Go Fish

fish-in-newspaperFish left such a thoughtful comment to my last post that I had to take the time to address in an illustrious fashion.

Dear Fish,

You smell like a three-day-left-in-the-sun-real-world-version-of-your-online-avatar.



No, no. that’s not what I really meant to say.  As far as I know Mr. Fish (who should really pal around with Mr. Chips) is a paragon of hygiene and Body Shop botanical splendor, the mental images of sub par dentistry and grimy fingernails his less than genteel online manor suggests notwithstanding.   A serious statement (or as close to one as Fish seems capable of tapping out with a solitary finger) deserves serious response.

What did then Candidate Obama mean –and his supporters hope for—when promising change?   That would be Change from the worst economy produced by any two term president in modern history?  (And no, this is not the Obama recession any more than the first two years of the Gipper’s Administration are called the Reagan Recession.)  This is not the verdict of left wing hippy type intellectuals.  Check out former Bush speech writer David Frum’s comments last week in which he pointed out:

In terms of income growth and poverty reduction, Bush performed worse than any two-term president of the modern era. Even in the best year of his presidency, 2007, the typical American household still earned less after inflation than in the year 2000. The next year, 2008, American households suffered the worst income drop since record-keeping began six decades ago.

Or maybe it’s change from a litany of some of the biggest mistakes made by any modern administration as summarized  by Craig Newmark, a list which includes:

• Going to war on false premises;

• The greatest disaster relief failure in American history;

• Controversial (and, one might add, potentially dangerous and often unconstitutional assertions of Executive Power;

• Becoming the first administration in modern US history to overtly condone torture;

• Unprecedented politicization of the departments of the Executive Branch (can you say Justice) and political patronage appointments of demonstrably incompetents (see number 2 above) ;

• Fiddling while Wall Street burned and then putting out the fire with a trillion dollars in public money; and

• Gutting environmental policy while exposing millions of Americans to increased health and quality of life risks.

Or how about change in simply ending what an overwhelming numbers of professional historians (more than any other president at this point in the post-presidency) call one of the worst administrations in history.

Of course my own personal favorite bit of change:  having a president who can now use the language of Shakespeare without making the Bard want to switch to French.

Fish,  read a book.  Read history.  Read SOMETHING other than right wing blogs perused while listening to right wing talk radio.  Obama is not the best thing since sliced bread.  He is not the Messiah.  He is making plenty of what I consider to be significant mistakes which all into question his ability to produce the change his supporters hoped for.  But by any objective standard he is so far performing better than his predecessor.  That is a good thing.  Democracy worked.  The people spoke and maybe things improve.


Best, Lunacy

(*You are just so cute in your little knee-jerk and rude reactionary ways that I just want to dip you in my coffee.  Extra hot, of course.)


16 Responses to “Go Fish”

  1. Fish Says:

    It’s Mz Fish.


  2. Carl Luna Says:

    Dear Mz. Fish,

    My deepest and sincerest apologies over my gender faux pas. Your kind pointing out of my error in assigning identity to your comment highlights a common failing of mine: a tendency to fall into the trap of stereotypes. Typically comments such as yours—short on content, long on, let us call it colorful commentary—have fallen to the males of your apparent political persuasion. Indeed, I find I do have a tendency to credit the capacity for erudition and sophistication in communication more to the females of our species than the males. How refreshing to see that ignorance, simplicity of language and a tendency towards the rude—be it in full form or acronym—can be practiced by all members of our human family. On behalf of males everywhere I thank you for making us look better in comparison. Meanwhile, might I suggest you peruse Roget’s Thesaurus for a new term or handle to hang on your comments? The LM… bit is somewhat tedious, don’t you think? Not to mention wholly unilluminating, except, perhaps, of limits in vocabulary.

    Say high to Ms. Chips for me.

  3. refriedgringo Says:

    It’s “Craig” Newmark, you idiot, not “Greg”. I suggest you take a few classes in editing your own stupid drivel. Pompous jerk.

  4. Carl Luna Says:

    Yo Refriedgringo,

    Perhaps you might consider dipping yourself in some salsa and getting cooked? 500+ words and the best you can do is come up with a typo? How typical. Attack the person, attack the typing, have nothing to say on the content. Could that be because, alas, beyond a one shot knee jerk response, you’re out of ammo? Mine might be stupid drivel, but it’s at least stupid drivel written in copious, reflective amounts. How about an effort by some of you right-of-sanity readers to at least attempt a reasonable (ok, let’s not shoot for the moon–how about sustained?) dialogue without crudities (Fish) or personal bile (dat be you, dude — or dudette, least I make the same gender faux pas.)

    But thanks for the correction. I’ve duly noted it in my post. Think of me as wiki-blogging. You point out the mistake, I’ll fix it. So where was the mistake(s) in my argument, hmmmm?

    And for the record I am not a pompous jerk.
    I am an arrogant jerk. And a dancing fool.

    And I

  5. Carl Luna Says:

    ….might add (hit submit too soon) happy to go toe to toe with Tom Delay!

  6. refriedgringo Says:

    Mr. Luna, as has been my experience from when I attended college all of the way up to now, I have found that ninety percent of educators are, in fact, mouthpieces of the left. The most vocal of these mouthpieces are history teachers and political science teachers. You are a product of what you grew up in, scholastically speaking. And I blame you and your peers for four years of Bush I, eight years of Clinton (perhaps the best republican President since Reagan), and eight years of Bush II.

    Yes, it’s your fault. Why?

    If the very best that you and your highly educated and brilliant left-wing educators can muster up – after Johnson wrought Nixon, what an unlearned lesson that was – are the Kerry’s and Gore’s and other unqualified candidates, then you reap what you sow. Bush was your fault. Historians will not blame you, though, so no need to worry.

    The only real difference between the new shiny guy and the other guy? The new shiny guy has been meticulously trained to speak eloquently. Why is the U.S. in Afghanistan, Mr. Luna? And, historically speaking, if no force in the history of our world could conquer Afghanistan (Genghis Khan came as close as anyone and still couldn’t completely rule there), what makes the new shiny guy think he’s any different? If Bush’s invasion of Iraq was stupid (and it was), what does that mean for Obama?

    The only real difference between your ideology and the ideology that you enjoy bashing, is in where the money goes. The ignorance you accuse others of possessing? It is in the mirror. It is in bullet points from Craig Newmark, every bit as it is in the ranting from Limbaugh and Beck. It is in your own column, sir, and you seem to be blind to it. The mistake in your argument? You are arguing irrelevance.

  7. Carl Luna Says:

    Hallelujah and rejoice! At long last a comment with serious meat on it (even if some of that meat is a bit past prime, but more on that later.) Refriedgringo, you have restored (at least partially) my faith in blog-reading humanity. Now, I do not, of course, agree with all of the propositions and suppositions you posit and will, in due course, give my reasoned and seasoned response. But the weekend is here, I’m done with my labors and wish you and yours a relaxing respite ahead from the tiring, the traumatic and the trivial. We will rejoin our swords of wit next week when I shall seek to lay your arguments low with my rapier of wit. Until then though we depart, comrades in reasonably intelligent dialogue.


  8. Fish Says:

    In this day and age one is hardly surprised by insincere apologies, sadly, they have come to be expected, though I confess I am always hopeful that men of intelligence and learning will not stoop to such devises. I further confess that I have a similar failing when it comes to the masculine gender: I was brought up to believe that they could be counted on to act as gentlemen.

    Like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice I am sometimes forced to tell a man to his face that, to his great surprise, his manners leave much to be desired. And that when they do, I feel no obligation to respond to his further attentions. Indeed I wish that he would no longer speak to me at all.

    Refriedgringo, whom I am happy to call a friend, is everything that others of his gender are not; indeed he makes up tenfold for all of that sort together, so little is their worth and so great his. I have no need to say this, however, his own actions, intelligent, kind, attentive, demonstrate more clearly than my poor words can ever do what one can always expect to see from a great and good man.

    I would urge and advise my friend not to enter into such a debate as has been proposed, but he feels it his duty to try and make the world a better place. I wish I could follow his example but alas neither the flesh nor the spirit is willing where the opponent has shown himself to be unworthy. I therefore leave him to do what he feels he must, and wish him godspeed.

  9. Fish Says:

    My dear gringo, I can not help but make one last effort to point out the folly of your task. You made this comment in your excellent post:

    what makes the new shiny guy think he’s any different?

    Your question is, in its essence, the same question I asked. Apparently the brevity and succinctness of my question was too difficult for the eminent expert and scholar to handle. You have before you, in the form of this “Go Fish” column, the result: playground insults related to my avatar.

    I urge you no further to reconsider; you are your own, wise, man, and you can undoubtedly hold your own. I simply warn you of the challenges inherent in the situation. One must not expect too much in these cases. The Bible warns us about the unsuitability of pig’s ears.

    • refriedgringo Says:

      Ma’am, with all due respect (and you certainly deserve the respect that Mr. Luna failed to pay you), we often toss pearls before swine, however fruitless, in an attempt to at least make the pig understand that pearls aren’t edible. Such pearls, never-the-less gobbled up, pass through the digestive tract and harmlessly remain in the bile that pigs roll around in, in order to cool themselves off.

      In that sense, if in no other, it serves to regulate their temperature.

