Some Words About the Nature of Pinocchios and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Well, first of all, Witches are made of wood, just like Pinocchio.

It's a fair cop.

But I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don't have access to public health is wrong. And I think it’s wrong that [1] a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that [2] you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that [3] corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, [4] for paying people less than a minimum wage. And it not only doesn't make economic sense, but it doesn't make moral sense and it doesn't make societal sense. - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Ta-Nehisi Coates

Paul Rosenberg correctly points out the main flaw in Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler's assessment consists of the words- "I think it’s wrong".

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making a judgement about the morality of our current Economic situation in this context and not making a factual assertion about a particular set of circumstances.

But even the particulars are mostly correct. The points Kessler takes issue with are numbered in the above quote.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vs. the "fact-checkers": Challenging the boundaries of conventional wisdom
by Paul Rosenberg, Salon
February 1, 2019

Kessler admitted that claim No. 2 was correct — in fact, it could be 135 hours, he said. But what of the other three claims? (On Point 1) Ocasio-Cortez claimed that “a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage,” while Kessler claimed the figure was "only" "about 32 to 38 percent of workers," relying on calculations based on the MIT Living Wage calculator. Even if he’s right, that’s still morally outrageous, and serves to support her larger argument.

(On Point 3) She claimed that Walmart and Amazon “experience a wealth transfer from the public,” and Kessler argued that only amounted to “between 20-30 percent of the benefits,” essentially confirming what she had claimed. (On Point 4) Ocasio-Cortez said such companies were “paying people less than a minimum wage,” which was likely a simple misstatement. Kessler responded that they paid more than the minimum wage — but not more than a living wage, which was clearly the intended focus of her remarks.

So even if Kessler were right on every factual point, and Bruenig and AOC were wrong, her argument would still stand. If fewer people earn below less than a living wage than she stated, then arguably the situation is less dire than she described -- but it's not radically different.
So, read in context, everything AOC said was true, even if we accept Kessler’s factual counterclaims! The entire fact-checking ritual was a charade. As I suggested earlier, it was really a boundary-policing episode, meant to keep her "radical" ideas outside the sphere of legitimate debate by portraying her as untrustworthy. Further, it was meant to deter others from similar infractions while trying to break through the barriers excluding them from legitimacy. (See AOC's related Twitter thread on "gravitas" here.)

But the problem is that Kessler's implied boundaries are not worth policing, or even recognizing. The whole system is in crisis, and the mainstream media’s assessment of what is deviant, what reflects normative consensus and what represents legitimate debate bears little or no relationship to reality. Take two other examples AOC has been associated with — raising top marginal tax rates to 70 percent and a Green New Deal. The first idea drew immediate majority support — 59 percent in a poll for the Hill, including 56 percent of rural voters and 45 percent of Republicans—and scorn from the 1 percent at Davos.

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell laughed at the idea (video here), and said he thought it would be bad for economic growth. “Name a country where that’s worked," he responded. "Ever.” Sitting there with him was MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson, who supplied the example: the United States, throughout most of its post-World War II expansion. It was a rare, Marshall McLuhan-in-"Annie Hall" moment. Usually, when the super-rich or their sycophants spout off like that, truth does not intrude. Certainly not from the fact-checking media.

Why do people like Kessler make these mistakes? They are operaring out of a misplaced sense of "fairness" and under erroneous assumptions.

In part, fact-checkers are always seeking a false balance — as PolitiFact was doing in 2011, after twice awarding its “Lie of the Year” to Republican falsehoods about Obamacare — in 2009 for “death panels,” and in 2010 for calling it a “government takeover.” Now the Post Fact Checker’s database has tallied 8,158 false or misleading claims made by Trump in his first two years as president, so its team feels obliged to ding Democrats as well.

Or, as Stockton would put it-

So much for Objective Journalism. Don't bother to look for it here--not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

Rosenberg says-

But there’s something more complex happening here too, that’s probably best understood in terms of press scholar Daniel Hallin’s three-sphere model of how the media functions, from his 1986 book The Uncensored War. At the center is the sphere of consensus, mom-and-apple-pie country. Surrounding that, like a donut, is the sphere of legitimate debate, where journalists’ attention is usually focused, where there are two sides to every story and a need for objectivity and balance to be maintained.

Beyond that, though, is the sphere of deviance, the outer darkness in which dwell “political actors and views which journalists and the political mainstream of society reject as unworthy of being heard.” The shoddy fact-checking directed at Ocasio-Cortez reflects a boundary-policing instinct, and an outdated one, considering that the entire political landscape has been irrevocably changed.

The reason Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is drawing such attention and ire is for the simple reason she's shifting the boundaries of acceptable political debate in D.C. away from the Neo Liberal Corporatist policies we have suffered under for the last 40 years (or longer) back to the principles of true fair play that animated the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Great Society.

There are other individuals worthy of note, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have been working hard to change these conditions for years, but if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accomplishes nothing else in her Legislative tenure than this single signal shift, she will have done a great service for our country.

Yeah, Billionaire Banksters ought to be quaking in their boots. We're coming for you.

(Well, of course it's cross published at The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma)

28 users have voted.


Have at. Popularity is not the goal.

8 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

You have stated, very eloquently, what I have tried to express, and have given up on, in various threads on this site.

Have a beautiful Monday! Pleasantry

15 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

Anja Geitz's picture

Yeah, Billionaire Banksters ought to be quaking in their boots.

At the same time they're patting the politico wunderkinds on the back for stagecrafting the campaign of the Marvelous AOC so she can woo the millenials into participating in an electoral process they have control over.

Let the 2020 Games Begin!

10 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Big Al's picture

simple to understand. My 14 year old granddaughter couldn't have said it any better.
Probably as well though.

11 users have voted.
arendt's picture

Why don't you read my threads on this fraud?

I am really annoyed at the beatification of AOC

This is your politics on Media Drugs (new title)

The Lady in the Green Astroturf Dress

The Salon article is exactly the kind of misdirection you can expect from the corporate media. Interviewed by Ta-nehisi Coates - a darling of the IdPol movement, a newly minted black limousine liberal. The article focuses on the defensible parts of the small picture of this woman. It ignores the big picture that shows what a corporate creature she is. The Salon quotes defend her from rightwing attacks, but do not even mention leftwing objections.

The words quoted are, at best, a "limited hangout". Yes, TPTB have to cop a plea at some point. But they will make sure that they give the credit for that to someone they manufactured, someone whom they advise, someone who they publicize. TPTB know that everyone but billionaires despises neoliberalism. Once again, why is this callow, manufactured creature given the microphone denied to so many other genuine leftists for so long?

I invite you to discuss your POV in my latest thread. This is all I will have to say in this one, because I'm not here to disrupt you - just to say you ignored the leftwing opposition.

7 users have voted.

I have no desire to go back to any of them. Nor do I have any desire to read your future threads. AOC campaigned against the 4th ranking Democrat in the House. Anyone who asserts TPTB organized her campaign to oust him without others in congress giving him fair warning is delusional.

What programs supported by older environmentalists of the magnitude that could address the problems we face is she undercutting? (I'm talking about the ones that have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming law.)

When AOC voted for Pelosi, Pelosi was the most liberal candidate in the race. Progressives couldn't get their act together to put up an alternative or think they'll get more accomplished with Pelosi than a fragmented party. Either way it's not her fault.

Part of the coverage she gets has to do with an interesting story, beginning with the upset of a senior congressman in a primary, continuing with her refusal to run from the label "socialist". Part no doubt has to do with the fact that she's an attractive young woman. But plenty has to do with the level of attacks being leveled against her.

I think I understand your argument now. Better to snuff out the last candle and curse the darkness.

11 users have voted.
arendt's picture

@FuturePassed @FuturePassed

and pull the trigger.

She is not "the one". She is heavily publicized by the corporate media, but you are too desperate for a savior to see that, despite all the evidence.

Yeah, we are done here; because facts don't interest you. Months of facts (voting for Pelosi, waffling on Venezuela, etc.) don't count as much as a barely eaked out primary victory puffed up by relentless media puffery. The parallels between the media blitz for her and the ones for Obama and for Trump don't make an impression on you. And you ignore the fact that a major part of her GND proposal injected the corrosive, corpo-Dem IdPol arguments into the environment fight.

She is poison, and I ain't drinking it. YMMV.

4 users have voted.

I'm happy when anyone pulls a conversation in the direction I find preferable. Conversations on the Green New Deal and a 70% tax on income over $10 million have increased substantially since she began speaking out. Do I think either of her proposals will become law as proposed? Of course not. But the conversation is expanding.

11 users have voted.
arendt's picture


You can't get to the moon by climbing a tree.

The point is that a short move in the right direction can be quite obviously seen to be doomed failure in the long run.

I don't object to the goal of moving the conversation in the right direction. But injecting IdPol arguments, calling for government ownership and direction of huge parts of the economy, and proposing goals that are damn near physically unattainable is not moving in the right direction. These goals are doomed to fail, and the media narrative can be changed on a dime to make anyone who bought into these ideas look like a deranged commie and an illegal immigrant.

3 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@arendt you make claims you are either unwilling or unable to support.

Futurepassed asked:

"What programs supported by older environmentalists of the magnitude that could address the problems we face is she undercutting? (I'm talking about the ones that have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming law.)"

Help me out here, Arendt.
You must have some concrete reference, no?

4 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Pluto's Republic's picture

...shoddy fact-checking directed at Ocasio-Cortez reflects an [outdated] boundary-policing instinct.... The entire political landscape has irrevocably changed.

And credit where credit is due to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for their singular efforts to pull American morality:

back to the principles of true fair play that animated the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Great Society.

Always great to see you, ek.

12 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
arendt's picture

@Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic

One hack makes a sloppy argument, and another hack counters it. But both of them keep the focus on niggling details that ignore the fact that AOC is hijacking the environmental debate via massive media coverage - such as these two hacks arguing.

To get involved in this minutiae that will change in 15 minutes is to play their game.

2 users have voted.
boriscleto's picture

Todd followed up to ask if Ocasio-Cortez would be comfortable with 'four or five' political parties in the United States.

“Four or five, I think that’s fine,” she said. "I think that it’s totally fine to say that a two-party system is, especially in this time of gridlock, is sometimes a difficult thing to navigate,” Ocasio-Cortez continued after Todd asked if the two-party system was serving the country well. “It’s a normal thing to say after these years and years and decades of gridlock. Saying, maybe something here is structurally wrong. In terms of that as a conversation, I think that is a fine conversation to have. Plenty of other governments do this and, you know, I think a lot of that comes down to states and city municipalities to experiment with.”

Earlier in her interview, Ocasio-Cortez responded to Todd's question if she could be both a Democratic socialist and a capitalist.

"I think it depends on your interpretation. So, there are some Democratic socialists that would say 'absolutely not,' there are other people that are Democratic socialists that would say 'I think it's possible.' I think it's possible," Ocasio-Cortez said.

8 users have voted.

" In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy "

arendt's picture


“Four or five, I think that’s fine,” she said. "I think that it’s totally fine to say that a two-party system is, especially in this time of gridlock, is sometimes a difficult thing to navigate,” Ocasio-Cortez continued after Todd asked if the two-party system was serving the country well.

We have a two-party system. It ain't changing any time soon.

This conversation is just a device to let AOC spout vaguely "revolutionary" ideas without any possible need to follow through on them.

5 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

'Name a country where that has worked' crap.

The myth was promoted back in the day that he was selling computers out of the trunk of his car and dropped out of UT Austin to found Dell. Looks like you should have stayed in school, @sshole. Smile

8 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Lookout's picture

...I look at actions. Others are free to criticize, and I blame no one for being suspicious... but I like the national conversation about a GND, and medicare 4 all, and public banking, and the game of political profiteering. Seems a effort to discuss many fatal flaws in the US fabric. Still lacking in talking peace, but Tulsi seems to be leading that conversation.

I'm not betting on a political solution to our many problems, but I'll support those moving the struggle forward.

19 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

divineorder's picture


7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

I clicked on the MIT link and checked out Oakland County, MI. What a haughty and entitled pile MIT is. If incomes above those listed in the MIT chart were to have their taxes doubled, people would be raging in the streets.

I am not going to judge AOC by how or what the media says and does about her. She is changing the conversation along with others, and I don't begrudge her the notoriety no matter who thought of it first.

Some here do not trust her. To each their own. I'm still watching, waiting, and keeping my fingers crossed that she is just growing tip of the iceberg.

13 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon