Antonin Scalia’s Mental Degradation

Antonin ScaliaDespite my reminder, I’m not sure what I wanted to write about. It may have something to do with the fact that I drank a beer and I am a light-weight in the Teetotaler’s Drinking Olympics. But I’m not so far gone to forget to mentioned that the word “teetotaler” has nothing to do with “tea” as is commonly believed. I know I wanted to talk about the conservative aversion to facts and science, which is the same as talking about conservatives at all.

Take my father, my favorite conservative. He is kind of anti-Christian (somewhat embarrassingly so). And he hates creationists. He just can’t believe that people don’t accept natural selection. He’s also very healthy—he will almost certainly outlive me. He hates cigarettes and the tobacco companies’ long lived claim that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. And yet, he thinks that global warming is a liberal conspiracy.

Recently, he told me that he didn’t know that Obama was born in the United States because he had never seen his birth certificate. I knew that I could get him a copy and that would bring the whole issue to a close. But I felt the need to push where exactly his head was at. So I asked him why he needed to see Obama’s birth certificate when he’d never felt the need to see any other president’s birth certificate. He stared at me blankly. Eventually I learned that he felt the need to see Obama’s birth certificate because other people (wackos, but still) had called it into question.

I have little doubt that this would not be an issue if my father were 30 years younger—he is now about to turn 80. I’ve seen a degradation in his thinking over the years, just I’ve seen one in my own. I don’t begrudge him that—it is just more proof that any god who created us was evil. But I do begrudge Antonin Scalia his mental degradation.

At 76, Scalia is no longer the intellect he once was. What’s more, as with most people, his degradation of intelligence has gone along with a huge rise in arrogance. There is nothing wrong with this in a regular person. But there is something wrong with this when you are a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States with a lifetime appointment.

Antonin Scalia’s opinions have become more bizzare and shrill over the past decade. It used to be that he would at least hide his partisan opinions under a veneer of originalist nonsense. But no more. And I think it is that his mind is gone, which makes him the perfect conservative.

Ben Bradlee and Integrity

Ben BradleeI’m posting this to remind myself of something I want to write later today. But it also happens to be great.

In an excellent column on Wednesday, Eric Alterman wrote Attack Dog Jennifer Rubin Muddies the Washington Post’s Reputation. He tells the story of the Washington Post and their search for a conservative blogger to apease the wacko conservatives in Washington DC. On its third (and worst) try, they have settled upon the repugnant Jennifer Rubin. Read the article, it’s worth the time—I promise.

Towards the end of the article, Alterman relates a story about the Washington Post when it was a great newspaper as opposed to today when it is referred to as “Fox on 15th.”

In his engaging portrait of Bradlee, Yours in Truth, Jeff Himmelman recounts an incident from 1969 in which two young Post reporters, Leonard Downie and Jim Hoagland, had worked for months on a story about racial discrimination in the Washington savings-and-loan industry. Titled “Mortgaging the Ghetto,” it was scheduled to run over a ten-day period. Just before that happened, a group representing the industry went to Bradlee’s office and told him that if the series ran, they would pull all their advertising from the paper—representing, even then, about $1 million in revenue. What did Bradlee tell Downie? “He puts his hand on my shoulder and he says, ‘Just get it right, kid,’ and walked away.”

Integrity. Imagine that!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply