The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Posts Tagged ‘gop’

The Alternative Reality of the Right

Posted by Bill Nance on April 24, 2010

Anonymous Liberal just posted an article that’s so completely descriptive of the complete abdication of any reality-based arguments on the right that I thought I should re-post it in toto here.

This is the first post I’ve written since last November. Part of what drove me to take a break from writing about politics was a growing realization that the Great Conversation in this country had completely ceased, that the various sides were no longer speaking the same language, like dialects that have–over time–drifted so far apart that they are no longer mutually intelligible. Watching Fox News and Tea Party rallies, it became apparent to me that the right wing in this country had severed the few remaining ties it had to the world I live in, the empirical world.

In its place, the Right has constructed its own Bubble World, a sort of political Truman Show complete with its own facts and rules (albeit facts and rules that are constantly changing based on political expediency). The writers, directors, and actors in this conservative version of Seahaven are the legions of GOP politicians, operatives, and conservative media outlets that relentlessly push this politically expedient alternative reality, and the Trumans are the millions of regular Americans who don’t realize the joke is on them.

In this Bubble World, it is an accepted truth that our President is a bumbling ignoramus who can only string together a coherent sentence if he uses a teleprompter (which, apparently, other politicians don’t use). I can understand a world in which Obama’s political opponents mock him as a being too professorial or out-of-touch or arrogant. But unintelligent? Inarticulate? I don’t know how to deal with that. It’s like mocking John Boehner for being pale.

Similarly, it is an accepted fact in the Bubble World that Obama is an extreme liberal, if not an outright socialist or communist. According to Newt Gingrich, Obama is “the most radical president in American history.” Again, I just don’t know how to deal with that. This is a guy who, at every point in his political career, has gone out of his way to position himself as a moderate, as a pragmatic technocrat. Since taking office, he has not, as far as I can tell, made a single policy decision that can fairly be described as liberal, much less radical. The only significant pieces of legislation he’s passed are a stimulus package that nearly every economist endorsed and a health care reform bill modeled on Romney-care (which, while better than nothing, is nowhere close to the kind of bill most liberals–much less a communists or socialists–would have crafted).

In Bubble World, there is a movement known as the Tea Party, whose members are simultaneously incensed about the size of the deficit and the fact that they have to pay taxes (even though they have the lowest tax rates in the free world and just got significant tax cuts–from Obama–in the past year). Moreover, they’re not angry at the party that built the deficit–by starting wars and giving massive tax cuts to people who are much richer than them–or that presided, just recently, over the near collapse of the economy. But they are furious at the party that just recently took the reins, inheriting both a crumbling economy and massive deficit. And if they had their way, they would put back in power a party whose only policy idea is, that’s right, cutting taxes; which, of course, would only make the deficit much worse.

But not in Bubble World. In Bubble World, cutting taxes actually raises revenue. In Bubble World, “the market” will magically solve all of our health care problems and true “freedom” is defined by one’s ability to be denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions. And in Bubble World, a set of sensible and long-overdue financial regulations designed to prevent another meltdown of the economy and foreclose any future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street is actually a “permanent bailout bill.”

In this alternative universe, the facts are literally whatever the political consultants say they should be. Whatever resonates with the focus group. If you’re working on behalf of Wall Street lobbyists to kill a bill that would impose more accountability on Wall Street, you simply accuse those who support the bill of doing Wall Street’s bidding. It doesn’t matter that this is the opposite of the truth and is, in fact, exactly what you’re doing. While these facts might matter to people in the empirical world, the facts in Bubble World are whatever the right wing wants them to be. In Bubble World, Mitch McConnell is bravely protecting the people from the Wall Street bigwigs, not doing the bidding of Wall Street lobbyists.

And that sad reality goes a long way toward explaining why I haven’t been blogging lately. We’ve reached a point where the right wing in this country has achieved complete epistemic closure. Aided by their extensive and growing media apparatus and a traditional media that is uninterested in playing umpire, the Right has managed to escape entirely from the gravitational pull of the empirical world, and in fact, has a created a world of its own, one with a rapidly growing gravitational field that, everyday, pulls in more and more of the unsuspecting and uninformed.

From the comfort of this Bubble World, people like Mitch McConnell can simply say whatever the hell they want to say, no matter how ludicrous, and trust that much of the country will readily accept it as true. As Christof famously says in the Truman Show, “we accept the reality with which we are presented.” And that’s particularly true when that reality is one that is focus-grouped tested to conform with our pre-existing biases and hammered home repeatedly by the folks we rely on to keep us informed (which, for a scary number of people these days, means Fox News and Rush Limbaugh).

From my perch back in the empirical world, I’m just not sure know to deal with this. How do you begin to make your case when there aren’t any mutually accepted facts? How do you convince someone that the people they trust are liars and charlatans? Writing posts trying to correct the record and dispel misinformation can at times feel about as pointless as trying to bail water out of the ocean.

I had high hopes after the thumping the Republicans took in 2006 and 2008 that we had finally turned a corner, that the cracks were beginning to show in Bubble World and the empirical world was slowly re-exerting its influence. I got the feeling that more and more people who had been stuck in the bubble were beginning to sense that something just wasn’t right.

But I was wrong. Freed from the burden of any actual governing responsibility, the GOP has been free to devote all of its efforts to reconstructing their Bubble World. And they’ve been largely successful. An entire movement has formed that is based, almost entirely, on confusion and mis-directed anger, a movement that sees the world only through the lens of Fox News and other right wing outlets. The Tea Party is an army of Trumans, a movement of people who have whole-heartedly embraced the false reality with which they’ve been presented.

The central dilemma for those us left in the empirical world is how to puncture the bubble. What can we do to make facts once again relevant? What can be done to dis-incentivize the kind of lying and reality denial that has become the hallmark of the modern conservative movement? I can’t say that I have answers to these questions, but I’m pretty confident that these are THE questions that we should be asking. Policy debates are great, but only when they take place in the empirical world. If a majority of Americans aren’t living in that world, then such debates risk becoming purely academic exercises.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better better description of what’s been going on with the right wing in this country over the last 18 months.

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Posted in Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Opposition vs. Naked Power Lust

Posted by Bill Nance on August 6, 2009

I’ve said repeatedly in the past that I bear no love for the Democratic Party. In my experience they’re gutless, often bereft of good ideas and have the moral courage of the average swindler. They STILL aren’t investigating the Bushies over torture. They STILL aren’t going after them for illegal wire-tapping, they cling to the completely refuted idea of gun-control as a legitimate means of crime control and they seem to have a great delight in controlling what I do with my own body, from smoking to eating transfats.

I’ve often agreed with the GOP in years gone by (notably NOT from 2001-2008).  Many so-called “conservative” ideals make a great deal of sense to me: The importance of free markets, the need for social order, the value of pragmatism in policy making and the ideal of a government no larger than it needs to be.

Of course I have plenty of disagreements with the GOP and always have had: I despise their open use and manipulation of fundamentalist religion in politics, their attempts to criminalize abortion and their insane “War on Drugs,” and I could expound on the list of demerits for both parties ad infinitum.

So like most Americans, I think I’m a political independent.

But over the last eight years, and in the last 8 months in particular, I’ve grown to hold the GOP in complete contempt. It’s not because I disagree with their policies, because in the last year they haven’t OFFERED any policies with to disagree.

No, the GOP has earned my hatred because it’s become entirely obvious that they have no interest in good governance or policy at all. Instead they have shown repeatedly that they are interested in one thing and one thing only: regaining political power no matter what the cost to the country.

Whether it’s debates about healthcare or the budget or the stimulus plan, the GOP hasn’t offered a single serious alternative. They haven’t even made an attempt to contribute serious alternative solutions to problems which anyone with the slightest bit of sense can see need fixing. All they’ve done for the last year has been to offer obstruction.  And all they’ve done for the last 8 months has been to do everything in their power to demonize the president, pander to crazies like the “Birthers” and sell blatant lies about proposals on healthcare reform while hoping for the worst for the country so they can get back into power.

You see, I don’t think the Democrats are likely to do a terrific job on the serious issues of the day without some outside input.  That’s where the idea of a “loyal” opposition comes in. President Obama has practically gotten on his knees and begged for serious participation from the GOP and has been utterly ignored for the most part.  So rather than have a serious input on the process, a moderating influence on the Dems ideas that might actually result in something good for the country, they’ve chosen to abdicate from the process and do all in their power to make any progress fail.

We can’t afford for these things to fail. And for someone elected to protect and defend the constitution, someone who is obligated to good governance to deliberately sabotage any possible progress, that’s not opposition at all. It’s power politics and to Hell with the welfare of the country.

There’s an old saying: “Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way.”  The GOP has decided to vote “none of the above.” And for that sin, may they they rot in Hell.

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…What He Said

Posted by Bill Nance on May 14, 2009

It’s never been that easy being an intellectual on the right. I spent most of my college and grad school years in mortal combat. But the degeneracy of the Republican party today makes every thinking person I know wince. It doesn’t debunk conservative ideas about the failures of government solutions, the wisdom of markets, the necessity for sound money and balanced budgets, or the need for prudence in foreign policy. But the association with these debt-ridden, torture-loving, big government authoritarians is awful. And people are only human. What serious thinker wants to support the party of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck?

Andrew Sullivan this morning.


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Speechless

Posted by Bill Nance on April 24, 2009

Speechless. That’s how I’ve felt lately.

Since the election I’ve been watching people I know, some of them friends, frankly lose their bloody minds.

Since 9/12/01 We’ve lived with the worst abuses of power, the most demonstrably dishonest, corrupt and incompetent administration perhaps in our nation’s history.

