Thursday, February 18, 2021

Response to Gone for Good

(See: Just Above Sunset : Gone for Good)

Hey, so whatever happened to “never speak ill of the dead”?

I should remind you that because all these chubby purveyors of right-wing outrage, at some point in their lives, must cross paths, it was natural to expect Rush Limbaugh and my old boss Roger Ailes to collude, which they did from 1992 to 1996, when Ailes produced Limbaugh’s ill-fated TV show. Rush eventually admitted he hated the TV version, maybe because it was a medium in which it was too hard to get away with his particular jocular schtick, so he went back to concentrating on radio.

I once bought one of Limbaugh’s books, I can’t remember which, in which I think I discovered the secret to his success, which was that he would every now and again interrupt his broadcast blather to earnestly remind his listeners once again that he is not a journalist, that he’s an entertainer, and to warn them to not take his silliness seriously or hold him to any standard of truth, that he is there just for the ratings and the money — and then he would go back to spouting his usual bullshit, which of course people continued to take quite seriously. Due to this disclaimer, you never could call him on his lies, since he would insist that he never meant for people to believe them in the first place!

It was the same bullet-proof “Gaslight” formula later perfected by Donald Trump (remember his famous misinterpretation of the Mueller report? No Collusion” and "Complete and Total EXONERATION), which Trump undoubtedly learned from Rush.

And why does it work?

Because there is just a large enough cohort out there that wants to believe that, say, "Black people are trying to live off the wealth of the rest of us", even though such a claim is totally unsupported — but a claim being unsupported is okay because, after all, it’s meant to be taken only as light-hearted humorous entertainment, maybe to be taken "seriously but not literally”, and not necessarily to be actually believed! (Wink-wink!)

In short, just hearing this “alternate facts” nonsense from someone in mass media seems to give permission for some of us to accept the otherwise crazy stuff that we want to believe but that we shouldn’t believe, weird stupid “politically-incorrect” stuff that had always been considered unacceptable in civilized society.

But this also describes the success of the Republican belief system in the age of Limbaugh and Trump. People feel they have a right to want to live in a society that, let’s face it, isn’t necessarily fair to everybody. After all, the whole world isn’t necessarily fair, and who are we to mess with God’s plan?

Except for maybe just the words “Small Government, Low Taxes”, there essentially is no Republican doctrine that Republicans are seriously selling to the public, since none of its underlying truths (e.g., “tax cuts pay for themselves”) make any real sense, but this is not to say that there aren’t a whole set of aspirational “hopes and dreams” that citizens feel they have a right to believe in, their lack of veracity notwithstanding, along with which, if we’re lucky, will come a straight-talking blond-haired American messiah who takes no shit from “progressives" in his fight to make these dreams become reality.

This is why, even as thoughtful so-called "movement” conservatives insist Limbaugh and Trump aren’t true conservatives, Limbaugh and Trump and their ambiguous wink-wink “truthiness" have turned out to be way more popular with the “I-could-never-be-a-Democrat-because-I-just-hate-Godless-Communism” Joe-and-Karen-Sixpack conservatives of the world than these “thinking-man” conservatives ever were or will be.

The tragic truth is, Limbaugh, who helped create Trump and our modern post-truth world, might be dead but he is not at all gone for good.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Response to Our King in Exile

We’ve all been looking forward to putting Trump behind us, but the plain fact now is, this still ain’t over.

I’m not even sure it would have been over had Trump been banned from ever running again, since that would just have made it obvious to his underground army that they will need to achieve their goals with guns rather than even bothering with the political route — although, let’s face it, they will probably reach for their guns anyway if they lose in 2024.

It’s also possible to interpret that part of McConnell’s speech in which he blatantly lied about it being Nancy Pelosi’s fault for not bringing the impeachment article over to the Senate earlier, as a big wink to signify that his big moral take down of Trump was not at all to be taken seriously.

But what should also be noted is the disingenuousness of Mitch and the others basing their votes to acquit on their alleged belief that this whole impeachment was unconstitutional. If they had really believed that, then the logical thing to do would not be to legitimize the vote by participating in it, but instead to refrain from voting altogether! Specifically, the way to do this would be for all of them, just before the vote, to just stand up and leave the room.

But the problem with doing that, of course, would be that this would merely alter the ratio of the quorum by reducing the number of those “present", which would, in turn, throw victory to those voting to convict, at least according to Benjamin Wofford in The Washingtonian:

In theory, a vote to convict the President (or anyone else) would count as legal with as few as 34 members, not 67, assuming the absolute minimum (51) participated.

