I was so busy ranting and raving yesterday that I missed a good one. Glenzilla wrote a good piece on the pervasiveness of Democratic dissatisfaction, and linked to this post by Michael Kinsley at Politico on the topic of intellectual dishonesty:
The blight of intellectual dishonesty is everybody’s problem. What is intellectual honesty? Yglesias seems to think it’s the same thing as accuracy or honesty, plain and simple. But it’s not. Accuracy means getting your facts straight. Honesty means not telling conscious or purposeful lies on questions of hard fact. Intellectual honesty is more demanding: It means being truthful about what’s going on inside your own head.
To start, you shouldn’t say anything that you don’t believe is true. But that’s just to start. Intellectual honesty means that you have a basis for your belief, that you have tested your belief against other beliefs on the same subject, that you have no blinding bias or, at least, have put bias aside as best you can. “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”: Your views on, say, the constitutional limits of presidential war powers should not turn on which party controls the presidency. Your views on one subject should be consistent with your views on all other subjects. And if you’re going to base your reelection campaign on your opponent’s 20-year-old arrest for drunken driving, or on how his visits to Washington as a teenager (you visited once; he visited three times and even sent his mom a postcard saying he was having fun) make him too “inside the Beltway,” you need to have handy an explanation of why you believe that this is one of the most pressing issues facing voters.
Glenn had this to say:
It’s fine if someone wants to be a cheerleader, clapping loudly in order to rally the troops. Every Party has and needs those types of people (though it’s strange (though not unusual) that a person who wants to do that would call himself a “journalist”; generally one finds that trait in political operatives and spokespeople).
The claim that dissatisfaction among Democrats is confined to a “couple of blogs” might advance Schmitt’s political objectives. Given the human craving to make perceptions correspond with desires, it likely makes him feel good to believe that it’s true. But it’s so plainly false that it’s hard to believe that anyone could say it with a straight face, let alone believe that it will help anything — their Party or themselves — to claim it. As a general proposition, papering over serious problems — pretending they do not exist — is never constructive, and that’s certainly true when it comes to a Party’s political failures. Worst of all, making this claim obscures a very important truth that ought to be promoted and amplified, one which the establishment media (“move to the Right!”) will do its best to deny after November: Democrats do themselves no favors when they ignore the wishes, values and agenda of their “base”: i.e., those who are most responsible for their being in power. Quite the opposite is true.
You may have noticed that my most spittle-flecked rants are the ones directed at the A-list progressive bloggers rather than Republicans or right-wing bloggers. The reason for that is best encapsulated by this comment from WMCB:
I do not get freaked out and angry when my elderly dog with a bladder problem keeps peeing on the corner of my couch. I don’t LIKE it, but I sort of expect it.
I do, however, get pissed off as hell if my husband is doing it.
Once upon a time Left Blogistan was a meritocracy. This was back in the days when the Mainly Stupid Media was discussing the distinguishing characteristics of the Clenis and swooning over Commander Codpiece. More and more people started using the internet and some of them started web logs which were basically diaries or journals where people posted their thoughts and ideas.
Some of these “blogs” focused on news and politics. The authors usually didn’t have special sources of information, they just did analysis that was very different from that being done by the chattering classes. A few of these bloggers gained fame not because somebody handed them a megaphone but because of the quality of their writing.
Other writers linked to them, blogrolls were started, and an online community formed. These bloggers eschewed groupthink, were irreverent and took pride in being members of the “reality based community.” Oh, and they said “fuck” a lot and used lots of other profanity too.
Those were heady days, heady days indeed.
I’m not talking about latecomers like Ezra and Matty Y. who went straight from potty-training to professional (paid) blogging. I’m talking about people like Digby, who built her reputation without ever revealing her true identity. In fact, many people were surprised to learn that Digby was a “she,” not a “he.”
