Tuesday, October 08, 2013

I Often Agree with Digby


But sadly not this time:
Whatever happens with the current shutdown and various hostage negotiations, that fundamental definition of the Republicans as being the de facto competent party --- the proverbial grow-ups --- has probably finally been shattered. It's hard to believe it could have lasted through that depraved spectacle of a presidential impeachment and the subsequent stolen election for the puerile bumbler Junior Bush, but it did. Throughout all of that, some outdated image of Democrats as the hippies who destroyed the 72 convention held fast, long after said hippies had traded their long hair for bald pates and three piece suits. 
If nothing else, that tired old framework may have finally been tossed on the garbage pile. It's only about 25 years too late, but better late than never.
Nope.  Sorry, but nope.

If you posit that the perception of the GOP are the competent party has been shattered, you have to ask the next, obvious question: shattered...for whom?  

Shattered for the half of adult Americans who can't be bothered to vote or otherwise inform themselves or involve themselves in the political process at all?  Who would reflexively blame Obama for the fallout if Ted Cruz nuked Denver because-- derp! -- they have been taught -- derp! -- that every problem -- derp! -- is caused by -- derp! -- Both Sides!

No.  Not shattered for those people.

Shattered for the Right who gave George W. Bush +60 million votes in 2004 and then, once he went on to fuck up all the things he had left un-fucked up during his first term, promptly put on tri-corner hats and pretended they'd never heard of the guy?  Pretended that he failed because he wasn't conservative enough?

No.  Not shattered for those people.

Shattered for the David Gregory/Chuck Todd/Marc Halperin Beltway elite?   The ones who shape perception?  Who frame our national conversations?  Who decide who gets to sit at the grownup table and who does not?  The ones who keep propping up unreconstructed monsters like Newt Gingrich and Bill Kristol?

No.  No.  And also no.  

It does not matter how many times or how publicly Conservatives fuck up, because from David Brooks' mansion to David Gregory's country club membership, the entire, ludicrously lucrative Beltway Media scam depends on the preservation of the Both Sides lie at all costs.  And as long as they retain the power to shape perception by sledgehammering that lie home over and over and over again -- unchallenged and in virtually every venue -- they will continue to successfully reassemble the status quo no matter how often the Right knocks it down.  

This is something my Liberal brothers and sisters keep underestimating:  the real and terrible power of lying.  How effective it is, and how addictive.  "Sin City's" Senator Roark explains (Not safe for work):


Or, if you prefer your lessons from a more lit'rary source, this exchange between O'brien and Smith from "1984":
"We are the priests of power," he said. "God is power. But at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan 'Freedom is Slavery." Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone-free-the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body-but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter external reality, as you would call it-is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute."'

For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent effort to raise himself into a sitting position, and merely succeeded in wrenching his body painfully.

"But how can you control matter?" he burst out. "You don't even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death-"

O'Brien silenced him by a movement of the hand. "We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn-by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation-anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wished to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth century ideas about the laws of nature. We make the laws of nature."

"But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet."

"Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world."

"But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny- helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited."

"Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How-could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness."

"But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals-mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of."

"Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing."

"But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are a million light-years away. They are out of our reach forever."

"What are the stars?" said O'Brien indifferently. "They are bits of fire a few kilometers away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the center of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it."

Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O'Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

"For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometers away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?"

Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind-surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false. Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O'Brien's mouth as he looked down at him.

"I told you, Winston," he said, "that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing; in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression,"' he added in a different tone. "The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men." He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: "How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?"...
I would love to believe that we have reached a (god how I hate this expression) tipping-point in how our ideological camps are perceived.  But until it becomes economically disadvantageous for the Beltway media to stop lying to us, they will continue to lie to do do, and we will continue to hear there lies pouring verbatim out of the mouths of ordinary Americans all around us every day.

7 comments:

Ed Crotty said...

George Will had to go to Fox News. That's something.

n1ck said...

We just need a France 1793-style movement that makes oligarchs and their enablers understand that their power only exists as long as we allow it to exist.

But I'm an unserious radical, so you can ignore that.

Unsalted Sinner said...

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Orwell really saw Karl Rove coming a mile off, didn't he?

marindenver said...

I read somewhere earlier that Little Legacy Hire Luke Russert said that this is the Republicans' fault, not both sides. So there's that.

Mister Roboto said...

I really do believe that this country is acting out something known as "group karma". That's an awfully hard train to try and stop, as much as we might deeply, desperately wish we could do so.

Batocchio said...

You can have their "Both Sides Do It" when you pull it out of their cold, dead, shallow, courtier hands.

I don't have much hope for the Republican Party, conservatives, or the Beltway establishment. It does seem, though, that more of the public is wising up to the insanity of the Republican Party and movement conservatism.

Cirze said...

Your words to gods' ears, Bat.

And all yours Dg and BG.

Cheers!