      Should he truly wish to take me on, then he had better pack a lot of sack lunches. I have four thousand years of history on my side. He has a class full of teenagers that still think Che Guevara was probably the second coming of Christ. I have Plato, he has Jimmy Carter. I shall contact Las Vegas and allow them to set the line 😉

  10. Fish Says:

    Ooooh, well then, if it must be, it must be.

    I believe his friend in the White House has kindly extended the term of Gitmo’s remaining open. Or are you taking no prisoners?

    I reserve my seat, not too close, as I only wish to observe the bloodbath, without being splattered by it.

  11. Carl Luna Says:

    Now Ms. Fish and Mr. Refried, is that the sweet sound of two kindred spirits swirling towards harmony that I hear? However our little discussions turn out you must be sure to send me an invitation to the nuptials should they arise. One can almost imagine the coming pitter patter of little neoconservative feet! Ah, my dear Ms. Fish, apologies for any perceived ungentlemanly behaviors on my part. Your elegant (if somewhat airy faux Jane Austin prose) have put me in my place and Mr. Refried should be honored at the attention. I submit without question to your claim to ladyship (though I do not seem to recall Miss Elizabeth Bennet having ever signed off with the tagline “LM*AO, times do change and so does, I suppose, the thesaurus of gentleladies.) If I but had a cape and there was a puddle (a really, really deep puddle with lots of mud and goo and…no, no, I must resist the urge towards knavery) I would drop mine before you.

    Meanwhile, do you have any real thoughts of discourse beyond sonnets of kinship to Mr. Refried or salvos of sanctions towards Moi? Something without a vulgar acronym attached, perhaps?


    • refriedgringo Says:

      Mr. Luna,

      Your President would be proud of you. You are saying one thing and doing another! You ask for discussion rather than submitting pointless barbs, and offer pointless barbs rather than discussion. And why continue to pick on Ms. Fish? I’m more your size.

      And I’m not a neoconservative (oh how I love the way you pigeonhole people!). I’ve never met Ms. Fish. And Mr. Refried certainly doesn’t need whatever attention would come from this. Mr. Refied understands how government works. Mr. Luna seems to have been hooked and reeled in by ultra-liberal dogma.

      Dude (and I say that in the most respectful, California-like, hippie-surfer way possible), do you plan on making a valid point or am I attending a Democratic fundraiser? You promised a discussion in your most recent post, but apparently get paid for blogging this stuff (oh, but I must have my weekends, because no one understands that only I have a family and so on and travel and…), so you can’t be bothered to launch your own posit?

  12. Carl Luna Says:

    Yo Refried My Man:

    Now that the weekend is over and I’ve caught up with my day job, a moment to address some of your points from your 9/25 missive.

    “I have found that ninety percent of educators are, in fact, mouthpieces of the left.”

    That more people in academics lean “left” is a given—just as more people in uniform lean “right.” You err in calling educators “mouthpieces” of the left. They aren’t mouthpieces. They are the left – or, rather, a major component part of this relatively broad group of attitudes and ideas that is called “the left”. By the way – left of what? What’s the frame of reference? Left of Genghis Khan? Lincoln? Stalin? FDR? Without context the frame is worthless. You imply with the term “mouthpiece” that educators simply speak the ideas of others – presumably the “real” left and, presumably, the “leaders” of the left. First, from my experience the “left” isn’t organized and coherent enough to pull off a trick like that—atleast not as well as the conservative movement can with its Grover Norquists, talking point memos, and AM talk chorus. Second, my experience is also that, for better or worse, educators are speaking from personal belief and professional training, not as front-persons for some organized movement. Now, I will whole heartedly agree that too many of my peers cross the line between academic and editorial content to the detriment of the academy as a whole. But they do so as free agents, not as paid co-conspirators.

    “You are a product of what you grew up in, scholastically speaking. ”

    No, you are a product of what you grew up with in toto. I am a product of my schools, my communities, my boy scout troop, my church, my Italian-American family, my marriage, my children, my job, my dogs and cats, my little league teams I’ve coached, my PTG’s I’ve belonged to, my friends I hang out with. Education shapes: life informs. If the sum of my experiences give me a particular world view, so be it. But to lay it all on the doorstep of one source is simplistic.

    “And I blame you and your peers for four years of Bush I, eight years of Clinton (perhaps the best republican President since Reagan), and eight years of Bush II Yes, it’s your fault. Why? If the very best that you and your highly educated and brilliant left-wing educators can muster up – after Johnson wrought Nixon, what an unlearned lesson that was – are the Kerry’s and Gore’s and other unqualified candidates, then you reap what you sow. Bush was your fault. Historians will not blame you, though, so no need to worry.”

    Now you’re cooking with natural gas. On a couple of burners, at least. Yes, Dems bear their own responsibility for Bush II. I agree – the best the party could come up with was Kerry and Gore? Now, in a republic that have made men like Van Buren, Filmore and Harding president, calling Kerry and Gore “unqualified” is a stretch. Bush was no more qualified by any empirical measure than they were. Bush was a shared national mistake, though. Republicans voted for him and Democrats couldn’t come up with the candidate or the message to vote against him. The problem is systemic—not partisan or ideological. We’ve always had rogues and demagogues, incompetents and rascals in our elected offices. That is, indeed, the beauty of the American system: you can survive as a Republic with mediocre people at the helm. Which is a great thing because if the system was dependent upon always having Washingtons and Lincolns, Cincinnatuses and Churchills, we’re doomed. For the last thirty or more years, though, dealing with the same basic talent pool we’ve always had, the system is not working as well as pretty much anyone would like. That means the whole enterprise of government needs a tune up or overhaul—like in California. Constitutional convention, anyone?

    I also agree that Clinton was more in the vein of Reagan than FDR. That’s why I could never understand why the right pilloried him so much. Well, I do understand—if you label Clinton, the most conservative Democrat to be elected president since the New Deal a lefty, FDR becomes a socialist and Jimmy Carter a communist. Nice branding, that. But Clinton was the darling of Wall Street and his legacies now surround the new Prez—which is something he will either have to break with at some point (like firing Summers and Geitner and maybe hiring a Krugman or Stiglitz) or end up being Clinton-lite with maybe one term of service.

    That being said, there are significant policy differences between the “the new shiny guy” and “the other guy.” The country will look different ten years hence because Obama won rather than McCain, just as it would have looked different if Gore or Kerry had won rather than Bush. Notice I don’t say “better.” But elections do matter and the parties and their candidates do have real differences of note. To argue otherwise (like a Beck or a Nader) is to paint with such a broad brush of indistinction as to leave the canvas one smeared color. What would you like to see? Ron Paul? Ralph Nader? The Greens taking over—or the Libertarians? A REAL communist or fascist revolution? Just how much change does there have to be for you to see any change?

    As for Afghanistan, I think you are also spot on. Every would-be conqueror who goes where every other would-be conqueror went—and lost—thinks they will do better. Eight years after, Afghanistan is in worse security shape with each passing month. Now, much of this may be the fault of the last administration which took its eye off the Afghani goat-skull filled ball and went into Iraq with dubious long term strategic benefits and a lot of short term pain. Perhaps if more troops had been allocated earlier and, better, more money been poured in to rebuild the cultural infrastructure of the country, things would have turned out differently. Perhaps not. Ultimately we may have lost the current war in Afghanistan during the last ten minutes of Charlie Wilson’s War. All that may be left is to declare victory, pull out, let the Taliban move back in (and, maybe, draw Osama and Al Qaeda out of the festering wound of Pakistan and back into Afghanistan) then, in five or ten years go in and blow it all to hell again. That’s what the Roman’s did for a couple of centuries on their German frontier. But do remember, if that is the option, that eventually the Germans rolled over that frontier. The current president has inherited a mess with no real solution. Leave and be labeled a cut-and-run coward leaving behind a worse security mess than was there initially. Stay and sacrifice more lives for no real strategic gain. At the end of the day, the commander in chief will have to put national security ahead of politics—which means figuring out an exit strategy from Central Asia.

    As for “The only real difference between your ideology and the ideology that you enjoy bashing, is in where the money goes” that is one HELL of a difference. That is THE difference. What other differences are there that really matters? If the money goes to Wall Street bankers or uninsured pregnant women, it matters. If the money goes to build schools, roads, parks and the like here or goes to blow up schools, roads, parks and the like there, it matters.

    If I am arguing everything, as you claim, from a position of irrelevance what, in your book, constitutes relevance? Your arguments are positively European existentialist. Do you actually feel, as the song goes, “nothing really matters”? If so, there really isn’t much point to this discussion, is there? You can’t argue with a nihilist. (Well you can, but it won’t get you anywhere worth going.)

    So, I ask you, what is your ideology beyond the negation of everyone elses’ ? What is you political viewpoint? Who better than Bush, Obama, Kerry, Gore? What do you do in Afghanistan now that we are there? What should have been done before? You can’t uncork the wine before you’ve put the pot roast in the oven. Time to actually cook.

    (and when I figure out what that last line meant, I’ll let you know….)

  13. Carl Luna Says:

    Oh and Refried,

    Apologies for trying to frame you incorrectly as a neo-con. It’s just that you’ve given me so little real sense of your beliefs that I’ve inadvertently drifted back into the vice of stereotype. I’ll try to be more accurate in replies–providing you are more specific in your views.


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