WHAT WOULD A PROGRESSIVE THINK? A unions probe got kicked to the curbunless you read Dahlia Lithwick: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2009
Please, your ladyshipback to the sex: In this mornings New York Times, Lady Collins decided to stay away from the sex. Bowing low as we sweep our plumed cap, we update our list of her recent topics:
Pitiful. In todays column, Collins tries to discuss the Sotomayor hearings. When we read such pitiful pap, we humbly beseech her ladyship. Your Ladyship! Back to the sex!
Elsewhere in the New York Times, Manny Fernandez offers this striking news report about the darling fourth- and fifth-graders at Blessed Sacrament School in the Bronxchildren who wonder if they might be sitting at Sonia Sotomayors own desk! Fernandez describes some of their circumstances:
Regarding Jacqueline Garcia, age 8: Math does not frighten her, Fernandez writes. She wants to be a doctor.
As our society has grown wealthier, some help for such children has been movin on down. See E. J. Dionnes column today, concerning the drift of Pell Grants. (In 1976, the year Sotomayor graduated from Princeton, federal Pell Grants for low-income students covered 72 percent of the average cost of a four-year state institution... But by 2003, Pell Grants covered only 38 percent of the cost of attending a state university.) Over the past three decades, wealthy elites have been reasserting control and historical norms, as Paul Krugman has explained in his columns and books.
Luckily, youll never read about such children in columns penned by Lady Collins. Her ladyship typically writes about sex. Then too, theres that dreck from this morning.
WHAT WOULD A PROGRESSIVE THINK? Forever young! In recent weeks, progressive leaders have given us back our youth! Theyve done this by churning the kind of cant which led us to think about starting this site, back in the mid-1990s.
Sweet cant of youth! Back then, the mainstream press--and the talk-show rightwere the ones who played these games. Now, we progressives do it too. To cite one recent example:
On July 3, Sarah Palin announced that shed be resigning. By that evening, TPM had peddled us this. Our youthful analysts cringed and cried as David Kurtz railed against Palins hagiographers. Against five people who had dared describe Palin as a fighter, that is.
What an outrage! Three people had called her a fighter last fall; two more had done so since her resignation announcement! We rubes were supposed to get mad at the way the hagiographers keep pimping this gal.
If your IQ is less than 9, you might have purchased this cant.
You see, one of the hagiographers from last fall was Mary Mitchell, a rather feisty liberal columnist from the Chicago Sun-Times. In fact, she had called Palin a street fighterand had trashed her every way but blue in the relevant column. (Palin's on the ticket because she's a woman and she isn't afraid to engage in the Republicans' mean-spirited personal attacks, the hagiographer noted.) Meanwhile, one of the new hagiographers was none other than Meghan Stapleton. As Kurtz noted, Stapleton is Palins press spokesperson.
Translation: We liberals are now supposed to get mad when Palins spokesperson compliments her! No, we dont think TPM writers are really that dumb. Wed have to guess that theyre sometimes that lazyor cynical.
We saw a lot of that nonsense in the 1990spimped to gullible conservative rubes, by the likes of Sean Hannity. Now, our own progressive intellectual leaders treat us this way too. They get us mad about sex scandalsand about sheer nonsense like that.
You will never get a progressive politics if your leaders treat you this way.
But then, whats a progressive to think or do in the current environment? This kind of blather is now quite common from our intellectual leaders. Its hard to know what a progressive should thinkabout that union probe, for example, the one Dahlia Lithwick discussed.
This probe occurred in 1997; lets change the names to protect the unionized. Long story short:
A firefighters union asked a member to conduct a safety probe of the districts fire chief. But uh-oh! The member tasked with probing the chief was almost instantly fired! Lets pretend this (actual) news report came from the Boise Bugle. Lets pretend it involved a firefighter by the name of Fred Reynolds:
Why did Fred Reynolds get fired, a few weeks after the probe began? We dont have the slightest idea. But any progressive would spot a pattern: The union selects a guy to probe the chief, and then the guy gets fired. Any progressive would be suspicious of that patternwould tend to sympathize with the guy who got canned while conducting the probe.
Who knows? That may be why Dahlia Lithwick dumped that part of the tale.
