Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Punditry for Idiots: The Six Hottest Takes on the Democratic Party

Editors' Note:  Summer is here and the living is easy.  But what if you have to grind out one column a week for The New York Times or The Washington Post or appear twice a week on a cable-news gas attack?  Have no fear, the Spy is here with six ready-to-serve hot takes that should get you through the summer.  Hell, given the success that Maureen Dowd has had for 20 years recycling the same crap about Hillary Clinton (see below), that might be five too many!

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Staring at your computer in despair?  Facing a panel of smarter and better informed women tonight at 8:18 PM (or worse 7:06 AM) on cable news?  Don't despair, bucko – all you need are these six hot takes on the Democratic Party to take you all the way to Election Day 2018.  Or, if you're a truly indolent hack, for an entire career.

The best thing about these hot takes is you can use them over and over again and no one will mind.  Or even notice.

1.  Dems in Disarray.  This is perfect for primary season, because in primaries candidates from the same party run against each other.  That is what a primary is.  That is why we have them.  But it's possible that the Democratic contenders don't necessarily agree with each other, although upon inspection the differences turn out to be reasonably minute.

For example, some Democrats believe that Medicare should be expanded to include everyone.  Others believe that if Obamacare were returned to its pre-vandalized state, it would work fine.  The end is the same (universal health coverage); the difference is the way you get there.  That would seem to be a minor point of contention when compared to the canyon between core Democratic principles and the Republican position on health care, which is that everyone should get it as long as they are a Koch Brother or one of their sock puppets.

2.  Dems Have No Message.  Did you know that the United States is a very large country and that in 2018 no candidate is running nationwide?  It's true!  They are running either in (often gerrymandered) House districts or in one state.  And in different states and districts voters, even Democratic ones, have differing views.  As a result, Democratic candidates are tailoring their messages to the interests of their electorates.  Hard to believe, we know. This means that the message of a Democratic candidate in West Texas will differ from that of a candidate in Brooklyn.

They're in disarray! They have no message!
They must move to the middle!
You as a lazy gasbag can use this fact to generate 750 words or 12 minutes whining that Democrats have no message, or different messages, or even in some cases inconsistent messages.  That this is equally true of every midterm election doesn't diminish the evergreen appeal of this hot take.  In fact, you can use this tidbit to generate a Sunday Review piece on point one (no message), and that same day appear on a Sunday gabfest and make point two (different ones)!  And you didn't have to do any work at all!

3.  Dems Must Appeal to U Bum Supporters.  As recently as today, real Times reporters have confirmed what we all knew: that U Bum supporters were motivated by bigotry, or, as the Times headline writers delicately put it, “white unease.”  So how should a party dependent on enthusiasm from its base of people of color respond?  You guessed it: appeal to white, um, unease, presumably by tormenting immigrants, giving police a green light to harass and shoot black folks, ignoring efforts to suppress minority turnout, and generally forgetting about the real and terrible history of racism and bigotry in America.  That should get black women to the polls in droves!

And sure if Democrats turn their backs on the strongest supporters, white racists who've voted Republican every chance they've gotten since 1970 will flock back, because some bloviator says so!

4.  Dems Must Move to the Middle.  This eternal hot take has done wonders for the Democrats ever since Hubert Humphrey rode it all the way to defeat in 1968.  At various times, Democrats have succeeded and failed with both moderate and progressive candidates.  Can you discern a pattern here?  You don't have to be Mark “Lumpy” Penn to conclude that the right course is always to go to the right, but it sure helps!

The apostate Republican gasbags, all 37 of them, never tire of this one (see below).  If only the Democrats would forget their commitments to civil rights, the social safety net, gun control, LGBTQ rights, protecting the planet, upholding basic human rights like freedom from torture and arbitrary detention, or otherwise agree with Republicans last seen pumping out lies to justify invading Iraq and violently shutting down the Florida recount, well, then, the electorate would just swoon over the Democrats.

By the way, does anyone remember how moving to the center helped the Democrats in the 2002 midterms?  Neither do we.

5.  Dems Must Stand for Something Other Than Opposition to the Grifter-in-Chief. 

Really?  Why?

What did Republicans run on in 2016?  And what is the focus of their increasingly deranged 2018 campaign?  If you had tax cuts for the rich, you lost!  It's the dreaded specter of – Nancy Pelosi!

And why must Democrats throw away one of their strongest arguments: that Congress must check the thus far unchecked corruption, abuse of power, and mendacity of the U Bum Sh** Show?  Is it a practical concern, e.g., that voters will not be motivated to save the Republic in its darkest hour since 1974?  Or is it some classic bloviator bulls*** about how elections should be about the important policy decisions this country is facing, by which said bloviator usually means let's cut Social Security while I enjoy the millions my daddy left me? 

6.  It's all Hillary's Fault.  Why won't the candidate who won the popular vote just dry up and blow away?  And why won't that candidate aggressively campaign for Democratic candidates in 2018?

Which is it?

If you're a true hack, you know the answer: it's both!

It's always fun to f*** over Hillary because – well, why, exactly?  Because she's not a perfect candidate, unlike Wilfred M. Romney or John McCain, two losers who don't get the same treatment?   Because she wouldn't divorce her horndog husband?  Because she's married and you're not?  Because she turned you down for an interview in 1996?

It really makes no difference what your motives are – it's always a steaming hot take, because on any given day she's either doing something (why won't she step aside in favor of a new generation of Democrats? why did she endorse candidate A and not B?) or she isn't (why won't she help Democrats before the Democratic primary?).

Remember these six easy hot takes and you'll never be sweating under the hot lights on a cable panel with nothing to say.  Because there's nothing worse for a white newsman than to be caught with his pants down.  If you don't believe us, ask Matt Lauer.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

From the Archives: 44 Mays ago, President demands end to witch hunt

Editors' Note:  We are not going to waste pixels analyzing the ravings of some misogynist pseudo-intellectual who bases his Handmaid's Tale fantasies on insights gleaned from the social lives of lobsters. We just are not going to, no matter how many New York Times columnists tout his provocative thoughts.  Instead, we thought we'd fire up the Waybac machine to see how a previous witch hunt dealt with a Republican President who saw no reason to follow the rule of law.  No, not W., H.W., or St. Ronald of Bitburg.  Before that.

By David Bloviator
Washington Bureau Chief 
with material from The New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation's capital has become increasingly concerned that the refusal by President Richard M. Nixon to honor subpoenas issued by the House Impeachment Committee and the Office of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski is leading to a constitutional crisis.

1,000 years ago today.
According to The New York Times, in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino, Nixon rejected what he called the Committee's “constantly escalating requests for information,” claiming that honoring those requests would fatally compromise the institution of the Presidency.

Rodino, in response, said that Nixon's refusal to follow the rule of law and comply with a duly-issued subpoena could lead to grave consequences, by which most observers inferred that he meant impeachment.  The House can vote Articles of Impeachment by majority vote, and with control of the House safely in Democratic hands, the chances that Republicans can obstruct or subvert the impeachment process are thought to be close to nil.

“Can you imagine what would happen if the House were controlled by Republicans? They would have buried the evidence of Nixon's criminality forever.  Who knows what might have happened to our Republic in that case?” said a Committee staff member.

In his letter, President Nixon stated that he had already provided the Committee and the Special Prosecutor with all materials needed to determine the lawfulness of his conduct, although he did not explain why he had the final ability to make that determination, contrary to the normal rule of mandatory compliance with duly-issued subpoenas.

The President's advisers are known to be frustrated by their inability to get out their message that the President has cooperated fully with the two inquiries [Because he hasn't – Ed.], and to improve the President' dismal favorability ratings, down to 25% in the latest Gallup Poll.

“If only the President had his own news network that would pump out his propaganda 24/7 while pretending that it was providing fair and balanced coverage, this never would have happened,” lamented long-time Nixon mouthpiece Roger Ailes.

Turning to his comely young assistant Tawny, Ailes said, “You'd believe anything coming out of her mouth, wouldn't you?  And you wouldn't believe what goes in there, if you catch my drift.”

In the best traditions of the Republican Party, most Judiciary Committee Republicans expressed dismay over the President's noncompliance and urged him to reconsider his position.

“Jesus, what a bunch of pussies!  They need to grow a pair of balls,” snarled long-time Nixon defender Roy Cohn, who interrupted his conference with his masseur Raoul to demand that Republicans stop cooperating with the impeachment investigation.

While Washington remains transfixed on the growing impasse between Nixon and the other branches of government, the rest of the country seems to be looking forward to the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.  Reservations for the Concord's Decoration Day weekend featuring Paul Anka are selling briskly, while Grossinger's reports strong demand for its combined Memorial Day/Shavous celebration featuring Cantor Shlomo Carlebach.

And young New Yorkers seem oblivious to the looming crisis.  Waiting outside Roy Cohn's massage parlor,  rich playboy Donald Drumpf, having apparently lost a battle with a container of talcum powder, told the Spy: “Who cares about Watergate when you've got the best that Colombia and Yugoslavia have to offer?” he sniffed.

His companion, a strange young law student named Rudy Giolini, laughed nervously and said: “Don't knock politics, Donald!  It's a great way to get pussy you're not related to.”

Monday, May 14, 2018

From the International House of Hot Takes: what motivates white bigots? Liberals!

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

The lively competition between The New York Times and The Washington Post for national readership has produced some great reporting, especially after Election Day 2016.  But sometimes it produces nothing more than a race to see who can serve up the tallest stack of steaming hot takes.

Not 48 hours after the Post offered up the diary of its expedition to darkest whitest America (see the post just below this one), the International House of Hot Takes d/b/a The New York Times Opinion Pages managed to top them with a really heaping serving (approximately 90% of the front page of the Sunday Review) of one of its trademark warmed-over hot takes: white bigots continue to support the Grifter-in-Chief because those liberals are so, so mean to them.

On its face the claim is absurd: white bigots have been voting for the white man and the party they judged least likely to undo the pervasive evils of slavery and institutionalized white racism since their effort to bust up the United States went toes-up.  Was that all the fault of liberals?

Fun fact: apologists for white racist Southerners insisted then and now that it was! If only Abe Lincoln hadn't been so mean to them, all the unpleasantness of the Civil War could have been avoided.

So the take has been with us for a long time.  Why The Times felt it should devote so much prime Sunday acreage deserves a closer look.  But first, let's have a go at the, um, merits of the argument.

We won't even go over the stale whines about how racists and reactionaries feel underappreciated at college campuses, except when they are showered with millions by the Koch Brothers for expounding views that the Koch Brothers are willing to pay for.  Let's go right to the cause of white disenchantment.

Did you guess Barack Obama?  Now what about this good man who spent his entire life, not in squandering his daddy's inheritance in a bunch of overleveraged casino deals whilst screwing his workers, his creditors, and anything else that was white, busty, and available, but in working to improve the lives of all Americans by among other things pulling the economy out of its free fall and ensuring that all Americans, even the white ones, would have access to health care whether or not they had taken millions from the Kochs.

Are you seeing why white bigots would hate such a man?  What about him chapped their flabby white butts?  Anything about him?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

You'll never guess what President Obama did to earn the enmity of these good white folks.  Unless of course you've read the 500 previous versions of this hot take:
When Mr. Obama remarked, behind closed doors, during the presidential campaign in 2008, that Rust Belt voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” it mattered not so much because he said it but because so many listeners figured that he was only saying what liberals were really thinking. These are the sorts of events conservatives think of when they sometimes say, “Obama caused Trump.”
Right.  That one privately expressed inconvenient truth is why white bigots loyally supported President U Bum then and now.  If only Obama had not expressed his frustration at not being able to reach people whose economic interests he so tirelessly advocated, they would have not mocked him as a Kenyan-born Muslim terrorist.


But the author of this piece doesn't just recycle the same lame-o talking points that have been pinging around the right wing alternative reality universe for years.  He helpfully provides ways that liberals can atone for the error of their ways and win back these solid citizens:
After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?
So that's the secret?  If only those liberals would allow perfectly innocent and law-abiding citizens to suffer humiliating bigotry solely because of their sexual preference or identity, white bigots would rejoin the Democratic Party?  And if Lincoln hadn't had the effrontery to resupply Fort Sumter, we could have avoided that whole Civil War.  But he did, because the principle of the preservation of the Union, just like the principle that all persons are entitled to procure publicly-offered goods and services without fear of humiliation, is more important than the hurt feelings of bigoted white snowflakes.

By the way, does anyone think that U Bum voters would return to the Democratic fold if the Democrats abandoned their commitment to LBGTQ equal treatment?  If so, you're much smarter than those dumb liberals.

Speaking of smart, the author of the piece is one Gerald Alexander, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia.  Anything interesting about this guy?  Let's ask his students:
Alexander is incredible! Fun guy, and great material. This course is reading intensive, but 6 2-page essays with exception of 15-page final are easy to get A- on. Word of caution, if you are Jewish, this course has material and students, that defend offensive theories of the Holocaust.  
It doesn't get funner than that.  (It appears that whilst Prof. Alexander is willing to admit the Holocaust actually happened – and might white of him too – he takes a very dim view of European countries who criminalize Holocaust denial as hate speech, because of course it's just speech and only idiots would be offended by speech.)

But we don't really care about what some jackass who teaches politics at UVa thinks about the Holocaust, liberals, or anything else.  What concerns us are why the editors of papers like the Times and the Post publish these weary hot takes as if they were sparkling contributions to a “diverse” editorial page.

"The liberals made us do it!"
There's a lot of dumb shit that white men say on Twitter or Reddit that's stupid and hateful, but that doesn't without more make it worth acres in the Times Sunday Review.  If these editors were really interested in diversity, maybe they would try a little harder to bring us the views of those folks who aren't white men.

And running a gamut from moderate liberals to racist apologists leaves out about half the universe of opinion.  Where's Sarah Kendzior, who compares what's happening now to the subversion of democracy in Eastern Europe?  Where's Ta-Nehisi Coates?  We don't necessarily agree with him, but if you want a diverse perspective, wouldn't he bring one?  Where are the eloquent Latina writers that aren't so hard to find elsewhere?

We went a college often described as the University of Virginia of the North.  So did a lot of other not-so-dumb liberals, some of whom went on to become editors at the Times and the Post.  We thought most of them were a**holes (Full disclosure: they thought the same of your columnist), but they were smart and had some baseline level of intellectual integrity, or so we thought.  So why are they now passing off these hot takes as contributions to the national debate at this, one of the darkest hours in the history of the Republic?

We don't know.  Maybe we're not as smart as we thought we were.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

In darkest whitest America

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Once again a pillar of journalism has essayed a journey far across the Hudson and beyond the Beltway to sit down with the good folks who gave the election to the Tangerine-Faced Grifter.  It's a genre so commonplace that it's been lethally parodied by The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri among others, yet it still exerts an irresistible pull on middle-aged white male hacks looking for The Real America.

Our latest intrepid traveler to the headwaters of the Groper-in-Chief is the Post's Dan Balz, whose travel diary in whitest America can be found here.  In fact he made a number of trips to various white rural counties along the upper Mississippi and had many heart-to-hearts over many months with the pillars of the rural working class by which of course he means white people, usually male.

The premise of the piece was that these counties used to vote Democratic, but in 2016 voted for President U Bum.   He wanted to find out why and whether their views have evolved over the ensuing 16 months of chaos (although it's a little hard to remember what outrages happened when).  So what did he learn from these journeys?  More important, what did the reader learn?

Spoiler alert:  Jack s***.

What happened?  Our guess is that he failed something they used to teach you in Journalism 101: if you want answers, you have to ask questions.  If you just let 'em talk, they'll tell you what they want you to hear, which is not the same thing as the story.

Here's a typical voter in Whiteside County, Illinois.  (Perhaps the name is a tell.)   He's a white man who's also the Chairman of the Republican Party in a county that's 92% white.  Wonder what he thinks?  Here goes:
[“]I think Trump brought out the fact that — I mean, as crude and callous as he was at times — so many people had been almost discriminated against because they were Republicans and not Democrats that we felt inferior.”

