Belaboring the Obvious

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just musing on left-wing blogger incivility...

... the sort that Amity Shlaes finds so upsetting....

Does this woman not understand that the last eight years, in particular, not to mention the last thirty, have severely strained the ability of otherwise sensible people to refrain from screaming "BULLSHIT!!!" every time it's forced into their ears?

Does this woman not understand that the wacko right wing in this country doesn't ever "debate" anything--they simply throw out the most insane, outrageous and nonsensical thing that pops into their heads, and the moment one tries to be the sensible, logical liberal who defines terms, lays out the legitimate parameters of the debate, offers a few facts to get the ol' debate ball rolling, they've already dropped trou, shit on the floor and are flinging it with abandon, in large part because they know that's what will get the nearly somnolent political press in this country to pay attention to them.

Beyond that, it's interesting that Shlaes' lead example of incivility is that Eric Kleefeld of Talking Points Memo says Rep. Michele Bachmann's "version of history is from another planet."

Shlaes seems to be just a little too defensive, since Kleefeld is actually being charitable here. His characterization is quite gentle, given that Bachmann's statement was riddled with factual error, was intended to excoriate her political opposition in as fact-free a fashion as possible, and was about as close to mindless shit-flinging as one is likely to see on the floor of the House of Representatives--until the Republicans start running J. Fred Muggs' less-inhibited relatives for office (likely to happen sometime in 2010).

Bachmann, first, blames tariffs for turning a recession into a depression. That's an old hoary tale the wacko bozos use to defend the current economic practice of using so-called "free trade" rules to disproportionately slant trade advantage in favor of U.S. multinationals, and which they pull out of their ass every time anyone points out that the current financial market difficulties have their roots in exactly the same two things that caused the Great Depression: unbridled greed and debt leverage unshackled from any concept of reality. Then, she doesn't even know the name of the tariff law she's talking about, calling it "Hoot-Smalley," instead of Smoot-Hawley, after the bill's two originators. Then, she blames "Hoot-Smalley" on FDR, when Smoot and Hawley were Republicans and the tariff bill was signed into law by Hoover. Finally, as Kleefeld notes, Bachmann's clear intent is to blame Democrats for the Depression (and by implication, to blame Democrats for current problems), even though unemployment, at 25%, was already well into depression-level territory when FDR took office.

So, did Shlaes say that Bachmann was idiotic, ill-informed, mendacious and entirely, brainlessly partisan in her recitation of this alternate history? No. She thinks Kleefeld was exhibiting incivility for pointing it out.

There's only so much stamping of little feets that up is down, white is black, sky is green talk that one can take, and we've had at least three decades of it (more like six), and the Orwellian "war is peace" and "ignorance is strength" and "we were founded as a Christian nation" routines have finally gotten very, very old.

In the long-distant past, the national press at least made the attempt to highlight when being fact-free was, in fact, free of facts. I think that general process started to break down when the wholly stage-managed Reagan Presidency encouraged the national press to think, 'well, it's Reagan, after all, he's a doddering old bag of doody with great makeup, and it's not fair to pick on the afflicted.'

So, when Reagan said something that wasn't on one of his 3x5 cards and indicated that he was, in fact, a doddering old bag of doody, such as "trees cause pollution," or "facts are stupid things," the press was more than willing to give him a pass on it. The operative phrase was "let Reagan be Reagan," as if he were no more influential on governmental affairs than the crazy, groping uncle one tolerated once a year at Thanksgiving dinner because it gave him a night out from the nursing home without any minders around.

As the right-wing Wurlitzer became more and more powerful, and the neo-conservatives burrowed deeper into the policy-making nooks and crannies of government, and the wacko think tanks swamped the press with press releases extolling the virtues of some of the most extreme and radical shit imaginable, the ability of the Washington press to distinguish shit from Shinola just rolled over and died. It actually started protecting Reagan from himself. Even though Reagan and GHW Bush and a healthy chunk of the CIA should have gone to prison, editors began to slowly and slyly push the meme that Reagan was a "popular President" and that it would be destructive--"bad for the country"--to call for his impeachment.

The tendrils from that time extend to the present. Bush and Cheney and their minions spied on millions of Americans indiscriminately, often for political purposes, made the single most concentrated frontal assault on the Bill of Rights in the country's history, instituted a systematic program of torture as a governmental norm in order to generate reasons for aggressive war, presided over widespread corruption in the procurement processes of government, shredded international treaties almost as an afterthought of governance, watched a major American city drown and then turned its aftermath into a series of political photo-ops, started two still-ongoing wars of aggression on the basest, meanest of lies, turned every public appearance of President or VP into a meretricious campaign event, and tried to turn the civil service of government into a campaign tool, in violation of law, then actively encouraged a market bubble that has cost millions upon millions of Americans their jobs, homes, savings and their futures--and then lied through their teeth about every fucking detail of it all. After eight years of utter disaster, Bush couldn't even admit he'd made one clear-cut mistake, and the press just shook its collective head and said, in effect, "let Bush be Bush."

Now that the damage assessments are coming in, who's been a fixture on television and in print journalism? Cheney, the old Torquemada himself, and the press is more than happy to give him a forum to make his case that torture isn't really torture, and even if it were, it was entirely necessary.

And Shlaes thinks that pointing all this out (including that Obama is bending the wrong way on prosecuting these world-class moral cretins) is a mark of incivility.

I have the feeling that a lot of lefty bloggers are feeling like the king who looks out upon his kingdom one day to see that the villagers have been poisoned by something in the well water, are behaving madly, and when he tries to help them see the situation, they scream, "the king is mad, the king is mad!" Then, finally giving up, the king drinks from the well himself and all the people rejoice: "Hooray--the king has regained his sanity!"

Last time I looked, the sky was still blue, and torture and war crimes, even by any other names, are still torture and war crimes. Lies and abject corruption are still what they are, even though saying so plainly is, to the Villagers of Washington, DC, the greatest crime of all, the greatest madness of our age.

It's no wonder that we just throw up our hands in frustration and mutter, "what a bunch of insane fuckin' morons" as frequently as we do. It's a lot closer to the truth than what we've read in print or have seen on tv all these many years....


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