The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Posts Tagged ‘republican’

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.

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

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 »

Conservative Intellectuals: Cry me a river

Posted by Bill Nance on October 5, 2008

Lately we’ve been reading columnist after columnist associated with the Republican Right decry the Palin selection and tearing their clothes in mourning for the “good old days” of “conservatism.” I’m frankly getting sick of hearing it.

Whether it’s Kathleen Parker whining about how she’s become the victim of “vicious” attacks for daring to question Sarah Palin’s qualifications, or Andrew Sullivan‘s pathetic wistful idolatry of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, it seems people who have been “movement conservatives” are horrified over what has become of their precious movement.

Notably absent has been the slightest move toward taking responsibility for the damage they and their “movement” have wrought to the American polity.

The Palin phenomena, and the mindset of the vast numbers of people to whom she appeals, are largely the creation of these so-called “conservatives.” This did not happen out of nowhere. It’s been the work of 30 years labor to bring it about.

From Reagan to W., these folks have systematically manipulated both the radical religious right and their populist fellow travelers in a cynical strategy to demonize “liberals,” a class which they claimed included virtually anyone who believed in legal abortion, believed in a secularist government or had any substantial difference of opinion with their agenda. “You’re either with us or against us,” wasn’t a creation of George Bush. It was merely putting explicit words to a policy which the Republicans had been following since 1980. At least Bush was talking about other countries. His fellow travelers on the right had been using it against domestic political opposition since the days of Nixon.

Movement conservatives weren’t content to simply state their political case. They weren’t satisfied to do anything less than destroy their perceived enemy to the left. With no regard for the long and useful tradition of a loyal opposition or for that matter, actual facts, anyone who showed compassion for the poor, disagreed with a kneejerk adherence to the Truman Doctrine or dared question the Republican Canon of tax breaks for the rich and deregulation uber alles was the enemy; worthy only of contempt and destruction.

Now they have the temerity to gasp in horror at a conservative movement which has become the vehicle of hate, racism and anti-intellectualism; as though it was ever anything else. Does Andrew Sullivan think Reagan’s famous line about welfare queens was anything BUT code-word racism? Please, spare me the feigned shock.

These so-called “conservatives” have poisoned the well of information, the press, so well and faithfully that nowadays a giant portion of the population feels completely free to disregard any fact which doesn’t affirm their prejudices because, after all, it’s just the “liberal media,” who are not to be trusted.

They have set up straw man after straw man, claiming folks like moveon.org or the ANSWER coalition are somehow representative of all Democrats, that the ACLU, takes only radical left-wing cases, or that the New York Times and Washington Post, newspapers which could cover their walls with Pulitzer prizes are all part of some vast left wing conspiracy to turn America into a socialist state. And when they haven’t been doing it themselves, they’ve been notably silent as the deeds have been carried out by proxies.

Where were these people in 2000 when frat boy George Bush, a man transparently stupid, and a miserable failure in every venture of his privileged life, said Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher? Where was their vaunted intellectual honesty then?

I’m quite happy to see movement conservatism getting its comeuppance. This is a movement which has damaged this country so badly we may never recover. Their failed ideologies and their uncritical support of smear tactics, deceipt and pandering to the very worst in human nature deserve to be thrown on the trash heap of history.

I’m only afraid that the damage they’ve done has so poisoned the country that the only thing which will result from the bonfire of the Republican brand will be an over-reaction by the Democrats. -A party only slightly less odious and demonstrably even more stupid, than their rivals.

Posted in Election 08, News & Analysis, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Debate reaction

Posted by Bill Nance on October 3, 2008

Short answer? Gimme a break. One candidate was serious and well informed, one managed not to make a complete idiot of themselves (or answer many of the actual questions asked) . You guess who who was which.

Palin didn’t stumble over herself completely. According to the Kool-Aid drinkers, that’s a great victory.

I read one blog which immediately claimed polls on the debate must be “biased” because after all, who could have watched that debate and not seen clearly how she won hands down?

The best line about the debate from the Republican side though explains a great deal about Palin’s continued popularity. From VodkaPundit:

8:17PM Hair down, hair up, Palin still has that Naughty Librarian thing going on. To be more specific, it looks like she’s wearing a nice little Ann Taylor number you’d really like to see rumpled on the floor.

Three words: In Vino Veritas

The top search engine hit for this blog remains “Sarah Palin Boobs.” That should explain a lot.

-Nuff said

Posted in Election 08, Joe Biden, News & Analysis, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senate to insert tax breaks into bailout plan?

Posted by Bill Nance on October 1, 2008

After eight years of systematically destroying the U.S. economy, it looks like Republicans aren’t satisfied with the damage. The cause isn’t hard to figure out: Spending that would make a drunken sailor on liberty blush, combined with massive tax cuts for the top 1% of earners and businesses will break the bank every time. -Duh.