Whoopsy! That’s not exactly the result these crafty Republicans had been looking for!

Their original scheme had not been to simply lodge some drive-by principled protest, it had been to come up with the perfect hook, some arcane-sounding jibber-jabber with just enough patina of impenetrable obscurity to dissuade close scrutiny, allowing them to register mock disgust at the totally unacceptable behavior of a guilty-as-sin president, while at the same time “accidentally” letting him off with an acquittal, and doing it in such a way that wouldn’t later give him reason to come after them.

So they did what they did, even though it made no logical sense, but as luck would have it (for them), everybody had given up expecting logical sense from Republican leadership decades ago, way before Trump even came along.

And as an added thought:

While I was never big on getting rid of the filibuster, assuming it would come back to haunt us by not being there for us once we found ourselves back in the minority, I’m starting to conclude that every time we Democrats put our ambitions on pause to do the “fair” thing and work with the folks across the aisle, it becomes a case of “Lucy and the football” — which is to say, we live to regret it.

(By the way, for Ted Rall's political take on the Lucy/football gag, see here.)

Maybe we need to temporarily put aside solving the problem of insuring minority party rights in the Senate for some other time.

In the meantime, maybe we need to enact our Democratic agenda — which, let’s not forget, is backed in most polls by a wide majority of all Americans anyway! — just to prove, once and for all, that being fair to everybody in the country works out better for everybody in the country  which includes poor people not born with the same opportunities rich folks were, but also the rich people, too.

What makes me think the American economy will do better under us Democrats, with our annoying inclination toward fairness toward everybody?

Because history shows it usually does! Seriously, you can google it! The American economy tends to do better during Democratic administrations!

(Why does that happen, you ask? These two guys came up with eight possible explanations.)

But for some reason, we keep forgetting that this country is designed to be self-governed, which is because it belongs to all of us, not just those somehow connected to power and wealth, and all of us deserve a say in what kind of a country we want it to be.

Not that demonstrating how good a self-governing country can be will necessarily stop those armed thugs from, once again, trying to turn the United States into a banana republic! Still, it’s something that, at some point, has to be done.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Response to Finally, American Fascism

(See "Just Above Sunset : Finally, American Fascism")

But what’s next?”

We could start that discussion with what is apparently Trump’s gift to American politics:

If nothing else seems to work for you, go radical! Try outright bald-faced lying! It worked for Trump  or at least it almost did.

Pick some ridiculous lie — like that Democrats eat little children — and repeat it over and over!

It will drive the libs crazy! They won’t know how to handle it! It confuses them and confounds them when they find themselves constantly “fact-checking” you, as if anybody cares. Just ignore them. Your base will love watching the Dems sputtering away. Eventually, everyone will forget what we were arguing about.

So why do so many Republicans turn to lying for their salvation? 

Here's something that will surprise most of us: Republicans are actually in the minority in this country!

On December 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 41% as Independent. Additionally, polling showed that 50% are either "Democrats or Democratic leaners" and 39% are either "Republicans or Republican leaners" when Independents are asked "do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?"

And when you're a political minority in a majority-rule country, sooner of later you find yourself at the end of the road and discover you’ve actually gone nowhere, and that playing by the rules no longer gets you where you want to be, which is winning all elections, and running the country.

So, like Trump, you get creative! When truth isn't your friend, what else can you do but make stuff up?

Did you see the way Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene weaseled out of her claim yesterday, that all those school shootings didn’t really happen? Okay, she finally confesses, maybe they did, but they only happen because we don’t adequately defend our kids, or something.

So where does she stand on telling the truth? It hardly matters, she might just as well say, since whether something actually happened or not is not really the point.

The real point is to troll the Democrats just enough to keep your base awake and liking you. But try to avoid dwelling on "The Truth", since, as Republicans learned from Donald Trump, "The Truth" will not "set you free", and it might just land you in jail — or at the least, impeached. (Maybe even twice!)

So the answer to your “What’s next”?

Expect to see Trump clones, all competing to see who can get the most attention with the most outrageous lies. We’re not rid of Trumpism by a long shot.

If you, like I, thought the world might now wake up out of a bad dream, we both need to remember that, in those movies, just after the wife turns her back on what she thought was the dead body of the wife-beating husband she just killed, he springs back to life.

In other words, we should expect more of the same, but on steroids.