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All my circuits are blown on this one I can’t even swear at it. It is proof that God has abandoned the up-keep of his creation.
The AP “fact checks” Clinton’s convention speech. I’ll ruin the surprise: no actual facts are checked.
Before the Fisking it’s important to just count the number of claims about politics that are presented as obvious truths without any repeat any evidence or argument to back them up. 1. “The inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock.” 2. “The problem with compromising in Washington is that there are few true moderates left in either party.” 3. is a little more abstract, but the piece faults Obama for “ensur[ing] the tough compromises would not get made” on Social Security and the debt. Why are “tough compromises” necessary on these things at this time? I dunno. Neither does the AP.
As always, the centrist scam is to hide a very particular political agenda behind “objective” analysis. If the parties aren’t working to enact the corporate consensus, they are inflexible partisans. Amazingly, this consensus can be found on every corporate media entity. What an astounding coincidence.
Enough sarcasm. ThinkProgress did its best on this turd but only got to about 15% of what’s wrong with it. Not good enough. Prepare to Fisk.
Clinton Claim: Obama be compromisin’ Republicans be obstructin’.
AP Fact Check: 1. The first “fact” is that Rahm Emanuel exists. No mention of anything he did. Just that he exists.
2. The “grand bargain” didn’t happen because Boehner couldn’t get Republicans to vote for it and Obama was criticized by some Democrats. CRITICIZED. BY SOME DEMOCRATS. Clearly a party is holding up legislation if some of its members are criticizing it.
3. Simpson-Bowles wasn’t enacted in legislation, even though the Republicans torpedoed the actual commission, and even though Obama adopted most of it for his own proposal. The AP acknowledges these things.
Good job, AP. Your fact check of the claim that Democrats compromise and Republicans are obstructing the machinery of government only ignores all the instances in which Republicans have been doing so to an historic extent. Recite it with me: record Senate filibusters debt ceiling ransoming record number of executive agency confirmations denied.
Now I’m just a simple country lawyer, but it seems to me that evaluating a claim that a party has been obstructionist needs to grapple with the objective ways in which that party has been historically obstructionist.
Clinton Claim: Health care spending has increased at a lower rate since Obamacare has been enacted.
AP Fact Check: 1. It’s mainly the economy
2. The two main cost-saving measures have yet to kick in
3. Anyway who gives a shit people still pay a lot for health care amirite
The only “fact check” here that has any logical connection at all to Clinton’s statement is the point about the economy. Interesting that the article can’t even keep it’s claims straight across paragraphs; first it’s due to “uncertainty”, then it’s about the economy being “lackluster”, which suggest two completely different mechanisms in how health care spending is affected. Either way though both should have been even more prevalent in 2009, when the rate of spending increased, than in 2010 and 2011, when it decreased.
Goddammit is there one fucking thing in here that isn’t undone with elementary logic.
Clinton Claim: Romney’s campaign said “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Remember that, America.
AP Fact Check: We remember when Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky so it’s hypocritical for him to call out a campaign basically stating it will lie as much as it possible can.
Guess not. As logically insane it is for a “fact check” operation to be running political smears, THIS ISN’T EVEN A FUCKING CLAIM TO FACT CHECK IT’S JUST A FUCKING TRANSCRIPT OF-
Y’know let’s just move on to the last one. Because there is no larger order to which we are beholden and we all die alone, let’s just do it for kicks. Just to see if there’s one goddamn thing of value in this fucking thing.
Clinton Claim: Voter’s anger at the economy is understandable, but a political reaction to them wouldn’t be prudent. Voters were angry about the economy in ’94 and ’95, right before a huge economic expansion.
AP Fact Check: Clinton’s comments ignore the role his policies had in later economic troubles. The tech bubble eventually popped, and Glass-Steagall repeal set the stage for the ’08 collapse.
Those things did happen, AP, which have what to do with anything? Clinton makes a point about the political timetable moving too quickly to adequately judge economic progress and you bring up the bad parts of Clinton’s economic record? Is your point that voters should look five to ten years into the future to look at the economic effects of who gets elected, and then compare that to what they think would have happened under the other guy? But wait: if they’re looking into the future, then how can they change what’s going to happen? Unless it’s only a possible future . . .
That’s right. The only way to read the AP fact check article in a way that doesn’t make it out to be completely mendacious is to imagine the intended audience is a nation of Kwisatz Haderachs. Centrism at its finest.
Matt Bai is living proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His parents figured out how to bone and unleashed dangerous centrist spawn on the world nine months later.
In truth, though, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Warren speak to different audiences and reflect inescapably divergent perspectives on how to confront the epic challenges of globalization and inequality.
Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected, but also to build a more modern economy. He was the one, as spokesman for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who told Democrats again and again that they couldn’t succeed as a party that loved jobs but disdained the businesses that create them. Mr. Clinton transformed welfare, balanced the budget and declared an end to the liberal era of government, which is why a lot of conservative-leaning independent voters would re-elect him if they could.
As a Harvard law professor during the Bush years, Ms. Warren, who is now a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, came to represent a rebuke of such Clintonian expedience. Her indictment against the excesses of Wall Street and the abdication of centrist Democrats became popular among a new generation of old-style economic populists (most notably John Edwards and then Mr. Obama), who often cited Ms. Warren’s arguments in making the case that the party had to reverse course from the Clinton years and rein in a business community that was prospering at the expense of the middle class.
HOLY BALLS ARE THESE NOT CONTRADICTORY. Bill Clinton is not for a fucking financial collapse. Elizabeth Warren is not for incontinent irresponsible spending. Clinton is not in favor of letting credit card companies fuck over their customers. Warren is not for cutting off business from financing and capital.
THESE APPROACHES ARE, IN FACT, COMPLEMENTARY. Without strong oversight and strict rules, the financial system just doesn’t fucking work, does it. And if the ability of the financial system to provide capital to businesses is shunted, the economy doesn’t fucking work, does it. But I’m sure Clinton wants the former outcome and Warren wants the latter.
THESE APPROACHES ARE COMPLEMENTARY BECAUSE THEY ARE RESPONDING TO DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS, LIKE ADULTS. Would Warren have opposed balancing the budget and paying down debt in the late nineties? Is Clinton opposed to expanding food stamps and unemployment insurance right now? Is there anything contradictory in any of this?
THERE’S A GHOST OF A POINT HERE, BUT BAI FUCKS IT UP BY TRYING TO BE DAVID BROOKS AND INFANTILIZING IT. And it’s not one he spends a full clause on. “Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected,” end quote. Hmm that’s an interesting point maybe the Democrats have to take finance cash in order to win what are the causes of this situation what are the consequences Mr. Bai? Mr. Bai? Why are you putting that brightly colored plastic block in your mouth? Why won’t you tell me about the powerful structural factors that determine the political phenomenon you’re talking about? Why are you talking this bullshit about “competing worldviews” that you know is so abstract it isn’t even a gross oversimplification?
BAI’S INFANTILIZATION RESTS ON A CENTRIST POLITICAL AGENDA THAT IS NEVER EXPLORED IN THE PIECE ITSELF.
A. Making up a fight among Clinton and Warren makes it seem like “don’t fix the financial sector” is a viable political position within the Democratic Party, which puffs it up as a mainstream opinion instead of its actual existence as a whispy ghost on the fringes of acceptability.
B. By making up a huge fissure in the Democratic Party, it allows an implicit comparison to the Republicans, whose central story since Palin has been its war between moderates and looney tunes. Both Sides Do It! Partisan politics is tumultuous and eventful and exciting! The fact that Bai can’t find actual disagreements to make his point, the fact that he has to make shit up to make the point that politics is working out large disagreements with huge stakes, means that he’s a . . . big poopy head.
C. The mask slips at the very end and Bai starts to reveal his political preferences. In the guise of objective analysis, of course. “Is Mr. Obama, at bottom, the Clintonian candidate who tried to hammer out a “grand bargain” on the budget with Republicans, or is he the more traditional Democrat who skewers Wall Street bankers as “fat cats” and pretends he can fix inequality with gimmicks like “the Buffett rule?” ” The use of pejorative terms for one side of that “objective” question indicates where Bai stands, of course, but it goes even deeper. By ridiculing the perfectly-sensible-on-both-policy-and-moral-grounds Buffett rule for not single-handedly fixing income inequality, he denigrates the very idea of both the sensible rule and treating income inequality as a complex problem which will need a toolkit to take apart instead of a hammer. In other words, he’s denigrating the idea of being an adult about solving important problems.
How Bai has avoided SIDS this long I have no idea.
Of all the cheap little tropes these centrists use to obscure their moral and intellectual vapidity the absolute fucking worst (well maybe a tie with the self-absorbed circle-jerk that is the concern about “tone” and “civility”) is humor. Not quite humor, I think we can all agree; maybe parody. Hell it’s not even that. It’s just mean-spirited empty sarcasm. Tina Fey Mean Girls style. Always.
And lo how the examples stack up when reality presents them with a situation that no amount of quibbling and hair-splitting can keep them from claiming that “both sides do it” and to plead for “civility”.
Like now. For instance, dafuq is Brooks doing in this column? It’s a series of exaggerations of Romney’s biography, hitting the main points of Romney’s narrative: his childhood, teenage boarding school years, the dog on the car, the Olympics, the governorship. Bain is given short shrift, comparatively. The details are so outlandish (Mitt converted to being Amish but left after he found out about the ban on hair cream, nyuk nyuk nyuk) that such venerable writers as Susan and Doug mistook it at first as satire about Romney, or didn’t understand the fuck it was trying to do. Letters to the editor also share that interpretation.
