"Kingfish" - Levon Helm
Levon singing Randy Newman -- a favorite of mine. Sadly, he appears to be quite ill. Just a great evocative voice and I think an underappreciated drummer.
- I've always been a little bit wary of terms like "white male privilege" and the like, probably because I've spent so much of my life representing organizations that were primarily made up of white men, where every gain represented something pretty hard fought and where those gains have long been under threat. But then I read something like this drivel by by Paul Theroux on the Trayvon Martin case in a recent issue of Newsweek, and I can't help but think in those exact terms. Theroux, in a classic example of a smart person writing nonsense, basically tries to make the case that since a cop once yelled at him during a traffic stop, black people are often simply mistaken when they perceive racism as being the cause for police brutality or, I guess, being gunned down when you are unarmed. The piece, offensively titled "If I had a son he would look like George Zimmerman," is so redolent of privileged cluelessness and weak logic that it takes one's breath away. I am sure that Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ousmane Zongo, Oscar Grant, Patrick Dorismond, and Michael Stewart, among others, would have sympathized with Theroux if they weren't dead.
- I have to say I have been enjoying Atrios's "Wanker of the Decade" feature. It was a potent reminder of why I started blogging in the first place. I just remember my incredible frustration in the early to middle aughts at the insipid state of media coverage in this country -- from the natterings of Ceci Connelly and MoDo during the Bush Gore election, to the ludicrous amen corner for war in Iraq, featuring Thomas Friedman, Andrew Sullivan, and Joe Klein, the ridiculous centrism tropes from the likes of Friedman again, David Broder, Will Saletan, and the whole gang-wank they call the Washington Post. A number of these folks -- especially Klein and Sullivan -- have behaved better in recent years, but I think the overall state of mainstream journalism and punditry has not much improved, despite what should have been the incredibly chastening events of the decade. I remain in awe of the sheer intellectual laziness of the elite media, their arrogance, their complacency, and their shallowness. I think the thing that Atrios also hits on the head is that the problems here were not by and large the right wing pundits -- yes, they were hopelessly wrong too and were completely in bed with the Bush Administration in all of its folly -- from whom not much could be legitimately expected. But those of the allegedly sensible center, like Friedman, Klein, and Saletan, illustrated again and again the inadequacy of the centrist world view.
Update: Well, I guess it's a new decade in which to wank. Friedman strikes again today with yet another insipid what we need is a third party column. Today it is Michael Bloomberg who will be our savior. He will increase the speed of the Acela, fix Amtrak's crappy cell phone service (which I have to admit is distressingly bad), and pave the roads around Union Station (which are actually being resurfaced right now -- that's why they are bumpy) all the while magically balancing the budget. Jesus. All a Bloomberg candidacy would do is help elect Mitt Romney. I am so ashamed to share an alma mater with this guy. The fact that Friedman is a widely respected pundit says so much about the sorry state of this country's media and political elite.
- Meanwhile, the world of false equivalency journalism -- at which Friedman has set the standard -- continues to dominate in the mainstream press. Rarely a day goes by where one does not see an egregious example. Tonight's wonderful example is an article in Newsweek yet again discussing the book What Money Can't Buy by Harvard professor Michael J. Sandal, who is well known for his course on justice. Sandal is critical of the over emphasis on markets in the American world view and centers his critique on the "consumerist idea of freedom." In other words, Sandal stands for the radical notion that there are some things in life that just aren't for sale or as reviewer Michael Fitzgerald describes it, "he thinks markets shouldn't replace our moral judgment." Fitzgerald's next sentence is just amazing though: "If his talk of morals scandalizes liberals, conservatives will squirm at his assault on their easy acceptance of markets." Does Fitzgerald really think liberals are "scandalized" by talk of morals? It seems to me that liberalism, with its emphasis on fairness, justice, equality, etc. is nothing but a non-stop call to morality. How can someone who is not a right wing propagandist write this kind of sentence in good faith?
- And speaking of right wing propaganda, another of the many things that I continue to be irritated by, is the notion that the liberal-left is suffering from its own brand of "epistemic closure" because we do not engage our right wing brethren in debate and dialogue. The question that leaps to mind is with whom would we have such a debate or discussion. It seems to me that the world of right wing journalism, whether online or of the dead tree variety, has reached a point where dialogue is virtually impossible. A case in point (to come full circle) is Obama's recent comment that if he had a son that he would have looked like Trayvon. This pretty innocuous and humanizing remark has been deemed hate speech by, among others, Glenn Reynolds and John Hindraker. Now theoretically, Reynolds and Hindraker should be people with whom one could have a discussion. Respectively a law professor and a partner at a good-sized law firm, Reynolds and Hindraker obviously possess at least the kind of intelligence necessary to do this kind of work, which presumably includes the ability to write reasoned arguments that might have appeal beyond their ideological fellow travelers. And yet, what you get from both of them is hysterical propaganda of this kind -- Obama the hate monger, Obama the enemy of freedom, Obama the destroyer of America, Obama the socialist, Obama the great apologizer, and so on. This stuff is so transparently ridiculous that addressing it beyond this kind of cursory description would be an enormous waste of time. I have a difficult time thinking of anyone presently writing political stuff on the right with whom you could have a factual, intellectually honest, policy-oriented dialogue with of any substance -- maybe Reihan Salam. Can you think of anyone?
- And here on tax day, is my tax plan. It reduces the deficit by nearly 24% in 2012. Why won't the Washington Post treat me as being even braver than Paul Ryan?
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