In this week's New Yorker, Joan Acocella parachutes into the usage trenches (ostensibly to review Henry Hitchings's latest book, "The Language Wars"), and discovers that Hitchings is only pretending to be a descriptivist: He uses who and whom in the traditional way, the hypocrite! And AHD is cowardly for including Steven Pinker's descriptivist essay in its latest edition (and presumably for naming him chief of its usage panel in the first place). I haven't read the piece yet, but here is Pinker in "The Language Instinct": "The aspect of language use that is most worth changing is the clarity and style of written prose."
Yes, it is possible to teach standard written English and also to question the peeves and shibboleths of the grammar Nazis; I would have expected the New Yorker to grasp that fact, but apparently I would have been wrong.
Now I'm going to re-read Geoff Nunberg's (nearly 30-year-old) classic take on the subject, to revive my spirits -- though there's always the risk it will just convince me our discourse really is in decline.