Tag Archives: Know Nothing

16 Days in October (Part 4)

9 February 2015

The Party of God, Profanity, and Anarchy

“The white establishment is now the minority…The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
-Bill O’Reilly, FOX news commentator, 2012.

So-called moderates in the Republican party will occasionally talk about “adjusting” their message so as not to alienate—well, everyone—except middle-aged, upper class white males. 

“It’s not about nominating less conservative candidates, moderating our messaging or changing our principles. It’s about effectively connecting with voters on issues they care about,”

-Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors association (2 November 2013, Politico), a few days before the Virginia Governor’s election. (The Republican candidate lost.)

How, exactly, do you go about “effectively connecting with voters” when your message is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and elitist? How do you spin bending over backwards to deport 11,000,000 Hispanic immigrants, denying minorities their voting rights, intruding on women’s rights to make reproductive decisions, and denying equal rights to homosexual couples? And climate change isn’t real? Still? What about gravity? When you deny the laws of physics even your friends will shake their heads and walk away.

Over the last 30 years, Republicans, with the complicity of many Democrats, have systematically gutted the financial regulatory system while securing major tax advantages for the 1%, all the while whining about how government regulations are ruining their lives.  Please. They’ve never had it so good.  In fact, it looks like they’ve already won.  But no, they find themselves to be sorely abused. They portray themselves as victims, invoking the notion of “class warfare.”  They think we can’t tell we’re losing?

The GOP has stoked the largely religious Know Nothing wing of the party to such a fevered pitch that they can no longer be controlled.  The Know Nothings are not going away, but the problem for mainstream Republicans is not that they disagree with the views of the Know Nothings.  Rather, it is the opposite.  O’Reilly is right. He also said that, 20 years ago, a Romney-esque candidate would have defeated Obama.  Right again. 

And so long as O’Reilly, and most of the rest of the GOP, continue to wax nostalgic for the days when their party was the party of the white establishment, they are likely to continue their frustrated decline, kicking and screaming perhaps, into irrelevancy. People adopt conservative values when they are comfortable with the status quo. The majority of blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, and perhaps just young people in general, are anything but comfortable with the Republican party.

Democrats should not see this as good news.  Given the early promise of the Obama presidency many liberals feel disappointed, even betrayed. Then again, the Know Nothings’ sole aim since Obama assumed office has been to obstruct.  Obstructing is not leadership. The 80 Know Nothings who signed the shutdown letter sent to John Boehner care little for democratic process.

They claim to be Constitutionalists but run roughshod over that sacred document when it suits their purpose. They do not contribute; they only proscribe. They do not negotiate; they only blackmail. They preach God and country while practicing profanity and anarchy. They feel disconnected from the world and from their countrymen who defend their right to behave irresponsibly. They are a minority, but they are a force to be reckoned with because they have the unreasoned self-righteousness of religious zealots who know the true way.

International observers exercised their prerogative to look down their noses at us as they contemplated the wisdom of the US dollar as the default world currency. Writing for Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, Liu Chang suggested the need for a “de-Americanized world” and writers from Athens to London wondered that the world economy could be placed at risk by an unsophisticated minority of US lawmakers who don’t seem to “get it.” The opinions of others matter—outside the bubble.


16 Days in October (Part 3)

 30 January 2015

An Incestuous Bubble of Babble

 The 47% Majority

“Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”
-Megan Kelly, FOX news anchor’s on-air question to Karl Rove, Republican strategist, on election night 2012. Rove was insisting that Romney would win the election. (Rove didn’t care for the question.)

The technology that moves data across the country at near light speed facilitates such an orgy of available information that consumers are overwhelmed by venues of content. Unlike the plain vanilla media landscape of the 1960s, when news was read by distinguished, Midwestern, middle-aged white males, cloned from Edward R. Morrow, today we can choose to receive our news content from a veritable rainbow of humanity.  If their presentation offends our sensibilities we can easily switch to one who will tailor the information in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves.

The right still complains incessantly about “liberal media bias”  even though they have FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, the Drudge report and a plethora of far right rabble-rousers on talk radio and television.  These conservative “news” organizations (which conservatives claim are balanced) are “necessary to set the record straight” and “disseminate facts the liberal media suppress.”  As conservatives gained control of more news outlets they became bolder, shriller, and wandered farther from the truth in their quest to reshape the world into what they think it should be.

The mainstream GOP tacitly condones the hate-mongering and disinformation disseminated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, FOX news, the NRA, et al.  Occasionally, they will attempt to distance themselves from a particularly offensive remark but overall they are pleased as punch to let these “unauthorized” provocateurs serve up raw meat to the homophobic, zenophobic, racist, sexist, climate-change-denying elements of their party which they are happy to welcome under their tent. The Republican Party owns these attack dogs, though they have long refused to take responsibility for them.  It seems a delicious irony, then, that their refusal to muzzle their dogs has allowed those dogs to turn on their masters.

The constant drumbeat of protest from the right over supposed liberal media bias has taken a toll on mainstream media. Mainstream news outlets, fearful of being labeled “liberal” bend over backwards to be balanced, to the point where they are afraid to call a spade a spade.  Indeed, as media outlets have become concentrated in fewer hands, and profitability of news organizations becomes increasingly elusive,  what possible motivation could there be for a liberal bias at the expense of profit? If anything, news media are indulging a conservative bias, the motivation for which would be preservation of the bottom line.

The take-over of a large chunk of news outlets by right wing provocateurs has not “balanced”  the information wars so much as it has facilitated the rise of an alternate reality populated by paranoid unicorns, revisionist historians and fiscal fairies. The Know Nothings embrace this 1950s never land, where there are two chickens in every pot, the only people of color are domestics, and wives and mistresses are destined never to meet. All the while they dutifully consume large quantities of Kool-aid brewed up by disconnected nabobs who take their orders directly from God.  Strangely, God seems to have trouble getting his facts straight.

For all their whining about the liberal media’s suppression of “the truth,” when conservatives research, analyze and disseminate their own, “unadulterated” version, it is often inaccurate.  I’m not talking about spin here.  It matters little if conservatives choose to live in an incestuous bubble of babble.  It matters little that they believe Obama is a Muslim, that John McCain works for Al Qaeda and that death panels will decide who receives medical care at the end. (We’ve had death panels for years; we call them insurance companies.)

Problems arise, though, when conservatives venture outside the bubble. Throughout the government shutdown in October of 2013, the Know Nothing Party justified their actions by saying they were representing the will of “the American People.” The true representatives of “the American people” were the ones who passed the Affordable Care Act.  These true representatives of the American people got the job by getting elected. That’s how it works outside the bubble.

It seems that conservatives would be better served if they placed their faith in, and based their campaign strategy on, information disseminated by the “liberal” mainstream media.  On election night, 2012, well-heeled Republican donors descended on New York City and DC, expecting to party the night away celebrating a Romney victory—of which they had been assured. Really. How in the world did these people ever amass enough wealth to buy so many politicians?  The mainstream, sorry, liberal news outlets, were all predicting an Obama victory.  Romney’s pollsters declared they were shocked, shocked, mind you, blindsided; no idea what happened.

Is there no one in the GOP political machine who understands the meaning of the word “fact?” Is it possible that what conservatives call “liberal media bias” is what the rest of humanity refers to as “the truth?” Conservative journalist Christopher Ruddy, in a post mortem of the 2012 election, blamed the candidate himself, the liberal media, other Republicans, the weather, et al., for Romney’s defeat.   While the extreme right rioted over Romney’s lack of true conservative credentials, most of the rest of the country (47% and then some) seized on the  faux conservative credentials he did have—and rejected them.