I have a very busy day that hits the ground running before 9 a.m. and won’t quit for about 48 to 72 additional hours, and may actually stretch beyond that. (Coffee, be my Rock.) A few things you can discuss today, without my benign moderating presence:
1) Paul Harvey. Couldn’t stand the guy. Everybody says, “Yeah, but he was a great broadcaster.” Woo. OK, then. Still couldn’t stand the guy.
2) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” about to leave the nightstand and return to the library. I finished it over the weekend, and had that strange experience of a book I really, really despise that is still, nevertheless, a page-turner. You keep turning pages because you can’t believe how awful it is, what fresh assaults on logic and language will be found in the next chapter. The language problems are forgivable; the novel was translated from Swedish, and it has a strange history — the author died “shortly after delivering the manuscript,” the jacket copy says. Perhaps, in Sweden, when the author is dead, it’s considered bad form to actually edit his manuscript, because that’s where the outrage is, in the amount of prose in this hefty volume that’s simply screaming for the red pencil. For example. Here’s a journalist sitting down to research a sprawling family history:
The family consisted of about a hundred individuals, counting all the children of cousins and second cousins. The family was so extensive that he was forced to create a database in his iBook. He used the NotePad programme (www.ibrium.se), one of those full-value products that two men at the Royal Technical College had created and distributed as shareware for a pittance on the Internet. Few programmes were as useful for an investigative journalist. Each family member was given his or her own document in the database.
What the hell? Is that logorrhea, or a product placement?
Warning: The book is called the first volume of a trilogy. Given that, in 465 pages, we encounter serial murder, sexual sadism, torture, rape, Nazis, muckraking journalism, international crimes of high finance and other pulpy shenanigans, I can scarcely imagine what volumes II and III might reveal. Shudder.
3) Go immediately to the “This American Life” website and download the podcast of last week’s show, “Bad Bank.” It’s a companion piece to two others I’ve touted here before, “The Giant Pool of Money,” (about the mortgage meltdown) and “Another Frightening Show About the Economy” (about the credit freeze), and nowhere will you get a better glimpse at why we’re in the fix we’re in, and how it might be repaired. (Bad news: It isn’t. Yet.) Radio doesn’t compete for Pulitzers and TAL already has a Peabody, but they, and Public Radio International, should win some sort of major award for these reports, which are truly heroic explanatory journalism. Maybe a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg.
A friend, a fellow newspaper journalist, wrote me the other day, “Sometimes I panic. Sometimes I think: What an amazing time to be alive.” Me, too.
4) Another hazard of houses standing empty.
5) Via Playboy, of all places, a credible analysis of yet another “grassroots” movement, in this case Rick Santelli’s tea party movement. Speaking of which: Scenes you couldn’t make up if you tried.
6) Finally, a link I’ve been meaning to post for ages. Sometime last year the New York Times began including a daily recipe on their Health section web page, called, duh, Recipes for Health. After several months, there’s now quite an archive, and it’s sortable by main ingredient, which really comes in handy when you’ve got a lot of something and no particular ideas about what to do with it. I’ve made several dishes, and have only been disappointed by one — the beet risotto did not come out a cute Pepto-Bismol pink, but a disappointing muddy color. This is a pretty good percentage with me, and these last few weeks of trying to eat better, I’m turning to it more often. Bookmark and explore.
And that’s it for me. For now.
Dexter said on March 2, 2009 at 2:03 am
I thought I’d throw this into the mix since a lot of us loved “The Wire.”
David Simon (one really cool cat, BTW) writes:
moe99 said on March 2, 2009 at 2:20 am
Ok, I will confess that I really loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But I’m a sucker for fast moving plots vs. solid characterizations. I just want a couple of hours that go by without me noticing because I’m so deep into the book, wanting to know what comes next. And my book group, whose idea it was, loved it too. Must be the Scandanavian influence extant in Seattle…..
Colleen said on March 2, 2009 at 8:05 am
Agree wholeheartedly about Paul Harvey.
I’ve never understood the need to destroy and vandalize, al la the Winnetka house story. I can KIND OF understand the allure of “hey, let’s hang out in the empty house and do naughty things”, but why write on the walls, etc.
Also…these are well off kids who have the best of the best—why do THEY behave this way? They aren’t depraved on accounta they’re deprived….
“They looked at me and they were really sorry”. Yeah. sorry they got caught.
My. So cynical so early in the week!
beb said on March 2, 2009 at 8:06 am
For those who can’t or won’t dowload podcasts, the NYT run an article over the weekend on A.I.G., which the gov’t have infused around $150 Bn into. The article explains what AIG, what it was doing and why, if we pull the plug on it the whole world implodes!
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has received some heavy promotion in bookstores, so somebody is getting a nice kickback from this. Personally I don’t read books over 300 pages. If the author can’t say it in 60,000 words, they’ll never get around to saying watever it is they’re trying to say.
Long before Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey was the guy who’d make me leap to turn off the radio. His death has raised the national intelligence by at least 2 IQ points.
On a lighter note: Ace Ventura, JUNIOR, Pet Detective, a direct-to-video movie that premieried on Cartoon Network last night (it’s live-action) actually failed to embarass itself. It’s a movie aimed at the 7-12 year old market but wasn’t especially embarassing for an adult to watch.
mark said on March 2, 2009 at 8:43 am
Thanks for the link, beb. If Obama wants to give me “change I can believe in” he can quit following the Bush/Paulson plan and let the gamblers who placed their bets with AIG and others take their losses. The NYT article doesn’t mention it, but others indicate that China placed big bets with AIG on credit default swaps and they want paid.
We can’t even estimate the potential exposure on credit default swaps. I’ve seen estimates from credible sources ranging between 20 and 60 trillion. The current approach is to let the American taxpayer fund the losses, so European banks, Asian governments and many others don’t have to take their losses.
This is lunacy.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 2, 2009 at 8:48 am
So the “Girl w Dragon Tattoo” isn’t a bio of Angelina? Wrong assumption, again. Live and learn.
BigHank53 said on March 2, 2009 at 9:50 am
I once heard Paul Harvey intone, while describing experience of a lightning-struck truck driver, “We have learned that tires no longer protect us since they have had steel belts added to them,” which has got to qualify as one of the stupidest things ever. Rubber tires never protected anyone from enough electricity to jump a mile of empty air. The steel cage of your vehicle did, and thirty seconds of research would have told him so.
I have always assumed him to be equally well-informed on other topics.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 9:56 am
Well, finally, the Republican Party comes up with a winning position. They’re in favor of tea-bagging. Whooooo hooooo! And here I thought this was a sexually repressed political movement. A party publicly embracing tea-bagging is clearly on the cutting edge. This must be what Michael Steele meant when he said the G.O.P. was going “off the hook” in its outreach to younger Amercans. When younger voters see that only one party endorses tea-bagging, the stampede to the G.O.P. will begin.
MichaelG said on March 2, 2009 at 10:22 am
Hah! And I thought I was the only one to get the tea-bagging ref. For sure the lady with the sign doesn’t.
I commented a day early on Paul Harvey. See #66 yesterday and check out Ken Levine’s thoughts.
jp said on March 2, 2009 at 10:24 am
I didn’t like Paul Harvey at all–I’d characterize his stuff as formulaic we-will-make-you-feel-good-truth-be-damned radio. I remember a This American Life segment by Scott Carrier where he described working for a commercial radio program of a nameless host he called The Friendly Man, which I presumed to be Paul Harvey. Here’s the URL and a description of the segment:
“It’s another not-so-great period in Scott’s life. This time he takes a job inside his profession, as a producer for a national commercial radio program. His boss is a nationally recognized host who Scott refers to only as “The Friendly Man.” Again, things don’t go so well. (16 minutes)”
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 10:31 am
Dexter, that is a great article. It should be assigned reading for anyone who wants to minimize the importance of the demise of daily newspapers
LA Mary said on March 2, 2009 at 10:56 am
Yesterday, Scott Simon was covering the Sunday NPR morning show and he rambled a bit about Paul Harvey. He claims Ira Glass of This American Life learned a lot about delivery from Paul Harvey.
I remember thinking Paul Harvey was the sort of old fart who was unreliable on facts since my early teens, the first time I heard him. I was doing a summertime mother’s helper job, and the maid in the house had WABC on the radio all day. Late morning was Paul Harvey, early morning was the Breakfast Club, which sounded like something from the forties to me in 1967.
mark said on March 2, 2009 at 11:01 am
Looks like the real stampede is by the investor class, fleeing a market that is now being run by the government. But hey, Bernanke said recovery starts in the third quarter and Orszag says 3% GDP growth in first quarter 2010. You can budget on it!
Jump in now for a good seat on the bottom up economic rocket!
Kirk said on March 2, 2009 at 11:16 am
Breakfast Club, as in Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club, Mary? I remember hearing that on my grandma’s radio back in the ’50s.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 11:19 am
One of my relatives actually is making that pitch, Mark, but we’re taking a pass after getting creamed last year. We’re envying my 89-year-old in-laws, who inherited a little money a few years ago. They put it all in CD’s and last year made a tidy 5%-plus on their investments.
I always figured to keep some kind of a part-time job, as much to avoid boredom in retirement as anything. Now, it looks like we’ll be working late into life whether we like it or not.
Don McNeil’s (sp?) Breakfast Club was a staple in our kitchen growing up, Kirk. My mom was a devotee. It was broadcast every day from a hotel in Chicago, but I’m at a loss to remember which one. At 57, I was right on the tail end of network radio as a little kid, when programs like McNeil’s and Arthur Godfrey’s were broadcast to many local markets.
coozledad said on March 2, 2009 at 11:26 am
“Investor class” is the most amusing euphemism I’ve ever heard for “white trash out of its depth”. I guess they’ll be taking their talent for recognizing Ponzi schemes elsewhere. Hopefully they’ll just keep the fuck on going.
mark said on March 2, 2009 at 11:29 am
Good for your in-laws. People who are beyond the age where they can head back into the workforce, and who had too much exposure to this market, have really had their world turned upside down. Also befuddled are the leading edge of the baby-boomers, who are seeing retirement plans massively downsized or delayed.
In fairness, Bush started this “abandon the free market in order to save it” stuff. I’ve followed the market pretty closely for a number of years and, from my observation, all of the effort has switched to trying to figure out what the government will or won’t do next, rather than on earnings, products, market share, etc. Along the way, increasing bad news is diminishing any notion that government knows what it is doing and pummeling prices. Again, Bush still gets most of the blame.
Kirk said on March 2, 2009 at 11:30 am
From a Chicago history Web site that seems to know what it’s talking about: The show originated at the Merchandise Mart and later broadcast before live audiences at the Opera House, the Morrison Hotel, the Sherman House, and the Allerton Hotel.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 11:32 am
A question for those (okay, probably everyone at this site) who knows more about the economy than me.
I recognize many, maybe most, people are now represented on the stock market through various and sundry 401-(k)s, pension plans, etc. I get that it is not simply the wealthy and the plutocrats who are invested.
That said, to what extent should the DJIA be considered the thermometer for the nation’s economic health? Virtually every story I see frames this as Wall Street vs. Obama. He’s already failing because the Dow won’t rise. Someone enlighten me, please.
Dave said on March 2, 2009 at 11:35 am
I don’t think Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club was on Columbus radio but I remember a devoted listener from my grandparents’ hometown in Southern Ohio. I do remember the tail end of network radio, my mother listening to soap operas on the radio and Gunsmoke was on the radio on Saturday with William Conrad (later Cannon on TV) as Matt Dillon.
Paul Harvey had longevity, which always helps when you outlive your critics, I remember reading a critical article on him way back in the 1970’s, he’d been arrested sneaking into a Army fort somewhere for what he’d claimed was investigative reasons and he was pro-Vietnam until his son became draft age and then he was against it.
nancy said on March 2, 2009 at 11:36 am
Listen to that trio of TAL stories, Jeff. The DJIA is a number that is, increasingly, unhooked from reality. As a ready-made soundbite I guess it has its uses, but the economy is so much more complex than what it reflects that it’s starting to border on irresponsible journalism to harp on it.
I know it’s a daily irritant, listening to “Marketplace,” when they “do the numbers.”
Just a pop-in for me. I’m popping out to Russian class in 20 minutes.
mark said on March 2, 2009 at 11:39 am
Good thinking, cooze. We don’t want the people who work, save and invest to clog the streets when we line up for all the new government benefits. And good riddance to all the white trash that ran, contributed to, donated to or received benefits from pension funds, charitable foundations and college endowments.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 2, 2009 at 11:56 am
“impaling itself on the internet” — too, too true.
Listen to the S&P ave., but skeptically until you hear the TED spread. ’tis moot, as the DJIA will get to 5500 before we head back up in that measure, and largely because they’ll change the components.
mark said on March 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm
I’ll take a stab at your question. First, the Dow misses a lot that would go into overall economic health. Crime, education, infrastructure investments, mortality rates and a lot of important things get reflected in movements of the dow very imperfectly if at all.
Second, the Dow is a pretty broad based index, so it covers most of the critical areas of the business side of the economy. It is biased toward more established companies, with higher growth companies typically found on the Nasdaq. GE vs. Microsoft, for example. But othrwise, it represents a broad cross-section of industrials, finance, health care, transportation, energy, etc.
