Nothing quite like a Taibbi takedown of David Brooks…

The condescension is bad, but the argument is even worse. Brooks is trying to make a “point” here – he takes something like 800 words to make it, but it boils down to a single snarky observation: “Isn’t it ironic that these same people who’ve been fighting for the right to personal indulgence for all these decades since the Sixties are now fighting for the right to be legally restrained?”

This is absurd on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, gays and lesbians are not asking to be forced into marriage – they’re actually campaigning for a new legal choice they didn’t have before. So technically speaking, they are campaigning for more freedoms, and Brooks’s argument is already fatally screwed.

But that’s so beside the point, it’s barely worth mentioning. This whole same-sex marriage issue is much less about freedom than it is about justice. This is about a group of people wanting to be fully recognized as citizens, with absolutely equal rights, who among other things no longer want to subsidize the tax-advantaged marriages of straight people like Brooks.

So Brooks sits down to write about same-sex marriage, and within a few paragraphs he’s in the middle of this darkly sarcastic rant full of grim ruminations on black fathers abandoning their kids and the irresponsible poor splurging on credit-card shopping sprees. All you convention-breakers, he seems to be griping, you wanted all this freedom, and it turned out you couldn’t handle it, just like people like me predicted, and now you come to us begging to be reined in.

So you see, in the end, I was right about your permissive society! I drink your milkshake!

This is some seriously crazy shit. None of what he’s talking about is within a hundred miles of anything relevant to the gay marriage question. It’s just weird, confused, old-person bitterness, mixed in with the usual obnoxious conservative delusions – like the way fiscal irresponsibility is always poor people buying wide-screen TVs on credit, and never teams of Ivy Leaguers at places like Lehman Brothers running up trillion-dollar balance sheets at 40-1 leverage.

The whole world seems rapidly to be coming to an understanding that this discrimination against gays and lesbians has to end, and the fact that this change is coming is a beautiful thing. You have to be a very unhappy person indeed to feel anything but joy about it – much less this sarcastic depression.

(Source: twitter.com)

Years from now, when we look back at these last days and weeks before this 2012 election, what we’re going to remember is how intensely millions of Americans hated during this time, how many shameless and dishonorable lies were told as the race tightened (we scratched and clawed at each other like sewer rats over every absurd factual dispute, finding ways to shriek at each other even over things that by definition are nobody’s fault, even over acts of God like Hurricane Sandy) and how reflexively people on opposite sides of the race disbelieved each other and laid blame at each others’ feet over just about every issue, important or (more often) not.

That should be the way we think. We should be confident that whoever wins has our collective best interests at heart, even if we don’t agree with his or her ideology, the same way we reflexively assume that the pilot of any plane we board doesn’t want to fly us into a mountain.

But we don’t make that assumption about our politicians anymore. We don’t believe the other side would have our backs even in an emergency. People today on both sides are genuinely terrified of a wrong outcome in this election. They’ve been whipped into a state of panic – people everywhere are freaking out and muttering to themselves and firing off vitriolic emails. That’s incredibly sad. As a member of the media, I feel sick about it. I think all of us in this business owe America a hug, or something … All of this has gone too far, and man, we’d better pray this doesn’t end in a 2000-style mess tonight. Year 2000 America seems like a veritable Buddha of perfect composure compared to the already-terminally-pissed, stress-crazed populace that has been dragged to the final lap of this terrible contest. Like crime victims, we deserve closure. Can we at least have that?

Everything about Valentine looks fake. His tan may be real for all I know, but it looks sprayed on. He constantly does things to call attention to himself and show up his players, whether it’s threatening to punch out a radio host, batting Scott Podsednik (he of the 42 home runs in 4307 career plate appearances) in the power-hitting third spot as an implicit indictment of his usual middle-of-the-order guys, or leaving Jon Lester in a game to watch his ERA explode even after giving up nine runs in two innings. It’s just unbelievably depressing to watch. The players look at Valentine the way prisoners look at the trusty who snitched his way to the cozy library job. Dustin Pedroia, a guy the city once loved beyond all reason (and he seemed to love it back), looks like he would fall to his knees weeping in gratitude if he were traded to the Rockies, the Diamondbacks, the Seibu Lions, anyone – during games, you can almost see him looking up at the owners’ box expectantly, like he’s waiting for the good news.

If this were war, the players would have murdered Valentine in the foxhole months ago. In fact they apparently tried to do just that, at least once, but were rebuffed by management, which either out of cheapness or stubborness or both is apparently determined to let Bobby V ride out the season – and maybe keep him for next year, too.

longreads:

A look at Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital:

Marc Wolpow, a former Bain colleague of Romney’s, told reporters during Mitt’s first Senate run that Romney erred in trying to sell his business as good for everyone. ‘I believed he was making a mistake by framing himself as a job creator,’ said Wolpow. ‘That was not his or Bain’s or the industry’s primary objective. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors.’ When it comes to private equity, American workers – not to mention their families and communities – simply don’t enter into the equation.
Take a typical Bain transaction involving an Indiana-based company called American Pad and Paper. Bain bought Ampad in 1992 for just $5 million, financing the rest of the deal with borrowed cash. Within three years, Ampad was paying $60 million in annual debt payments, plus an additional $7 million in management fees. A year later, Bain led Ampad to go public, cashed out about $50 million in stock for itself and its investors, charged the firm $2 million for arranging the IPO and pocketed another $5 million in “management” fees. Ampad wound up going bankrupt, and hundreds of workers lost their jobs, but Bain and Romney weren’t crying: They’d made more than $100 million on a $5 million investment.

“Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.” — Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
More from Taibbi

longreads:

A look at Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital:

Marc Wolpow, a former Bain colleague of Romney’s, told reporters during Mitt’s first Senate run that Romney erred in trying to sell his business as good for everyone. ‘I believed he was making a mistake by framing himself as a job creator,’ said Wolpow. ‘That was not his or Bain’s or the industry’s primary objective. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors.’ When it comes to private equity, American workers – not to mention their families and communities – simply don’t enter into the equation.

Take a typical Bain transaction involving an Indiana-based company called American Pad and Paper. Bain bought Ampad in 1992 for just $5 million, financing the rest of the deal with borrowed cash. Within three years, Ampad was paying $60 million in annual debt payments, plus an additional $7 million in management fees. A year later, Bain led Ampad to go public, cashed out about $50 million in stock for itself and its investors, charged the firm $2 million for arranging the IPO and pocketed another $5 million in “management” fees. Ampad wound up going bankrupt, and hundreds of workers lost their jobs, but Bain and Romney weren’t crying: They’d made more than $100 million on a $5 million investment.

“Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.” — Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

More from Taibbi

This column today is so crazy I have to think Friedman is kidding. The line about how everyone on the ground in Iraq trusts America is especially awesome. Of course! True, you can’t even open a Humvee door there to dump a pebble out of your shoe without getting your face shot off, but still, they trust us!

And yet the best thing of all was the rhetorical flourish at the end – a rare triple-figurative dismount, which he sticks with Nadia Comăneci-esque confidence:

Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time.

God bless this man. There’s never been another like him!

In honor of the Sox home-opener today…

Over the winter the Boston Red Sox re-signed their star first baseman Kevin Youkilis — third in league MVP voting — to a four-year, $41 million extension. This was not long after they failed (to great fanfare) to sign another first baseman, free-agent spokesmodel/megastar Mark Teixeira, who was stolen from them by the Yankees for eight years and $180 million. Two comparable players, both big bats with great defense, and yet one costs well more than twice as much annually. Why?

The conventional explanations are that Teixeira has the longer track record and was an unrestricted free agent. The unconventional explanation is that Teixeira is better-looking. He’s your basic laboratory-created, media-ready modern jock: perfect hair, Atlas build, 100-megaton dentistry — the type that grows up slamming nerds against lockers in between classes and/or groping passed-out cheerleaders in his convertible on the way to choir practice. Guys who look like that and hit 30 dingers a season you’ve got to pay $20 million a year for. They sell cereal in their spare time and once a year do uncomfortable photo ops with hairless cancer kids sitting under blankets in their wheelchairs. In sports, they’re the top commodity.

Then there’s Kevin Youkilis. Youk has only three body parts, all hideously oversized: an enormous set of gnomish, bushy forearms; a massive, casaba melon–size white head; and a cauldronlike belly. He has a truly awesome bristle of thick red chin hair that makes his face look like a cross between a vagina and something out of The Hobbit. At the plate he disgustingly gushes sweat by some means previously unknown to science in which the moisture travels upward along his body, racing in a cascade from his balls and armpits up his neck, over his head, and back down over the bill of his helmet to shower the plate. Whereas a guy like Teixeira was born with a swing so gorgeous you want to paint it, Youkilis fighting a middle reliever to a nine-pitch walk looks like a rhinoceros trying to fuck a washing machine.

Which is why he doesn’t sell cereal and why you can sign him relatively cheap. He’s also good for your team. It’s character-building to have guys like this around, and unpleasant and disheartening for other teams to compete against.

An oldie but goodie:

I’m always afraid to write about David Brooks, because I worry that my attitude toward this guy is colored by certain strong feelings I have about his appearance — he just looks like a professional groveler/ass-kisser, and every time I see him in public I have to fight off visions of him home at night in his Versace jammies, feverishly jacking off with one hand while caressing in the other an official invitation to, say, a White House event, or a Harvard Club luncheon.

Brooks is the kind of character who has thrived everywhere he’s lived throughout human history; it’s incredibly easy to imagine the nebbishy, hairy-kneed Gaius Domitus Brooksius strolling through Rome and swelling with pride over his new appointment to the post of Senior Licker of the Caligulan butt crack.

"Standing next to the bloodless corporate cipher Mitt Romney and the pompous, bloviating egomaniac Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum – creepy religious lunatic Rick Santorum! – came off like Clarence Darrow breaking up a Klan rally."

— Matt Taibbi, on the South Carolina debate

(Source: Rolling Stone)

Bloomberg, with this one decision to trot out this preposterous schlock about congress forcing banks to lend to poor people, may yet make himself the face of the 1%’s intellectual corruption … Well, you know what, Mike Bloomberg? FUCK YOU. People are not protesting for their own entertainment, you asshole. They’re protesting because millions of people were robbed, by your best friends incidentally, and they want their money back.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman concurs.

B of A quietly decided to move trillions of dollars (trillions, not billions) in risky Merrill Lynch derivatives contracts off Merrill’s books and onto the books of the parent/retail arm, Bank of America. The move was made, according to reports, so that Bank of America could avoid posting $3.3 billion in collateral to satisfy the company’s creditors. In other words, Bank of America just got You the Taxpayer to co-sign as much as $53 trillion worth of dicey derivative contracts …

This is exactly why the Glass-Steagall Act needs to be reinstated: without a separation of Investment Banks and Commercial Banks, what we end up getting is taxpayer-guaranteed gambling. Instead of encouraging prudence and savings by insuring deposits in commercial banks, the FDIC is now being turned into a vehicle for socializing speculative losses …

So our government is not only no longer encouraging fiscal conservatism, it is doing exactly the opposite, i.e. encouraging speculation and risk-taking. That this is happening in the fever of the OWS movement, and at a time when top politicians from Barack Obama on down are paying lip service to public complaints against Wall Street, should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not we can expect this government to voluntarily enact real changes, and stop making the taxpayer eat Wall Street’s pain.