“More to the point, the fact that so many potential candidates are on Fox – and that Fox is setting rules as to how long you can stick around before being kicked off if you’re not going to say one way or the other whether you’re running – is proof, if any more were necessary, that the actual GOP machinery is far less important than Fox News in the strategic operation of the Republican Party. Fox News sets the priorities, employs the players, pumps the memes into public circulation, and apparently now decides the timetable for declaring when/if you’re going to run for office. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that the two major parties at present are the Democrats and Fox, with “Republicans” as merely a faction of the Fox Party.
Which is an extraordinarily unhealthy thing, for one very obvious reason: the needs of a for-profit broadcaster are not the needs of a political party in the electorate – or in governance. Which is why we get what we have. No sane governing party would have blown the first couple of months in office on assorted culture-war issues. Hell, no sane governor would have opened his career by taking an enormous deuce on some of his key supporters for the sake of ideological purity – yet Walker up in Wisconsin has managed to make enemies of the teachers, the firemen, the police AND the Green Bay Packers. That’s bad arithmetic.
But the Fox Party isn’t about governance. It’s about maintaining the special world in which the viewers of Fox are simultaneously the martyred minority holding out against the forces of evil and the righteous majority who represent Real America. It’s about making sure that people tune in every day and every night to be told how right they are and how scary the rest of the world is. It’s about keeping the team fired up and racking up wins.”
–March 4, 2011
“In so many ways, it goes back to W.J. Cash, as it always does, and his characterization of the essential Southern quality: “that no man living could cross him and get away with it.” I don’t have to go along to get along. I don’t have to listen to some pointy-headed bureaucrat. I don’t have to stand behind the yellow line. I’ll just roll through that stop sign. I’ll put my cigarette out when I feel like it.
It’s not just Southern anymore. It’s not even just gun-suckers anymore. Call it fascism, call it socialism, call it political correctness, or just call it fucking manners if you like. But until our concept of citizenship in a polite society rises above the level of a sugar-shocked 8 year old in the back seat on a road trip, don’t expect a lot of progress on things like assholes meandering their guns through the grocery.”
–Jan 29, 2013
“The enemy, as was said so many years ago, isn’t conservatism or liberalism. The enemy is bullshit. Bullshit too plentiful and overwhelming to refute. Bullshit that wins out on volume because it’s too much to beat down every single individual packet of bullshit. The bullshit will always get through, and people who don’t know better – or won’t know better – will fall before it.
Actually, there is coherence and cohesion to the modern GOP belief system: it’s called bullying, and it’s how “Blue Lives Matter” can coexist with the open carry of firearms and how the admiration for a Russian totalitarian can launder the exposure of classified information. The Trumpets who are now trying to read California out of the Union as somehow not really America have it all wrong. Silicon Valley is full of natural Trumpists: people who aren’t aware there are other people who aren’t like them, who are the embodiment of I GOT MINE FUCK YOU, who don’t care that we live in a society. That should have been warning enough for anyone that this was possible. As Uber, so Trump: do what you like and the facts and the law be damned, because your sycophants and worshippers will laud you for it.
And there are plenty of those. The GOP has spent the last 25 years powered by weaponized ignorance fueled with bullshit. It started in the Clinton years with exaggerations, misrepresentations, things that could be explained but if you’re explaining you’re losing. Then it got progressively worse, with lies about things that could be disproved but were complicated to demonstrate. And the bar just kept getting lower and lower until 2016, when the GOP lied constantly about things that could be instantly and trivially disproven – knowing that their base would reject the proof. And because our system can’t cope with shamelessness, we got burned. Badly. The problem is, if you can’t have truth, you can’t have a society. We have to be able to interact truthfully. If we can’t, we don’t have a society.”
–Dec. 19, 2016
“Let’s not forget that the famous “we create our own reality” interview was in October 2004, before Dubya was elected the second time. In fact, let’s have the block quote, which is generally understood to have come from Karl Rove himself:
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Basically that’s taking a shit on the entire concept of empirical fact. That’s pissing directly in the face of the Enlightenment. That’s an argument that says we can believe whatever we want and you can’t stop us. It’s the functioning basis of Fox News, of Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, of five straight GOP Presidential campaigns. It’s not a Trump phenomenon, it’s not even Tea Party. It is what the Republican Party has stood for now for over a decade: who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?
This is why there has to be a reckoning. This is why Obama was wrong to try to work with the GOP, to try his whole “come let us reason together” shtick, to desperately try to negotiate with the other side. You don’t negotiate with a five year old having a tantrum. You don’t negotiate with a lunatic screaming on a street corner. You act quickly and decisively to put them out of harm’s way – their own and others – and carry on having an adult society while doing what you can to see that they get the help they need.”
–April 25, 2017
“Consider: 75% of the Republicans in the lower body have only been there since the 2010 elections or later. Their entire Congressional career has not only been post-Fox, but post-Tea Party. They have never passed a budget in regular order, never had to confront the world outside the axis of Breitbart. They’ve been part of two government shutdowns and the unprecedented near-default of sovereign debt. They’ve voted over fifty times to repeal Obamacare. Their entire MO is tribal loyalty and their entire range of issues is Benghazi-birth certificate-EMAILS, and they’ve never had to actually govern. And now they are the frontline troops for an accidental amateur President. When Trump says he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers would cheer? The ones he means are the ones in the Capitol, because those are the only ones he needs. And they don’t know how to do anything but moo for their side.”
–May 12, 2017
“But here’s the thing: there is no reckoning. Nothing happened to the GOP after they went Party Of No on Clinton, or weaponized impeachment to try to undo the 1996 results. Nothing happened to the Electoral College when Al Gore got screwed under shaky circumstances. Nothing happened when the GOP turned the filibuster into a daily process and snowed the catamites of the media into normalizing the idea that “the Senate needs 60 votes.” Nothing happened when the Republican Party nailed its colors to Donald Fucking Trump. And right now, despite all the shit hitting the fan, despite a partisan firing of the FBI director and blood-curdling breaches of national security and patently unconstitutional actions, nothing suggests that the GOP will bend or buckle as long as they think having this fatuous publicity whore in the Oval Office can still deliver them tax cuts and Supreme Court seats.
There are two sides sitting at the gaming table in America. One is trying to win the game and the other is trying to burn the house down so they can run off with the silverware. This is patently unsustainable. It’s the dog humping your leg: it’s in his nature and you can’t blame him for it, but eventually, you have to cut his balls off. And that’s exactly what has to happen to the Republican Party, because as long as this version of the GOP can continue to operate, we cannot function as a country. The last time we had this problem, the Democrats chose to cast off the South and stake their future on the old children’s hymn: “red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight.” And George Wallace, Kevin Philips and Richard Nixon, Lee Atwater and George Bush were all ready and waiting to scoop up those who replied “no they’re not.” And then the GOP made them the base of the party in 1994 and it’s literally been downhill ever since. From January 1995, the opening of the 104th Congress, you can date the shutdowns, the impeachments, the near-defaults, the political witch hunts, the propaganda parade on cable news, and the tribal politics of “you’re entitled to your own reality.”
We’re going to keep limping through, with Democrats trying to slap on salve and bandages where they can and Republicans normalizing the notion that there is no such thing as society – just them that has and them that can suck it. In a world where a millionaire apartment developer can tell millennials they could afford a house if they just gave up avocado toast – while Silly Con Valley housing prices skyrocket 20% every year – the Republican meme is that everything bad that happens to you is your own fault, from illness to poverty to skin color to just not being able to keep up with the cost of living. And now the Baby Boomers will pull up the very ladder they used, with affordable college and available housing and defined benefit pensions, and everyone else can go screw.
Which is why it’s time to start thinking about how America will look if we survive. Because this is unsustainable. Our system of government, our entire political culture in the 20th century, depended on certain norms and unwritten rules and cultural guidelines which have all gone out the window, almost entirely of Republican doing. And if they’re committed to their tribal project, there’s no way to prevent them from continuing to vote – we’d have to just make some kind of pact that everyone else will vote for the same person every time to ensure they can’t get in. At which point you’re right back in Alabama, where the party primary decides the statewide result (and has for basically all but three or four statewide elections in the last century). And Alabama is a broke, dysfunctional system of government whereby people only get by because they’ve had the Feds holding a gun to the state’s head.”
–May 16, 2017
“So what happens now? Even if Trump bites the dust and the GOP is turned out of office across the board in a manner recalling 1974-76, what are we left with? We have a political party still in existence whose members have been radicalized to believe anything they are told by their trusted leadership – which largely consists of conspiracy-mongering media. We have an electoral process that was compromised by bad actors in and out of government and which was swayed by a foreign power, and a nuclear one at that – what do we do about that? We have the precedent of a President elected while stonewalling any effort to explore his finances, his foreign ties or his past conduct – why should any future candidate not do the same? We have net neutrality crucified on behalf of Comcast and Verizon – how do we return to a regulatory framework robust enough to ensure actual competition in broadband and get us within shouting distance of what the rest of the world has? And – most of all – how do we convince the rest of the world that our leadership and our global role can be given any more heft than, say, Italy? Or Russia? Or any other country with a corrupt and compromised political leadership and a public unable to check or contain it?”
–July 14, 2017
“The rules of the Senate and the composition of the Electoral College means the Republican Party can get its way without having the most votes in a way the Democrats simply can’t anymore. They could have, maybe, in 2009 – but they were still constrained by norms and traditional practice and “the way things are done.” The Republicans have the advantage of not caring about that in the least, which is of a piece with the way that party has worked for a quarter century. Twenty-five years of AM radio and cable news and being led around by the nose by carnival barkers and rodeo clowns and circus freaks. Twenty-five years of being told that it’s not enough to have your own opinions, you’re entitled to your own facts. And if they don’t square with reality? You’re entitled to your own reality. You can believe that 10% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid and that your Affordable Care Act insurance is more virtuous and entitled than the Obamacare those brown people have and that there’s some secret Democrat child sex ring spiriting kids to Mars as slaves…
Our system was not divinely ordained, not handed down from Olympus as some timeless model of perfection. It was conceived in iniquity and birthed in sin, reserving power to the male, the white and the landed. More than one person has pointed to the various amendments in the ensuing 240 years as proof that the American struggle is ultimately toward giving everyone the participatory power that the Founding Fathers reserved for their own kind. But it isn’t working any more.
We’re broken. We’re not going to be able to fix this, because the people who could have – the people who needed to stand up and say “look, I disagree with the Democrats but this is horse shit, there are no death panels, foreign aid is a rounding error compared to your Social Security, Sharia law is not a thing that is happening in this country, the President is an American citizen born in Hawaii and a practicing Christian” – those people sat on their hands and kept their mouths shut so they could reap the partisan advantage, and it got us to this point. Between the hilljack yokels, the ones who mined their ignorance for electoral profit, and the ones who can’t be arsed to take part, there aren’t enough people left to reliably redeem the country.
And here’s the kicker: what happens when the rednecks run into reality? The kind of reality that can’t be reconciled with the old “the universe is 4.5 billion years old six days a week and 6000 on Sundays”? The kind of reality you can’t wish away? The kind of reality that doesn’t care what Alex Jones told you because that cancer isn’t going to respond to peach pit extract and your insurance won’t cover you anymore? What happens once these Trump voters all realize they played themselves? Are they prepared to live with the consequences? And since the answer is almost certainly hell no, who are they going to take it out on? And how? And what are we prepared to do about it?”
– July 31, 2017
“Sixteen years ago, Osama bin Laden made Stupid Americans shit themselves. Then we spent every year after validating stupid. And after a wihile, Russia figured out how to exploit their fear. And Twitter and Facebook both lay back and allowed them to do it. The confluence of public stupid and technological free-for-all destroyed the 21st century before it could start. And now, because we didn’t push back on an electoral college that make the person with the most votes lose, because we didn’t push back on conspiracy theorists as “news”, because we decided the Internet was the free-speech wing of the free-speech party (whatever the fuck that means other than something to let tech bros get erect), we wound up where we are now. Comcast and Verizon have free reign to carve up Internet access like cable TV. There is no free market in broadband anymore. The budget is such a freakin’ disaster area that we don’t even know whether to pay off the property tax now so it’ll still be deductible on our federal return.
The really disturbing thing is…how do you come back from this? Elect a bunch of Democrats and then see if you can get away with impeachment, which will only put a bigger holy roller in the Oval Office and convince Ed Earl Brown that the job is done because Trump’s out? Run the table in 2020 and start trying to put things back like they were, only to get smeared by the catamites at the New York Times and take an ass-kicking in 2022? Do we have the time to wait for demographics to fix things or are we going to be too far gone by then?”
–Dec. 22, 2017
“You don’t have to like it. No one is asking you to approve of everything they stand for, everything they might want to do, and that’s fine – nothing serious could move for two years anyway. You don’t have to worry that Congress is suddenly going to nationalize Comcast and outlaw Baptists. It’s fine. This isn’t about granular issue positions any more. Those have to wait for later. This is about only one side being willing and able to stop the bleeding.
Because the GOP had plenty of chances to head this thing off, and couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Didn’t. For better or worse, this is what it means to be a Republican in 2018: I believe all of this is OK. Because nothing has happened to stop it. If the GOP was going to stand up to Trump, they’ve had two years to do so. And it didn’t happen, except for a gesture toward healthcare by a dying man who isn’t there anymore. Flake, Collins, all the sorrowful “moderates” – they’re there for him when it counts. Every single time.
The fact of the matter is, we functionally have a two-party system. You can vote for a third party if you want, but don’t kid yourself that you’re not actually throwing away your vote. The Green party isn’t going to save you, and there is no magical third way moderate who is going to lead us out of this. Your choices are yes, this is OK, or no it isn’t. And right now, today, in 2018, “no it isn’t” is labeled Democrat. Full stop.
Maybe if the sixty-something percent who say “no it isn’t” in polls could all get behind one party, we could do a deal. We’ll hash it out in the party, and when the rubber hits the road we’ll hold our noses and support what we decided to do rather than going all different directions and tolerating crazy – or worse, endorsing it – for the sake of getting our own way. And we’ll leave the nuts and the crazies and the assholes on the outside and wait for them to die, and contain in the meantime, because holding together a society is more important than burning it down for a bare advantage.”
–1 Nov 2018
“The Republican Party has become Trump, and Trump has become the Republican Party, and the GOP that built itself on Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan has been reduced to a postmodern religious cult of hate, fraud and make-believe. Only an idiot seeks to meet bullshit halfway, and there is nothing to gain by trying to split the difference with Crazy World. Call it out, cut it off, and shun everyone and anyone who won’t, including the catamites of the Washington press corps. “Come let us reason together” only works with people capable of reason, and the burden of proof is all on the other side now. Start by making the most simple litmus test of all: if you can’t say who won, you don’t get to play.The end.”
–Nov. 23, 2020
“We’re back to containment. This is the last chance for the GOP to climb off the train before becoming the QOP. It may yet be necessary to blow up the filibuster and resort to adding states and going full scorched earth to prevent the scum who tried to overrun the capital taking a place in American politics. But for the moment, the “not all Republicans” are being offered one chance at a Billy Martin.”
– Jan 20, 2021
If they were ever going to come around, they’d have done it by now already. They have not. They will not.
Stop pretending there’s anything to gain from “bipartisanship.” Stop pretending you can make a deal. Stop negotiating with “No.” Kill the filibuster, kill the debt ceiling, pack the court, add some states, federalize the right to vote, and take the consequences.