Posted by Jack @ 9:58 pm on August 26th 2011

Reading NRO: Hard.

I take a small measure of pride in my political and social policy reading habits, methodically forcing exposure to a wide range of viewpoints by including in my daily reading list blogs representing a range of conservative, libertarian, and liberal thought. I make sure to read both atheists and evangelicals as well. But I find it hard, so very hard, to read the doctrinaire, hopelessly partisan echo chambers. NRO’s The Corner is particularly difficult. Consider the 26 articles on their front page as of this writing of which only 16 are content, the remainder being non-political self-reference, light snark, inside blog-baseball, round ups of the NRO front page links, or “how my vacation is going” commentary. So, 16 items with some political content, and they include:
Michael Walsh’s myopic reflection of how some asshat vandalization in Wisconsin is broadly representative of The Left’s “snarling viciousness.” Yet another self-victimization incapable of separating individual action from a broader ideology, while also blinkered to the equivalent actions emanating from elements of the right. Not one word of balance.
Jay Nordlinger’s explanation of his personal alternate universe in which “For 25 years, liberals have thrown something in my face: My beloved Reagan’s raid on Libya in 1986 killed Qaddafi’s daughter.” Setting aside the possibly non-ironic use of “my beloved Reagan”: seriously, this is what liberals have been throwing in your face? I truly want to meet the liberals that are doing this. Perhaps you can introduce me to them during the next faerie circle gathering. Almost beyond parody.
Rich Lowry’s condemnation of effete elitist liberals who dismiss Perry because of his speech pattern and accent (a worthy point, no person’s ideas should be dismissed because of a regional speech pattern or dialect), which he then transitions into a purposeful condemnation of Obama’s speech pattern and dialect.
Yet another “conservatives as victims” pearl clutching article, this time by Peter Kirsanow, in which he selectively contrasts appeals for civility in the aftermath of Rep Gifford’s shooting with Obama’s 2008 use of the word “unpatriotic” in his descriptor of Bush II’s deficit spending. Ignoring the legitimate critique of Obama’s inconsistency on the national debt in the subsequent three years, Kirsanow prefers to champion the put upon white man in the Midwest, who now has his speech regulated while the blacks and “Hispanic Rastafarian females” can say what they want.
Mark Krikorian’s expose of an immigrant’s drunk driving incident, when said immigrant is named Obama. In talented hands this would be an amusing anecdote. In Krikorian’s it is merely another entry in the conservative genre of “document all crimes committed by potentially illegal immigrants with great zeal, while leaving out the context of overall criminality rates.”
Andrew Stiles’ carefully worded summary of Speaker Boehner’s latest letter of concern to President Obama, in which Andrew uncritically repeats the Speaker’s assertion that new EPA regulations will cost upwards of $90 Billion. Left out of the post is any mention of what this regulation is about (ground level Ozone maximum level reduction from 75 ppm to between 60 to 70), the careful change of wording from Boehner letter (as much as $90 billion) to the more alarming “upwards of $90 billion”, the actual range of the estimated costs, or any mention of the estimated savings (hint: as much as $100 billion, or upwards of $100 billion if you prefer). Concern for expanding EPA regulations is legitimate, uncritical and conveniently inaccurate repetition of your ideologically preferred politician’s talking points: not so much.
A set aside column for Congresswoman Nan Hayworth’s emotionally charged, inaccurate, and pandering report, or perhaps hagiographic peon, to Israel in the wake of her recent visit (as apparently 20% of our Congress chose to do during this summer break!) Possibly ghost written by the Shas Party, Rep Hayworth’s post alleges that Israel welcomes citizens of all faiths (Palestinians, 1967, and Right of Return excepted?), and in contrast to Hezbollah will not “rain fire on innocents” (Operation Case Lead excepted?). She includes a “think of the children” style argument, but exclusively focused on only Israeli children, endorses the mad mullah theory of middle east and Iranian foreign policy. While making he mandatory invocation of the Holocaust, she drives it all home with an almost cult like reference to a transcendent relationship between Israelis and Americans, bound as we are like brother and sister in an incestuous celestial marriage. OK, made the last three words up, but only those three.
– And best of all, a nearly indescribably piece by Stanley Kurtz continuing his extraordinary campaign of cherry picked, out of context, carefully elided, magnificently distorted, tenuously linked psycho analysis of Obama as a radical Marxist socialist liberation theologist Alynskyite. His hook is that he is merely providing a reasonable set of questions to Obama that serve as a counterpoint to the open letter “explain your faith” questions posed by Bill Keller of the New York Times to the GOP candidates. Whereas Keller’s questions are fairly open ended, only mildly loaded, brief, and easily answered by a frank conservative (as John Derbyshire has demonstrated), Kurtz’ are perhaps the greatest examples of rigged and loaded questions I have ever read. A full paragraph intro proceeds actual query, during the course of reading them I lost track of how many acquaintances and political contacts Kurtz identified as “mentors” to the younger Obama. Given the President’s actual track record in office, you would think these sort of Marxist radical cries might have given way before the legitimate critiques available Not for Kurtz. How is this man still taken seriously at William F Buckley’s house?


  1. In all sincerity: do you find a day’s content at TPM to be any more intellectually nourishing?

    Comment by Rojas — 8/26/2011 @ 10:12 pm

  2. Perhaps you missed my last post. Or the one before that on Pharyngula. Which is frustrating, because I only write like two a month in a good month. But to answer you question: TPM is not the best example for me, partially due to stylistic elements, but there are most definitely partisan liberal blogs that irritate me in a similar fashion. Intuitively, the conservative blogs seem to have way more actual power and mainstream political-media respect than the equivalent liberal outlets spouting equivalently partisan nonsense.

    Comment by Jack — 8/26/2011 @ 10:22 pm

  3. OK, I just did a quick review of TPM. Using the 19 articles in the left column, only three jumped out at me as badly partisan (two are very passive aggressive Judge Prosser vs Judge Bradley write ups that are seemingly neutral but clearly designed to throw a blue meat emotional topic to their t to their commentariat, and one is the article I went at earlier). Tough comparison given how many of TPMs front page articles are neutral posts about Irene. And among the 19 I found some really good pieces that are pro-liberal but entirely accurate/fair. The Pat Robertson and Chuck Norris take downs for instance.

    Comment by Jack — 8/26/2011 @ 10:31 pm

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