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DEATH BY ELITE! America’s fatuous New Elites keep serving the plutocrats’ interests: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2010

Worst segment in the world: The Daily Show keeps getting results! Last night, Keith Olbermann announced that he’s dropping the worst cable segment in the world. In this gruesome nightly segment, he has played liberal viewers for fools for quite a few years now.

Cable pomposity was all around. In the wake of Saturday’s rally, Olbermann announced that he is “unilaterally suspending” the segment, “with an eye towards discontinuing it:”

OLBERMANN (11/1/10): As you’ll hear in the next few minutes, all of us here at Countdown and a lot of us among the progressives had one major, well-defined problem with the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. And we’re going to address that in a moment in our number-one story, a false equivalence between what we do here and what Fox News and the like do there.

But first, the overall message that the tone needs to change, that the volume needs to change, was not lost on any of us. The anger in this newshour was not an original part of it, nor was it an artifice that we added to it. It was a response to a threat to this democracy posed by Mr. Bush and now by his lineal descendants. The anger happened. It will still happen. It is not for ratings. And it is not “get angry first and find a reason later.”

But there is an institutionalization of it that may no longer be valid. That is the “Worst Persons in the World” segment, which started, of all things, as a way of defending Tucker Carlson. Its satire and whimsy have gradually gotten lost in some anger. So in the spirit of the thing, as of right now, I am unilaterally suspending that segment, with an eye towards discontinuing it.

Somehow, Olbermann’s “whimsy” got lost! Go ahead—just laugh out loud! Laugh at the way the phoniest corporate multimillionaires in the world will treat you like low-IQ stooges.

Olbermann and Jonathan Alter went on to articulate their “major, well-defined problem with the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.” They did so in one of the saddest cable discussions we’ve seen in many a year. Go ahead—watch these stooges in action. (We were surprised and saddened by Alter.) Or, for the dumbest transcript in the world, just click here.

At least KO was prepared to admit that this would be a “number one” story. But what a pair of perfect frauds! We’ll likely review their pathetic discussion in tomorrow’s post.

Special report: From the annals of elite epistemic closure!

CONCLUSION—DEATH BY ELITE (permalink): Today, as Americans go to the polls, our country is sliding into the sea. Bob Herbert’s new column helps describe the ongoing slide as the world of upper-end wealth destroys a middle-class nation. To read it, just click here.

In part, we’re suffering “death by elite”—a type of death Charles Murray semi-described in his recent Washington Post Outlook piece (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/26/10). As the nation becomes a toy of the upper class, it has increasingly come under the thrall of fatuous, upper-class elites. These empty elites help dumb us all down—sometimes, in “liberal” directions.

One such elite runs the New York Times. Consider this October 21 editorial about Sharron Angle, Harry Reid and illegal immigration—an editorial which helps display the political dumbness of this liberal-y “New Elite.”

Plainly, the editors don’t like Angle’s stand on immigration—though they never got around to explaining what her stand is. “Fear and Loathing In Nevada,” the headline announced. The editors started like this:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (10/21/10): Sharron Angle did not show up at the huge Tea Party Express rally in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. She rarely makes public appearances anymore. But the event was almost entirely in support of her and the divisive, anti-immigrant platform she has promoted in her accelerating drive to replace Senator Harry Reid.

Sharron Angle has promoted a “divisive, anti-immigrant platform,” the editors said. But just what is that divisive platform? At no point in this long editorial did the editors bother to say. We were told that Angle has adopted “extreme positions”—and that her opponent, Harry Reid, had “somehow failed to recognize just how attractive those positions would be in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.” We were told that Reid had failed to make a “forceful, animated challenge to Ms. Angle’s radicalism;” at the end of the piece, we were told that Angle has practiced “the politics of division and fear.” But what exactly are her “extreme positions” about immigration—positions which turn out to be attractive? In what does her “radicalism” consist? To the extent that the editors even tried to explain, they did so in these paragraphs:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: Now she is favored in the year’s most high-profile Senate race. Unless Mr. Reid can muster a huge turnout, there is a strong chance that Ms. Angle will become a United States senator, and she will have done so largely by exploiting fears of illegal Hispanic immigrants in an economically nervous state. One of her television ads, which calls Harry Reid “the best friend illegals have ever had,” shows dark-skinned characters sneaking along a border fence, juxtaposed with a Mexican flag.

In a particularly preposterous bit of spin, she told a group of Hispanic students a few days ago, when she did not realize she was being recorded, that those people were not necessarily Hispanic. They might have been coming through the Canadian border, she said, calling it “the most porous border that we have” and adding that that is “where the terrorists came through.” (The Canadian ambassador immediately protested this nonsense.) For a candidate who famously told Mr. Reid to “man up” at the debate, she should at least take responsibility for her own sneering innuendo.

According to the editors, Angle has been “exploiting fears of illegal Hispanic immigrants in an economically nervous state.” But how has she been “exploiting fears?” What particular fears has she exploited? The editors didn’t quite say. Instead, they complained about an ad which “shows dark-skinned characters sneaking along a border fence, juxtaposed with a Mexican flag.” And they cited some semi-weird remarks Angle made to a group of Hispanic students—remarks in which she failed to “take responsibility for her own sneering innuendo.”

For the record, the editors were describing the first of Angle’s two recent ads about Reid and illegal immigration. (The second, more aggressive ad hadn’t yet appeared.) In this first ad, Angle called Reid “the best friend illegals have ever had.” But what were her specific complaints about Reid? Were her complaints factually accurate? Was there any merit to her positions—to her judgments? The editorial didn’t say.

In our view, this was a very unintelligent editorial. But it’s par for the course at the New York Times, a newspaper run by one of the dumbest branches of our “New Elite.” Over the weekend, one member of this newspaper’s stable of columnists devoted a full op-ed column to a deeply troubling situation; 27 percent of boys in private religious schools say they have mistreated someone in the past year because he or she belonged to a different group, compared to only 26 percent of boys in public schools. (Yes, those were the actual data. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/10). This utterly ludicrous op-ed column seemed to advance a familiar bias found among this empty elite, a bias against religion (or something). In Campaign 2000, Frank Rich, the dumbest Timesperson of them all, battered Candidate Gore around for not being sufficiently anti-religion, taking the liberty of rearranging some facts in service to this crackpot criticism. But then, the empty suits of this Gotham Elite routinely adopt such addled stands, helping dumb liberal voters way down—and helping energize familiar conservative narratives.

What has Angle said about Reid? What has she said about illegal immigration? You can’t find out from that editorial, which contented itself with complaints about “dark-skinned characters” in a TV ad. Without passing judgment on that ad, or on Angle’s unexplained positions, might we make a few observations about the topic at issue?

The two major parties agree that illegal immigration is a major problem—have done so for years. This general position is unremarkable within our political debate.

Especially in western states like Nevada, illegal immigrants do tend to be Hispanic! “About four-in-five of the nation's estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are of Hispanic origin,” said the Pew Hispanic Center in this new report, released last week. Meanwhile, many of these immigrants do in fact cross the Mexican border. And sure enough! Many of these people are more “dark-skinned” than this newspaper’s own Maureen Dowd, who recently worried about acquiring a tan on the presence of Arizona’s Jan Brewer.

Was something wrong with that first Angle ad—more specifically, with its visuals? Was there something wrong with its depiction of “dark-skinned characters sneaking along a border fence, juxtaposed with a Mexican flag?” That is a matter of judgment, of course—and it’s hard to reach a judgment without being able to watch such an ad. But go ahead—reread that editorial. The 27 Percent Brigade reserved its fury this day for the fact that Angle’s ad depicted a situation which basically conforms to reality. The Brigade failed to explain what was wrong with Angle’s positions (whatever they might be) or with her complaints against Reid.

For many liberals, this kind of “argument” is familiar—and it’s pleasing. It lets us get on our very high horses about the public’s racism, which is presumed to be strong. But we would suggest that this editorial is every bit as dishonest and dumb as Charles Blow’s column about the “Troubling 27.” We’d also argue that it serves progressive interests poorly.

This editorial assumes that readers will understand why they are supposed to be angry about the visuals in that ad. It doesn’t take immigration issues seriously enough to attempt to explain the candidates’ differences, or to attempt to explain why voters in Nevada might be concerned about the subject. But there are real costs to illegal immigration, however much one might admire the courage of those who leave familiar worlds in search of a better life in a new land. To note just one example:

Presumably, such immigration presents large challenges to Nevada’s schools, where the eighth-grade student population went from 17 percent in 1998 to 35 percent in 2009, according to NAEP data. (The fourth-grade student population was 39 percent in 2009. We don’t know how much of that population increase stems from illegal immigration.) However darling those children may be; however much one might admire their parents; these challenges are real, and large, and they’re costly in various ways. There is no reason why a Nevada voters has to be mellow about this situation. This is true even if this immigration provides Nevada’s big casino interests with oodles of low-income labor, thus making it cheaper for the Times to ship Dowd off to Vegas, where she can lounge about in a well-cleaned suite while writing her latest dumb column.

Another thought about life in Nevada:

The editors had their predictable heart attack about Angle’s rather foolish statements to those Hispanic students. They had their predictable heart attack about the use of “dark-skinned characters” to represent the nation’s illegal immigrants in that first TV ad. But we found ourselves wondering something else as we read about Angle’s meeting with those Hispanic students. We found ourselves wondering how well the state of Nevada is doing with its rapidly growing number of Hispanic students. We took a look at the latest NAEP data, and we’ll offer this capsule summary: Nevada is doing somewhat better than California, substantially worse than New York and Texas. (In fairness, the demographic breakdown within the population of Hispanic students may differ from state to state.) But we’ll extend a guarantee: You will never see the Times editorial board asking about such a topic. You see, Times editors don’t care about Hispanic kids—except to the extent that their presence on earth lets the editors advance familiar rage about a few fairly stupid comments.

In that new Pew study, 55 percent of native-born Latinos say education is an “extremely important” issue in this year’s elections. It was the highest-rated issue among this group; only 31 percent said immigration was extremely important. News flash: Those people won’t have to waste their time reading the work of the New York Times. They will read little serious work in that paper about the real needs of Hispanic kids—unless someone makes a slightly stupid remark in their presence.

So it goes as one of our highest elites construes American life.

Is the board at the Times a “New Elite” in the way Murray described? We would assume that it pretty much is. Meanwhile, our burgeoning pseudo-liberal New Elite rushed to mock Murray’s horrid piece, which just had to be desperately wrong. Alas! Your country is sliding beneath the sea as these empty New Elites gambol and play, providing self-pleasure as they pretend to be deeply caring. They are silly, empty, unwell—and they represent a gift to Karl Rove as he uses the power of old elites to send us all into the sea.

The racism in that Pew survey: As is its wont, the New York Times picked-and-chose well as it reported that major Pew study. “Hispanics Cite Bias in Survey,” the paper’s dog-bites-man headline announced— but the Times seemed to avoid certain somewhat surprising findings. In particular, the Times didn’t report the anti-Hispanic racism so rampant among the nation’s Hispanics! Here are just a few of the findings with which Times readers weren’t trusted:

Uh-oh! 41 percent of native-born Latinos agreed that “one of the reasons many immigrants come to the U.S. illegally is to have a child here.”

Uh-oh! 22 percent of native-born Latinos favor changing the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship!

And good lord! 51 percent of all Latinos say they have more confidence in the Democratic Party’s agenda on immigration—but 19 percent say they have more confidence in the Republican agenda! (That rises to 22 percent among the native-born.) And ohourgod! 27 percent of native-born Hispanics approve of Arizona’s SB 1070!

Why in the world would all those Hispanics favor this racist new law? Why, it almost seems that a person could favor this law without being a slobbering racist!

We’ll leave it to the Times’ languorous board to explain this obvious racism—racism which is widely found within the Hispanic community. The paper’s reporters and editors left these inappropriate items from their largely incoherent “news report,” in which they kept reinforcing the wedges which will help America’s burgeoning plutocrat class drive us all into the sea.