Monday, April 06, 2015

10 Years After: 2010 -- On Being An Asshole

The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with the Town Hall Year of 2010.

In 2010, Andrew Sullivan challenged me to be an asshole.
If the journalist looks like an asshole, get over it. It is our job to look like assholes. We are professional assholes. We get paid to be rude. In order to expose the truth.
And so I was.  I was rude and I went after the bullshit Andrew Sullivan was troweling out to make a living.

And he never forgave me for it.

On Being An Asshole

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"
Since Andrew Sullivan went out of his way to challenge me to be an asshole:
If the journalist looks like an asshole, get over it. It is our job to look like assholes. We are professional assholes. We get paid to be rude. In order to expose the truth.

And by relentlessly, I mean - if they fail to answer, or offer vague generalizations, ask again. And again. And again. And again. On air. Refuse to move on. Put them on the spot.
I feel I should oblige him by continuing to ask him the same question I have been asking for years: Andrew, why do you continue to lie about Conservatism?

For those of you that don't know, Mr. Sullivan runs a massive blog-appendage of "The Atlantic" magazine where he does roughly 200 times the traffic of a lil' guy like yours truly:
Last January, the Dish amassed 6.2 million page-views; this January 11 million. Thanks.
Mr. Sullivan posts many cool videos and many opinions with which I agree -- with which, in fact, I agreed long, long, looooooooooong before Mr. Sullivan reluctantly abandoned the fiery wreck of his own failed ideology and jumped resentfully onto my bandwagon. But woven deeply into virtually every one of his critiques of the "Christianists" and Palinites whom he feels have polluted His Awesome Movement to the point where he had to leave, you will find a massive dose of exactly the same brand of poison he slams them for pushing: that sweet, fatal narcotic of revisionism and forgetfulness.

And in the aggregate, the work of Mr. Sullivan has become such a remarkable, public and continuous display of unalloyed hypocrisy and willful blindness that I thought it deserved special attention.

Attention Mr. Sullivan's friends



in the

Big Dollar Media




be rude enough

to inflict

on him.

Attention his fellow mega-bloggers will not visit upon his pernicious twaddle

because he is one of them, and you don't fuck up a fellow hustler while he's working his game.

Mr. Sullivan's critique of the horrors of the "contemporary" Conservative movement comes in three, distinct parts.

First, that it relies entirely on aggressively and continuously lying about their own immediate past (In the interest of brevity, I believe this from Mr. Sullivan's assay of "Going Rogue" fairly summarizes his opinions of the entire Teabagger/Conservative/ Beckian/Cult of Palin mob that yours truly simply refers to as The Pig People:
The lies and truths and half-truths and the facts and non-facts are all blurred together in a pious puree of such ghastly prose that, in the end, the book can only really be read as a some kind of chapter in a cheap nineteenth century edition of "Lives of the Saints." But as autobiography.

It is a religious book, full of myths and parables. And yet it is also crafted politically, with every single "detail" of the narrative honed carefully for specific constituencies. It is also some kind of manifesto - but not in the usual sense of a collection of policy proposals. It is a manifesto for the imagined life of an imagined Sarah Palin as a leader for all those who identify with the image and background she relentlessly claims to represent.

In this, the book is emblematic of late degenerate Republicanism, which is based not on actual policies, but on slogans now so exhausted by over-use they retain no real meaning: free enterprise is great, God loves us all, America is fabulous, foreigners are suspect, we need to be tough, we can't dither, we must always cut taxes, government is bad, liberals are socialists, the media hates you, etc etc.
Second, that this aggressive and continuous lying is, y'know, a bad thing:

(From here)
What does it matter who caused the problem?

Let me try to explain: it matters who caused the problem and why because if we do not understand the causes we cannot fix the problem and it matters because any adult judgment of a politician's first year that does not take into account the inheritance he was bequeathed is impossible.
(From here)
What you begin to realize is that on a whole host of issues, the GOP is going backward in areas of social tolerance, as they marinate in their own paranoia and purge every non-ideologue from their ranks. And as they go backward and feel, yes, left behind, their virulence and resentment intensify. It's a classic fundamentalist response to modernity.

And third, that this act of destroying the diagnostic equipment of democracy -- namely, our collective capacity to have honest and reasoned argument -- is coldly premeditated, representing as it does the Right's only hope of saving itself from the righteous and brutal judgment of history, and clawing its way back to power:
Removing that context, as the GOP has largely done, and Crook now endorses, is to rig the entire debate so that Obama cannot win. It is a function of the kind of punditry that is, in fact, far more of a problem for the country than anything Obama has done - because it bases political judgment on unreality, and distorts the body politic's capacity for reasoned argument.
So far, so good, and if Mr. Sullivan's critique had the good sense to end on that note, I would not feel the need to write this.

But Mr. Sullivan does not stop there, because he cannot stop there.

Because, to be blunt, Mr. Sullivan has spent most of his adult life making a living not merely as a pundit and public intellectual, but as the Gay Conservative pundit and public intellectual.

As the staunch Gay Defender of the Party of Homophobes, bigots, Christopaths, gun nuts and plutocrats.

By being the Party of God's own, pet Gay Conservative Clayton Bigsby (video no longer exists) doing yeoman's work providing the boards and nails to lay the foundation of the fascist movement that he only started decrying:
If you are not alarmed by this development - a new, proto-fascist political party being recreated on television in front of our very eyes - then you have not read much history.
once the entire Conservative Ponzi Scheme began collapsing on his head under the sheer weight of Conservative clusterfuckery at the hands of the Cheney Administration.

And how does he accomplish this?

