Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Reagan Revolution at 40: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

If you walked away from this week's "debate" hellscape gasping like a gaffed trout and wondering what the fuck you just saw, well I'm sorry be the one to break it to you, but you're about 40 years late to the circus.

And here here at the ass-end Reagan Revolution, what you saw manifested on stage at the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio, and what you may have read in much of the media after-action reports, was the end-state of the of the Republican party's two most important projects  

You mean tax cuts and judges?


Sure, destroying the government by obstruction, sedition and looting the treasury (and then securing their getaway by packing the courts with a phalanx of dead-eyed far-right fanatics) is very important to Republicans, but this is the downstream effect of the two most important Republican projects of our lifetime, not the causes.

The causes of all the nearly-incomprehensible bug-eyed madness your see running wild in the GOP are these.

First, the engineering of a voting base who will believe anything that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump shits into their skulls.  

Literally.  Anything.  

This mob of  mindless reprogammable meatbags is the Republican party's most monumental and long-lasting achievement.  It has been the work of generations, and no expense was spared in cultivating it, purifying it, training it to proudly ignore all information except the words of their Dear Leaders and then using it as an electoral battering ram to accomplish all the terrible things that have been on the GOP's fascist bucket list for decades.

But since this is real life and not a shitty Star Wars sequel, the raising and training of the GOP's mighty army of bigots and imbeciles didn't happen in secret, off-screen on some distant planet no one ever heard of until the plot required it.  It all took place right out in the open, under the noon-day sun aides and abetted by a whole lot suddenly-former Republicans who will swear on the graves of their ancestors that they never had the slightest idea any of this was going on.

So how exactly does that happen?  

How does a home-grown fascist movement sink deep roots in one of the two major political parties in the World's Greatest Democracy, and grow unmolested in plain sight until the Party of Lincoln was dead and the Party of Jefferson Davis stood in its place? How is it that plain, ordinary, disreputable Libtards like me could see this coming long, long ago (from me in June, 2005) --

...Run the racists off the ranch, and who would stuff all the envelopes and staff the phone banks? Write all those lovely checks and boom down from the pulpit at the chittering inbreeders, that if they vote for a Democrat, they’ll burn in Hell with the Fags and the Feminazis?

Face it, without the Segregationists, the Dominionists, the Neocon Imperialists and the rest of nutjobs that pack the extreme Right Wing of Bedlam, the GOP could no more win an election than Michael Jackson could lose a celebrity trial.

For all of their posturing, every day they become more and more nothing but the Party Of Jefferson Davis…in bad drag.

-- while the Lords and Ladies of the American political press not only refused to see the wolf at our door, but went right on refusing to see the wolf after it was through their door, in their kitchen and cooking them up in their own soup pot?

Well, that is the second great Republican project:  The methodical gelding of the free press.  Because there is no way to get away with growing a fascist movement in plain sight until it's strong enough to destroy our democracy by obstruction, sedition and looting the treasury without corrupting, threatening or otherwise hollowing out our watchers on the wall.  

Our shield that was supposed to guard the realms of men.

It took the convergence of many toxic rivers to create the flood that killed the free press.  There was Reagan gutting the Fairness Doctrine.  There was the success Roger Ailes finally achieved (after a couple of abortive attempts) at turning "news" into an extremely lucrative political PornHub for octogenarian wingnuts and, more broadly, there was the creation of a Right Wing Media Hate Machine so loud and so profitable and with an audience of so many tens of millions that it was able to bulldoze its way into Beltway respectability.  There was ascension of the profit motive at media corporations until it blotted out all other considerations, which was accompanied by those corporations pivoting from at least nominally regarding their audience as citizens in a democracy who needed to be informed about the critical issues of the day, to seeing them as advertiser fodder whose attention needed to be retained as long as possible by any means necessary.

And when it comes to attracting and holding an audience, the blunt truth about our Land of the Free and Home of the Brave that most of us would rather not accept was summed up with dismal precision by this Tweet from 2017 (from a Twitter account which, for the record, is not run by Werner Hertzog but by William Pannapacker, who is a professor of American literature at Hope College in Holland, Michigan):
So as a corporate media executive, how do you market your product to a general public where a third of your potential customers are out-and-proud fascists and another third are Centrist weaklings and cowards who absolutely will not face the fact that one political party it rotten from crotch to crown with out-and-proud fascists?

Turns out it's super easy.  Barely an inconvenience.  

You do it by leaning hard into the biggest Big Lie of all and never letting up no latter what.  The Big Lie I have already written about thousands of times on my little blog way out here in the wild country beyond the exurbs of media respectability.

Both Sides Do It.

What the past +30 years has proven beyond any doubt it that neither the mainstream media nor the Great Wad of the general public are ever going to accept the fact that the reason this country is so deeply broken is because one of our two major political parties -- the Republican Party -- is a mob of bigots and imbeciles led by ghouls, grifters and demagogues. The very idea offends the general public way down deep.   At the spiritual level; the place where they still hold the Myth of America so dear that the very idea that +60M of their fellow Americans really are a rabble of brain-dead racists who actively hate this country is literally inconceivable to them.

And so they will flee to anyone, anywhere who will spin them a comforting fairy tale that holds the terrible truth at bay, which is why the Great Wad will always cling to the Both Sides Do It lie like grim death.

Because brothers and sisters, it is an awesome lie!  The very best kind of lie!  A lie that lets lazy people feel smart and well-informed and righteous while at the same time absolving them of thinking any scary thoughts or taking any meaningful action of any kind.

This is why the mainstream media will never stop feeding the public the comforting lies they wish to believe instead of shocking them with uncomfortable realities they do not want to face.  Because money is the engine that drives the media.  Dollars.  Specifically, advertising dollars.  And advertising is based on one thing. 
And since you are very clever and already know all this, you will not have been surprised to find all the usual the Parity Pimps (tm)  hard at work plying their trade in the rubble of Donald Trump's Tuesday night meltdown.

False “both sides” framing contaminates post-debate headlines

And a small sampling from here and there:

And as I look back on what I've written today, I can't think of a more appropriate way to close this out than borrowing the last couple of paragraphs from the obituary I wrote on the occasion of the death of David Broder  ("Death of the Anti-Gonzo").  Which, if your can believe it. was picked up and linked at Vanity Fair because back in 2011 such a thing was still possible for disreputable Liberal bloggers like me.

Sorry, Politico, but however much of a legend his hard, on-the-ground, sandal-leather reporting on what the Average Roman thought about the first Punic War ("Hiero II of Syracuse shoulda listened to his general onna ground!") may be, David Broder's lasting legacy is ultimately a tragic one.

For against the tide of imaginary of dirty hippies who were forever plotting to mess up his lawn, and in the name of an idolatrous worship of the God of Fake Objectivity, the Dean of the Washington press corps' most enduring contribution to his profession has been as the Patient Zero of a lethal strain of syphilitic Villager Centrism which may be more responsible than any other single factor in all-but wiping out anything resembling honest national political journalism in America.

And that is the definition of tragedy.

No Half Measures


mcfrank said...

My friends on the Left keep reposting the meme of Obama with his head in his hands saying to Biden "Did you take the high road like I told you?", with, of course, Biden's response of "I told him to shut up."

And I can't get them to understand that this is "both sides" bullshit.

Jason said...

While I'll admit I have to tie my neck in a knot to keep down the visceral disgust I have for otherwise intelligent and caring Republican Trump voters in my family and community, I feel I have to bolt my hands behind my back to keep from strangling people who claim political centrism because there's no differences between the parties.

Fritz Strand said...

First step to reverse "the Regean revolution', anyone left of Attila the Hunt, should stop quoting or praising him.

Pagan in repose said...

Yessiree bob Driftglass, both sides do it, the wolf in sheeps clothing masquerading as the tooth fairy for the programmable meatballs. But, of course, the lefty commie, socialist, Marxist, commune hippies are the worst of the both sides and must be punished even at the cost of the right suffering right along side all of us, denying them healthcare, and the general elements of: of the people, by the people, for the people, that their own party is stripping away from them. But at least they made the lefties cry, the children cry, the weak and fragile cry, the earth cry. Just as long as everybody and thing that can be made to suffer, suffers, they seem happy. Now if only they could shoot at will at anyone they deem unworthy of der leader.

But the sun shall rise and things will change, and if the good people finally stand up and say enough! And actually start to do something about it. I do realize we are staring into the abyss and it is staring back at us at this point, but there still is a chance that things will change for the better

I do believe I'm starting to see that happen...but the question remains can the media and the reporters be convinced to see the change and join in. But first Andrea Mitchell needs a new job waiting tables, a more noble use of her time.

Mercurial said...

Republicans don't like it because their economic model of neoliberalism has now been shown not to work. The socialism of Sanders (and Keynes) is better for the economy than the neoliberalism of Reagan. The GOP knows they are on the losing side of the economic debate, and will do anything to shift it back.

Hence the desperation.

Flipmignon said...

I am not an American, but I have watched American politics with horror since 1968 (my wake-up call was the asassination of MLK). When the Fairness Doctrine was cancelled by Reagan in the '80's I said right then that Republicans were Nazis.

And I was disgusted to see that the Democrats in all the times they have had power since then have never reinstated the Fairness Doctrine.

After all, who wants "fairness"?

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