And now that the country is in a financial crisis, Republicans’ idea of addressing some very specific problems, namely liquidity among banks and the related credit crunch, is to what? You guessed it, more tax reduction.

From the NY Times:

The lawmakers were gambling that the tax package would appeal to lawmakers who helped sink the measure in the House on Monday, without driving off Democrats who have opposed extending the tax incentives without offsetting spending cuts elsewhere…But House Republican leaders, who said they had been advised about the Senate plan, said the new elements would appeal to their rank-and-file, which voted strongly against the legislation Monday. A spokesman for Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, said that “Mr. Boehner was consulted and gave the green light.”

Pelosi and Reid: Democrats have a majority in both houses of congress and the President is desperate for a bailout. Load that sucker with the things that will make your rank and file happy and pass it on a party-line vote. Dare the president to veto it.

If the Republicans are going to dick around with tax cuts in order to “play ball” then screw ’em.

Posted in economy, News & Analysis, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

John Stewart, the new investigative journalist?

Posted by Bill Nance on September 4, 2008

One more time, John Stewart, A COMEDIAN, does the job the MSM gets paid to do and doesn’t. It turns out (big surprise) that the Republican talking heads are, as usual total hypocrites.

Think I’m lying? watch the video. Film doesn’t lie, Partisan hacks lie.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s funny as all get out, and at the same time, it’s a sad commentary on “journalism” in America. Why isn’t MSNBC, CNN or the New York Times doing this stuff?

And as an aside, can anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty still pretend that “Faux News” is a reliable source?

Posted in Election 08, Journalism, Le Snark, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sarah Palin, Why does your husband hate America? And do you?

Posted by Bill Nance on September 3, 2008

The journalists have taken a while to get at this stuff. State records offices are closed on weekends and the Holiday made the job take even longer. But now we know for a FACT that Sarah Palin’s husband was a member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party.

This party has in it’s platforms two central issues:

1. Calling for a plebiscite for secession from the Union

2. Installing a Christian Fundamentalist Theocracy (Still looking for the specific link, but no one is disputing it)

Here are a few choice words from the founder of the party, whom the party still calls it’s “Founding Father.”

  • “The problem with you John Birchers’ is that you are too damn liberal!”
  • I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”
  • “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government.”
  • “And I won’t be buried under their damn flag!” I’ll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.” Joseph Vogler, Founder, Alaskan Independence Party

From TPM:

This afternoon, the director of Division of Elections in Alaska, Gail Fenumiai, told TPMmuckraker that Todd Palin registered in October 1995 to the Alaska Independence Party, a radical group that advocates for Alaskan secession from the United States.

Besides a short period of a few months in 2000 when he changed his registration to undeclared, Todd Palin remained a registered member of AIP until July 2002 when he registered again as an undeclared voter.

It is interesting to note that 2002, the year Todd Palin stopped being a registered member of the AIP was the same year that Palin made her first unsuccessful bid to Alaska statewide  office in the race for Lt. Governor, in which she was defeated.

The Republicans are denying that Sarah Palin was ever a member of the party at all, but AIP members claim otherwise. Now perhaps it’s true that while Todd Palin was a member of this party, Sarah Palin, who is said to have attended at least one of their conventions if not more,  was in fact opposed to it. -In a pigs eye.

But it gets better.

Here’s a video of GOVERNOR Sarah Palin addressing the AIP …THIS YEAR.

Quick question? What was the Governor of Alaska, in her official capacity as a Governor in the United States of America doing not only addressing, but giving her welcome and best wishes to a party which advocates secession from the United States?

This is NOT something small, it’s bloody HUGE. The title isn’t a joke, it’s a serious question:

Governor: Why does your husband hate America, and why do you think a secessionist party should get official recognition from the Governor’s office?  Would you offer the same warm welcome and fond wishes to the Communist Party of America? or the Socialist Worker’s Party? (Even those morons don’t advocate secession). If reporters don’t put those question to Sarah Palin they aren’t doing their jobs. This is fucking obscene.

Posted in Election 08, John McCain, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Bristol Palin, an innocent victim of Republican hypocrisy

Posted by Bill Nance on September 3, 2008

Let me state one more time, in case someone missed it:  I think Bristol Palin is off-limits.

I just wish the Republicans would agree. Apparently they don’t, at least not when she’s politically useful, which has put this poor girl in the middle of a political fight she didn’t pick nor deserves.

According to Byron York, writing at the National Review On-Line, The Republicans are considering having the now-pregnant Bristol, along with her boyfriend take the stage tonight to a cheering crowd.

Family values? Ha!

Now let me again state, I don’t think the kid did anything wrong. 17-year-olds have sex. They do it in the vast majority of cases, and to all you religious zealots, I mean your daughters too. (They just don’t tell you about it) But according to the religious zealots who make up the majority of the Republican base, such behavior is immoral. If kids do it it’s a sign of poor parenting. Children must be protected from the very MENTION of sex, other than to be told to “just say no.” So where are all those “values” now?

