PITIFUL HELPLESS KNOW-NOTHINGS: Why is John King still employed!


Part 4—King of the potted plants: In this morning’s New York Times, Floyd Norris devotes his Business Day column to Rick Santorum’s budget proposals.

What Norris finds isn’t pretty. According to Norris, Santorum has offered “the most amazing [budget] proposal” of all the Republican candidates:
NORRIS (3/2/12): The most amazing proposal came from Rick Santorum...

He would reduce almost everyone’s taxes. He would slash tax rates for all, his campaign Web site promises, while preserving “deductions for charitable giving, home mortgage interest, health care, retirement savings and children.”

He would cut capital gains and dividend tax rates to 12 percent, from 15 percent, and triple the personal deduction for each child. He would repeal the alternative minimum tax. He would cut the corporate tax rate in half, increase the research and development tax credit and set the rate at zero for manufacturers. He would eliminate the estate tax, or the “death tax” in his lexicon. He would eliminate “marriage tax penalties throughout the federal tax code.”

The Tax Policy Center in Washington estimated that in one year, 2015, that set of proposals would reduce federal tax revenue by 40 percent, or $1.3 trillion, from what it would be under current law, which assumes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
There is nothing new about this; it just doesn't get discussed much. On January 30, the Washington Post used that study by the Tax Policy Center as the basis for a slashing editorial about the budget plans of the GOP candidates (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/29/12). They too stressed the lunacy of Santorum’s budget proposals. The editors stressed the fact that Santorum’s plan—like the plans of Romney and Gingrich—“would add trillions more” to the national debt. According to the Tax Policy Center, Santorum’s proposals would add $900 billion to the deficit in 2015 alone, even after you allow for extending all the Bush tax cuts! So the editors wrote, in amazement.

It was against this backdrop that Gilbert Fidler of Gilbert, Arizona rose to ask the opening question at last week’s Republican debate.

CNN’s John King could have asked the opening question, since he seemed to be serving as moderator for the debate. But due to King's vast love for the average Joe, he deferred to Citizen Fidler, who is concerned about the national debt.

“What are you going to do to bring down the debt?” Fidler asked the various candidates. King asked Santorum to answer first. This was the start of his statement:
SANTORUM (2/22/12): Thank you, Gilbert.

I put together a specific plan that cuts $5 trillion over five years, that spends less money each year for the next four years that I'll be president of the United States. So it's not inflation-adjusted, it's not baseline-budgeting. We're actually going to shrink the actual size of the federal budget, and we're going to do so by dealing with the real problem.
Santorum went on and on from there, spooning a porridge of fine-sounding claims which no one on earth understood. But as he started, Santorum seemed to say that he was going to cut $5 trillion from the debt over the next five years—or perhaps from national spending, or perhaps from projected deficits.


As Santorum spoke to Fidler, it had been more than three weeks since that Washington Post editorial—an editorial based upon a major study of Santorum’s plan. Fidler was worried about the debt—and the study said that Santorum's proposals would massively add to the debt! This was, therefore, the perfect place for King to perform a journalistic act—to question Santorum’s fine-sounding claims, letting people like Fidler know that there may be a small problem here.

Santorum’s full answer to Fidler had burned some 400 words. But right there as he began, he seemed to say that we would massively reduce federal debt (or federal spending; or something). Because he isn’t the world’s dumbest person, John King knows that this claim is pure shit. So what did Khe say when Santorum was through?

This is what John King said:
KING: Governor Romney, I'm wondering if that answer satisfied you. Just in recent days you said this, quote, "If you want a fiscal conservative, you can't vote for Rick Santorum because he's not." Did he answer your questions there?
King threw to Romney. He proceeded to emit a long string of malarkey himself.

At this point, we offer a question: Why is John King still employed? In this moment, he made it clear that he had no intention of serving as an actual moderator at this final debate. All around the country, people like Fidler may have believed that they were seeing an actual journalist trying to illuminate the campaign's basic issues. If anything, many conservatives probably assumed that King was ideologically opposed to these candidates—that he would do whatever he could to embarrass these hopefuls.

Voters who thought that were wrong. Beyond that, King wasn’t trying to illuminate squat, squash or squadoodle this evening. A long discussion of deficits and debt followed Fidler’s opening question. During the course of this wandering pseudo-discussion, John King, king of the potted plants, restricted himself to the following “questions.” Not a word was ever said about the study by the Tax Policy Center—the study which took us right to the heart of Citizen Fidler's concern:
John King's "questions" during the debt discussion:
KING: Governor Romney, I'm wondering if that answer satisfied you? Just in recent days you said this, quote, “If you want a fiscal conservative, you can't vote for Rick Santorum because he's not.” Did he answer your questions there?

KING: Senator, the governor singled you out. Take a few seconds.

KING: Governor, please quickly I want to bring the congressman and the speaker into the conversation, but respond.

KING: Mr. Speaker, join the conversation. Address Gilbert's question and if you so choose, address some criticism you've received on this issue from this state's senior senator [John McCain] campaigning for Governor Romney. He questioned your credentials on fiscal conservatism. He said when you were the speaker, earmarking became an art.

KING: Congressman Paul, you've questioned the conservative—fiscal conservative credentials of all these gentlemen but particularly this week Senator Santorum. You have a new television ad that labels him a fake. Why?

KING: Senator Santorum, respond quickly.

KING: Congressman, quickly.

KING: As you can see, this is a—it's an important issue to the people in the audience. I think it's one of the reasons this race has been so volatile. Voters are looking and they say which of these candidates can I trust? And each of you are trying to make your case to them. As you try to do so, Governor Romney, you said recently that as governor you're a “severely conservative” governor of Massachusetts. What did you mean by that?

KING: Mr. Speaker, as you know, often when deficit reduction—when deficit reduction and economic growth are priorities at the same time, some people see a collision. Some people see a conflict. You've outlined your views on taxes. Governor Romney today outlined a tax plan that would cut the, put the top rate at 28 percent, eliminate capital gain taxes for incomes below $200,000, cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. Is that the right approach? And is it consistent—and it's a tough one sometimes—with spurring economic growth at a time this state and other states are looking for jobs? But as you have Gilbert's question, also looking to make sure the next president works on the deficit?

KING: The Speaker raises an important point about looking forward, and I hope we spend most of the night doing that. But as you know, there's a lot of anger in the base of the party about some of the things that have happened in the past, and the Tea Party, especially. Now, earmarks, the pork barrel spending, it's a tiny slice of the budget. I think we all know that. But if you talk to a Tea Party activist, they think it’s an example, a gateway to corruption. Senator, you have said there are good earmarks and bad earmarks. And you have talked about your earmarks in the past. Any that you specifically regret? And why have you criticized—why do you think the money that went to Governor Romney for security at the Olympics, why was that a bad earmark?

KING: Governor?

KING: Quickly.

KING: Mr. Speaker, you were referenced by the governor, you first, then Congressman Paul. Don't worry. We'll get to you, Congressman. I promise.

KING: Congressman Paul, answer Senator Santorum, please, sir.
Basically, King played traffic cop, letting the candidates stage a worthless kabuki discussion. To the extent that he offered any guidance, he turned the discussion toward the trivial question of earmarks—even as he noted that they constitute “a tiny slice of the budget.”

At one point, King did an amazing thing—he actually cited the new tax cuts Romney had proposed that day! But as he did, he hemmed and hawed, barely daring to suggest the possibility that it is hard to offer so many tax cuts while professing to worry about deficits and debt.

At two points, King referred back to Fidler’s question. But everything King did in this segment demonstrated his abject contempt for Gilbert Fidler—and for the many citizens, all over the country, who watched this debate because they’re worried about their nation’s problems. King pretended to run a discussion, but he was careful to keep things safe. Presumably, CNN doesn’t want to offend its conservative viewers.

Or to bore us with hard stuff!

For decades, information surveys have shown that we the people are pitifully clueless about major budget issues. We believe all sorts of crazy things; during those decades, people like King have refused to stand up and tell us when we’re being deceived. Meanwhile, we in the liberal world are too goddamned stupid—on the leadership level, too store-bought—to bring a serious, sustained complaint against King and the others like him.

Gail Collins prances, minces and plays. But no one is willing to tell the public about what people like King keep doing. Darlings, it just isn’t done! Careers hang in the balance! And party invitations!

Meanwhile, we in the liberal world love to take out our hate on the Fidlers. All too often, we high-minded liberals are empty, stupid, venal, mean. We very much tend to be ditto-heads, not unlike Rush Limbaugh’s followers. We kiss the asses of our “intellectual leaders” even as they lie in our faces.

We kiss the asses of our “leaders” because they tell us the stories we like. What a shame! That the nation’s average Joes—and Gilberts—are stuck with “liberals” like us.

Tomorrow—epilogue: The New York Times’ latest chart


  1. "If anything, many conservatives probably assumed that [moderator John] King was ideologically opposed to these candidates—that he would do whatever he could to embarrass these hopefuls."

    Yes, assuredly -- many of us, rubes, Fidlers of the world probably did and do think that.

    And if so, we are indeed wrong about King's role.

    But we don't count anyway.

    "King pretended to run a discussion, but he was careful to keep things safe. Presumably, CNN doesn’t want to offend its conservative viewers."

    And here, Mr. Somerby, you are off the rails. Wrong.

    It is not that CNN is trying to avoid offending some voters. The reason they stay away from CONTENT is because they are putting on a SHOW, a performance.

    A distraction.

    We, the mis-, dis- and un-informed are meant to watch the show and remain unenlightened, comforted in our existing prejudices and misperceptions.

    What do the candidates really propose? What are the implications for the country?

    We aren't meant to be involved in such matters!!

    The game was entirely given away before King had uttered a word. We were treated to a televisual spectacle which promised, in every detail, that this was going to be about entertainment!

    The pounding bass thrum of the cage-match soundtrack underlying every moment until the candidates began to speak made clear that this would be no sober engagement with the issues of the day -- we were going to be given a slap-fight! The kind of reality TV we expect and deserve.

    Actual understanding of the issues is for our betters.

    To the extent possible. those with wealth and power will ensure that the potential candidates differ as little as possible on things of importance. Obama should pursue an economic agenda little different from Romney.

    The tools by which this critical consensus is achieved are outside the control of irrelevant voters.

    1. Actual understanding of the issues is for our betters.

      To the extent possible. those with wealth and power will ensure that the potential candidates differ as little as possible on things of importance. Obama should pursue an economic agenda little different from Romney.

      The tools by which this critical consensus is achieved are outside the control of irrelevant voters.

      Yep, you got that right! King's a facilitator for the plutocracy, of which he's a member! He's putting on a show, a really bad spectacle, but a show it is, and the show must go on!

  2. I lived in Gilbert, AZ from the time it was a sleepy collection of cotton farms and dairies, to what it has become, a bustling bedroom community.
    I don’t hate the residents of Gilbert, although I had contempt for a few of it’s politicians, some of the worst politicians in the Arizona legislature, the worst state legislatures in one of the worst-run states in America.
    I don’t shed a tear for concerned citizens in Gilbert because the majority of them cheerfully abetted the tea party in taking over the state.
    They support Joe Arpiao, the newly crowned Birther king, and worse. And yes, there are worse in Arizona.
    They would like to see Paul Babeu take Jeff Flake’s old seat, and will probably succeed at that.
    They support Jan Brewer: (Kudos to my alma mater, The American University, for driving her off campus. The right wing claims her rights of free speech and assembly were denied by thuggish Occupy AU students.
    Of course, the gassing, clubbing, and pepper spraying of peacefully assembled Occupiers violates no one’s civil rights.)

    Our education ranks lowest in Morgan Quintno’s ratings, and our lawmakers are proud of that.
    In 2007 the senator from Gilbert entered a bill that would "discipline, fine or fire educators for speaking about elections, legislation, judicial action or 'a social, political or culture issue that is a matter of partisan controversy,’”
    There is a bill now up to discipline, fine or fire educators for speaking words in the classroom that are forbidden on the airwaves by the FCC.
    There is a bill to simply fire a teacher that speaks with a hispanic accent, or uses Spanish words to students that have completed their ESL requirements.

    The current Speaker of the House fought long and hard for the payday loan companies, claimed free tickets and transportation to BCS Bowl games were “research”, tried to torpedo the referendum to redistrict the state to meet US DOJ guidelines, and now, illegally refuses to fund the redistricting committee, and demands the Republican-run State government throw out the committee and do the redistricting themselves.

    No, I shed no tears for the majority of Arizonans. If the observation that “People get the government they deserve” is true, it is truer in Arizona than anywhere else.
    Likewise, I have no patience for those that demand to be spoon-fed facts, that they may accept or reject them instantly.

    Maybe some of the top liberals hate rubes, but you can be sure of one thing, most liberals are absolutely HATED by the majority of Arizonans.
    Bob, if you knew what the average Arizona Republican thought of people like you, you wouldn’t get so weepy about their self-imposed ignorance.
    Americans have the Internet, the greatest research tool ever handed to the common man, and I can assure you, most Arizonans use it only to support their prejudices. And they are not the only ones.

    Do you know what the hot subject is lately in letters to the editor?
    Arguments that contrails left by jetliners are some sort of chemical warfare by persons unknown. They not only linger for hours, they form Xes in the sky! X for the unknown!
    I kid you not.

    Rant over.

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