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October 6, 2011

tea party criticism of occupyy wall street

Interesting to read this little TPM round-up of Tea Party reactions to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It only makes sense that they would, even though the OWS has an awful lot more in common with Madison, WI from nine months ago than it does any Tea Party event I can remember, because it is the natural pundit instinct to make the comparison.  Masses of people, complaining of disenfranchisement, etc.  I guess if you squint hard enough it makes sense.

But to wit the criticisms of the Tea Party are separated into three categories: it's just an inchoate angry lawless mob, it's entirely Caucasian, and it's a sock-puppet of greater interests.  Which, oddly enough, are exactly the three flavors of criticisms leveled at the Tea Party a couple of quarters ago!

I still haven't figured out why this is, but I swear that Republicans/conservatives, when accused of something demonstrably true, sulk and wait for the chance to accuse their opponents of precisely the same thing.  Because THAT WILL SHOW THEM.

Up at the top I said, "Interesting to read.."  That should be, "In other absolutely predictable news..."

Posted by mrbrent at 10:24 AM

maybe the last sarah palin post?

Lost between the news of the death of Steve Jobs and the most recent Occupy Wall Street March was the revelation, shared on a conservative call-in radio show hosted by a man I've never heard of, that Sarah Palin would not be running for president.

Not that this is actually news: the fact that NYT ran it on page A22 I thought was a kindness, a gesture back to the days when Palin somehow mattered, when hundreds of thousands of people would fire up their Venn diagrams, ready to parse the tortured syntax out of the next regal pronouncement from the retired governor.  It was no secret that she had zero chance to win the nomination, mostly because she is divisive, but in no small part because the fact that she is back-stabbing, petty, vindictive, manipulative and imperious is no longer the secret that it once was.  So Michelle Bachmann ate her lunch, then Rich Perry ate her early supper, and we'll get to Chris Christie in a second.  Oh, and Herman Cain!  He is also running for president, the rumor is.

In Palin's defense, at least she had the decency to not whirl the speculation of a candidacy into a nationwide media sensation, culminating with an ESPN special live from a Cleveland gymnasium.  Not like that stage hog Chris Christie, no, chewing the scenery for like three hours on Tuesday.  (Yeah, I said, "chewing.")

I'm sure Palin will still be around — once someone famous for being famous establishes a pretty good salary, they're in there like a tick — so let's all brush up on basic grammar so that we can make fun all the better.

But also, in the sense of resignation or even Schadenfreude, let's remember that "ignomy" is still a word.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:54 AM

October 5, 2011

debt forgiveness

This is a nice little piece of writing from Alex Pareene considering a controversial proposal of a possible goal for the Occupy Wall Street folks (who are at the time of writing this marching from City Hall to the Street, thousands strong):
So my immodest proposal is simply this: Individuals and households in the bottom 99 percent who owe debt to any large financial institution that received federal government support during and after the 2008 crisis should see their debt forgiven. That would certainly stimulate the economy, as most people would suddenly find themselves with a great deal more money to spend on iPads (and food, and clothing, and housing, and healthcare). The debt can be forgiven by decree or if the government really wants to it can step in to pay it itself; I don’t much care either way. (Though it’d be nice to see it just wiped off the books, to enrage the banks.) [Emphasis Pareene's.]

It's not as easy as all that, of course, and it's already garnering a fair share of skepticism on the grounds of "moral hazard" (which I find to be a bit dubious), but if you read Pareene's piece, walk down the logical path that he lays out, it makes sense, both as an obvious stimulus, and as a quid pro quo event in light of the treatment The Banks received three years ago.

As said, this is controversial, and I'm not necessarily endorsing it, but it might be an interesting, serious demand that could be used to achieve a different, positive outcome.

But yeah, looks like the class war is finally here.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:48 PM

the 99%

Is it too late to put the brakes on the "We are the 99%" thing?

I'm as for a class war (well, at least a class skirmish) as the next guy, but any self-naming that comes off like it was the product of a marketing consultant with six months to focus group just makes me leery of the whole thing.

And it's not just too slick by degrees, it also implies that there is a segment of the population that is the "bad guy" (which would be the 1%, right?).  First of all, it's not correct, which gives those against the movement endless opportunities to evade the question and dicker about what the actual percentage is that should be talked about, whether you're talking about the income-earners or the wealth-holders or even the stock-holders.  It's too slippery of a game to play, and while a healthy portion of the protest is for the punishment of the authors of the Great Recession of 2008, it's primary focus is something more forward-thinking.

Really, isn't it the system that's being talked about and not the perpetrators thereof?  I personally think that the system drives the bad actors as much as vice versa, and I've read a healthy amount of quotage from the protesters that, when asked what exactly they're protesting, land eventually on, "Capitalism?"

So The 99% might look great on a website and will certainly make a wicked evil logo, but I say, "Wait stop don't."

Posted by mrbrent at 9:31 AM

October 4, 2011

on chris christie fat jokes

Also trending on social media right now (I guess I don't need to type that to start every post, do I?) is some serious rubber finger shit: entreaties to stop making fun of Gov. Chris Christie because he is fat.  A representative scold:
If you’re a liberal then you should be well above fat jokes, regardless of who the subject is. Because you’re against judging people based on purely superficial shit, right?

This is not a black and white topic, and it breaks down into a couple of subtopics (none of which are political correctness, I aver, even if that's not the case).

First of all, we're talking about jokes and comedy in general, which is difficult-to-pin-down topic (see E.B. White's quote concerning the dissection of a frog).  I'm not sure if it's possible to isolate what makes funny funny, but I would say that equating jokes with "judging people based purely based on superficial shit" is not accurate.  There's a whole onion of layered contexts that is the medium for the average Chris-Christie-is-fat jokes: the actual political power wielded by Christie, the personal style of Christie, the intended audience of the joke, the greater history of bad jokes, etc.  There is at least a dash of irony in there somewhere, and perhaps a whole array of dashes.  But back to the obvious: I don't see how making fun of something is the same thing as judging something.  More like noticing something.

Also, to wit, even if the joke is intended (to the extent that we can deduce intention) to be straight-forward and mean, what of it?  The freedom to be what you want to be (or even what you can't help being) is not the same thing as the freedom to not be made fun of.  This ties into the anti-bullying movement in an uncomfortable way.  This is maybe where judgement actually comes in: the freedom to judge the teller of the joke.  In this light, I take exception to the scolding because it implies that one can never tell a Chris Christie fat joke.  I'm not of that opinion.  It's all situational.

Ultimately, it's the slippery slopes that are the most terrifying aspect: where do we draw the line on the specific intrinsic qualities that may be mocked?  Was it OK to call George W. Bush dumb?  Is it acceptable to raise issues with Mitt Romney's sincerity?  Is it unfair to say that Eric Cantor resembles a cross between Nathan Thurm and an actual weasel with a wicked God complex?  It should be, and it is (unless being poorly-spoken, slimy and slimier is something that you have empathy for, in which case you protest.)

Maybe the way to cut through all of this is to disclaim: any jokes about the morbid obesity of Chris Christie are not intended to connect any other large people with the particular qualities of Chris Christie, which are his and his alone.

(And many of the people on the side of scolding are people that I respect, including one guy I respect an awful lot, so this is meant to be a conversation and not a diatribe.)

Posted by mrbrent at 1:34 PM

stupid polls

Right now splashing around the social media is a poll that shows that more than half of Americans don't expect for Obama to win reelection.  It's an ABC News-Washington Post poll, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percent.

Given that any poll that measures how actual voters are actually going to vote are useless wastes of time to anyone but campaign professionals, considering that the election is thirteen months away, my opinion of a poll that is about not how someone is going to vote but what someone expects to be the outcome, of an event so far away that one or even two meteorites could strike the earth between now and then, is very low indeed.  Like, could you guys please keep that bullshit out of my news, please please please?

The only marginally interesting thing about this poll, and I forget where I read this (the problem with dead-tree reading as opposed to Google reader, etc.), is that the polling of expectation of outcomes rather than intended actions is a deft way to explain markets, inasmuch as when you short a stock ($BAC, perhaps), you are not so much predicting that Bank of America will experience a plummeting market value as you are expecting investors to decide that Bank of America is no longer as valuable as it was yesterday.  We've structures in place that are more fueled by consensus than by tangible events.

That's a little bit interesting, but maybe not this early in the morning.

As far as expectations go, at this point in the election cycle, in order: (i) Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in, (ii) George W. Bush was dead in the water; (iii) Al Gore was measuring the drapes; (iv) there was no way Bill Clinton could shake off a bad first term; (v) George H.W. Bush had liberated Kuwait, etc. etc.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:41 AM

October 3, 2011

rick perry's hunting camp has a not-funny name

News this morning (courtesy of The Takeaway) was dominated with the fact that the hunting camp that Gov. Rick Perry went to with family and associates (at various times) was known locally as "Niggerhead".

First of all: Texas never ceases to astonish me.

But ultimately, it's not so fair to judge Perry for the sins of his forefathers.  When the name was painted over (it was on a boulder at the entrance to the camp) is a disputed, but clearly it is a vestige of West Texas' segregated past.  It's super vile (no duh), but you can't really blame Perry for growing up in a community where such a deployment of the N-bomb was tolerated.

What you can blame Perry for is being so stupid to think that such a fact — he has a long time association with a place the locals still call "Niggerhead" — would not somehow come up during a presidential campaign.  Really.  That's felony stupid.  That's like, "Oh sorry, campaign manager, but I forgot to tell you about that hooker I killed back in the 70s.  But really, who didn't, right?"

Bot that Perry is gaining any momentum recently (which momentum was [insert fat joke here] by Gov. Chris Christie, but it's safe to say we won't have Perry to kick around for much longer.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:03 AM

October 2, 2011

thank you all

Hey there.  I know that posting here has been sparse, at least compared both to precedent and what I aspire to, but I'm at the point where I'm spending some of the time I would spend on this on writing for third parties, which is an honor that I've worked towards and for which I am grateful.

And I should be spending this bit of time working on something to post here, but it's my birthday, so I'm going to navel-gaze instead.

This is one of those contemplative birthdays, and I'm taking stock a little bit.  This blog here is seven years old, and before that I ran a blog that was initially for a variety show that I ran with a dear friend of mine.  That was back before there were "blogging platforms" so the updating was done by hand, shoving chunks of HTML back and forth.  Just like our grandparents.

But the one constant in all of this, then , now, tomorrow, is all of you.  Some of you are no doubt old friends, and the rest of you are people that I've never met who are nice enough to click over and read.  I am enormously grateful, and my debt to you is large.

So then let me remind you, as I often forget to do, that you are clearly the most attractive and fascinating web audience of any, and if I were your mirror I woud be scared for myself.

Thanks again.  You rock.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:52 PM