July 5, 2017

Conservatism is America has a problem.  Here is one of my Hot Takes on what Ailes (pun intended) the Right from five years ago, when using this sort of vocabulary to diagnose the GOP earned you permanent fringe outcast status as a strident, America-hating Lefty instead of a permanent column in the Washington Post or a permanent job at MSNBC as sadder-but-wiser "woke" Republican:

...to protect their egos (and, often, their incomes) instead of doing what we teach every child to do -- apologize when you are wrong -- the Right has collectively jumped past a spiritual event horizon and into a soul-darkness from which there is no return: a darkness in which imps and devils are always patiently waiting to take your hat and coat and make you extremely comfortable on the gentle, downward-sloping road to Hell.

This darkness comes with a promise and a catch: the promise is, that the Right will never, ever be called to account for the endless lies they have told and endless betrayals they have committed; the catch is that they can never leave, and no matter how repellent their neighbors become and no matter how humiliating and horrifying the lies become, they are obliged to shut up and go along with the program. With this promise comes the terrible, goosestepping power of a mob under harness, but with it also comes a grotesque fragility because to keep the darkness alive the Right has become a confederacy of Mrs. Havishams, rotting away in the gloom. 

And to make matters much, much worse, their decaying mansion sits on top of such a massive, leaky stockpile of lie upon lie, betrayal upon betrayal, hypocrisy upon hypocrisy and treason upon treason that the danger of one, stray non-Fox Approved fact accidentally glancing off another non-Fox and sparking off a conflagration is omnipresent. 

The entire Conservative enterprise is built on delusion and old dynamite, which is why every clock much forever remain stopped at one minute after Reagan's inauguration, every fact must be smothered under the stasis field of Rush Limbaugh roaring, rage-drunk bluster...

And (he said, transitioning cleverly) five years later we find it was not just the Right who have trapped themselves inside a fragile, decaying mansion of their own making.  Beltway Both Siderists who were kicked in the teeth and left at the altar by the Right decades ago still stubbornly insist on skulking about in their Miss Havisham rags of False Equivalence, hoping that one day the Party of Imaginary Reagan will miraculously reappear and sweep them off their feet.

But, now that the entire Republican Party from President Stupid right down the meatheads who still love, love, love President Stupid have proven beyond any doubt that the Left was right about the Right all along, these Both Siderist Havisham Hacks are all stuck with the same problem:  How can they keep flattering their employers and pandering to their nitwit Both Siderist fan base by bagging on the Left when the Left is clearly not the f*cking problem?

Well, three Beltway Havisham Hacks have worked out three different solutions.

First, having done absolutely nothing but enable the forces on the Right that led to the rise of President Stupid, former George W. Bush chief speechwriter, senior Republican policy adviser and reliable Beltway Republican stalactite, Michael Gerson, is deeply concerned that the Left is now saying "f*ck" too often when describing the abject disaster which people like Mr. Gerson created.

America is hacking away at its own democratic limb

Well someone is certainly hacking something.  But I digress.

But the main consequences are more public. What is the first law of political dynamics? Boorishness has an equal and opposite reaction (though Thursday’s Twitter assault on Mika Brzezinski may be hard to equal). My favorite example is that subset of Democrats (including the head of the Democratic National Committee) who believe that populism is demonstrated by profanity. What our sad and desperate politics really needs, in this view, is more f-words.

The reaction, however, reaches beyond language. A portion of the Democratic Party views “resistance” as an excuse for ideological purification — a franker socialism in economics, a stricter uniformity of cultural views, a determination to use tolerance as a cudgel. The decadence of the administration is producing Savonarolas of the left.

Golly, Mr. Gerson.  I don't know what is left to say, except  f*ck.  You.  Michael.  Gerson.

Moving on.

Famous NY Magazine non-blogger and Washington D.C. shut-in Andrew Sullivan also sees fit to peer out of his Beltway cloister at a nation which he does not remotely understand and take a bite out the Left's collective ass because our Resistance to the catastrophe which his ideology created -- a Resistance being fought over a hundred issues in a thousand places by tens of millions of passionate and disparate Americans -- is not polite and orderly enough to suit him:

...And yet I have the sinking feeling that the strategy we’re seeing from the resistance is defeating itself.

Some of this has to do with the usual Democratic mediocrity. Pelosi has no ability to project a coherent message; Schumer seems entirely reactive; and the base has fixed its sights on a Russian-collusion fantasy that may eventually be revealed as a vegan nothingburger...

But it’s the cultural symbolism that is the most damaging. Yes, I know, Fox News would be scouring the earth for morsels of loony-left excess whatever liberals did. But do they have to make Tucker Carlson’s job so easy?...