Fred Reynolds, you see, is really Frank Ricci, the New Haven firefighter who will appear this week at the Sotomayor confirmation hearing. The Boise Bugle is really the Hartford Courant, which published that news report on the date weve cited. We dont yet know what Ricci will say when he appears at the hearing; we hope hell be sensible and fair. But Lithwick was hacking away last Friday, helping us rubes get pre-angry.
Indeed, note what Lithwick forgot to include when she told this part of Riccis story. She jumps to 1998 (nothing wrong with that), when an official state probe cleared the chief of wrongdoing:
Why was Ricci fired? We have no idea. But Lithwick forgot to mention the fact that hed been conducting that investigation on behalf of the union. (This fact was included in the news report she was quoting.) It makes Ricci sound a little kookier if you make it seem like he was probing the chief on his own. And uh-oh! As she continues, Lithwick dumps another Ricci-friendly fact, even as she blubbers and cries about his rude misconduct:
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Ricci had even tried to disparage and discredit the boss! No wonder all good upper-class progressives should despise this guy! But what did Lithwick forget to include, as she taught us rubes to sneer at a man who would try to discredit a chief? She forgot to say that Riccis claim about those training records actually was taken up by the state Freedom of Information Commissionand that the commission ruled in Riccis favor! Concerning access to those training records, Ricci had been rightand the chief had been wrong. This is part of the (very) short news report Lithwick cited:
Ricci had been rightand the chief had been wrongabout access to those records. The chief had finally turned them loose, shortly before being forced.
Why did Lithwick drop that fact, even as she boo-hoo-hooed about the way this vile young man had tried to discredit/disparage his boss? We have no idea, of course. But weve seen Sean Hannity play such games a million times. This is how low-IQ tribal discourse now works in our culture.
Guess what? There was nothing wrong with Sotomayors decision in the Ricci case. But there was also nothing wrong with the fact that Ricci, and 19 others, challenged that Second Circuit ruling. Theres nothing wrong with the fact that Ricci is going to appear before the Judiciary Committee, until such time as he says something foolishwhich he hasnt done yet. Sotomayor, who is an adult, spoke up yesterday on Riccis general behalf.
Some believe there is something wrong with the Supreme Courts recent decision in this case. (Were not legal eagles ourselves.) Lithwick could have argued that. Instead, she took an easier, dumber, more Hannity-esque approach to Riccis forthcoming appearance.
Ricci conducted a probe for the unionand he quickly got fired. He challenged the chief about some recordsand in the end, he was judged right. Lithwick seemed to know that facts like those belong in no progressive report! Instead, were supposed to get upset that Ricci talked about filing a lawsuit!
Darlings! A vile young man from the working class had dared to challenge a bossa chief! Hed even tried to disparage his credentials! An amazing amount of pseudo-progressive thought is now shaped by such weird patterns of thought. What should a progressive think about such intellectual leaders?
About that original suit: In the end, Ricci didnt bring a suit about his firing. Lithwick wanted us to be mad just because hed discussed such a thing.
Earlier in his career, however, the fellow had brought an actual suita suit he essentially won. Heres the way Lithwick explained it. Warning! Snark ahead!
Lithwick snarks at Ricci for daring to file a discrimination suit at the ripe old age of 20. Left unclear, especially since he essentially won his claim: The age at which a prole like Ricci is allowed to do such a thing. But something else is left unclearthe basis on which the city decided to settle this case. Had Ricci actually had a good case? On what basis had he complained? As a legal reporter, Lithwick might have shed some light on that (although its not clear why we should care). But she didnt bother.
Lithwicks piece is designed to make us sneer at Ricci for filing a suitfor even talking about such things. Why are we supposed to get mad about this? Lithwick offers a remarkably thin reed of justification as she starts her piece. In truth, her piece was pure/perfect tribal blatherthe kind of blather in which one side is urged to hate those who belong to the other. Weve seen Hannity do this a million times. Increasingly, our own intellectual leaders play this silly game now.
Theres nothing wrong with what Ricci did. Theres nothing wrong with what Sotomayor did. As a matter of fact, there was nothing wrong with any of thisuntil Lithwick got that fax last Friday from People for the American Way! Increasingly, intellectual leaders of the pseudo-left just seem to like running us rubes.
Perhaps were all Sean Hannity now! But youll never see a progressive politics as long as upper-class simps like Lithwick type in such silly ways.