Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This GOP Thing Needs a Name

I want to say something about the Second Battle of the World War II Memorial, which was the subject of much fuss over the weekend.

What's it called when you shut down the government, and then instead of spending the shutdown time arguing that your demands are just and should be accepted, you complain about parts of the government being shut down?

I don't know! I mean, one could call it hypocritical, but that doesn't seem to me at least to capture the full meaning of what's going on here.

The reason I bring it up is because I think we've reached the three-times-is-a-trend point. The other two: Republicans running mainly against the part of the ACA that they actually supported (that is the Medicare cuts); and sequestration, which they blame on Barack Obama pretty much every minute that they aren't insisting on it continuing. One might also include the Ryan/GOP position on Simpson-Bowles, which was that it was absolutely essential for the nation that Obama support Simpson-Bowles (which Ryan and most of the party opposed).

We need a name for it because it's proving quite difficult for the press to cover this sort of thing. After all, it's not easy! House Republicans really did just spend two weeks talking nonstop about the horrors of shutting down the government (okay, selected pieces of it, and mostly war memorials, but still). The press can't simply ignore that. But covering it without explaining the context doesn't work, either.

This is surely related to the David Roberts notion of "post-truth" -- the idea that politicians have discovered that spin, rather than putting policy arguments in the best possible light, can be entirely divorced from the actual policy positions it is designed to support. I suppose what I'm describing is a particular type of post-truth maneuver. It's also related to one of my continuing themes, which is that the way that the GOP-aligned partisan press works has made Republican politicians incredibly lazy, since they know that Fox News and the rest of them will fully buy into whatever talking points they come up with. 

Important caution: I'm not arguing that all of this "matters" in the sense of successfully manipulating public opinion. As we've seen in the shutdown fight, the First and Second Battles of the World War II Memorial, as big as those triumphs must have seemed for Fox News watchers, haven't prevented a complete polling disaster over the shutdown for the GOP. All I'm saying is that then the ("neutral") press covers this stuff, it needs better language for it so that readers and viewers can actually be informed about what's going on.

29 comments:

  1. The Two-Faced Two-Step

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  2. The WWII memorial is for when the GOP is blaming the shutdown on Obama and Harry Reid. And old white people love the WWII memorial.

    One of the things that has really worked in the Republicans' favor is how limited the shutdown is. Hardly anything that people really pay attention to is shut down, beyond the national parks. So basically, most people don't care, and probably haven't even noticed that the government is shut down. If there was a real shutdown, with people not getting the Social Security and Medicare, with the FAA closed, army bases padlocked, the service academies closed, and on and on - the GOP would cave in about ten minutes.

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    1. The people who really notice the shutdown are furloughed federal employees - i.e., "moochers"

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    2. A week-long shutdown doesn't really affect very many people beyond mild inconvenience, even federal workers, but the longer it goes, the more are affected directly (and all of us indirectly).

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  3. Interpretative dance

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  4. "Internal double-cross."
    "Nouveau Nihilism."
    "Identification by Nullification."
    "Spinning against your own Petard."
    "You say I'll be hoisted by this petard; what do you mean? There is no petard, well there is, but it was the bad guys idea."
    "Spin Sorcery - Now you see our idea, now you don't, but if you do see it and you don't like it, it was... BURN THE WITCH!"

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  5. I think chutzpah works here, but only with the Michele Bachmann pronunciation.

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  6. This is opposition that is purely *ad factionem*.

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  7. Replies
    1. Dadaist?

      "Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dada

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  8. What about "Immelman Turn"? That's an aerobatics manuver where you pull a half-loop and roll, so you're going just as fast in opposite direction.

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  9. I just ran across this one in the New Yorker - argumentum ex culo, which appears to mean argument by bullshit (using Harry Frankfurt's definition of BS).

    "It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

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    1. The thing about bullshit is, you have to put it on in thin coats and let it dry. If you put it on too thick, like the GOP is doing, it'll crack and make a mess.

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  10. Isn't the real issue about what constitutes acceptable norms for political parties and how are those norms enforced? I have friends in Canada who describe their parliamentary system as an election followed by a dictatorship. Can you imagine how that would work if the Republicans were handed that kind of power? Clearly in countries with parliamentary systems the press has a major role in informing the public when those norms are being violated. I question if any democracy can withstand its norms being consistently violated while the press strives to remain “neutral” rather than “objective”.

    Enough ranting; I thought the correct word for what the republicans are doing was “Derp”.
    ?

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    1. >> Can you imagine how that would work if the Republicans were handed that kind of power?

      See, "Wisconsin."

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  11. Do you actually think the neutral press would do a better job covering this, if they had some type of "better" (more concise?) language to do so? I don't get the sense that the neutral press, especially TV newscasters, are that conflicted and ill at ease about their laziness and misdirection, yearning for solutions...

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  12. How about "crying crocodile tears"?

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  13. The press, like the corpocrats, is not disturbed. To the contrary, they're both gleeful at the confusion and interesting stupidity. Everyone will tune in, they'll still buy consumer crap from the TV ads.

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  14. Replies
    1. Or more rhymey the Menacity of Mendacity.

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  15. I'd like to see the requisite name arrived at pronto, because the need for it seems to increase by the hour. So: the House is now thinking of demanding an end to an Obamacare "exemption," when what actually exists (even more so under their proposal) is something like the opposite -- which by the way was originally a Republican demand? I mean, which way is up? I was going to endorse purusha's "Dada" as a possible name, but this actually reminds me of Escher. How about "eschering" things? The "Escher Gambit"? A party of dyed-in-the-wool Escherians? Something like that?

    But stepping back: Yes, they do this because they're grown lazy, but that's not just due to Fox. Fox itself has grown lazy, because it (and various right-wing blogs and "news" sites) cater to an audience that just doesn't give up a crap whether its daily dose of propaganda is true. I've had a better look at this phenomenon lately because a long-forgotten high-school acquaintance "friended" me on Facebook after a reunion, without telling me that her Facebook feed is basically a firehose of right-wing misinformation that she cribs from sites evidently designed mainly to give people like her ammunition for posting and tweeting. I've pointed out several times that these sources are wrong, lying, and in many cases recirculating lies that were debunked years ago. (One recent example: Did you know that Al Gore is being sued for fraud by 30,000 climate scientists? The stuff of a chain e-mail several years ago, but still turning up on these sites as late-breaking news.) Sometimes my "friend" will acknowledge the correction, but she goes on trusting the same sources and favoring us with another ten or twelve such posts the next day. There's just no way these sources can be wrong or false enough to make her wary of whatever they claim next. Multiply this by a few million, give its elected representatives a system rife with veto points, and you've got all the makings of a constitutional crisis like the one we're looking at now.

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    1. There are 30,000 climate scientists?

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    2. Yes, if you take nonsense, multiply it by BS, divide by sheer fantasy and carry the remainder, it comes out to exactly 30,000.

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  17. This game is called "see what you made me do."

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  18. I can't believe there are 25 responses and nobody has suggested mine yet. So here it is: the Vizzini. This works both because the words they are saying do not mean what they think they mean and because they think they are being really clever but really they fairly dumb. Now if only we could get Dread Pirate Roberts to come defeat them at a game of which cup has the poison.

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