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This show of Bill Maher's had the most bizarre booking. He put on Naomi Klein, one of the most important and influential economic thinkers of our time, with (giggle) Andrew Sullivan to discuss the economic crises. The booking made about as much sense as it would have made for a previous generation of talk show to book Jean Paul Sartre to discuss Philosophy with Tim Conway or Twiggy. The clip is worth watching just to listen to Ms. Klein. (Hat tip to Driftglass)



I stopped reading Sullivan years ago. His writing was aesthetically pleasing, but it was intellectually vapid. Even worse, Sullivan loved to pontificate on subjects he knew little about.

Aside from the fact that talk show banter can't be polished to sound nice, his appearance on the show fit the rest of the pattern. I couldn't believe how many silly far right talking points he parroted even though they had just been conclusively proven wrong.

There were claims that Sullivan made that were especially silly. Most amazingly, he blamed the financial crises on ordinary people who kept spending more money by borrowing while wages had stagnated.

One obvious problem is that he is completely ignorant of what triggered the subprime mortgage collapse. The underlying cause was the practice of the banksters to use predatory subprime mortgages to try to defraud people into giving them big down payments and then suddenly jacking up interest rates and taking away their homes.

Anyone who has a mortgage knows that the documents are written to be understood only by lawyers. I'm well educated and have an IQ of 140, yet I had trouble understanding my relatively simple fixed rate mortgage documents. I've read enough of Sullivan's columns in the past to know that he would have no hope of understanding my mortgage, much less the language used in the predatory mortgage paperwork.

Even worse, the banksters quietly changed industry practices on adjustable rate mortgages. Before, the interest rates paid on ARMs followed general interest rates, with some lag time because they weren't adjusted daily. With the predatory ARMs, the banksters slipped in huge interest rate increases, unrelated to market conditions, without warning people ahead of time.

The scam collapsed because the banksters, shock of shocks, got too greedy. One bank imitated another until lower middle class and poor people were inundated with deceptive marketing for these ripoffs. So many people had been conned (with no warning from the corporate media I might add) that the flood of foreclosures caused the housing market to collapse.

Some of the banksters realized that the whole thing was shaky and overextended before the whole thing went caput. They created novel and deceptive mortgage paper with complex structures that most of the banksters themselves didn't really understand and peddled them to speculators without providing adequate explanations.

We know what happened next.

Another problem with Sullivan's spin is that stagnating (or even declining) incomes didn't occur in a vacuum. They were the result of the same "free market" ideology and policies that Sullivan almost drooled over later in the clip. It's amazing that even when the show was taped, Sullivan was completely unaware of this.

Oops!

Naomi Klein made some excellent points. The one I hadn't heard before is one I would like to mention. She asked Sullivan where in the world has the kind of "free market capitalism" that he espoused ever existed. Of course, he had no answer.

Ordinarily the silly Sullivan wouldn't bother me that much. He would just be another dim rightist hack. I know not to read his goofy columns, and wouldn't have even watched this if Naomi Klein wasn't in it.

What really galls me is that the corporate media have unilaterally chosen him as the main spokesperson for the queer community even though he is much, much more right leaning than most of us are and has internalzed homophobia issues. It's part of how the media corporations work so hard to limit the range of political thought most Americans are exposed to.

On a lighter note: I remember when I used to live in Washington, DC. When I was at the predominantly gay gym there, no hot guys cruised me one day. On that same day, Andrew Sullivan and Rich Tafel both cruised me. Ordinarily, being cruised by physically unattractive people is flattering as long as they seem like reasonably nice people. Sullivan and Tafel are far from nice people. It was one of a deluge of things that convinced me to move from DC to NYC.

 

6 comments

  1. JayV Says:
  2. I don't care for Sullivan, either, and find him just as arrogant as the stereotypical gay waiters we encounter in restaurants. I'm being sarcastic, but seriously, Klein blows him away, although he barely listens to her. She's actually too nice to him. That clip you cited was from last fall. Here's another, more current, counter to Sullivan's free market and his bullshit about "responsibility." This clip is from Richard Wolff on TRNN, about the reform needed to pull the United States out of economic crisis. It's part 2 of a 3 part interview.

    "If we say something is too important to let it die, too big to fail, then we're saying it's so important to the society as a whole, but if it's that important, it can't be in the hands of a few people in the first place. If you're too big to fail, your too big to be in private hands."http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=3636

     
  3. Christopher Says:
  4. I never read Andrew Sullivan and he only came to my attention after I was told by multiple sources that he had written enthusiastically about the virtues of bareback sex.

    Naturally, I had to see it for myself and guess what? They were indeed correct.

    In the midst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this ren fester Brit had the irresponsible audacity to say HIV/AIDS is no more serious a disease than diabetes.

    I was very angry and I wrote the Advocate demanding they fire him and no longer publish his bloated and fluffy essays.

     
  5. Jimmy Says:
  6. Sullivan always gives me the creeps. Isn't he supposed to be deported? It can't happen too soon.

     
  7. two crows Says:
  8. granted, this piece occurred before the election-- so MAYBE Sullivan can be forgiven for saying the holders of all those fraudulent mortgages are going to be bailed out and how horrible he perceives that prospect to be.

    but, we all know what has actually happened. lots of banks got bailed out TWICE and still aren't lending money. and, as far as the mortgages go, the beat just goes on.

    meanwhile, obviously, he's just a maroon.

     
  9. Hrag Says:
  10. I gave up on Sullivan ages ago...I tried to keep an open mind to him but realized how closed his mind is.

     
  11. As much as I don't care for Sullivan's views, they are less distasteful I find that the majority of right-wingers Maher has on his show.

     

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