Journalism

The Dismal Séance

Joe Klein channels Abraham Lincoln.

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An actual sentence that an actual person actually wrote:

What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

What would the Head Beagle do about the fiscal cliff?

That's Joe Klein striving mightily to claim the award for Worst Essay Ever Inspired By A Steven Spielberg Movie, a title held til now by an elaborate Thomas Friedman metaphor involving Palestinians, iPads, and a "bigger boat." (*)

Klein's next sentence, incidentally, is "The answer seems obvious," and the rest of the paragraph includes such gems as "On the spending side, he would probably have to look at health care in a new way." I'll spare you the details, but apparently if Lincoln were alive today he would be a politically canny sockpuppet for Joe Klein.

The actual point of Klein's column is that "if we're going to resume dealmaking in Washington, my colleagues in the media are going to have to get off the high horses we mounted when, in the wake of Watergate, exposing 'corruption' became the surest path to journalistic gold and glory." You'll have to judge for yourself what's most risible about that sentence: the idea that D.C. has deserted dealmaking, the idea that the press has too many watchdogs, or the fact that Klein's description of those watchdogs includes the word "we."

(* Note: Thomas Friedman did not actually write such a metaphor. Or at least I don't think he did. I black out a lot when I read his columns.)

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  1. Sorry, I lost all respect for Lincoln after seeing him in that awful Star Trek episode begging Kirk for help.

    1. That wasn’t really him. They were faking Space Lincoln’s voice.

      SPOILER ALERT.

      1. “Help me, Amadeus.”

        1. Wrong German musical group.

          “Baby don’t forget my number” was the one with the faked voice.

          Or maybe it was “Winds of Change”.

          That whole decade is a blur really.

      2. Yes but his rendition of the Space Gettysburg address was pure greatness:

        “Four score and seven light years ago…

        1. Ah, you mean the Kessel Run address?

          “Four parsecs and seven light years ago, our four fathers set forth…

          1. I thought Jeb Stuart made the kessel run

      3. Oh. Now it all makes sense.

    2. Which one? They were all awful.

      1. That one where Scotty saved the Enterprise from certain doom by fixing the warp drives in the nick of time.

        1. Wasn’t it the one where he laid that chick?

  2. Actually, Lincoln’s policy was very much like Obama’s:

    He sought to double the tax rate and use the money to spend on infrastructure projects by companies owned by his supporters (and incidentally to boost the prices of real estate he had strategically bought along the routes of one of the proposed transcontinental railroad routes).

    1. Which, BTW, is why we are screwed. The Democrats and Republicans have converged on essentially the same approach to governance plundering the vulgar masses.

      1. Like they don’t deserve to be plundered.

        Hell, they were and are practically (literally!) begging to be plundered.

    2. Very good points. As for the details, he advocated and got an illegal income tax, a progressive one at that. When Wesley Clark was spewing progressiveism as a founding principle of our Republic, his defenders were invoking Lincoln’s (nudging of Congress to enact) income tax as evidence in his favor.

      For some reason Lincoln’s railroad lawyering career was morphed into rail-splitting. However, I lean toward the TransConRR route being a result of Congressional horse trading while roughly half of the Congress was absent.

  3. What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

    Brother against brother?

      1. Play both sides against the middle?

        1. Count his chickens before they’re hatched?

          1. Try to reassemble Humpty Dumpty?

    1. Fuck you, cut spending?

      1. I left out the “no” cause I figured “WWALD?” didn’t have a yes or no element to it. But really I should have written it, we should always start it out that way, like the rape victim screaming it over and over.

  4. What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

  5. Fuck.

    What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

    Get everybody into one room and kill them?

    1. More like ‘and arm half of them’.
      Then imprison all the survivors who didn’t agree with him (ht to Hugh Akston below)

  6. What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

    Send Joe Biden to open a Costco?

    1. Costco loves Obama/Biden…

      Yet, still not completely stupid:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/…..lenews_wsj

  7. What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

    Start a war with people who disagree with him, then anyone he didn’t kill he could hold without trial?

  8. I can read Krugabe and Reich, because I find them ultimately to be at least somewhat amusing (in a monkey-pondering-and-then-eating-its-own-shit sort of way).

    Klein is just painful.

    1. and thing – someone is actually paying Klein for this dribble.

    2. The fact that Joe Klein hasn’t been devoured alive by rabid weasels just proves that we’re not living in the best of all possible worlds.

      1. I am starting to believe that this is the darkest time line.

        1. So we’re living in Days of Future Past?

          1. Age of Apocalypse, actually.

            1. Final Crisis is more apropos. Only without that one Monitor who turns out to be a libertarian.

              1. Isn’t that the crossover event where DC intended to retcon and streamline its universe but pussed out and only ended up making things lamer and more confusing?

                1. They didn’t really puss out. It was certainly streamlined…but you’re right about the lamer and more confusing thing.

                  Grant Morrison has great ideas, and then like gets bored with them halfway through or something.

                  1. Grant Morrison’s problem is that he doesn’t know the difference between good ideas and bad ones. He just throws them all onto the page without worrying about how they connect.

                    1. Yeah that may be it. I don’t know, his Animal Man run was great. But when he sits down to do traditional stuff…it feels like he’s trying so hard to think ‘outside the box’ that he forgets to like tell the important parts of the story.

                      That and all the stupid tie-ins. I don’t want to buy some obscure copy of Wonder Woman to figure out why Mary Marvel and Harlequin are dog riding mutants. Can’t you just summarize? Or leave that part out? Sheesh.

          2. Good. At least maybe Shadowcat will show up and warn me about something. And I can ogle.

      2. The fact that Joe Klein hasn’t been devoured alive by rabid weasels just proves that we’re not living in the best of all possible worlds.

        C’mon even rabid weasels have some standards.

        1. It’s more a matter of ‘professional courtesy’.

  9. “On the spending side, he would probably have to look at health care in a new way.”

    Anything other than “Your health care is 100% your responsibility, and no business or concern of the federal government” would indeed have been a new way to look at health care in the 1860s.

    1. Asking WWLD is the height of absurdity. People forget how different things were. Without anesthesia (!!!) the greatest quality of a good surgeon was speed.

    2. Milton Friedman mentioned the name of the free hospitals that were available then. I keep forgetting the term, as they were made progressively extinct by Rough Rider, New Dealer, Negro Vote Owner, and Gold Standard Killer.

  10. Joe Klein and Thomas Friedman have to be the same person. There just can’t be two people in this world whose retard level is over 9000.

    1. Friedman is an op-ed writer who discovered a winning formula for writing op-eds, and then proceeded to use it. Over, and over, and over, and over.

      1. Reich’s got the same MO: “The poor are getting richer slower than the rich! And that’s not fair!”
        Stretch that to 1000 words, mix them up once a week and mail it in.

      2. Now anybody can make their own Tom Friedman op-ed with this handy template.

  11. Anyone who references the bs written in the lickspittle press is himself part of the problem.

    1. So what you’re saying is nobody is allowed to discuss the idiotic things the MSM publishes?

      1. You call it the MSM. You are giving the power-worshiping lewinky press too much respect.

        And, yes, when it is simply bs, then why bother? One is accepting that these bullshitters have something to say.

        1. Yes, they something stupid and someone responds with something more intelligent, pointing out how stupid the original piece was in the process. But please, by all means continue being a coward and a jackass.

    2. Sounds like a plot to self-extinct this blog.

  12. Worst Essay Ever Inspired By A Steven Spielberg Movie, a title held til now by an elaborate Thomas Friedman metaphor involving Palestinians, iPads, and a “bigger boat.” (*)

    Was the boat the Amistad? Cause that would be a good metaphor.

