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February 4, 2012 6:05 AM   Subscribe


 
Not to be cold-hearted or unfairly profile, but I think once a good bit the older generation dies in this country, we'll be much better off.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:08 AM on February 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


There's always a new older generation to take the old older generation's place. We're going to be just as crazy as they are.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:11 AM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wait until they find out about "Agenda 22". You know what I'm talking about.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


FIRST THE OBAMA U.N. COMMUNISTS INFILTRATE OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW WE'LL HAVE SHARIA LAW!!!
posted by Slothrup at 6:15 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It turns out that when you get people hopped up on right-wing conspiracy theories about the President, they get a taste for right-wing conspiracy theories.

This is serious Alex Jones horseshit, and nobody who buys into it should be allowed to dress themselves. This "We can't have nice things because crazy people say no" shit needs to die.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:24 AM on February 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


What would it take to get them pointed at the TSA and FBI?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:24 AM on February 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Not to be cold-hearted or unfairly profile, but I think once a good bit the older generation dies in this country, we'll be much better off.

This isn't a day that's ever going to come as such. Our generational insanities don't ever end, they just flow downward, and the best we can do is to dam and divert the streams. Everything that makes America great -- a love of independence, grit, suspicion of authority -- is also everything that makes America violently insane.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:26 AM on February 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


I wish it were as easy to convince people that the actual plot here is the one using corporate mass media to manipulate their emotions in order to do the corporations' bidding.
posted by distressingly thick sheets at 6:27 AM on February 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


And with that, the Age of Reason officially comes to a close. I weep.
posted by dry white toast at 6:29 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


FIRST THE OBAMA U.N. COMMUNISTS INFILTRATE OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW WE'LL HAVE SHARIA LAW!!!

You left out that they were Satanists. And Lesbians.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:30 AM on February 4, 2012


On the elderly: I had not seen my internist for some three or more years. Finallyh went for a checkup. He shook my hand and said "haven't seen you for a long time." I said: Guess you
are surprised I am still alive." On behalf on some if not all old people: there are fools that are in any age bracket. There are liberals in any age bracket. Leave my people alone!

ps: the Tea Party has increasingly become a rather lukewarm cup of tea and is of much less importance than it had been. If the GOP takes a drubbing in the next election, they will be
a footnote in political history.
posted by Postroad at 6:31 AM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think there is something to the notion that as the current older generations fall out of the public sphere, this sort of thing will decrease. Of course, it will be replaced with a totally new brand of insanity, but I think a lot of this stuff has its origins in a fear of technology based on a lack of understanding about how it functions. I have a hard time imagining millenials, e.g., being worked up over smart meters because they believe they're sending information on them to the UN because they grew up with things that actually can spy on them and generally have a sense for how technology functions. I suppose if science education is sabotaged for long enough eventually we'll end up back there though.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:32 AM on February 4, 2012


Not to be cold-hearted or unfairly profile, but I think once a good bit the older generation dies in this country, we'll be much better off.

If you think that only oldsters are tea baggers and right wingers, your're mistaken. I invite you to visit the lunchroom at the place I work. You'll see the television tuned in to fox news and a gaggle of 20- and 30-somethings enthralled by its siren song.

What you're observing is that retired folks generally have the time to go to meetings in person. You'll find them at many pro-environmental todos as well.

While we're at it, I invite you to get off of my lawn.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:35 AM on February 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Not to mention the simple size of the babyboom. It distorted the culture to its age specific demands every step of the way. I expect the price of burial plots to skyrocket any day now.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:39 AM on February 4, 2012


Amazing how much the idea, if not entirely the definition, of "conservatism" has changed in the last 100 years. Can we re-animate Teddy Roosevelt? Dammit people, there must be a way. And can Zombie Teddy please challenge each one of these people to a wrestling match and/or sit-up contest?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:39 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


“The Tea Party people say they want nonpolluted air and clean water and everything we promote and support, but they also say it’s a communist movement,” said Charlotte Moore, a supervisor who voted yes. “I really don’t understand what they want.”

