Things to Not Read

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Obama Administration

Most mornings, first thing, I sit down with a cup of coffee and cruise the Web to see what’s going on. And sometimes I see links to things you couldn’t pay me to read. Recent examples are Megan McCardle on why tax hikes on the wealthy won’t help the middle class and George Will on why President Obama is “adolescent.” I’m sure most of you know as well as I what McCardle and Will are likely to say and also know that whatever it is will make as much sense as chocolate on tuna.

Some might say I’m too partisan. I’d say that I’ve already wasted too many hours of my life that I’ll never get back giving Will and McCardle a fair hearing in my head. They had their chance to impress me. They blew it.

Today many are writing about the new book by French economist Thomas Piketty. Paul Krugman wrote that it’s causing the 1 percent and their political support troops to panic.

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”

Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling — in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue.

More than anything else, Krugman writes, Piketty destroys the right-wing myth that the wealth of the wealthy was earned. In fact, the 1 percent is mostly an oligarchy of inherited wealth. Obviously, noticing this is unacceptable to the oligarchy.

So what am I not reading? David Brooks. David Brooks’s column is about Piketty. Brooks essentially functions as an envoy from the oligarchy to the upper middle class. He exists to reassure college-educated professionals who read the New York Times or watch the PBS News Hour that the oligarchy is on their side, or at least they should be on the oligarchy’s side. And he’s actually really good at that role; I have met otherwise intelligent people who admire Brooks’s columns and can’t see they are being played.

I refuse to read what Brooks says about Piketty. Steve M did read it, and you can read what he says about it. See also Doug J.

Ross Douthat has a blog post up about Piketty, and I’m not reading it, either, unless someone else reads it first and tells me it’s not utterly stupid. Economics isn’t really Douthat’s issue, though. He mostly exists to complain about people having unauthorized sex. Is he writing that poor people wouldn’t be so poor if they stopped having unauthorized sex? If someone else wants to read it, here’s a link. Let me know.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 26, 2014 @9:25 am

    “I’d say that I’ve already wasted too many hours of my life that I’ll never get back giving Will and McCardle a fair hearing in my head. They had their chance to impress me. They blew it. ”

    “They blew it.”
    BEAUTIFUL, maha!!!

    That pretty much summarizes my experience with Conservative “thought” covering everyone from my youth, to Safire (whom I used to love when he wrote on language), to today’s versions of the always-wrong Colonel Klink’s in the Op-ed pages, like Krautnozzle, to Bloody Billy K, to Tommy “Suck on THIS!? F, to Bobo and his buttinsky Catholic mini-me, Douchehat.

    I don’t remember a single time that ANY of them has ever been correct on ANY subject – be it economics, politics, sports (please, someone, shoot George Will before he ruins the great sport of Baseball with yet another insipid book about it – WHOOPS! Too late, he’s just released another one! OY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), to social issues, to religion, to wars, occupations, torture, rendition, etc., etc., etc…
    They have been DEAD WRONG about EVERYTHING – EVERY TIME!!!!!!!!!

    But there’s no accountability!
    Krugman, with his 987 – 4 record, is accorded the same amount of real estate at the NY times, as Bobo, with his 3 – 987 record, and “Suck On This!!!” Friedman, with his 2 – 1, 543 record.
    And don’t get me started about E.J. Dionne’s record compared to the rest of the Reich’s Council at the WaPo!!!

    Time to tune them all out.
    I do what maha does – I wait until someone writes about what the Reich Marshall’s put down, when they put them down.
    ENOUGH!!!

  2. erinyes  •  Apr 26, 2014 @11:41 am

    “Unauthorized sex”, what in tarnation is that ? I guess I’ll have to read the link !

  3. Lynnd  •  Apr 26, 2014 @1:19 pm

    Umm, what is authorized sex?

    The problem, as I see it, with David Brooks is that he speaks with that low voice filled with gravitas – and the impulse is to think he actually knows what he is talking about. On reflection, it’s clear that he doesn’t, but he keeps fooling enough to get his paycheck, I guess 🙂

  4. moonbat  •  Apr 26, 2014 @1:42 pm

    I’m glad you’ve stopped reading junk. One of the, let’s say, annoying things about your site is your apparent preference for reporting on what right wingers have said or done. You have posting after posting along these lines. I’m glad you’re realizing this is a colossal waste of energy. These people are idiots and are not worth paying attention to. This same battle has aged me tremendously, it’s not possible to win, and giving it up is like getting your life back.

