Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WYSINWYG: The GOP Operating System

The GOP brand has become so enmeshed with the Lunatic Fringe – anarchists, fanatic fundamentalists, gun-toting militias, homophobes, misogynists, racists, and nihilists of all stripes – party operatives have been engaged in full-time damage control.  Containment was evident last week when the Fringe raised a deadbeat cattle rancher, Cliven Bundy, to instant hero status only to disavow him days later.  Containment was also evident this week when rightwing talk show jingoist, Rush Limbaugh, miscast another racist de jour as a Democrat; in fact disgraced Clippers owner, Don Sterling, turned out to be a registered Republican.  Among the party faithful - and pitiful - squawking and stalking points matter more than facts.

Lost in this circus of raging racists is Jim Thompson, Chairmen of the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee (WCRCC), who wrote in his official party newsletter:
Media update for the week:  saw on the news this week the offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, rest all donkey.  Not sure why this is news: now if we can teach him to read a teleprompter, we could have two living creatures the media will fawn over that is part white part black and all a**!
Chairman Thompson was NOT referring to a zebroid, a rare zebra-donkey hybrid born in Mexico last week, but to President of the United States, Barack Obama. Called to account, the incidental racist issued this retraction:
I would like to offer my sincere apology to those who were offended, and I regret including this item in the newsletter. In the future, it most certainly won’t happen again.
So what do Thompson, Bundy, Sterling, and Limbaugh share in common - besides racist rants? Collectively and periodically, they undergo ritual cleansing in the form of apologies, denials, deceptions, or distractions to cover-up their gaffes.

No list of blunderers would be complete without Todd ‘Legitimate Rape’ Akin and Richard ‘Rape is the Will of God’ Mourdock.  Pre-gaffe Akin was favored to win over incumbent Claire McCaskill. Post-gaffe Akin lost by a margin of 55% to 39% due to backlash from women voters.

Pre-gaffe Mourdock – endorsed by ultra-conservative groups such a Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Citizens United, and the NRA - defeated the moderate GOP incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP primary of 2012.  Post-gaffe Mourdock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.

Given these examples of GOP self-sabotage, here's a thought experiment:  Suppose the buffoons of blunder, bluster, and bombast never said what they said and kept their mouths shut?  Public opprobrium can also have an unintended consequence as whack jobs go underground to hatch their nefarious plans under cover of stealth and guile.  Which leads us to the problem of WYSINWYG: What you see is NOT what you get. Under veils of apology, deception, denial and distraction, the true intent of the candidate can never be known – leaving you unable to make an informed choice at the polls.

Recall what happened in 2010 when Tea Party candidates swept state houses on a platform of “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  Once in office, new GOP dominated legislatures passed bills limiting reproductive rights, voting rights, and union rights – but not a SINGLE jobs bill. What you saw is NOT what you got, in other words: WYSINWYG. Smoke and mirrors. Caveat emptor.

Having alienated important constituencies, the GOP wants desperately to win them back:

Imagine an alternate reality where poles are reversed; where up is down and down is up; where papers of incorporation have sprung to life as legal persons; where employers have the right to view your medical records in the name of religious freedom; where state-sanctioned vaginal probes take precedence over job creation; where a photo ID confers more citizenship rights than a birth certificate; where tax cuts have left you poorer than before - this is the alternate reality of today’s GOP.

Will the new GOP Playbook also include a primer on Truth in Advertising? Will the GOP change course, change policies, or attract candidates more attuned to the aspirations of mainstream America?

Hardly!  Everyday is Ground Hog Day in the Republican Playbook, and the GOP will do what they have always done: Invent new ways to repackage old swill in new bottles and turn an honest fact into a partisan lie.


  1. Thanks, Shaw.

    Here is a news report apropos of this discussion: Scott Walker Doesn’t Decide Who Deserves a Vote:

    Judge Lynn Adelson, who overturned the Wisconsin law, said that the law could block some 300,000 people, disproportionately black and Latino, from voting, and that the state’s claimed interest in the law didn’t come close to justifying that kind of burden: “the defendants,” Adelson wrote, “could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past” [my bold].

    Any serious investigation shows that the kind of fraud intended to be prevented by voter ID is essentially a fantasy, orders of magnitude out of scale with the thousands of people for whom it would be a roadblock to voting ... (skip) ... Not that this evidence has any effect on voter ID proponents. That’s because “voter integrity,” the usual argument made for voter ID laws, is not about any real problem. It’s about who “should” be voting not from a legal standpoint but an ideological one” [my bold]

    There is an agenda behind these voter suppression efforts - articulated not by a judge or a Democrat, but by a Republican of honesty and integrity who says in this essay, Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult:

    Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black. Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.”

    This and so much more. Your intrepid cephalopod takes this argument one step further. These voter suppression bills passed by GOP-dominated state legislatures have only one purpose: A direct assault upon the electoral assets of the loyal opposition, as I wrote in this post years ago:

    In theory, true democracy is predicated on choice, and choice connotes a policy debate between rivals. If one party, however, employs ruthless tactics to cripple the opposition beyond viability, what we have left is essentially a one party system with only token opposition. In other words: A democracy in name only. Wisconsin is where the GOP changed the dynamics of democratic engagement from contest to conquest. Wisconsin is where Chicken Little crossed the road to fascism.”

    If any of our conservative readers think my last word choice is partisan hyperbole, I’ll scream it again at 1,000 decibels:


    "A disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself” (Hannah Arendt).

  2. First, and most important, things first -- Zebriod? Please -- that sounds like something you'd use Preparation Z for. I know I'm overly fond of portmanteau words, but doesn't Zebronky or perhaps Zonkey sound so much better?

    Can I discern a hint of weakness and desperation in the eagerness to embrace every ridiculous choice of hero or champion of the plutocratic cause? Of course weakness and desperation can and often does provide the maniacal perseverance that produces success, but who does the opposition rally around? Sure we do have liberal intellectuals, but we don't seem to have much in the way of leaders and the ones we do halfheartedly follow seem to be Zebronkeys and we argue over whether or not their stripes are true or truly theirs just as much as anyone else, if perhaps without all the racialist nonsense.

    Yes, so much of the attack on Obama reminds me of stinky alligator bait. It doesn't mean the hunters like the stuff, it's just that they want to catch alligators. Republican facilitators of corporatism and plutocracy think they need -- and I hate to use the chiche - "grass roots" support and nothing makes the grass grow like bullshit. I'm actually encouraged by the observation that racism is bad for capitalism and more and more so as the very rich shrink in number while the people they depend on for their wealth grow in number. That's never a stable condition and always productive of anxiety and fear reminiscent of what slave owners felt, outnumbered a hundred to one by their slaves. Fear makes for bad choices and syphilitic bedfellows and too much more of promoting the Palins and Limbaughs, the Clivens and the Duck Schmucks as heroes of individual liberty can only hurt. They were only ever intended to be Trojan horses for America to roll through the gates, but it's become so obvious that they are full of Trojan horseshit it's not working any more.

    Now if we only had a more pragmatic and less theory-blind alternative. If only we could offer more hope and less fear.

    1. When you have little hope and less fear, sooner or later there will be angry villagers brandishing pitchforks ... and armed cephalopods EVERYWHERE!

    2. I was only a kid during the Peasant Rebellion of 1381, but I seem to remember it didn't turn out well for the peasants.

      Actually i don't think fascism is an extreme bit of hyperbole. It may evolve here even if racism is no longer a profitable tool. They'll always have scapegoats enow and even if it wears a top hat like a plutocrat and not a black shirt, it comes to the same thing: big money dictating on every level from moral to monetary .

      Isn't that the reason big money stands behind the portrayal of liberals being the ones doing the dictating here? I mean y'all need to be armed against the Liberl fascists so buy more guns and wave 'em around! Liberls are going to make you support beggars and lazy bums and girls who just wanna have fun and give them sluts and dopers all your money!. We gotta keep the riff-raff takers away from the polls so they can't vote pensions and free stuff for themselves. To the barricades!

      The streets are going to get crowded, villagers being villagers.

    3. Hopefully you'll understand my cynicism. But it at this point is it even possible to resolve political differences without one "side" or the "other" capitulating completely?

    4. Doesn't seem like it. Extremism fosters extremism. Maybe America is just a big Zebronkey -- half zebra, half jackass and not much in the middle.

    5. RN: “But it at this point is it even possible to resolve political differences without one "side" or the "other" capitulating completely?

      Who said anything about capitulation? I believe you are approaching the impasse between partisans with the wrong mindset, the mindset of my way or the highway, a mindset that rejects the time-honored art of compromise and consensus, a mindset that has brought us to this pitiful state of legislative gridlock and deadlock.

      Months ago, I asked you a simple question - how liberals and libertarians can find common ground (since both seem to value freedom and liberty above all else). Your answer was evasive and more characteristic of ‘sour grapes’ than an attempt to answer a simple question with a more thoughtful answer. Always the same mumbo jumbo about mirrors and mutual finger pointing but no attempt to stop posturing and set aside those infernal partisan defense mechanisms.

      You might have joined me in this discussion with a mutual acknowledgement of shared heritage. Yes, a shared heritage starting with our Founding documents such as the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist papers as taught to us in civics classes; and how these documents manifested themselves in the field of time – our shared history and culture.

      Perhaps your forbearers were immigrants as were mine: Country of origin, ethnicity, race, and religious affiliation – all irrelevant. Perhaps what mattered more to our respective ancestors were their aspirations for a better life in America. Is this enough common ground for you?

      Now, I have to ask: A better life for whom? Yours? Mine? Or ours?

      With respect to the last question, recently I posted this comment on your blog to underscore a point:

    6. (continued from above)

      (Tue Apr 22, 09:17:00 AM EDT): To borrow an analogy, it appears our grand experiment in democracy has degenerated into a bad marriage wherein the partners of this relationship no longer respect the rights and boundaries of a spouse - unable or unwilling to distinguish between YOURS, MINE, and OURS.

      My point: Government is not merely YOUR property, or MY property, but OUR property; and hyper-partisanship has made conflict resolution damn near impossible.


      Compared with other modern nations, the American experiment is unique in terms of cultural and ethnic diversity – brought to these shores by waves of immigration during our relatively short history. With diversity you have numerous competing stakeholders, each competing for a slice of American pie. In a failed marriage, one spouse seeks power and domination over the other spouse. In a failed democracy, one stakeholder seeks power and domination over other stakeholders – which, case in point, is also a prescription for oppression and tyranny

      In my above comment posted on your blog, I included this popular lyric from the Rolling Stones:

      You can't always get what you want
      You can't always get what you want
      But if you try sometimes you just might find
      You get what you need

      Apparently, my point was lost on you. In a democracy as in a marriage, you don’t always get what you want. However, if you understand and respect the boundaries that distinguish YOURS, MINE, and OURS – and give a little in order to get a little – you are far more likely to get what you need.

      Capitulation? Ideological purity? My way or the highway? Which do you prefer: Being a citizen and fellow traveler on this road called ‘democracy,’ or an unruly kid in a sandbox who has not yet learned how to share?

      The art of compromise and consensus in our public affairs was first set forth by Thomas Jefferson in his Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801). One of our founding documents, I consider it the Marriage Counseling Manual for Partisans.

      Final note: I spend a great deal of time writing what I believe to be thoughtful commentary, often supported by links to source material. If these efforts mean nothing to you, I shall not waste my time any further.

  3. (O)CT(O)PUS, I do not differ much with you as to what our goals should be as a nation. I get that we are all individuals with individual goals and aspirations. I also get that beyond the self there is family and a broad society that functions best when cohesiveness exists rather than divisiveness. I also understand for families and broader society to function as cohesive units requires people to be flexible and willing to compromise. Not that it matters but through many years of management I found it best, whenever possible to allow my employees as much latitude as possible in the performance of their job responsibilities. They taught me as much as I ever taught them. Most responded by taking ownership of their jobs. My point, I compromised.

    Our differences are more how to get to where we both would like to go than what we think the goals ought to be.

    As it's said, "the devil is in the details."

    My belief is neither side is always right or always wrong. Both sides can do a better job of listening to each other and leaving the BS at
    the doorsteps.

    BTW, I do read and consider your comments and links.

    It is late, I'm tired, and I'm typing this on my smart phone. Time for lights out


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