Friday, February 12, 2010

The dope on the dope: Princess Sarah not only isn't a Lincoln, she isn't even a Ford


"It’s not just the fact that Republicans are now posing as staunch defenders of a program they have hated ever since the days when Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America’s freedom. Nor is it even the fact that, as House speaker, [Newt] Gingrich personally tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare -- and, in 1995, went so far as to shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those cuts. . . .

"No, what’s truly mind-boggling is this: Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they are, themselves, seeking to dismantle the whole program."

-- Paul Krugman, in his NYT column today,

by Ken

I suppose everybody has signed up for all those "newsletters" offers free, synopsizing the site's latest news and opinion offerings (and whatever else you may be interested in). And I'm happy to have them. My attention is called to all sorts of stuff I might well miss otherwise.

The only thing is that lately there seem to be more and more of these bulletins aimed at keeping me informed what the most popular stories and opinion pieces are. Presumably this is designed to protect me from the embarrassment of revealing myself to be out of touch with what real folks care about in the paper when I venture out into polite society. Please!

It deepens from annoying to downright depressing, though, when they're celebrating sludge like David S. Broder (or, more properly, the Broder Monkeys who've been writing his stuff the last 20 or 30 years) earnestly informing us how Sarah Palin's message could just be a winner for her, or some such swill. Not that I don't entertain dark fantasies of the sort myself, but the thought of getting the ultimate Village-insider take on a phenomenon that, whatever else it is, is aimed squarely at the imperial Village shuttered behind those Beltway walls, well, that's just too much.

Another piece that has been at the top of the WaPo hit list is the cackling of some right-wing hyena about how us leftists think we know everything but he's here to show one and all how wrong we are. I didn't have to read that one either to know that this guy's full of doody, a cynical opportunist preying on the ignorance so many Americans have chosen as their way of life, aided and exhorted by the colluded forces of darkness around them, starting with the fortresses of mind-controlling Crap Christianity.

I don't suppose there's any point in saying it over and over, but I don't see any way of avoiding it. I'm not saying that Princess Sarah is stupid, or that the people who stupidly admire her are stupid. What they are is ignorant. The difference is simple. It's not that their brains are incapable of taking in and processing real-world information, but that they have shut their brains off and cut themselves off from actual information, choosing instead to be force-fed a diet of lies and delusions by cynical manipulators who know how to plug into their bedrock prejudices. And the various cults of the Right keep getting better and better at enslaving their charges in their ignorance. (Hey, it's not as if we've put much effort into maintaining a competent public education system that might counter the forces of ignorance.)

You keep looking at it and wondering, "How can it get any worse?" and every day brings a new answer. Just today Paul Krugman is registering astonishment that Republicans have -- against all odds and all vestiges of reality -- made a winning issue out of "protecting" Medicare, when in fact they are are targeting their crusade to destroy it.

The cult of ignorance is hardly a brand-new invention in public affairs. I think back to the presidency of Jerry Ford, when -- at an embarrassingl advanced age -- I had to have that distinction between stupidity and ignorance explained to me. But at least I had a good explainer: then political correspondent (and now distinguished political historian and commentator, nationally syndicated columnist and author of many fine books) Richard Reeves, who believed strongly that the distinction was crucial to understanding Ford, who was the subject of his very first book, A Ford, Not a Lincoln. (Can you make out the book's subtitle, by the way? Or Why There Are no Leaders in Washington. This was in 1975.)

The man wasn't stupid, Reeves insisted. He just didn't want to be burdened with any more than he absolutely needed to know to get through the day.

Even as president, our Jerry insisted (as I recall the details) that any memo that came to him requiring a presidential decision -- in other words, the basic modus operandi of government -- be no more than a page and present no more than two options, with an implicit understanding (or could it have been explicit?) that it would be clear which option was "correct." This was as much as he wanted to know about "issues," as much as he was prepared to take in. And at that, as the lovely Mike Keefe cartoon above suggests, it's more reality than, say, Princess Sarah appears prepared to take in.

And it seems to me that Jerry Ford in his years in Congress, and in particular his time as House minority leader, has to have had a basic familiarity with the workings of government and the urgencies pressing on it that's positively professorial by comparison with (again to pick a random example) Princess Sarah. She has chosen to live her life free of any intellectual clutter more demanding than some easy-to-grasp ultra-right religious wackadoodlery and a store of folksy "wisdom" that's almost all mindless gibberish.

Now the Broder Monkeys want to tell us that she could yet be a contender? Well, I guess it takes news awhile to penetrate the Beltway ramparts.

(Note: I'm assuming the Broder Monkeys weren't suggesting it's a good thing that Princess Sarah could be a contender. Now that would be something I really don't want to know.)


This week's Sunday Classics composer is Edvard Grieg, and if I do say so myself, I'm darned pleased with tonight's preview, which posts at 9pm PT. (That's midnight ET for those of you who haven't gotten the hang of this time-zone thing yet.) [Oops: I managed to confuse myself over the post times. Oh well. Sorry about that.]

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At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Carter said...

The average liberal still doesn't get that the Washington Post is a conservative paper (distinguishing it from Right Wing media such as the Washington Times, FOX et al). The Post's expose on Watergate & its public feud with Nixon created in the public mind a perception of a liberal paper. Unlike the New York Times, which usually espouses liberal policies, the Post can almost always be found opposing them.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous DeanOR said...

My favorite quotes from that Krugman column are "and irony died" and "breathtaking act of staggering hypocrisy".
The man has a way with words, but i wonder how much longer the NYT will publish his words.

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous mikbee42 said...

" aided and exhorted by the colluded forces of darkness around them, starting with the fortresses of mind-controlling Crap Christianity."

wtf ken?
how about starting with the mind controlling israeli-jewish crap media,wall street and zionist politicians a la lieberman.
the real cult of ignorance.
your bigoted blanket statement about "Christianity" is not what i expected from you or dwt.
lets keep it fair and balanced!

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Perhaps Mindless Monotheism?

Hey, works for me!

At 2:09 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Sorry I was unclear, Mikbee42, but I didn't make a "blanket statement about Christianity," bigoted or otherwise. I referred specifically to Crap Christianity, which I've written about here frequently: It's the virulent, exploding version, generally but not exclusively evangelical, that has infested the U.S. in, say, the last 50 years.

If this is the first time you're encountering my reference to Crap Christianity, I can see where you might not have gotten my meaning. Still, it seems to me quite a jump to reading that as a statement that Crap Christianity = Christianity. That's not only not what I meant but not, I'm pretty sure, what I wrote -- though again I can appreciate the possibility of confusion.

(There is, of course, the larger subject of the stupendous historical wreckage wrought proudly in the name of mainstream Christianity -- and of course by most religions that have had the opportunity. But that's a subject for another time.)

I don't think anyone could complain that DWT devotes too little attention to crap media or to crappy Joe LIeberman. However, I guess it would be my opinion that neither of these has had anything like the effect of the organizers of Crap Christianity in turning some 40 percent of the population into ungoverning and ungovernable mental zombies.


At 5:53 AM, Blogger Serving Patriot said...

Well, I guess it takes news awhile to penetrate the Beltway ramparts.

If we are relying on common sense and informed citizens, the gnews will never penetrate the Beltway Bubble.

Besides, they all think they make reality now. And not that reality is thrust upon them.



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