So much for the New Year thing on not getting sick, though to be fair, what struck me was just mild sinus/with earache (and seems to be resolving itself.) Younger son, OTOH woke up on the first day of the year with what I hope – knock on wood (there are indications that way) – is a 24h bug and not norovirus. The main indication that way is that none of the rest of us seem affected and we do live in each other’s pockets. Also, he was getting better by the evening.
Of course, this is an example of a resolution you can’t keep as such – you can endeavor to live a healthy life, but you can’t keep the bugs from infecting you. So, on with the endeavoring. And meanwhile, I had the weirdest nightmare.
First of all, I dreamed I was running for political office – which, while not impossible, is highly unlikely – and second I dreamed someone had data mined my blog and everywhere, including on bill boards on the side of the road was “Sarah A. Hoyt thinks the Earth is flat.” This was based on half a sentence, taken grossly out of context. No one reading the actual post I’d written could think I believed that. In fact, no one reading the first part of the sentence could think I believed that since the first half was something like “I looked out the window and saw a pig flying by, so I think…” However, all the blogs were full of it, and all the billboards and all the radio stations, and jokes were being made about the science fiction writer who thought the Earth was flat.
Which made me realize something.
The big power of the industrial media complex right now is the power to destroy. They no longer have the power to burnish the image of their darlings, or to make us believe counterfactuals. I’ve said this before, and I mean it. If they had the same sort of control over the streams of information/entertainment that they had back in the 40s they would have pulled off their stated goal of making this administration the second coming of FDR. In fact, the more we learn about FDRs effect on the economy of the nation, the more that seems distressingly likely. If they’d had even the type of control over the media that they had back in the early 90s, we would too believe this first lady is a beauty queen, instead of rolling our eyes at the covers proclaiming this. (No? We did believe that Hilary was efficient and intelligent, which considering she advanced in life the old fashioned way – by marrying a man who did – was quite a rasper.)
They can no longer do that. And either they caught on that their “Summer of recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4” was becoming a fodder for giggles, or they’re losing heart. Yes, we all know people who believe that this administration halved the deficit (to be fair most of those people believe in unicorns, too) and we all know people who believe that the economy is getting better and that there is no inflation (those usually require advanced degrees, because no one can believe that much nonsense without training up). But influence the general opinion, they do not, and they keep getting smaller and smaller bang for their buck.
Those are the good news.
The bad news is that there is something that they can still do and do quite handily. Heinlein observed in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress that it’s much easier to make people hate than love. Our media has lost the ability to make us dote on their darlings, but they can still turn public opinion against anyone they choose.
It’s not very rational; it’s not very sane; they don’t even try to make it plausible. Instead they tell a big huge whopper – Sarah Palin made rape victims pay for the rape kit, say – and then keep repeating it, making jokes about it, using it as a throw away line by late-night comedians you know “Oh, well, of course she’d have cut the deficit. The American people would need to pay for its own rape kit.”
And suddenly it’s everywhere. Part of it is coordination, of course, and part of it is the willingness of marginally attached left groups to jump in on the buzzword of the day, which happens not through conspiracy but through the fact that these people desperately want to be cool and be like the cool people they see on TV. The right – and certainly the libertarian right – has nothing like it, since most of us by the time we arrived at our opinions had decided that we had to stand against cool and societal approval, but that some things were more important.
Witness the whole “Binders full of women” they deployed to prove that Romney was against women. The incident is likely to make your head hurt. What he was saying, of course – and the expression isn’t even that infelicitous just a verbal short cut – is that he’d asked to be brought the files of women who’d not been promoted, and got whole binders full. (It serves him right, for trying to create his own affirmative action instead of JUST aiming for meritocracy, but never mind.) Next thing you know this phrase “binders full of women” was being deployed to show he was “anti-woman” and the idiots of code pink were marching in circles wearing binders. And most of the people who just heard the phrase “binders full of women” never had any clue of the context and were convinced he was either keeping women in binders (!) or thought women’s resumes should be kept in binders and not considered.
It was in fact the exact opposite of what he’d said and it was all accomplished by never explaining, never saying anything, just repeating “binders full of women.”
Meanwhile the DNC was running with “We all belong to the government” a phrase that would genuinely skiv the average American voter, but since it was never mentioned, nor was the convention shown in its pale and old glory, but the media assured people that it was diverse and there were tons of “people of color” (as opposed to transparent people, I guess) the public believed without having seen. Which might make them blessed, but certainly DOES make them stupid and blinkered – as they’re finding out.
The power-to-destroy is being deployed earlier and earlier. For instance, I noted an accusation of plagiarism against Rand Paul which, when traced down, amounts to “he didn’t use proper citing procedure” – which, pardon me, these days keeps changing and even I am not sure I can use it right even though I have a literature degree.
The end result of this is to drop the people who would even marginally be interesting to the base (Paul is saying he won’t run and I’m not sure I blame him) leaving us with the one the left fears less. That one they spare until the general election and then they unload on him. At any rate, not much is needed since the base is usually cringing.
Mind you, it’s never really bad stuff – like, say Clinton’s serial record as a sex offender WELL before he ran for president, or Elizabeth Warren’s using of racial preferences to which she’s not even remotely entitled, or … any of that – It’s stuff like “binders full of women” or using the word “niggardly” or something else into which they can read penumbras and emanations of a hatred for women or other races or another designated Marxist victim group.
They are aided in this by the right’s – and for the purposes of this Libertarians are very much the right – wish to distance itself from anything that might sound even vaguely off.
Look, the left doesn’t do this. Point out to them that Elizabeth Warren is Faux-a-hontas and first you get the “well, she truly believed it” then you get the “there is no proof she used it to advance” and then you get “she did much to raise consciousness…” and then they reset and are back to “you’re racist because she’s a Native American.”
The right, OTOH would jump away from everything like that, like a shot, and then start piling on and driving the person out of the party.
I have a theory that this is a leftover cold war reflex. During the cold war the left managed to paint the right as being for the rich, because it was against the distribution of wealth. (Instead of the distribution of wealth ipso facto favoring a large government and an “upper class” that gives bennies to the benighted, just like in feudal times. In fact the whole concept of redistribution IS feudal. Why would the government give YOUR money to anyone else, unless all money belongs to them and “we all belong to the government”?) From this came painting the right as anti-other-races (completely airbrushing the fact it was the left who endorsed slavery – same as it ever was, I guess) and all the other image of the stodgy/old fashioned right. It took them forever and near monopoly of the information/entertainment complex to build that image.
And now the right reacts to it as if it were ever true. So faced with a politician who is less than perfect (ah!) the right recoils and piles on, to prove they’re not like that.
Which reinforces the left’s sole remaining ability – the ability to destroy.
There is also the fact that we have very little ability to fight against it. The “accusations” themselves are the sort of thing you can’t fight against. Trying to explain that Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house puts you in the position of trying to explain a joke. “A horse couldn’t have walked into a bar. The doors aren’t wide enough.” It doesn’t work. In fact, the more stupid and widespread the accusation, the harder it is to counter.
Even the Tea Party, as a widespread phenomenon that most people know someone who belongs to, has got the tarnish job. It took them forever, but by dint of repeating the “ignorant” and “fanatic” they’ve got most people believing it or half believing it. (A couple of false flag operations helped that along.) And part of it is that the right willingly goes along with it, again.
So what to do? Well… The only thing I can think of other than stop jumping every time they make jokes about someone being a frog is to fight fire with fire. Is there a stupid meme out saying that so and so said something totally out of context? Find the stupidest things Obama has said (And I don’t mean corpse- man, most people don’t care about mispronounciations. Unless your target is college professors. But “you didn’t build that” is pretty damn dumb, as are his recent scolds on “inequality” while he flies around in private jets to glam vacations) and make a meme, and flood the net. And when they push their meme at you, push right back. Just a sentence. No, it doesn’t need to be impeccably sourced, no it doesn’t need to make sense, even. It just needs to be catchy.
Will it work? I don’t know. But it’s worth trying. It’s worth trying because in the last two elections the left has used their power to make people hate and cringe to select their opponent. And if they do that again in 16 it will be enough. It will do for us.
I know I keep saying to be not afraid and that in the end we win they lose. I still think that is true. But I also believe our country (and by extension civilization) can go down for a one or two generation count, and we can live our great-grandkids such a mess to rebuild that what we have right now will seem like a golden age.
Just because tech and history will eventually go our way is no reason to put down our weapons. Just because they control most of the channels that can be used for propaganda doesn’t mean we can’t counter it.
Be not afraid. But keep fighting.