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Daily Howler: There's almost no way to be this daft--unless you're a Washington journalist
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APPLEBAUM’S PIETY! There’s almost no way to be this daft—unless you’re a Washington journalist: // link // print // previous // next //

APPLEBAUM’S PIETY:There’s almost no way to be this daft—unless you’re a Washington journalist. We refer to Anne Applebaum’s column in this morning’s Post, in which the siren of ruling-class piety mocks an intelligent Times editorial about our absurd voting systems. Try to believe that a sentient being dreamed up this kooky comparison:
APPLEBAUM (11/17/04): Two weeks after the election, the Internet rumor mill continues to spout stories of computer-stolen votes. No sooner are they disproved than others appear. Some are demanding an Ohio recount. Otherwise sober people are asking whether there can be smoke without fire. Last weekend the New York Times published an editorial that found "no evidence" of vote fraud but called electronic voting "a problem" all the same. After all, the editorial noted, there is "no way to be sure" that votes weren't changed "by secret software" inside the machines. If you're tempted to believe that analysis is rational, just ask yourself this question: Are you really sure that your bank isn't using secret software to steal $9.72 from your retirement account every week? And if the answer is no, why aren't you up in arms about that, too?
Typing from the far side of Neptune, Applebaum compares our current voting systems with the way your bank is handling your money. Have you checked to see if your bank is stealing your money? the deeply daft columnist types.

Could any comparison be less apt? No, you probably haven’t checked this week to see if your bank is stealing your money. But duh! The reason you haven’t checked is obvious—banks provide extensive paper trails, and a major bank would quickly be caught if it swiped that nine bucks every week. (As anyone except a “journalist” would know, many Americans do check their bank statements quite religiously.) And duh! Let’s note another fact which would be obvious to anyone outside Applebaum’s tribe. Here it is: If banks were allowed to run audit-free systems, many banks would of course steal your money! Only a fool would fail to know it. But Applebaum—like powdered elites through the annals of time—is paid good money to pretend not to know this. Instead, she rolls her eyes at the kooky crowd which is troubled by current voting arrangements. And just like that, she starts playing shrink. Try to believe that a sentient being typed up this daft diagnosis:

APPLEBAUM (continuing directly): Given our reliance on computerized accounting, the explanation for the American paranoia about computer voting cannot be rational.
As a recent observer correctly noted, there’s almost no way to be this daft—unless you’re a Washington journalist.

But Applebaum is more than a Washington journalist; she’s also part of a ruling elite, and her cohort has been busy this week mocking those who question the systems by which we conduct our elections. Indeed, the editorial which Applebaum scorns anticipated her mocking imagery, even as it made a point which would be obvious to anyone who understands the American system:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (11/14/04): Defenders of the system have been quick to dismiss questions like these as the work of ''conspiracy theorists,'' but that misses the point. Until our election system is improved—with better mechanics and greater transparency—we cannot expect voters to have full confidence in the announced results.
Duh! The American system is based on “transparency”—on those famous “checks and balances.” We don’t assume that the powerful play by the rules. Unless you’re part of Applebaum’s crowd, of course. In this case, your system is based on mocking those who promote the most basic understandings.

Applebaum’s column helps us remember who we are and where we live. No, we don’t live in the land of our civics texts, where eighth-grade children are falsely told that an eagle-eyed “press corps” looks out for their interests. And no, we aren’t part of a race—the human race—which has been falsely proclaimed, since the Dawn of the West, to be “the rational animal.” In point of fact, we live on a planet where ruling elites have always gamed the system their way; and we live on a planet in which those elites always go out and buy tribunes like Applebaum. So go ahead and stretch your horizons! Read the paragraph quoted above—and search for metaphors which help us see who we are and where we live. Alas! Elites have always typed daft agitprop to fool the peons they hope to suppress, and in the long run, the likes of Applebaum have always been overcome by force, by the will of the people.

There’s almost no way to be that daft—unless you’re part of a store-bought elite. The Applebaums will not be converted. They’ll type on until overcome.

POLISH YOUR PARANOIA: To better understand the machinations of Applebaum’s class, we recommend Perfectly Legal, by David Cay Johnston, a book we expect to discuss in the future. Weirdly, the Post forgot to review the book when it appeared at the start of the year. To hatch a conspiracy theory as to why this might be, we recommend the transcript of Johnston’s Booknotes appearance in April. To further hone your paranoia, you know what to do—just click here.

THE FACE OF PROPAGANDA: Speaking of schemes to lower tax burdens on the super-rich, Andrew Sullivan refuses to stop mis-describing the so-called “flat tax.” Here he is in the Sunday Times of London:

SULLIVAN (11/14/04): The idea has been around for a while. Back in 1996, Steve Forbes proposed eliminating almost all income tax deductions and moving to a single, flat rate of tax for everyone. It was strong enough a platform to catapult him to temporary front-runner status in that year's uninspiring collection of Republicans.
But what does it mean to say that Forbes proposed “a single, flat rate of tax for everyone?” Under Forbes’ plan, many families of four would pay no income tax; others would pay up to seventeen percent. What makes that system “flat?”

Decency starts with accurate statements. What does Sully mean by that highlighted statement? Does he know he’s pimping propaganda—a poll-tested phrase—or does he still fail to understand?

HIATT’S REGENCY: At the Post, Fred Hiatt read Applebaum’s piece, then daftly waved it into print. But then, how powdered—how perfumed—is this fine fellow? On November 1, laughter rang through the HOWLER’s great halls as Hiatt revealed what was on his mind one day before our election:

HIATT (11/1/04): Here's a piece of advice for the president who will be chosen tomorrow: Take a walk around your White House.

Yes, both candidates have lived in Washington for some time now. But how closely has either of them looked at the core of their city in the past few years—at how ugly it has become?

What was on the great satrap’s mind? Iraq? “Moral issues?” The president’s character? Lowered wages for America’s parents? No, Hiatt wanted the newly-elected president to note how ugly his city had become:
HIATT: After they shut Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic, you could still drive past the White House on E Street. No more. After they fenced off the pleasant alley between the White House and the Treasury, you could still stroll down the sidewalk on the Treasury's east side. No more. Not so long ago you could climb the steps on the west side of the Capitol, sled down the hill beneath them, wander undisturbed back up the hill and across to the Library of Congress. No more, no more, no more.
Washington’s security fences were ugly, and they interfered with Hiatt’s strolls. Fiercely, he went to the heart of the problem: “[S]omeone has to say enough.”

The Big Day was coming, and Hiatt spoke—whoever won should make D.C. look better. Two weeks later, he waved Applebaum’s piece into print. But which phenomenon—those security fences, or Applebaum’s “logic”—is a worse blight on our lives?

DEMS CHOOSE OR LOSE: Dems who want to test their feelings about “moral issues” get a chance to start with the NFL flap. ABC—lying right in your faces, as usual—pretends to be sorry about its bad judgment in airing that Monday night promo. For ourselves, we think that Dems should stand against liars. ABC is a great place to start.

TOMORROW: Much postponed! Bill Clinton's wise book!