Friday, March 11

Forget It, Jake. It's Slate.

KEVIN, in comments yesterday:
I don't know, I really don't see much problem with Weigel's piece here. I mean, did you expect him to be super-duper insightful or point out every flaw? If you want that, go to someone who actually *does* that. Weigel simply covers the conservative movement, and fairly well and with a bit of snark. I actually enjoy most of his work and it's nice to look into how the other side works. It could be a hell of a lot worse. He's not exactly Fox News material. I don't ever remember him being dishonest or even remotely evasive. I'm just not sure what the point of this was. That Weigel isn't perfect? I dunno, I usually enjoy your work, but I found this kind of pointless.

First, lemme just mention what every experienced woodsman knows: it takes a little experience, a little time, and a small amount of effort to put a keen edge on an axe. Dulling one, on the other hand, is hard fucking work.

Anyway, I'm from Indiana. My senior Senator--he was also my grandfather's senior Senator; we like our traditions--is a guy who made his bones as "Nixon's Favorite Mayor" (of Indianapolis), where he spearheaded Republican bills, state and local, which extended the city limits out to the county line, expressly for the purpose of diluting the growing African-American vote. (This is still working. I live in the Congressional district which serves the old city; my Representative is not only an African-American, he's a Muslim. The mayor and City-County council, on the other hand, are Republicans.)

Since he's been in the Senate he's voted with the increasingly radical Right (increasing, with Nixon as a starting point!) 80 some percent of the time. Never voted against a Defense appropriation (in other words, he's a Senator). This, of course, makes him a moderate, and a distinguished voice for nuclear disarmament.

Then there's my Governor, of whom you may have heard me speak at. As Bush the Dumber's first OMB Director he inherited a Federal budget which had shown a surplus for several years, and turned it into what we have today. He then came to Indiana, put on a plaid shirt and a seed cap, and was elected Governor. He announced that the state's budget shortfall was a Huge Big-Spendin' Democrat Evil, when, in fact, to the extent it existed (on paper) it was mostly due to the high unemployment ushered in and carefully husbanded by his previous employer. That shortfall has been variously estimated, depending on how heroic he needed to sound in overcoming it, but the general "consensus" is half a billion dollars. Keep that figure in mind. Using techniques he had apparently, and unfortunately, learned after helping destroy the national economy, he single-handedly slashed our way to solvency, such that today, despite the devastating effects of the Robber Baron Recession, Indiana is one of the few states in the nation, and the only one in the upper Midwest, whose budget is in the Black. Assuming, that is, that you ignore the $2 billion it owes the Federal government in loans, interest, and penalties. Combine that with the $1 billion in Stimulus money he reluctantly accepted, and the perpetually disgruntled might note that in six years he's run a deficit of a half-billion per year. He, of course, is known as "a competent fiscal manager".

We can go on, but don't get me started on Mitch Daniels, Tax Cutter, or Mitch Daniels, Champion of Property Tax Relief. My point is simply this: I'd pretty much had my fill of happy-face Republican liars before David Weigel was born, and every day I get to take another bite.

Better Blogs Than This One routinely take on, and demolish, the moronic Right. I can't compete with Roy, or Scott C. and s.z., or the Sadlys, to name three, and why would I? I barely have the stomach to read the excerpts. And besides, I really do feel that the weaselly enablers of everyone from Dick Nixon to the Competent Republican Managers and Beyond are a special class of Evil unto themselves. It doesn't matter to me that, given the power, David Brooks or David Frum would permit gay marriage. What matters to me is that they manage to come up with reasons to apologize for the party that makes banning gay marriage a battle cry. What matters to me is that, given the power, they'd install Zombie Ronald Reagan as Emperor for Life. What matters is that they continue to voice support for Defense Spending that's beyond Insanity, and the insertion of the US military into every region that looks at us crosswise, no matter the cost in other people's lives, and call it Self-Defense; they continue to champion the accelerated accumulation of this nation's vast wealth in the hands of very few, and call it Economic Freedom.

And it would work. And Centrist Democrats, and Ezra Klein, would still get to point to them--though not as much as they point to themselves--and say, See, not all Republicans are like that!

This isn't the beginning of the Reagan "Revolution". It's 2010, or 2011, or something. It's not even the goddam aftermath of the Reagan "Revolution", when you could at least understand someone lying to protect the legacy. Anybody defending this crap today has to poke his head out from under a foot of ash to do so. I don't give a shit if they're snarky, or cutesy, or seem like they'd make nice neighbors. They're blind, and they're fucking willfully blind, and unless it's a congenital defect, they're that way for money.

Y'know, it's easy to be a snarky libertarian. It's not just tennis with the net down, it's no lines on the court, and if your opponent still manages to hit one past you you get to pretend he didn't, or he's just an old hippie, so it doesn't count. The real trick is to be a smart one. I'll let you know if I see any.

In the meantime, how fucking difficult is it to be a Republican while criticizing Sarah Palin? I guess it depends: if you're Mitch Daniels it must be really tough, because he's yet to do so; he did risk his combover long enough to suggest he might delay the culture wars a few months, after which he immediately reiterated his support for the culture wars. If you're David Brooks, or David Frum, or David Weigel, so what? All you've done is enhance your reputation with Centrists, who for some reason are easily impressed with a Republican who says something that doesn't sound like the party line, and you know the Yahoos are still going to vote for your tax cuts. I know that Weigel piece wasn't an in-depth analysis. What it was was the umpteenth fucking time I opened that Slate blog thing of his and found a sorry-assed excuse for why the really execrable element of his own party isn't really as bad as all that. And the simple response is, Yes, yes it fucking is. Forgive me, but I simply do not believe that you can look at that shit with one eye open and find any reason to say, "Y'know, maybe Newt helped himself with that really astute performance if you look at it right". Because the only angle from which it looks that way is the angle you take if you don't want any real questions to be asked about your party affiliation. It's entirely nonsensical. The ability to pretend to supplicate yourself and gain the approval of everybody else who's in on the scam is about 1800 years old now, not something Newt jes' thunk up. No adult can possibly believe that what Newt Gingrich did there was to bravely confront a problem! just as no one could actually believe that Andrew Ferguson and David Brody are busy getting us the real story by pretending to pitch softballs. The average, normal person with no agenda doesn't buy Jimmy Swaggert's tears. He knows that the whole thing's for show, and that it's only for show because the story was found out in the first place. This is as apodictically certain as anything in life. We know these things. The average person knows this. Newt would be convicted 9 times out of 10 on that testimony, and the exception would mean the jury had a delusional die-hard who couldn't be budged. How much more so does a professional journalist understand this? And yet, how often does one play it the other way?

20 comments:

77south said...

I dream of a world where journalists would note, after printing some lengthy quote from official sources, just what percent bullshit that quote was. In this world however Ross fucking Douthat is on the NY times editorial page and you are not. crap.
Is there no end to the toadying mendacity of the professional journalist class?

StringonaStick said...

Toadying mendacity pays really, really well, both in salaries and in DC cocktail weinies. Poking at the controller of the food lever bar just makes for unhappy rats apparently.

My disgust with the American model of journalism knows no bounds. It is truly why the plutocracy has been so damned successful since St. Ronny.

mds said...

"... DC cocktail weinies."

Mr. Riley already mentioned Ezra Klein, SoaS.

ice weasel said...

So, so beautiful.

This is, in a sense, how I feel about the "new" NPR since the dubya era when he replaced the liebruls with sensible folk. NPR is terrible not because it's just like fox, it isn't. NPR isn't terrible even because it's a hollow shell of what it once was. Nice Polite Republicans is terrible because it's so mincingly awful. It won't confront a republican. It might a democrat, it might. But what NPR will do is, in its own iconic manner, tell me what the republicans think and how the republicans feel and what the republicans want. I get to hear from mara laiasson, cokie roberts, barbarba bradley hagerty and half a dozen other pleasantly voiced stooges.

coldH2O said...

Great response. Our Koch Whore Walker just handed us a ticket to Haleyville, but I think we will be able to cancel it. Keep up your good work, it keeps me relatively sane, much to the delight of my poor wife.

Uncle Omar said...

This knob job on Newt ignores the fact that four years ago he was making the same rounds, starting with Focus on (Your Own Damnable) Family Radio and selling the same brand of horse manure. Our Next President Newt Gingrich is a mendacious mountebank and anyone who can't figure it out has no business attempting to participate in public discourse.

Jay B. said...

It was just more meta-commentary where Weigel gives his opinion of the Gingrich response to the actual issue. How he tended the stagecraft. Sure, it's bullshit (he linked to you by the way, strangely, I see no defenders flocking here), put, let's unpack it and critique it like the actual content doesn't matter so much as the theater in which it was presented. Hooray!

What Newt said, as you note, was fucking mendacious and indefensible on its face. As is, literally, every fucking thing that shit says. But that has no bearing on anything Weigel, or Slate, or Politico, or CNN cares about. How does it play? That's the issue. How was the lie rolled out? Smartly? Poorly?

Gingrich is a walking lie. A normal society would have shunned him long ago, if they ever noted his existence in the first place. But not us. Oh hell no. He's a futurist! He's a intellect! That or he's a not particularly bright con artist who has the number of the one species willing to entertain his con — the Beltway journalist.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, you may consider yourself answered.
Holy shit, Riley; why are you not writing a book? Every time you do this I find myself nearly stunned with writer's jealousy. Kos and Erick Erickson are on CNN nightly. Ezra Klein has been drinkin' free for years. There are a million kids on the 'Net who'd gladly spend a year editing your archive if you'd just give em the green light to do so.
You need a national platform. Blogging is great fun, but so's a swinger's party. The commonality between them is you'll only attract folks who are already into it.
If I go to the trouble to comb through your stuff and assemble a text, will you at least consider going to the trouble of finding an agent/publisher? I don't want a piece of the action; a mention on the dusk jacket will suffice.
Don't give me the "I'm a curmudgeon, fuck 'em all" rap, either. Ill-tempered bile of this caliber can only be produced by a person with a profound concern for the well-being of his fellows. I suffer from persistent self-delusions (I voted for Obama), but I think now's the time, Sir.
Or not. Feel free to tell me to go fuck myself. The ratio of Power to Responsibility is still One.

Kordo, who forgot his goddamn Blogger login again...

Anonymous said...

Seconding 'Mous here - yours is big-time stuff, written as if writing and thinking are actually enjoyable and creative acts.

StringonaStick said...

Here's a third; how many more will it take Sir?

Mark Smeraldi said...

+!+1

James Stripes said...

I agree with Anonymous that I should be able to find your screeds in the bookstore. I've had to limit my intake of your blog lately because every time I read it I laugh myself out of my chair with another injury from hitting my head on the floor. I could carry a book to someplace padded and read in safety.

Tim said...

I had no idea Riley even read comments!

IMHO, Weigel is the best the libertarians have. He is relatively honest, but he's a journalist who is in love with libertarianism and doesn't have a huge problem with plutocracy.

By just claiming to be a libertarian; by sharing a workplace with Nick Gillepsie; by defending the Kochs and their less known friends, David has shown his grasp on a properly ordered society is flawed. After that, though, he is one of the best reporters on the Right wing nuts there is

Brendan said...

Oh, hey, look. Weigel noticed.

Anonymous said...

Riley is right. Both Bush and Daniels were given surpluses and both blew it in some manner. The next governor of Indiana will be crying in his/her beer when they see there isn't anything left to raid and nothing has been kept up. I also heard that Chuck Todd let him skate on MTP today. Sheesh.

M. Bouffant said...

There's always this.

Anonymous said...

Newt is brilliant. And to prove it he often says the word "frankly".

Phoenix Justice said...

David Weigel isn't a libertarian, no matter how much he proclaims to be one. As long as you are an apologist or a member of the Republican Party, you cannot be a libertarian.

I love Slate, but I dread reading Mr. Weigel's articles because I know they will be a bunch of drivel "explaining" the Republican position.

www.PhoenixJustice.com

Anonymous said...

There is nothing any of us can do at this point it seems. All the leading left wing blogs will do is report on the protests but not help organize them.

These guys seem more interested complaining about how terrible the Right is then how to change anything.

Houston said...

Oh Reilly, when you're hot, you're WAY fucking hot, and you're spot-on here.