I don't think these protesters really understand what they want, either. Or, rather, I think they have a vague, gut feeling of what they want -- they want to go back to a past where America was On Top*, and energy was cheap and plentifuk and the water and sky and food were clear and pure and tasted so much better, and pretty much everyone was Christian***, and the economy was good, and you could trust politicians****. *****

*Except, maybe, for the Dirty Communists, who were safely Over There**
**Except for Castro, but he didn't cause too much trouble
*** Except for that nice Jewish family and maybe the Catholics on the Other Side of Town
****Except for the crooked ones, but they were either far away in Big Cities or related to us, so that is OK.

***** Of course, the problem with this is that that past never existed. It just didn't. And so what we have is a bunch of people who long for something that never was, who feel an aching fear that they are being told that things are changing and they are going to have to change, too, that the brown people who have always been Over There (with their weird food and religions and music and hats and stuff) are going to come and do God Knows What, and they get all riled up by cynical political interests who want to keep the profit cycle going (for at least another round or two). Is it any wonder that their message makes no sense?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM on February 4, 2012 [28 favorites]


*"plentifuk" is my new favorite word GenjiandProust.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:43 AM on February 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Someone should start a campaign to get copies of The Demon Haunted World into the hands of your average conspiracy theorist. I doubt they'd read it, particularly given the subtitle, but it might do some good for the 1% that do. (Occupy unwarranted credulity.)
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2012


"In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. "

I... they... ugh. [facepalm]
posted by fuq at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


If by the United Nations they meant Massachusetts, they might be on to something in Maine.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think they are fearful and angry and that's why they are randomly lashing out at everything and everyone. You try living a life where you're constantly told you are the chosen best and yet for some reason you're getting poorer by the year and your old institutions seem to be failing you one by one. How many of us would be willing to face the fact that the ideology we've been believing in since birth and the stories we've been told might not just be false, but to our detriment? Not many. Easier to blame the Arab President and the conspiring UN.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:53 AM on February 4, 2012 [15 favorites]




It's pretty unfair to just blame the olds; I've encountered many a stupid person in my age bracket.
posted by Renoroc at 7:04 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish it were as easy to convince people that the actual plot here is the one using corporate mass media to manipulate their emotions in order to do the corporations' bidding.

Your favorite conspiracy theory sucks.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it any surprise that a generation that grew up with (true) conspiracy theories during the Cold War would continue to think in that mindset?
posted by suedehead at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2012


We've got yer conspiracies. Bogotheorists today are merely out of touch with how politicking works.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:38 AM on February 4, 2012


Definitely not just old people - I know a twenty something who explained to me how the oil companies were actually loosing money on gasoline sales when gasoline was $4 a gallon because gasoline was just a waste product for the stuff there was serious demand for.

I extracted myself because, uh, wow.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2012


The amazing thing is I've studied academically and worked in and around the environmental, land planning, New Urbanism and energy saving industry since 1993, and I needed to look up "Agenda 21". I'm sure many of the concepts I work with are reflected in it, but I've never once heard anyone suggest that we should propose a particular course of land planning or energy policy because the U.N. suggests it. In fact, I've found this particular niche of the world to be one of the most earnestly intended to improve people's lives you could hope for. There aren't too many folks in the trenches getting rich trying to build bike lanes or revise land use standards for dense multi-use functions instead of sprawling suburbs!
posted by meinvt at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Amazing how much the idea, if not entirely the definition, of "conservatism" has changed in the last 100 years.

I maintain that the current flavour of conservatism isn't conservative of much except the current idea of the American Dream...driving your F-750 down an empty highway built on 5% tax rates from your ranch home in Colorado to your $50/hr 10-4 job at Patriot Firearms Inc. while listening to pre-jail pre-death penalty advocate Steve Earle while eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Coors Lite.

I'm a professional planner and a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and this is the first I've even heard of Agenda 21. Nobody at a municipal level has much to do with federal regulation, much less some sort of international conspiracy. Objecting to conservation of open space and resources is the equivalent of railing against everything science has collectively learned, ever. And as stupid as that sounds, I think this is exactly what is happening.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:43 AM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder if we could require any request to government officials for a change in policy to be accompanied by a position paper, with proper footnotes to relevant secondary articles, before being allowed to consider the position.

Seems like it might tamp down on the stupid somewhat.

I'd be curious to see which organ of the UN is responsible for the black helicopters, and the relevant minutes.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:49 AM on February 4, 2012


Seems like it might tamp down on the stupid somewhat.

