05 October, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

My darlings, it has finally occurred to some on the right that they must declare intellectual bankruptcy:
Noting the passing of Irving Kristol, Slate's Jacob Weisberg argued yesterday that the era of "intellectually serious conservatism" has also died.

Weisberg's pitch is simple but persuasive: Republicans have given up on being the "party of ideas," have no plausible alternatives to major policy challenges, and don't take policy matters seriously at all. Conservatives, Weisberg said, have "devolved" so far, "ostensibly intelligent people [are] cheering on Sarah Palin." With the rise of neoconservatives, the right's focus shifted to political power, and away from interest in policy.

Now, Weisberg holds Irving Kristol's work in much higher regard than I do -- which is to say, Weisberg finds value in Kristol's efforts and I don't -- but the larger point is compelling. The political right of the 21st century is obviously and shamelessly intellectually bankrupt.


Which is not to say Hayward is despondent. He believes Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" is an intellectual text, and he believes Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and William Bennett are "brainiacs" with "popular" talk shows. Hayward is also impressed with Glenn Beck's reading habits and choice of authors and guests. Beck, Hayward argued, has demonstrated an "interest in serious analysis of liberalism's patrimony."

Where Hayward finds hope, in other words, is with Jonah Goldberg, Hugh Hewitt, and Glenn Beck. Seriously.
Yup.  It's dead, Jim.  When a man bemoaning the lack of intellectual heft on the right turns to those folks as evidence there's still hope, there's nothing for it than to pronounce the movement brain dead.

Greg Sargent adds:
The point is that the argument right now is being fought almost entirely on liberal turf. Glenn Beck’s shouting can only obscure that reality for so long, and if the economy picks up and a health care reform proposal passes that Americans decide they like, the illusion that conservatism is even part of the conversation in any meaningful sense anymore will be that much tougher to sustain.
And that's all it is at this point - an illusion.  They haven't had anything more to offer than shouting, drama and dumbshit schemes with no substance for a very long time.

Now, one might hope that there's chance for a comeback - after all, Lindsey Graham isn't terribly impressed with Beck - but no, while there's sizzle, there's no steak there, either.  He thinks Beck "did a pretty good job on ACORN" and is mostly dismissive of him because "when a person says he represents conservatism and that the country’s better off with Barack Obama than John McCain, that sort of ends the debate for me as to how much more I’m going to listen."

So no, Lindsey Graham's not dismissive because Beck is a batshit insane dumbfuck who uses Vicks to work up a good head of tears, who has the intellectual heft of an amoeba and the credibility of a snake-oil salesman.  Nope.  It's because Beck trashed his bestest buddy.

I guess this means Lindsey wasn't persuaded by the frog argument.

Meanwhile, Irving Kristol's son continues celebrating America's Olympic defeat:
Today on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard — whose headquarters erupted in “cheers” when America lost — said that Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen was an example of George W. Bush-like bullying:
KRISTOL: Our economy doesn’t need the boost of the Olympics. And then an American president in sort of a George W. Bush-like way goes and tries to bully the International Olympic Committee. [...]
Come walk with us. I’m here for America. Can you imagine if some Republican — if Bush had done this and we hadn’t gotten it? Typical Bush heavy-handedness, cowboy unilateralist, hegemonic imperialist action. Obama falls into that trap and they went for it. I must say you couldn’t help be amused by it.
You know, we hated Bush with a passion, but I can't see us yammering about him being a "cowboy unilateralist" for talking up America to the IOC.  We would've been deeply embarrassed by his inevitable gaffes, of course, but we wouldn't have been rooting for failure.  

For bonus fun, can you imagine how loud Cons would've howled if Obama hadn't gone to make our case?  After all, all the other countries under consideration sent their leaders to make their best case to the Committee.  This is another of those situations where whatever Obama does, Cons are going to be against him.

Further evidence of the Cons' intellectual death comes from the fact they can't understand how the box office works.  Pathetic.

We'll end Happy Hour with another shining example of why we shall never serve anything from Whole Foods here:
What an arrogant asshole John Mackey is.
"I honestly don't know why the article became such a lightning rod," says John Mackey, CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market Inc., as he tries to explain the firestorm caused by his August op-ed on these pages opposing government-run health care. "I think a lot of people who got angry haven't read what I actually wrote. There was a lot of emotional reaction—fear and anger. I just wanted to get people to think about whether there was a better way to reform the system."
If Mackey's intent was to get people to consider his point of view, why use the smear, "ObamaCare," in the headline? Not helpful. And if he was genuinely trying to persuade and not simply poke progressives in the eye, why would start off by quoting a right-wing hero bashing socialism? Did Mackey really think all those progressive customers who made him rich would appreciate his reliance on multiple right-wing frames before his piece even began?