Third, the Dow index is, I think, an indicator of economic health. It represents millions of individual decisions (estimates, guesses) about the future of the component companies, and the underlying markets, products, management, etc. Right now the predictions are not real good and the negative sentiment is pretty broad based.
Fourth, significant declines in the index or individual prices have significant real world effects. The wealth effect can be immediate and disasterous if you need the money now, more psychological if you have thirty years before you access the money. For the companies, it can make raising capital much more difficult. For those that are over-extended, this can put them in a real death spiral.
I don’t think the decline is a comment on Obama, at least not directly. I think there is huge concern about the extent of the bad loans, derivatives, etc and the amount of borrowing necessary to deal with it under current approaches.
For a healthy company like Microsoft, this time will probably only be a short term difficulty. They have no debt and lots of cash on hand. For a company like GE, who knows. For the life of me I can’t get a handle on their financial services business and the extent of potential losses there.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm
Mark — i keep seeing this list of current bubbles set to pop world-wide:
1. Subprime Mortgage linked Loans and other Assets (USD 1.5 trillion);
2. China, India, Eastern Europe and other Emerging Market Loans (USD 5 trillion);
3. Commodities (Commodity Derivatives at about USD 9 trillion);
4. Corporate bonds (USD 15 trillion);
5. Commercial (USD 25 trillion) and Residential property (USD 50 trillion);
6. Credit Cards Outstanding Debt (USD 2.5 trillion);
7. Currencies (Foreign Exchange Derivatives at about USD 56 trillion); and
8. Credit Default Swaps (USD 58 trillion) as a subset of all Derivatives (USD 1,144 Trillion).
So i’m thinking on the Quadrillion set-up, we’ll see a minimum 10% default as this shakes out, meaning the global economy has to somehow swallow and digest 100 trillion loss before we turn back around. The problem is social stability in the developing world while this loss is processed: can governments and institutions hold together until growth returns? Our social stability question in this country is based in getting an answer to the question “who ended up with all this money, anyhow?”
I learn over and over that it’s not an acceptable answer to most people “no one ended up with it, because it didn’t exist in the first place. . . we’re just figuring out where the actual value is now, after pretending for the last ten years it was where we wanted it to be.”
But i can’t imagine this calming on our end, domestically, until some people go to jail. None of it has a thing to do with Obama, except to the degree that he and his team know they need to be seen as “doing something” about it, which is where i hope they know their limits.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm
Thanks, Nancita. I’ll give them a listen.
Anyone catch Rush Limbaugh’s appearance at CPAC? It was interesting. His first 30 minutes or so seemed pretty well done and engaging, albeit the same old stale rightwing viewpoints, but as he went on, he really started meandering around and repeating himself. What was striking was his bitch slap at Newt Gingrich, when El Rushbo was snarking about how conservatives don’t need no stinking policies, just the right candidate. Physically, Rush looks bad. He has gotten huge. The open neck shirt revealed more chins than a Chinese phone book. Ugh. But he got the same kind of reaction the Jonas Brothers would at a junior high school dance — euphoric.
Ah well, on his worst day, Rush is better than Ann Coulter on her best day. The trash-talking bony moroni referred to MSNBC as the only network where every host had attended “an alternative prom.” I guess that’s a dig at the cerebral lesbian Rachel Maddow, but she tarred conservative morning guy Joe Scarborough with that brush, too. I’m guessing La Coulter has some big issues with teh gays since last year she was noted for calling John Edwards “a fag.”
Saw some photos of the merchandise on sale. My favorite: “Evolution is science fiction.” Yeah, baby, let’s get dumb and staaaaaaay dumb.
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Paraphrasing George Carlin’s hippy dippy weatherman radar weather report –
don’t waste time worrying about about the market when omni-eye radar indicates that a 200 foot-wide asteroid just missed us this morning!
Given the speed, mass and orbit of the object, this is a wafer-thin encounter, and it is locked into a short period earth-crossing orbit which means it will return and be a future danger to the planet. It will move rapidly through the constellation Virgo at an apparent rate of about half a lunar diameter (LD) per minute with a visual magnitude of 10 on current estimates.
Like the much larger earth crossing asteroid Apophis, which will pass even closer to Earth on 13 April 2029, and may then suffer enough gravitational deflection to subsequently collide with us on 13 April 2036, 2009 DD45 is also trophy that will remain at large until humans shift it into a safer orbit, or it runs into us.
(Imagine the conversation hereabouts if the breaking news was that a large nuclear detonation appears to have occurred)
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm
Thanks for your analysis. Cogent and concise. I appreciate it. Not long ago, someone was pushing a book with the title “Dow 36,000.” Now, I wonder how long it will be for the market to return to 10,000.
One last query: Is there an economist you follow? I’m a negative, downbeat kind of guy on a good day, so maybe that is why I’m drawn to Nouriel Roubini. He’s bearish beyond measure, which I find oddly comforting in ways the Kudlows, the Dobbs, and Cramers can’t match.
Peter said on March 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm
Gee, I wouldn’t equate Paul Harvey with Rush. To me, listening to Paul Harvey was like fingernails on the blackboard, but I don’t think he was evil.
I always thought Paul was the audio version of Reader’s Digest. I also thought his best time slot would be right before or after Lawrence Welk.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm
One thing about Paul Harvey I can vouch for is that he never gave anyone credit. When I was a police reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, they had me looking for a weird occurence or funny happening that might make a daily brightener. I know of at least two instances in which Harvey used a story I’d written as a closer to his broadcast without ever mentioning me or the Dispatch.
One was a lady who called police in a panic and was standing on a table, shrieking, when they arrived. She claimed to have a giant bug inside the wad of tissues as big as a beach ball. The responding officer had no idea what to expect, so he dutifully pulled back layer after layer, wondering if it would be a tarantula or a black widow or something. Finally, beneath the last sheet, he found his quarry: a black jelly bean.
The second was about two cops who responded to a domestic call. As they were interviewing the woman, the man attacked the coppers by swinging a violin at them. One officer put up his elbow but pieces of wood did indeed get into his eye as the instrument shattered. The police officer told me, “I’m just glad the guy didn’t play a tuba.”
And that. . .is the rest of the story.
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm
As they were interviewing the woman, the man attacked the coppers by swinging a violin at them. One officer put up his elbow but pieces of wood did indeed get into his eye as the instrument shattered.
At that point I thought for sure that the punchline we were headed for was something about “domestic violens” – so the tuba joke was extra good!
Dwight said on March 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm
“I guess that’s a dig at the cerebral lesbian Rachel Maddow, but she tarred conservative morning guy Joe Scarborough with that brush, too.”
I agree. Wholeheartedly.
I remember John Stewart referring to Alan Colmes as “the only liberal on that [Fox] network” and thinking, “Man. Imagine the surprise of Dr. Mark Lamont-Hill, Juan Williams, Martin Frost, Susan Estrich, Mort Kondracke and William J. Bennett to find out they aren’t really liberal.”
Paint with a big brush and look like a douche. One of life’s great truths.
Dwight said on March 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm
Correction: Bob Bennett. I can never remember which is which.
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm
Bill is the one with the late night ‘slot’
whitebeard said on March 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm
All I hear about AIG is that it is too big to fail; maybe it really is too stupid and greedy to save
moe99 said on March 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm
Why are there no consequences for bad behavior here? These folks’ greed and shortsightedness pushed all of us down the rathole. Why should they get off scot free? I don’t care if they are bankers in $5,000 business suits. They fucked up big time and they should bear the responsibility for their actions.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm
Michael Steele vs. Rush Limbaugh
In academia, they say the battles are so vicious because the stakes are so small. Maybe we can start saying the same thing about the current GOP.
RNC Chair Michael Steele bristled at the suggestion that Rush Limbaugh was the face of the Republican Party. In an interview with D.L. Hughley, Steele called Limbaugh an “entertainer” who said “ugly” things. El Rushbo, fresh from his Saturday night keynote success at CPAC, is now drawing a bead on Steele. Check out this quote from his show today:
“It seems to me that it’s Michael Steele who is off to a shaky start….
“Now, Mr. Steele, if it is your position as the chairman of the Republican National Committee that you want a left wing Democrat (sic) president and a left wing Democrat (sic) Congress to succeed in advancing their agenda, if it’s your position that you want President Obama and Speaker Pelosi and Senate leader Harry Reid to succeed with their massive spending and taxing and nationalization plans, I think you have some explaining to do.
“Why are you running the Republican Party? Why do you claim you lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it that President Obama succeeds? I frankly am stunned that the chairman of the Republican National Committee endorses such an agenda…
“I don’t understand why you’re asking Republicans to donate to the Republican National Committee if their money is going to be spent furthering the agenda of Barack Obama? If we don’t want Obama and Reid and Pelosi to fail, then why does the RNC exist, Mr. Steele? Why are you even raising money?”
Isn’t this the equivalent of two guys fighting over a deck chair as the Titanic slides beneath the waves?
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm
This ain’t complicated — Limbaugh needs only to get from 22% audience share to 23%, and he wins; Steele needs to get to 51% to do his job.
Very different tasks. By the way, Dr. Dobson stepped down as board chairman of Focus On The Family, having resigned as CEO last year; quiet talk of health issues and such, but no clear word. But neither Dobson nor Limbaugh are in charge of much of anything other than their own particular megaphones, and Pat Robertson has been a muttered curse word among conservatives for years and years.
Steele has to find his own way out of the pack into a role of public leadership that has some resonance in media appearances, but his main job is to quietly work with the elected leaders (governors, House & Senate minority leaders, state party poobahs). Think about Howard Dean, who has been talking in recent weeks on cable news shows five times what he did the whole time he was DNC chair.
Dexter said on March 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm
I agree with Peter’s 12:57 post…Paul Harvey was indeed newsman to the champagne music audience. As I wrote the other day, I listened to him on my transistor radio when I was 12, then as a teenager I had other stuff to do…after the war I re-discovered him—these were my ‘hate years’ and I railed against the likes of Paul Harvey for a few years, then I ignored him for years; I had finally learned to not let people I didn’t even know control my emotions (George Carlin explained how most of his first seven heart attacks were caused by how worked-up he got over his hatred of Richard Nixon, then Carlin learned to let go that which one does not need to torture one’s self over.)
And I learned that from Carlin, and later on I learned that, why, that’s a tenet of most any kind of therapy or group therapy, and it’s so simple.
So in later years , if I had WJR760AM on , and Paul Harvey was giving one of his “The Rest Of The Story” segments, I might listen, I might punch him off my car radio, but either way , I didn’t get all boiling mad just from hearing his voice as I did back in the early 1970’s , when I was indeed a very angry young man. I never did relinquish my disdain for the creep from Whittier, though.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 6:00 pm
I understand the difference in their roles and Steele, obviously, has the far more difficult task. As you so accurately note, Limbaugh simply needs to draw enough listeners to justify the cost of his commercials. The more outrageous his behavior, the more he generates buzz. Poor Steele must go out and get people to write checks, a tough job under any circumstances but particularly difficult when you’re in a recession, reeling from two bad election cycles and there’s no clear savior amongst the faithful.
What is striking to me is the public warfare here. Steele can ill afford to have the nation’s most popular talk radio host questioning his leadership skills and literally asking why anyone should donate to the RNC. By the same token, if Limbaugh is sincere in his belief, it’s folly for him to be trashing the guy who has to raise the cash needed to fuel a Republican resurgence.
I genuinely dislike Limbaugh and think he is a complete phony. A thrice-divorced, childless, substance-abusing, sex tourist bully who traffics in sexism, racism and homophobia hardly seems the ideal for a party devoted to traditional family values. Steele seems to be a few slices short of a loaf, but he does appear to be sincere in his efforts to broaden the party’s base. He seems to understand that trashing Hispanics, blacks, women and the educated is not the ticket for a return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Limbaugh must be absolutely drunk with power. He went out of his way to trash Newt Gingrich (not by name) during his CPAC speech, mocking those who want to present new policies rather than El Rusho’s idea of rigid conservatism, whatever that may be. Now, he’s feuding with the head of the RNC.
Has the conservative movement created its own monster?
alex said on March 2, 2009 at 6:22 pm
Well, Steele has a public fiasco on his hands now that the GOP has been successfully branded The Party of Limbaugh. But Jeff (tmmo), I suspect Limbaugh’s audience numbers will adjust downward along with the tone of the rhetoric. I’m betting the right-of-center moderates who once secretly took joy in Limbaugh’s antics, if only out of team spirit, will now tune him out completely and refuse to be tainted by association.
My only Paul Harvey story is that I had to write bland ad copy for him to read on his show for a time. Hokey and stilted crap, it was, and better paying than any meaningful writing gig I could find. The sponsor was a cooperative of independent hardware stores and it started going bust with the big box revolution. They had quite an extensive in-house marketing operation and made great use of independent contractors, and I fed at that teat for quite a few years.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 2, 2009 at 6:38 pm
The pilonoidal cyst must have worked all the way back up through into the brain stem . . . drunk with power does not seem to be an inapt description of what i see as akin to Charles Foster Kane’s later, bloated self trashing a whole wing of Xanadu before hyperventilating his way into a momentary outward calm.
Nota Bene — CPAC is a creature of YAF, and even McCain gave ’em a pass two years ago. They are a wing of the conservative bird, one that flips about oddly to one side of the larger Republican movement. I’m not trying to pretend that they’re peripheral to the GOP, but they’re our Kos or FireDogLake to the Democratic party itself. Coulter and even a hopped up El Rushbo are more to their taste than WFB style panels on Russell Kirk.
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 6:57 pm
MICHAEL STEELE BACKS DOWN
Well, that didn’t take long. . .from Politico.
Steele to Rush: I’m sorry
By: Mike Allen
March 2, 2009 05:58 PM EST
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
The dust-up comes at a time when top Democrats are trying to make Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party, in part by using ads funded by labor. Americans United for Change sent a fund-raising e-mail Monday that begins: “The Republican Party has turned into the Rush Limbaugh Party.”
Steele told CNN host D.L. Hughley in an interview aired Saturday night: “Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it’s ugly.”
Steele, who won a hard-fought chairman’s race on Jan. 30, told Politico he telephoned Limbaugh after his show on Monday afternoon and hoped that they would connect soon.
“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking,” Steele said. “It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not.”
“I’m not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh,” Steele added. “No such thing is going to happen. … I wasn’t trying to slam him or anything.”
I believe it’s safe to say that Michael Steele will be singing soprano after this ritual castration. And it’s certainly safe to say that no Republican can say a bad word about Rush Limbaugh. Period.
Maybe he really is the face of the party right now.
coozledad said on March 2, 2009 at 7:26 pm
jeff borden: More than the face, it’s the moral ABC of the party. Exceptions none. This will show Steele as being properly respectful of the fat white guy and in a curious way, endear him to the faithful. It really is all about sucking up to the boss,but with the peculiar self abnegation of an ascetic in an audience with a dissipated Leo X.
del said on March 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm
Whenever I see Limbaugh address anyone other than his own faithful he seems a shadow of himself. The bombast and bluster fade and he is, almost, timid. It’s then that he’s appears to be revealed as a phony.
Mark, you made a comment upthread about taxpayers’ role in the bailout. Something about the current approach being to let the taxpayers fund the bailout and that investors were fleeing the markets because of the government’s intrusion. I listened to the TAL segment Nancy posted and one important point made was that, one way or another, the American taxpayers will pay. Let’s call it as it is. Another point made — we should demand the cold hard truth from the bankers. No more lies on bank balance sheets.
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm
I’d like to think that the Republicans at the national level of American politics haven’t all lost their minds;
that the game was to have Big Bad Oxycontin-Addled Half-Deaf Heart-Attack-Waiting-to-Happen Limbaugh be the literal “heavy”, the national “bad cop”… so that THEN, at JUST the RIGHT MOMENT, some fine upstanding nationally known Republican can publicly and permanently break with him and become the “voice of reason” (maybe Huckabee, or Perry of Texas, for example) within the Grand ol’ Party …
But I truly don’t know about that; one really begins to doubt it.
Limbaugh looks more like a latter day John C Calhoun – wherein he places the good of his nation secondary to his own twisted “principles”; at least to the extent he is exerting serious control over his party, and is leading it right over the rocky cliffs.
Except that John Calhoun probably knew the difference between what the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution says – which Limbaugh in his prepared remarks!! revealed that he does NOT!
jeff borden said on March 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm
Rush is a sad, sad, sad man. He is wealthier than King Midas, but so what? He’s fat. He’s ugly. He’s mean.
moe99 said on March 2, 2009 at 9:05 pm
As long as Rush is the public face of the Republican party, they will continue their decline.
Catherine said on March 2, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Del, I listened to that too. I enjoyed that broker, who said, look, the taxpayers are going to pay either directly to prop up banking, or indirectly in the form of job losses and economic contraction. It was fun to hear him take that conclusion and run with it — at least someone’s thinking out there! It is kind of a relief to hear somebody say “you’re gonna pay, no matter what,” so clearly — like having the band-aid ripped off.
beb said on March 2, 2009 at 9:48 pm
Jeff Borden at 28 – Paul Krugman of the New York Times. as an economist he was warning about the housing bubble before it burst. He’s been right about of lot of things over the last eight years. Also he can explain things in words ordinary people can understand.
As a back up I recommend Duncan Black , aka Atrios at http://www.eschatonblog.com/
He’s also an economist and been right about this stuff all along.
basset said on March 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm
Recently picked up a side job a few nights a week, tutoring writing at the local community college – two or three of us sit in a room off the library and wait for business. Tonight, in the space of just over an hour, I worked with an Ethiopian, an Indian, an Iraqi Kurd, an Uzbek, and one American.
Just a brief break from the economic stuff, thought I’d share it.
Dexter said on March 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm
Thanks, basset…I choose to ignore Limbaugh and I wish Obama would, too…so thanks for changing the subject…a few years ago I volunteered to tutor a few young men who were on court probation, had to finish some courses that the court mandated, but had trouble reading and understanding the printed word.
I gave my best effort, but the probationers just didn’t care…didn’t get it…refused to even try, didn’t make the requirement, and two of them had their probation revoked and were sent back to Lima prison for their full terms of sentencing. The man that I had the hardest struggle with did get it, meaning he understood the gravity, and he completed his course, got to keep his job at Burger King, and finished his time on probation and did not have to return to prison, at least for that offense. I felt really good about that; I am not a teacher, I am a retired factory worker, but my greatest satisfaction at work was always instructing new workers how to operate machines, furnaces, and power-presses safely.
And now we see what the hit-and-run driver who killed the 40 year old woman last fall got: 1 3/4 to 5 in the penitentiary…but check out the man in this photo…the dead woman’s dad…HE knows what resentments will do…and he has forgiven…still—so sad…
brian stouder said on March 2, 2009 at 10:38 pm
Dexter, an affecting and life-affirming article.
That man is doing all that could be done to save at least two other lives (his own, and the convicted woman’s)
Gasman said on March 2, 2009 at 11:53 pm
With Michael Steele cowering before the hippopatamic landmass that is Mt. Rush Limbaugh, the philosophical core of the Republican Party has been laid bare. Every single R that has dared to criticize the Porcine Oracle has been castigated and donning sackcloth and ashes, has been forced to supplicate himself before the wife-hopping, pill-popping, self-inflating pedophile.
It doesn’t matter a damn that he has no official portfolio within the party. Until a national Republican can deliver a smackdown to the Bloated Bloviator and not feel compelled to grovel at his swollen feet, Limbaugh is the de facto heart and soul of all that is Republican.
As a liberal, this suits me just fine. If the Rs collectively lack the spine to hoist Lord Lardass out of the party, he will drag them into oblivion. If they do manage to muster enough courage to slay that particularly Sweaty Dragon, then maybe the Republicans can reform the party enough to actually come up with a philosophy that isn’t centered in rooting for the failure of our country. Limbaugh at the helm will guarantee further Republican losses on an even greater scale.
I knew that the Repubs were imploding, but I never thought that it would be this entertaining to watch. Pass the popcorn.
beb said on March 3, 2009 at 8:01 am
The people at talkingpointsmemo.com are having fun debating whether the hang-time for Steele should be counted from the time the ords left his mouth to his apology (42 hours) or from the time Limbaugh officially complained (3 hours).
And when it comes to earmarks in the budget — Mississippi again takes the lead. Here’s my odea on how to control earmarks — every Congressman gets ten per year. (maybe only five but at the moment I’m feeling generous) They can use them on any budget bill they want, but after ten, they can’t place any more. That leaves it to the Congressman to prioritize their pork.
jeff borden said on March 3, 2009 at 9:12 am
This is the beauty of your modern G.O.P., particularly the Southern and Western redoubts. Wail and whine, cry and complain, bitch and moan about government earmarks and how they are soooooo bad and sooooo socialistic and such a big contributor to the national debt. Make sure you get booked on Fox to demonstrate your zeal at battling these pernicious earmarks.
Then, shut your piehole and collect.
It’s hardly a secret that all these big-talking “we don’t need a Washington bureaucrat telling us’ns what to do” folks out West and down South collect more federal booty than any three Ohios or New Jerseys put together. I wouldn’t mind so much if their elected officials didn’t spend so much time wheezing about out-of-control federal spending while stuffing federal dollars into their pockets with both hands.
Rana said on March 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm
That Western attitude is one of long standing – historian Richard White probably put it best:
Westerners usually regarded the federal government much as they would regard a particularly scratchy wool shirt in winter. It was all that was keeping them warm, but it still irritated them. Westerners, unlike southerners, never actually tried to remove the source of irritation; they were content with complaining.
Quoted from p. 57
Dwight said on March 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm
Playboy has retracted Santelli slam.
How about a retraction from you for the echo?
Lex said on March 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm
[[I can scarcely imagine what volumes II and III might reveal. ]]