This is me laughing out loud. Every thing that a local government does is stupidly transparent compared to most any other organisation. Every single email I send can be FOI'd by anyone. Everything we do is based on current best practices, and yet can get crushed by a political process. Local government isn't based in logic. It's based on politics. As much as there are good, logical Councilors out there, anything controversial isn't often decided based on sound research...it's based on politics. People don't want to listen to reason when something affects them negatively...and that'a the only time you hear from the public.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


"single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices"

All of which require trillions of public spending to enable. They're angry that their massive subsidies might not grow quite as much as they want.
posted by aerotive at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Definitely not just old people - I know a twenty something who explained to me how the oil companies were actually loosing money on gasoline sales when gasoline was $4 a gallon because gasoline was just a waste product for the stuff there was serious demand for.

They had probably just read this article, drastically misunderstood some of the math, and then failed to think hard about the various things the article itself failed to discuss (like the massive subsidies for the oil industry, etc).
posted by FatherDagon at 8:06 AM on February 4, 2012


Interesting choice of the word 'activist' in the title. Of course it's technically true — they are actively opposing certain actions — but by the same logic that guy yelling at the Canadian geese to stop reading his mind is an anti-avian migration activist.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:06 AM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


In the late 1990s it was not unusual for Republican governors to support environmental issues. Off the top of my head, I know that Tom Ridge (PA) and Christine Todd Whitman (NJ) were both big supporters of environmentally-friendly policies that sought to limit urban sprawl.

I can't imagine a Republican governor of a big state like Pennsylvania or New Jersey supporting such a thing today. They'd be shouted down by their own constituency.

That's a good example of how much the Republican party has shifted little more than a decade.
posted by mcmile at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter how long you've been in municipal planning or how vehemently you claim you have never heard of Agenda 21. Clearly you are part of THE CONSPIRACY and therefor cannot be trusted.

These people have been drawn into a closed loop of information. It could be Prison Planet. It could be Fox News. They have been conditioned to disbelieve any information that does not come from the approved sources. Anything that comes from The Lamestream Media, The Liberal Media, is a lie designed to further the Conspiracy (whatsoever the fuck that conspiracy may be.)

It doesn't necessarily mean they're stupid, per se; part of the appeal is that the believer is rewarded with a sense that they are part of the elite few who know the REAL truth.

So you can talk sense. You can talk science. You can common sense and logic it up all day, but they will dig their heels in that much harder, because they "know what's REALLY going on," even if it's completely untrue.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:12 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Needs the presciousbodilyfluids tag.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:13 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


So Parks & Recreation is a documentary after all...
posted by i_cola at 8:14 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


"oil companies were actually loosing money on gasoline sales"

There's a seed of truth in there. Independent gasoline vendors - you know the little mom and pop shop down the road - they only markup the gas by a couple of pennies a gallon. They aren't making money on gas at all. The money is selling soda pop, coffee, snacks, and other crap.

The little place I used go, "American Gas" was run by a middle eastern guy by the name of Tony. He was always on the phone yelling at someone about gas prices, every time I went in. I'd ask him "how's business?" and I would get quite the earful. He eventually sold it, I hope he is doing something less stressful now.

As far as paranoid activists go, these folks actually serve an important purpose, like microbes or jackals or something. I don't know precisely what it is, maybe it just keeps consultants on their toes. Disclaimer: I am a consultant to municipalities.

Something to keep in mind is that "vision of America" that led to the suburban disaster and clogged freeways we have today was carefully and deliberately inculcated into American culture. Part of it is an appeal to independence, freedom, "the American way". Urbanism is suspect in itself. It's associated with effete, hand wringing, European intellectuals. You see the same thing here on The Blue. The disdain for "hipsters" that crops up in so many threads is that same prejudice, just reloaded for the 21st century.

Throw in the fear of the imminent "New World Order" and you really scare the shit out of people. They take this seriously.
posted by Xoebe at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Conservative echo chamber at work. What can you even say about this kind of thing?

It's not even like they are fighting for legitimate beliefs, they're fighting for ideals of convince that have been thought up by lobbyists trying to defend various polluting companies.

But here's the thing. Those companies are often sponsoring these things because it saves them money. So a power company wants to put in smart meters to cut down on power which will save money without needing to make anyone's house warmer. And people oppose it because they've been told by fox over and over again that "environmentalism is bad"

---

I was thinking a while back how it must look to those people that liberals oppose the "border fence" We have arguments about it based on it being bad for the environment or whatever, but that hardly seems reasonable when compared to the "problem" of immigration.

