I had planned to round out my Friday with a nice little digestif about MSNBC's exciting new Wingnut Full Employment Program where, night after night, many of the same despicable Conservative rodenti from yesteryear who spent decades making their living calling Liberals like me a traitor and creating the toxic Petri dish of Conservative paranoia, rage and malignant ignorance out of which the monster of their dreams has finally arisen...
...are now making their living on MSNBC, in The New York Times and other formerly-reputable venues yelling "OMG! There's a moooonster! Look out!"
I had planned to feature one such rattus republicannus named Charlie Sykes who spend most of his career doing his level best to destroy civilized political discourse in Wisconsin:
The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott WalkerI had even planned to use this video (h/t Crooks & Liars) in which the insufferably unctuous Brian Williams urged his literally dozens of viewer to read Mr. Sykes important column in The New York Times.
A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star
Within a few years, [Charlie] Sykes had gotten his own show, on WTMJ, and for the next 20 years, he and Belling would share the airwaves: Sykes in the late morning, Belling in the late afternoon. Their styles are very different. Sykes is a thrice-married man-about-town with a smooth on-air manner and modish eyeglasses who has built himself into a multimedia brand, with a Sunday TV show on the NBC affiliate, books subsidized by conservative funders (his latest: A Nation of Moochers), and a subscription-based website, “Right Wisconsin” (which sometimes refers to Michelle Obama as “Mooch”). Belling is introverted and brooding—he zips in and out from the station’s suburban studio in his Jaguar, interacting with co-workers no more than necessary. His demeanor on air is more intense, with long foreboding pauses between his acid declamations. In one 2012 riff, he called a young black Milwaukee man who had died in police custody a “piece of garbage” and attacked “the pigs of mothers who are too lazy to put their children in a crib and roll over the top of them while sleeping on a futon on the floor.” Christopher Terry, who worked with Belling at WISN and now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says that Belling is more of a “true believer,” whereas “if Sykes thought there was money on the other side of the street, he would sell out in a second.”
Over time, the two shows became known by a single name: “SykesBelling.” In the halls of the statehouse, Milwaukee City Hall, and area county governments, elected officials, particularly insufficiently conservative Republicans, lived in dread of denunciations by the hosts and the tsunami of angry calls from listeners that would follow. Sykes is credited with, among other accomplishments, having blocked public funding for needle-exchange programs and having helped drive into bankruptcy an urban mall after harping on security issues there. In April 2013, he played a clip of “It’s Free (Swipe Yo EBT),” a viral video produced by a right-wing activist in which an African American woman raps about liquor stores where one can allegedly use a food-stamp card. Returning to the same theme later in the year, Sykes declared, “The number of Americans who receive means-tested government benefits— welfare—now outnumbers those who are year-round full-time workers.” No other midsize city has this kind of sustained and energized conservative forum for discussion of local politics. The only counterweights on the left are Wisconsin Public Radio, with its implicit but restrained liberalism, a lefty F.M. talk show in Madison with limited reach, and two African American talk-radio stations in Milwaukee, one of which recently went out of business...
A column which is virtually indistinguishable from what Liberals have been writing for decades -- decades during while Mr. Sykes was busy calling us traitors.
This, in a nutshell, is how low the media has fallen: the men who spent years filling their coffers by destroying the temple, now fill their coffers by selling souvenir "Ain't It A Shame" postcards of the ruins they made.
All of this I had intended to do, until I found out that New York Magazine has now signed Mr. Andrew Sullivan up to say very stupid things in print every week. This new project is, of course, not a blog, because Mr. Andrew Sullivan quit blogging because blogging is stupid and destructive and if Mr. Sullivan says that publishing his herbalized verbal meanderings once a week is not a blog --
I guess I should start by saying this is not a blog. Nor is it what one might call a column. It’s an experiment of sorts to see if there’s something in between those two. Most Fridays, from now on, I’ll be writing in this space about, among other things, the end of Western civilization, the collapse of the republic, and, yes, my beagles.
-- well then that is surely that.
But even if what Mr. Andrew Sullivan is doing is not blogging, what he is saying remains remarkably shallow and foolish so I feel a real sense of obligation to posterity revive what was once a regular feature here at the driftglass blog. As I wrote on the occasion of Mr. Sullivan's last triumphant return to non-blogging...
In the case of America's most famous gay Catholic Tory writer of opinions, his Napoleon-retreating-from-Moscow exodus from the real world was made ever so much more entertaining by the fact that three of the topics over which Mr. Sullivan obsessed -- Conservatism, race and politics -- are three subjects about which Mr. Sullivan clearly knows absolutely nothing whatsoever.Up until he shuttered his blog ans promised to quit bothering everyone, Mr. Sullivan remained defiantly certain that somewhere behind America's fake Conservatism of lavishly-funded think tanks, newspapers, magazines, book publishers, Hate Radio, Fox news, pulpits and politics ... some Disneyfied Reaganeque fantasyland real Conservatism was lurking. And in an amazing coincidence, that real Conservatism always just happened to encompass whatever vagrant thought was flitting through Andrew Sullivan's head during any given week, even when that vagrant thought is the polar opposite of the thought which was flitting around in there a few years before.On the subject of America's long history of white supremacy and racism, Mr. Sullivan has always been a rolling disaster. The existence of persistent and pernicious institutional racism was something that his Disneyfied Reaganeque fantasyland real Conservatism simply could not accommodate so he repeatedly just wish-wish-wished it away. Hell, as recently as three years ago, Mr. Sullivan appears to have been genuinely unaware that America fought a long and bloody Civil War over the question of whether or not God had ordained that White Men should rule the Earth by divine right.
So hey, let's see what New York Magazine is paying Mr. Sullivan to jabber about now!
Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling.
Apparently sustained heavy marijuana use has caused Mr. Sullivan to forget Dick Cheney, Don Rumfeld, Ari Fleischer and, well, basically the entire Bush Administration.
Which is very sad!
What are we supposed to do with this? How are we to respond to a president who in the same week declared that the “murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 45 to 47 years,” when, of course, despite some recent, troubling spikes in cities, it’s nationally near a low not seen since the late 1960s, and half what it was in 1980. What are we supposed to do when a president says that two people were shot dead in Chicago during President Obama’s farewell address — when this is directly contradicted by the Chicago police? None of this, moreover, is ever corrected. No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack.
Who is this "we" you are talking about? "We" on the Left have been on the "Reality Based Community" beat since back in the day when Mr. Sullivan, Boy Journalist, was busy calling us a potential terrorist Fifth Column.
Whoa! Just like Charlie Sykes!
Here is what we are supposed to do: rebut every single lie. Insist moreover that each lie is retracted — and journalists in press conferences should back up their colleagues with repeated follow-ups if Spicer tries to duck the plain truth. Do not allow them to move on to another question. Interviews with the president himself should not leave a lie alone; the interviewer should press and press and press until the lie is conceded.
"Insist"...to whom? "Do not allow"...how? Under what stoned-off-your-ass, fairy-tale scenario do you imagine the thugs and clowns who now run the country will ever let anyone not on the payroll of Rupert Murdoch or Steve Bannon or Alec Jones anywhere near The Bastard President long enough to "press and press and press" for anything. I mean, hey, three fucking cheers for impotently demanding that unspecified "journalists" should Do Something, but in a world where good money is already being handed over to hacks like Tom Friedman and David Brooks to write ridiculous columns inveighing people who don't give a shit about their opinions to do things they will never do in a million years, why is anyone paying Sullivan for this?
I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him?
I would think that this person is whatchacall a "Conservative", which further reinforces my long-held suspicion that Mr. Sullivan has never actually met an honest-to-goodness American heartland Conservative in his entire life.
Which is weird since writing about the state of American politics has been pretty much all he has done with his life.
And weirder still since we know that Mr. Sullivan has at least seen one real, American heartland Conservative. on the teevee machine. That would be Mr. Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty crackpot. whose rustic ignorance and pre-Enlightenment homophobia Mr. Sullivan found to be just fucking adorable!
From me back in 2013:
Finally, given that Mr. Sullivan spends most of his life firmly cocooned in the Washington D.C./NYC elite media bubble, I tend to believe that his venomous contempt for Alec Baldwin and his detached bemusement with Mr. Robertson --... I’d much rather have dinner with Phil Robertson than Alec Baldwin. Engaging fundamentalists on this subject is one of my favorite activities. And I’d much sooner engage than condemn.-- come less from the details and context of either incident, and much more from Mr. Sullivan's hardwired Tory elitism. When he looks at Alec Baldwin, the Conservative Mr. Sullivan sees a successful member of the rival, Liberal upper class who must needs be brought to book in the harshest manner available. When the Conservative Mr. Sullivan looks at Mr. Robertson, Mr. Sullivan does not -- dare not -- see a fellow, card-carrying member of his Conservatism: instead, Tory to the core, Mr. Sullivan merely sees a harmless aboriginal tribesman from the furthest reaches of Darkest Louisiana, brought before him to poop adorably in his teevee cage and say outré things for Mr. Sullivan's amusement.
And this right here as always been the real, consequential problem with pernicious Beltway toddlers like Mr, Sullivan. As long as the real-world consequence of Phil Robertson's Bronze Age dogmas were confined to pooping adorably in his teevee cage and say outré things for Mr. Sullivan's amusement, Mr. Sullivan could sleep the sleep of the privileged. He could preen and prattle about an entirely fake Conservatism that had nothing to do with the tens of millions of real Conservatives in this country. Real Conservatives whose the aberrant and malignant beliefs were invisible to men like Mr, Sullivan because their existence was ideologically inconvenient.
But now Duck Dynasty has gone uptown. Now we have an Attorney General of the United States who believes deeply in the same Bronze Age dogmas as Mr. Robertson, and has the power of the United Stated government at his command to enforce his hateful, atavistic vision of the world.
Not so adorable now.
But I really do believe the worst of it for Mr. Sullivan has to be that, from now until the end of time. the man who he regards as the most awful human being on Earth -- Alec Baldwin -- is going to be famous as the Face of the Resistance: