Sunday, December 17, 2017

Crisis on Infinite Conservatisms: 
The Unending Reign of the RetCon Men

Subtitle: That Time David Brooks Pretended To Forget Everything That Happened In The Last Twenty Years

As I have documented to the point of (almost) running out of swears, one of the four characteristics common to all Conservatives from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to Michael Gerson and David Brooks, is a dependence on "a massive, ongoing and self-reinforcing regime of historical revisionism and 'doublethink'" for ideological and political cohesion.

And for the last few decades (and picking up speed as the Bush Administration fell apart) they have all been retconning the shit out of the history of American Conservatism and their various roles within it.

For the uninitiated (from the DC Wiki:
retcon is a turn of phrase used by comic readers and industry professionals to describe alterations in the existing internal history of a particular comic character or series of events. Short for retroactive continuity, the term can be applied as either an acting verb or a noun and is only recognized in the external environment of comic book creation...

Purposes of a Retcon
As a writing convention, a retcon serves the function of revising older material, which may be deemed unpalatable to modern readers by altering specific details...

Canon vs. Non-Canon
As a retcon basically recreates a comic book's internal reality, there is often great debate between which material should be considered authoritative (canon), and which material is outdated, and no longer part of the modern history (non-canon).
And today is one of those very rare days when I can actually point to someone publicly pushing back on David Brooks' ongoing, noxious, real-time retconning of extremely recent and well-documented political history in order to prop us the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It upon which his career and his psychological infrastructure depends.

Today I get to give Mark Shields a solid "B", which is a rare thing because usually Mr. Sheilds' role on The News Hour is to shake his jowls jovially at David Brooks constant lying, emphasize how much he agrees with his good friend David almost entirely, drop in one or two relatively benign Democratic talking points and then divert the conversation into some amiable reminiscence about Howell Heflin or Claude Pepper or Darius II.

Friday Mr. Shields shied away from delivering the simple and obvious conversational kill-shot, so we cannot give him an "A", but given that he is essentially a side-kick operating on the teevee equivalent of an assisted living center day room where any controversy or disagreement is sternly discouraged, he gets a "B".

First up, here is Mr. David Brooks on The News Hour blatantly lying for the umpteenth time about another piece of America's well-documented, recent political history:
David Brooks: ... The big issue facing American domestic politics is widening inequality and the collapse of the working class. And so, the Obama administration, given this big problem, decided to spend their entire administration talking about the health insurance markets, which is really related to but tangential...
And why is he telling this specific very big lie?  For the same reason that NPR and PBS and The New York Times and Meet the Press have each given Conservatism's Urial Heep a permanent and wholly unearned venue from which to reach as many Americans as possible.

Because all of them depend on the ongoing maintenance of the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It for their survival.  If that lies collapses, so do they.  And so -- in this specific instance -- the Great Republican Tax Bust-Out must somehow be framed as a Failure Of Both Sides.  And since framing Republican atrocities as a Failure Of Both Sides is literally the only thing Mr. David Brooks does for a living...
David Brooks: ... The Republicans have decided to lose their majority on the corporate tax rates which really has nothing to do with the central problem.

So, what’s mystifying to me is that the two last administration’ and political establishment going on 12 years now is ignoring the big problem and tackling other problems...
Now please understand, this lie is no more blatant than any of the other hundreds of lies which Mr. Brooks gets away with peddling every year, year in and year out, decade after decade.  In this way, the way the lords and ladies of the Beltway media like Mr. Brooks are treated eerily parallels the pathology of powerful men abusing their position and privilege to prey on women. 

Consider that. everyone in his business knows that people like Mr. Brooks use their position and privilege to flagrantly abuse the truth.  They do it shamelessly, repeatedly, even off-handedly.   They treat it as just another perk of the job, like an on-call car and driver, or an unlimited travel budget.  And although everyone knows about it, no one  in the industry calls them out.  In fact, no one ever says a word. They just look away and pretend it isn't happening, because they know what happens to people who rock the boat. 

And that, as Sin Cty's Senator Roark once astutely noted, is how real power works:

It is also why Mr. Shields gets a "B" this week:
Mark Shields:  Not to be prickly, but I just point out that Barack Obama confronted the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. I mean, getting out of that was the prime concern. He brought us back from the precipice. I agree with you on the expanding inequality, but it was’t comparable in any way of 105 sustained months of job growth and economic growth under Barack Obama that was inherited by Donald Trump and is about to be squandered in this giveaway.
This actually rocked Mr. Brooks back on his round heels a bit.  Who told Mark Shields he would bring a bag of facts to this puppet show!   And Mr. Brooks has grown so soft and lazy from a lifetime to having his bullshit go unchallenged, that with even the slightest push-back he begins to flail.

Watch here as he lies about the importance of the Affordable Care Act as only a privileged douchbag who has never had to worry a day in his life about being able to afford the very best medical care for his entire family.  And lies about the timeline along which actual events actually happened.  And the passage of the bill. And a bunch of other stuff that's I'll get to in a minute.

My point here is, when challenged, Mr. Brooks immediate and automatic response is to lie and lie and lie again and then pivot hard back to the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It.  
David Brooks:  I’ll give you that, getting over the 2008, 2007 recession was big accomplishment early in the administration, but it still remains the fact that once they got over that, they could then turned to these — the Michigans, the Pennsylvanias, the Ohios, and either done infrastructure. They could have done a bunch of things, which are always on the table and everybody says they’re in favor of, and nobody actually does because it doesn’t go — and the Republicans, the donor base. And the Democrats, they have to have a thing about health insurance.
And the insurance markets, they were right to do that. There was just a small thing they did to help people get a lot more people get insured, but it did not — what mystifies me is our inability to even frontally address the main problem of the day...
But  bless his heart, Mark Shield was not quite ready to let go of this bone:
Mark Shields:  You’re right, but I just point out one thing, and that is saving the United States automobile industry, Ohio and Michigan, were not minor accomplishments and they were opposed by the Republicans and the Republican standard-bearer.
Thinking quickly, Judy Woodruff deployed the emergency fainting couches, evacuated the studio and had everyone run through a decontamination shower veered away from the dangerous subject of Stuff That Happened Not Very Long Ago and on to Doug Jones and Alabama.

But here's the thing: the events of not very long actually matter.  And the fact that Mr. David Brooks' reflex action is to just keep lying when confronted with historical facts that debunk the fairy tales he spins for a living actually matters. 

Given that he had Mr. Brooks on the ropes. over in the Better Universe Mr. Shields would have finished him off with clean hands and a clear conscience by walloping Mr. Brooks upside the head with this from October of 2011:
Senate blocks new Obama jobs bill
And this from November 2011:
Senate blocks $60 billion infrastructure plan, another part of Obama jobs bill
And this, also from November 2011:
Third Obama jobs bill blocked in Senate
Or, if he wished to decapitate Mr. Brooks more efficiently, the Better Universe's Mark Shields could have subsumed the myriad examples of President Obama trying to do exactly what David Brooks said he should do by reminding Mr. Brooks that the only reason those things remain undone is because of the intractable, lockstep obstruction and sabotage of Mr. Brooks' entire Republican party --
Republicans’ mindless obstruction has helped create something far worse
-- which they adopted as a premeditated electoral strategy the very day Barack Obama was inaugurated.

In other words, the was never any hope of getting any of Mr. Brooks' "bunch of things" passed during the Obama Administration because Mr. Brooks' Republican party is run by thugs, vandals, demagogues, con men and outright traitors.

And every single one of the lords and ladies of the Beltway including Mr. Brooks god damn well knows it.  But no one says a word because every one of these know what happens to people who speak these terrible truths aloud.

Still, over in this Universe, for a moment Mark Shields came a little closer to speaking the truth out than most people in his position do.

And for that he gets a solid "B".

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Dave McCarthy said...

Not only does Brooks have the predictable knee jerk reaction to Shields getting all truthful on his ass, he also stumbles, subliterate, in doing so.

He don't write so good, but he talks even worser.

freshsideofhell said...

Thank you Mr. Driftglass, for the dates.I have to remember them.Not so much the dates themselves just the fact my President Obama trying to.Being shut down at every turn and some how being blame for not doing anything.President Stupid(nice description you started and I use by the way,thank you) cannot go down fast enough for me.How many lives is he going take when he is finally gone.Roy moore is a prime example of what will happen when president stupid is shown the door by the scruff of his neck. Thanks and God Bless America and long may she reign!!

cvmbner said...

Well, I have Shields' B performance to help me recover from Jonah Goldberg on NPR today, who was shamelessly allowed to compare Robert Mueller to Ken Starr, to compare the Republican tax bill to Obamacare, and to insist that capitalism has its own ways of fixing inequality.

trgahan said...

"....getting over the 2008, 2007 recession was big accomplishment early in the administration, but it still remains the fact that...."

The actual FACT that remains is once the Banks go their money, the Brooksian Level Pundit Class launched their Tea-Party-with-Better-Spelling offensive. They went out and screamed about all this suddenly run away government spending was leading to INFLATION!!!! and how western democracy was founded on the moral obligation of debtors paying back their debits.

Basically, once the oligarchs were made whole again and ready to profit off their disaster, Brooks et al. got their marching orders to argue for austerity.

And the elected wave of Teatards GAVE the Michigans, Pennsylvanias, and Ohios austerity. LOTS OF AUSTERITY. In fact, they went too far in Pennsylvania and the White-Working-Class-Abandoned-By-Democrats (aka. Suburban Upper Middle Class White Working Professionals Who Now Had To Pay For Their Kid's Special Education Needs) threw their Tea Party Governor out after just one term.

Of course, since then the PA 2010 Gerrymandered Republican Legislature and Democratic Governor are deadlocked and its "See! Both Sides!" 24/7 from all the "constitutional conservatives" of the state.

dinthebeast said...

The ACA has done more to address inequality than any other piece of legislation since the Johnson administration.
DFB would know that if he were an actual human being.
Real people pay real chunks of their real income for healthcare, both insurance and actual care.
While otherwise occupied with cutting the unemployment rate in half and the annual deficit by almost two thirds, the Obama administration did something hard, and changed the rules of healthcare, both insurance and delivery.
By the numbers, that was the most important driver of financial insecurity among the employed at the time, and the trend lines were far worse.
So fuck you and your weaselly lies David. I can only hope that you have to face them in public some day.

-Doug in Oakland

Robt said...

Just an observation
DFB mostly seems to write Puffy generalized,disconnected from the present reality restraints from detailed issues that yearns to lure readers into his personal menagerie of kooky life lessons he, only, experiences and in his royal caring projected manner. Elaborates on his sorrowful lesson unlearned and continues to dwell in. The rest of us never have such life lessons to learn from and he alone can teach us.

He generally writes pieces disconnected with other writers opining on the issue of the day. That he can try and have his thoughts stand alone not to compete with others on these issues. Maybe attempting to direct the conversation (about him)?
Since he won't chip in to the main conversation in real time, he feels he can avoid the competition of others sleaze by critics and absolutely be out of the competition so not to be measured.

This is one of my DFB observations and I am Arc welded to it.

It is why DFB has difficulty in oral arguments and discussions.

BK said...

God I know it, that was so awful, I snapped it off.

BK said...

Good stuff, you put such difficult-to-characterize but very consistent aspects of his writing into words.