Monday, February 27, 2012

Catch of the Day

Alyssa Rosenberg watches a Lou Dobbs rant about...The Lorax and The Borrowers. Well, actually, about two new movies based on those classic books, which were apparently part of some sort of obscure left-wing conspiracy to brainwash the youth of America. As Rosenberg says:
But the lesson here is less that Dobbs is reaching to make his case in this particular instance. It’s how desperate conservatives are to marginalize some totally reasonable ideas. You can see this sort of thinking in the paranoid argument that bike lanes are part of a United Nations plot to control American communities or the extreme reaction to taxation. These are the sorts of arguments people turn to when they’re out of good, rational ideas to put up against something they just don’t want to happen, because it makes them angry or uncomfortable.
What I'd add are two things. One is that if you have a partisan press which makes most of its money off of chumps who are eager to believe the wildest things out there, then you have very little incentive to try for anything better. Real policy, and even real critiques of policy or politicians or culture, is hard. Making stuff up is a lot easier, and if your audience doesn't care and no one on your side is willing to call you out on it, then there's just a lot of incentive to take the easy road.

The other thing, and I said this the other day but it bears repeating, is that this kind of junk is generated naturally on all sides of the partisan divide. The difference, and it's a huge one, is that Democrats for the most part ignore or condemn such things when they arise on the left, but Republicans? Not so much. So you have a presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, who is peddling outright fantasies about euthanasia in the Netherlands, and we have another whose entire foreign policy case to the American people is based on an complete myth about "apology tours."

So are they "out of good, rational ideas"? Or just lazy because their market encourages it? Or both? Either way, it's sad and pathetic, and not good at all for producing viable public policy, conservative or liberal.

And: great catch!


  1. If you really believe that Obama is a radical socialist (etc.) and that W was not a conservative and that GHW betrayed Repubs and his base by agreeing to a tax hike, then there's not a lot of ground for rationality left. The only flawless president in the 20th century is the fantasy Reagan, who of course had as many apostasies as anyone (or more), but whose apostasies are deleted from the record the same way Jesus's teachings on the poor and dispossessed (not to mention loving your neighbor) are deleted from the fantasy Gospels. (And, it's probably just me, but I don't see much overlap between the views of the first Repub president and those of modern-day Repubs - sure, they love the 19th century, but land grant colleges are for snobs and railroads are socialist.)

    Partially restating what you've said before, Repubs are barely interested in policy in the best of times, and these times, with a cantankerous House, a seemingly interminable primary season pushing presidential contenders ever farther to the right, and a perceived need to unceasingly stoke the base's fear and loathing of Obama are as close to the worst of times for policy formation as one could imagine. If Obama really were governing as a radical, there would be a lot of room for center-right policy proposals, just as Repubs were able to oppose Hillarycare with proto-Romneycare. But he's not.

    If Repubs were running to replace a radical, building-hating, conflagration-loving Fire Chief, who insists on apologizing to fires rather than trying to put them out because he secretly likes to see families thrown on out the street, with one of their own, they'd be promising to never, ever use water to put out a structure fire. ("But the chief's Repub predecessor used water too, and you loved him." "No we didn't. He was a fire chief in name only, and we hated water then, too.")

    1. The most grating new right-wing projection is that Obama practices "crony capitalism", a phrase that was coined to describe the Bush/Cheney administration.

  2. I'm trying to stay away from commenting for a while, but you're making it hard for me.

    Here you understand that we "have a partisan press which makes most of its money off of chumps who are eager to believe the wildest things out there," here you understand that the two leading candidates of a major party are peddling complete falsehoods.

    Is there anything we can say or do, to get you towards the next step of saying that this represents a "pollution" of our common culture, of our public political forums, and that we can look to items such as Supreme Court rulings that deceitful advertising is not protected speech, as a remedy?

    You say you have no problem with quantities and qualities of political advertising, as it is "providing information" to the public (and this does seem to be a majority position among established commentators in the media). How low does the quality of this "information" have to go, before we can talk of remedies? If 50.5% of the public representing 271 electoral votes falls for the nonsense, we just have to grin and bear it and hope that our good information will prevail in a future election (despite a totally hypocritical & power-seeking political party & constituency which will be using its power to prevent any future challenges to their power)?

    I'm purposely being provocative here and have too many other obligations to get into any polemics on this, I've laid out some innovative proposals for legal/political action against deceitful advertising in another forum and it does seem like the time to beat that drum again.

  3. People used to understand the separation between environmental public policy and just living an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Now we can't teach our kids to be proactive in recycling and planting trees? The Lorax has nothing to do with government regulation, but now it's apparently liberal brainwashing. It's trying to tell people to take the initiative for themselves. The more they do, the less the government has to regulate. You'd figure conservatives would be behind that.

  4. You're making it worse! Just say the word "lies"! Why doesn't anyone actually accuse them of lying?!?!?!?


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