Sherlock Holmes observed that, “while the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty.” It will come as no surprise to you that people take their behavioral cues and their belief systems from cultural icons, particularly their political leaders. Or, that a massive disservice is done to people in general when those leaders traffic in disinformation. The MAGAts who have refused to observe COVID-19 restrictions and died from it, are Exhibit “A” to this proposition. Therefore, you will find solace that evidence of all that you have been thinking is now available, as Dana Milbank writes about in his column today. And as Milbank points out, these reports come at a time when Trump has “surpassed 20,000 falsehoods uttered as president while his administration temporarily took coronavirus data offline, his daughter posed with a can of beans and his trade adviser published an error-laden attack on the government’s top infectious-disease scientist.” We are all now residents of Crazytown, as John Kelly characterized the White House, when he said it was a “horrible place to work.” It’s not so great a place to live, either. Washington Post: The good news: Americans are no “crazier” — that is, no more paranoid or predisposed to conspiracy thinking — than in the past. The bad news: For the first time in our history, a president and a major political party have weaponized paranoia, to destabilizing effect. Joseph Uscinski, a University of Miami political scientist who studies conspiracy theories, notes that psychological measures of paranoia have been “entirely stable.” Conservatives are inherently no more conspiratorial than liberals; only low education (and, relatedly, income) predict such tendencies. The difference, Uscinski says, is “we have a president who has built a coalition by reaching out to conspiracy-minded people.” Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan finds that “our political elites are amplifying the fringe more than we’ve seen” in modern times, while a president mounts a “grinding attack on factual evidence.” The result, he says, is “conspiracy theories and misinformation become yoked to partisanship in increasingly powerful ways.” There has always been what the late historian Richard Hofstadter called the “paranoid style” in U.S. politics: witch hunts, Illuminati, Red Scares. William Jennings Bryan promoted conspiracy theories. Richard Nixon believed in them. But Trump is unique in promoting conspiracy thinking from the bully pulpit, and in building a system in which elites — Republican Party leaders — validate the paranoia. And that is exactly the problem. Trump has the complicity of the entire Republican party. They could have and should have put a muzzle on him, or removed him from their ticket, when he became outrageous. Reince Priebus told Trump that perhaps he should resign after the pussy-gate remarks. Trump, of course, refused and the Republicans didn’t care. And here’s Milbank’s bottom line, which should give you pause. “Human psychology has not changed,” Nyhan says. What’s changed is we’re discovering that “democratic systems don’t work well when political elites don’t deal in factual information.” How long can America keep going with two systems of information, one each for the two different Americas? You recall how game show host Chuck Woolery attacked COVID-19 as a hoax designed to destroy Trump and then a few days later announced that his son had the virus and recanted his statement. And then in a truly alarming development, Texas removed […]
This is not the least bit surprising on a day when a security guard was fatally shot in the head, after being yelled at and spit on by a woman who didn’t want to put a face mask on her kid to go into a Family Dollar Store and pipe bombs were seized from the home of an anti-lockdown protester. People are nuts and it’s because they’re listening to other people who are nuts. Steven Lively, who is described by Right Wing Watch as a Trump loving radical right-wing activist told his online Bible study listeners on Sunday that they need to establish a modern-day Underground Railroad for Christians to escape the upcoming persecution by those who are endeavoring to use COVID-19 as a means to impose “an emerging beast government” — Beast as in End Times, Mark of the Beast, all that. Along with the underground railroad they need to prepare to wage a violent revolution. Seriously. Right Wing Watch: “We need to be establishing a network of believers everywhere that can operate in an underground fashion,” Lively said. “Because if this thing continues in the trend that it seems to be, we may be evolving here at a revolutionary speed [and] entering into an emerging Beast government.” “We’re going to need to have something like an Underground Railroad in which believers who are fleeing persecution are going to be able to have some way of escape,” he continued. “If these people truly are intending to destroy America so they can bring in their global socialist system, or even a nationalist socialist system, then violence is appropriate in response in the most measured possible way. That’s the idea. If at all possible, you disarm the zombies trying to kill you without hurting them. But if it’s not possible, you do whatever is necessary to stop them from killing you and your family or putting you into slavery. That I believe is the duty of an American.” “Violence is appropriate in the most measured possible way.” And what might that be, an AR-15, AK-47, both? The lunatic fringe is getting excited and they’re losing it. This has been the case since Trump took office. They were more subdued before, because they were still “in the closet” so to speak. As soon as he got in, hate crimes spiked immediately. Then you had the Ku Klux Klan marching in the streets while the Nazis threw Sieg Heil! arm salutes. Calling for civil war and violence is not surprising, on these facts.
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Sometimes people in Washington get it plain wrong!
If conservatives support police killing citizens without justification, climate denial, fact denial, science denial, racist and misogynistic behavior, or a litany of other absurd points of view about numerous important issues, we call them out.