CRUCIFYING KRISTOF: Nicholas Kristof knows condescension!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2015

Part 1—Our Tribe’s Own Moral Scold:
We aren’t huge fans of Nicholas Kristof’s twice-weekly New York Times columns.

In our view, Kristof is becoming a relentless moral scold—the type of scold who convinces people to stay away from liberals and progressives. His January 25 column constitutes a good (or bad) example of this censorious drive.

Kristof wrote about a high school friend who had just died at age 54. As is increasingly his wont, he turned this into an occasion to denigrate all The Others. He delivered a scolding to the many Americans whose moral judgments are less fine than his own.

Headline included, this is the way hiss column began. By his third paragraph, Kristof was scolding “lots of Americans” for what he imagined them thinking:
KRISTOF (1/25/15): Where's the Empathy?

YAMHILL, Ore.—The funeral for my high school buddy Kevin Green is Saturday, near this town where we both grew up.

The doctors say he died at age 54 of multiple organ failure, but in a deeper sense he died of inequality and a lack of good jobs.

Lots of Americans would have seen Kevin—obese with a huge gray beard, surviving on disability and food stamps—as a moocher. They would have been harshly judgmental: Why don’t you look after your health? Why did you father two kids outside of marriage?

That acerbic condescension reflects one of this country’s fundamental problems: an empathy gap. It reflects the delusion on the part of many affluent Americans that those like Kevin are lazy or living cushy lives.
No one does it quite as well as Our Own Dimmesdale—Our Own Upper-Class Moral Scold!

Can we talk? No “Americans” had said a word about Kristof’s friend, the late Kevin Green, who recently died at age 54.

But as the moral scolds typically do, Kristof hears voices in his head. They're never as fine as the voice Kristof hears emerging from his own lips and mouth.

Breaking news—Nicholas Kristof doesn’t hear America singing! Like the most censorious scold, he hears “many Americans” being “harshly judgmental.”

He hears them giving voice to “acerbic condescension,” which stems from their “empathy gap.” No one had said a word about Kristof’s friend. But this is what Dimmesdale heard.

No one had said a word about Green, so Kristof took it upon himself to denigrate Green for them! In the process, he wrote a deeply peculiar column about his late friend, and even about his late friends’ children—a column which may be deeply embarrassing to Kevin Green’s survivors.

Who died and made Nicholas Kristof the king of Dana Carvey’s “church ladies?” We have no idea. But let’s note a few basic points:

According to Kristof’s account, his friend had led a difficult adult life.

He seems to have died in a state of poverty or near-poverty, though Kristof gives only a partial account. His children had problems with the law. His driver’s license had been revoked. He had been in a state of bad health.

Kristof says his friend was a good person. We know of no reason to doubt that. But also, let’s try to understand another set of facts, which we glean from Kristof’s peculiar column:

Despite their condescension and their empathy gap, the American people had been providing Kristof’s friend with Social Security disability payments; with food assistance through SNAP (which Kristof insists on calling “food stamps”); and, presumably, with health care financed by Medicaid.

For his part, Kristof’s friend had failed to pay child support, leading to the revocation of his driver’s license. He had gotten arrested for (apparently minor) drug offenses.

As noted above, his friend’s twin boys, for whom his friend didn’t pay that support, “had trouble in school and with the law, jailed for drug and other offenses.”

Does this mean that Kristof’s late friend wasn’t a good person? We rarely make judgments of that type, and we wouldn’t do so in this case. But once again, let’s be clear—no “Americans” had said a word about any of these problems.

Despite this silence, Kristof decided to lecture the nation about how immoral “many Americans” are, after writing a column which may be deeply embarrassing to those who survive his friend.

At the end of his column, Kristof was still upset by the lack of empathy he was imagining. As he closed his sermon, Our own Dimmesdale was stewing about how uncaring The Others are:
KRISTOF: So, Kevin Green, R.I.P. You were a good man—hardworking and always on the lookout for someone to help—yet you were overturned by riptides of inequality. Those who would judge you don’t have a clue. They could use a dose of your own empathy.
No one had judged Kevin Green, nor do we judge him today. As the week proceeds, we will ask questions about Kristof himself—more specifically, about Kristof’s judgment, based on this rather strange column and a fair number of others.

