« July 1, 2012 - July 7, 2012 | Main | July 15, 2012 - July 21, 2012 »

July 13, 2012

david brooks again fails to mention hygiene

If there is a more stalwart defender of The Way Things Were than David Brooks out there, I don't know who it is.  Today's column starts out as a standard David Brooks Strawman Of The Week effort (today's Straw Man: Chris Hayes!) and then veers wildly halfway through into
The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

That's one of those scary paragraphs that says a whole lot more about the writer than it does about the intended topic.  I.e., David Brooks is getting paid an awful lot of money to self-therapy himself in public.


Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

July 12, 2012


I am absolutely not up to speed at all on the LIBOR scandal which is slowly burning up the social media.  I know that Barclay's admitted some bad things w/r/t manipulating LIBOR and jettisoned some of its leadership, and I know that other conspiring banks have yet to be IDed.  And I know that the murmurs on the Internet culminate in this mysterious tweet by my go-to source for business news, reporter Heidi Moore:
Four source interviews about LIBOR this afternoon. This thing is bigger than subprime. Just you watch.

I did read somewhere (link already lost) that U.S. municipalities were considering suing The Banks over this, as the LIBOR manipulations affected certain payment structures of municipal bonds, and that the exposure of The Banks was something like $20 billion, which, between you and me, is not an amount that would make this "bigger than subprime".  So we'll just have to wait and see (and read Heidi Moore).

In the meantime, a hypothetical question: have we reached the point where we need to reconsider the role of international finance in the economy specifically and in society in general?  I know that it's sacrilege to question the ways that we allocate capital and such, but it seems to me that the system is not just rigged but as corrupt as the Russian oil industry.

(And when I say "reconsider" I'm not too far from replacing that with "burn to the ground and start over.")

Posted by mrbrent at 4:36 PM

romney goes to the naacp

Apparently the company line on Mitt Romney's speech to the NAACP yesterday is: good on Mitt for having the chutzpah to show up.  It's not really a shock to anyone that the putative Republican nominee for president might not find the NAACP a friendly crowd — though that fact is rarely unpacked, right?  It's suggested as axiomatic that minorities are leery of the GOP, and sometimes even certain GOP talking heads (and even one as reasonable as The Takeaway contributor Ron Christie) will suggest that it's racist of the NAACP not to give the GOP a fair shot, and never mind the decades-long efforts to roll back the Great Society and undo the New Deal (and bring back poll taxes as well).

Anyhow, the idea of a billionaire going in front of the NAACP and telling them that he'd be a better president for African Americans because he'll cut taxes on the wealthy and hamstring social services — wasn't too long ago that that could have been a joke I'd have written.

There's also been a whisper from the Left that Romney's speech was actually a cynical ploy to bait the NAACP into booing him, so as to sate Romney's racist bloc of supporters.  I'm sure that's an idea that crossed an adviser's mind, but even I am not so cynical as to believe that.  I think it's more of a case of the party line, that he had little to lose and everything to gain just by showing up, that middle-of-the-road commentators would pick out some sort of Romney is Unafraid narrative.

At the very least is distracted the world from Romney's record as a venture capitalist and the amount of his personal fortune that is parked overseas to avoid U.S. taxes for at least a day, so mission accomplished for Team Romney.

(There are also allegations that Romney's speech was in no small part racist, just in inflammatory choice of words, like "non-essential" government programs and "Obamacare".  May well be the case, but it's just as likely the case that the Orwellian Conservative phrase-mongering is so calcified that it's no longer viewed as provocative by the speaker.)

Posted by mrbrent at 9:31 AM

July 11, 2012

poll tax

You might have an idea what was the best thing of yesterday.  The National League kicking the patootie of the American League in the All-Star Game, that's a good thing, and the comments thread to this bit of controversy is also a good thing.  But the best thing?

That would be our Attorney General, Eric Holder, actually going there:

“Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not,” Holder said [speaking to the NAACP], referring specifically to the voter ID law passed in Texas. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.”

That last line was not part of Holder’s prepared remarks released to the press.


The voter ID laws sprouting up in GOP-controlled state houses are some of the cynical and transparent attempts at vote suppression since the Civil Rights era, and are being introduced and voted on with a straight face.  Proponents (like this dude, Hans Von Spakovsky, who did not retire in shame after using the Bush Justice Department Civil Rights Division as a tool to take away the civil rights of voters, but instead is voter ID's go-to talking head) claim that the laws are needed because of the possibility of voter fraud.  It's the possibility that has to be highlighted because there is honestly no history of endemic voter fraud.  None.

No, the purpose of the legislation is to make it harder for the poor to vote, and the poor vote Democratic.  And so the Republican Party, financed by the Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Foundation et al., are trying to take rights away from Americans.

Time was that such a feckless act would not be pursued, because, well, "Won't folk see through that pretty quick?"

We are past the point at which the GOP cares is folk see through that pretty quick.

So for the head of federal law enforcement to come out and call voter ID laws what they are, a poll tax, with all the images that conjures, is a pretty important moment, and the best thing of yesterday.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:16 AM

July 10, 2012


Now that we're four months out from the election, prepare to be inundated with polls.  Not that we haven't been so far — why, even today an ABC/WashPost poll is out showing that the presidential race is a statistical dead heat!  So let's all panic.  Sigh.

I'm with Choire Sicha inasmuch as I agree that the polls are something to be largely ignored.  It's tempting to attribute the irresponsibility of the polls to the fact that a close race is in the interest of the media outlets paying for the polls, or even some esoteric research phenomenon like the regression to the mean, but I have another suggestion as to why you should be living in a poll-free zone:

People lie.

Once the pollsters establish some way to compensate for the total American lack of veracity, I'll start paying better attention.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:32 AM

July 8, 2012

allen west!!

This happened a couple of days ago, but I missed it because I'm on vacation.  But it's Allen West, so it's always worth repeating.  Rep. West (R-FL) on the president:
He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.

West's super-power is rhetorical bomb-throwing, obviously — he's not trying to convince anyone that disagrees with him, but rather throwing raw meat to the knuckle-draggers that agree with him.

But the awesomeness of West is not how he elides actual points (is it worth having a conversation about entitlements and the feeling of entitlement? sure, I'd be happy to entertain that), but rather how he is pushing the envelope of Godwin's Law.

If only he were openly gay, so he could make specious comparisons of the administration to pink triangles.

But as a loudmouth second- (fourth? twelfth?) coming of Joe McCarthy, I welcome his participation in the political conversation, as he is the proud embodiment of everything that is wrong with it.  (Unlike Eric Cantor, who is the craven, sniveling embodiment thereof.)

Posted by mrbrent at 8:50 AM