Saturday, 18 April 2009

Cool Kids

Can anyone with a longer memory than me answer a quick question: has Naomi Klein always been this retarded?

23 comments:

Gooder said...

That seems pretty much spot on to me. Which part exactly do you object to?

She is right in saying that people now have to realise the Obama is not going to suddenly fix everything.

jamie said...

She is right about that to some extent, but why does she then have to spend hundreds of words coining ridiculous phrases to describe the process of this realisation. If it was funny, I suppose it could be forgiven. But it's just rubbish, and trivialises the issues at hand. If she felt so strongly about it, maybe she could write an article specifying the changes that need to be demanded, instead of wasting bandwidth for no good purpose.

SpaceSquid said...

"Which part exactly do you object to?"

The asinine suggestion that people believed he was going to solve the problems of the universe in the first place.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Errr??? I think the suggestion that *some* people believed he was going to solve the problems of the universe is quite an accurate one. Saying you were not one of them is one thing, but suggesting that these people don’t exist is another.

SpaceSquid said...

"I think the suggestion that *some* people believed he was going to solve the problems of the universe is quite an accurate one."

Here's the thing, though; during the election there were plenty of people complaining others were treating Obama like the Messiah, or some shining beacon of true progressive liberalism, but I never read anybody anywhere who actually came remotely close to subscribing to that view.

This "you thought Obama was going to be God and it turns out he's just a normal bloke" argument is infuriating, not because I already knew it, but because pretty much everyone already knew it.

Who didn't? Which people is Naomi talking about? Any public figures? Organisations? Democratic voters? Or is it just an easy way to crap an article out, by taking an obvious straw man and mocking him?

I'm not saying no-one had a ridiculous image of Obama, because the world is a big place and plenty of people in it are buffoons, but I spend a lot of time plugged into the American media and it was a phenomenon that was often referred to, but never actually witnessed, beyond the usual idiotic comments all elections generate in any case.

And here we are, more than four months since Obama won the election, still having to listen to this bullshit.

Gooder said...

The fact that was even in the media suggest that it did exist, even if it was only a low level there was clearly enough of a sense of it (from I suspect voters on call-ins, letter pages, polls etc - I don't why it has to be something from a recognised organisiation for it to 'legitmate'.) for it to be picked up by not American but worldwide media.

So I think it's a fair thing to pass comment on and I'm not sure how you read it as mocking Obama. To me what is saying is that people have to realsie they need to be realistic and that no-one is the perfect president

SpaceSquid said...

"The fact that was even in the media suggest that it did exist , even if it was only a low level there was clearly enough of a sense of it (from I suspect voters on call-ins, letter pages, polls etc - for it to be picked up by not American but worldwide media."

Once it became a thread in the American media, it was bound to hit worldwide. When it comes to media a lot of what becomes "established wisdom" is simply
self-reinforcement. That's part of why it ended up in the American media, as well.

As to it getting in there in the first place, let's remember that the same is true of the story about how Hillary Clinton arranged to have someone murdered, or that Bush skipped out on his National Guard service, or that Al Gore had employed Naomi Wolf as a stylist, or that Obama wants to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, or that a bad bowling game is an impediment to getting election, and so on ad infinitum. Just because the American press are discussing smoke doesn't mean there must be fire. The Daily Howler (www.dailyhowler.com) is a very good resource on this kind of thing, though I don't always agree with it, and they tend to be somewhat histrionic.

"I don't why it has to be something from a recognised organisiation for it to 'legitmate'."

I didn't say it did. My point was that absent any sort of reference whatsoever, Klein's just shouting at shadows. This "some would say" style of attributing opinions to people without any evidence or examples drives me crazy.

"So I think it's a fair thing to pass comment on and I'm not sure how you read it as mocking Obama."

At no point have I come close to suggesting I believe Klein is mocking Obama.

"To me what is saying is that people have to realsie they need to be realistic and that no-one is the perfect president"

That's what it says to me, too. But, again, who isn't being unrealistic about him? Klein is making a gob-smackingly obvious point, and trying to imply that in doing so she's schooling some undefined group of total numpties who are apparently worth slapping around over the course of hundreds of words. Then getting paid for it.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Maybe if instead of calling Klein “retarded” i.e of subnormal IQ and with significant limitations of adaptive behaviour, you had stated that she was just repeating an already well known point you wouldn’t have people disagreeing with you.

It’s a comments article, not a news article. It’s supposed to be making comment on things that have already past and therefore no it won’t be the most cutting edge of thinking. As you’ve already said the point has been made many, many, times by lots of different people and while it isn’t new there is nothing wrong with occasionally taking a moment and looking back at the past and making a comment on it. Selecting this one particular article and stating she is retarded for writing it just seems like your picking on her.

SpaceSquid said...

"Maybe if instead of calling Klein “retarded” i.e of subnormal IQ and with significant limitations of adaptive behaviour, you had stated that she was just repeating an already well known point you wouldn’t have people disagreeing with you."

I doubt that. So far commentary has been reserved for whether or not I am write to dislike the article itself.

"It’s a comments article, not a news article. It’s supposed to be making comment on things that have already past and therefore no it won’t be the most cutting edge of thinking."

Why not? Why should we assume that a comments article can get away with being bereft of original thinking? If anything, a news article would be less likely to include cutting edge thinking, because a news article is supposed to be factual, not based on opinion.

"As you’ve already said the point has been made many, many, times by lots of different people and while it isn’t new there is nothing wrong with occasionally taking a moment and looking back at the past and making a comment on it."

In general, no, but then I'm not arguing referring to the past is bad per se, just that referring to a past event of very little importance that I'm not even sure happened and thenmaking an obvious point about it makes for a seriously poor article.

"Selecting this one particular article and stating she is retarded for writing it just seems like your picking on her."

Really? If I want to disagree with an article I'm required to list every other article making the same or a similar point, or I'm picking on someone?

I'll grant that referring to it as "retarded" isn't getting me any points for eloquence, and in retrospect I wish I hadn't used the word, not because I'm concerned the possibility that I'm picking on Ms Klein but because I know the word itself can legitimately cause offence, which wasn't my intent. Feel free to replace it with "Has Naomi Klein always been this spectacularly idiotic?", if you prefer.

Senior Spielbergo said...

“Really? If I want to disagree with an article I'm required to list every other article making the same or a similar point, or I'm picking on someone?”

No – BUT if you had stated something like ‘I really dislike articles such as this one ’ rather than ‘this particular specific individual is retarded’ it would go a long way to not appear like you are picking on someone…

Gooder said...

"Who didn't? Which people is Naomi talking about? Any public figures? Organisations? Democratic voters? Or is it just an easy way to crap an article out, by taking an obvious straw man and mocking him?"

Who is the him here if not Obama then?

I think you need to be careful in projecting what you know/believe across the general population, do not underestimate the number of so-called numpties who are out there

"I doubt that. So far commentary has been reserved for whether or not I am write to dislike the article itself."

I don't contest you right to disagree with the article, just trying to understand why you think it is idiotic.

The idea of Obama as a great saviour for the US was very much a covered news story (and in my view one based a genuine ground level belief in this as the case) and I think something that is fair to comment on.

SpaceSquid said...

S. Spielbergo: "BUT if you had stated something like ‘I really dislike articles such as this one ’ rather than ‘this particular specific individual is retarded’ it would go a long way to not appear like you are picking on someone…"

I'm not sure if a blogger with 20-30 hits a day can be considered to be "picking on" a internationally-known journalist following a single criticism, however ad hominem it was (which, to be fair, is pretty par for the course on this site; you're under no obligation to like it, of course, but I've been doing it for a while).

Gooder: "Who is the him here if not Obama then?"

The straw man referred to in the same sentence.

"I think you need to be careful in projecting what you know/believe across the general population, do not underestimate the number of so-called numpties who are out there"

Well, I agree that that's true, but the immediate counter is that journalists need to be careful about that too. Which again brings me back to needing evidence. Demonstrating that the group you're criticising actually exists. "Other people have written about them too" isn't good enough.

And, while I agree I need to be careful with what I say about the general population, if Ms Klein or whoever else tells us that Group X exist, the onus is on her to prove they do, not for me to prove they don't.

"I don't contest you right to disagree with the article."

Nor was I suggesting you were, I was simply pointing out that you were asking why I objected to the article, which you probably would have done whether or not I had been mean to Ms Klein.

"The idea of Obama as a great saviour for the US was very much a covered news story (and in my view one based a genuine ground level belief in this as the case) and I think something that is fair to comment on."

But why do you think there was genuine ground level belief? I've already cited a half dozen other stories that were well-discussed at the time they appeared; all of them were later debunked or revealed to be embarrassingly silly.

Gooder said...

The stories you've mentioned I've never heard of, so I would suggest they weren't at the same level.

The story of Obama being portrayed as a great man who will intantly tunr it around was/ persistant and widespread. It also not something that the media is likely to make up for the sake of it (as it is a story about 'perceptions' rather than a 'factual' story) so in my view the phenomenon was genuinly there.

SpaceSquid said...

"The stories you've mentioned I've never heard of, so I would suggest they weren't at the same level."

I'm dubious about the idea that your personal experience constitutes a sensible measure for the level of a news story, in addition to the obvious point that it would be odd to assume that the level of a story's coverage is correlated to the level of a story's accuracy.