I ask this today not because I have a problem with Bristol Palin, nor her boyfriend. I’m sure they’re terrific kids and are trying to do the right thing. Good for them! And I don’t say it’s because Sarah Palin is a bad parent. As far as I know she’s Mother of the Year. Kids get pregnant. Rough situation, but no “sin” as far as I’m concerned.

But in all honesty, the very notion that this subject is something the Republicans wouldn’t be raising Holy Hell about if the tables were turned is a lie so transparent it defies belief.

To quote York:

I don’t usually engage in these scenarios, but I’ll do it here.  If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

I remind you, dear readers, that the Republicans made fun of Chelsea Clinton’s LOOKS. Yes they bloody well did, and more than once. They made fun of a gawky young girl because she wasn’t a beauty queen. A difference between myself and Bill Clinton. I’d have written a “Harry Truman” letter to Rush Limbaugh: “Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below! Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.”

Can you imagine what they’d have done if Chelsea Clinton had been pregnant? Or how they would have reacted if Obama had a teen daughter who was pregnant? James Dobson, Pat Robertson and all the rest of them would have screamed Holy Hell to the high rafters in indignation. To even pretend anything else is ridiculous.

It’s another cynical move, made by a cynical campaign. And putting country first apparently means before one’s family when it’s politically convenient.

I’m all for leaving kids alone.  But the hypocrisy on this issue tells us all one thing about the “conservative” base of the Republican party. Any sin will be forgiven. -Unless you’re a Democrat.

Posted in Election 08, Journalism, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Comparing Sarah Palin to Dan Quayle is an insult to Dan Quayle

Posted by Bill Nance on August 31, 2008

This is a good clip, just to start off the conversation:

Ok, I won’t make a definitive statement about Sarah Palin’s IQ (though inability to pronounce her native language correctly reminds me of a certain Genius who currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).

Many people have been referring to Dan Quayle as a comparison to McCain’s VP choice; Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. I too was one of these folks, but after a second look, I realize I was grossly unfair in this comparison and I apologize for making it.

Lets have a look at Dan Quayle:

  • BA in political science,
  • Law degree
  • Service in the national guard
  • State politics for 3 years
  • Two years private law practice
  • 12 years in the U.S. Congress and Senate at the time of his nomination for V.P.

And Sarah Palin:

  • BA in journalism
  • Brief stint as a sports reporter for a local TV station
  • Four years on the city council of a town with less than 6,000 year-round residents
  • Six years as mayor of said town
  • 18 MONTHS as Governor of a state with a population smaller than Chula Vista, CA

in an earlier post, I referred to Palin as “Dan Quayle with Boobs.” I apologize to Vice President Quayle. You may be no Jack Kennedy Sir, but compared to Sarah Palin you’re Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Posted in Election 08, humor, John McCain, News & Analysis, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

McCain just lost the election

Posted by Bill Nance on August 30, 2008

You know you’ve just blown it as a Republican candidate for president when some of the most strident members of your own party, people who support George Bush to this day, call your first serious presidential decision reckless and irresponsible.

“The McCain campaign is reveling in the fact that Palin is a game changer. But why a game changer when you’ve been gaining? To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful “Is he ready to lead” line of attack seems near suicidal.” –Charles Krauthammer, Fox News commentator in The Washington Post

“Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain’s age raised the stakes on this issue.

As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.” –Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review on-line

Ms. Palin’s experience in government makes Barack Obama look like George C. Marshall.  She served two terms on the city council of Wasilla, Alaska, population 9,000. She served two terms as mayor. In November, 2006, she was elected governor of the state, a job she has held for a little more than 18 months. She has zero foreign policy experience, and no record on national security issues.

All this would matter less, but for this fact: The day that John McCain announced his selection of Sarah Palin was his birthday. His 72nd birthday. Seventy-two is not as old as it used to be, but Mr. McCain had a bout with melanoma seven years ago, and his experience in prison camp has uncertain implications for his future health. If anything were to happen to a President McCain, the destiny of the free world would be placed in the hands of a woman who until the day before Friday was a small-town mayor.” –David Frum, NRO contributor, in the National Post. (emphasis added)

“I think this is the biggest political gamble, just about, in all of American history.” –Pat Buchanan

“She is just not ready to be Commander-in-Chief” –Pat Buchanan

“In picking an unknown, untested, half-a-term woman governor from Alaska to be his running mate, John McCain is following in a long line of reckless men who have rolled the dice for a beauty queen. Except in this case, McCain is taking one of the biggest, boldest gambles in modern American political history,” –Dan Gerstien, Strategist for the 2006 Joe Lieberman campaign.

Posted in Election 08, John McCain, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »