Friday, March 06, 2009

The National Rebuke


Rush Limbaugh demands to be the tar-soaked "anchor baby" of the Republican base. It's initially surprising how quickly this has become an issue - until you think about it. Because the only way to deal with this effectively would be to truthfully explain why exactly Rush does not represent the best interests of the republican party.

This, of course, would require discussing who and what those "interests" are. And somehow, nobody seems able to go there.

The "close your eyes and think of England" approach to dismissing reasoned arguments worked well enough when there actually were a few small, crumpled bills left on the nightstand after a distateful encounter. But it becomes entirely unpersuasive when the cash is replaced with an invoice for "services rendered."

In point of practical fact, it is no longer reasonably possible to expect anyone arguing a conservative case to be presumed an honest broker, faithfully expressing a defensible idea derived from fact and experience. There is now a very high bar to that presumption, and it has been put in place and jacked very high by the the pollution of the commons with fools demanding we give their stupid, provably dishonest and outright hateful speech the same respect reasoned arguments, well founded economics and solid scientific evidence deserve.

And yet the whining of the extreme right wing gets louder and louder, almost paradoxically, as more and more persons of intelligence dissociate themselves from associating themselves with embarrassingly public willful stupidity.

When a freshman republican has to joke that they might be a "closet democrat" in a clear attempt to gain an initial presumption of sanity, things are sad indeed. Of course, for his sins, he was forced to vote with the party against his judgement and that of his New Oreleans constituancy and for that, he's facing a recall petition. Maybe he should just come out of that closet.

Even four years ago, there were a great many more literate and persuasive voices on the Right, and what once were staunch bastions of rigorous conservative thought now content themselves with taking republican talking points and recasting them in bigger words.

I for one am intensely suspicious of people so conspicuously trying to blow smoke up my ass as that NRO piece, cited above. Insulting my intelligence in service of my vanity - well, perhaps I'm some sort of curmugeonly exception. With the NRO and other old line media sharply losing influence and revenue - perhaps I'm not as exceptional as all that.

There is only so much stupidity and self-congratulatory foolishness one can tolerate in service of any cause before one starts to question whether the cause itself is worth going down with.



I just wrote the following as a response in a digg thread and realized it made for a proper summation and a likely explanation as to why popular opinion has tilted so sharply and suddenly toward the center.

It's fallacious to assume that people are being dugg down or dugg up purely for partisan agreement or disagreement. It's fallacious on two levels. First, it reveals magical thinking - that an assumption about the internal motives of another is valid, when you actually have nothing to go on but a very minor behavior.

All you know is that the argument was found unpersuasive on the whole. Individual comments may help you determine the overall consensus about the worth of your argument, but of course the comments ARE made by individuals. You need a very large sample to make any useful presumption of motivation.

The second fallacy here is the presumption that both arguments are of equal merit. Never mind which arguments - this is true of any argument, or debate, and digg is explicitly set up to judge individual reactions to the merit of a post.

But we do not know why a point succeeds or fails with any individual. Nor, in many ways, do we actually care.

A debate or a discussion is a means to reach a consensus. In many ways, the exact consensus does not matter all that much.

However, there are cases where public policy has not respected the national consensus, because some factions of our culture have undue influence. Again, I'm not speaking to when, where, or what. I only point out that if you look back on history, a conspicuous disrespect for consensus has never worked out well, and the more conspicuously that disrespect favors the monied classes against people who are abused as direct or side effect to the concentration of power, the more reasonable it seems to the average man to kill them and take their stuff.

The Founders of the US Republic, being highly literate students of history, saw this as a problem - from the viewpoint of people who had nice stuff they felt they would like to keep.

I do not think it prudent to neglect such wisdom.

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