In our view, Kristof is turning into one of the worst examples of a familiar type, the condemnatory moral scold. As a columnist, it seems to us that Kristof is becoming a bit of a basket case.

That said, Kristof is almost completely in line with every part of the current Pseudo-Liberal Project, and that is nowhere more true than when it comes to matters of race.

Good God! Kristof just finished a five-part series of columns about racial issues which bore this headline: “When White People Don’t Get It.”

At no point in the course of those columns did it seem to occur to Kristof that there might be something about some racial issue that he himself may not “get.” It wasn't clear that a person could disagree with him in some way without thereby earning the put-down lodged in those column titles.

In Kristof’s ringing formulation, many Americans just “don’t get it.” Absurd condescension much?

Let’s be clear. We have no doubt that Kristof’s values and intentions are good in all these matters. More specifically, we have no doubt that his values and intentions are good when it comes to matters of race.

That’s why the recent treatment of Kristof reveals so much about the drift of modern pseudo-liberalism.

You see, after that five-part series of columns in which Kristof gave voice to every conceivable aspect of pseudo-liberal thinking on race, Kristof issued a tweet on a racial topic which wasn’t perfect in every respect! In response to that failure, Joan Walsh of the new Salon offered one of the strangest of all pseudo-liberal comments.

All week long, we’ll be thinking about Kristof’s recent series of scolding columns. We’ll also think about his post-tweet crucifixion by gangs of pseudo-progressives.

No one tries harder than Kristof to swear allegiance to every aspect of New Progressive Thought. For that reason, his crucifixion helps us see the ways we pseudo-progressives practice and study to fail.

Should Nicholas Kristof’s imperfect tweet consign him to the “enemy camp?” Commissar Walsh says she respects this act of deportation!

Tomorrow: Our Tribe's Own Enemies List!

62 comments:

  1. Considering the millions of fatherless kids in poverty and headed for failure and misery because of no father, a parade of "Uncles" and poverty, a societal habit of asking "Why did you father two kids out of wedlock" is more empathetic than not asking it. The fact that fewer think to ask it or worse, believe even wondering is a problem, is tragic.

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    1. First comment from a Somerby reader who did not read Kristof's column. And who fits Kristof's description to a T.

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  2. Kevin was at the very least a negligent father producing and then condemning his sons to lives of suffering but that doesn't make him a "bad person." Bad people are those who have told or laughed at a racial joke.

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    1. Second comment from a Somerby reader who skipped the Kristof column. Last sentence shows empathy, however.

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    2. Kevin and some girl produced two children but they didn't get married before, during or after. Then Kevin became morbidly obese and had severe medical issues. Kevin didn't pay child support and his children live in misery. Kristof says "family structure dissolved." There wasn't family structure. Kristof says "I have trouble diagnosing what went wrong." That level of clueless takes a special kind of stupid.

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    3. A recent poll by ABC/Washington Post found Clinton running double-digits ahead of Republicans. This poll did something no reputable poll should do at this early stage of a race: It counted “leaners,” not just voters committed to Hillary. Counting leaners is not predictive at such an early stage because it often reflects name-recognition, not commitment. This is an outlier poll, using outlier techniques and assumptions and the results are not confirmed by any other national presidential poll.

      Republicans are lining up to run for president in 2016 because they know something most Democrats don’t know or don’t want to admit: Hillary Clinton is a weak and vulnerable presidential candidate whose positions on issues do not resonate well with voters.

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    4. Republicans are lining up to run for President in 2016 because many of them are too stupid to know they won't get about 5% in their own party primaries. But what they know about Hillary Clinton is astounding.

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    5. In response to n. sequitur:

      Hummus!

      the Washington Post is not stupid enough to undermine it's jihad against Hillary with a poll falsely weghted in her favor.

      Celerysticks, my good man. Celerysticks!

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    6. Anonymous @ 10:02 is right.

      Only six potential GOP candidates were above 5% in the latest Iowa poll.

      "Not sure" got 5%. There were ten Republican candidates tied with or trailing "Not Sure" at 5%.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-01-31/walker-surging-in-bloomberg-politics-des-moines-register-iowa-poll-as-bush-struggles

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  3. A parent cannot know in advance what kind of world, what kind of life he or she is bringing a child into. Plenty of families have means at the beginning but fall on hard times due to circumstances beyond their control. Layoffs, health problems, random crime, natural disaster can affect anyone. When you see someone on relief or hear that someone is not paying child support, you don't have the whole story. If we only judge people by how their choices work out after the fact, I think we have to blame Mitt Romney for not giving the good life to dozens more children. Obama too. That's only fair if you are going to judge struggling families for their family sizes. Personally, I blame all pet owners for not curing world hunger before wasting food on animals.

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    1. Do you believe a majority of children in poverty were brought into the world by parents who had every intention of contributing to their children's best chances by providing adequately for them, being consistently present for them, monitoring their lives and education and ethical development consistently and diligently? The vast majority wanted to get laid and didn't care about who they might produce beforehand or who they did produce after the fact. Most of these children were produced with no intention, and neglected afterward by their parents who find it comfortable to do so because excuses are made for them and no one dare "judge." They are spared the discomfort of judgment while their children experience the pain and other consequences of their negligence. Don't call them "struggling families" because in most cases they are neither struggling on behalf of their children as opposed to themselves, and in the vast majority of cases they are not families and never intended to be. Society lying to itself because "judging" has become a worse offense than enabling child abuse and neglect through silence. "Not judging" lets the non-judger feel righteous and superior, particularly if he can boast about it on Twitter or in a newspaper column.

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    2. This falls under the "No Shit" fallacy. One hundred percent of commenters agree that unforeseen injuries or events leading to a family's reliance on public assistance exist and are not evidence of social irresponsibility. These circumstances represent a fraction of poverty cases.

      The vast majority involve two completely healthy and able bodied adults who had and have access to education and opportunity, but feeling no pressure of expectation, chose not to avail themselves of it and instead depend on government and permit their offspring to depend entirely on it.

      Intelligent progressives who recognize this reality are loath to acknowledge it publicly, finding a bigger reward for themselves in this approach, with only the slightest cost for their reward, generations of miserable and apathetic people.

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    3. Let's dissect Anonymous @ 1:12's intellectual offering.

      The majority of children in poverty are not "brought into the world" by parents with consciously good intentions. These unthougtful parents, however, in addition to wanting to get laid, also knew excuses were made for them and nobody would judge them. We know the latter to be true because society lies to itself through enabling and condoning child abuse in silence rather than judging.

      And Somerby wonders how Kristof could dare make the judgement he made about "lots of Americans" not having much empathy. Damn. If only Kristof had just called "lots of Americans "dumb. lazy, and disliked."

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    4. Kristof never tells us why we should have empathy for parents so negligent that they qualify as abusive, which is most parents who intentionally or negligently produce children they know will grow up in poverty, with at least one parent absent from their household and completely dependent on government.

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    5. No. And he didn't write a column suggesting we should.

      Could you please tell me why I should have sympathy for people who make comments so cluelessly ignorant?

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    6. {Paraphrasing Juan Cole} Mr. Dogwhistle @ 2:54 is a crackpot, and debating crackpots point by point is the biggest waste of time most one could imagine. Carl Sagan once took some time to do the calculations that refute Velikovsky, and complained bitterly about never getting those hours back.
      In fact, you could argue that the spaghetti logic of crackpots is a labyrinth intended to lose all rational people somewhere in there.

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    7. Many parents have babies knowing they will not vaccinate them against easily preventable diseases.

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    8. If only the same people who come down on the parental negligence of anti-vaccinators did the same against the parental negligence of those who carelessly or produce children doomed to poverty and neglect.

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    9. Where is your respect for the freedom to procreate?

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    10. All children are doomed. They will all die sooner or later. Does that mean they should never have been born? Given that most of the nation lives below the poverty line, should there be no more children born? Since Social Security won't exist, we need those kids and grandkids to support us in our old age. That's why poor people have always had children, the more kids the more likely you will have such support when you can no longer work. Do you people really not understand how this works in most of the world?

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  4. If someone doesn't support their kids, breaks the law (even if minor), does this mean he was a responsible person? He was unable to take care of his health, and we should be surprised that he died at age 54? This tell us nothing about our society.

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    1. Kristof says Green's sister died of a heart attack at age 52.

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  5. Walsh write "Blow's story must horrify every parent" but especially black parents. I find it absurd that Blow's story gets all kind of coverage (because of the semi-famous parent) Does Alexis Kane's story horrify every parent? What about Angel Hooper's story? It seems to me that both of those girls fared far worse than the young Yalie, but I may just be a white person who just doesn't get it.

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    1. It is a shame white people like you are so misunderstood.

      But thanks for letting everyone know you are white because otherwise many might have assumed you were not.

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    2. I am glad Walsh is a Commissar in charge of deporting Twitter offenders.

      She could have grown up to be just a poo flinging chimp.

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    3. Yes Punxatawney Edwin. Shame on Walsh. What happened to those girls was far worse than what happened to Blow's son.

      Hats off to Bob Somerby for castigating her for condoning the truly horrid post-tweet crucifixion of poor Kristof by the fatherless Pseudo-Liberal Gang.

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    4. Nothing happened to Blow's son. He matched a suspect description, politely cooperated with police and was let go when it was determined he was not their man.

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    5. "Polite cooperation" has always been my term for doing the fuck what you are told by someone pointing a gun at you.

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    6. Polite cooperation is what civilized people do when police officers are performing their dangerous jobs for very little pay, whether or not they are pointing a gun at us. Civilized people. Ignorant savages don't understand this system or the reasons for it, so tend to believe it is acceptable to challenge law enforcement as they carry out their duties within legal boundaries. So they tend to end up having to learn the hard way, through only serving time if they're lucky, how to behave in a civilized society.

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  6. Bob Somerby calls someone a "scold"?????

    What is the word is am looking for? Could it be possible that is is "Gack!" Anything is possible.

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    1. Enlightened AignolFebruary 2, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      At least you get to look forward to Somerby crucifying Walsh for horning in on his act scolding liberals because she is pissed that Kristof horned in on her act scolding white cluelessness.

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  7. While Kevin Sherman is OK with taking the occasional day off here and there, he is only 18 months away from earning his pension, Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko reports. Sherman told Klemko that he didn't want to live off his son:

    It's something to keep busy, and it's easy now. If I take a day off, I don't need to worry about where my money is coming from. I want to get that pension and the medical benefits just so it's one more thing my son doesn't have to worry about. I'm always going to be making money. I want to fix it so that even when I'm not working, I'm getting paid.

    Both of Richard's parents worked during his childhood in Compton, which he says set a good example for him and his brother.

    "It forced my brother and me to understand priorities and family," Richard told Farmer last year. "You've got to do everything in your power to make sure your family is taken care of."



    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-shermans-dad-kevin-still-working-2015-1#ixzz3QbsAbvYg

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    1. While I am not sure it was the purpose of your comment, I am sure it will soon lead to a denunciation of Sherman by Somerby as his dementia progresses. It will come in the form of "Seattle CB Richard Sherman, like Tim Russert, tries to distract attention from his obscene salary by point to his fondness for his dad, the garbage man."

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    2. Good one 9:37! Dementia ha ha! We progressives enjoy using dementia and Alzheimer's as insults, don't we?

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    3. Good one @ 11:17! Perhaps 9:37 should have used the term "ignorant savage" as perhaps you just did.

      Or maybe he could have used "poo flinging chimp" or "basket case" as Somerby himself has done lately.

      Indeed it would be preferable if he said Somerby had a screw or two loose, or some wires crossed, except Somerby usually reserves those terms of mental disorder for women more successful than he.

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  8. Walsh's comments the work of a commissar? Apparently, Somerby didn't actually read Walsh's piece himself. He skimmed it and picked out the few words he could use to make a dishonest point.

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    1. Hate to disagree. I think Bob carefully reads and then chooses to leave out what doesn't fit his meme, all the better to scold the scribes for "disappearing things."

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    2. I believe honest, intelligent Somerby reader/commenters like urban legend have a duty to properly inform the not so gifted among Howler readers.

      It is apparent, reading some comments, that many Howlerites do not read links from Mr. Somerby before offering their HO's, to use DinC's acronym. As a result their comments make them seem like Poo Flinging Chimps.

      In order to prevent PFC syndrome on this topic, this is what Walsh actually wrote:

      "To me, Kristof is not the enemy. He’s done great work on class, and occasionally on race. Of course he’s privileged and thus occasionally blinkered and befuddled when it comes to race, but someone who consistently tries to understand and communicate about racial injustice is an imperfect ally; a work in progress, not an enemy. People I respect may disagree."

      I highlighted her last sentence to show, despite Mr. Somerby's savagery in revealing Walsh as a leading cause of culture melting, she has a shared cultural backgound with him which is reflected in literary style.

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  9. Kristof fails the Joan Walsh purity test but not Chris Matthews?!

    Here's a thought, instead of castigating the cop assigned the duty of running down and apprehending the criminal, I say blame perp, if they haven't caught him already, for all the commotion this caused.

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    1. Here's a thought: why don't you try making sense?

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    2. Bull, thanks again for showing those wonderful freedom fighters your humanity. I didn't know you had it in you, but thanks to Bob passing along the inspiration others drew from witnessing you in action I have avoided a life as a Dimmesdale.

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  10. Even the Romans banned post-Tweet crucifixion for (non-Christian) newspaper columnists.

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  11. IMHO this event isn't worth a column. His friend seemed to have a good life in store, but it didn't work out. You can't derive policy conclusions from one example. So, there's no clear point to this column.

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    1. Piehole N. DingbyeFebruary 2, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      Nor to Bob's post. However it is one step up from the War on Tom Brady, and two steps up from his fraudulent ranting about Selma.

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    2. IMHO this event isn't worth a David in Cal comment, but since David believes that the commentariat waits breathlessly for each of his pronouncements - no matter how inane - it doesn't matter to him that there's no clear point to his pronouncements. David seemed to have a good life in store, but it just didn't work out.

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    3. I enjoy David's contributions.

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    4. IMHO they are not so much contributions as "opinion offerings" within safe parameters of rigid assumptions.

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  12. Replies
    1. And you're gonna be in trouble!

      Hey now, hey now, my deadrat's back.

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    2. Heyla, dayla.

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  13. It is quite possible this medical care was provided by Medicare with a very high spend down before Medicaid kicked in. Medicare is more like regular insurance with premium and copay than it is like Medicaid. If that is the case he may have paid a significant portion of his income for his medical care.

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    1. And, apparently, it wasn't enough.

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  14. "As a columnist, it seems to us that Kristof is becoming a bit of a basket case."

    As a blogger, it seems to us that Bob relies a lot on those youngsters, his analysts, before making tough but needed mental evaluations.

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  15. Speaking of Dimmesdale, if you Google "Dimmesdale AND Scold" it will take you right back to this blog, just like if you Google "Selma AND Snubbed" as Somerby suggested a couple of days back.

    And of course, Gary Oldman WAS snubbed. For Dimmesdale and many many others. Probably had nothing to do with his race. Probably because, unlike most people in Hollywood cinema, he CAN act.

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    1. I think the choice of Dimmesdale as label for Kristof is a poor choice for Somerby, reflecting badly on his understanding of Hawthorne.

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    2. What is the line on how many "parts" there will be in the Kristof Khronicles? Longer than "Deflategate/War on Gore"? Shorter than "Snubbing Miss Selma?"

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    3. I'm not the wagering type. However, this piece from a tribal blog certainly proives Somerby is right about Kristof's condescension.

      http://crooksandliars.com/2015/02/fox-news-panel-horrified-were-feeding-poor

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  16. That's some excellent moral scolding, Bob! Top of your game!

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