Monday, January 30, 2023

Political Grifter Voltron Assemble!

Or do you prefer "Grifter Agglutination".

There are so many things I learned from listening to just a leeetle bit of Rick Wilson's podcast.

First, despite the fact that Democrats retaking the House in 2018 happened before the Lincoln Project existed, and despite the fact that there is no evidence that Lincoln Lads moved a single vote in 2020, and despite the fact that they have been mired in scandal and controversy ever since, and despite the fact that their 2020 "Tiki Torch" stunt backfired horribly and may have tipped the Virginia gubernatorial election to Glenn Younkin --

Lincoln Project co-founder: Stunt at Youngkin event ‘recklessly stupid’

Steve Schmidt, the co-founder of the anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project, slammed the recent tiki torch stunt pulled by the organization ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial election, calling it “recklessly stupid.”

“I thought the action was recklessly stupid. It was dishonest and cheap. It is exactly the wrong way to approach the fight against a real fascist movement, against extremist elements. It showed appalling judgment by the day-to-day management and leadership of The Lincoln Project,” Schmidt said on Wednesday during an interview on “America at a Crossroads.”...

-- despite all of that, the Lincoln Project's extremely revised version of history gets more grandiose by the hour.  From the trailer for Rick Wilson's The Enemies List

"One thing we proved at the Lincoln Project was a small group of very determined people could change the tide of history."

 So, by the driftglass calendar -- hey look! -- they're right on schedule:

And for those credulous Liberals out there who swore they were bedding down with Kevin Costner only to wake up to find it'd been Slippin' Jimmy McGill all along --

-- I did try to warn you. 

Over and over and over and over again.

But as the Lincoln Lad's began to fade into the swarm-o-gnats background noise of American politics, I began to lose interest.  I was starting to wear holes in the soles of my "I Told You So" shoes from all the "I Fucking Well Warned Them" dancing I've been doing these past several years, so I sent them off to the cobbler and forgot about them.

Until this caught my eye:  

Not Left Or Right But Forward
Rick Wilson's The Enemies List

Oh my.

So slipped on a pair of  "I Told You So" socks (they'll do in a pinch), warmed up the Philco and gave ol' Rick a listen. 

And oh my.

Miles Taylor, co-founder of Forward:  Really what we want to do is go run genuinely independent candidates, especially in places that are not competitive.   So think deep red districts where MAGA has a chokehold over an area of the country, and where Democrats have no hope of beating an extremist.

driftglass: Hold up for a moment.  The co-founder of Forward is telling me, explicitly, that Forward is going after Republican seats in places Democrats can't win.

Taylor: We wanna go run a common sense, principled leader to try to shake those districts up around the country.  So really, were excited about that...

Taylor:  The last data point I'll provide you is, people are pretty blown away to find out that about 70% of the races in this country are uncontested...  That's pretty stupid.  That's just pretty fucking stupid.

driftglass:  70%!  Holy Hannah, that's a lot!  So before we slide past that Forward Party talking point, let's look at the invisible bridge Mr. Taylor has to scamper across unnoticed to get from "deep red districts where MAGA has a chokehold over an area of the country, and where Democrats have no hope of beating an extremist" to "70% of the races in this country are uncontested".

The deep, red chokehold district thingie seems to be clearly implying congressional districts, which if 70% of those are unopposed, well , as the kids say, Big if True!

So there are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives.  An 70% of that that would be ... let's see ... round up to the nearest whole number ... and we get ... 305.  Wow!   Do 305 House seats really go uncontested in every election?

Uh, no. 

[In 2022] There are 16 incumbents - 13 Republicans and three Democrats - that have the ballot all to themselves. Their only opposition would be via write-in, where allowed.

In 2020, this number was 11, split more evenly with six Republicans and five Democrats.

driftglass: So not 305.  Barely a fraction of a fraction of 305.  Because when the Forward party mouthpieces trot out this number, they always fail to emphasize that it refers to about all elections for all offices in the United States.  That includes races for things like school boards, alderpersons and city councilors, water reclamation commissioners, county judges and mosquito abatement district directors.  

Well, if the Forward Party's big plan to shake loose the MAGA chokehold on American politics is to run candidates for mine inspector or Clerk of the Peace, more power to them, I suppose.  But that sure doesn't sound like the plan.

Mr. Taylor continues.

Taylor: But at the same time, that means teaming up with the Good Guys against the Bad Guys.

driftglass: Wait a minute.  

Wait one, whole, leisurely Springfield, Illinois minute.  

In virtually every piece of Forward propaganda I've ever read, whether from the party's social media accounts or from individual hype-men like Andrew Yang, the "good guys" are always the Forward Party, and the Bad Guys are always the Republican and Democratic parties.   

Always Both Sides.  Always the K'rupt Duopoly.

So...who are the other good guys with whom Mr. Taylor proposed that the Forwardists team up with?

Taylor: So...and, right now, the... the Democratic Party is the one that's the bulwark protecting democracy.

driftglass:  Wow.  I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Forward Party "Overthrow the K'rupt Duopoly!" Tweets are about to vanish like farts in a firestorm.

But maybe I misunderstood.  Because I'm stupid like that.  Please continue gentlemen.

Rick Wilson:  Well that's... that is, y'know, one of the big... the big challenges of a third party is making sure you're targeting it in a way that doesn't advantage the side that wants to break democracy.  That doesn't give, y'know... that doesn't split off uh... and... and give moderate Republicans a place to run to if they should be voting for uh, y'know, uh a Democratic in a competitive seat like that.  ...  How do you make sure that... that if one side of the political equation right now in the Republican party wants to basically break democracy, how do you not do more damage in that thing.  Sounds like you guys are trying to calibrate that in a way that meets that challenge.

driftglass:  Not according to virtually every piece of Forward Party Both Siderist "Overthrow the K'rupt Duopoly!" agitprop I've seen to-date.

Taylor: Well, yeah, it's, y'know, it's the traditional spoiler argument.  But you go back to that [misleading, bullshit] stat that I just said.  70% of races are uncontested.  The "system" is pretty fucking spoiled as it is.  So, y'know, when it comes to the MAGA movement, ideally we would attract a lot of middle-of-the-road Conservatives over to our cause and deprive the GOP of the votes they need to have a MAGA supermajority.    

Did you see the bait?  "70% of races are uncontested."

Did you see the switch? "So... when it comes to the MAGA movement."

Come on man, if you're a Conservative party, why not just say you're a Conservative party?  Why not articulate the Conservative policies that you think would attract imaginary middle-of-the-road Conservatives?

Taylor:  And we've been seeing that.  We've been seeing disaffected Republicans come our direction in droves.  

driftglass:  Define "droves".

driftglass:  See also "The Bush-Belly Sneetches".  Now observe closely as Mr. Taylor blows up his own talking point.

Taylor:  But we're also seeing that with disaffected Democrats.  I mean look, there are super, super blue districts that even the Democratic party says, "Oh man, we've gotta get rid of some of these people and put some normal folks in."

driftglass:  You know, I'm on the Sekrit Democratic Party Burn Book Mailing List and so far I've not heard any of this, but seeing as Miles Taylor's last job was [checks notes] "Chief Of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security under Trump" maybe the Democratic Party leadership trusts him enough to have passed along to him some super secret bitching that they've not shared with the rest of us.  

The rest of the conversation takes the same, schizophrenic downhill tumble that all conversations between recently-former Republicans seem to take, because that's the way they're wired.  They quickly forget that the MAGA GOP are now the "bad guys" and regress back into 2015 Beltway media talking points about the Extremes on Both Sides.

Wilson:  When folks come to you and say "We don't like what the Republicans here are doing" and "We don't like what the Democrats here are doing" and they ask you the hard question ... "What do you believe in?" ... You can get people to describe their ideological takes in a few sentences for most Republicans and for most Democrats.

driftglass: Taylor goes on the reassure Wilson that his Forward Party definitely has an answer to that question.  And the answer is so easy and obvious!  The Forward Party believes... what the "silent majority" of Americans believe!  All of that common sense centrist stuff that "independents" believe!

For example, on climate change Taylor explains that the Extreme Left which believes in stopping every engine on Earth right now or whatever, and the Extreme Right who think its all a hoax.  And the Forward Party is straight up the Sensible Center!  

Or take abortion, which the Extreme Left yadda yadda and the Extreme Right yadda yadda. And the Forward Party is once again on the side of the silent majority!

Except, or course, Taylor is full shit.  

Those "Extreme Right" positions he describes are ones the actual Republican Party actually supports and, as with gutting Roe v. Wade, has used its political power to enact.  Whereas the "Extreme Left" positions he describes have zero support within the Democratic Party, and the Sensible Centrist policies he lays out are basically the Democratic Party platform.

It's exactly the same game of ideological Three Card Monte that every third party scam tries to run, that Very Serious Conservative frauds like David Brooks have been playing for decades, and which Jonathan Chait brutally deconstructed back in 2016:

David Brooks and the Intellectual Collapse of the Center:

But even if you accept this very strange notion of the political alignment in Trump’s Washington, it raises a question Brooks is not prepared to answer. If his objection on the left lies with the “Sanders socialism,” then isn’t there an appealing centrist lying to the right of that? A moderate who favors market-oriented solutions that bring together business and labor, who welcomes empiricism, and is willing to compromise? A politician who has led the Democratic party for the last eight years and, in fact, is still the sitting president of the United States right now?

One might think so. But Brooks spent the last eight years defining the center as something Obama was not. It didn’t matter that Obama supported a health-care plan first devised by Mitt Romney, or a cap-and-trade plan endorsed by John McCain. Brooks nestled himself into the territory between Obama and the angry, no-compromise Republicans who were shutting down government and boycotting all negotiations with the president. If Obama endorsed the policies Brooks preferred, he would simply pretend that Obama had not proposed them. Indeed, one of the most common genres of David Brooks column was a sad lament that neither party would endorse policies that in fact Obama had explicitly and publicly called for... 

But the Sensible Centrist lie will never die so long as there are enough pundits, enough Republicans on the run from their past and enough cowardly fence-straddlers to prop it up.

Wilson:  I think the type of voters you're talking about are the types we've targeted at Lincoln for the past three years.  ... But there is a frustration growing -- and this is a frustration that both parties, y'know, have a responsibility for -- that both parties have become this sort of like code-worded only, Burger King versus McDonald's fight.  It's Cokes versus Pepsi...  And while there's an entertainment complex built up pushing both those narratives, it's unsatisfactory with a lot of people.  

Wilson [after talking about how ludicrous and destructive the re-invented GOP is with hobgoblins like Boebert and Greene leading the way]:  The loudest voice in the room  They're going to scream louder.  They're going to cause more trouble.  They're going to engage in the "owning of the Libs".  The ritual bullshit and all that.  And... and, look, The Squad on the other side is... is... plays a similar...

driftglass:  Then Wilson catches himself, as if suddenly remembering that he's on a live mic, that Both Siderism has become naughtybad, and that that asshole driftglass is probably listening and may blog about it.

Wilson: And I'm not a Both Sidesism guy!  I'm really not!  But I know as a former Republican strategist, that every day that the Squad is talking it's a gift for the Republican party to the normies still in the GOP.

driftglass: The problem that Wilson in describing -- and that he is definitely Both Sidesing -- has nothing to do with anything that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ayanna Pressley or any other Democratic back-bencher might say on any given day. 

The problem Wilson is describing is the ability of an integrated Conservative Media Hate machine to take any goofy thing that any Democrat might say on any given day of out of context and amplify it a zillion times over social media, over 10,000 radio stations and 100 top-rated podcasts and three cable teevee networks and who-knows-how-many Evangelical church pulpits.  Scream that message day and night until they bludgeon the mainstream press into covering it as "news".   

Wilson knows all of this perfectly well since for decades he made a handsome living feeding that Hate Machine.

