YOU ARENT ALLOWED TO KNOW THAT! What was Brooks major complaint? You arent allowed to know that: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2009
Jonathan Chait has seen rivers: Maureen Dowd has long been the dumbest of all; she proves it again with this mornings column. Poor lady! She cuts and pastes John McCains cri de coeur about earmarks in the new federal spending packagespending measures which account for less than 1.9 percent of the bills total spending. (According to Dowd, these earmarks total $7.7 billionin a $410 billion package.)
By the way: How much of that 1.9 percent is actually wasteful spending? Dowd makes no attempt to say. Instead, she follows a well-worn path, listing provisions which may sound silly if confronted on the fly. Quoting McCain, the lady soon finds herself railing at offensive pork such as this:
Beaver management! Tee-hee-hee-hee! But is that spending actually wasteful? (It represents one 640-thousandth of the total spending.) Dowd doesnt have the slightest idea. And of course, she never will.
But so it goes as a D-plus elite continues its dim depredations. And uh-oh! Yesterday, Jonathan Chait offered this worthwhile post about an astounding bungle. (For the record, Jamison Foser had explained the bungle about four hours before.) I've seen a lot of dumb news reports in my life, but I'm not sure anything can quite match this one from ABC News, Chait wrote, politely failing to mention the name of historys dumbest reporter. That name belonged to Emily Friedman. Well assume an editor approved her report, but that worthy must go unnamed.
How cosmically dumb is our D-plus elite? As you can see from Chait or Foser, Friedman seemed to have little or no idea how marginal tax rates work. Midway along, she quoted a financial adviser, Gary Schatsky, who politely let her know that the sky is up, the grass is green, and the earth isnt actually flat:
Said Schatsky! Gruesome but perfect. By the way: If you didnt know how marginal tax rates work, you most likely still didnt know after reading that jumbled prose. Friedman didnt seem to know about marginal rates coming in. But even after speaking to Schatsky, she still had a very hard time explaining how the mystery works.
So it goes as a stunningly hapless elite attempts to explain your world.
For the record: Responding to yesterdays torrent of ridicule, ABC News is now offering an updated version of Friedmans report; if you want to read the original version, we suggest that you just click this. For ourselves, well offer one last suggestion about this report, which is (alas) only semi-astounding, given the work this D-plus elite has churned for so many years.
Suggestion: Take a look at the reader comments below ABCs updated version. These are the original comments, and they reflect the massive ignorance of the American publicwho, of course, are doomed to read the work of people like Friedman. More than 900 comments are available as we type today. But uh-oh! If you sift through the first several hundred comments, you will encounter very few readers who commented on Friedmans cosmic bungling. Fairly quickly, readers entered gong-show disputes about class warfare and the like. But along with hapless Friedman herself, very few of Friedmans readers seemed to know how marginal tax rates work! And needless to say, by just the fourth comment, we had descended to this:
There we went again! Lets take a guess: JJSmith has heard that nonsensical claim for years, uncorrected by the fellows who drive our career liberal discourse. As weve told you, again and again: The career liberal world has sat on its hands for decades now as strings of inane talking-points get dispensed. And guess what? Voters believe that these claims are correct! Theyve never heard them corrected or challengednot by the floundering mainstream press, not by our liberal organs.
Chait has seen a lot of dumb news reports. But weve seen a lot of dumb work too. We read The New Republic.
YOU ARENT ALLOWED TO KNOW THAT: Many liberals reacted, with fire, to yesterdays column by David Brooks. Brooks offered A Moderate Manifesto, in which he sadly complained about Obamas budget.
But what was Brooks major complaint? Rubes, please! On the devolving liberal web, you arent allowed to know!
Kilgore starts right at the beginning, quoting Brooks opening paragraph. Heres the part which Kilgore presents. So far, all is appropriate:
So far, all is appropriate. But as Kilgore continues, he says this: So whats the big beef? Its just all too much. And then, Kilgore continues to quote from Brooksfrom Brooks second and third paragraphs. But uh-oh! As Kilgore quotes again from Brooks, we note there has been a deletion:
By the use of that ellipsis, Kilgore signals that something has been deleted. But what has Kilgore left on the floor? Brooks principal criticism! Heres the full text of those paragraphs, just as Brooks wrote them. We highlight what Kilgore deleted:
In a trivial point, wed say that Kilgores ellipsis is located in the wrong place. But the significant problem involves the text which Kilgore has edited out. In that edited passage, Brooks raises one of the two major claims which drive his column. Indeed, he offers some version of this central complaint at three separate points in his piece:
Which part of Obama is using phony projections of growth didnt Kilgore understand? If we edit this claim from Brooks column, Brooks column makes much less sense. But neither Kilgore nor Benen mentioned this central claim by Brooksand Benen then puzzles and scratches his head about Brooks very frustrating column. Poor Benen! Hes puzzled by Brooks desire to move a bit more slowly than Obama; Brooks favors moderation for moderations sake, he frustratedly ends up deciding. And of course, Brooks reasoning doesnt make a great deal of senseif you edit out the passages which explain his thinking quite clearly.
