I have a dear conservative friend with whom I have lively conversations. He’s well-read (informed) and listens to others. But every now and then, I get a call from him in which his voice is raised to a near-hysterical pitch, and I can hear Fox News droning in the background. I give him my ground rule: Never call me until Fox has been turned off for at least 30 minutes.
Now, I can understand Dana Milbank’s concern that the gargoyles of the right are sending their paranoids off on violent rampages. But that column, following E.J. Dionne’s on the smearing of Shirley Sherrod, points to an unfortunate trend in which some liberal pundits seem to be regarding the right-wing hustlers as serious news people. (Dionne does makes excellent points on the “respectable media’s” timidity in handling the lies.)
I occasionally watch Fox to check in on the carnival but never worry excessively about its power. Sure it attracts many gawkers. So do car wrecks. Recall that Fox was in full flower in November 2008, when the American people elected a Democratic House, Democratic Senate and Democratic president.
As for the Sherrod case, I don’t blame Andrew Breitbart. He is what he is — a publicity hound dishing right-wing fantasy for money and fame. Discussing his “journalistic standards” is ludicrous.
Waving fingers at Glenn Beck and his like is pointless. Organizing a boycott of their advertisers would be a far more effective approach. Note what happened to Don Imus when he shot his mouth off in a beyond-the-pale way.
Blame for the Sherrod scandal belongs strictly on the shoulders of the Obama administration. That its smart boys bought into that propaganda without triple-checking the facts is what scares me.
BTW, if some nutbag goes off and kills a bunch of people on the basis of a report on Fox, that’s going to be very bad politically for the right wing. Americans, whatever their politics, are generally decent people.
Once Dr. Donald Berwick, the new head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, pulls the arrows out of his back, he should get to work doing the job for which he is supremely qualified: fixing the government health insurance programs.
So much for the starve-the-beast theory whereby cutting taxes leads to smaller government. Our two leading tax-cutting presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, advocated that theory, then expanded government with borrowed money. Clever fellows.
Another theory based on the “fiscal illusion” effect holds that raising taxes is a more effective way to contain government than cutting them.
I discuss that thinking in my new column:
There are too many things to do on this glorious Sunday for me to linger on a response to an exchange on Friday’s Rush Limbaugh Show that questioned my honesty and work ethic, not to mention my intelligence.
To country boy, all I can say is, “Aw shucks.”
Anyone wanting to know what I wrote can read it here.
BTW, 2000 is not a great year to assess the revenues raised off the dot-com bubble. The dot-com market crashed that March.
Many Louisianans remain sore over a recent column suggesting, half in jest, that the state become a U.S. protectorate. I was accusing state officials, and by extension the electorate, of groveling before oil money — at the cost of despoiling their natural paradise.
But now we read of a churchwoman, Patty Whitney of Terrebonne Parish, talking back at the despotism of oil. So deep is the intimidation that friends call her brave for questioning the oil culture at public forums.
Whitney said that one of her brothers argued (as have countless readers), “America needs oil.”
And she responds:
Then let them drill. Let them drill in Yellowstone Park, in the Grand Canyon, in Puget Sound, off Martha’s Vineyard. Let them mess up their own places instead of just drilling in my beautiful Louisiana.
Boy, does she ever have it right.
And a note to all my Pelican State correspondents who take credit for heating my house in winter: I’d rather have their shrimp than their oil.
Tough Liberals have long been frustrated by the Democratic leadership’s periodic ventures into racial preferences — even as they abhor Republicans’ not-so-subtle appeals to prejudices among white voters. I express such displeasure toward the end of a recent column.
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb hits the nail on the nuanced head, when he criticizes racial preferences as they’ve evolved since the Civil Rights era. A long-time defender of poor Southern whites, he makes his case against laws that, in effect, discriminate against them in today’s Wall Street Journal.
By the way, Webb’s book, “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” is both informative and a wonderful read.
That was a theme in Kubrick’s movie classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and a theme of my latest column. The work day in the early 21st Century ain’t no graceful waltz to a Strauss tune.
The new financial reform law calls upon government experts to make “heroic judgments,” complains David Brooks.
That is to say, investors may believe a bank is stable. The executives of the bank may believe it is stable. But the regulators are called upon to exercise their superior vision and determine which banks are stable and which are not.
Although Brooks ridicules the notion that government experts could better spot a bank about to go under than the bank’s owners/managers, that happened about 20 months ago — not exactly the mists of time. And he does skirt the fact that the owners/managers had a great deal of money riding on hiding the truth that they were going under.
If we had government experts to force an orderly liquidation of big institutions on the brink and threatening the health of the financial system, we would not be paying right now for their bailout. By “we” I mean the taxpayers.
Brooks says with accuracy that a new progressive era is upon us. It’s not a liberal era where money is being redistributed. It’s a period in which “a large class of educated professionals” is being hired to analyze and make rules. In Republican shorthand, he’s talking about an “educated elite” tellling the rest of us what’s what. And the rest of us are supposed to resent that.
In the early 1900s, patent-medicine companies were selling “cures” to the poor that were little better than (and sometimes were) poison. They filled their bottles with such ingredients as sulphuric acid, cocaine and booze, and sold the results as miracle medicines. The con artists getting rich off this waved the socialism word at journalists or scientists trying to expose the dangerous fraud.
In 1905, a pure food and drug bill was introduced into the Senate. Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich, a model of corporate-bought corruption, fought against the bill as “bureaucratic.”
May the New Progressive Era commence.
Hint: Being angry over ” the direction of the country” does not necessarily translate into support for the Republican Party. It may well mean the opposite.
My new column describes the brutality of the birdbath — the fight for survival underneath the pastoral scene of a city garden.