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Dishonest Intellectuals

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.

Eric Boehlert:

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.

Just say No!

77 Responses

  1. Humonga-Honk! :mrgreen:

    Gotta get to work now. Ciao.

  2. There are so many pseudo-intellectuals in Left Blogistan these days:

    I need to get something off my chest – something that’s been bothering me for a while. Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a river of “I Told You So” email from both Ralph Nader fans and from Hillary Clinton sycophants claiming that because President Obama has made some tactical mistakes and ideologically odious moves – and because I’ve been critical of some of these – that it means I was abhorrently wrong for being generally supportive of his candidacy during the primary and the general election; that I need to apologetically throw myself on the mercy of the court; and that I need to beg for forgiveness.*

    These rants – and they are really, truly half-deranged rants – represent a kind of reductionism that’s just braindead. I stand by everything I wrote and said about Obama during the election – that includes both the praise and criticism. I, and many others who supported Obama, weren’t misled by him. I had my eyes wide open – just read the Nation piece I wrote about Obama after spending a day with him. He’s not a perfect president, and he’s not what I would call a movement progressive. I’m not happy about that, but I never thought otherwise.


    To Clintonites, just STFU and slither back to your rathole of bitterness. Your candidate lost because she helped create the problems we now have to fix. Deal with that and become a productive member of society, or again, just STFU.

    • LOL, good parody!

    • Excuse me – I didn’t appear in blockquotes in the version I responded to.

    • It’s funny how much they hate those who refuse to take the koolaid. 🙂

    • Lol But he stands by his disavowal all of the incredulous “Obama For President? Are you joking?” pieces he wrote before Obama started sending him handwritten notes and orchid corsages.

    • Barack Obama makes a convincing case that he is not overly motivated by political machinations. Many have accused him of Hillary Clinton-style positioning for a potential presidential run. But that kind of calculation does not appear to be in play, at least not right now–and Obama chafes when anyone implies the opposite. “You should always assume that when I cast a vote or make a statement it is because it is what I believe in,” he said. “The thing that bothers me is the assumption that if I make a judgment that’s different from yours, then it must mean I am less progressive or my goals are different, meaning I must be not really committed to helping people but rather I am trying to triangulate or drift toward the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council].”



      either Obama lied to Sirota’s face, or Sirota is so blinded by his Clinton hatred that he couldn’t tell the difference.

      No, David, YOU STFU!

      • I don’t care how jaded you think you are, Obama is cynical and brazen enough to shock anyone. It’s absolutely incredible.

  3. Howard Kurtz leaves Washington Post for Daily Beast

    Howard Kurtz, a Washington media institution who has been covering the press for the Washington Post for two decades, shocked the media world Tuesday by announcing a jump to the Daily Beast, the two-year-old website edited by Tina Brown and owned by Barry Diller’s IAC.

    Kurtz will serve as the Daily Beast’s Washington bureau chief, overseeing the site’s coverage of Washington and writing regularly on politics and media. He will keep his “Reliable Sources” show on CNN.
    More at Politico

  4. OT, but infuriating: The House and Senate have passed a Repub sponsored bill which will, per this post at Corrente, result in the banksters’ nice little foreclosure fake papers being considered A-OK.

    Essentially, what is happening is that the banksters have been having great difficulty in local and state courts showing that they actually have the legal right to foreclose on homes. This is because in the past three decades of mortgage securitization, the simple paper work filed with local court clerks showing who owned the mortgage, was effectively undermined by the increasing complexities and intricacies of the financial derivatives created for securitizing mortgages. In effect, Wall Street’s funny money games destroyed the record keeping necessary for a fair and free market based on property rights. Quelle surprise!

    To overcome this major legal hurdle, the banksters have simply been forging the documents required by the courts. Just outright forging the documents! Florida Congressman and progressive firebrand Alan Grayson a few days ago released a video, one scene of which shows not two, not three, but SIX different examples of a forged signature of a lending officer.

    This has been in the works since HR 3808 was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-AL-4, on 10/14/2009.

    The link takes you to the post; in my comment (currently 2nd) is the chronology of the bill (passed by voice vote in the House, unanimous consent in the Senate) and a link to Sen. Casey who asked it be passed by unanmious consent. Email contact at his link, plus all his offices’ phone numbers.

