on Thomas Sowell: (Atrios is referring to Sowell's recent assertion
that Democrat Nancy Pelosi doesn't want phone calls "to and from terrorists" to be monitored. Been hearing that lickspittle talking point a lot, haven't we?)
Shameless dishonesty is all that the conservative movement has left. Expect them to employ it even more often than usual. Sowell isn't some asshole on the radio, he's a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. I hope Stanford's proud.
Ah, but spectacular lying, of course, is the entire problem with conservative "think tanks" and other attempts at partisan-based pseudo-intellectualism. The very mission of places like the Hoover Institution is to come up with the desired conservative premise or policy first, and manufacture some "facts" second. The mission is not science, or even policy -- it's publicity. Manufactured places to put out media messages with an aura of authority or intellectualism.
Tax cuts? Global warming? War? They can pretend to be experts at all of them. Figure out the policy you want to support, then have Sowell or someone else scribble down the Very Erudite Explanation of why black is actually white, the sky is actually magenta, or Saddam's secret still-really-really-existing WMDs have been spirited to the kitchen of an Applebee's in... oh, let's say "Syria", this time. The whole point of think tanks is rank dishonesty in areas where serious educators, intellectuals, government workers, and other experts in the field in question have unanimously come up with an answer that conservatives don't want to hear.
It's serial dishonesty as a game, as played by the most very enfranchised players in America -- conservative media figures, past conservative administration officials -- whoever can lend that sheen of public credibility and bring the money in for the hacks to keep hacking. They're the major league sports franchises of political lying. On any given day, you can have Richard Scaife provide funding to attack George Soros in yet another battle of the So Goddamn Fucking Enfranchised That You Couldn't Possibly Get More Enfranchised If You Ate George Washington's Shriveled Corpse For Breakfast.
What I find interesting (in a strictly car wreck, we're-all-going-to-die sort of way) is while the think tanks started out to provide thin but important-sounding justifications for whatever conservative graft or manipulation was being attempted during any particular period, the think tank model has now entirely transferred to the White House itself. Listening to Tony Snow (or any of the previous press secretaries) is like listening to an off-off-Broadway theatrical production exploring the pathology of compulsive lying. They don't care what the truth is: after spending every minute of every day reinforcing their fragile little bubbles of newspeak, in fact, it's not even clear they know what the actual truth is.
Which is why, in a nutshell, we're in Iraq to begin with, the perfect think-tank-produced war -- because the policy came first, and actual knowledge was ignored as new "facts" were fixed around that desired policy. And all of those facts -- nearly every single one of the "big" facts used to enter the war -- turned out to be either fabricated or a product of extraordinary incompetence.
There were, we were assured, gigantic stockpiles, tens of thousands strong, of weapons of mass destruction. Wasn't true. There were, we were assured, links between Iraq and al Qaeda. Wasn't true -- in fact, the only significant al Qaeda presence in Iraq was in American-controlled territory. We could do it with a minimum of troops, they said. Wasn't true. We'd be greeted as liberators, they said. Wasn't true. The Iraq oil infrastructure would pay for the invasion -- boy howdy, was that one not true. There wouldn't be an insurgency, they said. Not true. There wouldn't be significant sectarian violence. Not true.
Whether it was intentional lying, or whether or not they were simply so utterly incompetent as to believe every single one of these things to their core, hardly even matters, at this point. Either way, the conservative "thinkers" attaching "facts" and "strategies" and "predictions" to their grand, abstract ideas of American hegemony turned out to be spectacular failures in every single particular. It's not even that they turned in their political science project to the teacher and got an "F" -- they turned in their political science project to the teacher, and it killed several hundred thousand people. A mere friggin' "oops" or demerit mark won't cut it, for something like that.
I'm not entirely sure why even the most intrinsically gullible in media and even among the true believers would not see the pattern, here. When you have a policy apparatus created specifically to counter actual expertise with made-up hokum, the outcomes of Doing That Hokum turn out to be, what a surprise, a clusterfuck in every particular.
So yeah, they're professional liars. That's what they're paid for. Killed a hell of a lot of people, in these last few years, and lost us our only significant chance at killing bin Laden when they decided that dedicating U.S. troops towards The Policy was more important than dealing with the actual realities of the world around them -- but that's what they do, and they don't have the slightest remorse about it.
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