Almost discriminated against?  Is that almost like being lynched by George Zimmerman or being murdered by police like Eric Garner, or having your baby wrested out of your arms at the border? A reporter might reasonably ask for examples of such almost discrimination to understand better why these wonderful people feel so put upon.  If you probed hard enough, you might even be able to advise your readers whether these feelings of discrimination are justified or just white bulls***.

There's a hint of the source of their hurt feelings a little later:
“I very much dislike the fact that a lot of people stereotype Republican individuals, Republican people, that we’re racists. I think that is further from the truth.”
On safari in darkest Whiteside County, Illinois
Further than what?  Well, if someone tells you they're not a racist, that's the end of the inquiry.  If someone was a racist, they would say so, right?  That must be what our scribe thinks, because there's no evidence that he probed further by asking a few simple questions like: Where was President Obama born?  Do you think that Mexico is sending us their rapists and assassins?  If not, why do you support someone who launched his campaign on that very premise?

But there's so much more.  For a different perspective, Balz interviews the while male Chairmen of the Republican Party in Clinton (93% white) and Stephenson (a mere 87% white) Counties, Illinois.  Just f***in' with ya.  It's MOSS.

By June 2017, one of those interchangeable white men, having independently reviewed all available evidence and not just swallowed Fox News talking points whole, declared his support for the Grifter-in-Chief had grown even stronger:
In mid-June, Dan Smicker was back at the Sunrise CafĂ© in DeWitt, Iowa. He was both elated and irritated, fuming at the way Democrats and much of the news media had treated the president. What galled him most at that moment was special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which he considered nothing more than a Democratic effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. 
Did our reporter ask Mr. Smicker how he reached that conclusion, given that Mueller was a Republican appointed by a Republican (Deputy AG Rosenstein) without any involvement of any Democrat anywhere?  Hard to say.

To be fair, Balz does interview some white people who are not Republican Party wardheelers.  He interviews a Democrat in Iowa who has some trenchant things to say about Hillary Clinton's inability to persuade white rural voters she had their interests at heart, but Balz is here to interview U Bum supporters, not sentient voters.

He finds yet another white man in Minnesota who has gobbled up the talking point about Obama hating white people:
Trump’s appeal, he said, was born in part of resentment toward the Obama presidency. “One of the places I would agree with the hard-core Trump people, they’re tired of being treated as the enemy by Barack Obama,” he said. “His comment, the whole thing, it’s been worn out to death, that clinging to God and guns, God and guns and afraid of people who don’t look like them, blah, blah, blah. Just quit talking down to me.

An enterprising reporter might ask this fellow exactly how Barack Obama treated white people as enemies.  By guaranteeing them health care? By stimulating the economy so that they would have jobs?  No, it was one private comment Obama made, not to denigrate these voters, but to express his frustration at his inability to connect with them.

A reporter might also note that by January 2018, Obama had been out of office for a year and the question was now whether U Bum voters were better off under a government that sabotaged health care, refused to spend money on infrastructure, and borrowed money from voters' grandchildren to lavish tax cuts on the rich.  Well, some reporter might.

Eventually he interviews one or two white women, just for a change of pace, but don't worry – they're just Democrats.

We could go on but by now you get the drift, just as you got the drift even before you read Balz's article.  If all you do is ask white people to parrot whatever lines they heard on Fox News that morning, of course you'll conclude that the Grifter-in-Chief still has a grip on the hearts and minds of America's white rural bigots.  We knew that already.  But in fact you haven't really told anyone much of anything, and you certainly haven't committed an act of journalism.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sage Advice to Demos: Appeal to Republicans by Agreeing With Them!

Editors' Note: What may be the last free midterm election in American history is barely six months away, so it's high time that The Spy rev up its award-winning [What awards? – Ed.] political coverage under the leadership of the dean of American political pundits, e.g.,  an old white man, David Bloviator.  The team is roaming the country to track down the hottest stories, not to mention the hottest takes, from Campaign '18.  Today, we start with the latter.

