Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Avalanche On Bull-Sh*t Mountain!"

The title of this post comes from Jon Stewart's brilliant skewering of the now famous Karl Rove meltdown on Fox News on election night.

Triumphal cognitive dissonance slammed right into the hard wall of hubris that night live on national teevee.

I saw it happen.  I stopped in a neighborhood diner on my way home from teaching evening classes late that night.  The owner had the teevee on Fox News covering the election returns.  When Fox News called Ohio for Obama, Rove wasn't the only one who couldn't believe it.  The diner owner was visibly upset and thought the news was incredible.

I have to admit that I was very worried about the Election.  I was hoping it wouldn't be a disaster.  I returned home at 11PM to find that it was all over, and that my side won the lottery.

Far be it from me, a proud liberal/progressive with ties to progressive politics that go back to my own 18th century ancestors who were Quakers or Abolitionist Baptists (along with later Texas Union Sympathizers, German Social Democrats, and a grandfather who tried to organize Western Union telegraph workers), to offer right-wingers advice, but shouldn't you folks be asking how well served are you and your cause by this kind of "news?"  Did insulating yourselves from contrary points of view and inconvenient facts really serve you at all?

No, there really isn't a parallel universe on the other side.  There are liberals like Robert Frank, Kevin Phillips, Frank Rich, and many others who've built careers trying to read the right wing id, trying to understand how one mind could hold contradictory ideas as if they agreed seamlessly; how some people could put Atlas Shrugged and the Bible on the same shelf and not see a problem.  Lots of liberals from Digby to Media Matters slog through right wing commentary trying to understand what makes the right tick.  I'm confident that there is no corresponding effort to understand the left by the right.  What few right wing books there are about the left are books like Anne Coulter's which mock and belittle the left, and couldn't care less about understanding it.

As for the right's relationship with unpleasant facts, what can I say?  Peggy Noonan and George Will were wrong, wronger, and deluded in their election predictions while the much derided Nate Silver was spot on.  Noonan and Wills relied on their "gut instincts" while Silver relied on arithmetic. What happened to that famous conservative "realism" that I heard so much about from 20 years ago?

As Digby points out, right wingers have another problem;  they can be such assholes.  Especially since 2010 and the advent of Teabaggers, right-wingers aggressively diss not only people who don't agree with them, but also those who don't look like them and don't share their culture.  The xenophobia, misogyny, and racism are barely concealed, while the homophobia is on parade.  Did the right really imagine that those whole populations that they dissed would stay home on Election Day?  It turns out that they came out in droves to vote against them, and so did their friends.

Dan Savage didn't get gays and lesbians along with their friends and families out to the polls to vote for Obama, this did:

And the gender gap, the right wing problem with women; the 'feminazis' didn't get them all out to vote for Obama.  The right can thank this guy who got not only young women to come out in droves to vote against right wing candidates, but also their mothers, aunts, grandmas, husbands, brothers, boyfriends, and  guys who just cared about basic human dignity:

And does the right really imagine that only white people can hear those racist dog whistles?

How can right wingers say they so super-love AMERICA when they hate their fellow Americans so bitterly?  The United States is not an abstraction or a revered old piece of paper.  It is the people who make it up, whose consent to live by its laws gives the Constitution its power and authority.  It is all kinds of different people who share a common history together, who are each and every one personally invested in this country's continuing success.

And then there is the future.  Which of these crowds has a future?

Romney voters

Obama voters

Aging white folk are just fine.  I plan to be among them soon.  They are living repositories of historical memory and experience.  But those things mean nothing for the future without young people who are the future.  If you are my age or older, think about that next time you complain about the kids.  And take a good hard look back at your own youth.  The way I hear some people my age talk, it sounds like we spent our youths listening to Mozart and joining the Peace Corps.  In reality, we spent our youths listening to Led Zepplin and getting high off the stuff under the kitchen sink.
No, this is not a predominantly white country anymore, but so what?  The ability to incorporate other peoples fully is a great strength of our country (as well as a great strength of the Americas in general).  We are in a much better position to face a new more cosmopolitan and interdependent world than the nation-states of Europe and the Middle East, or the very homogenous societies of East Asia.  Soon, many of our neighbors, and eventually members of our families, will look different from us and be from cultures that are not so familiar.  But they will become familiar, and we will become familiar to them.  One person's exotic meal is someone else's home cooking.

Take it from one of your lefty antagonists,  you folks on the right don't need this kind of tribalism.  And if you do, then you need to ask yourselves if those conservative beliefs that you so cherish can survive the demographic and cultural change that is already upon us.

And even after Obama became the first Democratic President since FDR to win both the Electoral College Vote and the popular vote twice without a third party spoiler, the right still doesn't get it:

It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want STUFF. They want THINGS. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it and he ran on it. Whereby 20 years ago, President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them, and they want STUFF. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate between the two is going to give them things.
        - Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly.
That means a lot coming from all those rugged individualists on Medicare and Social Security, and those über-patriots putting their money into over-seas tax shelters even in a time of war and crisis, and especially from all those financial industry roulette players bailed out with trillions of dollars in tax money with no strings attached.


 For Sid:

And since the election, there's still more:


Meghan McCain, a loyal young Republican, who agrees with me, that it's time to jettison the far right culture war stuff and move beyond the Southern White Male demographic.


JCF said...

I have to say, when I heard the clip yesterday of Rush asking "To get the women's vote, do we have to become a Pro-Choice Party?", I thought he sounded like he was genuinely asking. (Actually made me want to answer "Yes", instead of "Duh, you fat@ss fascist moron!" ;-/)

Tom Sarmo said...

I stand by your comments, too. Thanks for them :)
I do appreciate this thoughtful and well-written blog. Science and math are great, but this cements my belief that the most intelligent folks out there are artists.

Counterlight said...

This artist is really bad at math and regrets it.

Tom Sarmo said...

Haha, me too. But we can't all be Nate Silver

SimplySuzi said...

Excellent! Thank you for your intelligent and thoughtful commentary.

Sid said...

Sorry to engage on this after so many days, Doug, but, speaking of an avalanche, this post doesn't lack for it.

Charitably, I hope, I'd like to say a few things -

First of all, I find it to be nearly the height of hypocrisy to accuse those who don't agree with you of "tribalism" and isolation. I know a lot of conservatives, and I am one. Why don't you give the "xenophobia, misogyny, and racism" crap a rest? It's a fantasy. And were do you get it? Why, from your own little "news" ghettos and "insulating yourselves from contrary points of view."

Conservatives are not racists or misogynists; that's a slander. Something you should consider is that, if you (and MSNBC, and the Obama campaign, and the Democratic Party...) are the one that always hears racist dog whistles, that means you're the dog.

Second, give the "fact" thing a rest. Nobody was "insulated" from contrary points of view, nor are public opinion polls "science," nor can they be conducted without the generous input of the pollster's judgment (thereby opening space to question the methodology). It isn't living outside of the facts to question said judgment in the face of 8% unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and a clearly failing economy. So the polls were right and these people were wrong; the triumph of hope over experience, even. On that, they have no monopoly. Other things that are just as "factual," if not more so, than a public opinion poll, include the failure of the War on Poverty, the total ineffectiveness of Head Start, and the looming insolvency of Medicare and Social Security. And what's the engagement of the Left with those facts? There is none. They demagogue while people continue to suffer and financial calamity looms.

The election was basically 50/50. It's a little rich for you to be calling half the country stupid "assholes" and then ask, "How can right wingers say they so super-love AMERICA when they hate their fellow Americans so bitterly?" Especially, frankly, coming from somebody so invested in gay rights, as there's no shortage of hatred and bitterness toward fellow Americans in those circles. Get on the web sometime.

OK, maybe I missed the mark on restraining my own anger. But, yes, I agree with you that we're all Americans. And I'm tired of hearing half the country slandered with this garbage. Get out and meet somebody who doesn't agree with you (and I don't mean your family in Texas and extrapolating from your own experiences to smear half the country; if you love opinion polls so much, then you know your inference is worthless). A lot of us viscerally disagree with the direction this president is taking the country. Is that OK with you? Or should we be suppressed?

Diversity is more than exotic meals and home cooking. If this is the most respect you can show for others' views, then spare us the sermons on your inclusivity, because you're no better than your enemies.

Counterlight said...

Once again, I seem to have gotten under Sid's skin. How gratifying.

Sorry, but no sale and no repentance on the "slander" charge. You guys on the right can dish it out but you sure can't take it. My! you are thin skinned and scream bloody murder when someone dishes out to you a taste of your own medicine!

As for "slander," take a look at those videos that I posted, and these are hardly the worst. You guys accuse me and my friends of everything from treason to demonic possession, and that's AFTER you accuse half the population of the country of being mooching freeloaders. So, I'm not feeling any love from you guys, and neither is anyone else outside of your very closed circle.

Maybe it's YOU who needs to get out of your gated neighborhood and come up to the Bronx or out to Brooklyn and take a look for yourself (or to North St. Louis, southside Chicago, or East Los Angeles).

Do I think all conservatives are racists or that conservatism is necessarily racist? No! But you guys sure find it useful when it comes to winning elections; everything from the 1988 Willy Horton ads to this year's efforts to make voting harder and harder for people other than yourselves.
You guys need to sit down and ask yourselves why you aren't reaching more people who aren't straight white men. You need to ask why people who aren't straight white men turned out in droves to vote against you guys as much as for Obama.

I'll say it again; you don't need this kind of tribalism. You need to find a way to make conservatism transcend matters of ethnic, cultural, and sectarian identity. Right now, conservatism in this country wears those things like chains. The "culture wars" are a millstone around your necks.

