Wednesday, February 22, 2017

America's Forgotten War Apparently

On President's Day, Mr. Dowd of ABC News implored The Bastard President to look to Mount Rushmore  to understand what makes leader's great.

Which would make for a terrific lesson, were it not for one gargantuan and inconvenient historical fact about which ABC's chief political analyst seems completely unaware.

COLUMN: Think Mount Rushmore to unite the country, build respect

On this Presidents' Day, let us reflect on what has made our greatest presidents great. First, they sought to unify the country and build up the bonds that linked all Americans to each other.

Second, they were respected by nations around the world as symbols of leadership and integrity. Look at Mount Rushmore and see that these are the values that are consistent across the four faces carved into the South Dakota stone.

President Trump had and has the chance to be a transformational leader in America, and has talked about making America great. But unless he follows the lead of our greatest presidents, he will likely go down in history as mediocre, at best, or an abject failure, at the worst...
Yeah, the monkey-wrench in this evergreen Beltway Both Siderist fairy unity tale is always Lincoln. The man who, along with George Washington, bookends the faces on Mount Rushmore.   Who launched his political career about two miles of my little house right here in the middle of Middle America, and whose tomb is my town's most famous and revered site.

Lincoln -- America's first Republican president -- did, in fact, attempt to "unify the country and build up the bonds that linked all Americans to each other".  But the slave-holding South would have none of it: their fervent belief their "peculiar institution" was both sanctioned by Almighty God and critical to their economic future made unity or compromise so unthinkable that they seceded from the Union and turned their guns on the federal government rather than discuss the matter any further. Convinced that they were fighting with the Lord on their side against an implacable and existentially evil enemy, they launched a civil war that ended only after their cities were burned, their ships sunk, their armies destroyed and their Confederacy blown to bits at the cost of over 600,000 dead.

And even after America paid this terrible price to settle the question of slavery once and for all, the minute the Union army's boot was taken off of their collective throats, the states of the former Confederacy immediately went back to their old ways and Jim Crow was born.

So "unity" my shiny metal ass.

But there is a crucial ideological difference between our divided nation then on the verge of civil war, and our divided nation now.

From Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic from June, 2015:
What This Cruel War Was Over
The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.
Citing the plain text straight out of the states' articles of secession and the printed and spoken words of the leaders of the Confederacy leaves no doubt about what they believed were fighting for.

They believed the institution of slavery existed by divine mandate. Period.  They believed in the expansion of the institution of slavery.  Period.  And year-in/year-out, their ideological intransigent and white-hot fervor remained constant.  They had principles.  They were depraved principles to be sure, but they were coherent and most importantly they did not change with every vagrant breeze.

Now jump ahead to 2017, and ask yourself, what the direct ideological descendants of the CSA --  the rank and file of modern Republican party -- actually really truly believe.  I mean, to have dug themselves into such inesca defensive positions which are every bit deep and impenetrable as the Confederacy.

For example, just turn on Conservative talk radio for any 20 minutes period in the last 20 years anywhere in America and will hear the base of the GOP braying that us dirty hippies -- you and me -- are an implacable and existentially evil enemy. Just listen to these people, and you will hear a powerful belief that the Lord on their side in this twilight struggle against us filthy commie America-hating monsters.  Just look back at the words and deeds of their leaders and see that compromise with the hated Left is considered tantamount to treason, and they have spend the last quarter of a century ruthlessly purging their political ranks of anyone who is interested the art of democratic governance.

From The New York Times, December of 1994:
Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh
Published: December 12, 1994

BALTIMORE, Dec. 10— To all the advice for the new Republicans coming to Congress, add this from Rush Limbaugh: A hostile press corps lurks inside the Beltway.

"You will never ever be their friends," the talk-show host warned most of the 73 Republican freshmen at a dinner here tonight. "They don't want to be your friends. Some female reporter will come up to one of you and start batting her eyes and ask you to go to lunch. And you'll think, 'Wow! I'm only a freshman. Cokie Roberts wants to take me to lunch. I've really made it!' " The audience laughed.

"Seriously," he added. "Don't fall for this. This is not the time to get moderate. This is not the time to start trying to be liked."

The freshman class, which included not a single "femi-Nazi," one of Mr. Limbaugh's favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights, whooped and applauded, proving itself one big fan club of the man it believes was primarily responsible for the Republican avalanche in November...
These people have whipped themselves into permanent state of rage-drunk, ideologically bunkered-down, loaded-for-bear readiness...

...but in defense what?

And there's the rub.

Because while they're all well-trained to vomit out whatever the Approved Wingnut Talking Points are for this week (Whitewater! Vince Foster!  ACORN!  Kenyan Communist Usurper!  Death panels!  Email!  Benghaaaazi! Etc!) the sad truth is, the rank and file of the Republican Party doesn't actually believe in a single god damn thing.

No kidding.  The meatheads have no fixed principles whatsoever. They are completely hollow except for the steady diet of Fear!Fear!Fear! the get from Fox News and Hate Radio and a barely sublimated sense of self-loathing from which they find temporary relief by flinging themselves into the arms of any con man who promises to make up Libtards cry.

No principles,  no memory, and their responses to even the simplest questions about policy, history and their own fucking words from 10 minutes ago are, like Trump, invariably weird, circular bullshit.

This is why it's pointless to try to reason with them.  Because their "conservatism" is not an ideology.  It's a dissociative disorder:
Dissociative disorders (DD) are conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity, or perception. People with dissociative disorders use dissociation, a defense mechanism, pathologically and involuntarily. Dissociative disorders are thought to primarily be caused by psychological trauma.
Ganser syndrome is a rare dissociative disorder previously classified as a factitious disorder. It is characterized by nonsensical or wrong answers to questions or doing things incorrectly, other dissociative symptoms such as fugue, amnesia or conversion disorder, often with visual pseudohallucinations and a decreased state of consciousness. It is also sometimes called nonsense syndrome, balderdash syndrome, syndrome of approximate answers, pseudodementia, hysterical pseudodementia or prison psychosis. This last name, prison psychosis, is sometimes used because the syndrome occurs most frequently in prison inmates, where it may represent an attempt to gain leniency from prison or court officials.

Ganser is an extremely rare variation of dissociative disorder. It is a reaction to extreme stress and the patient thereby suffers from approximation or giving absurd answers to simple questions. The syndrome can sometimes be diagnosed as merely malingering, but it is more often defined as dissociative disorder...
Anyone who has bothered to pay honest attention to American politics for any length of time cannot fail to notice that Republicans “core principles” routinely flip 180 degrees week to week, year to year depending on who is in the White House and what Fox News and Hate Radio tells them to believe.

Fortunately, unlike Lincoln, to bring this country together we won't have to level whole cities and smash entire armies.  But the propaganda machine that keeps tens of millions of meatheads stupid and scared and berserk will have to be taken on directly and dismembered.

...looking at the eye-melting madness that now runs freely and openly through the Right and the jaw-dropping "Both Sides Do It" denialism that continues to infest most of our media from top to bottom, it has never been more obviously true that we as a nation cannot endure permanently half-Fox and half-free.


Unknown said...

We have no reasonable choice, but to remain "half Fox and half free".

If we accept that the conservatives will NEVER compromise, then we must accept that our country is irrevocably broken, and all agencies must be investigated and prosecuted until there is not even a WHIFF of scandal, regardless of the "good people" who may be caught up in the wake.

Because otherwise you leave open a door that allows Marine Lt. Colonel to proceed with his career as a legitimate conservative voice of honorable reputation after being involved in a scandal involving selling WEAPONS to US ENEMIES.

Zero tolerance is the only way to insure that people with no shame or honor don't exploit loopholes.

I don't think we are willing to do zero tolerance yet. Maybe after the next civil war.

Dr.BDH said...

Nice Bender quote.

Since Republican legislators have stopped having open meetings with constituents, it would be interesting to see the Both Siderist journalists visit real America (coasts and flyover) and hold public listening sessions.

trgahan said...

I think you could also write a great companion piece about the REAL Republican Populist on the side that mountain: Theodore Roosevelt. People should be reminded what a Republican Populist helping the "economically anxious working class" really looks like. Hint: It wasn't putting J.P. Morgan at the head of the Treasury.

With the Democrats on the verge of choosing a new head to navigate the party forward (and a lot of liberals getting ready to jump in), media is getting flooded with "Careful Liberals! You're-Scaring-Off-"Moderate"-Conservatives-Who-Would-Vote-Democrat-In-2018/2020-If-You-Weren't-So-Mean-And-Unreasonable!" concern troll stories.

Of course the "moderate" conservatives interviewed/quoted/etc. are just repeat whiny troupes of liberals being too PC, too concerned with "identify politics" and unable to compromise much less a discuss issues reasonably. The stories basically prove conservatives are cowards who don't like being treated like they are allowed to treat liberals on a daily basis in full and open view without any reporter that I've seen ever writing about how conservatives need to worry about scaring off liberal voters with AM radio and FoxNews.

I can't help be think this isn't a coincidence and it is a concerted effort to A) try and prevent party leadership from switching from "flipping votes" to focusing on local progressive organization and B) delegitimize the progressive response to the election similar to the concern trolling responses they gave to OWS and BLM.

bowtiejack said...

Wonderful stuff.
The great pinnacle of the .01% was the antebellum South where the richest men in America, the plantation owners, literally had it all. Middle class? A scattering of lawyers, doctors, store owners and plantation foremen.
This was the "ideal" the rubes fought and died for.
Like so many others, for me every day the question of Trump - How did this even happen? - comes up. And the other night it came to me. Obama made Trump possible. The mere existence of Obama was the fire under the cauldron of hate boiled up for the rubes.

D. said...

You are too good for the New York Times. You are too deeply read, do too much research, and are too good a writer. (The occasional typo doesn't count.)

Maybe your essays need to be a book.