Wilson:  You're told, if you wanna be in this party you've gotta all this crazy shit.  Right now, if you want to be a Republican you have to say January 6th was a tourist visit and Donald Trump is the legitimate president and Joe Biden cheated to win.  You have to say that essentially.  

driftglass: But Wilson just can't help himself.

Wilson:  And I think that those shit-tests that go on inside both parties now...

driftglass: Now I'm bored.  But I would also like to thank everyone who helped us turn "Both Siderism" into such filthy expletive a dirty that even committed Both Siderists now feel the need to stop in the middle of some patently ridiculous false equivalence to explain that they not really, really a Both Siderist.

OK.  One more

Taylor:  I would stake out a different position than you a little bit on the Both Sidesism.  I am a Both Sideser.  Not that both sides are equally as bad at the moment.  Certainly my [very recently] former party, the Republican Party, represents the greatest threat to democracy...  But very close friends at the highest levels of the Biden White House have said they have a deep-seated fear...

And I'm done.  

Well, almost done.  Because as long as I'm here at Rick Wilson's dump, poshotting specific rodents on a specific pile of debris, seems a shame not to widen the aperture and get a look at the lay of the land.

So, in addition to coddling recently-former Republican Both Siderists and whitewashing the Lincoln Projects' brief, scandal-plagued history into a heroic saga of the Lincoln Lads single-handedly "chang[ing] the tide of history" what else does this Rick Wilson fella get up to on his podcast?

Rick pledes to his listeners that he will fearlessly interview [checks notes] most of the same Never Trumpers who have gobbled up the media spotlight for the past six years. Like Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen!  And Lincoln Project guy Stuart Stevens! And Lincoln Project adjacent guy George Conway!  Former Lincoln Project guy (who bailed once the waves of scandal repeatedly capsized the Lincoln Project) who is now also Lincoln Project adjacent guy  -- and who also has his own podcast! -- Michael Steele.  And friend of the Lincoln Project, Molly Jong Fast! 

But when he's not interviewin', Rick promises listeners he will speak his mind!  

Or issue various "stern warnings"

Or sometimes he just "goes off"!

Here are a sampling of blurbs for various episodes.  See if you can spot the pattern (emhasis added where I would read this in my scariest "In a world..." voice.)

"Listen to find out who Rick is blasting this episode"!!!  


"Rick puts someone on The Enemies List and calls it a permanent entry. Listen to find out who"!!!  

"Listen to find out who Rick is targeting for the list"!!!

 "Rick adds another group to The Enemies List. Listen to find out who."!!!

"Rick has a double entry on this episode's Enemies List. Listen to find out who is the lucky pair."!!!

 "Listen to find out who Rick is targeting for the list."!!!

 "And, of course, you won't want to miss who gets put on The Enemies List."!!!

"Rick adds another name to The Enemies List. Listen to find out who makes the unfortunate cut this episode." !!!

Rick Wilson: Internet tough guy.

There are also various typos which I consider to be hilarious in their own right because I am low and perverse.

Burn The Lifeboats


bowtiejack said...

Always you and your damn facts!

Ian said...

Love the photo of Wilson with boxing gloves at the end.
Great work DG!

Robt said...

From what I have heard on the internet, so it must be true is,

If it wasn't for George Santos being there to make Rick what he is today. We would never have a Rick.

And Anthony Daalder is the one that created Rick's popular , "enemies List" his listeners /followers so enjoy.

For a long time, the GOP has been all about enemies.
Vote for me because I hate _____ (fill in the blank).
As the issues or people to draw the hateful Ire was fed to the minions by FOX and people like Rick and 2 shirt Bannon topes.

It rose to prominence when GW Bush and his trusty Cheney, Dick told the world, " If you are not with us. You are against us".

And this meant everything you must be for such as Torturing suspects and their young children. Even torture their wives who carry the unborn. Those unborn Islo-terrorists to be have a lot of information to painfully get out of them.

SteveSteve said...

I can't wait to see the candidates put forth by the Forward Party in 2024. They will have candidates, won't they?