You need eyes attuned to the absolute black pitch of centrist thought to be able to parse what’s going on here.
Because Brooks thinks he’s making fun of the rest of the media and Democrats.
He’s saying, “Oh my goodness gosh, the insane things people are saying about Romney. Look at how insane they are. This insane!” But take two seconds to think about it. What is the actual content of the critique he is satirizing? “Romney doesn’t care about people who have little or no wealth. He doesn’t know how they live, he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care if they get hurt. His immense family wealth bought him the ability to lead a different life than most anyone else, and to not care about what happens to most anyone else.”
Is there any doubt this is the case? At all? How many different senses do you need to lose before you start doubting those propositions? His preferred policies are an economic holocaust for people without stocks, capital or car garages. In every single instance they favor increasing the wealth of the wealthy instead of the economic, health, environmental, or any other concerns of any other group.
Brooks could be using his column to be shedding light on under-reported issues, or to rally support to address specific issues of injustice, or to brag about his shitty kids. Anything would be better than this too-confused-to-even-call-it “satire” whose targets are complaints that a nominee for president wants to dick over everyone without money.
So you see the basic format: there is a proposition or a practice that is as clearly against the sensibilities of the centrist pundit as it is true, which puts the centrist pundit in a quandary. What to do, what to do. Incoherent sarcasm is the answer. Especially when it’s being applied in defense of other centrist pundits.
Glenn Kessler, as discussed, is a gaping scumbag asshole who needs to be fired for incompetence at discussing politics in a national forum. Clive Crook disagrees with that statement, but cannot provide any reasons for disagreement, so he lapses into ohp you guessed it:
Of course I could criticize Kessler without calling him the filthy liar that he is. You know, exercise a little “restraint”. On the one hand, on the other hand, all that crap. But leading scholars have taught us that in politics things aren’t complicated, and when somebody builds a career on a lie, we need to say so . . .
Some of you may find that distinction hard to grasp. It’s Two Spocks difficult. Paul Krugman helped me see that people are divided into three groups: the ones who know I’m right (I call these “excellent”), fools and knaves. Possibly, you’re a fool, so let me spell it out for you. When a fact is wrong, it’s not some number of Pinocchios, it’s just wrong . . .
Angry? You bet I’m angry. I’m crying tears of rage right now. We don’t tolerate people who torture small children and we shouldn’t tolerate atrocities like this. I can’t think of a penalty too severe . . . And I know calling him a brazen liar and wishing him to be set upon by ravening dogs isn’t going to open any channels of communication between us. Good. That’s just how I want it. You can be “civil” and have your nice debates, and that’s all fine and dandy if you want to be a filthy traitor in the war of ideas. But when you engage with liars, you validate their lies–lies, lies, lies–and you’re no better than they are.
I guess there are “reasons” in there, that certain ages of child might accept. I don’t really see how claiming “politics is difficult” is a defense of Kessler’s refusal to condemn what he admits are lies. I don’t see the value in a type of nuance that says “this consistent series of political stances based on an incoherent budget plan may enrich every millionaire at the expense of every non-millionaire, but really, every politician fudges things a little.” And I don’t see why getting angry at people who refuse to acknowledge that the consistent actions and stated intent of a segment of elites are to enrich themselves as much as possible by making life as desperate for as many other people as possible is a vice.
The “channels of communication” thing is the biggest crock of shit. “Yeah, these guys want to take away your pension and medical support and basically force everyone to live paycheck to paycheck shackled to debt their entire lives, and are lying about it, but it’s not that important.”
“Hey, fuck you too, buddy, it is important.”
“HOW DARE YOU CLOSE THE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION. I don’t see how I can discuss, IN THIS HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT, how fucking you and your kids and your parents over isn’t important.”
So fuck you, Clive Crook, with a rusty spoon, right in the eye. You’re defending someone who’s saying, “I acknowledge these politicians are lying about fucking people over for decades. It isn’t a big deal.” And your only defense is childish sarcasm and meaningless buzzwords. Who’s fucking blocking the lines of communication, here, dickwad?
Oh plus Clive Crook defends Mickey “I am literally the worst thinker Slate has ever published” Kaus. ‘Nuff said.
Scumbag asshole Glenn Kessler writes a column called “The Fact Checker” for the Washington Establishment Stooge Subsidized by Shady Education Materials Company. Why is he a scumbag asshole?
The occasion for the column, of course, is the recently concluded Lies-a-thon of a convention the Republicans held between marathon lap dances in Tampa. Every single substantive claim or reference to policy made by Paul Ryan was completely empirically false, fer instance. So of course someone who writes a column called “The Fact Checker” in the second most important newspaper in the country says that it doesn’t matter.
