Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Playing Right Into a Trap

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In his haste to find something to slam the Tea Party on as the current midterms are encroaching upon us, Mark Benjamin falls right into a very simple GOP trap. He takes this statement from Sharron Angle, candidate for Nevada:

We moved to the state of Nevada when I was three-and-a-half. My father bought a small business out in front of the convention center in Reno — and it wasn’t a convention center then; it was an onion field. His small business was a motel, and so we did those things as a kid that Americans don’t do. We cleaned bathrooms and made beds and swept floors, did laundry, those kinds of things.

He interpreted it as her being racist by confirming that such work was below the average American.

Au contraire.

In my opinion, it’s fairly clear that she was giving the usual politician faux-populist pitch wherein she established her humble salt-of-the-earth credentials while making a sly dig at East Coast Liberal Elites’ often-touted argument that illegal immigration is not a major problem because the immigrants do work Americans won’t do. She even laughed at her own satire, in the video.

Being that Arizona’s right wing is going on a xenophobic head trip right now and she’s the Tea Party candidate, my reading would seem to make the most sense, no? And being that Benjamin’s reaction belied an assumption concerning minorities and the economy that validated her narrative, he fell into a trap: Her narrative is they’re taking our jobs and to say otherwise is to be out of touch with working-class Americans. In that stead, his opposing viewpoint then becomes those jobs are so beneath my elitist purview as to be invisible.

I am by no means defending Angle or the Tea Party, and indeed I’m glad that Paul Krugman and his readers have written what they did this past day, but if any criticism from the left is to be effective, Mark, it must first be accurate.


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A number of decent articles to ponder. Krugman in specific appears to be easing into a new assumed role of political analyst since his tirades about how Obama isn’t radical enough economically earned him a drubbing by Emanuel.

But then, I read liberal rags.

A couple of very interesting older articles abound, especially about the fallacy of the “productive rich.” Indeed, the whole point about high finance and economic bubbles is that there is no actual production involved.

The Pigs

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Obama called the Cambridge police “stupid” and, later, apologized for his words but, while he failed the cardinal rule of politics (never say what you think), I believe his first instinct was correct.

So clearly correct that the only real complaint on Obama’s statemanship – just as Krugman actually admitted in a recent column on the topic of health care – is not about his views as his politics. It’s politically unfortunate to made any bold statement, no matter how right it is.

Charles Blow sums up what the real issue is about, despite the equivocating from the pundits and the policemen associations closing ranks around their boys. Was it a case of racial profiling? I think the woman who called 911 is most guilty if there is such a claim. Was the encounter racially tinged? Duh. Did the policeman act professionally? Hell the fuck no.

Professional means doing your job, saying thank you and going home. Once you have answered the call and ascertained that, no, it is not a break-in, you turn and go home. The inability for a cop to admit error is what causes this to escalate. Gun justice is why the police are so universally reviled: They are goons. Nobody should be forced to tiptoe around the cop, least of all people who have been historically targeted by same.

I Spit at You

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The narrative for Obama’s Tuesday press conference has been split between him being an irritable dick and a spineless pussy… like the narrative has been for everything he’s done since entering office.

But either aside, I took issue with Krugman’s interpretation of Obama’s answers as there could be no right answer – and the reason for such is this: Both he and the pundits at the conference were trying to spin Obama’s words instead of listening to his policies.

I watched the thing on Youtube (the only full video transcript being some “watchdog” group called Earth2Obama that recorded C-SPAN) and what struck me was not his answers – he just explained his position four times over the course of an hour with enough dropped hints to drown the room – but the smarmy, baiting questions asked of him.

Asks Fox News and again by CBS, did John McCain influence his words today? “Only I’m the President.” Hint. And both had the audacity to make a snide comment afterwards, too; Fox with the “will you invite Iranian diplomats to the embassy on the Fourth of July?” and CBS with, “aren’t you giving them fodder to blame us for meddling today?” Damned if you do…

Asks AP and again by NBC, will he draw a line in the sand against Iran? “This is the Iranian people’s fight.” Hint – drawing a line is how we got into some other problems.

Asks USA Today and again by ABC, is the health insurance public option non-negotiable? “Who would it harm?” Hint. Retorts USA Today, “won’t that drive private insurers out of business?” “I thought private companies were more efficient than government bureaucracies.” Hint.

Every question was directed towards pinning him to a policy or a number: What’s the upper cap on unemployment? What’s the most we can take before we intervene in Iran? Is the public option sacrosanct? The political fallout from being held to one of those is far more severe than the steady hand at the till of policy-making and diplomacy. There is a time for hard lines, sure, but the questions were not made in good faith.

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