By Emma Goldman
Political Correspondent

We had to take a break from the daily offerings of the International House of Hot Takes d/b/a The New York Times Op-Ed Page to see what we could glean from the competition.  We've read some past columns in USA Today that seemed to make a certain amount of sense, and once we learned the paper is still being published, we decided to wade in.

It did not go so well.

The piece was styled as a plea to Democrats to appeal to never-Trump Republicans, all 27 of them.   Maybe there are more but you'd never know it from the behavior of the terrified GOP sheep and turtles on Capitol Hill, all of whom have concluded that their political survival depends upon staying on good terms with the Trumpistas, who are always ready to believe whatever their leader tells them.  (Who knew until Amy Hoggart covered a recent U Bum rally in Michigan that the key issue on their minds was peace with North Korea?)

Never-Trump Republicans debate what Democrats
would need to do to earn their support
At any rate, the way to appeal to this supposedly critical voting, um, bloc is not as you might have decided from the sordid pasts of the loudest anti-Trump gasbags, invading Iran, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Qatar, and Chicago, in that order.  Rather, according to our columnist, Democrats need to drop everything they stand for to appeal to this group.

The Democrats' guide to the political mating habits of this elusive species is one Cheri Jacobus.  Who she?  We never heard of her, possibly because every time Republican bloviators appeared on cable television over the last few years we found something else to watch, even if it was Bundesliga soccer games.  And no one can possibly give a schiess about them.  Apparently she had a career filling a Republican seat on the rotating CNN panel of GOP gasbags, until she offended Corey “Slappy” Lewandowski, whereupon she was banished to, well – USA Today.

With that background we had high hopes for her political prescription.  Until we tried to swallow it:
If the far left of the Democratic Party uses the current climate to push a far left message, it’s a sign to moderates, independents, Never-Trump GOP and former GOP that the Democratic Party is not in “adult mode” either. The party then runs the risk of courting rejection by these voters, who will instead stay home on election day, or worse, hold their noses with one hand while checking the box for Trump’s congressional Republicans with the other. . . . Merely being the lesser of two evils is weak sauce for a nation in agony.
Let's unpack this, shall we?  Although our columnist would not specify what Democratic positions qualify as “far-left,” we have to assume she means loony left ideas like providing health insurance to all, protecting consumers from the depredations of powerful grifters, like the current occupant of the White House, saving our children and grand-children from the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming, and seeking to protect women, minorities, and other disempowered groups from the grievous harm they continue to suffer at the hand of powerful white men (like the current occupant of the White House!)

None of this makes any impression on this brave spokesperson for the vast never-Trump hordes.  What should Democrats emphasize instead of that agenda (which won about 3 million more votes in 2016 than the pro-pussy grabbing lies of the current occupant of the White House)?   It's easy: Democrats should adopt the Republican views on the deficit:
Adult leadership would focus on tackling a budget deficit that is now predicted to exceed $1 trillion every year for decades with responsible spending by first and foremost zeroing in on budgetary and government waste and fraud in a meaningful way. Americans expect this and are angry Washington doesn’t do this annually by default. Be the grown up party and do it. 
So she doesn't mean the actual Republican view on the deficit, which is that it is OK to run up a huge debt to pay for tax cuts for the rich (see 1981, 2001, 2003 and 2018).  She means the mythic Republican policy of frugal government.  That all Democratic social initiatives in our lifetime have been paid for seems not to have made any impression whatsoever on her and the other 22 DC gasbags who hold similar views. Of course, if she's advocating the repeal of the Republican budget-busting tax cuts for the rich and big corporations, let me assure her Democrats are ready to join her.

She also would like to sneak in a tired Republican talking point about the superannuated Democratic leaders (although we don't recall these age-based attacks gaining much traction when Democrats trotted them out in 1984 while campaigning against a clearly-demented Ronald Reagan):
Embrace the future, not the past. Celebrate those who’ve given their all, and carve out advisory “senior statesmen/women” or respectful “emeritus” roles and titles to benefit from their experience, wisdom and institutional knowledge, but move forward with a new slate of leaders that reflects and acknowledges the new reality and the challenges ahead.
Which youthful Republican does Ms. Jacobus think best reflects and acknowledges this new reality?  Little Marco?  Lyin' Ted?   Sleepy Ben?  Quittin' Paul Ryan?  Sen. Yertle the Turtle?  Wilfred M. Romney?

But step back for one minute and consider the most fundamental idiocy of Ms. Jacobus's argument.  This Republic is facing an assault on its fundamental values and norms from the corrupt grifter in the White House and his Republican enablers.  What could be more important than electing a Democratic Congress to fight these attacks on our constitutional order and restore honest government of, by, and for the people (to quote a Republican idea)?

Are deficits more important?  Nancy Pelosi's age?  Republican unwillingness to admit they have been wrong about every critical social, political, international, and environmental issue of our time?  CNN's unwillingness to invite our guest columnist back on camera?

To ask the question is to answer it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Op-Ed: What Harvard Philosophy Courses Taught Me About Grifting

Editors' Note: This week, the International House of Hot Takes, d/b/a The New York Times Op-Ed Page, offered up an account of ancient finagling plutocrat Bob Rubin's encounter with philosophy at Harvard College, where he went to college.  That's Harvard College, buddy, and don't you forget it.  Apparently his Gen. Ed. survey courses taught him how to make billions, run Citibank into the ground, and keep Bill Clinton from spending money on poor people.  That's quite an achievement for one little Department.  Well, we at the Spy have op-ed writers who went to Harvard too.  And they took, or at least registered for,  Philosophy courses there. And they too were inspired to grift their way to fame and fortune, just like Bob.  Don't believe us?  Check this out:

By Samuel Insull '76
Financial Editor

As I look back on my brilliant career in financial depredation, I think not only of the hundreds of factories I helped to close, the thousands of workers displaced by my leveraged buy-outs, and the billions I have safely stashed in Cayman Islands trusts.  I also hearken back to my days as a humble Harvard undergraduate walking up the steps of Emerson Hall [Or was it Sever?  Louise, please check – S.I.] to drink in the collected wisdom of the great professors who taught me everything I needed to know about Philosophy.

As a mere freshman I encountered the legendary Philosophy Professor Robert Nozick.  I'll never forget his classic response to my question about the meaning of life: “Who are you and why are you talking to me?”  Such fundamental questions!  Years later, when I returned to Harvard to drop $20,000,000 of WorldCom stock on Neil Rudenstine, l learned the answer: that I was a brilliant son of Harvard who would be remembered forever for ensuring that future Philosophy Professors would no longer have to put up with in window air-conditioning units.

It's a lesson I never forgot: when you have big bucks, they know who you are and they can't wait to talk to you!

My philosophy. 
I also remember sitting in Philosophy 171, Political and Ethical Philosophy, taught by the great moral philosopher John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice.  Professor Rawls had just finished his magnificent work.  It taught me that I needed something equally magnificent named after me, which is why you can be treated at the Insull Massachusetts General Hospital, entertained at Insull Symphony Hall, and read all about it in The Insull Boston Globe, edited by my brilliant fourth wife, Tawny Insull.

Professor Rawls also taught me many vital lessons that I applied in my business career.  At a critical juncture, I learned that some big banks would lend me $1 million for every $10,000 in capital I invested in flipping a business.  I knew the banks were making a terribly risky business decision, but at that time they had  much more money than I did.  Professor Rawls always taught that the right decision is the one that benefits the least advantaged, and in those days, before those banks went bankrupt from those bum loans, the least advantaged was me!

That same wisdom also taught me the value of hiding indebtedness behind a veil of ignorance, or as my bankers called them, special investment vehicles.

I remember the late nights discussing great ideas and sharing the weed provided by my classmate John “the Bongmaster” Roberts.  He always used to say when you thought about it that white men were the least advantaged people because everyone was always trying to take what they had, and that if I didn't chip in $20 for the next ounce I could smoke lint.  I wonder whatever happened to that guy?  What a wastie!

But let me return to what Harvard's Philosophy Department taught me: always focus on what is truly important in my life  And that's me.  Despite the bankruptcies, the divorces, and the SEC settlements I've never stopped concentrating on me.  Best of all, now that I'm rich as s***,  everyone listens to me and thinks I'm a f***in' Socrates.