09 November, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

It feels good to call these fuckers completely irrelevant (h/t):

"It's schadenfreudey fun to read the ongoing psychotic meltdowns at various far-right sites like the Corner, I agree. But there's little need to take the really bad-faith conservatives seriously now. For the last eight years, we've had to take them somewhat seriously because they had access to political power. You had to listen to the hack complaints about academia from endlessly manipulative writers because it was perfectly plausible that whatever axe they were grinding was going to end up as a priority agenda item coming out of Margaret Spelling's office or get incorporated into legislation by right-wing state legislators. You had to listen to and reply to even the most laughably incoherent, goalpost-moving, anti-reality-based neoconservative writer talking about Iraq or terrorism because there was an even-money chance that you were hearing actual sentiments going back and forth between Dick Cheney's office and the Pentagon. You had to answer back to Jonah
Goldberg not just because making that answer was
arguably our responsibility as academics, but also because left alone, some of the aggressively bad-faith caricatures he and others served up had a reasonable chance to gain even further strength through incorporation into federal policy.

There are plenty of thoughtful, good-faith conservatives who need to be taken seriously. And the actual conservatism of many communities and constituencies (in Appalachia and elsewhere) remains, as always, a social fact that it would be perilous to ignore or dismiss. (...)

But I think we can all make things just ever so slightly better, make the air less poisonous, by pushing to the margins of our consciousness the crazy, bad, gutter-dwelling, two-faced, tendentious high-school debator kinds of voices out there in the public sphere, including and especially in blogs. Let them stew in their own juices, without the dignity of a reply, now that their pipelines to people with real political power have
been significantly cut."

It's a wonderful thought, and I'm sure most of our focus from here will switch from the rabid right-wing blowhards to the somewhat saner conservatives, but I don't plan to take my eye off of the batshit insane faction until I'm positive they can't get their grubby hands on power ever again.

There are wonderful signs, at least, that the freaks and fanatics like Limbaugh have lost the respect of everyone aside from the die-hard freaks and fanatics who tune into their shows. The MSM seem to be finding the courage to call these people what they are - digusting, dirty liars:

The Los Angeles Times’ media journalist James Rainey take a look at how right-wing pundits Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are dealing with Barack Obama’s victory. “[W]hen he is demonizing Barack Obama, fabricating Obama policies, blaming Obama for single-handedly causing the recession and the stock market crash,” Rainey writes of Limbaugh, “he doesn’t pretend to be fair.” The LAT then offers this fact-check:
In a time when the nation calls out for cool leadership and national discussion, Limbaugh stirs the caldron, a tendency he proved in a particularly grotesque way last week when he accused Obama’s party of plotting a government takeover of 401(k) retirement plans.

“They’re going to take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security trust fund, whatever the hell that is,” Limbaugh woofed. Trust
fund, my rear end.”

A slight problem with Limbaugh’s report: Obama and the Democrats have proposed no such thing.

Rainey then proceeds to call Limbaugh a shameless liar. Outright. No quibbling. It's quite the sight to see. I love seeing words like "woofed" and "grotesque" applied to Limbaugh by one of the nation's newspapers.

More, please.

It's also nice to see the current incarnation of the Republicon party being called out for their blatant anti-intellectualism:

Rich Lowry briefly referenced the party's "intellectual exhaustion" in a piece this morning, but that's incomplete -- it suggests Republicans have grown tired after an aggressive battle of ideas. That's false. Republicans have come to think of reason, evidence, and scholarship as necessarily flawed, to be reviled as an enemy.

Columbia University's Mark Lilla, a former editor of the Public Interest, lamented with conspicuous sadness what has become of conservative thought (or, in this case, the opposition to thought), punctuated with Republican glee over a vice presidential candidate "whose ignorance, provinciality and populist demagoguery represent everything older conservative thinkers once stood against."

It's a sad tale that began in the '80s, when leading conservatives frustrated with the left-leaning press and university establishment began to speak of an "adversary culture of intellectuals." ... The die was cast. Over the next 25 years there grew up a new generation of conservative writers who cultivated none of their elders' intellectual virtues -- indeed, who saw themselves as counter-intellectuals. Most are well-educated and many have attended Ivy League universities; in fact, one of the masterminds of the Palin nomination was once a Harvard professor. But their function within the conservative movement is no longer to educate and ennoble a populist political tendency, it is to defend that tendency against the supposedly monolithic and uniformly hostile educated classes. They mock the advice of Nobel Prize-winning economists and praise the financial acumen of plumbers and builders. They ridicule ambassadors and diplomats while promoting jingoistic journalists who have never lived abroad and speak no foreign languages. And with the rise of shock radio and television, they have found a large, popular audience that eagerly absorbs their contempt for intellectual elites. They hoped to shape that audience, but the truth is that their audience has now shaped them. [...]

Writing recently in the New York Times, David Brooks noted correctly (if belatedly) that conservatives' "disdain for liberal intellectuals" had slipped into "disdain for the educated class as a whole," and worried that the Republican Party was alienating educated voters. I couldn't care less about the future of the Republican Party, but I do care about the quality of political thinking and judgment in the country as a whole. There was a time when conservative intellectuals raised the level of American public debate and helped to keep it sober. Those days are gone. As for political judgment, the promotion
of Sarah Palin as a possible world leader speaks for itself. The Republican Party and the political right will survive, but the conservative intellectual tradition is already dead.

Lilla's concerns obviously ring true for any observer who's watched the Republican Party in good faith. This is a party that seems to embrace ignorance for ignorance's sake, as if "facts and figures" are inconvenient annoyances better left to eggheads who read books. Stephen Colbert's parody of modern Republican leader rings true for a reason.

This election will do one of two things: it will either cause the Republicon party to become even more anti-intellectual, thus condemning them to a slow and painful death, or it will force them to actually start thinking. Either way works for me, but for my country's sake, I hope they kick the ignoramuses out of power.

In cheerier news, Russ Feingold may be getting his hands all over the reins of power:

A few days ago, The Hill ran an item that I can't quite wrap my head around.Vice President-elect Joe Biden leaves an open chairmanship on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that could end up being filled by one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq war.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), among the chamber's most liberal members, is the fourth Democrat in line on the committee, behind Biden, Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

Dodd said Thursday he plans to stay on as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Kerry is reportedly lobbying to be
President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State.

That leaves Feingold, an unapologetic champion of civil liberties and a staunch opponent of the Bush administration's war in Iraq, next in line. Feingold opposed the war from the start and was the first senator to call for a U.S. troop withdrawal timetable.

Democrats could bypass the Wisconsin senator and choose a more centrist member, such as Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), who initially supported the war and could be more open to compromise. But that would rile the party's left wing.
Ordinarily, seniority dictates the next in line for the chairmanship, and if Kerry does leave for an Obama administration, it's Feingold's gavel. Except, maybe it won't be, because he's a "liberal" who, like Obama, was right about the war in Iraq when most were wrong.

In fact, The Hill quotes Dan Senor, the former Bush administration
spokesman in Iraq, saying Feingold would be "a hard-left chairman," while Nelson "is basically supportive of Obama but not with the ideological purity that Feingold has." Why Democrats would take advice from Senor is unclear.

Fuck Senor. I can't think of anyone better than Feingold to take the reigns. The man's a scrapper, he's smart as hell, and he actually thinks. He's not afraid to face reality. I think he'd be fantastic. (And yes, disclaimer: I do love him almost as much as I love Obama. And Russ has the added bonus of standing up against the FISA fuckery, so in a way I love him more.)

We need more reality-based people in charge. Give those boys (and girls) a mandate.

Oh, wait. We did. Heh.


NP said...

Glad you're getting back to pollyticks despite November being so crazy.

Maybe next year you should use your blog as your NaNo novel!

Cujo359 said...

By next year you could probably just make a "best of" collection of your Sunday science columns.

It would be nice to have Feingold in a position of power, although right now I'd rather have liberals running committees that have a domestic focus.