Would it surprise you to learn that he accomplishes this by aggressively and continuously lying about his own immediate past (emphasis added)?
But what I find odd is how relatively few people seem to have evolved or shifted their political alliances or views over the past ten years I've been blogging. Obviously, I had a severe case of whiplash as the Bush and Cheney administration exploded the debt, jacked up entitlements, embraced torture, bungled two wars, and demonized gays. But the events of recent times, one might imagine, would have affected worldviews all over.
Got that?

For the Palinites, the lie is that history began on January 20, 2009, when the Black Guy became president; for the Sullivanites, the lie is that history began in 2003, when George W. Bush apparently snuck into Ronald Reagan's crypt and peed on the Great Man's mortal remains.

Because every bit as much as any Birther flake or Death Panel stooge -- every bit as much as Sarah Palin -- Andrew " Reagan-Thatcher pragmatic Christian Tory" Sullivan hangs onto his position and paycheck only by tirelessly hawking his own brand of discredited, self-absolving, self-deluding revisionist bullshit ("Bush Betrayed 'Real' Conservatism"). Mr. Sullivan dresses his crackpottery up by nudging the time-line back a little bit, but the object is the same: to exempt himself from the same, harsh judgment he wants to lavish on the Palinites by excusing himself from the much larger and more destructive crime of helping to create the environment in which moral monsters like the Palinites could flourish.

And because Mr. Sullivan builds his critique of the Palinites on fundamentally corrupt ground, his observations of them not only come across as deeply dishonest, but also loudly and unintentionally hilarious.

As I wrote a year and a half ago, far back as the 1960s, astute observers were noting and writing about the very disturbing direction the Conservative Movement was taking which...
...anyone with eyes open and mind ungunked-up with Right Wing hoo-ha could see this clearly:

From Rod Serling writing in an editorial in the (then very right-wing) Los Angeles Times in 1964, in response to a series of articles by wingnut-apologist Morrie Ryskind:

What Mr. Ryskind seems constitutionally unable to understand is that there is a vast difference between the criticism of a man or a party, and the setting up of criteria or patriotism which equates differences of opinion with disloyalty.

We have need in the country for an enlightened, watchful and articulate opposition. We have no need for semi-secret societies who are absolutist, dictatorial, and would substitute for a rule of law and reason an indiscriminate assault on the institutions of this republic that should and must be held sacrosanct.

“[The far right cannot] discount the fact that sitting it their parlor is the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, every racist group in the United States and not a few of some Fascist orders that have scrambled their way up from the sewers to a position of new respectability.”
Modern Conservatism was born steeped in original, bigoted sin ever since Lyndon Johnson and the 1964 Civil Rights Act --
In conjunction with the civil rights movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed most forms of racial segregation. Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation," anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party.
-- and the rise of the Southern Strategy --
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
-- and has been sliding deeper into the septic tank ever since.

And according to Wikipedia, Andrew Sullivan was born in 1963.

Which means that Andrew Sullivan has been wrong, about everything, his entire life.

His. Entire. Life.
What we saw during the Bush/Cheney administration was not a fluke or an anomaly, but the murderous crest of an authoritarian/plutocrat movement that was born in sin and began its aggressive descent into ignorance, bigotry and willful blindness not five months or five years ago...but was well underway 40 years ago, was radically amplified by a man named Ronald Reagan, and had been gaining barbaric force and momentum ever since.

It was, after all, none other than Ronald Reagan -- the very Fountainhead of all Conservative Good Things -- who first blew up the deficit. Wheee!

It was Ronald Reagan who rode to power over the bodies of civil rights workers, in the back of the imaginary Cadillac of a fictional welfare queen, to the thunderous applause of Klansmen, Birchers and theocrats.

It was Reagan who kicked the door open and invited the crazies onto the dance floor. Reagan, who opened the floodgates to the GOP lining its electoral pockets by demonizing gays. And uppity women. And minorities. And imaginary hippies.

It was Reagan who crushed residential mental health programs, programs to provide legal help to poor people, food programs, unions, you name it.

It was Reagan who unleashed Total Class Warfare aimed squarely at those citizens who were poorest, weakest and least-able-to-defend themselves.

It was Reagan who began the Republican War on the Middle Class that is now approaching its Gettysburg.

It was Conservative icon Saint Ronald Reagan who supercharged the efforts to methodically transformation of the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Jefferson Davis begun under Conservative Richard Nixon. Who oversaw the cynical escalation of the cultural war from Conventional to Nuclear.

It was Reagan who conducted a flatly illegal war and told his critics to fuck off when his crimes were discovered. It was Reagan who dallied with terrorists and laundered their money to pay for that illegal war. And it was Reagan's vice president who 20 fucking years ago turned the despicable Lee Atwater loose

to run one of the most nakedly racist campaigns in modern presidential history, and who then went on to make sure that all of Reagan's criminal co-conspirators got pardons.

All of which and so very much more has been whisked down the memory hole by Mr. Sullivan, because his particular shell game only works as long as everyone agrees to pretend that the Palinites, the Bushies, the Cheneyites and all the other slavering, wingnut zombie hordes from which Mr. Sullivan now cringes in horror are some random freaks of recent vintage
It's also a function of Fox News creating a national ideology through a national propaganda arm of the RNC. Well, they will reap what they sow. At least I hope so if real conservatism is going to one day find a comeback in American political discourse.
and not a generation of stunted, smug, pig-ignorant Conservatives who were deliberately spawned and suckled by the Republican Party in the radioactive wasteland created by Mr. Sullivan's beloved Reagan Revolution.

Because any Acknowledgment of Paternity which establishes Ronald Reagan's as the political father of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin would completely fuck up Mr. Sullivan's lucrative scam.

So, shhhhhh!

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