POTPURRI

You know how I hate Link Salad, the laziest form of blogging, but these three items are insufficiently complex to serve as fuel for a full post. Enjoy.

1. As an avid reader of Autoblog – I like cars, as you can clearly see when I hit the streets in my 1999 Nissan Sentra with 160,000 miles – I've noted with interest that the sales of high-end luxury brands have been doing very well lately. Mercedes, Audi, and BMW, for example, all saw strong sales growth in 2011 despite not selling any vehicles under $35,000 (with most offerings well over $50,000 and some as high as $200,000). I kept meaning to turn this into a "So I guess it isn't a recession for everyone" post, but the NYT beat me to it by noting the strong demand for ultra high-end consumer goods ($2000 designer shoes, etc.) while Wal-Mart has had to introduce smaller packs of toilet paper for shoppers who lack the cash to buy the big 12-roll pack. The Brazilification of the American economy and society couldn't be more succinctly explained.

2. Anyone else notice that the U.S. is averaging a mass shooting (something like 7-15 victims) every week or two and it isn't even headline news anymore? A guy caps 8 people in the crown in Ohio and it's like Page E10 news these days. It's nice that we're so used to workplace rampages and general spree killings that they fade into the background of the news cycle, reported like the weather – and treated to the same degree of retrospective analysis.

3. David Gergen lays bare the pointless nostalgia and flimsy reasoning behind his peculiar brand of milquetoast Beltway elite consensus politics with this ridiculous column about how America needs a Winston Churchill. It's actually too stupid to be FJMed. Let's all close our eyes, have a glass of warm milk, listen to Paul Harvey, and pretend that any Leader, no matter how Great, could achieve consensus in the current political environment. Jesus Christ himself could be elected president and if he was a Democrat, the Tea Party would be hellbent on destroying him. We could resurrect Thomas Jefferson and our TVs would be full of shameless attack ads slandering him. It's amazing that Gergen can breathe with his head that far up his own ass.

34 thoughts on “POTPURRI”

  • Churchill? Really? I'm guessing here, but…what do you bet Gergen just closed whatever book he was reading when he got to V-E Day, and made up the rest of the story in his mind? Because if you want to know what would happen if Churchill tried to sustain a 'getting-stuff-done' coalition in a time of peace…all you have to do is finish reading the book. (Spoiler: It does not support Gergen's argument.)

    I'm kidding, of course. Gergen has never read a book in his life.

  • I always thought the Brazil-ification of the US would feature at least one renegade HVAC engineer. I'm still holding out hope.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    I am all for the Brazilification of the US, especially the carnaval in Rio in every town.

    Agree, expensive cars sell well; I know, I like my butt-conditioned Lexus.

    The Baggers will tell Jefferson that he violates the constitution. They'll tell Jesus to change his Mexican name and will welcome Mussolini with open arms.

    Gergen is one of a million parasites that makes a living pretending to be prudent, balanced, wise and tested while using Obama's tailor. (The one producing empty suits.)

  • Isn't it a bit old to compare Brazil to the U.S. these days? Their economy isn't tanking and they actually have a competent government….

  • I really hate to play devil's advocate here, but isn't this one example of wealth trickling down? I used to work in luxury retail, and when I received commission it was heavenly for what I did. Maybe I should look into that business?

  • Churchill: isn't he the guy who planned and ordered one of military history's greatest cock-ups (ie Gallipoli) and promptly tendered resignation to show his remorse over the incident and accepted being responsible for it? Came back a lot wiser for the experience though.
    As if a politician today would accept responsiblity.

    Trickle down *only* works in a closed economy. As in the manufacturing jobs haven't been sent offshore.

  • Churchill? The man whose domestic touch was so deft he was driven out of office just days after winning World War II? I suppose he did bring Brits together – people across the political spectrum joined hands and spoke with one voice that with the war over they wanted the dotty old imperialist kept as far from the levers of domestic power as possible.

  • Oh, Xynzee, Churchill's record for fuck-ups is even better than Gallipoli. First of all, one has to remember why the Gallipoli invasion happened in the first place. Churchill believed that a land invasion wouldn't be necessary. He first believed that the British and French navies could sail right up the Dardanelles into the Bosporus. Naturally the Turks mined the Dardanelles, and this sank several British and French ships. They also took fire from Turkish forts. After that, in the interwar period, Churchill recommended the use of poison gas against rebellious tribes in Iraq.

    Fast forward to WWII, where Churchill was interested in an invasion of Norway not so much to drive the Germans out, but rather to help the Finns against the Soviets. An expeditionary force was formed for this purpose, but the Finns surrendered. We can let that slide a bit I suppose, because he wasn't prime minister at the time.

    During the war, Churchill decided that Italy was the "soft underbelly of the crocodile." Well look how that worked out. As if his career of perpetually fucking up amphibious invasions wasn't already immortalized, he wanted the allies to open up a second front in the Balkans, as opposed to Normandy. Yes, because when you invade one mountainous region and get stuck in a stalemate, the only way out is to invade another one.

    Last but not least, Churchill was responsible for the aptly named "Operation Unthinkable", the hypothetical plan to arm German prisoners and go on the offensive against the Red Army.