For at least the last three years, five if you start from the first revelations, it’s become quite apparent that the Bush administration wire-tapped everyone in sight -sans warrants or probable cause. That they held American citizens without charge incommunicado and without access to an attorney for years at a time, implemented a policy where detainees were tortured on a routine basis, spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and generally left America vastly less safe, it’s economy in shambles and its reputation in the trash.

These aren’t even debatable questions.  As Mark Kleiman is fond of saying: Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.

So after eight years of this utter disaster, the American people voted in a clear plurality last November to elect a Democrat…and NOW the wing-nuts on the right are suddenly civil libertarians, fiscal conservatives and sticklers for the law…oh, except for that pesky torture thing.

I don’t even have a response for this level of intellectual dishonesty and blatant partisanship.  It’s inexcuseable and inexplicable.  And so I am left..speechless.

Posted in Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The GOP and the GOD: let go and get rational

Posted by Bill Nance on November 21, 2008

Kathleen Parker has written a column excoriating the GOP’s Christianist base, and receiving the usual death threats and hate mail from the followers of the “Prince of Peace” as a result.

Parker writes:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

It’s gratifying to see Parker continuing to speak the truth. Whether she actually believes this stuff I don’t know, but nonetheless it’s nice to see conservatives at least publicly, coming to grips with the dangers of theocracy.

Actual conservatives, as opposed to the demagogues have remained mostly silent until now over the ridiculous and blatantly religious positions adopted by their party. On abortion, the GOP platform can only be arrived at from a religious perspective. Specifically, the notion that an egg fertilized five minutes ago is morally and ethically indistinguishable from a newborn baby. This isn’t anything BUT a religious view. Since we know that something like 30-70% of all these fertilized eggs never make it past the first few weeks, God must be the biggest “abortionist” of them all. Nevertheless, the GOP continues to take this position, a position the overwhelming majority of rational people disagree with, and wonder why they get rejected.

They’ve also remained silent over the continuing encroachment of government into people’s sex lives. Whether it’s been sodomy laws in Texas, putting people in Jail for having a dildo or spearheading efforts to let the majority declare a minority group less than full citizens, the Radical Christianists have launched all-out war on personal freedoms, held back only by a sometimes tenuous Supreme Court majority.

Absent Supreme Court decisions, all over the country you would have laws which made homosexuality a crime, possession of pornography of any kind a crime, sex outside marriage a crime and no doubt marital sex which included anything Pat Robertson defines as “kinky” would be a felony as well. (So much for oral sex, a practice the Catholic church considers a sin). And of course let’s not forget the mandatory Christian prayers in schools every day. In short, if the GOP’s Radical Christianist base had it’s way, we’d be living in a theocracy which would look a lot like a Christian version of Taliban Afghanistan. There is precious little difference between the Radical Christianists and the Radical Islamists; mostly just the particular flavor of religion.

The GOP has been courting this group since Nixon’s southern strategy, and Ronald Reagan openly embraced people like Jerry Falwell. Pat Robertson actually came in second in the GOP Iowa Caucuses in 1988. But the Radical Christianists have gone from a fringe group with a lot of useful votes (read useful idiots for the GOP) to a controlling interest. And this group’s continued warm welcome from the party will only guarantee the downfall of the GOP.

Why do I care? Well, I don’t specifically care about the GOP. What I do care about is an effective opposition party to the Democrats. The libertarians will never amount to anything until they can get rid of their own kooks (a platform based on the gold standard, eliminating medicare and reducing the size of the armed forces to pre-WW2 levels is not going to fly). There simply isn’t an alternative at the moment to the GOP.

What might be possible however, would be the creation of a new party altogether. A party which rejects intrusion into the bedroom, takes a rational anti-abortion policy (as a newly fertilized egg is not a human, a 6-month old fetus is clearly not a “tissue mass.”) and is firm and reasonable about fiscal responsibility and low taxes. Throw in libertarian ideals about federalism and a rollback of the Fed’s ability to regulate us into oblivion and you’ve got a winner.

I’d vote for a party like that. I’d vote for it consistently. Hell, I might even become a member.

Until people who are actually conservatives as opposed to religious fanatics, control freaks or shills for mega corporation welfare can get hold of the GOP or form a new party altogether, the Democrats are going to rule the roost. And that’s not a good thing.

Posted in Politics, religion, Theocrat Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A conservative reaction to Sarah Palin

Posted by Bill Nance on October 20, 2008

This line is too funny (and sad) not to re-post

Chris Buckley on Sarah Palin:

“I will readily confess that I was one of many who swooned the day after the announcement. But it’s kind of like dating a supermodel; there comes a moment, unfortunately, where they start talking.”

You can read the rest of John Heilemann’s excellent article on the future of the GOP and movement conservatism here.

Posted in Election 08, John McCain, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »