July 20, 2010

Fuck Your Goddamned "Optics"

Jesus Fuck. No, I'm not sorry in the least. Those are the only appropriate words. I loathe the use of the term "optics" in discussions of what are genuinely life-and-death issues as much as I loathe anything in American politics. It is an almost perfect demonstration of America's obsession with marketing in place of truth and facts, with slogans used to bludgeon to an exceedingly bloody death the smallest remnants of genuine intelligence and perceptiveness.

Digby surely does love love love the "optics." As in the abominable health insurance reform "optics":
[Democrats and progressives] are desperate for something they can call a "win" as an alleged demonstration of perceived "political power."

Note the qualifiers I have italicized in the preceding sentence. This is the Horror Hall of Mirrors of the fatally corrupted world now inhabited by the "leading" progressives: reality is endlessly reflected and distorted, until all that remains is a nightmare depiction offering no connection at even a single point to something that constitutes a positive achievement in terms of their own stated purposes.

[There follows a detailed discussion of one of Digby's posts re same.]


In other words: even though those people who will not be able to pay for insurance -- and who thus may be subject to penalties for failing to comply with the mandate -- may desperately need those "better subsidies," they won't get them "even if" those "better subsidies" "made sense." In still other words: too bad you won't be able to pay for insurance, too bad you might be fined (and won't be able to pay the fines, either), too bad you might even go to jail. We could help you, but we won't. And we won't help you because it's more important for us to have our symbol of political power.

And the people who won't be helped are precisely those people these same Democrats and progressives endlessly told us they so desperately wanted to help when this wretched, abysmal process began.

This is the very definition of moral and intellectual bankruptcy.
And we have this today, in the latest set-to about competing charges of racism: "But I also have to wonder if they know what the optics of this are."

For a moment measurable only in nanoseconds, Digby entertains one possible explanation for the latest Democratic abomination: "After ACORN and now this, I really have to wonder if the Democrats and Brietbart [sic] aren't actually working together on a whole Sistah Soljah campaign." But then she swiftly pivots and retreats to the all-purpose disinfectant for All Things Stinky Rotten Yet Which Are Inexplicably Tied to Democrats: "Seriously, this shows tremendous weakness." (Digby retreats still further in a second update: "This is sheer cowardice.")

Aw, the Democrats are weak. They're cowards. Let us as one sing lamentations. Woe, ah, woe unto the Democrats! Who can withstand the eternal assaults of the omnipotent Power of Weak?!?!

Democrats only run every significant institution of power in the whole fucking goddamned country. They're only trying to run much of the whole fucking goddamned world.

Digby was one of two main examples I used in, "Blinded by the Story: Liberals and Progressives as Political Creationists." In a perfect coincidence (or is it??), the other example was Atrios; in an entirely predictable manner, Atrios links to Digby's post about the racism kerfuffle with the title, "What Digby Said." (Today's links via Corrente.)

In "Blinded by the Story," I excerpted various posts from Digby and Atrios in which both focused their laser-like minds on the Democrats' performance, yet could only mumble: "Don't Get It." Or, in Digby's words: "Obviously, I'm not the only one who can't for the life of me figure out why the congress is doing this." This phenomenon of self-willed and self-created blindness on the part of irrevocably committed political tribalists is one I've since discussed in more detail in my tribalism series, especially in "Creating the Next Generation" and "Learning to Hate 'The Other.'"

In "Blinded by the Story," I wrote the following in explaining the root of this kind of self-imposed blindness, and why these writers will continue to support the Democrats regardless of what they do:
The reason for that is very simple, and it goes to the progressives' central articles of religious faith: The Democrats aren't really like this, not in their heart of hearts. The Democrats don't actually favor a repressive, authoritarian state. The Democrats are good, and they want liberty and peace for everyone, everywhere, for eternity, hallelujah and amen.

