Friday, March 11, 2022

The Doomsday Machine

This week there was a new Liberal-Are-Evil-Scum scare story being told by Laura Ingraham around the Fox News campfire:  “Liberals Are Sexually Grooming Elementary School Students”

Which was followed up with:

So how did we get here?  

How did it come to pass that no one is surprised that this sort of raw filth is spewed on Fox News, night after night?  That monstrous lies have become such the mother tongue of the propaganda arm of the GOP that their daily depravity goes almost unnoticed?  

While you're pondering that, consider this article from Raw Story:

Conservative scorches 'broken man' Bill Barr: 'This is your brain on partisanship'

William Barr has joined the growing list of Republicans who concede Donald Trump's profound character flaws, but very few of them will go so far as admitting they wouldn't vote for him again.

The former attorney general has published a memoir describing a president who "went off the rails" after losing the 2020 election, and he agreed Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection -- but Barr still finds it "inconceivable" to vote against that kind of man, wrote conservative columnist Amanda Carpenter for The Bulwark.

"Barr is literally saying he can’t mentally grasp the idea that voting for a Democrat would be a better alternative to voting for someone he directly observed trying to hijack American democracy," Carpenter wrote. "Someone, please make a commercial featuring this broken man: This Is Your Brain on Partisanship."

Barr joins other broken men and women from the GOP who agree Trump tried to end constitutional democracy with his lies, but like Chris Christie, Nikki Haley and Mike Pence, he won't rule out giving the twice-impeached former president another shot at finishing the job...

So, with those two facts in mind, let's go on a little sojourn back to 1990 – 32 years ago, more than a full human generation ago – when an up-and-coming back-bench Republican thug named Newt Gingrich began a program called GOPAC to train all Republican candidates to “Speak like Newt”. 

From "The Politics of Slash and Burn" in The New York Times, September 20, 1990:

''Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' The group that urged political candidates to use these epithets has since regretted suggesting the word ''traitors,'' in response to inquiries from the press. But the others were allowed to stand; they appear in a glossary that a conservative Republican group recently mailed to Republican state legislative candidates.

The group is Gopac, the G.O.P. Political Action Committee. Its general chairman is Representative Newt Gingrich. With the pamphlet, ''Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,'' comes a letter from Mr. Gingrich himself. Its message to candidates: Step up invective. Use words like these to describe opponents. These words work.

Mr. Gingrich's injunction represents the worst of American political discourse, which reached a low during the dispiriting Presidential campaign of 1988...

The Times' article had a real look-with-alarm flavor to it.

Negative discourse serves democracy poorly. The temptation to avoid serious debate is already great. It increases as the stakes soar and slander becomes a rewarding, easy option. The issues of the day go untended. The whole affair takes on the character of the gladiator's art.

The sense that calling attention to the sheer crudity and gaucheness of Gingrich-style politics would be enough:

The nakedness of the Gopac offering also makes it useful. There must be limits to the negative politics that voters will bear; the bald appeal to invective will certainly probe those limits. For now, it should be said that some adjectives in the glossary aptly describe the glossary itself: shallow, sensationalist and, yes, shame(ful).

As if the opprobrium of The Establishment -- the disdain of the Astors and the Vanderbilts and the Morgans -- were still a thing that swung heavy lumber out in the real world.

Four years later, just before the 1994 midterms, when a woman named Susan Smith drowned her two young sons. Newt Gingrich showed how his Orwellian language regime was actually working in the real world when his first reaction to the news was to automatically blame Democrats for infanticide.  Gingrich told the AP, “The mother killing her two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we have to change. I think people want to change and the only way you get change is to vote Republican.”

Shortly after that, the GOP swept back into power and Newt Gingrich was made Speaker of the House.

Five years after that:

...Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people at Columbine High School. Gingrich insisted that American “elites” bore responsibility for the massacre. “I want to say to the elite of this country — the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton … of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made.

What’s important to remember is that there was absolutely zero organized opposition to Gingrich’s political tactics by Republican party leaders because Gingrich's strategy of making all-out, no-holds-barred war on Democrats all the time, because it was getting results. This was the same reason there was absolutely zero organized opposition to the filth that Rush Limbaugh and his imitators began pumping out of hundreds of radio stations around the country once Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine.  Hate radio was ratings gold!

There were a few op-eds here and there from Beltway pundits sniffing at the tackiness of it all, but in actual fact the only organized opposition of any kind within the establishment media was their lockstep refusal to recognize what was actually going on inside the Republican Party even as it happened in real time right in front of them.  

The establishment media had built itself a dream palace where politics was a genteel sport played by gentlemen and ladies which, sure, could occasionally get a little rough around the edges, but in which accommodations could always be made if only Democrats would agree to compromise a little more.  And because of the power the establishment media had to reinforce their narrative, these delusions that GOP was a normal healthy enterprise just going about normal political business and that any acts of Republican depravity that threatened to break the spell could be dismissed as the excesses of The Extremes on Both Sides became the style book orthodoxy for virtually all political reporting and commentary.

And thus the media's dream palace became the Platonic Cave in which a shadow-puppet show of normal politics was projected on the wall, reassuring the public that they could go about their daily business, content in the knowledge that everything was basically OK and nothing too bad could possibly happen.

Meanswhile, as the avatars of Respectable Conservatism inside the Media Cave (David  Brooks, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Peggy Noonan, etc.) soothed any public concerns about the health and vitality of the GOP and cautioned against the weirdos on the Left who wanted to do Big Gummint stuff, outside the Media Cave, the actual Republican party -- the one we Lefties could all see, big as life and twice as ugly -- was assembling their army.  

This was the army of Little Red State Fundies I was writing about 17 years ago.

