Thursday, January 31, 2008

Personal Asides: A Suggestion that We Cool It to Spare Me Penitential Fires...Rush Limbaugh Does It Again…And Jim Cramer the Financial Populist.


Cooling Off Time.

To all my friends who so kindly defend me on this blog against Lawrence…and to Lawrence as well: Let us continue to express our views apart from personal recriminations. The threat by Freiderich March not to submit his views because of the fighting causes me to suggest this. So the purpose of this note is to say your views are all welcome but let there be no battling back and forth between participants—but make your cases robustly and honestly. As one approaching eighty, I am not offended by being called traitor to principle, precept, precedent, flag, conservatism, church or institutions of any kind. In addition, my Opus Dei confessor has given me a sweet penance before he granted absolution from my many sins. It is this: I am to endure all of Lawrence’s comments and not respond—or have any of you respond. If you do, you will deprive me of the requisite days off from Purgatory. So do not answer him or defend me—do not answer him in any respect--or I will be shorn of the good and the days off from the penitential purgatorial fire. Further, if you do not heed me and continue assailing each other, Mr. Powers is herewith instructed to impose the most severe punishment of all—deletion of your remarks. Well, then, we shall resume in that spirit. TR.


Rush Limbaugh’s show yesterday after McCain won the Florida primary was, I hate to say it, an exercise in juvenility. I don’t know how many of you heard it. He took Mort Kondracke’s view that he had lost and orchestrated it into a rally with himself as the candidate while a crowd of voices screamed “Rush! Rush! Rush!” Clearly this man is giddy with the symptoms of ego-illness. Every little mention of him causes him to inflate so hugely that I fear he shall explode like a big float having broken its moorings and drifting over New York city in its pre-Christmas procession, growing bigger by the second, rising ever-near the warm sun with the helium gas expanding dangerously at the joy of being even further recognized It is not enough that he is the nation’s premier talk show host, that he addresses 20 million listeners and that he earns about $40 million a year. He has determined to sacrifice what often is good analysis to make all of politics a referendum on himself. Thus evidently, normal recognition that comes from his profession is not enough--an evidently shriveled sense of un-worth demands evermore and evermore attention and hoped for adulation: like a spoiled child acting up before the adults at dinnertime. Now it is getting embarrassing—rather like Mussolini strutting and shoving out his jaw on the balcony as thousands cheer.

Once more I say that I normally get a lot out of Rush but whenever his name is mentioned by whatever national source is cause for him to interrupt his show and make it a reaffirmation of himself. In so doing, I think he shall soon become very dull and the balloon will burst with the helium spewing out and the rubber covering falling shriveled to the ground. People do not turn on Rush to hear him carrying on about himself—but to hear what very often are excellently phrased opinions. Ever since he has been on I have been bothered by his exaggerated sense of self but have decided he is not egocentric just joking. You know: “talent on loan from God” from “the all-high Maharaja Rushbo” and extolling “every inch of my glorious naked body” and “as I am uniquely trained as a communications professional I will now take my awesome talent in hand before this golden EIB microphone and allow you to ask me any question whatever.” These lines repeated endlessly every day for years have alternatively bored and baffled me but I always had the idea that it is his way of making fun of himself. I now think that is not the case. He has genuinely confused his role as commentator with conservative panjandrum who will not hesitate to destroy a candidacy ratified by the voters if they do not agree with his suppositions.

The other surrogates who share his views I don’t bother about: Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter. As with him whom they imitate, there are no greys with them, only blacks and whites, only chiaroscuro. But that is the nature of the trade of conservative talk show provocateur. Rush is something different. He insists that he…no one else…shall be the ultimate topic. If he harms the Republican party, so be it. But if he continues with these absurdities he will harm himself and deprive us of what usually is very constructive views. Now your views.

Jim Cramer.

Whenever I see this madman I await the appearance of attendants in white uniforms carrying straightjacket, muzzle and a wheeled cart to trundle him off. I thought I was alone until I read Robert Samuelson the other day. One of the best economics reporters with “The Washington Post” and “Newsweek,” he calls Cramer “the hyperactive, loud and opinioned host of CNBC’s `Mad Money.’” And Samuelson tells me what I must know about this frenetic performer who has become a multi-millionaire (supposedly worth $100 million) through his own hedge fund, graduated cum laude from Harvard College, then from its law school, made his haul at Goldman Sachs which he left to start his own hedge fund, quitting that and trying to get hired by District Attorney Rudy Giuliani who decided he was nuts. Anyhow, enough about him. Samuelson calls him one of a type. A type of financial populist, people who “have fundamentally altered the climate in which the Federal Reserve makes economic policy.” Now the populists…hordes of money managers, commentators and economists follow Cramer in assailing Ben Bernanke to “cut interest rates, revive the economy, boost stock prices.” They’re a powerful lobby and last week Bernanke seemed to capitulate. Did he?

No, the Fed thought its rate cut was to avert a panic but the shouting and chair-throwing (Cramer’s specialty) goes on purveying sensationalist views that promote short-term conditions, instant gratification, “higher stock prices tomorrow, better trading profits” shrieking that the economy is in dreadful shape. The cool-headed Samuelson counters: “The Fed’s first responsibility is to keep inflation at low levels because, without that, its other goals of maximum economic growth and low unemployment become impossible…Trying to make matters better now may make them much worse in a few years if higher inflation emerges.”

Is Jim Cramer nuts? Or simply emotionally unbalanced? Who knows? But there’s one index into his mindset that interests me. Guess who he favors for president?

Alan Keyes. Now what does that tell you?


  1. The egocentrism you cite is one of the biggest reasons I stopped listening to Rush some years ago. I also got tired of his penchant for ridiculing the appearance and mannerisms of people he didn't agree with as much or more as he criticized their ideas.

  2. Rush and the lesser lights script and howl what they are told. They are the puppets. Who pays their salt are the folks who fear McCain.

    Mitt regrets and McCain serves and leads.

  3. This year Democrats are seeing Bill Clinton the way that Republicans have for many years, and Republicans are seeing Rush Limbaugh in the way Democrats have for a long time.

    It's been an interesting year.

    But there's still one thing we can all agree on, that Alan Keyes is nuts. So there's still hope for a brighter tomorrow.

  4. We have a serious presidential candidate from the South Side, the home of some of the worst schools in the country, deadset against school reform. A guy who likes to claim he can work across the aisle, though he has one of the most partisan voting records in the Senate, a man that claims to be making formulating some new idea for America, while his policies are recycled 1970's Leftism, yes, this is Barack Obama, the "reformer" who endorsed John and Todd Stroger for Cook County Board President...and you think Keyes is nuts?


  5. After all these years, Tom it is flattering to know that I am one of the few who posts comments on the blog which make YOU think! The ignore game will never work. My comments are too powerful for some of your readers including you. And such is the power of the pen or the computer keyboard. Keep on enjoying my comments because I know you do!

    Just think what would happen if I started to call in to your radio show! You would have to put on a seatbelt for the rough ride! But then you would instantly recognize my voice...

    So Tom, did your e-mail box get flooded with talking points from the neo-con think tanks to rail against Limbaugh? Sure he has an ego, but what talk show host does not have one... including you? So Rush goes after the neo-con chosen one McCain and you go after Limbaugh personally. In personally going after Limbaugh, what makes you better than those who do the same thing on this blog in their comments against me which you desire to remove. Lets face it Tom, you know that you have thrown in with the neo-cons.... and I am here to show that it is not going to go by unnoticed!

    Just think Tom how boring it would be to be only surrounded with sycophants and todies who only agree with you.

    Back to McCain.... so what part of his Global Warming agenda warms your heart the most?

    Simply put MCCAIN is NOT a Conservatve anymore. Rush has pointed that out and you and the neo-cons are mad at him for stepping out of line and for pointing out. tsk tsk

    By the By....The abortion point really got you, didn't it? On that issue it is hard to be a neo-con isn't it?

  6. Tom,

    It's time for you to become a Baptist. We have no worries about purgatory plus a guaranteed reservation for Heaven. In addition, you will no longer have to make all those confusing hand movements and kneel up and down like you do now at Mass. It'll probably add at least 20 years to your life. :-)

  7. Until you remarked about your commentatators I rarely bothered at looking them over. What a hoot! A bunch of old geezers codging around like they were teeny bops! But, it is better than reading a newspaper. Meanwhile, can you aggregate your commentary about Obama? I'm thinking that even the dullest MSM timeserver will eventually want to know more about this POS.