Then came the wunderkind (almost all male) who looked at blogging as a financial opportunity and talked about business models. These were guys like Markos and Josh. They were followed by Arianna and other well-funded entrepreneurs who simply bought their way in. Last of all came the Gen X’ers like Matt and Ezra who were just hired and given the online equivalent of megaphones.
Somewhere during the time the blogosphere was becoming”professional” it also became corrupted. Most of us didn’t realize it until about 2008 when we were shocked and dismayed to learn the true natures of many people we had come to respect.
I don’t know if they changed or it was bullshit from day one. Some of both I’d guess.
For years they told us about the moral and ethical failings of the Republicans and Movement Conservatives. We were told we should aspire to more than just winning elections. We were supposed reform our political system by replacing the faux-morality of the right with a true morality based on truth, respect for the law and principles of democracy.
We opposed the war, racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. We despised the “Village” and government secrecy. We tried to use the internet to organize grassroots activism and counter the influence of the malefactors of great wealth.
So what happened? Obamanation happened.
This year’s running of the quadrennial horse race exposed — to those who would notice — many flaws in the progressive blogosphere, some as surprising as they were disappointing: bullying groupthink, classism, misogyny, and disturbing appetites for stale rightwing baloney and newly minted Drudgian smears.
Overarching the whole experience was a cloud of truthiness, believing whatever it felt good to believe, facts-be-damned.
The Obama skeptic found her/himself in the Ron Suskind role, the nose-against-the-glass reality-based wonk who “just didn’t get it,” being read the latest edition of the Arthur Jensen speech.
One of the most interesting things bloggers have told me (often off the record) about the primary season was how clear it became that their readers really did dictate what the bloggers wrote. For years, bloggers and their readers had been in heated agreement about Bush, about Iraq, about the MSM. But in lots of cases they were not in agreement about who should be the Democratic nominee and bloggers mentioned to me how strange and uncomfortable that schism was, and how in the end many of them did just punt. Meaning, they got tired of fighting with their readers and simply didn’t write certain things because they knew it would create a pie fight within the site. They’re not especially proud of it, but they have conceded that they did alter what they wrote. And that for them it was a real eye-opener because they had spent years educating their readers about politics and the press and creating certain narratives together. And then during the primary season, some bloggers felt like their readers just completely ignored those shared lessons (and of course, the readers would say it was the blogger who ignored those shared lessons) that left the bloggers with the uncomfortable choice of essentially rejecting their readers or editing what they wrote. Today, some will admit they opted for the second choice.
How about Digby?:
“I thought it was character assassination,” Digby told me a couple weeks after the RFK controversy had passed. She was exhausted by the toll the campaign had already taken on the blogosphere. She was also aware of the kind of pie fights that would erupt on her site if she posted a condemnation of those who unfairly attacked Clinton for her RFK comments. So Digby, who never endorsed either candidate, simply passed on the story. “I’m a chicken shit,” she said with a shake of her head.
Whether corrupt or chickenshit, the things we saw were more than just disappointing, they were an infuriating betrayal of everything we believe in. Worst of all, things haven’t changed.
These “leaders” of Left Blogistan sold us out on health care reform. They traded away any discussion of single payer in exchange for Obama’s promises on the ambiguous “public option.” Corrente has done a good job of documenting the way all the big blogs acted in unison in squishing any mention of single payer.
So instead of being advocates for us they became cheerleaders for ObamaCare. But Obama fucked ’em, and we got fucked too.
Maybe they thought they were really doing the right thing, but what they did violated basic principles of democracy. We’re supposed to be all about openness and grassroots “bottom-up” action.
What the A-list bloggers did was to conspire in secret (through the Journolist, other listservs, private emails and/or White House conference calls) to suppress open discussion and impose a “top-down” outcome. If wasn’t the first time or the last.
Now they’re trying to use the Jedi mind-trick on us and convince us we’re living in a progressive paradise. Sorry guys, but that only works on weak minds so don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
Of course they don’t care what we think because we were prematurely correct and carry the PUMA taint.
Well they can all kiss my taint.