  13. What would ET do about the fiscal cliff? Deficit spending on Reeses Pieces? Tax increases on the coolest 1% of kids at school? Reduce spending on sinister government agencies?

    1. What would The Undertaker do? Choke Slam the deficit and then Tombstone congress until they cut spending.

      And appoint Paul Bearer as the new sole member of the Supreme Court.

      1. Try to pay attention WRG. We’re speculating what characters in Spielberg movies would do about the economy.

        You know, like serious journalists.

        1. I know. In every single Spielberg movie I’ve ever seen, I’ve mentally replaced the actors with professional wrestlers.

          Let’s just say that Sgt. Slaughter’s List has a surprising twist when they try and put Goldberg into a concentration camp.

          1. I laughed out loud. Funniest thing I’ve read on the internet this week. Congratulations WRG, you won the internet. I’m done. Have a good weekend Reasonoids!

      2. What would Ric Flair do? Make fun of the rest of America for being so poor then appoint the rest of the Horsemen to various positions in government, giving us Chief Justice Arn Anderson

        1. Chief Justice Arn Anderson? I’m completely okay with that. In fact, lets make it happen. ASAP.

        2. Well, President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho WAS a former professional wrestler…

      3. These guys are more like the 1-2-3 Kid, they just keep pursuing the same weak strategies but eventually the other side will be stupid and let their guard down completely

  14. Why is it assumed that we should care what Lincoln would do? Where does this worship of “great” men come from?

    I guess the image of Lincoln as saint and great politician is supposed to be enhanced by the small corruptions and payoffs. But that only flies if the corruption and payoffs accomplish something that Klein approves of. I seriously doubt that any of Bush’s or Reagan’s greasing of palms, and I am sure there were some, would meet with Klein’s approval. Klein is forgetting why we are supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men.

    1. For millions of years, primates like us kept our bellies full and our skulls uncrushed by paying attention to the alpha apes. It’s a hard practice to shake off.

      1. alpha apes

        Fucking racist. Figures for a Kentuckian.

        1. Look to the Hot Brown in thine own eye.

          1. The way I see it, there are 2 things that have kept me from being a Kentucian: I haven’t been to Keeneland, and I haven’t had a hot brown.

            1. Hot Browns are delicious. Keeneland is OK, but I’m not the best judge. I worked at a race track for awhile and have seen the maggot and pus filled underbelly of the sport.

              1. My wife (and her coworkers), who just took a really good job with Alltech, was treated to an afternoon at Keeneland in the owners box with a full spread of food and drink. She claimed it was excellent.

                I suppose being wined and dined, while being paid, would be.

                Of course I was at home changing shitty diapers.

                I would like t go simply because it’s a local institution, and I have no aversion to placing the occasional bet. I just need to find a way to avoid the douchebag UK greeks who go. I taught those little fuckers for years, and have no desire to be in the same social situation as any of those entitled little bastards.

                I’d eat a hot brown as they look delicious. I’m just having a hard time not thinking of a fresh turd sitting on the plate every time I hear/read the name.

              2. We should get together soon. I have some venison roast (and steaks and burger meat and loins) that needs to be eaten. That with some shine ought to make for a nice meal.

                1. Ive said for a long time we need to do a KY-area reason meetup.

                  1. I’m in. Surely there are enough of us. We can legitimately claim about 1/3 of the libertarian(ish) politicians in DC, afterall.

                    1. A libertarian bourbon weekend. I’ll drive down from Ohio for that.

                    2. A bunch of drunk loaners with guns, oh that would be fun.

                    3. I’ll split the gas money from Columbus with you.

              3. Hot Browns are delicious? Jesus, just when I think you guys can’t go any lower…

    2. Klein is forgetting why we are supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men.

      Forgetting? No, I think people like Klein want Lady Justice to rip off her blindfold and judge people for what group they belong to, not what they do.

      1. Forgetting? No, I think people like Klein want Lady Justice to rip off her blindfold and judge people for what group they belong to, not what they do.

        This.

        But the lines are ideological, not race or gender or ethnicity based. Wanting to have nationalized health care that pays for BC pills is good; wanting to have said BC pills deregulated and sold over the counter (completely removing any bureaucrat, corporate or government, from the equation, allowing all decisions be made specifically between doctor and patient with easy, unrestricted access) is racist and indicative of a war on wymyn.

    3. I was thinking the same thing. This Top. Men. idea has gotten so ridiculous that it’s not even people looking to “great” people who couldn’t be less informed about or attached to their problems, but now those “great” people are looking to dead people?

    1. Sic Semper Tyranasaurus, if we’re going to stick to the Spielberg theme.

  15. The important question is, what would Kirk do about the ‘fiscal cliff’?

    1. Today’s “No Right Answer” on The Escapist Magazine is “Best Captain: Kirk or Picard”, which is stupid, because there is a right answer. Kirk.

      1. Both are inferior to Jellico.

        1. I have made this argument many times.

          Jellico was the only Captain portrayed in ANY Star Trek who actually acted like a ships captain should.

          1. Right, he was better than Kirk. How many gods did Jellico defeat? How many times did he save the entire universe from destruction?

            Ha.

            1. I didn’t say he was a better space cowboy, I said he was a better Ships Captain.

              Ships Captains should not be defeating gods and saving the universe from Destruction.

              1. He did make troi put some pants on.

      2. Picard’s not even the best captain on his own ship. What a dumb question.

        1. You’re not thinking of Riker, surely. Just who do you mean?

    2. Bounce a graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish,
      That’s the way we do it lad, we’re making shit up as we wish.
      The Klingons and the Ronulans don’t pose no threat to us;
      If we ever find we’re in a bind (we’re totally screwed but never mind) we just make some shit up!

    3. Consult with McCoy and Spock, then follow whatever Marxist rout Spock suggests.

    4. Well lets look to his performance on the Koybashi Maru for an answer.

      When faced with a simulation which presented a no win situation Kirk refused to accept that there was any such situation and reprogrammed the simulator such that he won.

      So apply that to the Fiscal Cliff situation from the view of a politician.

      If we go over the cliff and there is a recession you lose
      If you raise taxes you lose
      If you cut any meaningful spending you lose

      Answer – You propose a package of tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts no one cares about which you know your opponents will never allow to pass, then when it does not you blame them their intransigence for whatever result occurs.

      face it, Obama IS Kirk.

  16. What would Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Killer do? That’s the modern question my friends….

    1. He’d be killing journalists like Klein.

      1. With a big silver-edged ax with a shotgun handle!

  17. I prefer this Lincoln movie – it has a hot tub. Spielberg totally missed the whole homoerotic undertones of Abe’s life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewQzuuG_Njk

    1. Seriously. Mary Todd was a beard if I’ve ever seen one.

      1. He secretly approved of all her obsessive shopping.

      2. Mary Todd was a beard if I’ve ever seen one.

        Not to mention batshit crazy. That’s probably why she agreed to be his beard: she knew that was the best she was going to get.

        1. Quite the mirror of Bill and Hillary.

    2. That is a load of crap. In the 19th century people were never publicly gay and accusing someone’s of being gay was about like accusing them of being a child molester today. So it was pretty much unthinkable to call someone gay. That meant thAt the mores of same sex friendships were different. Today no one would do the things Lincoln did for fear of being called gay. Back then the charge was so bad that it rarely happen. So people didn’t worry about it.

      1. However, accusations of hermaphrodite, drunkard, and descended from the Injuns was just fine.

  18. You’ll have to judge for yourself what’s most risible about that sentence: the idea that D.C. has deserted dealmaking, the idea that the press is too much of a watchdog, or the fact that Klein’s description of those watchdogs includes the word “we.”

    The idea that DC has abandoned dealmaking, easily.

    The masses have been absolutely fooled in to believing that spending $3.5T a year is somehow a sign of deadlock, or, more specifically, RETHUGLIKKKAN OBSTRUXSHUNIZM! There are plenty of deals being made in DC; it’s just that none of it is helpful to anyone but those making them, and the owners of the back rooms those deals are made in.

    1. Actually it can be.

      When you start from a proposition of baseline budgeting and entitlement programs whose spending increases are already built into them it makes it possible for spending to grow UNLESS someone takes action to prevent it.

  19. I have a sneaking suspicion that Lincoln would be a lawyer for Occupy Wall Street, and mouthing slogans such as “Govenment of the Workers, by the Workers and for the Workers.”

    1. I have a sneaking suspicion you are trolling or are just plain stupid.

      1. RA makes a good point. See his first inaugural address and his pro-slaver comments. What other evidence for pro-OWS leanings do you need?

      2. Just Plain Stupid for the win. John.

  20. Obama’s fighting for more stimulus!

    http://professional.wsj.com/ar…..86900.html

    If the cliff has the same amount of tax cuts and more spending cuts than Obama’s proposing, then I say we just go over the cliff.

  21. The conventional wisdom is that the fiscal cliff was cause a recession that will be blamed in the republicans. Two points. First, the non government economy has been stagnant or in recession for four years. Seems to me any cliff caused recession will hit the government sector hardest and they all vote D anyway. Second, so what if the public blames it on the Republicans? They are going to expect the President to do something to fix it. It seems to be Obama will have to make a deal eventually.

    1. The conventional wisdom is that the fiscal cliff was cause a recession that will be blamed in the republicans will be the end of the world, and that if we hit it, we’ll all be relegated to eating our young.

      FIFY

      1. That is just it. The media doesn’t give a shit when people in Cleveland lose their jobs. But the cliff might cause people in the DC metro to lose their jobs. And that is a disaster!! I don’t think the 48% who voted republican are going to be that effected by the cliff.

        1. Oh PLEASE let a recession hit the DC area. The cost of living is through the roof. Housing prices never burst. I could use a significant rent reduction and a drop in the price of groceries.

          1. My feelings exactly Hazel. This place is gross with other people’s money. And no one here understands the bubble they live in.

            1. I grew up near Laurel. The step-dad unit worked for the Treasury.

              Listening to him talk about work around the dinner table is probably what made me libertarian–long before I really knew or understood anything about politics.

            2. Don’t hold your breath. The tax revenue will always flow in, and there ins’t much us proles can do about it.

        2. That is just it. The media doesn’t give a shit when people in Cleveland lose their jobs. But the cliff might cause people in the DC metro to lose their jobs. And that is a disaster!!

          That’s about the beginning and end of it, right there.

          Fuck DC. Let each and every one of those fucking leeches lose their “job.”

    2. Unfortunately, I think Boehner will cave before Obama does. Boehner has actually championed this sort of budget before–it’s really not that much different from what he was doing under the Bush Administration.

      In regards to going over the fiscal cliff causing a recession, I think that might actually happen. GDP may take a hit, but if our economy is in such a state that it’s completely dependent on government spending for growth, then for the long term health of the economy–there needs to be a recession.

      If the government can’t get a little smaller without hurting economic growth so badly that it causes a recession, then that just means the government is crowding out the private economic actors who create the kind sustainable economic growth we really need.

    3. Seems to me any cliff caused recession will hit the government sector hardest

      There will be no layoffs of government workers, John.

      Zero.

      Nor will there be any cuts to pay or benefits.

      For political theater’s sake they may wait until the last hour to announce a compromise that kicks the sequestration can down the road a bit, but there will be no cuts.

      Your job is not in danger.

      1. I am a veteran. The last on the list to get RIFFed. I would laugh my ass off watching this bloated place get cut down to size. And yeah the Republicans are stupid and are going to roll. But they really should not. The dem supporters are the wines who will suffer. NOVA want to vote D. Have fun with sequestration bitches.