    It was sent to DINO Obama on 9/30 — What Obama does with it (VETO WOULD BE GOOD, sir) will be another indicator of his true approach to governing. Call, email, do what you can to keep this from becoming law. ASAP would be best.

    If the Dems want to override a veto on this, NOTA them all!

    As Yves Smith wrote, “…the problem is that these solutions will be depicted as “efficient,” just as securitizations and other “innovations” were.”

    What’s a little illegality among banksters and their bought and paid for pols?

  5. On topic — I remember being called out if facts were posited without citations, links, or some corroborating back up.

    I read, lurked, then began dipping my toe into commenting. I finally learned how to use the URL HTML code….but I sure can mess it up with typos!

    (This is a Drupal site, right? Is it difficult to get the HTML tag buttons, like Corrente does? Edit or at least preview? Just wonderin’….)

    • It’s not difficult, it simply costs money to upgrade.

      Since we don’t get money from advertising, donations or candidate shilling we would have to pay out of pocket and we’re just too cheap for that.

      • Ah, I wondered if that were part of the problem. Yeah, money, money, money: It’s a rich man’s world.

        Thanks for the info.

  6. Here’s some “bone picking” for you. Check out my post as it’s kind of funny and then read the bottom and join my drinking game! lol

  7. And the working class are tarred as raycists for not swallowing the Dem bullshit. Both parties are fucking them over, but its human nature to run from the guy that’s fucking you right now!!! And today, its the democrats.

  8. This is hilarious. Jeralyn is getting her panties in a twist because Bristol Palin didn’t go home on DWTS, darnit!


    Her hatred of the entire Palin family is obscene. And she clearly does not understand what it takes to be a celebrity these days. Bristol isn’t the only celebrity who is talentless and only known because of her parents. I would say at least half of the most well-known celebrities in the tabloids are talentless and only known because of their parents, a sex tape, or crimes they’ve committed.

    I find it funny that she would get that angry over a stupid dancing competition featuring D-list celebrities. She really needs to get a life.

    • Whaaaa!

    • That’s one of the funniest posts I’ve ever, ever seen. I’d award it something if I could. The politicization of DWTS has sapped our nation’s moral fiber and taken our innocence.

      • Jeralyn let her mind wander and it didn’t come back.

        • Lol! Damn, she’s really losing it. She deleted someone’s comment for insulting Z list celebs and spreading false info about them. Watch what you say about Snooki in the future, Obama, Jeralyn’s incredibly valuable support is on the line. Let’s hope that in the future, all competitive reality shows are forced to include at least one serial rapist to restore her faith in this country’s potential and give her someone to root for again.

          • Snooki has already established herself as a McCain fan after her complaints about the tanning tax.

          • Don’t tell Jeralyn, she might not be able to handle it if she knew Jersey Shore has become politicized. Does this mean Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and might be part of the DWTS Rebel Alliance along with Satan’s Spawn? What about Audrina? She knows Lauren who knows Kristin who knows Brody who knows Heidi who knows Spencer–how can we ever be sure about her?

          • What is a “Snooki?”

          • Who?

          • I think a Snooki is a reality TV version of that movie gal Lindsay Lohan that is always in trouble.

            I had to see who she was when it was ‘breaking news’…Health Care…the death of Single Payer, the Public Option and the Medicare Buy In, wasn’t worthy of such mention as this ‘Snooki’ person. It’s no wonder that American’s will continue to go without health care, since we recently learned that the federal government is accepting of the mini health plans which only cover $2,000 and costs too much for the lack of coverage it offers.

          • I opened a new thread on this topic

      • I was listening to some of the older ladies at work discussing DWTS. This week, most of the conversation was about Michael Bolton coming back to sing after he was eliminated and the conflict with the judge who goves everyone low scores. They barely mentioned Bristol. This stuff is limited to people who want to politicize it.

        What really burns Jeralyn is that this week was sort of a left vs. right contest. Margaret Cho’s audience is decidedly liberal now. The people voting for Bristol are by and large Palin fans. What happened yesterday was the right beat the left in terms of enthusiam if not numbers. It was a small indicator of the mood in the country at large.

