Dismay from Hollywood: It’s Oscar weekend! That said, we agree with TNR’s David Thomson (click here)—you should see “Just Go With It” because it’s so gruesomely bad. (Thomson: “This is so bad you need to see it.”)
We were so intrigued by the film’s bad reviews, we went to see it two weekends ago. We didn’t find it as tasteless as some reviews said, but we found it instructively awful. The absolute, total, complete lack of effort will absolutely drain your soul, as some reviewers have said, Thomson included. But the lack of effort may teach you a lesson: A culture in which people earn giant, humongous dollar awards is a culture that’s bound for the dumpster.
That’s true about cable hosts, of course, along with Hollywood “writers” and actors. At some point, the more you pay, the less you get. The squalor isn’t restricted to Wall Street. Doubt it? Go see this movie!
David Brooks, to the right of O’Reilly: Paul Krugman’s new column is very important. But first:
Consider two letters about his colleague, the fading David Brooks.
For unknown reasons, Brooks’ work has seemed weaker and weaker of late, even as his pique with Krugman’s work has seemed to grow. This morning, two letter-writers flag a groaner from his most recent column.
On Tuesday, Brooks wrote about Scott Walker; he called the governor’s critics “amusingly Orwellian.” According to Brooks, “Whatever you might say about Walker, he and the Republican majorities in Wisconsin were elected, and they are doing exactly what they told voters they would do.”
Governor Walker is doing exactly what he said! Today, two letters correct that claim. If anything, the letters are a tad too kind to Brooks:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (2/25/11): David Brooks repeats a claim that Gov. Scott Walker makes: As governor, he is simply doing what he said he would do.
In fact, while he said repeatedly that he would ask public employees to pay a bigger share of pensions and health care costs, Mr. Walker did not during his long campaign make clear that he would move to take away bargaining rights, essentially putting public employee unions out of business.
Given the strong reaction to his post-election surprise actions, it is not a stretch to say that if he had been honest with the voters about his plans, he might not have been elected.
Sorry, but no—whatever one thinks of Walker’s current proposal, he didn’t campaign on the promise to end collective bargaining. How far off-track has Brooks now gone? Last evening, on the Fox News Channel, Bill O’Reilly was careful to make this point, contradicting Laura Ingraham again and again.
O'REILLY (2/24/11): But according to this poll, Walker has not won the hearts and minds of his citizens in limiting collective bargaining. He has not.
INGRAHAM: Well, but he won the election campaigning on it.
O'REILLY: In everything—everything else he won, he's winning, but not in this.
INGRAHAM: Governing by polls is also quite difficult; as you said it's difficult to measure. I don't—do you know anyone who answers their home phone to even do a poll? So you know, they're, they're fascinating until—until you realize that he campaigned on this very point to restore fiscal order, and sanity to the state. You cannot do that—
O'REILLY: But he didn't campaign on limiting—no, no, no! He did not campaign on limiting collective bargaining. He did on fiscal responsibility.
INGRAHAM: Right. But Bill—
O'REILLY: And Ohio Governor John Kasich made a very good—
INGRAHAM: —in two months.
O'REILLY: —case last night. But he didn't campaign on collective bargaining. He did not.
Oof! From Mr. O, we got the straight dope. From columnist Brooks, not so much!
Why is Krugman’s column important? Good God! Because he constructs the larger narratives voters simply haven’t received from liberals down through the years.
In our view, Krugman’s column does have a few problems. In the following passage, we think his account of the past few weeks is somewhat bollixed. But good lord! Right at the start of his column, Krugman describes Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine”—and in this passage, he describes a war the public must hear described:
KRUGMAN (2/25/11): In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions—an offer the governor has rejected.
What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab—an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.
Within our political culture, powerful interests relentlessly bash the unions. In September, NBC News devoted an entire week to bashing our teachers and their fiendish unions, while the “progressive” hosts on the cable arm sat around diddling themselves and laughing about Sarah Palin (see below). When have high-profile liberals/progressives looked for ways to tell average people about the way the world really works? Klein’s book is a great place to start—though it’s never discussed on the cable arm, where Klein herself almost never appears. It’s a thrill to see her book, and this ongoing war, described in this morning’s column.
Average people of the right and the left get looted in the war Klein describes. Progressives should look for ways to spread this news across those tribal lines.