And remember, before Fox News found it useful to demonize them, Muslims in this country were among the most reliable of Republican constituencies.

Gerrit said...

Just for your, Sid's, and anyone's information:

Counterlight said...

Thanks Gerrit. Love Garry Wills.
Indeed, George McGovern, Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole, and Jimmy Carter lost elections and went on to do great and good things with the rest of their lives.

I think Wills' lines about Mitt Romney starting off by claiming that he would be to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights and ending up to the right of Strom Thurmond; or that he sold his soul and found out that it didn't have much purchasing power are spot on.

Sid said...


Maybe everybody should get out of their communities, gated (I'll take your word for it; I don't live in one) or not. You can say "no sale and no repentance" all you want, but it doesn't mean much, as you seem to be working from a closed mind when it comes to those different from you. Yes: just like you accuse them of doing.

You can say you don't think all conservatives are racist, but most of what you've written around it shows otherwise: "For Sid" graphics, as though any of those have anything to do with me, or as though I couldn't give you equivalent examples from the fringe Left; glee that you've "gotten under Sid's skin," as though I'm just a straw man, the "Other," to whom you can assign views; liberal use of "you guys," "you," etc., even though, no, I didn't have a hand in producing those videos.

(Yes, you did get under mine, but I'm not writing to you to get under your skin, by the way.)

There's just as much evidence - either a lot or none, take your pick - that the Left is "treasonous" as there is that the Right is "racist."

You're right, I don't need the kind of tribalism you decry, which is why I don't practice it. But there's no question President Obama's campaign made ample use of it in his campaign. As frequently happens, projection is the most striking feature of the modern left wing.

Conservatism does transcend matters of ethnic, cultural, and sectarian identity. It's your caricature of it, which, unfortunately, is the only thing many people will ever hear, that does not.

Counterlight said...

My how things have changed. I can remember when the right despised leftists for being squishy wimps, and now the right complains about being bullied.

Counterlight said...

Speaking of closed minds Sid, you curl up into a ball of injured feelings when what you really should be doing is taking a good hard look at why your side lost, why so many people came out in droves to vote against your side as much (if not more than) to vote for Obama, and despite the best efforts of some GOP state governors and legislators to keep them from voting.
Some on your side are indeed willing to do that. See the video by Meghan McCain that I posted. I'm heartened by other Republican leaders publicly distancing themselves from Mitt Romney's post election comments. Yes, he really was a remote and cold-hearted plutocrat after all. The Obama (and Gingrich) campaigns didn't necessarily invent that.

The Republican Party is discovering that it is no longer a conservative party, that it has become a far right National Front party over the past 10 years. The right wing radicals from the Tea Party lost the GOP two Senate seats (Indiana and Missouri) that they should have won. That far right fringe never did the GOP any favors as far back as 1952 when they loudly complained about Robert Taft being passed over for the Presidential nod.

If your side wants to win elections in the future, then it will just have to come in from the cold and meet people where they are, and as they are.

If you're looking for contrition from me, then forget it. I've got more than enough hurt feelings and alienation to match yours, and going back decades. After years and years of being the odd man out of just about everything, it feels great to finally win a few. I lived with right wing domination of the public forum from Ronald Reagan to the dark years of the Second Bush administration. I've had to sit there quietly and listen to my life and my views misrepresented for years by Very Serious Overpaid People who didn't know squat about what they were talking about. So you don't like everyone talking smack about you. Welcome to my world. I survived it for 30 years and more. How about you?

Gerrit said...

'In a 1994 interview with the Washington Post the retired senator said,
When you say "radical right" today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.[59]'

Thus Barry Goldwater, a man I had to re-evaluate after Counterlight's remarks.

Sid said...

Doug, just to be clear (as President Obama might say), I didn't say anything about being bullied, nor am I curling up in a ball of injured feelings. I'm simply telling you that your characterization of the right is wrong. No, I don't appreciate it, but so what? I assume you didn't sit back and laugh it off when your life and views were, as you call it, misrepresented by others. Perhaps you even defended yourself from time to time. When did that become a problem, for you or me?

Your view of the GOP has no connection with reality. But if I watch the Meghan McCain video, will you watch one by Artur Davis?

Peace, OK? I get it. You hate somebody you've never met for views he doesn't hold. I don't agree with you, either. But you're not my enemy. I love Boston Cream pies, too, and I'll add its Boston Cream cousin, the doughnut, to the list, so I think even we have common ground.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Counterlight said...

If I really hated you, I wouldn't be posting your comments.

Dry your tears. I just think your head is screwed on backwards, and you're playing for the wrong team.

I grew up as a Republican among Republicans, and I spent 35 years in the red states, so I think know at least a little something about it. I still have my father's GOP tie-pin.