Thursday, March 25, 2010

Talking Points Memo Throws Down

It's been a busy week. It was bound to happen, the sweet flow of new content stanched at some point. This news week didn't need anyone here to weigh in anyway. The hysteria of American conservatism and the self-conscious nail-picking prose of liberals unsure whether to gloat about a victory or lament a lack of progressivism to the healthcare bill was enough on its own.

Some good stuff came out of the events of this week, stuff that nobody here need comment on. Posting new content only to direct people someplace else represents a losing gambit. If people should read something else, why do they need you? You become little more than a Burger King just off the highway: people are going to keep going to a destination, but maybe you can draw a few off the road and to your profit before sending them right back on their way.

Still, this (guest?) piece from TalkingPointsMemo was impressive enough that it really should be singled out and others should be encouraged to read it:
An open letter to conservatives

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
Those opening grafs aren't promising, considering the awkward formatting, double spaces and basic errors, but it's well worth reading. Its thesis echoes things published here: that a political ideology based on scaring the shit out of people is fundamentally empty. "You should be afraid of ragheads, spics, fags and any form of taxation because that just means our communist black president stealing from you to give to lazy blacks and ACORN in exchange for votes" isn't even a worldview.

When you rely on inducing panic, on an irrational level of fear, you acknowledge that you proffer only the irrational to those you need to coerce into unthinking. It's the obverse of selling bad burgers via a pop star with big tits and a wet t-shirt. You're selling something you don't believe in to get people not to purchase it. All you have is "not that."

What the piece has to offer, which is not reflected in the above quoted text, is a merciless litany of effective links and citations. TalkingPointsMemo's contributor makes his point less to create a flawless essay on current conservatism but rather to establish a narrative framework on which he can hang a devastating series of links. It isn't just an argument: it's a stockpile of ammunition for 50 different arguments you might find yourself in. This easily excuses the wonky formatting: anybody might put a bunch of double-spaces in something if they happened to be linking a hundred articles to the text. Code is a bear.

If for nothing else, read it to find out how evil skull-head, Ron Paul acolyte, McCarthyite, daughter-pimper and black-man-dapping Michelle Bachmann managed to rack up $250,000 in federal farm subsidies while demonizing socialism. Say what you will about the WASPily aloof Cato Institute libertarians, but at least they're consistent in admitting that socialism is effective, efficient and necessary for something. They may believe that something is only dropping JDAMs on people and driving tanks, but they're honest about it. Bachmann presents the perfect avatar of modern conservatism: desperately concerned about every aspect of the constitution short of reading it (in that link's case, not even Article fucking 1) and histrionically paranoid about socialism unless and until it directly benefits her financially or politically.


  1. I agree it was a great, comprehensive list of links (reminds me of that website that listed all of Bush's scandals), but it was not written very well and needed not only spellcheck and editing, but an overhaul. Maybe someone will offer to rewrite it for mainstream publication.

    As far as Bachmann, we can only hope that the population of Minneapolis has diminished enough after this new census that her district is eliminated. As long as her stupid constiuents re-elect her, they are to blame!

    I truly feel sorry for her children.

  2. I would like to point out to all these anti-health legislation fear mongers that health insurance (or insurance in general) is inherently a socialist in nature. For someone to receive affordable care from the current health system, they rely on a large portion of the populace paying into a fund (i.e. premiums to an insurance company) where money can be withdrawn to pay huge treatment costs of those ill people who pay into that same fund. I can honestly say that the money I and my employer pay the insurance company does not add up to what I am charged by health care providers on a yearly basis (so in essence I’m paying for someone else’s care). It can’t get more socialist (or dare I say communist) as that. If these anti-socialist fear mongers really believe what they say, they need to come out and propose legislation that rids the country of all insurance companies thereby making each individual responsible in paying all service fees related to their own, personal healthcare.

  3. @Loretta,

    The problems you noted are why I suspected it's a guest piece. I wanted to check back today and Google the author, but TPM's down due to massive amounts of traffic. Anyway, a lot of liberal blogs post choppy and unedited submissions from their readers, often without bothering to sic them, I think as a gesture of authenticity. Like, "Here is the unvarnished opinion of people in the heartland." It removes that semblance of slick filtering if they can just indicate that something is in the same state as they received it.

  4. @ Ante Pavelić,

    That's a sharp observation, and it's one I should have worked in somewhere. I made something like that point elsewhere online when talking to someone who proudly stated that he was an Objectivist and had health insurance, blah blah blah, and I asked him why he'd joined a collective that kept others healthy with the sweat from his brow. I'm not sure why I didn't connect it to anything else, but I suppose you just get tunnel vision when you're whaling on Randroids.

    Thanks very much for the reminder.

  5. Ahaha, I just realized that that could sound like I'm saying, "Thanks, brah. Totally ahead of you because I'm way smart." That's not what I intended at all. I really did miss the boat on that insight and appreciate your pointing it out cogently. I guess I wanted to stick up for myself a little and say, "I woulda gotten there! Eventually!" Again, thanks.

  6. @loretta

    The ironic thing about Michele Bachmann and her re-election is her "anti-Census" stance. Turns out, if Minnesota doesn't get a very high percentage of Census form returns, they're going to lose a Congressional District.

    Guess which one is on the chopping block?


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