        1. They only thing people in DC need to worry about is the possibility of 1/4 inch snowfall. That would shut you down instantly.

  22. What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?

    Fight a bloody civil war against the slave-owning rebels who resist his rule? Lay waste to Atlanta?

    1. Yeah but think of all the Stimulus that would create!!!!!!

      1. No kidding. All those Sherman Neckties were a boon to the steel industry back North.

    2. “What would Lincoln do about the fiscal cliff?”

      Whatever he did, it would involve an expansion of federal power.

      I guess that’s why it’s so convenient for Klein to speculate…

      No matter what Lincoln would have done, it always would have involved an expansion of federal power.

    3. Lay waste to Atlanta?

      My fellow Georgians outside the greater metropolitan area could really get behind a president with the courage to do this.

  23. an elaborate Thomas Friedman metaphor involving Palestinians, iPads, and a “bigger boat.”

    “God bless this dreadnought, and all who sail on her.” (in Eleanor Roooooosevelt’s voice)

  24. Obama is fighting for the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit!

    “One of the most eye-opening elements of the White House plan was a proposal that Congress give up its power to raise the U.S.’s formal borrowing limit.”

    http://professional.wsj.com/ar…..86900.html

    That one’s kinda scary. I know having some control over the debt limit is a source of power for Boehner, but I think it’s a source of embarrassment for him, too. His Republican base can’t blame him for raising the debt limit if he doesn’t have any control over it anymore.

    I hope he wants it more than he wants to get rid of it.

  25. You know what Republicans should do if they really want the American people to think they’ve changed their ways?

    They should let this deal happen, blame it on Boehner, and then get rid of him for it.

    Get rid of the establishment Republican and put somebody else in there.

    1. But, but, but that might make him cry!

      1. Yeah, he cries like a girl when he gets to be Speaker.

        But when he raises my taxes or spends my money, he doesn’t shed a tear.

        Get rid of him!

        The Republicans should have gotten rid of him when the Tea Party won the Republicans the House. He represents everything the Tea Party was against.

    2. A suggestion I read somewhere else: the Republicans should just abstain/vote present/not vote & let the Ds get what they want.

      The second part of this was then to send up bill after bill cutting spending.

    3. A suggestion I read somewhere else: the Republicans should just abstain/vote present/not vote & let the Ds get what they want.

      The second part of this was then to send up bill after bill cutting spending.

  26. From The Big Book of Lazy Journalistic Non-Arguments:

    #834. Assert that a famous figure from the past, a Martian, or your dog, after having considered the present situation, would come to a conclusion that, by the most amazing coincidence, agrees with yours.

  27. If Lincoln were alive today, he would jail the NYT editorial board and deport Obama to Kenya. Do these progs not know Abe was a combo meal of Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich for fucks sake?

  28. Just like I said yesterday, the media are openly hostile to the notion of less/smaller/restrained government. We’re on our own in this fight.

  29. The actual point of Klein’s column is that “if we’re going to resume dealmaking in Washington, my colleagues in the media are going to have to get off the high horses we mounted when, in the wake of Watergate, exposing ‘corruption’ became the surest path to journalistic gold and glory.” You’ll have to judge for yourself what’s most risible about that sentence: the idea that D.C. has deserted dealmaking, the idea that the press has too many watchdogs, or the fact that Klein’s description of those watchdogs includes the word “we.”

    I don’t think I can pick a winner, but the scare apostrophes around ‘corruption’ are worthy of nomination.

  30. There are two different issues at hand, the fiscal cliff and our debt problem, and they shouldn’t be commingled in the current discussion.

    It’s hard to believe that we can solve our debt issue without making changes to Social Security as well as other government programs. But changes to Medicare or Social Security should only be made as part of a grand bargain that addresses our federal debt, not to avoid the fiscal cliff.

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