To them, it must seem like we really do want lots of Mexicans in the U.S and don't want to solve the immigration problem at all.

And you know what? the truth is I actually like Mexicans I don't have a problem with people coming up from Mexico to the U.S.I don't view the immigration "problem" as a "problem" at all.

So flip that around -- what can we conclude about people who oppose this stuff? That they just don't give a fuck about the future of the planet. They care so little about the environment that they're willing to sacrifice it to prevent any kind inter-government cooperation, which they see as a bad thing.

In other words, solving the environmental problems facing the world requires government cooperation. They oppose government cooperation, and they are willing to leave environmental problems unsolved in order to prevent it from happening.

How fucked up is that?

(also, they are completely failing anyway since these local projects have nothing to do with the UN)
posted by delmoi at 8:32 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah I've heard of Agenda 21, and knew it was a environmental agenda from the Rio Summit. All local planning here is expected to have a statement on the agenda, and reference it in spatial planing (or at least they were, I don't know if it is still current practice). My impression was that it amounts to little more than a broad guide to avoiding the worst of 1900s development, the precise thing which—so it appears—is both the "American Dream" and its worst enemy.
posted by Jehan at 8:41 AM on February 4, 2012


I don't think these protesters really understand what they want, either.

A. White. President.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:51 AM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't think these protesters really understand what they want, either.

A. White. President.


Yeah, they probably do, whether they will admit it or not. But they didn't like Bill Clinton any better, and they didn't vote for Carter, and, hell, assuming they are in their 80s, they probably weren't too keen on Kennedy, so I don't think it can be reduced to race.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:56 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting choice of the word 'activist' in the title. Of course it's technically true — they are actively opposing certain actions — but by the same logic that guy yelling at the Canadian geese to stop reading his mind is an anti-avian migration activist.

Yeah, as a journalist, I'm particularly galled by the breach of professional responsibility here. This whole piece reeks of the false balance and misconstrued objectivity that has allowed the news media to become half-witting tools of radical, anti-scientific, fact-deficient zealots (and led the Times into a looking-glass world where it actually asks whether it should be a "truth vigilante" without any apparent awareness of the ridiculousness of the question).

Far from challenging the tinfoil hattery at play here - which would actually be good journalism - this piece legitimizes it. Instead of disputing the most outlandish statements and factchecking the paranoid delusions, our ever-vigilant Times reporters simply quote someone describing them as "a little on the weird side." Switching to a neolithic diet is a little on the weird side; calling bike lanes a UN plot is dangerously unhinged.

If as a reporter you are going to quote a Fox demagogue saying smart growth measures sound “eerily similar to a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a centralized planning agency would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order," then it's your job to make this your next sentence: "There is not a shred of evidence that the simple nonbinding guidelines in Agenda 21, which are broadly shared and independently advocated for by a wide range of professional urban planning associations and municipal planning departments across the nation, could possibly be used as a pretext for the kind of thing this Fox News ideologue is describing."

If you quote some random Tea Party wingnut saying "The real job of smart meters is to spy on you and control you," it's your job as a reporter either to quote an official from a smart meter manufacturer or installer or advocate saying, "What she just said is utterly delusional," or else to simply state the same thing yourself. (If you insist on po-faced objectivity, you could phrase it like this: "'The real job of smart meters is to spy on you and control you,' said some random woman at a meeting, citing no evidence whatsoever because none exists.")

The insidious thing is that the Times legitimizes tinfoil-hat argurments by giving them such a prominent and even-handed forum. I write and speak on sustainable growth and smart meters and green design and such for a living (for example at the conferences of professional associations like jimmythefish's), and stuff like really does enter the mainstream conversation this way. "Hey, I read in the Times that smart meters could be used to control my life without my consent and sprawl control is a tool of UN hegemony, could you address that?"

Dear Times journalists: Simply quoting deranged Tea Partiers is not journalism, it's public relations. It's your job to actually determine where their arguments come from and whether they hold any water. And if they don't, it's your job to say so.
posted by gompa at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2012 [55 favorites]


You insidious liberal dirtbags. If you get your way I'll have to live in a vibrant walkable city with clean air, water and free healthcare. Then my kids will probably have to go to college for free. This is a slippery slope to prosperity! Don't say I didn't warn you!
posted by vorpal bunny at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


This isn't just old people. There is a reflexive anti-environmentalism that permeates American conservatives. Literally anything that might be construed as conserving resources or environmental is viewed as a bad thing. Hell, a few years ago someone was posting a string of FPPs about repurposing items for crafting, and one of the conservative members opened a Metatalk thread to complain about it.

I like to joke that if the government put out a bulletin saying that burning tires in your living room is a bad idea, that conservatives would do it en mass, but I don't think that's far from the truth.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't even think it's "reflexive" - half of it is raw paranoia and ignorance fed by the likes of Alex Jones & co., and the other half is anti-environmental propaganda from the same groups that fund anti-climate change efforts. Is that paranoid?
posted by sneebler at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2012


I meant to add that I think louche moustachio's comment above really captures the problem: how do you/we engage in public discourse with groups who are simply unable to give any legitimacy to an outside authority, like an expert in the field?
posted by sneebler at 10:06 AM on February 4, 2012


For some reason I'm so used to crazy that none of this really affected me. Until I got to the last lines and the plaintive cry of 'I don't understand what they want.' Because there I can imagine being that poor sod trying to work out what the hell these people want, and failing. Because if you knew what they wanted, at least you could respond.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2012


Great comment, gompa.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:11 AM on February 4, 2012


I never want to get old.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2012


gompa, you don't have to end that comment with "Dear Times Journalists." You can send them an email. If you don't want to, can I use your words and do so myself?
posted by valrus at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2012


It was a great comment, by the way. Hence my request.
posted by valrus at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2012


Dear Times journalists: Simply quoting deranged Tea Partiers is not journalism, it's public relations. It's your job to actually determine where their arguments come from and whether they hold any water. And if they don't, it's your job to say so.

Their job is to get page views and advertising. The New York Times can't even decide if telling the truth is even part of the job description.
posted by empath at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, Virginia...please slide into the ocean.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2012


driving your F-750 down an empty highway built on 5% tax rates from your ranch home in Colorado to your $50/hr 10-4 job at Patriot Firearms Inc. while listening to pre-jail pre-death penalty advocate Steve Earle while eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Coors Lite.

Except the guy on the radio this sounds like a pretty awesome day.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2012


Oh, Virginia...please slide into the ocean.

Hey! I'm in Virginia.

Wait till I move, at least.
posted by empath at 10:31 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]



FIRST THE OBAMA U.N. COMMUNISTS INFILTRATE OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW WE'LL HAVE SHARIA LAW!!!

You left out that they were Satanists. And Lesbians.


And anyway, Hitler's his father, and he faked the Moon Landing, and he killed JFK.
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It isn't just old people, and conservatism didn't just change.

People with money and power pay to have opinions constructed and promoted that are useful to what they believe is their benefit.

They may be ideologues, or they may just be power-mad, or they may just think of it as a needed investment that produces useful idiots.

Pendulums may swing back and forth, but someone has to push it to get it started moving.

And as a result we have garbage men who think the estate tax is our most pressing current issue, construction workers against infrastructure investment, and people over 65 collecting Social Security and Medicare who are convinced the government spends too much, and they all think all the tax money is either wasted and given to the coloreds and the illegals.

Also, those people that have been confused or buffaloed or just plain lied to, so they end up with these reactionary attitudes? Facts don't change their minds. They already think your different because you don't agree with them, so why should they listen to you? In fact all this talking about it is kind of pussified.

So don't bother. If you really want to make them rethink what they are saying, laugh right in their faces. Mock them when they bring this shit up. Tell them they are stupid to their face, and bitching about taxes is rich coming from someone too stupid to have a job.

And when they want to fight, take it out of the bar. paying customers are drinking in here. Then go fight them, because they do want to punch you, and think you won't go because you are a big liberal wuss.

