The War on Intellectuals Ramps Up

Happy birthday Thomas Pynchon. [Note, was on May 8.]

School Choice

We know that the Right Wing dislikes actual rational thought: evolution, global warming, science, higher education. OK: ALL edumacation.

This week brings to light a series of ugly “What do them experts know? Any boob knows more than any so-called ‘expert’!” arguments.

We begin with Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, who has somehow slipped into an attitude of utter “expertise” on governance and policy that is in no wise borne out by the evidence. He’s BORED with the election. Awww: 

… Obama and Romney feels like a contest between two calculating centrists, fighting for the right to serve as figurehead atop a bloated state apparatus that will operate according to the same demented imperial logic irrespective of who wins the White House. George Bush’s reign highlighted the enormous power of the individual president to drive policy, which made the elections involving him compelling contests; Obama’s first term has highlighted the timeless power of the intractable bureaucracy underneath the president, which is kind of a bummer, when you think about it.

Then there’s one more thing – Obama versus Romney is the worst reality show on TV since the Tila Tequila days. The characters are terrible, there’s no suspense, and the biggest thing is, it lacks both spontaneity and a gross-out factor. In Reality TV, if you don’t have really sexy half-naked young people scheming against each other over campfires in the Cook Islands, you need to have grown men eating millipedes or chicks in bikinis drinking donkey semen. And if you don’t have that, you really need Sarah Palin.

This race has none of that. Biden is the best character in the series, but for exactly that reason the Obama administration would be wise to bury crazy Joe in a salt mine until the election is over.

And so on and so forth. Taibbi has a right to feel disillusioned, but the old “I’m better than all this” snark is as specious as it is tired. We don’t live in a perfect world, but we are required to DEAL with the world we’re in. And Taibbi increasingly seems to feel that not only IS there a perfect world, but that he alone inhabits it. Frankly, his Olympian preenings and pronouncements sound more and more out of touch as evidenced here. But that’s not the real meat of this intellectual abattoir. (Even though, increasingly, Taibbi’s got the knacker.)

Worse, this is the most consequential election of my lifetime, and the Dred Pirate Roberts Court has handed the keys to the safe to those who looted the treasury (remember, nearly all that Iraq cash came back to US war contractors or soldiers’ pay sent home) and, having only audacity, the MUST win this election, else face REAL regulations and even criminal charges.

The latest political headlines powered by NBC News and  —  NBC News projects Lugar defeated in Indiana primary  —  NBC News has declared Richard Mourdock as the projected winner in the Indiana Senate primary.  Mourdock defeated six-term Republican foreign policy elder statesman Sen. Richard Lugar…

As today’s Indiana outcome shows, the Koch/AFP/Tea Party Axis of Evil can take down an insufficiently obeisant GOP Senator, as Dick Lugar was involuntarily retired in today’s primary. And, unlike Holy Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, or Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Indiana has a “sore loser” law doesn’t allow any run or write-in in the general election.

You lose, you lose: Like March Madness on the basketball court, and not the endless appeals that make the modern law court such a joke.

This is a consequential election, and Mr. Taibbi’s “boredom” with it only stresses Mr. Taibbi’s intellectual limitations.

Which is a perfect segue into what’s really going on today, “intellectual limitations” …

Anti-gay amendment passed in N. Carolina today

Pirate Rupert Murdoch’s The New York Post SCREAMS:

Academics’ response to criticism? Fire that racist!
9:55 AM, May 7, 2012 by Abby W. Schachter

As a blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education Naomi Schaefer Riley is paid to write about what is going on in academia from her perspective. She was doing her job when Riley wrote about the failure of black studies at American universities, citing PhD dissertations as evidence of the weakness of the discipline.

The response to her post can be summed up as follows: She’s a racist and she should be fired….

Of course. Every dumbass in America can attest to how hideously prejudiced those eggheads are.

Little Billy Kristol’s The Weakly Standardud picks up on THE HORROR, THE HORROR of the Right’s newest Martyr to the Language Police. Mistah Kurtz, he write:

Not the Weakly Standardud, but might as well be

Mob on the Quad 
2:22 PM, MAY 8, 2012 • BY JONATHAN V. LAST

Late last night, in a shameful example of editorial cowardice, the Chronicle of Higher Education fired Naomi Schaefer Riley. Naomi is a good friend of mine, a sometimes contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, and a fine writer. And the story of what happened to her is highly instructive.

Naomi joined the Chronicle’s “Brainstorm Blog” a little over a year ago. It was a good hire—she’s written two insightful books on academia, God on the Quad and The Faculty Lounges, along with dozens of articles on the subject. Her postings were smart and entertaining. (For a couple of samples, click over to “If this is art, your middle-school daughter is Picasso” and “No sex for you.”)