        It’s hilarious how she defends the charter of DWTS by defending Tom Delay’s horrible performance. This is a reality show, there is no high moral standard. ABC puts on the people who will get the most viewers. Those ratings are going to dip if Bristol gets canned prematurely.

    • The comments are better than the post.

    • Clearly ABC needs to be boycotted . Like that time when they asked Obama tough questions in the debate, not just Hillary.

  9. Interesting tidbit my mother told me on our way home from work today. She has had a temp in her office the past couple of days and he works on the Hill (he takes temp work when congress is not in session). Apparently, this kid is a card carrying member of Obamanation because he told her that when the Tea Partiers call Obama a “socialist” that’s their code word for the n-word. For real. That is how deranged Obamanation has become. They actually believe the word “socialist” is code for a racial pejorative. Un-freakin’-believable!

    • Lol Well, it makes sense, after all, Bill Clinton was “our first Black President” and he was called a socialist at least 30 million times a day.

    • I was flipping through radio stations on my way home from work, heard on one show that a huge majority of Americans polled think that race relations are much worse today than they were just two short years ago. Ya think? I blame Obama and the Democrats entirely for this, in order to stir up their “base” they have managed to set race relations back decades. “Post-racial” indeed.

      • Totally agree. Thanks to Obama&Co. MLK’s dream will not only not come true for his “four little children” but probably not for their children either … or their grandchildren or …

    • I remember actual articles 2 years ago ‘splaining how this works. The talking point is not even new, it’s older than the Tea Party.

  10. And Suedo-Intellectuals at that!

  11. What a wonderful, wonderful post, thanks. You know, I gave up on the progressive blogosphere right in the beginning, with the South Carolina “racist” attacks on Hillary and Bill. Our “post-racial” then candidate Obama should have been raked over the coals when he said nothing to defend the Clintons, and everyone should have been outraged to learn that the Obama campaign was passing along “talking points” to the media regarding some small snippet from something Hillary said that could be spun to appear “racist”. I realized then that the “end justifies the means” coalition of media and “new” Democrats would sacrifice every principle in which I believe to elect Obama. And that’s when I began to turn into the person who pulled the lever for McCain, albeit with tears in my eyes, but nevertheless with principles intact.

    • Honk! Honk!

      Yes, indeed—the Obama campaign sent “raycist” talking points to all the media fluffers , at the time.


  12. ??–I have a question that I keep forgetting to ask. Why is Glen Greenwald called ‘Glenzilla?’

    • Glenn + Godzilla = Glenzilla

      • ok–thanks, that makes sense. I thought it was some inside story.

        Great post, btw, have been reading thru the links.

    • I think it partly has to do with the fact that he’s known for writing these ginormous, chomping posts on a daily basis, while most bloggers follow the Atrios model of dinky little nibbles at subjects.

  13. I really miss Media Whores Online at times like this.

  14. OT.

    10 million hits is coming soon. Is there a committee to organize a bash?

    Any honks out there?

  15. Righteous, myiq, righteous.


  16. Great piece, myiq. One of your best.

  17. Smile!! Today’s headline:


    Hillary Clinton more popular than Obama in Illinois: Survey

    According to the Suffolk University poll, Clinton is the most notable politician in the state. The poll saw 61% voters supporting her whereas 32% sought her as unfavorable politico in Illinois. Comparatively Obama got 52% of favor while 41% of respondents considered him unfavorable.

  18. 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.


    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.

    The latter was most devastating to working folks, as it may be decades before we have another REAL opportunity at the passage of Single Payer or at the very least a Public Option and the proof is in the pudding as they didn’t even have the compassion to pass the Medicare Buy In.

  19. Superb post, btw.

  20. Read the Sirota post at OL–what a creep. Does he still feel we should crawl into the rathole? Anyway, who cares what he thinks.

  21. bugfuck–good one. And you are the classiest clown I’ve ever virtually known.

  22. Late to the party, just wanted to chime in on the praise of this post!

    FWIW, when I started reading blogs and saw the many references to Digby and how awesome s/he was, I tried to read her … but she/her writing never appealed to me. Was/is she really that great a writer? Or was/is there a little bit of a lemming-effect causing that notion?

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