But going back to Mackey's current interview in the WSJ.
"A healthy diet is a solution to many of our health-care problems. It's the most important solution. How much sugar do you think Americans consume? [...] We can spend all the money we want on bypass surgeries, chemotherapy and diabetes, but . . . two-thirds [of Americans] are overweight, one-third are obese." He's on a roll: "And it's not that they have to shop at a Whole Foods Market. But people need to eat whole food plant foods, primarily . . . whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. That diet supports our lives. We ought to live to be 90 or 100 without getting any diseases."
In other words: get off your fat asses, America, and stop eating all that McDonald's. Then you won't get brain cancer or your child won't need a kidney transplant or your wife won't be afflicted with some rare, fatal disease that so unfairly cuts into the profits of those honest-to-God insurance companies, just struggling to make ends meet, while they keep your lazy, shiftless fat butts alive.

Somebody buy that man a backhoe.  The hole he's digging for himself is rather beyond shovels at this point.

Let's hope science comes up with an intelligence-boosting pill soon.  There's a fuck of a lot of people who desperately need it.


Woozle said...

The hypertwin and I have been regular shoppers at Whole Foods for something like a decade now (it's hard to be exactly sure because we can't remember when they expanded into our area and bought out the Wellspring we had been shopping at), spending maybe $100-150/week lately (down from $200/week since Mel went off to the Navy -- but that's another story).

Since we heard -- a little late, i.e. early September -- about Mackey's little hit piece, we've stopped going there completely (except once in an emergency, just yesterday -- when you gotta have avacado oil, you gotta have avacado oil).

Not that it was easy; we really like the people at the store we go to (in Chapel Hill -- the Durham store is kind of borderline), they know us and are always very helpful and friendly, and we've had to find alternative sources for a few items that Weaver Street Market doesn't seem to carry. I need to write them a letter explaining why we suddenly haven't been there, and I feel bad that I haven't had time to do this.

What I haven't heard is whether there has been any progress made as a result of the boycott. Sales are apparently down (there was a graph somewhere...), but has there been any effort to oust Mackey, or at least get him to correct the errors of fact in his letter?

For that matter, has anyone in the mainstream media bothered to point out those errors, or are they basically giving it the "he said / she said", "fair and balanced", "all opinions are equally valid" treatment?

There was the boycott, and we took action, and then... kind of nothing happened.

So I'm really glad you wrote about this.

Woozle said...

Oh, right... and for those who haven't been following our personal story here in the comments section, let me give you a play-by-play on Mackey's original article.

Mackey says: deficit, deficit, deficit... "we are rapidly running out of other people's money." (paraphrasing Thatcher).

Yeah. Let me tell you about other people's money.

Short version: because we can't get a group home for Sandy's autistic son Josh, we can't work (and it's not for lack of options, even in this sucky economy). I'm not sure what "other people" these are whose money we'd be using up with the Awful Dreaded Socialized Medicine (that we'd still have to pay for), but right now we're running out of our money, thanks very much -- while working harder than I've ever worked in my life at a job that pays absolutely nothing and is not part of my skillset.

Mackey's big lie, of course, is in the presumption that ObamaCare costs money. It's effing deficit neutral... and I'd also like to know just who Mr. Mackey thinks it is that's making all that "other people's" money for him and his shareholders. (Hint: it's people whose daily presence at your stores depends on their continued health.)

Mackey's suggestion #1: "Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs)."

Ummm.... high-deductable? What in hell do we need more high-deductable plans for? (And how does this get Josh into a group home?)

High-deductable plans are basically gambling you won't get sick. The whole point of universal healthcare is that nobody should be gambling, and the healthy people should be helping to take care of the less-healthy. (I speak as someone who has been extraordinarily healthy for the past 4 decades, and had never even seen the inside of a hospital on my own behalf until last week.)

Mackey's suggestion #2: "Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits."

How the hell do tax benefits help me when I'm not currently paying taxes? People who propose tax breaks as a replacement for entitlements always seem to overlook this little problem: the people who need the benefits the most get absolutely nothing.

Mackey suggestion #3: "Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines."

That might work if you made sure to impose regulations to prevent predatory companies from squeezing out the ones who actually try to help people -- but if I'm reading you right, you'd be against that, and wouldn't see any problem in the inevitable national consolidation of all insurance companies into one giant company which would then probably be taken over by NewsCorp or Sony or something.

If anyone actually wants my responses to the rest of Mackey's mistake, just sing out -- but Blogger is about to spite me if I try to do it in one post, and I've got other stuff I should be working on (like applying for Medicaid to pay for my hospital bill, which I haven't received yet. *shudder*)