When the News No Longer Resembles News

I honestly think I’ve had about enough.  If you happened to catch Chuck Todd’s apoplectic reaction to President Trump’s news conference on Tuesday.

What made me reach my breaking point came at about the 1:34 mark, “…when was the last time you saw a President of the United States defend the cause of White Nationalists?”

It’s an insane smear, but I’ve no doubt that Todd was being totally sincere in his belief that Trump was rooting for the Nazi’s.  As for me, I’ve been a news junkie for decades. Up until the internet made it ridiculous, I had a subscription to the local newspaper and I would make sure I caught a steady stream of news shows on cable and the traditional nightly news. Most mornings I would have the morning news shows on in the background while I worked. So generally, I’ve watched a lot of news.  Not just hours a week but hours a day.

But I’ve never felt so estranged from what newspaper columns and talking heads on cable are babbling about as I have this year. It’s as if they are living not just in a different moral universe, but a different factual one as well. Their editorial decisions seem like they are being made by college student government rather than seasoned, professional editors. How can you spend 8 months on wall to wall Russia when there has yet to be any actual evidence of a Russia collusion story?  It’s simply a daily rehashing of a burned out conspiracy theory.

I’m tuning out the news more and more these days.  I can get all my news online with a lot less wasted time and no smug pomposity; which is particularly galling with their track record of inaccuracy.  After the election, it occurred to me that I would have been better informed if I had spent 18 months leading up to the election just reading Scott Adams’ blog than the hundreds of hours wasted watching Morning Joe.

Hopefully, when this age of mass hysteria and moral panic has passed, and the news media has returned to some sort of semblance of normalcy, I can return to getting my media news junkie fix.  But for now, I’ll be a lot healthier if I’m off the stuff.

12 steps…

Blue Pill Conservatives versus Red Pill Conservatives

This has certainly been a summer of a crack up and civil war within the conservative movement.  It started out as the summer of the Cuckservative, in which conservatives attacked each other over who was giving in and trying to please leftists and their media.  It’s ending as the Summer of Trump; the domination of Donald Trump over all other Republican Primary candidates.

Something is radically changing in conservative politics and the fault lines seem to be radically changing every few months, but there seems to be a current divide that explains a lot of the conservative on conservative conflict: Red Pill vs. Blue Pill Conservatives. If you’re not familiar with the term, a simple trip to Mister Google will solve that since Blue Pill/Red Pill is a fairly common internet meme, based of course on The Matrix movies. Blue Pill is living your life under a delusion, and the Red Pill is when you finally wake up to the sometimes bitter reality.

I first started to have the fog lift out of my blue pill haze after the 2012 elections.  Although I expected Obama to win, I was fascinated by the post election armchair quarterbacking that was trying to pin every other imaginary reason on Romney’s loss other than the fact that, as NBC Political Analyst Chuck Todd put it, “The demographic time bomb went off.”  It was a turning point election because it demonstrated that policy positions, the state of the economy, the unemployment rate, or winning the independents; none of the old rules applied. As I wrote after the 2012 election:

Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.

What that means in 2015 is that the Republican Party, which is dependent on white votes, is seeing a steady decline in their voter base. As the Washington Post reported:

The total number of white voters decreased by roughly 2 million in 2012 as compared to 2008, the first time since 1996 that a “race group” (as they describe it) has seen a diminution in net votes cast. And, in the last five presidential elections, the white share of the electorate has dipped by nine points…

That coincides with the factoid that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections.

So if you put the increased tribalism of American politics with the decline of the white “tribe” you end up with a more or less inevitable decline in chances for the Republican Party to win the White House.  Each Presidential election will have whites, the mainstay of the Republican Party, as a declining percentage of the electorate. The result of this is that for 2016, the Democrats start out with an advantage of 217 electoral votes more or less locked up.  When you need 270 electoral votes to win, most of the race is already over before the first primary or caucus vote is cast. The Democratic electoral vote advantage is only likely to widen for each Presidential election.  Every four years the Republican base contracts and the Democratic base expands to fill in the gaps.

So how does the Republican Party Inc plan to address this?  Their 2012 Autopsy Report boiled down to go big on amnesty and then Hispanics will love Republicans since they are “natural conservatives.”  This is so counterintuitive to common sense that I honestly can’t believe that the autopsy report writers believe it.  It sounds that it’s a justification of a policy that the establishment of the party is already committed to based on donor desires.  Certainly passing Amnesty didn’t help either Reagan or Bush Senior.

Pro amnesty John McCain got only 4 percentage points more of the Hispanic vote than self deporter Mitt Romney got.  Considering that Romney would have needed 73% of the Hispanic vote to win, there is no path to Republican victory counting on Hispanic votes. In fact, if you consider the Electoral College math, the increased tribalism of American politics, and the declining percentage of the Republican base it’s easy to conclude that all things being equal, conservatism, as it’s currently formed, is doomed.

