Tuesday, October 25, 2011

They Opened Their Mouths, They Did Some Unquantifiable Amount of Thinking

David Brooks
There are individuals who have always defied my ability to see why, with a jobless rate of 9.1 percent, they aren't among the unemployed. David Brooks makes a living as the laziest thinker in the world. He makes shit up, and when he doesn't he takes such shortcuts of logic and deliberation that you wonder why he doesn't write for Bazooka Bubble Gum instead of the New York Times. But, hey, they let Ross Douthat ink the page so...

Anyway, here's Our Mister Brooks opining on Obama's folly:
Obama, who sounded so fresh in 2008, now sometimes sounds a bit like Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. Obama, who inspired the country, now threatens to run a campaign that is viciously negative. Obama, who is still widely admired because he is reasonable and calm, is in danger of squandering his best asset by pretending to be someone he is not. Obama, a natural unifier and conciliator, seems on the verge of running as a divisive populist while accusing Mitt Romney, his possible opponent, of being inauthentic.
It’s misguided. It raises the ideological temperature and arouses the Big Government/Small Government debate. It repels independents, who don’t like the finance majors who went to Wall Street but trust the history majors who went to Washington even less.
Obama would be wiser to champion a Grand Bargain strategy. Use the Congressional deficit supercommittee to embrace the sort of new social contract we’ve been circling around for the past few years: simpler taxes, reformed entitlements, more money for human capital, growth and innovation.
How is he wrong? Let me count the ways. Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi don't sound alike, and Obama doesn't sound like either of them, so that's just thrown in there because... See? We'll never know. Obama "viciously negative?" What, by pointing out that the Republicans have shut down the entire Congress so that Obama can have no victories and suggesting that the people should judge for themselves? What a pit bull!

Okay, and the comment about "the history majors who went Washington" who the independents like even less. If I ask, "How does he know that?", I run the risk of readers thinking there's an answer. I'm insulted partly because I'm a history major, but what's really irksome is the idea that history majors run Washington. History majors don't even run Bakersfield, CA. Okay, I wrote that line before I checked, so, not to be confused with Our Mister Make Shit Up, I did. Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall doesn't even have a degree, though he donates his mayoral salary to a scholarship fund, so maybe he helps create history majors. Maybe they can go to Washington and wreck the world and be hated by independents.

Finally, Our Mister Brooks advises Obama to be shrewd by embracing the GOP platform. Otherwise, he'll be viewed as "a divisive populist." If you hadn't noticed, Obama could write legislation that gave Congressional Republicans their pick of Cain's 999, Perry's optional 20 percent flat tax, or any hair-brained tax scheme Romney's yet to cook up to out-tea-party the other candidates, and Mitchell McConnell would accuse Obama of trying to force another socialist-Kenyan-fascist-terrorist-lovin'-job-killing plan down America's throat.

Megan McArdle
Enough. Let's turn our attention to Megan McArdle. Some people read her blog for Atlantic, and some people don't tear their hair, scream senselessly before throwing themselves off the nearest bridge, though it's a wonder why they don't. I guess writing a letter to the editor of Atlantic pleading for an answer to "Why, WHY?" would be more helpful.

I first noticed the offending post while reading this Timothy Noah takedown in the New Republic:
Megan McArdle of the Atlantic writes:
“Income inequality has been rising for so long that people have started to assume that it has just kept rising, even when the data show otherwise. We don't want to spend years focused on income inequality, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us.”
No, we don’t. Nor do we want to spend years trying to cure cancer, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us. The likelihood of that happening would be roughly the same.
Roy Edroso at alicublog puts it more fancifully:
SHORTER MEGAN McARDLE: Won't somebody please think of the 1%?

UPDATE. No, really --

I doubt Occupy Wall Street will be assuaged by learning that the top 0.1% now only receive 8% of the income earned in the US, even if that number is the lowest it's been since 2003.
I'm very upset with the liberal media -- they've obviously spiked my proposal, sent to all major networks, to give McArdle a Sunday morning show called Attend Your Betters, starring her and a bunch of dollies (whom she calls her "Board of Directors") having tea and telling each other how good it is to be away from the riff-raff. (I can tell you good people the secret of its inevitable success; once or twice an episode, we let assorted zoo animals loose on the set. No, she won't quit. It'll be just like the financial collapse: she'll never suspect things can go wrong again, so long as all the dolls have pretty dresses.)
Mind-boggling, thought-provoking, out-of-the-box thinking for your Tuesday morning consideration. We no longer have to Occupy Wall Street, go to history class, or worry about the two-party system. We can just be thankful that our overlords are spreading the wealth around by losing little bits of it to each other. Then when they wreck the world again we can force the banks to recapitalize! Oh, and lower taxes on the rich because, according to Our Miss McArdle, they're going to need it.

Update. I culled this from the PBS News Hour's bio of Our Mister Brooks:
Born on Aug. 11, 1961 in Toronto, Canada, Mr. Brooks graduated a bachelor of history from the University of Chicago in 1983.  Immediately afterwards, he became a police reporter for the City News Bureau, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times.
 He's a history major! Why isn't he running Washington into the ground? He does live in Washington suburb Bethesda, MD. Oh my god, maybe he is!!

Our Miss McArdle wasn't a history major -- instead a BA in English from Penn -- but she did get her MBA from the University of Chicago. Is it something in the water there, something in the freshwater?

Update II. McArdle lives in Washington DC. She's part of the takedown squad! It finally makes sense to me...
The freshwater school of economics, where they plan the end of the world! Wait, that isn't rational...

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