Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Cold 2

with 8 comments

A few days ago, I published a post on this blog called “Cold,” and then forgot to explain why I was calling it that.  More interesting, nobody bothered to point out that the title was senseless given what came after it.

This one is called Cold 2 for the same reason the last one was called Cold–it is cold, where I sit.  It’s barely September and I need a sweater in the mornings. 

Well, okay, a cotton sweater.   But you know what I mean.

At any rate,  I probably should have called this post “Crazy,” or something similar.

Some of the people who comment here see Arts and Letters Daily, but for those of you who don’t, go here:


And I am at pains to point out, before you start, that this is an editorial on the Forbes website, whose parent publication (Forbes magazine) calls itself “the capitalist tool.”

In other words, this is not a lefty magazine hosting an Obama supporter.  

Which makes me happy, really, because it means that WFB Republicans re still out there somewhere.

That said, let me get to the point–which is the absolutely lunancy that has erupted on the right–and especially on right-leaning major media, like FoxNews–since the election.

Now, let me pause for a second to point out–before Robert yells at me–that the left can be just as lunatic in its own way.  God only knows there was enough silly screaming about Bush being a “fascist” and his administration being an exercise in “theocracy”–apparently by people who didn’t know the definitions of either word.

And there were apparently large hunks of Europe that bought this nonsense, so that mainstream presses, magazines and television stations gave credence to the “Bush engineered 9/11 himself to have an excuse to invade Iraq” idocies.

But that’s there.  Here, that kind of thing was relegated to the more breathlessly hyperventilating left wing magazines, and the Internet, where crazy is a time of day.

What’s going on on the right at the moment is definitely being given credence by mainstream news outlets, which is what FoxNews is, but it isn’t just a matter of FoxNews or talk radio.  We’ve had the spectacle of several United States Congresspersons and state elected leaders going right off the deep end, too.

I don’t really care that much about the people who call Obama a Communist.  They need dictionaries as badly as the people who called Bush a fascist, but in a way that’s tit for tat.   We can discuss, at some other time, what it means that Americans now behave this way to each other, but that’s a different issue from the one I’m going on about now.

What absolutely floors me is the sort of paranoid lunacy that has become the staple of nearly all the discourse about what the Obama admiistration is or is not doing.

Screaming that a public option in the health care reform bill amounts to a socialist takeover of America at the same time that you’re trumpeting your desire to preserve Medicare is sloppy thinking.

Screaming that the President of the United States addressing American schoolchildren via satellite television hook-up on any subject at all constitutes “brainwashing” and “indoctrination” is a medical condition requiring Thorazine. 

I won’t bother to go into some of the more astonishing things I’ve seen lately–Glenn  Beck, now with his own hour-long show on Fox, eating up air time to analyze the artwork at Rockefeller Center and point out how it’s all coded support for Communism; calls from state legislators and even one United States Congresswoman that parents keep their kids home from school so they don’t have to hear Obama speak; state legislators in Texas saying it’s about time they seceded from the Union.

Yeah.  Like that worked out really well for the least people who tried it.  And that was before the United States Army had tanks..

Unlike the conventional wisdom Mab reported in Russia, I don’t think the country is going to fall apart.  The nutcases are relatively rare, they’re just loud.

What does worry me is that we’re going to come out of the Obama administration with the American right wing in about the place it was when William F. Buckley, jr, set out to revive it.

Richard Hofstadter could say quite confidently in 1960 that there was no such thing s a conservative intellectual tradition in America.  He missed what Buckley was doing in spite of the fact that it was right in front of his face, but he was responding to a reality.nonetheless.

The right had itself a spectacular crack-up during the Roosevelt administration, and a crack-up of precisely this kind–a descent into kookiness, paranoia, and recreational hyperventilation.  For twenty years, there was no intellectually or politically respectable opposition to New Deal ideas, and for twenty years after that–

Well, if you want to know how the Sxties happened, forty years of lopsided leftism might be a good place to start.

Written by janeh

September 8th, 2009 at 7:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses to 'Cold 2'

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  1. This sort of thing may be a natural development of using emotion and not logic to attack one’s opponents. Of course, this has probably always been a factor in elections, but the more virulent the attack ads and rhetoric are, the even more virulent and hysteria the next lot has to be in order to attempt to distinguish itself from the background.

    At this point, it does sound like rampant hysteria. Schoolchildren being kept out of school? Even apart from the respect for the office if not the man idea, that hardly seems a process likely to encourage them to participate in elections as adults. I suppose it could be said to educate them, if what they want to do is to teach the children that politics is about as child-friendly as a coal mine or factory.


    8 Sep 09 at 8:28 am

  2. I find it absolutely typical of this presidency that nobody told him that major school districts like LA, NYC, and others are not even in session today. Apparently *nobody* in the administration has a child in public school and they never bothered to check. Parents won’t need to keep the kids home…they *are* home.

    So a major portion of school children won’t hear the speech today. I’ve seen excerpts already released, and they seem mostly like what nearly every parent yammers on about… doing one’s homework, pursuing a passion, blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure the kids aren’t going to listen any more than they do to parents.

    In other words, it’s not immortal prose. It’s probably not interesting enough to keep Jimmy from getting out the spitwads. I sincerely doubt it’s going to change the world. Nobody is going to get to the moon off this speech, certainly. It’s vague politician-speech that translates to “look at meeee!”

    Hysteria on either side prevents actual discussion and that may be the purpose of it. McCarthy and cronies didn’t want free and open discussions, they were making too much hay off of terrorizing the masses with misinformation. Likewise FauxNews and their ilk. (one of my favorite McCarthyisms….”ilk”, who uses that word??)


    8 Sep 09 at 10:59 am

  3. Well, we knew the President was a serial speechmaker when we elected him. And no, I didn’t advise anyone to skip school to miss a 15 minute monologue. My principal used to give one every morning. But let me show the extend of my paranoia.

    I’d have felt a lot better about the speech if it hadn’t come with lesson plans–subsequently ammended–in which students were to explain what they could do to help the President. Since this makes no sense with the speech he gave, it makes me wonder what speech the lesson plans were meant for. And I’d feel a lot better about the President’s sense of the appropriate limits of his office if the head of the National Endowment for the Arts–a Presidential appointee with discretionary tax money to spend–weren’t phoning “artists” to explain how they should use their talents to support the President’s agenda. And no, neither bit came from Fox News. Try White House postings and miffed artists.

    Part of the Sixties was leftism that felt the restraint they expected Eisenhower to display with a Republican Congress was not what should be expected of LBJ with a Democratic one.

    There was an editorial yesterday on the Van Johnson resignation saying that the notion that the Bush White House deliberately engineered 9-11 HAD to be respectable–and could not bar “truthers” from Federal office–since 35% of Democrats believed it. There is indeed conservative paranoia. But it has LOTS of company.


    8 Sep 09 at 4:10 pm

  4. My bad. Van JONES resignation.


    8 Sep 09 at 4:39 pm

  5. I’m rather pleased that I am half a world away from the US press and TV! But it means I can’t make a judgment on this.

    In general, I now treat the words nazi, communist, fascist, socialist, right wing, left wing as meaningless noise that convey emotion but are intellectually useless.

    On the particular issue, I don’t consider it appropriate for ANY politician to make nation wide speeches to school children.


    8 Sep 09 at 6:46 pm

  6. I agree with John on that last point. The whole exercise, but particularly the “help the President” nonsense, seems to be exactly the sort of cynical political operation its Republican opponents claim it to be. But, of course, the Republicans are the last people with any right to claim the moral high ground here.

    It’s probably far too late to claw back to a point where we keep politics out of our public schools, but we should at least be able to keep politicians out.


    8 Sep 09 at 8:16 pm

  7. I’ve been seeing this lunacy on the comments pages of newspapers, and have been floored by it. Someone responds to a WaPo article with a treatise on why Obama is the Anti-Christ (“his mother had 11 African husbands…he is a Muslim…”). At a distance it’s hard to tell how widespread this is; I do hope it’s just pockets of lunatics. What I don’t get is the “news” people who are whipping it up. Over the weekend I was talking with a Russian friend (who had spent time in psychiatric prison hospitals and prisons in the bad old days) about the mirror Russian phenomenon: “journalists” whipping up anti-Americanism. The Ossetian woman who said Georgians wearing “foreign” uniforms came to her house, led by an “instructor” who spoke English to them. The world conspiracy to create economic chaos and take over the world. The swine flu developed in US labs. The “tens of thousands” of Japanese who died in US “concentration camps” during WWII and “can’t get compensation, no matter how many years they’ve tried.” My friend insists – having been injected with thorazine for “anti-Soviet writings” by doctors who knew it was a lie – that these “journalists” know perfectly well that they are lying. They are just cashing in on money and power. It’s a thrill to see the ripples from their lies. It’s impossible for me to understand that. I mean, how does Glenn Beck or that other CNN guy – the one who said “there are a lot of unanswered questions” about where Obama was born – look at himself in the mirror?

    I still think the core of the kooks are angry and paranoid, and they feel comfortable being angry and paranoid. During the Bush years, when a lot was going their way, they were still angry and paranoid. I don’t think there’s much you can do about or for them. But this pandering to them among newscasters and Republican party “strategists” is a crime.


    9 Sep 09 at 5:04 am

  8. During the Bush years, as many kooks from the Democratic side were heard ceaselessly trashing Bush and his people with nary a peep of disapproval from those who are storming about in high dudgeon now that Obama is on the receiving end – every bit as angry and paranoid. Michael Moore has made millions out of this schtick.

    It’s a bipartisan phenomenon, and I’m willing to bet the farm that truly impartial research would confirm that a similar percentage of extremist nutcases exist on both sides of the political divide.


    9 Sep 09 at 8:03 am

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