Or don't bother trying to change their minds at all. They probably won't change their minds about anything until that idiot Rush tells 'em what their new opinion are this week. That's less stressful, but not as much fun, as long as you think bar fights are fun.
posted by dglynn at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


@meinvt: Well said. When someone complains about a group, it's helpful to examine the group's motivations. Citizen advocates for bike lanes, traffic calming, commuter rail, etc. rarely stand to get rich off what they're promoting. Or is there a greedy multinational bike lane conglomerate who uses PAC money to get politicians to overbuild them and make said multinational rich? FIGHT THE BIKELANERS!! DOWN WITH TRAFFIC CALMING!!
posted by 4midori at 11:02 AM on February 4, 2012


Grand, Old Psychos
posted by homunculus at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


valrus, presuming you're a US citizen, you can do the chiding of the Times in my name. Quote or paraphrase at will, don't feel obliged to attribute. (But if you get a response, let me know.) In my experience, the only thing that gets taken less seriously in New York than a critique from elsewhere in the US is one from Canada.
posted by gompa at 11:40 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I never want to get old.
posted by empath at 1:16 PM on February 4 [+] [!]


Is the only thing stopping you from acting like this your age? 'Cause that'd suck.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:56 PM on February 4, 2012


The really disturbing thing is that... well, 75 years ago, H.P. Lovecraft wrote:
As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical 'American heritage'…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.
So, what we get as a take-away from this is that either the Republicans cycle back through this state every so often or they have always been like this, which makes me fear for the future.

Also, guys, if Lovecraft finds you reactionary, you really need to take stock of yourselves. Because that's like the Pope finding you a tad too Catholic.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


OK, fine. Lovecraft got considerably more Left toward the end of his life, but, still....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2012


vorpal bunny: You insidious liberal dirtbags. If you get your way I'll have to live in a vibrant walkable city with clean air, water and free healthcare. Then my kids will probably have to go to college for free. This is a slippery slope to prosperity! Don't say I didn't warn you!

"Bush: Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over"

I've noticed in my research and composition classes that many people (of ALL ages) do not understand the importance of assessing the reliability/accuracy/credibility of the information they find, and they don't understand how to do it. This scares me.

In the last five years, I have literally tripled the amount of course time I spend on development of this skill, and I include much more hands-on practice in the library and in the computer lab. I am genuinely horrified sometimes at what the students seem to think are reliable sources. I can see how exhausting it is for them to puzzle their way through source evaluations, but damned if I'm going to stop making them do it, or else we'll never see the end of the crap described in the NYT article.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:26 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is unfortunately symptomatic of two terrible problems.

The first problem is that about 30% of Americans are crazy - and I mean crazy as in "have delusional beliefs contrary to the fact that are actively harmful to their lives."

Why are so many people crazy? It's because they have deep inner contradictions in a widely-shared but delusional belief system that they cannot re-evaluate without the whole thing crumbling.

In the same way an embezzler is forced to continue stealing to maintain a lifestyle, they have to continue going deeper and deeper in a sort of paranoid megalomania, because once they started to question any part of The Program, then it will all unravel. As the distance between "what they believe" and "the real world" gets greater and greater, the tension increases and they become capable of almost anything.

The second problem is that the US media has stopped trying. I don't have a facile explanation for this. It used to be that there were right-wing papers, and left-wing papers, and one side's papers would be deeply critical of the other side, while still keeping within journalistic ethics.

It as if an edict came down, but somehow figures like Michelle Bachman, a woman who is deeply delusional, are reported as "serious" candidates, and their bizarre ramblings which use neither facts nor logic are printed and televised with basically no comment or rebuttal.

Compare for example the media's treatment of Michelle Bachman with that of, say, Noam Chomsky. The naked contempt that greets Prof. Chomsky's speeches and writings almost everywhere in the US media is astonishing. He's inflammatory - but not to the level of a Bachman! and, think what you like of Prof. Chomsky's politics, even his worst enemy would have to admit that he systematically organizes verifiable (or falsifiable, but at least checkable) facts and potentially refutable logical arguments to come to his conclusions - and that he is also a serious contributor to the world in at least one other field.

Michelle Bachman on the other hand simply makes up out of whole cloth a great deal of what she says. Her career has more or less been "professional conservative" and she has done fraudulent, ridiculous things like "degaying clinics." And yet Bachman is presented as "serious" and Prof. Chomsky as "un-serious".

There is almost nothing too crazy far right you can say that the media won't report perfectly seriously - unless it's on the "left". So the country has charged to the far right astonishingly fast, particularly when it comes to the "defunding the government" part - it is no exaggeration to say that the "Socialist" Mr. Obama is significantly to the right of the Conservative saint, Ronald Reagan on this issue - Reagan's idea that the deficit is a lot less important than jobs is not one that's mentioned by either party, and yet this is more true now than it was in Reagan's era!

