CLOWNS ARE US! When it comes to that thirty-year war, the biggest clowns have been us: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2010
Imitation of life/you will see nobody laugh: Were living in truly gruesome times. The sheer stupidity of the discourse has reached this comical point: in this mornings New York Times, Maureen Dowd actually lectures someone about correct intellectual procedures! This is what passes for intellectualism on the right, her tut-tutting sub-headline says:
You know times are bad when Maureen Dowd comes out against insinuation, half-truths and dishonest reasoning! In her next paragraph, she shows Newt Gingrich the right way to play. Cherry-picking is very bad. Psychoanalyzing father and son seems to be A-OK!
The lunacy of Gingrich and Dinesh DSouza is truly a thing to see. But then, the lunacy of Dowd has been a force in the culture for decades. Unfortunately, no print journalist has been more influential over the past twenty years, dating back to her days as a Times reporter. And no print journalist has been dumber. On Sunday, before she got angry at Newt, Dowd was back to calling Obama Barryand she compared him to a valley girl, the gender-nut conduct to which she turns when shes peeved with a Major Male Democrat. John Edwards was the Breck girl. Al Gore was so feminized that hes practically lactating. Obama has been compared to a long string of debutantes and girls.
DSouza and Gingrich are flat crazy nuts. Dowd has been so for years.
A broken discourse is all around you, driven by many dysfunctional players. That said, its endlessly baffling to see the way the emerging liberal world increasingly likes to reason. We were struck by this Steve Benen post, in which liberal readers were encouraged to imagine that Democrats got royally shafted by bookers on the Sunday programs in 2009. For unknown reasons, Benen discussed an extremely weak study done by a law student at George Mason University. To read this very weak study, click here. Steve himself thundered thusly:
Wow! Even in 2009, the Sunday shows still relied heavily on Republican guests (whatever that means). As he tried to establish his murky point, Steve gave us a single statistic to chew on: The GOP congressional leaders made 43 Sunday show appearances. The Democratic leadership made 11 appearances.
Outrage was quickly expressed in comments, as liberals denounced the way the corporate media crapped all over our poor abused kind. Unfortunately, Steve forgot to include a basic statistic from the study: Among congressional guests on the Sunday programs, 48 percent were Dems, 50 percent were Republicans. That is a rather even distributionand it doesnt count the many appearances by Democrats from the Obama administration, a category for which there is no Republican counterpart. In short, this study gave no indication that Democrats got shafted in 2009. But Steve ran out a 43-to-11 statistic, and the belly-aching started.
(Quick note: From Steves post, it isnt clear who he means by congressional leaders. But might we make the worlds most obvious statement? If Pelosi and Reid dont appear on these shows, it surely isnt because they arent invited. Neither one is especially good on TV. Other Dems get sent in their stead.)
The study presents no serious evidence that Dems got shafted. But Steve cherry-picked a helpful statistic, and the loud sobbing began. This sort of nonsense is becoming more common as liberals learn to love playing the victim card, as the very dumbest conservatives have long done. But then, weak liberal muscles can be seen all arounda point to which Ezra Klein drew attention with this insightful post. (Headline: Democrats turn to meaningless word games.) Well recommend the whole post, which is short. But the sad state of modern liberal reasoning was best captured here:
Spot-on, though Ezra is off by a year. The Bush tax cuts were proposed in 1999; the expiration date was proposed and passed into law in 2001. Nine years later, for good or for ill, Democrats have no alternate proposalother than the plan to drop Bushs cut in the marginal rate, affecting households which earn more than $250,000. In truth, Dems and liberals dont really have any sort of new tax plan. But now, as Ezra notes, were arguing about the idea that we should rebrand what we call these tax rates.
Theres a term for thatimitation of life. Imitation of policy. Imitation of politics.
(Meanwhile, please note the difference between the two parties. It all comes down to this burning question: Should the highest-earning households pay 35 percent on their marginal income, or should they pay 39 percent? Pathetically, that represents the extent of American tax debateand yet, we pretend a big fight is on. You live in Potemkin times.)
Essentially, Gingrich and DSouza are insane. But Dowd has been a visible nut for yearsand our emerging liberal world increasingly argues like children. Your culture is in a vast, deep hurt. The most obvious symptom: Nobody much seems to notice!
Maureen Dowd lectures today on intellectual practiceand you will see nobody laugh!
Dowd through the years: On Sunday, Dowd started with some of her standard, inane word gamesand with a bit of race play:
We were curious. How often has Dowd used the term mojo before? The answer: Six times. She used it first in August 2000, when Candidate Gore had just shot to the top of the national polls. In reaction, Dowd pictured Gore before a mirror, talking to himself and admiring his muscles. As was required by Prevailing Group Narrative, Naomi Wolf was brought in right away:
Alpha Al was a mocking reference to Wolf, who had taught Gore to be an alpha male in the press corps Prevailing Group Novel. And before she was done, Dowd went there again. Gore was still admiring himself before the mirror:
Now, we were back to the earth tones, around reference to Wolf. For the record: In 2007, the New York Times filed a formal correction about this fictional claim. In 2007!
Maureen Dowd is essentially out of her mind. She has been a cancer for years. These taunting columns from 2000 explain how Bush reached the White House.
But this morning, Dowd is lecturing somebody else about correct intellectual practice! Because you live in a broken world, no one will say this is nuts.
PART 2CLOWNS ARE US (permalink): When Digby went to Albertsons, she stumbled upon an important discussion (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/14/10). Then again, she stumbled upon her nations most mundane discussion.
She stumbled upon a widespread discussion. It has been the norm for years.
A check-out clerk and two shoppers were discussing the sad state of Social Securityand none of the three had the slightest idea what they were talking about. All three had been thoroughly disinformed about the program over the past many years. In that, they were like tens of millions of fellow citizens. As public surveys have long made clear, discussions like theirs have been occurring all over the country for at least twenty years:
What Digby told the trio was accurate, once she managed to get past her pique at the absurdity of their remarks. Digby told them Social Security would be there as long as Congress didnt reform it. But the check-out clerk simply laughed at Digby. I don't think that's right. It's not what I've heard, he said. The other two shoppers agreed, based on what everybody says.
There wont be any money left by the time they retire, all three of these people have heard.
There wont be any money left! If we think about how Social Security works, this belief makes no earthly sense (barring some sort of national meltdown). Tens of millions of people go to work every day; every two weeks, payroll taxes are taken out of their paychecks and sent to the federal government. That money is used to pay the benefits of current Social Security recipients. Simple story: As long as American workers are working, this system will never run out of money.
There will never be a time when there is no money left.
Under current projections, a day will come, decades in the future, when the system wont be able to pay full promised benefits, absent some new infusion of money. But it makes no earthly sense to imagine a day when there will be nothing left. This basic notion makes no senseand yet tens of millions of American voters have come to believe it. That said, theres an obvious reason for their ignorance. This truly is what everyone says. This is what they have heard.
Alas! When people say this is what everyone says, they are speaking with savage accuracy. They are describing the fruits of a thirty-year wara punishing war of disinformation which has proceeded with stunning success, in large part due to the dumbness and moral squalor of us, the nations liberals.
In a recent post, Digby said she cant imagine losing to these clownsreferring to the collection of half-educated carnival clowns, throwbacks and morons the Republicans are putting up this time. But in fact, the biggest clowns have been us over the past thirty years.
Oligarchic power has proceeded with skill, disinforming the American public. Its our side which has been feckless and dumb. If its clowns you truly dislike, then sorrythe clowns have been us!
There wont be money left for us! Its one of the dumbest ideas in the world. And yet, this dumbest idea has taken hold as we liberals have sat and stared, making almost no attempt to challenge the disinformation. By 1995, vast percentages of the public believed the system wouldnt be there for them. Intelligent people would have acted. Instead, the liberal world still sat and stared. Now, years later, we take delight in attacking the dumbness of voters!
In fairness, a few progressives have tried to respond to the war of disinformation. In 1999, Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot published Social Security: The Phony Crisis, a book which attempted to challenge the disinformation. In their dedication, they praised those activists who have tried to defend Social Security against an avalanche of misinformation, disinformation, and powerful political and financial interests. In their preface, the gents said this:
The gentlemen knew a war was onand they knew what type of war it was. But their book appeared in 1999, at a time when the liberal world was napping in the woods. Their book received very little attentionand no one attempted to follow up with simpler formulations than those the book sometimes provided. (Baker and Weisbrot are economists, not popularizers.) Result? Eleven years after this book appeared, the state of play is dire.
Things are just as those shoppers said: All I know is that everybody says there won't be any money there for us! That shoppers statement was right as rain. Just consider the way a Big Famous Liberal performed just a few weeks ago:
Lawrence ODonnell, a Hollywood liberal, was guest-hosting on Countdown. (Keith Olbermann was enjoying his latest well-deserved evening of rest.) Speaking with two different guests, ODonnell rattled off a trio of the talking-points manufactured to drive along the war Baker and Weisbrot described.
How massively dumb is the liberal world? ODonnell started by assuring Ashley Carson, a bright young progressive, that when your time comes to collect, the money will not be there, according to all the projections that we have today. It was just as that shopper said: All I know is that everybody says there won't be any money there for us!
Everybody does say these things, even our famous liberal heroes! ODonnell went on to rattle several more bogus points, including the gruesome, pathetic old howler about how everyone died at 58 when FDR started the system (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/2/10). But within a few days of ODonnells performance, Gail Collins had typed this howler in the New York Times: The system is supposed to run out of money in 2037. Two days earlier, Matt Bai had typed a longer, dumber version of same in a New York Times analysis (text tomorrow).
ODonnell rattled a trio of points straight from the disinformation campaign. Next week, he starts his own nightly programon our liberal channel! But more remarkable is the wall of silence that greeted ODonnells absurd performance.
Digby loves to trash the voters, saying theyre dumb as dirt. And yet, this greatest known social arbiter said nothing about ODonnells dumbness, for which hell be paid a large sum this year. You see, Digby kisses Joans fat ass, and Joan is constantly kissing Chris. And Lawrence sits at Chris right hand! Aint life in the liberal world grand?
Tomorrow, well look at the predictable way Digbys commenters began attacking that trio of voters for the very dumb things they said at the store. Well see one commenter repeating something Bai said, with no one else seeming to notice that it too comes from that thirty-year war. But so what! Well see pseudo-liberals as they have their greatest good time, attacking the dumbness of average voters.
Each step of the way, one point will be clear: When it comes to past thirty years, the biggest clowns of all have been us.
Tomorrow: Clowns like us