The Lessons Not Learned

July 21, 2010

The good news is that Shirley Sherrod is being offered her job back. The bad news is that she never should have been forced out in the first place. The badder news is that Andrew Breitbart, the glowering wingnut troll who got her in trouble by posting that maliciously edited video, will suffer no repercussions from his vending of lies and distortions. The even badder news is that the journo-buffoons covering Breitbart’s clown show are still pretending they aren’t the ones who keep the spotlights trained on his antics. And the baddest news of all . . . well, I’ll get to that.

It’s long been obvious that the Republicans have taken the measure of our mass-market media and learned how to plays its weaknesses like a nasty-sounding fiddle. Take this Daily Beast writeup by Lloyd Grove. Savor the smug insidery tone, the feigned obliviousness to the role Grove himself plays in providing this grubby smear merchant with a national platform, the craven avoidance of anything resembling a direct challenge to Breitbart’s pretzel-twisting and weasel-word evasions. Wouldn’t want to be accused of liberal media bias, after all.

Gutless simp. There are entirely too many like Grove in our national press corps, so I don’t really think anything is going to change. I mean, Breitbart’s sordid habits were well known before this. Nobody can say any of the subsequent revelations about the nature of the video, and the way it was edited to turn a speech about overcoming racism into an example of it, were a surprise. The only principle he recognizes is constant partisan attack, without regard for the facts or the personal damage he does. Despite repeated demonstrations of his unreliability, Breitbart knows he need only lay back a while and throw out another piece of poisoned bait. Our media figures will chase after it like stampeding pigs.

As of today, I will hear no more condescending lectures about how liberals and progressives have no reason to complain about the Obama administration, how we should all just zip up and let the realists and centrists chart the course and content ourselves with the half-loaf, quarter-loaf, or whatever other fraction of a loaf is supposed to leave us breathless with joy.

I held my tongue while the “realists” threw out the public option before negotiations even started, left an insurance-company stooge like Joe Lieberman in a position of influence, watered down the financial reform bill, and generally acted as though the Republicans were legitimately interested in the good faith stewardship of national government. The plain fact of the matter is that these realists got rolled. And they didn’t get rolled by some master tactician, either. They got rolled by a professional snake-in-the-grass whose modus operandi is so  well known that even a Faux News host refused to soil his hands with the story. For such a band of competent, hard-headed realists, that’s a pretty shallow learning curve. Maybe its time to start listening to those wacky, starry-eyed hippies. They could hardy have been more gullible.

It may be the case that the Republicans have gotten so crazy, so hateful in their behavior and so blatant in their moves to hinder economic recovery, that voters will reject them in November.  We can only hope. That’s the baddest news of all — we are reduced to that hope. Our side has the best ideas and the best way forward, and yet we have to cross our fingers and hope Congress will not be overrun by an even bigger bedlam of liars, loons, and looters. What a disgusting situation.

There’s a scene toward the end of Sweet Smell of Success when Sydney Falco confronts the corrupt columnist J.J. Hunsecker and says, “J.J., you have such contempt for people, it’s making you stupid.” Breibart, the wannabe Hunsecker, has been brazenly telling all and sundry that he had no idea who edited the video, and that he simply posted it on his site without regard for even rudimentary fact-checking. That’s pretty stupid on his part. In fact, I’d call that an admission of reckless disregard. I think a judge would call it that, too. I hope Sherrod finds herself a good lawyer and sues Andrew Breitbart into next Sunday. He’s got enough money to buy his way out with a settlement, but a lawsuit might begin the long overdue process of cleansing our hoplessly polluted national discourse.

Where Was I?

July 8, 2010

Boy, tempus sure has fugited. It’s been a busy year, but I’ll spare you the details.

There’s more to say, but right now I just want to highlight the good folks at Talking Points Memo, who have enrolled in Beck University to check out its demanding course load. The first installment appears to be the usual claptrap about how the Founding Fathers were all Jesus whoopers who would have made full-immersion baptisms a requirement of citizenship if they’d only had the time to stick it into the Constitution. Since the patrons of this online “university” pony up $9.95 a month for this stuff, I can only marvel at the willingness of conservatives to keep paying good money to hear the same nonsense repeated ad infinitum.


I see you checkin’ me
Out on the dance floor
I know you want me boy, but you got something I want more
See, these are troubled times
A bad economy
I got some health issues, and medicine, well it ain’t free

I don’t care about your diamond rings
I don’t need none of those fancy things
If you really wanna be my man
Boy, you gotta put me on your health care plan!

Let’s start a family
And you can be the boss
Just prove to me that you’ve got Aetna, Kaiser, or Blue Cross
I can’t afford a doctor
I need your MDC
When I get sick all I can do is go to WebMD
Well you don’t gotta kiss me
And I don’t need no hugs
Just gotta get a discount when I need prescription drugs!
I need a flu shot baby
I got a tricky knee
And I ain’t seen a dentist since September of two-thousand-three

I don’t care about your diamond rings
I don’t need none of those fancy things
If you really wanna be my man
Just let me get all up in your health-care plan

Wanna be my dependent, girl? / What you got? / I’m gonna break it down…

I hear you say you love me
I wanna know fo’ sho’
You gotta prove it ‘fore I put you on my PPO
‘Cuz my co-pays are modest
And girl you know that’s true
My pre-existing condition is I’m in love wit’ you
My coverage is extensive
They pin my policy
You want some Lasik, baby, I got full optometry
Shi-at-su massage—all day for you’n’me
Don’t sweat the payments, girl, it’s covered ‘cuz it’s therapy

Aaa-oooh! How much is your deductible / How much is your deductible / How much…
Want some acupuncture baby? How ‘bout podiatry? I’ll get you braces, girl…

Nothing says peace on earth and goodwill toward men like a Pogues song.

Running With the Pack

November 8, 2008


Caveat, that friend of all things four-legged (and two-legged) has added the Proprietor of this site to the ever-growing list of Superior Scribblers. She also says some preposterously nice things about The Opinion Mill.

As instructed, I have added The Opinion Mill to the roll call of history, and now I share with joy with five other worthy scribes:

Xpatriated Texan, aka Thurman “No Relation” Hart, who reconciles faith, politics and activism.

The Rix Mix, home of New Jersey’s most notable dj and seaside poet.

The Center of NJ Life, which is the same thing as saying the center of the universe. Albeit with traffic jams.

The One True Tami, because we have to weed out all the fake ones.

Blog-Sothoth, because where else can you find H.P. Lovecraft crossed with The Wire?

And, as lagniappe, here’s Verite Parlant and the view from New Orleans by way of New Jersey by way of New Orleans.

Refute Ben Stein’s B.S.

November 4, 2008

Some very clever people out there have figured out a way to add lie-correcting subtitles to Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the creationist propaganda film narrated by professional wingnut Ben Stein.

I wonder if a similar program is available for TV news and squawk shows?

Credit Where Due

October 27, 2008

I’ll always be proud to say I was one of the first to be hoodwinked by the most deadpan site in Blogitania.


October 26, 2008

My apologies. A crazed week leading to an even more crazed weekend has cut into my blogging time and scotched this week’s edition of Weekend Bookchat.

Meanwhile, as you know, it is an ongoing endeavor at The Opinion Mill to gauge the extent to which conservatism can be classified as a legitimate political philosophy, as opposed to a tax-scam for the wealthy, or a veneer of respectability for for Klansmen, religious kooks and corporate grifters. Here’s another blogger who’s thinking along the same lines andhere warns that while real political philosophies may die, cons will always be with us, and you can’t spell “conservative” without “con.”

But we are all smart people here, so I think we can take my point already, which is that into this decidedly conservative (by any rational measure you can name) American political environment came one William F. Buckley, to whine that it’s so hard being a conservative, it’s so lonely being a conservative, everyone is so impatient with conservatives, why can’t standing athwart history yelling Stop be an actual political philosophy instead of a mere child’s tantrum–and oh, p.s., which one of you nonwhite nonmales MOVED MY CHEESE?

Buckley, of course, had his list of prime cheese-moving suspects all laid out and ready:

NATIONAL REVIEW is out of place, in the sense that the United Nations and the League of Women Voters and the New York Times and Henry Steele Commager are in place. It is out of place because, in its maturity, literate America rejected conservatism in favor of radical social experimentation.

Blah, blah, blah–what do I find so boring, so fatiguing about this?

Oh, right! It is essentially the same list of suspects conservatives are trying to haul up on charges TODAY. TODAY, 53 YEARS LATER. Except no one cares about the League of Women Voters anymore, so sub NOW in there; and Henry Steele who?–Well, anyway, Michael Moore is fat, Obama pals around with terrorists, professors are all dangeral, Reverend Wright is the real (not to say only) racist in this country, and won’t someone please think of Joe the Plumber?

I am telling you, leftybeans, you have all had amnesia. Every single piece of drivel you find in The Corner, every lulzy post at Bacon o’Playdough, every Goldsteinian meltdown and Instapunditious I-just-link, I-don’t-endorse oily oozy blob of propaganda, every Confederate Yankee conspiracy theory, every Patterician investigation of IP addresses and other ridiculous internet minutiae, springs from this half-a-century-ago source.

And that source is based upon one single, easily attacked premise: That white men in America are losing out on the American dream, and “those people”–be they queer, black, women, transgendered, latin@, disabled, or OMG all six at the same time!–are to blame for it. Thus must we stand athwart their lives and their bodies and yell, or beat into them, our message to STOP. Because what is history but the story of people?