasing the speed at which people can shift their focus among icons and other images on screens. Other studies, however, found that such rapid shifts in focus, even if performed adeptly, result in less rigorous and "more automatic" thinking.

More dazzling science:
In one experiment conducted at Cornell University, for example, half a class of students was allowed to use Internet-connected laptops during a lecture, while the other had to keep their computers shut. Those who browsed the Web performed much worse on a subsequent test of how well they retained the lecture's content.
You mean... when they had something else to listen to, they ignored the droning bore in the tweed jacket, scrawling his unlovely diagrams on the blackboard in grating chalk? O what rough beast!

There's more where that came from:

In another experiment, recently conducted at Stanford University's Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, a team of researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia.
It's droll to note that no links are provided by the brain-rotter par excellence to these definitive scientific studies. One might have wondered, for example, what distinguished "important information" from "trivia" in these studies and whether the experimental subjects would have agreed with these assessments. But presumably the WSJ doesn't want to distract our attention from the message, and lose what few neurons we have left, neurons which would be better employed poring over the deep sequacious thought we get from the Journal's own stable of thinkers.
The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being "massively remodeled" by our ever-intensifying use of the Web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments on primate brains...
Oh my God. A doddering old monkey-molester in California is worried. Let's pull the plug on this Interrawebz thang right away, People's brains might be changing -- and more to the point, the Wall Street Journal's business model might be doomed.

February 24, 2011

I'm Robert Siegel...

... and I'm doing you a huge favor by talking to you at all.

I may have confessed previously that I sometimes listen to NPR -- when I'm driving, and the only alternative is Angry White Guys Talk Radio in western Massachusetts, or when I'm sailing through the night, and there aren't any deeply committed and surprisingly well-read fundamentalists preaching on the Epistle to the Romans.

Haven't been much in the car lately, or on the boat of course -- poor dear is up on poppets in the Bronx -- but I've been watching the Al-Jazeera live feed quite a lot these last few weeks, and I fear it may have spoiled me for NPR.

Oh, al-J isn't perfect of course. But still. The intellectual level is so infinitely higher than anything -- apart from the fundies, of course -- that you'll find in the US of A. And nobody on the Al-J has that irritating testy condescending way of saying -- after a half-beat pause, to give the statement agogic emphasis -- "And I'm... Robert Siegel." Stop the presses. Really, Robert, who gives a fuck? And I'm... Eliyahu. And I'm... The Spanish Inquisition.

I happened to walk just now into one of the Versailles-like chambers here in Chateau Smith, where one of my family was listening to NPR. The topic appeared to be a fretful worrification! What's up with al-Qaeda, now that all the rules of the Mideast game got suddenly rewritten in the last two-three weeks?

It's hard to find an analogy that does justice to the sublime inanity of this topic. The closest I can get is, What will happen to stamp collectors if the sea level rises ten feet? Not quite right. Somebody come up with a better one. There's a Valuable Prize for the winner.

It was sorta fun to listen for a few minutes -- like watching a flea circus, or a chess match in a nursing home; sincere sweaty-browed effort in a sharply circumscribed field of play.

But I had to run from the room -- with hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving -- when they brought on somebody from, what, GWU or some such place, who was accredited as a "terrorism expert."

That dyad is a quadrate term in bogosity, innit? Unless the interviewee was Osama himself -- which seems doubtful.

Terrorism -- an empty signifier. Expert -- another. Terrorism times expert -- math doesn't offer the right parallel; it's more like mixing two parts ectoplasm and one part phlogiston.

I will now have to find some other voice through the night once the boat is back in the water, or I head off for my next road trip.

Suggestions? If I spring for satellite radio, can I get al-J in North American waters and highways? I get the impression that that's not something I can count on.

June 22, 2011

O what does it all MEAN?

The Times has been pondering the sexting epidemic with a great deal of concern. A dangerous business, sexting, it seems:

Sexting has its own allure because as one starts to sext the messages are traded back and forth at a quick rate. The excitement builds rapidly, impulsiveness increases, and, as in most online communications, one's inhibitions are already reduced. ... There is no feedback or reminder that sexting can be dangerous to one's reputation. Sexting relationships can be emotional relationships which compete with marriage and commitment....

Perhaps digital devices need a pop-up screen. Before a photo is sent, the message would ask: Are you sure you want to send this picture? Send now? Send later? Delete? The addition of a question, and an imposed pause, reduces impulsive behavior and should help curb some harmful sexting.

So Motorola and Nokia and Apple and so on need to be persuaded to protect us from ourselves. Is it any wonder most people don't like liberals?

October 27, 2011

Don't make Mommy lose her patience

The fortunately inimitable NY Times:

Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests

OAKLAND, Calif. — After weeks of cautiously accepting the teeming round-the-clock protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street, several cities have come to the end of their patience and others appear to be not far behind.

"Patience"! One can only marvel at the puerile banality of this tutelary/parental view of the relationship between the state and its subjects.

October 30, 2011

Bottom of the barrel...

... You know you're scraping it when you stoop to making fun of Tom Friedman, a guy whose mustache alone ought to have made him a figure of fun in every corner of the globe, even if he had never written a word. Of course the littera-scripta are pretty funny too, though the joke does get old.

Tom came to my attention today because a Facebook friend -- a well-meaning guy; Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do -- posted a link to this mighty lucubration from Moral Tom:

Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?

[A] lethal article involving Citigroup ... deserved more attention because it helps to explain why many average Americans have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. ... Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.

It doesn’t get any more immoral than this. ... According to The Wall Street Journal, "about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

Well, no, Tom, you congenital idiot. Stories like this don't explain anything about Occupy Wall Street. The Occupiers couldn't care less that one group of financial hyenas fucked another. What they're worked up about is that the financial hyenas have collectively fucked the rest of us -- and not in a good way.

Indeed, fleecing a bunch of hedge funds may have been the best thing Citibank ever did. They deserve praise, not blame-- like Bernie Madoff, a great hero of mine, who ought to be as beloved as Santa Claus. If there was ever a group of people who deserved skinning alive, it was precisely the group that fell for Madoff's smarmy charm.

About Whale watch

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the Whale watch category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Weekend open thread is the previous category.

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