People who continue to believe this have evicted themselves from serious political debate, and they have willingly made themselves slaves to their enthusiastically embraced self-delusions. They confess a comprehensive ignorance of history, a stunning inability to understand the political developments of the last century, and a desire to place the story they have chosen, primarily because it flatters their own false sense of vanity and self-worth, above every relevant fact. In terms of these dynamics, they are no different from Sam Brownback and his ludicrous defense of his religious beliefs against the evidence of evolution.
The balance of that post sets forth parts of the records -- the actual records, not the various mythologies so eagerly regurgitated by dedicated liberals -- of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. That evidence (and a massive amount of further evidence, which I could only indicate very briefly) led me to this conclusion (among others):
The historical record is compelling in its clarity, and overpowering in its length and volume. A corporatist, authoritarian state is what the ruling elites want, and it is precisely what serves their interests, Republican and Democrat alike. They know it; they count on your inability or refusal to see it.
My earlier article also offered this further point about the operation of those beliefs which committed tribalists refuse to relinquish or even seriously question. I regret to say that the three years that have elapsed since I wrote "Blinded by the Story" have demonstrated that this has greater explanatory power than even I had fully anticipated:
Whenever a preexisting and preselected narrative assumes primary importance in this way, the longer one clings to the preferred story, the stupider one becomes. This is why the truth or falsity of the stories we tell is so critical, and why our methodology matters so much. If a story that is central to our view of ourselves fails to comport with the facts, and if we refuse to give up or even question the story, this necessitates that we block ourselves off from more and more information that might "undermine" that story, to use Brownback's terminology. Rather than eagerly seeking out further facts and trying to find out if a given story remains accurate or needs to be significantly revised (and sometimes even jettisoned altogether), we will lower our heads, narrow the scope of our inquiry, and progressively restrict the kind of data we permit ourselves to examine and even acknowledge. As time goes on, our intellectual curiosity steadily decreases. We won't want certain facts and information, because we might have to wonder whether particular cherished beliefs are correct.
In place of the fashionable, determinedly and offensively superficial preoccupation with "optics" -- that is, with the way things appear -- I would suggest that progressives and liberals focus on what the Democrats do and therefore what they are. If you allow yourself to look at and understand the relevant evidence, which now stretches back for a hundred years, you'll see that the Democrats want, indeed they fervently desire, zealously advocate and bring into an increasingly nightmarish reality an aggressively, criminally violent, interventionist foreign policy and a constantly growing authoritarian-surveillance state at home.

Today, and with as much detestable enthusiasm as the Republicans bring to the task, the Democrats seek to enrich and empower the ruling class still more as they simultaneously oppress, brutalize, impoverish and murder those who are not members of the ruling class.

But, of course, as Digby and Atrios and many others so regularly remind us and will doubtless tell us again in future, be sure to vote for the Democrats this fall and ever afterward, because ... ah ... well ... um ... the Republicans are crazy! In addition to my earlier comments on this insultingly stupid "argument," I'll restate the point for those who have difficulty following.

The Democrats will oppress, brutalize, impoverish and murder those who are not the ruling class, BUT -- since they are mercifully not crazy, not like those frothing, sputtering, Neanderthal Republicans -- the Democrats will know exactly what they're doing every step of the way. But in their hearts, the Democrats actually know these are horrible things to do, but, well, ya see, they just can't help it. They're weak.

Now, doesn't that make you feel much, much better? Of course it does! As Digby might say: "We're 2% less shitty than Pure Evil! It's all we've got!"

P.S. I'm working on a new essay about racism in contemporary America, and I hope to have it completed in the coming week or two. In the meantime, I will note that, yes, of course, there is a disturbingly significant element of racism in the "tea party" movement. I have some evidence for that proposition that will probably be new to most of you.

At the same time, the Democrats and progressives have no reason to congratulate themselves on this point. First and always foremost is the fact that institutionalized, systemic racism is endemic to the American polity; see here and here for just some of the evidence -- and see this for a discussion of Biden's racism, which all good progressives denied and adamantly refused to acknowledge (did the writer leave out a comma? -- I kid you not), and this too, on the hideous horror of Biden more generally.

Second, and of equal significance, is the fact -- acknowledged by almost no one, and certainly not by good liberals and progressives -- that Obama himself is a notably vicious racist: "All this means that it is Obama himself who has adopted the white racist framework. Yes, I repeat that: Obama has adopted the white racist framework with regard to every issue of importance."

This is true because Obama denies the truth of American history in some of its most essential aspects and fully embraces the myth of American exceptionalism -- which is a myth of white American exceptionalism. It is also true because Obama has intentionally adopted more particular racist tropes, such as the myth of "irresponsible" black fathers. (And follow some of the many links provided near the beginning of this article for much more on this topic.)

Please don't say Obama can't be a racist because he's black, or half-black, or however the hell you want to describe it. Just don't. I know you can be smarter than that, if you'll only try. In America today, the fastest path to power is via the white, male ruling class. Obama wanted and wants power, period. So in every way that matters, he identifies with the white, male ruling class. Now he's the leader of that class. See how that works?

But after all this (and this is just a small preview of my upcoming post, mind you), I only have one real complaint.

I need several new four-letter words, or the equivalent. Seriously, motherfuckers. Send me some suggestions, you worthless assholes.