April 2010


At Haquelebac I do culture only. Sometimes my politics peeks through, but nothing there  is intended to have a political effect.

Older pieces are archived at Idiocentrism and Open Left.

Self-published books:  Lulu.

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emersonj at  g m a i l  d o t   c o m

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During the last two years or so I’ve found it increasingly impossible to speak civilly to people about politics. I’ve never been a big fan of civility, but during this period I have often found myself insulting people who didn’t in any way deserve it. Without being more specific than that, I apologize to those people.

So about a year ago I quit commenting several on otherwise perfectly nice sites just because politics was sometimes discussed there, but too often in a way that infuriated me. I don’t hate anyone anywhere, but I just couldn’t take it any more. I continued posting on my own terms here, at Open Left, and at a few other places for awhile, but recently I’ve discontinued that too.

Trying to quit. My fans know that I’ve been relapsing a lot, like someone quitting smoking, but I’ve been sticking to the goal. I’ve now deleted all but six of my political bookmarks  — though on Facebook, alas, I still end up doing a lot of politics anyway.

I’m not sure that I have any political role in the world of today, and the political future I see is dim.  As far as I can tell, the best we can hope for (and it’s not a sure thing at all) is something like Rahm and Barack forever. People who like those guys will not understand what I’m saying, but there are a lot of people who will.

This has been a personal crisis for me, but it isn’t a spinoff of any other personal crisis. I’m solvent, living indoors, in good health, on good terms with the law, and not in danger of involuntary commitment. It’s possible that  my pessimism is the result of a chemical imbalance in my brain,  and partly for fear of that I’ve only shared it with a few people before this.  But when I’m not thinking about politics, I usually feel fine.

My political ideas remain about the same, and I have all the respect in the world for those who are continuing the fight. I still frequently visit Open Left, Firedoglake, Glenn Greenwald, Seeing the Forest, Dean Baker, and a couple of other sites. But in my opinion mainstream liberals and mainstream Democrats are complacent, deluded, out of touch, and often corrupt, and while they’re not the main villains by a long shot, they’re the ones I get the maddest at. And I’m not sure that anyone knows how bad things are going to get.

At Haquelebac I do culture only. Sometimes my politics peeks through, but nothing there  is intended to have a political effect.

Older pieces are archived at Idiocentrism and Open Left.

Brad DeLong is indignant about the media again.

CBS news published a rumor invented by disgraced plagiarist and rightwing operative Ben Domenech which claimed that potential Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan  is an out lesbian.The post was pulled after a day of controversy, but by that time it had done its job. The rumor was “out there”.

Even though it was the Washington Post that got burned by Domenech’s plagiarism, all that Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz had to say about the episode was that  “the flare-up underscores how quickly the battle over a Supreme Court nominee — or even a potential nominee — can turn searingly personal.” Just another he-said she-said disagreement between the two political parties.

Corrupt, conspiratorial organizations need a demimonde of lowlifes and hoodlums to do the jobs that might someday have to be disavowed. The Republican Party has enough of them on retainer to constitute a whole industry sector. After his disgrace, Domenech did not have to get a job in food service: “Domenech is the managing editor for health care policy at The Heartland Institute, the editor of The New Ledger, and hosts a daily free market podcast at BigGovernment.He wasn’t even banned from the major media for long.

These mafias also need plants in legitimate organizations to front for them, and that’s where  Kurtz  fits in.  Kurtz is the most authoritative media critic we’ve got. He sets the standard, both by example and in his writings, and journalists look to him to learn what can and cannot be done. And they just learned, if they didn’t know it already, that publishing rumors spread by right wing political operatives and plagiarists is OK. Just part of the game.

The bad drives out the good. At this point the media cannot afford to hire anyone excessively honest, because their omertà would be suspect.  Whenever someone with a hitherto good reputation is promoted to one of the lucrative media jobs, watch their performance.  During the courtship period before their elevation, were there signs of the kind ofreasonableness” and “centrism” the media demands? After the hiring?

All these people (Kurtz, Domenech, and the hundreds of others) are completely competent, the same way that Mafia union leaders are completely competent. It’s just that they don’t see their jobs the way we do. That’s why they still have jobs.

There should be a camp for liberals who use the words “competent” and “incompetent” all the time. (Call it the Dukakis Memorial Re-education Center). It shouldn’t be a death camp and no one should be waterboarded, but stress methods would have to be used, because liberals don’t learn easily. Competence is not the issue.

(Yeah, yeah, Krugman and Olbermann. They were hiring mistakes. )

Addendum: Let me just excerpt and edit this comment, which I made at DeLong’s on a related thread:

There’s very little effective demand for honest, intelligent reporting. There’s a lot of demand for evasive, shallow, dishonest reporting. There’s an enormous demand for right wing hackery. The information market will destroy our democracy.

I understand that good liberals are urbane and ironic and technocratic and above the battle and that only demented populists talk about deliberate, organized malfeasance and corruption, but I’m a demented populist.