"The story of Obama being portrayed as a great man who will intantly tunr it around was/ persistant and widespread."

Neither of which make it true. A grotesque simplication/generalisation does not become more accurate with repetition, it just becomes more common.

"It also not something that the media is likely to make up for the sake of it (as it is a story about 'perceptions' rather than a 'factual' story) so in my view the phenomenon was genuinly there."

I love the idea that a story about 'facts' is more likely to have been made up by the media. Stories about opinions are notoriously easy to cook up out of almost nothing. A liberal sprinkling of "some have said" or "there seems to be a sense," and you can type out any old toot. And if you can't understand why a journalist would want to write a story that doesn't require much thought or research, but will get plenty of attention, then that would be surprising.

If the amount of times you've heard the story makes you believe it is true, that's your right. My point is that you have to "believe" it's true, because you haven't seen any evidence of the phenomena. Neither have I. Nor has anyone I've read. I've seen plenty of people claim it was a widely held opinion, but no-one who could actually point to someone and say "They said that".

Gooder said...

What I am trying to say and probably didn't say well is that media is less likely to construct a story that is about something less 'tangible' than something that is on the face of a 'fact' based story.

The story of Obama's perception as a great saviour is one that did recieve a lot of coverage and as I said I believe most likely based un opinon polls and vox pops.

You, keep saying it's false but I don't understand why anyone would make it up? And how are you so sure it's false? Did you read/listen to ever piece of election coverage that spoke to the American populance?

What exactly are you looking for as evidence? Surely the evidence is what people thought/think?

There is a general belief in this country that Brown is a berk, what would you accept as evidence of this for example?

As for my personal experience I know the story about Obama but not the others and as someone who didn't activily engage with the election that suggests to me the Obama thing was the stronger more prevalant story.

It seems you can't understand why I believe it and I can't understand why you insist it's not true at this point.

Gooder said...

Those posters with his image and just 'Hope' would seem to certainly be suggestive of the phenomenon

SpaceSquid said...

"You, keep saying it's false but I don't understand why anyone would make it up?"

Because it's an easy way to write a story along with follow-ups.

"And how are you so sure it's false? Did you read/listen to ever piece of election coverage that spoke to the American populance?"

I dealt with this already: it's not my job to prove a journalist has invented something; it's their job to demonstrate they haven't, a job I have yet to see them perform, or even attempt, in this case.

"What exactly are you looking for as evidence? Surely the evidence is what people thought/think?"

The fact that people think other people hold a belief is not evidence of that belief itself.

"There is a general belief in this country that Brown is a berk, what would you accept as evidence of this for example?"

That he's a berk, or that people think he is a berk?


"As for my personal experience I know the story about Obama but not the others and as someone who didn't activily engage with the election that suggests to me the Obama thing was the stronger more prevalant story."

And again, I ask why more prevalent translates into stronger, or more likely to be true.

"Those posters with his image and just 'Hope' would seem to certainly be suggestive of the phenomenon"

Apparently "Hope" was a message that sold better than "Progress". I'm very much doubtful that, considering the state of America in 2008, that this represents a cult of personanality, or attempt to place Obama on a pedestal, so much as the desire for things to improve.

In fact, something else that annoys me about Klein's article is that I was hopeful regarding Obama's administration, and he has vindicated those hopes. Klein's piece reads to me like a cynic whose been proven wrong, but is trying to look like they were right by misrepresenting the position of the people who called it from the start.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for political cynicism. But sometimes things do get better, and sometimes one political leader is qualitatively better than the last one, and it bugs me that someone would try to twist that realisation into believing in magic and unicorns.

Gooder said...

"I dealt with this already: it's not my job to prove a journalist has invented something; it's their job to demonstrate they haven't, a job I have yet to see them perform, or even attempt, in this case."

The hours and pages of discussion of the issue don't count then? Interviews with members of the population who thought that don't count? (this is after all more than likely where the story started anyway).

What would you consider to be evidence of this feeling existing (you haven't really answered that)?

I sorry, but I'm just not going to be able to wrap my head around why you think this story is a total fabrication.

Oh well.

I don't think Klein's piece reads like a cynic that's be proven wrong since she raisessome very interesting points.

Where will those from the Bay actually end up?

The so called withdrawl from Iraq is far from convincing (espically when more troop are being sent to Afghanistan).

There are valid points there even if you don't go along with the intial conceit of Obama's rep being overblown to start with

Senior Spielbergo said...

“I dealt with this already: it's not my job to prove a journalist has invented something; it's their job to demonstrate they haven't, a job I have yet to see them perform, or even attempt, in this case.”

I’ve just got to say, errrr??? Since when? As I view it journalists (plural), and respectable ones at that, working in well regulated media outlets have said something. The default stance has got to be that they are telling the truth. You are then basically saying that they fabricated the idea – so accusing them of lying / making it up. I far as I’m concerned the onus of proof lies with the accuser, and in this case I’m afraid that is you.

SpaceSquid said...

" The default stance has got to be that they are telling the truth."

Why? I've already given several examples of stories that weren't based in fact. Either a story can be backed up, or it can't. If a reporter wants to write a story about a common opinion, then it seems to me entirely obvious that they must demonstrate that opinion exists. That, as I've said, is their job. Literally.

And they haven't done that. Gooder mentions interviews with people who thought along these lines. Which interviews? I haven't seen any, either directly or being referred to.

You argue reputable journalists should be given the benefit of the doubt. I'd say reputable journalists give their sources so you don't have to give them the benefit of the doubt in the first place.

More than that, though, your argument boils down to the fact that we should trust what we're told unless we ourselves can rustle up counter-evidence. That's an obvious recipe for disaster. Journalists are people like everyone else. Some are reliable, others less so. Some will write a shaky column because they're on a deadline, or have something else they want to do. Some will start an opinion piece with an overall narrative that they will then massage the facts to fit in with. And a lot of the time, they echo each other, so that one person's opinion becomes conventional wisdom, and ultimately unquestionable truth.

I really, really don't see why "Where is the evidence?" is such an unreasonable response to a long-running "story".

Senior Spielbergo said...

Ah so your adopting a guilty until proven innocent approach? Interesting stance for a “Liberal”.

As I’ve already said, truth is quite clearly the “right” and lying or just making up a story (frankly I don’t perceive a material difference between the two) quite clearly the “wrong”. It is you that is accusing another (in fact many, many others) of committing said “wrong” therefore in my view the onus of proof rests with you to support your accusation.

Now Gooder has stated that he recalls interviews and the like with individuals stating the whole “Obama is Great” (for lack of a better term) philosophy that was going around. I also recall TV interviews with various “man on the street” type people expressing those views. So are you going to lump us in with those people you are accusing of lying or fabricating the whole thing? No it’s not a simple matter of being able to Google up some proof for you as all that will be on the web are the news stories reporting the phenomenon. As I don’t live in America and have access to the primary sources you seem to be insisting we drag up (i.e. a regular person on the street saying it) I’m not really sure what you are looking for. What I will say is, I recall the chaps on the street saying such things on TV, therefore the phenomenon existed. How about you try and prove me wrong?

SpaceSquid said...

"Ah so your adopting a guilty until proven innocent approach? Interesting stance for a “Liberal”."

Oh for the love of Pete, Spielbergo. I am assuming a story may not be true until the writer of that story gives me evidence it is true. Trying to couch that in terms of a criminal trial is ludicrous.

In fact, since I'm here, I may as well point out that your argument is that anything a reporter claims to have seen must be assumed to be true unless someone can prove they didn't see it. And not just events, mind you, but opinions as well. Unless I can prove that nobody in the world ever said what they've claimed a significant number of people have said, you're arguing that we must assume they are telling the truth.

In simple terms, because I can't prove a negative, I must assume the positive.

"Now Gooder has stated that he recalls interviews and the like with individuals stating the whole “Obama is Great” (for lack of a better term) philosophy that was going around."

Actually, he implied that they exist. He didn't say he'd witnessed one first hand, but doubtless he can clear that up for us.

"I also recall TV interviews with various “man on the street” type people expressing those views."

One swallow does not make a summer. I said in my second comment that I wasn't claiming no-one ever said Obama was Superman.

SpaceSquid said...

It occurs to me my last comment wasn't quite what I wanted to say. Spielbergo is right that I have suggested that Klein's assumption that these people exist isn't true, rather than may not be true, which is admittedly a step further along the road into paranoid conspiracy theories. I don't want to look like I'm moving the goalposts, so I should explain further.

In this specific case my extra level of disbelief in the story's veracity stems from the degree to which this storyline has been spun out without me seeing anything like sufficient evidence. If Klein (or anyone else) were to write a piece tomorrow suggesting a whole bunch of people are saying, say, Joe Biden is the second coming of Christ without providing evidence, then I would suggest the story may not be worth the paper it's written on. We'd only move on to isn't worth anything after about, ooh, four to six months of repetition without reasonable levels of evidence.

Of course, were that same story claim people are suggesting Obama and Biden are named after Osama Bin Laden (http://www.buzzfeed.com/nickdouglas/fox-obama-biden-osama-bin-laden-coincidence-t), then I'd be pretty suspicious right away. It's a judgment call.