Last week she wrote about the world of “Black Studies” in a post titled “The most persuasive case for getting rid of Black Studies? Read the dissertations.” You should read the whole thing, because it’s only 520 words, but here’s the gist of Naomi’s argument:

I just got around to reading The Chronicle’s recent piece on the young guns of black studies. If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it. What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap. The best that can be said of these topics is that they’re so irrelevant no one will ever look at them.

That’s what I would say about Ruth Hayes’ dissertation, “‘So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth.” It began because she “noticed that nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature, which led me to look into historical black midwifery.” How could we overlook the nonwhite experience in “natural birth literature,” whatever the heck that is? It’s scandalous and clearly a sign that racism is alive and well in America, not to mention academia. […]

The Gadsdumb Flag

TWS is no longer owned by Rupert Murdoch (who was losing $2 million a year underwriting it) but the connections are still there. As is the use of media to counter-smear those who read Ms. Riley’s somewhat less than lily-white screed, albeit in the completely Black and White world of Murdochiana/GOPville, she IS white and IS talking about Black, ergo, White makes Right.

And, of course, by cherry-picking dissertations, her Limbaughesque screed is “justified”? All Black Studies dissertations are written by morons is the implicit assumption. You see, if anything either stupid, or, taken out of context, a stupid quote appears, ALL Black studies ought to be disbanded?

That’s intellectual. Fer sure, fer sure.

We loves us some Rupert

Here’s what the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education said to her readers:

A Note to Readers
May 7, 2012, 7:21 pm

By Liz McMillen
When we published Naomi Schaefer Riley’s blog posting on Brainstorm last week (“The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations”), several thousand of you spoke out in outrage and disappointment that The Chronicle had published an article that did not conform to the journalistic standards and civil tone that you expect from us.

We’ve heard you, and we have taken to heart what you said.

We now agree that Ms. Riley’s blog posting did not meet The Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles. As a result, we have asked Ms. Riley to leave the Brainstorm blog.

Since Brainstorm was created five years ago, we have sought out bloggers representing a range of intellectual and political views, and we have allowed them broad freedom in topics and approach. As part of that freedom, Brainstorm writers were able to post independently; Ms. Riley’s post was not reviewed until after it was posted.

I realize we have made mistakes. We will thoroughly review our editorial practices on Brainstorm and other blogs and strengthen our guidelines for bloggers.

In addition, my Editor’s Note last week inviting you to debate the posting also seemed to elevate it to the level of informed opinion, which it was not. I also realize that, as the controversy unfolded last week, our response on Twitter did not accurately convey The Chronicle’s message.

I sincerely apologize for the distress these incidents have caused our readers and appreciate that so many of you have made your sentiments known to us.

One theme many of you have sounded is that you felt betrayed by what we published; that you welcome healthy informed debate, but that in this case, we did not live up to the expectations of the community of readers we serve.

You told us we can do better, and we agree.

—Liz McMillen, Editor

Oh. Well, they’re just stoopid racists. Next question?

A more rational tea party

NO! We’s smarteez! This iz censoring and stuff! And Nick Gillespie at the Koch-funded Reason foundation just chipped in his two buffalo chips’ worth:

I do find the Chronicle’s response absolutely breath-taking and craven in its censoriousness. If the questions raised by Schaefer Riley’s posts are outside the bounds of discussion at a blog about higher education, then why bother having even the semblance of a discussion? And it strikes me as disingenuous to sack someone for a single blog post that did not meet the Chronicle’s “basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles.” There’s no question of ethics or professionalism raised by Schaefer Riley’s posts than those that are raised by an ongoing series of articles about what a waste of time and money and resources it is to get a degree in English, or art history, or sociology, or whatever.

This is plainly a politically correct response to a thug’s veto and should be owned up to as such.

Unknown, Howard Rich, Nick Gillespie, Andrea Rich

Never one to let a snark get caught in his obligatory Black Leather Jacket (else he would have no identity, seemingly), Gillespie can’t help but end with this:

Ironically, the post at Brainstorm (possibly the worst name for a blog since The New Republic introduced “The Plank” and “The Spine”) …

Ahh. Them racist intellek’chuals. We’s all real much smarter than them, because dumb = real smart, where smart = dumb.

Two plus two really DOES equal five?

Or, perhaps the “Martyr” abused her freedom to say whatever she wanted, without regard to the Editorial policies or readership, whose hard-earned bucks trickle down into Ms. Multi-name Riley’s exchequer. Naw. Like Limbaugh, we MUST patronize the businesses that pay to have us insulted. Free speech, in this case, trumping the Almighty Dollar, in one of those rare instances of the GOPpers being against the “Free Market.” Right.

