Saturday, July 23, 2022

We were right! (about Times bloviators that is)

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Are the bloviating gasbags who write for the New York Times Opinion pages ever wrong?

Our readers know to respond: by asking whether you've ever seen a wild bear in a bathroom stall.  But in case you were wondering if their comical lack of self-awareness and reflection was a feature or a bug, now you know.  According to their editors, they are even better than you because they admit they are wrong.  Or to put it even more condescendingly,

It’s not necessarily easy for Times Opinion columnists to engage in public self-reproach [And why is that? – Ed.] , but we hope that in doing so, they can be models of how valuable it can be to admit when you get things wrong.

Oh thank you! They are graciously admitting that they have erred, transgressed, and done perversely, not to reclaim their vanished credibility or seek forgiveness, but to set an example that lesser mortals should emulate.

Where to begin?  Let's dip a toe into this cesspool of performative fake self-abasement with two of the least appalling columnists: the usually pretty good Michelle Goldberg and the once really good Gail Collins.  Goldberg thinks that she was wrong to advocate for the resignation of Al Franken before he had a chance to defend himself in the Senate against every woman he groped.  We're kind of +/- on this one, but more from the perspective of Franken being forced to resign while a rapist and sex offender sat in the White House who then whipped out another sex criminal for a seat on the Supreme Court.

As for Gail Collins, we remember her as a funny, acerbic critic of hypocrisy and misogyny.  But too many jolly colloquies with Bretbug (don't worry, we'll get to him) must have rotted her brain because she now admits she was wrong to keep busting Mitt Romney's chops for driving around with his dog caged on the roof of his car:

Gail Collins apologizes to Wilfred M. Romney

It was supposed to be an example of Romney’s sense of organization. Got that car and dog hosed down at a nearby service station.... 

He also, of course, supports Mitch McConnell and his party’s agenda. If you don’t agree with that, it’s hard to get all that nostalgic about what might have been. But the one lesson I take away from my Seamus period is that there are some things that are way worse than boring.

Of course, the anecdote about Romney's animal abuse wasn't to show how boring he was. It was an example of his utter lack of empathy, as demonstrated by his entire life dedicated to the remorseless pursuit of pelf and his political career marked by – an utter lack of empathy for those whose daddies were not presidents of a car company and his belief that the purpose of government was to enrich grotesquely wealthy s***s like him.

Let's see what the usual suspects are up to.  These are the boys who have been so wrong for so long about so much that it's hard to imagine which nuggets of wrongness they will mine from their rich lodes.

How about Iraq War shill Tom “Six-Months” Friedman?  From his Alexandria Library of errors, he pulls his prediction that China would become more open.  Because when you think of Tom Friedman's lifelong litany of witlessness, you think about China?

Let's move along to a guy who offers an entire Italian sandwich shop of clangers, David “Moral Mountain” Brooks.  Many, including the great Soledad O'Brien '86, have recalled his disquisition on the uneducated and their fear of Italian subs, 

but he goes in a different direction, and, frankly, we were gobsmacked.

He's not ready to admit that you don't need a trust fund or a Ph.D. to scarf down an Italian with pickles, onions, and hots but he does say

It took me a while to see that the postindustrial capitalism machine — while innovative, dynamic and wonderful in many respects — had some fundamental flaws. The most educated Americans were amassing more and more wealth, dominating the best living areas, pouring advantages into their kids. A highly unequal caste system was forming. Bit by bit it dawned on me that the government would have to get much more active if every child was going to have an open field and a fair chance. 

In other words, he now realizes that every single tenet of anti-government conservatism is – dead wrong. This is news from a guy who wrote in The Atlantic last year that he had reread all of his loony right-wing conservative tracts he had swallowed whole in grad school and found them even more brilliant than before, but we'll take it.

As long as he's being so candid, we'd suggest another wrong bit, embedded in his confession, that he can work on while waiting for his next sopprassata sub.  He appears to blame the grotesque disparities of wealth in America on the “most educated Americans.”

In doing so he repeats the error he's made before, which is to lump together highly educated pediatricians making maybe $200,000 a year and college professors or print journalists making less with the tiny plutocratic elite that trousers billions while tying their dogs to the roofs of their car.

The reason that working class and poor Americans are so wretched is not because primary-care doctors and professors are making just enough money to buy a small suburban house in Boston or New York.  It's because ruthless plutocrats like the Koch family have amassed billions and deploy a small portion of their undeserved wealth as bribes to Republican politicians to maintain the economic status quo.

By the way, when we worked in a financial firm we ran into lots of jamokes making at least tens of millions a year.  They didn't have for the most part fancy educations.  Some of them couldn't write a sentence.  But they were ruthless, street smart, good at brown-nosing and really interested in making a lot of money.  And they made each week what many MD's, including those with multiple Ivy League degrees, make a year.

But Brooks lumps tycoons and doctors together not because he doesn't understand the difference.  He does so because the professional class tends to vote Democratic and he finds it ironic or hypocritical that the progressives among them are somehow responsible for the plight of the poorest three quartiles.  It's not true, but he's been mining this incorrect observation for decades.  Maybe if we wait another 20 years, he's confess this error too.

At least Brooks is trying.  A little.  But for sheer effrontery and shameless b**tshitting under the guise of confessing error, let's wrap up with Gail Collins's favorite yakking partner: Bretbug, who confesses to being wrong when he correctly referred to supporter of the Orange-Haired Insurrectionist as “appalling.”

They're not appalling, according to Bretbug

The same week that the January 6 Committee featured video of these thugs invading the Capitol, bent on committing murder and destroying democracy, Bretbug claims he now sees how right they were:

[Tangerine-Faced Grifter] voters had a powerful case to make that they had been thrice betrayed by the nation’s elites. First, after 9/11, when they had borne much of the brunt of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see Washington fumble and then abandon the efforts. Second, after the financial crisis of 2008, when so many were being laid off, even as the financial class was being bailed out. Third, in the post-crisis recovery, in which years of ultralow interest rates were a bonanza for those with investable assets and brutal for those without.

Oh, and then came the great American cultural revolution of the 2010s, in which traditional practices and beliefs — regarding same-sex marriage, sex-segregated bathrooms, personal pronouns, meritocratic ideals, race-blind rules, reverence for patriotic symbols, the rules of romance, the presumption of innocence and the distinction between equality of opportunity and outcome — became, more and more, not just passé, but taboo.

Point one: if you felt betrayed by Republicans who conned you into the Iraq War, why would you vote Republican now?  (A similar stupid point was made 50 years ago to justify hard-hats beating anti-war protesters).

Point two is incorrect as a matter of economics.  Low interest rates helped the less affluent by making homes, cars, boats, and anything else financed by debt more affordable.  Low interest rates hurt rich a**holes with big investments in fixed-income securities by reducing the expected level of income they receive.  (It's possible though that TFG's rich supporters were browned off by this, although those low rates generally helped them by propping up the stock market and their strip-and-flip debt-laden private equity scams).

As for point three, it's not even wrong.  First, the only cultural revolution we remember in the 2010's was the reality of a Black President, which blew the minds of white racist TFG supporters.  LGBTQ rights, as Bretbug is well aware, have been a front-burner social issue since the Stonewall riot a half-century ago.  Opposing those rights has been a reliable Republican tool to rile up their reactionary base that whole time.

What could Bretbug even be referring to by “the rules of romance?“  Are those the rules that were followed by hopeless romantics like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill “Throw Wifey Down the Stairs” O'Reilly, and innumerable other powerful white male letches?  

The Twitterati have a few thoughts that we can't improve upon:

Yeah that's it.

By the way if Bretbug really wanted to admit error, he could have recalled his effort to cancel the job of a man who dared make the “Bretbug” joke. That professor still has his job and Bretbug's number:

We think there's at least one other explanation for Bretbug's regret at properly characterizing TFG supporters as appalling. As the above passage from his confession implies, there is no material distinction between his views and theirs. Their intolerance, their bigotry, their sneering dismissal of any challenges to the white male order are his. If they are appalling, so is he. (Spoiler alert: he is!) We suspect it was that uncomfortable realization that prompted his confession.

What can we conclude from this tendentious lying piece of crap?  

Easy: when it comes to the New York Times Opinion columnists and their inability to see or admit or correct properly their innumerable errors and misjudgments: we were right!

Being right feels great.  We can think of a few gasbags who might someday give it a try.

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