Shoveling is powerful: Heroically, a 7-11 not far from here stayed open this weekend, even on Saturday. What weve learned from this weekends storm: 30 inches of snow is a great excuse to purchase a hot dog each day.
Sadly, life has begun to return to something on the fringe of near-normal. For the past two days, with threats of new storms bruited, it was hard not to think of The Long Winter, volume 6 in Laura Ingalls Wilders prairie memoirher account of the semi-famous South Dakota winter of 1880-1881.
(Flat out on the western plain, as the recently-passed Kate McGarrigle sang, on what may be the best album we ever heard.)
We strongly recommend The Long Winter, and Wilders other books. Of course, They never heard of a 7-11! Throughout the course of her nine volumes, its a point Wilder just never drops.
KRUGMAN (2/8/10): America Is Not Yet Lost
Weve always known that Americas reign as the worlds greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.
What were getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. Instead of fraying under the strain of imperial overstretch, were paralyzed by procedure. Instead of re-enacting the decline and fall of Rome, were re-enacting the dissolution of 18th-century Poland.
A brief history lesson: In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Polish legislature, the Sejm, operated on the unanimity principle: any member could nullify legislation by shouting I do not allow! This made the nation largely ungovernable, and neighboring regimes began hacking off pieces of its territory. By 1795 Poland had disappeared, not to re-emerge for more than a century.
Today, the U.S. Senate seems determined to make the Sejm look good by comparison.
Americas downfall is playing out as a deadly farce, Krugman says. Krugman refers to ways in which your nation stands paralyzed by procedure. But were also paralyzed by sheer inanity. Weve been paralyzed by sheer inanity for several decades now.
Will it help if our side becomes inane? This is the way Keith Olbermann started Friday nights latest embarrassment. There are words for this sort of thing: Silly, inane, not accurate:
OLBERMANN (2/5/10): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The jig is up for Sarah Palin: 1200 official State of Alaska e-mails reveal her husband is almost co-governor, reveal she coached her staff on how to disguise the amount of electrical work needed at the governors mansion to hook up her tanning bed.
Good evening from New York. Politicians who pad their expense accounts, who will look for ways to bill taxpayers for private airline flights taken by their relatives, maybe even for the electrical work needed to hook up their tanning beds. And there are the lawmakers who tried to thwart transparency by withholding information or when they finally do release it, by redacting pages upon pages of it from public scrutiny. Supposedly, these are the kind of public officials that the tea party members are fighting against.
Yet tomorrow night, a former governor, matching that exact description is to deliver the keynote address at the first national tea party convention in Nashville. Perhaps by then, convention organizers will have found an American flag somewhere in the convention hall, literally found onethey opened proceedings without one. And then she could use it to drape herself in it.
For now, the former governor of Alaska drowning in nearly 3,000 pages of newly released e-mails revealing just how closely entwined her familys finances were with state finances. And revealing that her husband, self-proclaimed first dude, Todd Palin, having been actively involved in a wide range of state business. The e-mails released exclusively to MSNBC under the public records law and in them, Governor Palin stewing over a state agencys refusal to provide a private plane so that her children could fly to Todd Palins family home in Dillingham, Alaska. The governor calling the agencys decision really outrageous.
Governor Palins event manager charged with finding a public event, any event, I just need one, to use as a justification to charge the state for an airline flight taken by her daughter, Willow, who made a trip with the family but failed to attend the public event on the governors schedule. Governor Palin coaching her staff on how to keep quiet on the amount of electrical work needed at the governor`s mansion to hook up her new tanning bed at a cost of $3,252 to Alaska taxpayers.
It would be hard to describe the degree of inanity driving those highlighted passages.
Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? No one is talking about these stories, because very few people in this country are anywhere near as inane as Olbermann has become. The Anchorage Daily News, no fan of Palin, hasnt even wasted its time with the ridiculous tanning bed/airline flight e-mail storiesstories which led Olbermann to announce that the jig is up for Palin.
But sadly, the jig isnt up for Palin. And she wont be defeated this way. (We withdraw our earlier, unwise predictionpredictions almost always arein which we said there was simply no way she could ever become president.)
How silly are Olbermannsscreeching claims? As best we can tell, they arent being talked about at TPM. They arent being talked about by Steve Benen. They arent being talked about by Digby. And, of course, they arent being talked about anywhere in the actual press corpsexcept by Ceci Connolly, the greatest embarrassment of the past decade! By now, theyve even buried this embarrassing headless turkey over at MSNBCs web site, where the nonsense started.
Might we suggest a reason? These stories arent being talked about because theyre baldly inane. Because several of the things Olbermann says in those highlighted passages simply arent truthful or accurate.
Make no mistake: During the Clinton/Gore era, stories of equal inanity were widely, endlessly used to batter and defeat Big Democrats. Alas! We ourselves just spent the weekend (when we werent shoveling) re-researching the way a certain (inaccurate) claim finally emerged in 1999, rewarding eleven years of Republican effort: Al Gore grew up at the Ritz Carlton! Needless to say, Maureen Dowd played a key role in the process, way back in July 1992. (In this case, she even seems to have plagiarized her mewing, inaccurate quips.)
Inanity was used against Clinton, then Gore. Inane claims were adopted all over the pres corps; inane topics were discussed by the mainstream press corps for years. But people! The press corps will not adopt our sides inane claims (nor should progressives want that). And your country will simply cease to exist if this process of dumbing-down continues much longer.
Could your country (essentially) cease to exist? If you dont think so, read Krugman.
Please dont make us waste our time walking through the inanity of Olbermanns opening, or his later discussion with Richard Wolffe, puppet to the stars. Dont make us detail his flat misstatements. You can track the whole mess from this pitiful report by MSNBCs investigative reporter, Bill Dedman. You can click on Dedmans links to read the e-mails which fueled his claims about the tanning bed and the airplane flight. After reading those e-mails, see if you have any idea where Dedmans claims came fromor Olbermanns. See if you have any idea how either one of these guys ever got a job in journalism.
Your nation is dying, Krugman said. He said its dying from broken procedures. But your nation has been also dying, for decades, from the disease of inanity. By at least the 1990s, this disease had spread from the talk-radio world and the RNC into the world of the mainstream press. In unison, pundits agreed to shriek ludicrous claims about flatly ridiculous topics.
Now, young liberals hear a big nut do the same thing many nights. But in fact, no one is talking about his storiesand its good that his stories dont thrive.
If you are talking about Friday nights stories, youre talking to yourself.
Sorry. You just cant build a progressive politics by selling bull crap like this to young liberals. To defeat Palin and Palinism, well actually have to do a hard thing: Well actually have to build and promote a winning progressive politics. Olbermann and his puppet-boy Wolffe will never be up to any such task. In the place of developing actual politics, these well-trained ad salesmen invent inane claimsshriek, clatter, mislead and howl.
As Krugman says, this is the way a nation may end: Not with a bangwith something grandbut with an inane, silly whimper.