    Nature goes around obstacles. It usually doesn’t need to face them directly. I’m trying to be more like that.

    Krugman, in a posting from yesterday does a pretty good job at dismissing David Brooks’ argument, with no need to even read Brooksie.

    I encourage you to drop the right-wingers from your daily blog-read, and fill up instead with people who truly have insight into what’s going on (Krugman’s a good start), and a positive vision for the world.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 26, 2014 @2:02 pm

    Hush, moonbat!!!!!

    maha,
    Don’t listen to moonbat!

    Some of us need a place where we can mock these Reich-Wing idiot’s!

    And you do a great job of putting a Ted Cruz head-sized baseball up on the tee for us to whack comments at.

    I won’t mind more positive posts – but please, pretty please, don’t stop putting these idiot’s up on the tee’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Stephen Stralka  •  Apr 26, 2014 @2:06 pm

    I did like the part about the beleaguered financiers being forced to sell their Picassos to pay the tax bill.

    But as far as Brooks, yes, all he manages to prove is how incurably obtuse he is. Here’s his own description of Piketty’s proposal:

    Piketty proposes that all the governments in the world, or at least the big ones, get together, find all the major wealth in the world and then tax capital progressively.

    The point is, we don’t even need their Picassos. There’s all this capital that these people are just sitting on, such that repossessing it will have no measurable effect on their standard of living.

    That’s one of the many reasons why the revolt of the 1% is so absurd. This isn’t about heads on pikes, and it isn’t even about taking away anything that they’re actually using. (Although heads on pikes do make good sport when you’re dealing with bloated, self-satisfied plutocrats.)

  7. Stephen Stralka  •  Apr 26, 2014 @2:11 pm

    For me, I guess reading David Brooks is kind of like playing a slot machine. I don’t expect I’m going to get anything from it, so I’m just doing it for whatever entertainment value it offers.

    The metaphor is inexact, of course, because it suggests that a David Brooks column could conceivably be richly rewarding. Seeing him criticize Republicans would be sort of equivalent to getting a couple of dollars back, I guess, but it’s hard to imagine a David Brooks jackpot.

  8. PurpleGirl  •  Apr 26, 2014 @2:27 pm

    erinyes — Don’t read Douthat, you’ll need gallons of brain bleach to wash his words out of your mind. “Unauthorized sex” is that nasty unmarried coupling that so bothers the god-botherers.

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 26, 2014 @3:30 pm

    OT – Since you don’t have to read it.
    Listen to this ancient white racist Basketball team owner talking to his mixed-race young girlfriend, about NOT being around with black people.
    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-racist_n_5218572.html

    The NBA will have to FORCE this ancient racist douche-canoe to sell his team.
    Because, I suspect that the likes owning black people – even if it’s contracts for millions of dollars.

  10. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2014 @3:50 pm

    Unauthorized sex is when the coach won’t let have sex before the big game…But you do it anyway.

  11. erinyes  •  Apr 26, 2014 @4:55 pm

    Thanks, purple girl. My brain has a natural Teflon coating thanks to years of internet surfing.

  12. Bonnie  •  Apr 26, 2014 @4:59 pm

    In my book, “unauthorized sex” is that sex that a man usually tries to “sweet talk” a woman into having after the first date. That sex he is telling you to “do it because you love him” and don’t worry “he will respect you in the morning” sex. And, the marital status of such a man is totally insignificant–to him.

  13. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2014 @5:31 pm

    Isn’t it unauthorized sex to use a different position other than the missionary position according to Catholic church doctrine?

  14. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2014 @10:46 pm
  15. Dolorous Stroke  •  Apr 27, 2014 @2:30 am

    Eric Alterman’s article on Piketty is good, though depressing. He concludes:

    But to be brutally honest, it’s hard to imagine any measurable impact from Piketty’s work on the problem it seeks to address—at least insofar as it relates to America today…. The chances that significant national action will be undertaken to improve the lives of the vast majority of our citizens have fallen to nearly zero, should such action be perceived to conflict with the interests of any subset of the super-rich, regardless of how small their number or how trivial its cost.

    The ability of money to win what it wants is the defining characteristic of our politics…. A reflection of this power, and a not-so-silent partner in the ethical crimes it perpetrates, is the manner in which demonstrable bullshit is able to dominate our political discourse….

  16. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 27, 2014 @8:06 am

    Dolorous Stroke ,
    It may be time to throw some cold water on the tumbrels and guillotines, so that our wealthy MFer’s can “enjoy” a slow, rusty, and noisy death….

  17. csm  •  Apr 27, 2014 @10:45 am

    Alterman is depressing, but he’s right.

    While we’re at it, here’s another depressing thought: it won’t matter if democrats control all three branches of government. Some relatively symbolic movement towards more progressive economic policy may be realized, but the wealthy 1% have so captured the mechanics of government that structurally its damn near impossible to change how the machine works, and who it works for, regardless of who’s in “power.”

  18. goatherd  •  Apr 27, 2014 @10:54 am

    That’s about the best summation of David Brooks’ writing that I’ve come across.

    A few years back, the enigma known as David Brooks crossed my mind when I was mucking the barn or something. My first assumption was that David Brooks is a lot smarter than I am. This quickly raised the questions, “How can he say such foolish things? How can his “logic” be so nonlogical? Why is this man considered anything other than a complete buffoon?

    On those increasingly rare occasions when I read his articles, I sometimes pretend to be a junior high school teacher, correcting papers. I am not sure what sort of class it is, but, usually, I believe I would send the article back for a complete rewrite. There is a lot of red ink involved.

    David Brooks has a particular and valuable gift. He evidently has the ability to make complete nonsense appear like plausible support for a range of standard right wing opinions. He departs from the usual, “stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.” I know some people much smarter than I am, who feel compelled, possibly in the effort to be fair and open minded, to give his emissions undue consideration. I can almost feel their mind’s eye glazing over and their logical faculties lapse into torpor.

    I tend to be irritated by him because I believe he is smarter than that, he has to be if he hasn’t been hit by a city bus, while trying to remember how to tie his shoe. I find him arrogant in his assurance that he can make otherwise insightful people believe that there is a logic behind his cases. Sadly, he often demonstrates considerable skill.

  19. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 27, 2014 @12:37 pm

    “I tend to be irritated by him because I believe he is smarter than that…

    He AINT’T!
    He was the nearest random reasonable-sounding Reich-Wing dipshit when the NY Times needed to fill their “Reasonable-sounding Reich-Wing dipshit” hole.

    That’s all he is.
    And he’s shitting on one of the most valuable pieces of Op-ed real estate in the world.
    But then, so is his Catholic mini-me, Douchehat, and ‘Mega-ditto’s” to Friedman, MoDo, and the rest of the crew – except for Krugman and Collins, and occasionally, Egan.

  20. goatherd  •  Apr 27, 2014 @1:16 pm

    Well, fair enough Cundgulag.

    But, somehow he has the ability to get away with writing some really ridiculous stuff Maybe he has a secret brain immobilizing ray or just really has his schtick down.

  21. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 27, 2014 @1:35 pm

    goatherd,
    More likely, he’s go photo’s of the NY Times owners and editors, nekkid, in all sorts of compromising positions with young children and barnyard animals.

  22. Swami  •  Apr 27, 2014 @2:48 pm

    OT.. But I just thought it would be nice to hear the word of God on this beautiful Sabbath day…From an ambassador of Christ:
    Sarah Palin: ‘Waterboarding Is How We’d Baptize Terrorists’ If I Were In Charge.

    Maybe it’s me, but hasn’t the terrorist thing been over wrought and played out? Hasn’t that cow been milked dry?

    It’s a nice feeling to know as an American that at least somebody is out there advocating torture. You go girl!.. I’m more of the old fashioned type. I’m not into this fancy waterboarding stuff.. I think electrodes on their genitals is the way to go. But that’s me.

  23. chris  •  Apr 27, 2014 @7:24 pm

    Thought you might be interested in an interview with Krugman where he discusses Piketty’s book.

    http://billmoyers.com/episode/what-the-1-dont-want-you-to-know-2/



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