As a conservative, when you finally come to that conclusion, you’ve taken the red pill.

This really shouldn’t be that much of a shocker.  The Republican Party was a secondary party for much of the 20th Century.  After being caught holding the bag after the Great Depression, the Democrats were the American political party for decades. Republicans only got a shot at the Presidency again by nominating a national hero and celebrity, Dwight Eisenhower, for President.  Eisenhower’s status made it OK to try voting for a Republican again.  That coincided with the rising post war middle class that found themselves more comfortable with Republican Party values.

Much of the Republican Party is still under the blue pill, and thinks that each election, the slate is wiped clean and they have a 50-50 chance to make their case to the American people (who must be devoid of party preferences and are willing to listen to Republican arguments on an equal footing with Democratic ones) with a promise of tax cuts and smaller government, just like they’ve promised every election for decades.

Red Pill Conservatives think this is a path to continued failure and realizes that something big has to change.  There has to be a massive shaking up of the old order, since it’s on a glide path to obsolescence.  What will that look like?  I’m not sure, but the Republican Party needs to be ripped apart and put back together with a 21st Century sensibility.  Maybe we’ll get a glimpse this election season.

 

Why The Administration is Surprised by the Berghdahl Reaction

All the negative reaction to the release was of no surprise to me, but the administration was caught totally flat footed by the negative reaction of the military and the American public to Bergdahl’s release.  As Obama scribe Chuck Todd reports:

 

As Obama high priest Chuck Todd stated, the administration did expect some sort of pushback by the release of these five Taliban Gitmo prisoners, but why was the Obama administration caught so flat footed by something that the entire rest of the country felt uneasy about, the effort that went into the release of an apparent deserter?

I have two possible theories on that:

Theory One:  The Left regarded him as a hero, so Obama did too.

In 2009, when Bergdahl first disappeared, it was reported that he had left post without weapons and without permission, so from the very first reportage on this issue, we’ve known that he wasn’t just captured, but that he just walked away under suspicious circumstances.  At the time I used to argue politics with a lefty who actually posted the story on his blog and was troubled by his apparent desertion as well.  All very non-partisan right?   Then came FOX.

A few days after Bergdahl’s capture/disappearance/desertion, Fox News ran an interview with its Military Analyst, LTC Ralph Peters, who had some choice words on Bergdahl:

Peters called Bergdahl a liar and possible deserter.  If the blogosphere left needed to know what side to be on in this issue, Peters showed them; the opposite side from Peters and Fox.  I saw the left reaction to that near immediately when the same lefty who first posted the blog post on Bergdahl noting that he had walked off post suspiciously and that there was a lot more to this story, suddenly switched gears and attacked Peters for dare besmirching a captured American POW.

Private First Class Bowe Robert Bergdahl, Unit...

Private First Class Bowe Robert Bergdahl, United States Army. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I assume that 180 degree reversal came about due to some talking points that felt more hay could be made by attacking Peters and Fox for daring to attack an American soldier.  And of course, a disillusioned solder is the perfect lefty military icon.

So it makes sense that to the typical member of the Obama administration, all they would know of Bergdahl is that he’s an American hero that was attacked by Fox News years ago.

Theory Two:  An excuse to empty Guantanamo Bay

A few weeks ago I caught some video of President Obama being asked about his promise to close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.  Obama seemed really heartfelt about his regret at not closing it.  Unlike so many issues, where it feels like he’s just reading off a teleprompter (OK he is), Obama sounded very sincere about still wanting to shut down Gitmo.  This wasn’t just a campaign promise; he really wants to do it.

But Obama has been stymied by Congress, and not just “obstructionist” Republicans, but Democrats as well.  He couldn’t get Gitmo closed when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, so the odds of accomplishing anything via legislation appear dim.  But even if Obama can’t close Gitmo, he’s the Commander in Chief.  He could empty Gitmo.

It’s possible that trading 5 Taliban bad guys wasn’t so much a trade as Obama giving away something he wants to get rid of anyway and pretending it’s a trade.  By all indications, these are some of the “worst of the worst.”  With those guys gone, it makes releasing guys not as bad easier.  With the Afghan War winding down, it’s possible that Obama is going to pretend that’s the end of the war on terror, and just let everyone go from Gitmo.

Although such a move seems highly irresponsible, so was releasing those five Taliban commanders and he did that, in spite of the recommendations of the military, intelligence, and foreign services.  If the Obama administration intends to do a back door shut down of Gitmo, he’s already gotten the worst out of the way.

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