Fake cowboy bringing aspirin to the women of the world

Here’s Foster “Aspirin Knees” Friess’ paid-blogger on President Obama’s twenties (from the new rooting-through-garbage book):

Letters to girlfriends will always come back to bite you

[quoted letter from book …]

Quite a read, huh? It sounds like Barack Obama was an absolute riot to hang out with back in the day. Why would anyone ever call this man an elitist?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: No one understands everyday Americans like people who were analyzing the nuances of T.S. Eliot in their early 20s.

If I could choose five famous people I would most want to sit down with and discuss Eliot’s love for metaphysical poetry, Barack Obama would be at the top of the list.

That’s it. That’s all. Just the notion that Barack Obama would find T.S. Eliot interesting when he was twenty is insulting to the dumbass.

Oooh. I am faint!

Funny, I read “The Wasteland” when I was 16 in Mr. Gill’s Humanities at Santa Fe High School, and I immediately went to the library and read a lot more of him. But then, I’m probably an elitist out of touch with “common folks” like pretend-cowboy Foster Friess and his Jackson Hole Mansion (or his Delaware manse, or his Scottsdale, Arizona manse, etc. etc.)

Seriously, being smart is a bad thing? Being curious is suspicious? Trying to think deep thoughts in college is awful and terrible?

Welcome to the Twelfth Century. Please put on a plague mask and kill some more of those demonic cats. Thanks.*

[* See “Cats and the Black Plague – Persecution of Felines Increased the Death Toll for Humans“]

Black Death togs for Docs

The metaphor isn’t chosen randomly: the persecution and marginalization of science and intellectuals is as senseless and potentially fatal as the murder of cats, unknowingly destroying the first line of defense against plague rats. There is little solace to be taken in so many dumbasses dying of their own preventable dumbassery. The Red Death is no respecter of persons.]

1999 CATO Institute tax return

But, we must complete the Rupert Murdoch trifecta. Today’s Wall Street Urinal splashes this golden stream onto the deodorant cake [Emphasis on the poisonous added]:


May 7, 2012, 7:31 p.m. ET

Stephens: To the Class of 2012
Attention graduates: Tone down your egos, shape up your minds.


Dear Class of 2012:

Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let’s be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree. Now you’re entering a lousy economy, courtesy of the very president whom you, as freshmen, voted for with such enthusiasm. Please spare us the self-pity about how tough it is to look for a job while living with your parents. They’re the ones who spent a fortune on your education only to get you back— return-to-sender, forwarding address unknown.

No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern …

Unfortunately, dear graduates, chances are you’re nothing like her. And since you’re no longer children, at least officially, it’s time someone tells you the facts of life. The other facts.

Fact One is that, in our “knowledge-based” economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.

A few months ago, I interviewed a young man with an astonishingly high GPA from an Ivy League university and aspirations to write about Middle East politics. We got on the subject of the Suez Crisis of 1956. He was vaguely familiar with it. But he didn’t know who was president of the United States in 1956. And he didn’t know who succeeded that president.

Pop quiz, Class of ’12: Do you?

Yeah, and if you don’t know who Millard Fillmore was, then you don’t deserve your ladle of watery porridge. Geez, who the HECK let this deranged arrogant jerk loose on the public? Oh wait. Rupert. Gotcha.

Remember: Rupert has been successful on three continents (mostly in N-glitch) by pandering always to the lowest common denominator. Don’t believe me? Look at the Fox News website, and then try and find ANY other legitimate news site so obsessed with tits and ass, sex scandals (e.g. a months-long “HOT FOR TEACHER” set of photo shoots of female teachers alleged or convicted of having sex with underage students). Watch what he’s done to NFL football. Watch the endless stream of tits and ass and scandal and low-brow sniggering that characterizes EACH AND EVERY ONE of his media operations.

Clearly, Teh Stoopid has been very good for Rupert’s bottom line. As has the illegal hacking of phones, surveillance “spy” photography and other vile invasions of privacy. Pandering to the lowest impulses of humanity has always been profitable, sad to say. Mencken’s “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public” comes to mind.

No: the war on intelligence and intellectualism is fully underway. And intelligent progressives need to remember this one (from me):

The difference between progressives and conservatives is that progressives equivocate while conservatives just hate.

Now, having destroyed my intellectual credibility by quoting myself, I must flee to find release in auctorial surcease.

But think about it, won’t you?

Location of thinking area

Oh, and Ficht nicht mit der Racketemensch!



A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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