Are Brooks fiscal criticisms correct? Is Obama using rosy scenarios about future growth? If we consider the matter realistically, will his budget produce trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see? Is it true that Obamas plan will take federal spending, as a share of GDP, to previously unknown levels? Were not sure, in part because of people like Kilgore and Benen. In this recent editorial, the Washington Post came down on Obamas sidebut only to an extent:
The Post goes on to say that Obamas upbeat forecasts are somewhat unsettling. David Brooks is less optimistic. He says that the forecasts are wrong. Within the obvious logic of his column, that explains why he thinks Obama should slow things down, even though he sympathizes with a lot of the things Obama is trying to do.
Brooks analysis may be wrong, but it makes perfect senseuntil Benen and Kilgore start editing. To all appearances, the gents decided that you, the rubes, neednt worry your heads with Brooks real argument. Right smack-dab in paragraph 3, Brooks explained his thinking quite clearly. But liberal readers just wanna have fun. So it got edited out.
Brooks makes a second major criticism, accusing Obama of fostering some sort of class resentment. To our mind, Brooks case is weak on that score, but his claims about those upbeat forecasts deserve to be sifted and aired. If Brooks judgment is actually right, its a serious problem with Obamas budget. If Brooks judgment on this matter is wrong, liberals should know how to explain it. This claim will be widely made.
But rubes, you dont have to worry your heads if you live on the liberal web. What was David Brooks principal claim? Rubes! You dont get to know that!
Worst liberals in the world: It would be hard to overstate the way the emerging liberal world is becoming a small, crabbed duchy built around propaganda. And of course, nobody runs the liberal rubes quite the way Olbermann does! Sorry, but this award from Mondays show was deeply uninformedunintelligent:
Sorry, but thats hugely stupidand it should be insulting to any progressive who wastes his time watching this program. We dont know if Matalin can support her claims about Jindal and education reform. But well guarantee that Olbermannour own Maureen Dowdlacks the first clue about the subject, and about those Education Week rankings, which arent quite as simple-minded as the simple-minded host might desire. Tomorrow, well run you through the High Irrelevance of those rankings for those who want to judge Matalins claim. For today, just understand: As you thrilled to this foolish award, you were being treated like fools. Olbermann had no idea whereof he spoke. He just wanted to throw raw meat, thus letting the herd slobber hard.
Sad. But Jindal has become the latest Quayle/Gore ever since he gave that groaning speech. Yesterday, we said wed respond to one part of Frank Richs Sunday column. And so, away we sail.
As usual, Columnist Rich was grandly posed as the worlds Most Racially High-Minded Man. With his standard clairvoyance, he just knew why Jindal was being promoted by his party:
Perennially tanthat was cute! At any rate, according to Rich, Jindal was being thrust forward for one reason onlybecause he has a nonwhite face. But then, inside the world of this fat, stupid man, a certain narrative will always obtain: By rule of law, every move by the GOP must reflect racial bad faith. No other possibility will be allowedand that crabbed interpretation will be jammed into every story.
Of course, the Republican Party has a lot of bad racial history. But then, Rich has some brain-damaged history too. For example, he spent the entire year of 2000 insisting that Bush and Gore were two indistinguishable peas in a pod. Our question: Given his proven, world-class bad judgment, could there be currents within the GOP that have escaped his ken?
Lets consider the path by which Jindal first achieved political prominence.
It happened in January 1996, when Jindal was just 24. At that time, Louisiana Governor Mike Foster appointed Jindal secretary of the states Department of Health and Hospitals; the post gave Jindal control over 40 percent of the state budget. Years later, when Jindal was elected governor, the New York Times Adam Nossiter recalled this remarkable episode:
Why was this scrawny, Indian-American runt named to that post at age 24? Let us take one small little guess: Governor Foster didnt appoint him to gain advantage from his race or ethnicity. You might even say that Foster, in a deep southern state, looked past issues of Jindals ethnicity in making such a surprising appointment. In July of that year, Foster described the decision to Elizabeth Mullener of the Times-Picayune:
For ourselves, wed have to tip our hat to Fosterand to the voters of Louisiana, including many Republicans, who elected Jindal to Congress in 2004, to the governors office in 2007. As far as we can tell, wed never vote for Jindal ourselves. But his appointment and subsequent elections are part of a great American story, a great unfolding American story which also includes the recent success of the current American presdient. Its just like Rich to insist that this story has to be built around racial bad faith. In fact, the evidence suggests that Republicans have always liked Jindal for what they see as his giant competence. Heres Bill Walsh, in the Times-Picayune, just after Jindals appointment:
Good for Foster, a southern white Republican who was willing to pick the person he apparently thought would be best.
Jindal gave a very poor speech in response to Obama last week. But the story of his appointment and subsequent election is a tale of American progressand it involves the conduct of a lot of southern white Republicans, starting with Governor Foster. People like Rich will always insist that you should feed on the most bitter gruel. You see, Frank Rich is one of the worlds worst persons. Readers tend to get dumber, and more ugly, by reading his crab-hearted work.
We wouldnt vote for Jindal ourselves. But Foster nudged an American story along when he made that unlikely appointment. Later, Bayou State voters did the same. We hope they keep on keepin onand we hope that consummate creeps like Rich will one day cough on their gruel.
Tomorrow, more on that Education Week survey. And by the way, What Would Obama Do? Would he sneer at Jindal, the way Rich did? Or might he say the things we just said? What kinds of attitudes explain the high respect in which this man is held?