And, look, I’m a huge defender of experimental theater — but did Shakespeare in the Park’s Julius Caesar have to be...

Credit also goes to the spoiled, cultish children of Evergreen State College whose racist intimidation of a progressive Jewish professor...

And an honorary mention to the lesbian group whose Dyke March in Chicago banned a rainbow flag with the Star of David on it ...

It doesn’t help matters that violence is also now associated with resistance. Middlebury’s postmodern mob resonated with every anti-intellectual fiber among the Trumpians. Ditto Berkeley’s...

The lack of any magnanimity among the victors of the culture war was also one of Trump’s aces last year....

...it’s the middle of the country we have to persuade. And we won’t do that by offending, alienating, and insulting them.

There is no "we" in this Andrew.  You know f*ck-all about this country, much less its history, and much, much less the history of the middle of the country.  But it is certainly hilarious to see America's most famous gay, Catholic, Tory, True Conservative Beltway shut-in non-blogger making a fine living getting baked in his D.C. apartment and lecturing me about what will and will not play in Peoria.

And finally, Mr. McKay Coppins of The Atlantic tries a novel approach to the task of finding something shitty to say about the Left in the face of overwhelming Republican evil.  First, grab 'em with a shocking headline!  OMFG, the Left has gone just as raving mad as the Right!

How the Left Lost Its Mind
Polemicists, conspiracists, and outright fabulists are feeding an alternative media landscape—where the implausibility of a claim is no bar to its acceptance.

Except not really.

Over the past two decades, an immense amount of journalistic energy was spent exploring the right-wing media ecosystem—from talk radio, to Fox News, to Breitbart and beyond—and documenting its growing influence on mainstream GOP politics. This turned out to be a worthy and prescient pursuit, and if any doubt remains about that, I’d present “President Donald Trump” as Exhibit A. While serious Republicans in the political class spent years scoffing at the “entertainers” and “provocateurs” on the supposedly powerless fringe, the denizens of the fever swamp were busy taking over the party.

Except, see, maybe the Left could go nuts at some point in the future!

But 2017 poses the question: Could the same thing happen on the left?

It’s a prospect that deserves more serious attention and debate than it’s gotten this year...

And that would be bad!

Before we go on, let me try to quiet the cries of “False equivalence!” before they begin: No, these personalities and publications do not yet wield the same influence in the Democratic Party that their counterparts do in the GOP. But ignoring them would be a mistake.

Because Twitter!  But when Mr. Coppins indicts "The Left" on Twitter for, say, "the most prolific of the conspiracy-mongers tend to focus on the Russia scandal, weaving a narrative so sensationalistic and complex that it could pass for a Netflix political drama." he pretty much means Louise Mensch and her merry band.  Still ooga-booga!

Also FaceBook!

If Twitter is where liberal conspiracy theories germinate and spread among news junkies, Facebook is where anti-Republican propaganda can go wide.

For his stats on the Left Losing Its Mind On Facebook, Mr. Coppins focuses in on "the frenzied final weeks of the 2016 election" which seems like a wildly dishonest bit of cherry picking: like drawing long-range conclusions about the efficacy of a marriage by what was happening at 2:00 A.M. at the bachelor party that preceded it.

And blogs (but not this one):

The roots of the liberal blogosphere can be traced back to the early Bush years, when Markos Moulistas launched the Daily Kos to crusade against “an oppressive and war-crazed administration” and Josh Marshall used Talking Points Memo to take the Senate Majority Leader to task. A decade and a half later, some of the blogs of that era have matured into more professional news sites, like TPM, while others have disappeared. But in 2017, the left has more niche political sites than ever, and in many ways they make up the core of its modern media ecosystem.

And podcasts (but not mine):

The constellation of popular podcasts that has emerged on the left serves many of the same functions that right-wing talk-radio hosts served for their audiences in their early days. They provide a mix of commentary, entertainment, and partisan catharsis; a safe space to process the daily onslaught of bad news.

This really isn't "reporting" in any sense of the word, so much as it is lazy, hammock-based spit-balling about what might happen if certain minor trends suddenly run completely out of control along a completely unlikely trajectory.  But the thing is, there really is a genre for that kind of writing.  It is called "Science Fiction" and long before Mr. Coppins was born writers like Robert Heinlein were making a living writing speculative tales of possible futures including this one literally entitled ""If This Goes On -- ":

The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of fundamentalist Christian "Prophets". The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).

And now that I know The Atlantic buys shitty science fiction at premium prices, all I can say is thank God I finally have a place to send all those stories that The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Asimov's Science Fiction have already politely rejected.

crossposted from Driftglass

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