What this implies is that crazy 30% now has a lock on the country. Sure, they don't get everything they want, but they get a lot of it, and worse, they prevent anyone else from making progress by constantly pushing the dialog into madness. Meanwhile, they slowly kill the government with the death of a thousand cuts.

And what's going to happen? Well, they're going to strangle the US government to death. They will keep cutting taxes, and fighting any possible revenue enhancement, and peck to death any part member who breaks ranks, and keep up a belligerent foreign policy that results in huge military expenses, and continue their assault on workers by offshoring outsourcing and by layoffs and by union busting, adding mouths to the public dole and reducing the tax revenue yet again...

And then the government will continue to fail repeatedly and the conservatives will point to this and say, "See? Government's bad!" and continue to gridlock any progress.

When people look back at this period in a few decades, they'll say that it was then that the US really failed to execute.

9/11 was a huge fuck up - one of the biggest ever - and where was the soul searching? Where were the brutal hearings where men left in tears, their careers rightfully destroyed because of their grievous mistakes? Numerous, blatant fuckups up and down the system allowed thousands of people and trillions of dollars of value to be destroyed - did even one person lose their jobs, get reprimanded?

And then Katrina... again, a huge failure of government in every way. Consider that when a hurricane threatened NOLA during Mr. Clinton's administration, he placed the two largest mobile pumps in the world, two Navy pumping ships, in the harbor, before the storm would have hit. There is no question that this action alone would have saved New Orleans from the collapse of the levees during Katrina.

Good move for Mr. Clinton - but that's like Captain Sullenberger's's landing in the Hudson, any "good" pilot should be able to do that "almost every time" (as Sully himself has said). We should celebrate these people, because they kick ass, but we should also expect this level of competence from the men and women we have given responsibility to pilot our planes and guide our countries, and the consequent respect, and in the case of politicians, rewards (pilots are paid shamefully badly in the 2010s...)

People rightfully make fun of Captain Coward, but Bush's equally craven and inept actions during Katrina caused a hundred times as many deaths and a hundred times as much financial damage.

And there's the Global Financial Crisis. I'm out of time, but this too was primarily a failure of government - a government not only unwilling to regulate obviously dangerous new markets, but even to enforce the laws that already existed.

So they're going to look back and say, "That's the decade they broke their government."

.....

About twenty years ago, I walking through Times Square in suit, no doubt feeling pretty cocky, and someone came up behind me and punched me in the jaw, breaking off just one millimeter from a canine tooth (only my dentist and I ever noticed...)

I turned around and it was a vile homeless man. "You bumped into me and didn't apologize!" (which was almost certainly false, I'm a little obsessive about noticing that and apologizing...) "Come on, let's have it out!"

All the fight drained out of me. I didn't want to touch this guy. And I realized - he had nothing to lose - and I realized that I could walk away with a good lesson, cheap, "Never get into a fight with someone who has nothing to lose."


So we're in an endgame. Your Conservative American has nothing to lose. He can't go back and start "widening his stance" on his political beliefs, because once he questions any part of the whole glorious certainty of correctness that he currently has, he has to question it all - and discover that he has been destroying his country and himself (herself, etc...) He has to keep going further and further into the paranoia and the fear of all the others, the Muslims, the gays, the liberals, until it all collapses.

But what, conceivably, could precipitate this collapse? Remember the old Mefi meme "Surely this..."? But if not this, then what?!

For years in the 90s I said that Americans wouldn't wise up until bodies littered the streets. I was clearly wrong about that because in the next decade bodies littered the streets twice in four years, and yet this only precipitated a further descent into madness.

I don't even want to speculate, but for years the US has been doing the equivalent of selling its fire extinguishers and smoke alarms for pennies at a garage sale, rolling up the safety net everywhere and giving it away to the industrialists, letting its schools and legal system and great infrastructure slowly decay - systematically assuming risk for very little reward.

The ship is rotten everywhere. If two leaks sprang at once, it might go to the bottom.

Good luck to us all.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2012 [37 favorites]


OK, fine. Lovecraft got considerably more Left toward the end of his life, but, still....