This was the racist zombie army had become the perfect feeding ground for a monster like Trump, which I was writing about on this here blog less than 36 hours after Trump announced his candidacy in 2015 because that's just how blindingly obvious it was that the GOP was nothing more than a shitpile of bigots and imbeciles, primed and ready to receive a Mussolini Messiah, to those of us outside the Media Cave

...As I wrote a few years ago,the brain-caste of the GOP spent 40 years and billions of dollars carefully breeding an army of reliably angry, paranoid, racists chumps. And they have been so successful at completely re-engineering the Right's ideological digestive system that they can no longer process any information which does not come to them in the form of Fox-approved Benghaaaazi goo.  

In other words, in order to win elections and rake in vast fortunes, the Conservative brain caste has painstakingly created the perfect feeding-ground for con men and demagogues like Trump, the louder and more bombastic the better. And from David Brooks and the Wall Street Journal and "Meet the Press", to Ann Coulter and the Washington Free Beacon and the Breitbart Collective, in one way or another, virtually everyone in the media makes bank by flattering Conservative meatheads and pandering to their delusions.

This was the army of reprogrammable meatbags about which I have commented so often.  From a different 17-year-old post:

OK, so let’s stipulate that David Hager has the all the hallmarks of a typical high profile Bush Nominee: to wit, he was 170 lbs. of ambulatory offal. A morally and/or sexually warped slab of rotten meat not just unqualified, but uniquely unqualified for the post to which he has been nominated.

And page-by-page it followed the same tired You-Must-Be-Shitting-Me Bush nomination playbook. Specifically, a lavish and mindless defense mounted by the infinitely reprogrammable Golem of the Religious Right: that Reliable Fucktard Militia, trained to hold themselves ferociously blind to facts of any kind – no matter how staggering -- that might conflict with the pronouncements of Dear Leader. Always painting anyone standing in their Shining Path as Christ-hating traitors at 100,000 decibels...

A reprogrammable army that, for decades, has had three prime directives hardwired into their operating system:

Directive One:  There is no greater existential threat to Murrica than the Democrats.  They are  fundamentally illegitimate as a political enterprise and everything they say and do is part of avast, intricate plot to destroy our way of life.

Directive Two:  Because there is no greater existential threat to Murrica than the Democrats, any and all means of depriving them of power is permitted.  Because everything they say and do is part of a vast, intricate plot to destroy our way of life, we can never compromise with them and must loudly oppose every Democratic policy and initiative, no matter how innocent-seeming. If driving Democrats from power forever means cheating, lying, slander, show trials, voter suppression or physical intimidation, so be it.  If driving Democrats from power forever means overthrowing the government and installing a dictator, so be it.      

Directive Three:  Any individual or media outlet that tells you any different is lying to you and is part of the Vast Democratic Conspiracy.  

And by understanding the interactions between these directives and events in the real world,  you can predict with a fair degree of accuracy which way the GOP will jump on any given day, on any given issue.  Any given Republican elected official may of may not be fully zonked on this toxic Flavor Aid, but all Republican elected officials know damn well that their voters are, and that crossing them in any meaningful way means being primaried out of a job during the next election.

So when you ask, how can Bill Barr say that he "literally ... can’t mentally grasp the idea that voting for a Democrat would be a better alternative to voting for someone he directly observed trying to hijack American democracy."?

The answer is...Directive One!

And why the hell can't grown-ass Republican adults see through this obvious CRT  bullshit?

Directive Two!

But what about this whole stack of well-respected experts who say...

Directive Three!

But why do you keep believing people you know have lied to you?  Remember that whole "Barack in a Secret Kenyan" madness you swore was true?  And now you know it's not?

Directive Two!

But what about Liz Cheney?  And Adam Kinzinger?

Directive Three!

For decades, while the establishment media masturbated itself blind in their Platonic Cave, the GOP has been worked diligently to create an unstoppable Gingrich/Limbaugh political Doomsday Machine.

A Doomsday Machine that could not be reasoned with or bargained with.

A Doomsday Machine with no "off" switch.

And they succeeded.  

No Half Measures


Stevie said...

They're only accusing us of grooming kids for abuse because people are beginning to notice how extremist Christian beliefs on the submission of women and children is grooming for abuse. It's grooming women and children for abuse and grooming men to believe abuse is acceptable or even godly.

driftglass said...

Duke of Clay said...

But the cherry on top of the Susan Smith story: Her stepfather was a former state Republican Party committee member and Christian Coalition leader who had sexually molested her while she was still a minor.

GrafZeppelin127 said...

"Barr still finds it 'inconceivable' to vote against that kind of man ... he can’t mentally grasp the idea that voting for a Democrat would be a better alternative to voting for someone he directly observed trying to hijack American democracy..."

"There is no greater existential threat to Murrica than the Democrats."

...or as Barr put it, "the progressive agenda." But let's be 100% clear on what that actually means, what they imagine the "progressive agenda" (and the actual "threat") really is: it's to hold the wealthy, powerful men, corporations and industries that own William Barr, that own the Republican Party, and that for all intents and purposes own the United States of America, accountable for the harm they cause to the people, workers, consumers, and the environment. To put the needs of the many ahead of the wishes, greed, and bigotry of the few. To protect the public from polluters, profiteers and plunderers, and not vice-versa.

That's what they mean. That's the "threat" posed by "the progressive agenda." Always remember that when you hear them say things like this.

dave said...

barr and the rest....we made them do it. we made them reluctantly have to vote for trump and his ilk because we won't do what they want..

we won't capitulate to fascism, inequality, bigotry and fear.

and worse yet we do so without any hesitation, recrimination or regret.

they feel they are victimized. that's their doubledown...unlike trump we can't pretend and it is because we love the nation we were gifted and wish to at least pass that legacy as is' if not improved...'

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