The Stupidity of Sarah Palin, Part 32,459

Posted May 29, 2010 by barbel
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So Joe McGinnis (The Selling of the President; Fatal Vision; Going to Extremes) has moved next door to Sarah Palin (“You betcha!”; “In what respect, Charlie?”; “All of them.”). And Palin’s first, instinctive, most characteristic response has been to leeringly imply the author’s temptation to pedophilia, to send hubby over to act (in McGinnis’ words) “increasingly hostile,” and then to complain as though she is being ill-used.

Note, as we still (somewhat exhaustedly) say, the irony: Palin, who shleps her children from coast to coast to display them to her slavering public like what’s-his-name in The Dead Zone brandishing a toddler as a human shield, is suddenly protective of their privacy. Palin, who quit the only job she’d ever had that might have given her credibility as a national political figure, in order to dance the Tea Party hootchie-cootchie on saloon tables and trade association daises across the land (for money), is now bitching about her privacy. Palin, a good Christian woman whose religious tenets literally include the admonition to “love thy neighbor,” sends hubby over to crack his knuckles menacingly.

All of this, plus radio frother Mark Levin announcing McGinnis’s email address, prompting 5,000 of Sarah’s Sheeple to swamp the author’s account–it’s all great/appalling theater, yes. But what’s really striking is not the hypocrisy. People like Sarah Palin live in hypocrisy like a fish lives in water; it’s the essential element of their survival, without which life itself is unimaginable.

No, the really noteworthy thing is (as we also exhaustedly say) the stupidity, stupid.

Anyone who has read a minimum number of spy novels or seen a basic survey course’s syllabus of thrillers knows that you can do one of two things when you realize your office has been bugged, your transmissions are being monitored, or your computer has been hacked. You can tear out the bugs and cease the transmissions. This will, of course, inform your adversary that you’re wise to his snooping, prompting him, presumably, to quit.

And that’s how the Palins have responded–by suggesting that somehow they’re being spied upon and revealing to the “spy” that they know what, supposedly, he is up to. It’s the obvious, emotional, impulsive, and childish way to react, and it may have been too much to expect Palin, who like all cult figures alternates between preening grandiosity and indignant claims of victimization, to do otherwise.

But there’s a better way, and it doesn’t take a tactical genius to realize it. You leave the bugs and mics in place and exploit the situation for your own advantage. You–and this may be a step too sophisticated for McGinnis’s neighbors–pretend that all is well. You then proceed to spread disinformation, deceit, lies, mis-directions, and all manner of false “intel,” knowing full well that they’re listening and taking it seriously at the other end.

That’s what Sarah Palin should have done, if she had been a sharp operator instead of a knee-jerk demagogue. She’d not only have hand-delivered a plate of cookies to McGinnis herself, she’d have graciously welcomed him to the neighborhood and wished him good luck in his journalistic endeavors.

And then she’d have made sure he witnessed what she wanted him to witness: Sarah, not as avaricious provincial ignoramus-grifter, but as caring mom. Tod, not as snow-machining bodyguard who once joined a club dedicated to Alaska’s secession from the union, but as super dad. The kids as happy, courteous little ladies and gentlemen. The dog (assuming there is one) as well-trained and fluent in three languages. The garden as a model of horticultural accomplishment and embodying a deep, deep love of “the land.” And everyone, God bless us, everyone skilled in the baking of cookies.

That, and all the rest of the phony-baloney bullshit you want someone to see who’s writing a book about you.

But we are talking, here, about the same woman who didn’t have the wit to tell Katie Couric, “What newspapers and magazines do I read? Oh, fuck, Katie, I read the New York Times and the local Alaska papers, okay?” So instead McGinnis gets, and we get to watch, Sarah the Nasty. “By being here, I have learned things,” McGinnis told the Washington Post. “And I’ve gotten an insight into her character, into her ability to incite hatred, that before I only knew about in the abstract.”

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Joe.

The Papoose-Driven Life

Posted May 14, 2010 by barbel
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What’s the expression? “In the kingdom of the psychotic, the merely crazy man is king.” Something like that. Or maybe, “…the merely crazy man is relatively sane, although still arguably out of his fucking mind.”

One is given to such thoughts–profane thoughts, yes–when one is exposed to the latest Tweet from Pastor Rick Warren. Here it is. Let’s listen:

KIDS WIN in Recession! In 2009 a MILLION more moms (vs 1986) stayed home with small kids instead of hiring daycare.

Kids Win! It’s like a headline in The New York Daily News or Variety. KIDS BOFFO IN ECON SLUMP. Resesh Job-Hunt Downturn Means More Moms Home With Less Bux, More Woes!

This is the kind of thing that gives foaming religious zealotry a bad name. It takes a deliberate act of mental weight lifting to remember that “Pastor Rick” is the reasonable one, the who’s not Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, or Torquemada. He is, one thought in one’s naivete, the thinking man’s evangelist.

Who knew that while the thinking man was busy thinking, the non-thinking man was reading Rick Warren’s tweets and thinking, “Moms spending more time at home with their kids, regardless of the reasons they’re at home, regardless of the increased stress and pressures they must be experiencing while (and because) they’re at home, and regardless of how those stresses affect the kids and the moms and the dads–WOW. WIN!”

But–because everything is connected in what I call “society”–there’s more. Guess who else wins during recession. If you said, “Oboists, phrenologists, and manufacturers of durable goods,” you’d be wrong. But if you said, “Police departments, emergency rooms, Family Services agencies, and child trauma psychologists,” you’d be right! They all get more business, because domestic violence increases during a recession, too.

Too good to be true? Too much WIN! ? Cf. here: http://tinyurl.com/33h6a36

(Divorce, as it happens, goes down. Is it because battling couples decide that they love each other more during a recession? No. It’s because people can’t afford to divorce. Couples terminally opposed to living together but forced by economic circumstances to endure, resent, provoke, ignore, or attack each other with, yes, the kids in the middle: WIN!)

As a statement ostensibly about the unexpected benefits of a recession, Warren’s tweet is merely a dopey exercise in disingenuous, and therefore dishonest, optimism. He puts a gun to your back and frog-marches you down the sunny side of the street, and then wants you to tell him it’s fun.

But note the not-quite-hidden agenda. If moms-stay-at-home is Win, then moms-go-to-work is Lose. Warren, professional Christian that he is, wants moms to stay at home. Or so his tweet implies. In the nonstop state of delirium that characterizes the mind of the cultural right, women who “abandon” the kids to daycare are selfish monsters of feminism except for famous ones like Phyllis Schlafly and Sarah Palin, who are “leaders.” Those who abandon the kids for a job, because they need the money, are…well, let’s just say they’re poor victims of “secular culture” who–bless their hearts–mean well but still cause their kids, in the end, to lose.

This represents a view of kids (and adults) that makes the characters in Dennis the Menace seem like artfully rounded figures out of Chekhov. Warren may tell himself (and certainly others) that his main concern is “the children,” but it’s as though he’s never actually met any families other than those on their best behavior at church.

Which I don’t really think is the case. He’s not stupid. But he is, in his mild-mannered way, a religious fanatic, which leads to the same result.

How much effort would it have taken Rick Warren to look at that tweet and think, “Wait. I’m saying the recession is good because women who want to work, or have to work, are unable to. I’m saying a mother in the home is an unalloyed good, regardless of why she’s there and how her being there affects her and those around her. Am I nuts?” Apparently too much.

It’s all well and good to look on the sunny side and draw attention to it and cheer its bright, sunshiny glory. But what if it’s night?

Tea Party Animals

Posted April 25, 2010 by barbel
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In 2004, you’ll recall, I jumped up and down and railed about how “stupid” people were who couldn’t see George W. Bush for the lying, snickering warmonger and enabler of cronyism and incompetence he so obviously, obviously was. Then, in 2008, who could forget the sight of me jumping up and down and decrying the “stupidity” of people unable to see Sarah Palin for the lying, ignorant grifter-demagogue she so obviously was (and is)?

It was all jolly good fun, and semi-aerobically beneficial to my cardio-pulmonary systems, what with the jumping and the yelling.

Now I have, as a public service, subjected myself to this –that nice young man from New Left Media interviewing Tea Party demonstrators at the Washington Monument this past Tax Day. And, again, I find myself jumping up and down and railing about the sheer, radiant, diamond-hard stupidity of the people on display.

True, it’s easy to interview anyone and, through the magic of perfidious editing, make them look ill-informed and inarticulate. But I don’t think that’s what on view here. I think what’s on view here is world-class, A-game stupid.

When asked, “What are your concerns with the present administration?” a woman answers, “Uh…socialist agenda. Tyranny.” This is the conversation of a Speak & Spell.

“They’re trying to get control of the country, so that they can run every business and every person in this country, and tell them what they can do and when they can do it,” says a sweet, no-nonsense, all-nonsense-all-the-time old lady. “We’re senior citizens, and now they’re telling us that we can’t even get medical care, ’cause they’re gonna give us a pill.” Idn at cute? The way believes every crackpot word of it, bless her heart?

Time and again we get variations on one of two themes: Indignation about things that are demonstrably not true, or open and defiant disbelief at things that demonstrably are true.
“Do you know that President Obama is considering banning fishing in America?” one woman provokingly asks, and the interviewer deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for resisting the temptation to answer, “No, but if you hum a few bars I can fake it.” (Or, better: “Know it? I wrote it!”)

As a group of my email friends ask each other every day without hope of an answer: What is wrong with people?

Plus, what’s with the costumes? Revolutionary War costumes. Captain America costumes. Betsy Ross costumes. Guys–who, it is safe to say, would with zest and enthusiasm beat up any hippie wearing the American flag as, e.g., a vest–wearing the American flag as a bandanna or a jacket.

And yet therein may lie the answer. Or, at any rate, therein lies my newest and most exciting, if wrong, theory:

The Tea Party gatherings of today are like rock concerts used to be in the Sixties. Back then, we congregated by the thousands, not only to listen to music, but to be with each other, to obtain validation from strangers that our vague perception (“adulthood as it has been represented to us is fucked up”) was correct. People came in costumes and cheered loudly for idiotic nonsense (“What’s going down with, like, the government, man, is a serious bummer and we have got to get it together“).

Actually, though, this analogy isn’t quite accurate. Because in the Sixties, a gathering of, say, ten thousand people would include many who really did have an informed political analysis, and could present a cogent argument for it. You could disagree with it, but it had some rigor and heft.

I don’t detect any of that at the Tea Parties or in their pronouncements. “Obama is a socialist” is not an analysis, it’s a playground taunt. “Taxed Enough Already” would at least constitute a political position, if it were not made risible by the wrongheaded misconceptions of the people who advance it. “No More Bailouts” is an appealing idea, but first I want to hear what its proponents think would have happened if the major financial institutions in this country had been allowed to go bankrupt. And then, how they would have dealt with it.

Which brings us to “I Want My Country Back.” Most readers are too young to remember the similar “I want my Maypo!,” (the slogan, on tv and radio commercials, for a brand of maple-flavored oatmeal), so let’s just say that this isn’t a political position. It’s a Country-Western sob story combining self-pity and the most desperate kind of nostalgia.

(And which country would that be? The one under Bush? The one of unjustified war, rampant lies, secret torture, domestic spying, tax cuts for the rich, government-by-crony, and utter economic stagnation for the middle class? You got it. Shall I wrap it or will you eat it here?)

In the end, though, perhaps it doesn’t matter what they say. It doesn’t matter to us, because it’s impossible to take it seriously. And obviously they don’t really care what they say, either.

What they care about is expressing their emotions. They’re mad, they’re frustrated, they’re anxious or frightened or depressed. And they’re entitled to be. The world most of them voted for (twice) when Bush ran for office, has collapsed. Americans are still getting killed in countries full of ingrate tribal nutbars and religious fanatics, unemployment is over ten percent, and the same rich scumbags who caused this disaster are giving each other millions in (how’s this for a galling word) “bonuses.” Then they tune into Rush or Beck or Fox News, demagogues whose sole aim is to convert their listeners’ anger, indignation, and fear into cash.

At one point in that New Left Media video, the inimitable Victoria Jackson chants, three times, “There’s a communistliving…in the White House!” Then she cries, “What are we gonna do about it!?” and, as one, the fervent crowd roars, “KWHMNR-lkhewropb…!”

They don’t know what to do about it. (Among other things, they don’t know what a Communist is.) But it doesn’t matter. Anger is, or at least feels, empowering. And so they’re outside, surrounded by people just as pissed off and inarticulate as they, and it makes them feel patriotic–which is to say, noble, brave, and important.

Just don’t ask them anything.

An Open Letter to Victoria Jackson

Posted March 29, 2010 by barbel
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Dear Ms. Jackson,

I know you’ll forgive me when I say that, because of my age (I’ll be 112 years young next October), I wasn’t watching Saturday Night Live much when you were on it. But I did see you in a few sketches back then, and I thought you were terrific: cute, sexy, and faux-dumb in the classic Judy Holiday/Goldie Hawn mold.

So I wasn’t all that surprised when you re-emerged recently as a spokesperson (or should I say, a “mis-spokesperson”!) for the Tea Party, or Tea Bagger, or Tea Cosy, or whatever they are, Movement. You would be the one to pull off this absolutely brilliant piece of political theater.

You’ve nailed it perfectly. Your character (whom you cannily call “Victoria Jackson”) displays exactly the right combination of confusion, desperation, and outright stupidity.

Take your recent interview by that genial idiot, Steve Doocy, on Fox News. There you were, not only insisting that Barack Obama “is a communist,” but doing so in the persona of someone who obviously wouldn’t know a real communist if he came up and seized her means of production. Doocy, whose job it is to present to advantage cretins and psychos, wasted no time in correcting you like a 10th grade civics teacher (“Well, he isn’t a communist”) and waited–in vain, thanks to your sharp sense of timing–for you to say, “Oh, sorry, Steve, you’re right. He’s a socialist.”

Obama isn’t a socialist, either, but it’s all one to “Victoria Jackson,” and you played the scene perfectly. Of course, you’d had time to rehearse the character, both at other gatherings of frothing right-wing nutbars and on your must-see You Tube performance, where “Victoria Jackson” plays guitar, expresses herself, and acts for all the world like a person recovering from general anesthesia with minimal brain damage and maximal “heart.”

Like all first-rate performers (actors, musicians, athletes, etc.) you do something very difficult and make it look easy. Of course, the qualities we see on display at these Tea Bag rallies are anything but subtle. Still, you have a shrewd sense of how to reveal them in all their multiplicity. They include (as if you didn’t know) –

* Passion – These people, uh, experience strong emotions. They shout. They wave their fists. They yell. And, okay, sometimes they spit on people. (Because who doesn’t?) They have feelings about stuff, and they don’t care who knows it.

* Anger – And not just feelings. These folks are mad. At whom? You name it. Obama. Reid-Pelosi-Emanuel-Michelle-Sean Penn-Lady Gaga-Avatar. Democrats. Liberals. The administration. The media. Immigrants. Hippies. “Health care.” “The public option.” Saul Freaking Alinsky, as if any of them have the slightest idea of who he was and whose interests he defended.

* Self-righteousness – This is what they’re taught by Rush and Hannity: If something bad happens to you, or even if you just don’t like something (Obama winning the election; Democrats passing laws; etc.), then your “liberty” has been hijacked, your “freedom” has been stolen, and you have been forced to submit to “tyranny.” The merits, the facts, the actual history of the past ten (let alone hundred) years–that’s not their responsibility, which is to scream and then feel ennobled by it. Ask them one question about an issue, and they retreat into “I’m not an expert” and anti-intellectualist sneering about “elites.”

There are other qualities, of course, including ignorance (they don’t know what communism or socialism are any more than “Victoria Jackson” does), gullibility (they actually think that Sarah Palin, a woman who literally cannot answer a question without lying, is “a truth teller”), and sheer obliviousness of reality.

And all this comes wrapped in the shiny, red-white-and-blue gift paper of “patriotism.” This is the best (i.e., the worst) part. These people whom you so astutely lampoon use patriotism as pornography. The idea that, by attending a rally and waving a sign and screaming things that make absolutely no sense (e.g., “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”), you can feel like you have something in common with “our Founding Fathers”…well. It gets them hot and bothered and stimulated and aroused. Some of them even dress up in “Revolutionary attire,” which is their equivalent of leather and studs.

But look at me, telling you this while you obviously have a deeper grasp of it all than I ever could. You, after all, in a master-stroke of character development, have said more than once, “Glenn Beck has taught me well,” knowing (as anyone with half a brain knows) that claiming Glenn Beck as your teacher is about as wise as claiming Dr. Mengele as your primary care physician. Please, as a favor to a fan: keep that in the act. It’s priceless.

Then again, in the end it’s not funny. Even when their grievances are legitimate–because who isn’t worried about the future?–all they’re doing to address them is shouting, spitting, and cheering patent demagogues like Palin and Beck (who, it need hardly be added, are sympathizing with them all the way to the bank).

It’s hard to know what will satisfy these people. Certainly not a Republican victory in November or in 2012. It was Republicans who lay the groundwork for this mess that’s causing them to suffer. The Bush tax cuts, the unfunded wars, the de-regulation of Wall Street–disasters all, and the GOP would do it all again in an instant if they could. Then they, and Fox News, and Limbaugh, and Hannity would, as befits members of “the party of personal responsibility,” blame the next collapse on Obama.

Maybe all they need is some job security, health care they can afford, college tuition that doesn’t provoke an aneurysm, decent treatment by the banks that hold their mortgages, and some unpanicked expectation of the future.

That may be coming, although maybe not soon enough. So be careful, Ms. Jackson. You know and I know you’re just goofing on them, and no one could possibly really be as silly, oblivious, and ignorant as the character you’re portraying. But those around you aren’t in any mood for jokes. Angry mobs never, ever do good things. In fact they usually end up doing terrible things.

So get in, do your shtick, and get out. But keep up the great work!

Best,
E.W.

Ross Douthat Is Mature and You’re Not

Posted March 16, 2010 by barbel
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New York Times right-wing Boy Wonder Ross Douthat has a sad because The Green Zone isn’t mature enough to handle the tragedy of George W. Bush:

Americans believe in evil, but we’re uncomfortable with tragedy. We accept that there are wicked people in the world, with malice in their hearts and a devil whispering in their ears. But the idea that many debacles flow from choices made by decent, well-intentioned human beings is more difficult for us to wrap our minds around.

Note the presumptive “we,” beloved of hacks from the beginning of time, and how from it one may assume the Wide Stance of the Expert, from which p.o.v. the writer is then able to issue further pronouncements about, uh, “us.”

Thus:

This is apparent in our politics, where we’re swift to impute the worst of motives to anyone slightly to our left or right. It’s apparent in our popular culture, thick with white hats and black hats, superheroes and supervillains. But it’s most egregious where the two spheres intersect: in our political fictions, which are nearly always Manichaean, simplistic and naïve.

Never mind that all popular culture of every society pits superheroes against supervillains, or at least good guys vs. bad guys, because that’s what makes it “popular.” The punch line here is the word “naïve.” When right-wingers have nothing substantive to say, they play the Vice-Principal card and call you “immature.”

Such, we are told, is the new Paul Greengrass/Matt Damon action film The Green Zone, which, per Douthat, “refuses to stare real tragedy in the face, preferring the comforts of a ‘Bush lied, people died’ reductionism.”

And what does he mean by real tragedy? Is it the needless death of tens of thousands of children, women, babies, elders, and other non-combatants of a country that was no threat to the country that invaded it? Is it the forced exodus of a million people fleeing their homes? Is it the killing and maiming of U.S. soldiers in an action that, while ostensibly (or so we were told, by the decent, well-intentioned human beings who knew it wasn’t true) retaliating against a force that attacked us on 9-11, in fact attacked a country completely unconnected to that event? Is it how a population’s anger and fear were manipulated in order to support a military adventure it could not afford and did not need but was determined to promote regardless?

No. The very thought, Douthat suggests, is “naïve.” Here is how he describes the events of 2003:

The narrative of the Iraq invasion, properly told, resembles a story out of Shakespeare. You had a nation reeling from a terrorist attack and hungry for a response that would be righteous, bold and comprehensive. You had an inexperienced president trying to tackle a problem that his predecessors (one of them his own father) had left to fester since the first gulf war. You had a cause — the removal of a brutal dictator, and the spread of democracy to the Arab world — that inspired a swath of the liberal intelligentsia to play George Orwell and embrace the case for war. You had a casus belli — those weapons of mass destruction — that even many of the invasion’s opponents believed to be a real danger to world peace. And you had Saddam Hussein himself, the dictator in his labyrinth, apparently convinced that pretending to have W.M.D. was the best way to keep his grip on power.

Readers born after 2003, who today are at most six years old, may find this account plausible. The rest of us know better and can see it for the selectively incomplete, essentially false piece of historical revisionism that it is.

You had a nation that was hungry for a response, yes, and for whom the first part of that response, in Afghanistan, was thought to be adequate and well-chosen, but was abandoned by those decent, etc., people. Douthat forgets to mention it. You had, in his poignant phrase, “an inexperienced president” whose anti-intellectualism, spiteful insecurity, and provincial ignorance caused him to consciously ignore the knowledge of experts and their explicit warnings of this terrorist attack, and to focus, instead, on tax cuts for his patrons (in a time of “war”) and on vacations.

You had a defensible but non-urgent goal–the removal of Saddam Hussein, one of history’s monsters–as a pre-defined objective, to which all “fact gathering” and “deliberations” and “debates” were subordinated (and the selection of which owed much more to the vainglory of the president, and the egos of the Secretary of Defense and the Vice-President, than to any matters of national security).

You had a “casus belli” about which the president, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and sundry other decent, well-intentioned human beings, knowingly lied, catastrophizing and sowing fear for no other reason than to advance this pre-determined agenda. “We know where the weapons of mass destruction are,” quoth Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re near Tikrit.”

And, to the extent that you had a liberal intelligentsia and a general population supporting the war, it was because they had been deceived into thinking it necessary for their own safety. “Surely,” people thought, “they wouldn’t lie about that. Surely they wouldn’t falsify and manipulate the facts over something as horrible and scarring and brutalizing to all concerned as going to war.”

But to Douthat, this is the “naïve” version of events. According to his version, these were decent people trying their hardest to do right. It is refuted and demolished by a ton of documentary evidence, but never mind.

Douthat cites an essay in Washington Monthly by Chris Lehmann in 2005 about political fiction:

From Mark Twain’s “Gilded Age” and Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” to their more recent imitators, our novelists have never been terribly interested in the actual challenges of political life. Instead, Lehmann suggested, they usually cast the entire mess as “a great ethical contaminant and task their protagonists with escaping its many perils with both their lives and their moral compasses intact.”

As it happens, this is a pretty good description of the arc of “Green Zone.” But it’s a lousy recipe for real art, which is supposed to be interested in the humanity of all its subjects, not just the ones who didn’t work for Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense.

Setting aside the fact that the last thing I want to hear from a conservative columnist in The New York Times is his theory about “real art,” in fact Lehmann’s description strikes me as a pretty good recipe for real art. The proper domain of art–certainly of drama, even in a mainstream studio movie–is human subjectivity: the personality, its changes, its confrontation with the outside world. Confronting a protagonist with “a great ethical contaminant” is–talk about “tragedy”–a theme and a method that
goes back to the Greeks, if not to the earliest legends.

Douthat, young aspiring conservative that he is, cannot admit that the entire Iraq debacle was in fact a circus of ethical contamination, from the witting lies that sold it, to the Cavalcade of Amateurs sent to restore order after the fall of Saddam, to the cubic feet of cash lost, stolen, or squandered on the free-for-all that they oversaw. Some political stories do indeed deserve a nuanced dramatization in which no side has clean hands and everyone is ethically compromised. There may even be such stories to be found in the war in Iraq. But not among the Bush administration.

Finally, no column from the Times stable of right-wing pundits (Douthat, Brooks) would be complete without a bit of hypocritical, concern-troll hand-wringing over “our ongoing polarization.”

Our nation might be less divided, and our debates less poisonous, if more artists were capable of showing us the ironies, ambiguities and tragedies inherent in our politics — rather than comforting us with portraits of a world divided cleanly into good and evil.

What you mean “us,” right man?

Perhaps the youthful Douthat was himself born after 2003, and so wasn’t present during the dawn of our current age of poisonous partisanship, birthed by Richard Nixon (or do I mean Joseph McCarthy?), nurtured by Lee Atwater, and thriving even unto our present time under the ministry of Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, Ann Coulter, Fox News, Jim DeMint, Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, and all the other professional liars, foaming demagogues, and clinically insane loons for whom Ross Douthat has such redeeming sympathy.

From the current disinformation campaign of Dick Cheney, to the pants-on-fire mendacity of Karl Rove’s new memoir, to the sad laments of Douthat and David Brooks and every other wingnut pundit whose paycheck depends on defending the indefensible, this is their current project: re-define the past, absolve the guilty of crimes, whitewash the lies, and profess respect for the tragedy of how decent, well-meaning people understandably made some mistakes.

They will never stop. And why should they? What else do they have to do?

My Message of Redemption for Brit Hume

Posted January 3, 2010 by barbel
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Recently, former Fox “News” anchor Brit Hume expressed concern about Tiger Woods, noting, “Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question.” Then Hume offered this bit of heartfelt advice:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Yes, what better source (with the possible exceptions of the repellent Janet Parshall, the uber-smug John Gibson, and animatronic dominatrix Ann Coulter) of religious counsel than the former Managing Editor of Fox “News”?

At such moments, when one of the Republican Party’s chief propagandists espouses advice about the soul, you can almost hear the ghosts of Moliere and Mark Twain smacking their foreheads and laughing. You can also sense, all across Fox Nation, viewers’ heads nodding, as the faithful who used to think (and probably still do think) of George W. Bush as “a good Christian man” find their most cherished “value” confirmed.

Hume suggests, with his tired basset-hound eyes radiating wisdom and pity, that that most piously invoked and highly prized facet of one’s being (i.e., one’s “faith”) is a function of conscious will, that one can jump from religion to religion simply by deciding to, the way one might change cellular services. (“You see, Tiger, the Buddhist 3G network just doesn’t offer the kind of comprehensive coverage that you get with Christianity. With Christianity you enjoy no dropped calls to God, no dead spots in your future immortality. And our basic plan includes forgiveness and redemption! So why not switch? Operators–real operators, the kind who know how to herd the flocks of the ignorant and fleece them for all they’re worth–are standing by. You don’t even have to change your mobile number.”)

I don’t know about you, but I’m very concerned about everyone recovering as a person–and by “everyone” I mean, “mainly Brit Hume.” You kids are too young to remember, but at the start of his career, Hume was an assistant to Jack Anderson, a muckraking journalist who labored day-in and day-out to expose the crimes, frauds, lies, and other symptoms of Washington politics regardless of party. Anderson practically invented investigative journalism. And get this–he was a Mormon! Nine kids! He thought holding the powerful to account was a sacred duty. What a kook!

Go here for the interesting info that Anderson was once targeted to be poisoned by Nixon’s henchmen. Now that’s “cred,” and Hume was one of his field investigators.

But look at Hume today: morally bankrupt, unable to serve his masters in a manner to which he had become accustomed, and reduced to offering come-to-Jesus advice, on television, to celebrity golfers.

He has, in other words, arrived at a point exactly the opposite of that of Tiger Woods–who, Hume says, “will recover as a golfer” but not necessarily “as a person.” Hume, on the other hand, cannot recover as a person until he recovers professionally.

Therefore my message to Brit is, Brit, when you worked for Jack Anderson you really were doing the Lord’s work. Then, well, you went astray. You ended up–as if you need me to tell you!–shilling for warmongers, pandering to corporatists, and disseminating lies practically every darn day in the cause of death, destruction, cronyism, ignorance, corruption, and ineptitude. All of which is a fancy way of saying, you became Managing Editor of Fox “News.” And as such, you effected a complete repudiation and betrayal of your younger, more admirable self.

I don’t think dispensing religious counseling to superstar athletes offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by a full and honest break with Fox “News,” the Republican Party, and the forces of evil for which you have been so dependable a servant for so many years. I therefore conclude my message to Brit with, Brit, confess your sins for what the rest of the world (except for the partisans and the idiots) knows they were. Admit, once and for all, th–

You know what? The hell with it. Never mind. I was going to offer you a chance to make a total recovery and be a great example to the world, but it’s too late. You’ve done too much damage–to journalism, to our national politics, to the idea of truth, to the United States of America. Stick with the Christians. Those people will let you get away with anything.

“This is How Conservatives Are Made”

Posted December 31, 2009 by barbel
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

The Corner, as my fellow intellectual masochists know, is the daily blog of the formerly-relevant National Review. Like the Jewish resorts in the Catskills–once the site of so much vitality and schpritzaturra, now mostly mouldering ruins in appalling states of neglect–this is where you go to wander around in a haze of alternating depression and morbid fascination.

Two days ago we had a fine opportunity to undergo the latter. Here, in its entirety, is the apercu of John J. Miller–conservative, writer, and proud father:

‘They Just Took My Money’ [John J. Miller]

That’s what my 8-year-old son said about the sales tax on the ride home from Borders a few minutes ago. He had a $10 gift card from Christmas, bought a Clone Wars book for $7.99, looked at the receipt, and wondered why he still didn’t have a full $2.01 on it.

This is how conservatives are made.

Truer words were never inputted. This is indeed how conservatives are made, and this is how they come off the assembly line: whiny with victimization, pissy about money, and in full possession of an eight-year-old’s understanding of the real world.

Now, you or I would have pounced upon this “teaching moment” and used it to instruct the lad in the following manner. We would have pointed out that:

1. The “missing” money was kept by the store in the form of “sales tax.” The store pays that money to the state (and sometimes the city) government over the year. All states charge taxes on most things (although usually not on food) when you buy them. Why?

2. Because all of us, no matter what this poor child’s idiot father and his friends believe or want to believe, share certain needs and provide for each other certain benefits simply because we live in the same area. Look around, young budding conservative. What do you see? You see paved and maintained streets, and street lights, and traffic lights, and police cars and fire engines. Ask daddy to lift up a manhole cover and look inside: See? It’s an entire fucking sewage system. Who pays for all this? We all do, via that tax and other taxes.

3. Do you, o son of a smugly moronic father, benefit from such expenditures? Every day. Never mind if your house catches fire or you need to call the cops or the streets have to be cleared of snow or state universities need funding. Take a look at that Clone Wars book. How do you think it got to Borders in the first place? A nice (or a not-nice) man (or woman) drove it, and ten thousand other books, in a big truck across our nation’s fine superhighway system.

Without such roads, the book would have cost even more than $7.99. Ask your (idiot) father what “economies of scale” means. When he says, “Don’t worry about that. You’re too young to understand it,” ask him why the hell, then, he feels entitled to interpret a little pisher’s confusion as being the beginning of a socio-economic world-view. Then come back here and we’ll talk.

It takes a special kind of man to respond to a second-grader’s bafflement about finance with some shirt-poppin’, chest-swellin’ pride over the boy’s blameless, understandable, and correctable ignorance. But that’s what you’ll find at the Corner.

These are people for whom no partisan score is too petty, no lie too egregious, no tortured “observation” too contrived or invented. To them, “true” is no different from “could be true if you squint hard enough and clap loud.” When they’re not projecting onto others the qualities that only they, themselves, ever actually display (“I am ideologically, reflexively hostile to taxes, so my 8-year-old is, too!“), they’re just making shit up and hoping someone, somewhere–the American Enterprise Institute, the Club for Growths (sic), the Koch family–will pay them for it.

You wonder why the Republican Party, and the political right, are so horrendously dishonest when they’re not displaying (or pandering to) Olympian levels of plain old provincial ignorance? Now you know. They’re raised by the John J. Millers of the world. This is how conservatives are made.


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