Monday, July 13, 2009

A Wingnut Monday: subverting meritocracy Edition

QOTD, DougJ:

... But—and I know I’m obsessed with this—why does contrarian concern trolling of liberal policies have to be the dominant mode of so much of the punditocracy? I understand the value of one or two New Republic-type columnists but why do there to be thousands? And why is that when a more-or-less exact replica of dozens of other contrarian concern trolls appears, that replica is greeted as a “fresh voice”?

I’m willing to offer one possible explanation: conservativism is so intellectually bereft that there’s no way to even discuss its positions without laughing, so the default smart-ass position is to nitpick at liberals. But I still don’t think that explains why there is so much of this stuff and why pissing off liberals is considered so important.


Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R) probably didn't realize she was about to generate quite a bit of attention for herself. Two weeks ago, during a discussion on allowing uranium mining north of the Grand Canyon, Allen expressed support for mining in an unexpected way.

"(The Earth) has been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn't been done away with," Allen said.

It's one thing to know that young-earth creationists are out there; it's another to hear a policymaker casually make the argument while exploring environmental policy.

The estimable Phil Plait noted, "It's not that she says the Earth is 6000 years old -- twice, just to make sure -- that floors me. It's the casual way she said it, as if she said 'I had a cup of coffee today.' From her manner, it's clear that not only does she believe this complete and utter nonsense, but this is a simple fact woven into her mind just like the Sun is bright or chocolate is tasty.... The irony, of course -- and there's always irony when creationism is involved -- is that she's talking about uranium mining, and it's through the radioactive decay of uranium that we know the Earth is billions of years old."

I'd hoped that Allen had somehow been taken out of context, or perhaps she'd been kidding, making a joke about a previous comment that we didn't see.

Alas, the Arizona Republic did an item on the hullabaloo the other day, and Allen didn't deny a thing. She said she's "totally ignored" the mockery, adding, "I think people are welcome to believe whatever they want about how old the Earth is."

If recent history is any guide, Allen will no doubt be elected to Congress, where House Republicans will position her to someday become the ranking member on the House Energy Committee.


Update. This is a classic (via commenter JK):

“I remember back in the late 1990s, when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture. Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol during the first Bush administration.

“The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at the White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC [Republican National Committee] and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at Penn and the Kennedy School of Government.

“With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. ‘I oppose it,’ Irving replied. ‘It subverts meritocracy.’ ”

Aravosis: Cheney directed CIA to lie to Congress

This just keeps getting better. And so, those career employees at the CIA, who never ever get political, apparently got political. From the NYT:

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.
Oh, and why did Panetta only learn of this program on June 23 of this year when he started as CIA director on February 13? (Hat tip, Grey Matter.)

Tim F.: Sarah Palin Is A Sign That God Loves Me And Wants Me To Be Happy

Please tell me this is true. via.

Palin Hints At Independent Conservative Movement

Excerpts from

Enter now Sarah Palin with very encouraging comments that lead one to believe that she is indeed planning to do what she must: build an independent conservative movement and take this nation back from the liberals which now control both parties.Thanks liberals, for provoking Sarah into the national scene while vetting that family at the same time.

One thing I will say, the Washington Times with their headline for this exclusive interview reveal an anti-Palin stance. She is, don’t doubt, a threat to every existing political status quo.

What is a true conservative? Who the hell knows? If it’s Sunday then Conservatism means hating CBS and resisting communazi black helicopter government census spies. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday then America equals the President equals the troops equals shut the fuck up or you hate freedom. Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for Muslim-hating, torture and police state powers. Pat Buchanan claims alternating Mondays opposite Randall Terry and the Discovery Institute.

Thank god for Sarah. Now she can tell us what conservatism means. This week.

In other news, John Cornyn just started drinking heavily(er).

  • Frank Rich adds: She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It

    SARAH PALIN and Al Sharpton don’t ordinarily have much in common, but they achieved a rare harmonic convergence at Michael Jackson’s memorial service. When Sharpton told the singer’s children it was their daddy’s adversaries, not their daddy, who were “strange,” he was channeling the pugnacious argument the Alaska governor had made the week before. There was nothing strange about her decision to quit in midterm, Palin told America. What’s strange — or “insane,” in her lingo — are the critics who dare question her erratic behavior on the national stage.

    Sharpton’s bashing of Jackson’s naysayers received the biggest ovation of the entire show. Palin’s combative resignation soliloquy, though much mocked by prognosticators of all political persuasions, has an equally vociferous and more powerful constituency. In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or pretty much what remains of it in the Barack Obama era.

    That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.

    The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she’s riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that’s larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.

John McCain, making his 10 gazillionth appearance on a Sunday morning show, was asked on "Meet the Press" this morning about his former running mate's decision to resign half-way through her only term as Alaska's governor.

"I don't think she quit. I don't know if there was a quote promise [to the people of Alaska to continue serving as Governor]. But I do know that she will be an effective player on the national stage."

Maybe McCain has some other definition of "quit"?

Sarah Palin sought a job; she accepted the job; and now she's decided to leave the job before its natural end. McCain may prefer a more gentle synonym, but whether or not she "quit" hardly seems open to debate.

  • Steve Benen adds:
    Here she is today, tweeting about her take on recent criticism.

    Problem w/Professional Politicians:They're more concerned w/holding a title in perpetuity than just accomplishing goals they promised voters

    Now, this is clearly a very foolish argument. For example, no one has suggested that Palin hold onto her office "in perpetuity." Some have suggested that she at least complete her one term in office. Palin still has 18 months left on the job she asked voters to give her. A year and a half may seem like a long time for someone anxious to pursue new adventures, but "perpetuity"? Please.

    For that matter, the whole point of the controversy about Palin's sudden and unexplained resignation is that she isn't accomplishing the goals she promised voters. She asked Alaskans to give her a shot; they agreed. Now, instead of accomplishing the goals she promised voters, she's quitting in the middle of her only term in office. If accomplishing goals were Palin's top "concern," she's stay in office and try to, you know, accomplish goals.

    Also note the almost comical arrogance. She's not like those "Professional Politicians"; she's better than them. While they complete their terms and follow through on their promises to the public, Palin knows a better way -- quit before the job is done, blow off the promises, and then lecture everyone about the "problem" with those who complete their terms in office.

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