Or something; from what I gather, late-period Lovecraft's idea of a progressive society was some totalitarian amalgam of fascism and socialism (he has the Fungi from Yuggoth's highly advanced society be based on "a sort of fascist socialism", for example). (Not that totalitarianism was universally reviled back then; people like Le Corbusier were big fans, for example. It took Auschwitz and the Stalinist terror to take the shine off grand-scale social engineering projects.)
posted by acb at 2:46 PM on February 4, 2012


Thanks, gompa. I sent your comment with a few minor edits to both writers and will let you know if there's a response.
posted by valrus at 3:56 PM on February 4, 2012


Or something; from what I gather, late-period Lovecraft's idea of a progressive society was some totalitarian amalgam of fascism and socialism

It's more left than Monarchism; anyway, he was still to the left of the Republicans of his time and ours, which is saying something.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:00 PM on February 4, 2012


If you're really interested in where Lovecraft was headed toward the end of his life, you'll want to look at The Shadow Out of Time and At the Mountains of Madness. The Mi-Go are never really anything but antagonists, whereas Lovecraft is openly sympathetic to the Great Race and the Elder Things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:24 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scientists to the last -- what had they done that we would not have done in their place? God, what intelligence and persistence! What a facing of the incredible, just as those carven kinsmen and forbears had faced things only a little less incredible! Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star spawn -- whatever they had been, they were men!

Coming from Grandpa Lovecraft, this is a remarkable assertion. It gives me hope.
posted by SPrintF at 5:41 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before I get to the thread, I recently found that the AHH THERE'S RADIO WAVES EVERYWHERE people have also latched onto the "Smart Meter conspiracy", which I find hilarious as they're like the weakest RF-producing things around. They're designed with the modern trend toward low-power energy-conserving circuitry. But then...

"I stayed away from the apartment during the day, and it was patently obvious that the symptoms abated away from the 11 “Smart” meters installed in our building a couple of months prior." - Smart Meter Health Complaints

“They transmit very infrequently in terms of percentage of times of day. As an example, they may only transmit a few seconds in a day,” Tell explained. “If you look at the intensity of the field produced by transmitters, the RF fields are quite low in comparison to applicable safety standards for human exposure.” - Green SoCal: Smart Meters Are Safe

I can't wait until the Morgellon's people start theorizing that the smart meters are distributed end-point to relay signals from the central control point to the nano-bio-fiber-transmitters growing in them.
posted by nTeleKy at 5:57 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Humbug. Lovecraft wasn't any less reactionary than his Republicans. He merely looked upon them as jumped-up burgher rabble who offended his sensibilities as a would-be member of the philosopher-astronomer-priest class with impeccable Anglo-Saxon blood.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:00 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good luck to us all.

I wish I felt differently, but this is where I'm at with this situation as well. Our infrastructure is crumbling and repairing it is somehow the latest "third-rail in politics," or eductional system has been sabotaged for at least a decade or more and is only getting worse, we refuse to allow health care for the indigent and unfortunate, which itself is a widening class, and all the while, the deepening hole is blamed on a lack of purity of belief. The first thing you should do when you realize you've dug yourself into a hole is to stop digging, but we're waiting for the backhoe to arrive instead. What good has, in the history of ever, come from this sort of scenario?

Maybe I am just overly pessimistic by nature, but my grandfather retired in his 50s, and even though I'm still young and have had a successful career so far, I have very little hope that I or people of my cohort will ever know what that's like. That whole notion of life, the so-called American dream, feels about as realistic to me as colonial Williamsburg.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:06 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I am taking time off from work to show up at state and municipal level meetings in MA regarding the transportation budget and the need for our cities to be cribbing pages from New Urbanist policy recommendations.

Someone has to stand for sanity.
posted by ocschwar at 7:29 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


These people are in positions of power in local government near me, and they are bad news. In addition to going to public meetings and writing to local papers in favor of sanity, pay attention to your local government races and help the non-crazy people campaign.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:42 PM on February 4, 2012


Fuck, lupus_yonderboy - that's the most depressing comment I've ever favorited. And I really, truly want to believe that it's too pessimistic, and it's really not that bad - but every day it gets harder and harder to convince myself of that.

Good luck to us all, indeed.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:10 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I choose to look at the funny side of modern absurdity- just imagine the voting patterns of the YouTube commentators who think that Jay-Z and Lady Gaga are members of the Illuminati!
posted by Apocryphon at 11:37 PM on February 4, 2012


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