The Washington Post’s political coverage cannot induce embarrassment in its proprietors at this point, but let’s look at what would embarrass another paper should this piece have appeared anywhere else:
– It’s always like this! Because Zell Miller made a few claims about Kerry’s agenda in a speech at the ’04 Republican convention that extrapolated too much on old votes or statements. And that crazy Sarah Palin and her on-again off-again relationship with that bridge to nowhere. And Obama referenced McCain voting 90% of the time with Republicans while remaining silent about his 97% rate voting with Democrats.
Let’s start with that Obama thing first, because it illustrates just how goddamn mendacious this whole exercise is. Ask me if the next fucking sentence in that 2008 speech after the 90% reference makes Kessler look like a gaping asshole. Because I have the answer.
But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
A C-average 8th-grader would be expected to understand the mistake Kessler’s making. How can you argue with such a person? They’re either too stupid to understand what they’re doing, too dishonest to care, or too lazy to give a fuck about it. Who the fuck thinks Kessler has any credibility or integrity after doing something like that?
Zell Miller was making claims about Kerry’s approach to the world. His Weltanschauung. This last convention lied non-stop about facts. Picking two among dozens of others, Romney said Obama raised taxes on the middle-class, when Obama lowered taxes on the middle class. Ryan contradicted the stated reasons of credit agencies for downgrading US credit. In a CBS interview afterward, he contradicted the words of the report as they were read to him. You should watch the clip of that interview if you want to see a sort of nightmare vision of a political figure’s refusal to acknowledge reality.
Doghouse Riley, The Best Pundit In America, makes a similar point about the Palin stuff.
Palin’s comments underlined a personal dishonesty so thorough that no one would trust her to make the proper change. This was a subject the Press, naturally, stayed the hell away from; her wardrobe grifting got some play, but also the required faux-balance pushback. When she told Katie Couric she read “all” newspapers it was taken as evidence that she couldn’t name any (possibly true, extemporaneously, anyway), but not so much as evidence that she’d lie to anyone about breakfast, if she felt she needed to (“C’mon. She’s a politician!”).
Ryan, on the other hand, simply misrepresents inconvenient facts in order to push his apodictic Randian certainties on the rest of us, and those certainties collapse the moment facts are applied. That’s an exponentially greater lie than Palin’s fictional bio (or Marco Rubio’s), and several orders of magnitude more consequential.
Bieberdamnit I wish I could write like that.
But really the only point that needs to be made here is
SO WHAT IF THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE USUALLY DONE YOU FUCKING DOLT
THIRTY MILLION PEOPLE WATCH THIS FUCKING SHIT AND DON’T REALIZE THEY’RE BEING LIED TO
IT’S HARMFUL, IT SHOULDN’T BE ACCEPTABLE, AND PEOPLE IN YOUR POSITION ARE AMONG THE FEW WHO CAN CHANGE IT. STOP WALLOWING IN THE CULTURE OF POLITICAL OPERATIVES AND DEFENDING THE PRACTICES OF PEOPLE YOU SOCIALIZE WITH. DO WHAT FUCKING TEENAGERS KNOW IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
– Tone is more important! Bob Dole’s ’96 speech was much more acerbic. And Romney didn’t include in his speech all the lies that his campaign uses in their commercials. And anyway these things are just giant commercials, no need really for nitty-gritty details to intrude in them.
I summon Thers and Whiskey Fire’s many years of archives about tone and civility in politics. The big guns. Concern about tone is a cudgel centrists resort to when there’s no other argument to make. Because what effect does tone have? When Dole said that Clinton was taking money away from families so they couldn’t afford to pay the bills, what were the negative consequences? Mm-hmm. Meanwhile the negative effects of the kind of lying about facts the Republicans just spent three days doing prevents democracy from functioning in a competent manner. Why the fuck should tone matter instead of lying about facts? Kessler doesn’t say, for some reason. And why the fuck should it matter what tone anyone takes when they lie their fucking heads off? Kessler doesn’t say, for some reason.
In the meantime all this gibberish about not including the maximal amount of lying and lying being ok in this format because I said so that’s why is so fucking stupid and obsequious I can’t even force myself to type a response to it.
Really this is a prime example of maybe the biggest centrist media crime: confusing their role with being a political player. If the centrist media person’s job is part of the professional political establishment, it’s their responsibility to defend political institutional practices adopted for their own interests against scrutiny. If the centrist media person’s job is to report the facts about the professional political establishment in a way that serves the public good, it’s their responsibility to scrutinize political institutional practices and critique them when they’re deficient. Kessler’s irrational toadying makes it clear where he falls.