    And how about in the Pacific theater? Well Churchill was responsible for the starvation of over 2 million Indians; he was well informed about the conditions they were facing, but refused gifts from the Burmese and diverted ships from Australia to Europe, knowing full well what the results were. Not surprising when one considers that Churchill tenaciously resisted FDR's attempts to proclaim the right of self-determination for East Asian peoples.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Never mind a 'New Gilded Age,' welcome to "The Platinum Age."

    And as for Gergen, well, there's a reason he served a number of both Republican and Democratic Presidents:
    There's always room for a great ass-kisser and 'yes-man.'

  • Churchill?? God, I love how they blame Obama because he can't get the T-Partay to votewith him. Gergen says he wants a Churchill, but we'll get a Hitler. Now that's a guy who could get things done.

  • I say we already HAVE a Churchill. Hopefully, just shortly after his greatest triumph, the leader of the Conservatives in the legislature will go down to defeat for screwing up people's idea of a decent, humane welfare state.

  • What IS it with conservativish old farts and Churchill? I mean, the English had him pegged – iconic anti-fascist foreign policy figurehead but domestic crusted-old-tawny Tory back-to-serfdom dickhead – why can't the American Manifest Destiny types get it?

    As FMguru points out, the British electorate kept him on just exactly as long as they needed him – until the war was manifestly won – and then turfed him out most quick smart. Since the U.S. doesn't have anything like the external unifying pressure of a Hitler battering at the doors a latter-day Churchill would face a situation much more like 1946 than 1941.

    I think the sad thing the Gergen article reveals is our unwillingness to face up to the problem that we're facing is something that is one of our own making AND one we have to solve instead of hoping for an imaginary Churchill-Jesus-Roosevelt to come save us.

  • Gergen has no trouble breathing. Like all accomplished ass-remoras, he appreciates the odor of the colon as the finest of lilac-scented perfumes. As long as he doesn't force his head up into his own small intestine, he'll be fine.

  • Luxury goods sell because Americans are still choosing to live beyond their means. Except for the wealthy, which is why they maintain their wealth.

  • Testosterone Overload says:

    "Jesus Christ himself could be elected president and if he was a Democrat, the Tea Party would be hellbent on destroying him."

    What do you mean, if? Jebus would definitely NOT be a republican.

  • Well, I DO think America needs a Winston Churchill–and we needed Obama to be him, rather than the Neville Chamberlain he's turned out to be.

    And like the original Neville Chamberlain, he's learning the hard way that trynig to be "reasonable" with the crazies simply results in things becoming much, much worse…

  • I think conservatives have this fetish about Churchill because they want a World War II leader to admire and God-forbid they pick FDR.

  • 1. Nothing beats my 1998 Jeep Sport Cherokee with 175,000 miles when it comes to claiming old car street cred. When the scheit hits the fan, and everyone's "modern" PC dependent cars breakdown, I'll still be sporting my baby with modified 50 cal chain gun on the back. Of course, with all that weight and no gas, who cares if I'm "Fred Flintstoning" at 2 mph. At least I don't have to do ctrl/alt/delete on it's ass every time I want to start it.

    2. When the scheit hits the economic fan in other countries, people do what normal humans should do: riot, demonstrate, raise general hell. In America, we eat and/or shoot our relatives.

    3. Gergen and all the androgynous endomorphs in this town (DC) certainly wouldn't mind a little Churchill type tail gunning from time to time if you know what I mean and I think that you do. I certainly know what I mean.

  • @MjrKong: I wonder if their secret fetish is really for Stalin, but their ideology won't let them admit to it. Sort of like that upstanding, church leading sheriff vociferously opposed to alcohol, tobacco, porn, gays and drugs. But has the penchant for wearing baby doll dresses whilst doing little boys.

  • I think you guys may have missed my point. Churchill was a good-old fashioned imperialist and reactionary. Yes, he represented a lot of things that were Bad.

    But–at a very crucial moment in history, when it came to facing down Worse–I.e., Hitler and the Nazi insanity, Chruchill faced up to it, wouldn't cave in when things looked totally hopeless–and like it or not, saved the world from tyranny and genocide.

    And that's what I meant. If OBAMA had shown, and would show, that kind of fighting spirit in facing down the right-wing crazies, instead of channeling his inner Neville Chamberlain in the pursuit of some kind of mythical "bipartisanship," things might be different today. Frankly, it looks like taking the Chamberlain route hasn't worked out any better for him than it did for the original Mr. Chamberlain…..

    And yeah, I would've like Mr. Obama to be another FDR–someone who was brave enough to say of the right-wing interests in the country that "I welcome their hatred," instead of simply knuckling under.

  • Screamin' Demon says:

    If Jesus Christ himself (I don't believe, but whatevs) returned to earth and preached the same proto-Communism as he did 2,000 years ago, the "Christian Right" would nail him up all over again.

  • "But–at a very crucial moment in history, when it came to facing down Worse–I.e., Hitler and the Nazi insanity, Chruchill faced up to it, wouldn't cave in when things looked totally hopeless–and like it or not, saved the world from tyranny and genocide."

    Ha ha…Incorrect. Britain was broke by 1940, they were saved by the US. If one leader "saved" the world from Fascism, it would be Josef Stalin, but more accurately, the Soviet Union as a whole. 70-80% of the German military was destroyed on the Eastern Front.

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