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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Heritage's Final Straw, Man

The reactionary think-tank Heritage Foundation clearly didn't anticipate the failure and fuming that would greet their release last week of the sequel study to the one that killed comprehensive immigration reform during the Killer Clown administration George W. Bush by claiming, once again, that it would cost trillions upon trillions of dollars to coddle all the genetically infrahumanoid brown poors the amnesty travesty would inevitably bring to the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Actually, guys, trillions is what your illegal immoral war adventures of choice and tax-cuts for plutocrats who were among the few who stole enough to have enough to pay taxes cost us, but whatever, leaning forward, moving on, past to the future, right?) And so, Heritage is reeling a bit from exposures of the study's racist assumptions, faulty methodology, and palpably hyperbolically skewed conclusions and so on. In a piece on the firestorm published over at Salon, Bruce Bartlett (described there as "an apostate former Reagan adviser who worked at Heritage in the 1980s") is quoted saying of this latest brouhaha, "It’s part of a longer trend... I think there’s been a decline in the quality of research with an increase in partisanship … It’s much, much worse than in my day." I daresay Bartlett hasn't quite come to terms with the extent to which the emergence of the "alternate academy" of the corporate-military think-tank archipelago itself, in which research has always been articulated through instrumental and opportunistic lenses, was already an indispensable part of that "longer trend [of] decline." And this point is still true even when one concedes the class-race-gender stratifications of the academy, amplified (in ways exacerbated by the traffic of the academy with and in these think-tanks) by the comparable corporate-military ends playing out there in funding, hiring, publication politics in the context of the Cold War and Washington Consensus. Anyway, I must say it is cute when conservative think-tank pseudo-intellectuals try to pine for the good old days of "higher standards," as Bartlett does now. Given the work Heritage has done and remains committed to doing, it is crucial to grasp the extent to which Bartlett's complaint about Heritage's "falling standards" is really testifying to the shift from Republican thought from those who are in on the con, to Republican non-thought from those who were all conned by the former. While this trajectory does represent a sort of degeneration, we should not fail to remember that this is a degeneration from a position of degenerates. Not all eyes will weep for you, Bruce Bartlett: You reap what you sow.

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