I admit it. I've been on Facebook entirely too much for the holiday season, and in part that's meant lurking in conservative chat hangouts. Occasionally, I will actually engage.  Better than 60% of the time, I'm probably snarky because they're spouting the usual party BS, but lately I've just been getting on their cases. Frankly speaking, it's been getting a little bit alarming. There is a collective social / psychological disorder known as conservative outrage syndrome, or COS.

The cons in my social circle are beginning to spout really weird shit that has absolutely no basis in thought lately. Many are beginning to bray like mules. I've never seen such a bunch of chowderheads in all my life. Talk about half-baked thinking!  Just where did these people go to school?  Perhaps they were home schooled by Christian fundamentalists (who also propagate the flat earth theory)!

I mean, logically there's intellectual garbage -- and then there's the intellectual garbage on steroids. Many arguments some of these cons make obviously are lacking facts needed to support their outrage in three or four places. Truly, COS is appearing at epidemic proportions. And so one has to wonder just why that is.

My theory goes back to the nature of conspiracy theories. In the vast realm of wacka-doodledum, you can probably find hundreds of different conspiracy stories.  Different people with different classes and education levels inhabit cloud cuckooland ideas. The thing is -- that different people are getting their world news from various subspecies of fake news of their personal preference. 

In the good old days of conservativeland, there would be one reliable source of information that everyone could take their marching orders from.  F*x News has been the old warhorse of ??ideas??, and the red state army could be depended on to bash liberals effectively.  But things have changed.  For one thing, Shep Smith on F*x has actually delivered journalism, as have a few other minorities on that channel.

But now there is the cognitive dissonance of believing everything the Donster says, and defending clowns like Roy Moore because that's an integral part of your religion.  You've got to figure that a few heads have exploded -- but they are deep in the closet and will tell you that everything is fine.

And so that mystery ingredients of conspiracy theories, false news, and the Koch brothers are making conservative land go through triple backward somersaults, and are creating pools of internal mental boullibasse that is surfacing through COS. Cons are primed to be OUTRAGED at the hypocrisy of liberalism, secular humanism, socialism, marxism, and radicalism. But then they open their mouths!

The internal cohesion of the conservative army is beginning to fall apart.  The troops are beginning to break rank in the battle, and they are all getting more and more ridiculous!

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Comment by koshersalaami on January 2, 2018 at 12:18pm

I’m trying to figure out what about Steel Breeze’s comment had anything to do with exceptionality. What it has to do with is national identity, some sort of loyalty to our national entity, and putting some sort of emphasis on the welfare of the national entity we share with our fellow citizens. Put more simply, we’re-all-in-the-same-boat-ism. I’m not sure I could name a government that didn’t push that viewpoint, exceptional or not. 

I might also point out that I suspect that if I’d opted for dual citizenship, in my case American/Israeli, I would be accused of devaluing my American citizenship and identity, which would miraculously become important. I haven’t done that because I have a country and it’s this one. 

As to why Steel Breeze in particular would find the issue of American identity and loyalty important, I would hazard a guess and say that’s a common phenomenon among guys who have put their lives on the line out of loyalty and to protect all those who share that identity. To expect some sort of common commitment to our country is not unreasonable. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on January 2, 2018 at 1:17pm

"To expect some sort of common commitment to our country is not unreasonable."

Why?

Why does the location of your mom giving birth rate "loyalty"?  For example, if your mother crawled a foot across the border from Mexico why do you "magically" have to have loyalty to the US?

Loyalty is one of those things that needs to be earned.  It is not "owed" because of the coincidence of being born, it is not "owed" because of just because it "exists" (especially when it exists mostly due to genocide and land theft) and it sure a hell isn't "owed" because of the other great things we have done, because as I said before, the balance of good to bad deeds tilts WAAAAAY towards "bad".

P.S.    koshersalaami, if you don't see "anything to do with exceptionality" in the phrase "they are Americans FIRST" (please not the capital letters!) then that is because you are refusing to acknowledge it.

Comment by Rob Wittmann on January 2, 2018 at 3:56pm

What we're seeing now is also this massive anti-establishment populism that's been co-opted by the right. This sort of populism could easily turn against the GOP, as it did with Ross Perot and George Wallace. Trump, by heading the ticket, has kept these folks inside the tent pissing out, rather than risk having them outside the tent pissing in, in the words of LBJ.

In my daily life, I see lots of animosity by folks against educated people. This animosity exists not only among blue-collar folks, but even really skilled and intelligent entrepreneurs and small businessmen. It's like millions of Americans don't like it when educated smarty-pants people lecture them about stuff, and Trump is their way of striking back. This is a deeply prevalent cultural phenomenon that really doesn't exist in other countries. We have a strong cultural current of anti-intellectualism and anti-scholasticism. It's the old archetype of the High School jock and cheerleader being popular in school, but falling behind in life later on, watching as the nerds make all the money and decisions in the world. Trump is the way these high school popularity guys can get their last hurrah and revenge on the four-eyed geeks and nerds.

Even in Europe, populism was more about "sticking it" to the professional and academic classes, rather than to the nobility. Common people had far more interaction with educated professionals. And since familiarity breeds contempt, those were the ones who faced massive violence during economic downturns. The rabble never came after the nobility and the nobles were always very good at redirecting populist rage away from themselves and toward the mid-level professionals in law, medicine, finance and the like. And they often exploited religious, ethnic and cultural differences here, too.

I once had an easy time talking to conservatives about foreign policy, economics and the like. We had different opinions, but read the same books, agreed on the same facts, and used the same mutually intelligible, mutually comprehensible language. This has all changed, due to Fox News. And Fox News has really been a watershed, a major turning point in politics in the USA. A true milestone event. Even the highly partisan broadsheets and yellow-journalist press of the 19th century had nothing on Fox in terms of its "alternative facts" and "alternative language."

I wrote something on FB about Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism and the groups practicing it in the middle east. A very vanilla comment, as I called ISIS and Al Qaeda militant islamic fundy terrorists. A conservative I know attacked me for calling ISIS an Islamic Fundy organization. He said it should be called an Islamic organization, because "all Muslims are fundamentalist and ISIS is mainstream among Muslims----it's a radical religion full of violence and we shouldn't make false distinctions." It was a very patronizing, Fox News type comment. I was flabbergasted.

I've encountered other right-wingers who believe the US needs to use military force more often, against more countries, because "the world disrespects us and we are the worst treated nation in the world." Others have said that "we're not respected like other countries are." If you talk to people in the Foreign Service, they'll be the first to tell you that the US is actually very well respected abroad. We may not be loved. But we are sort of a "big deal." Even countries that hate us think we are a "big deal." Iran in no way thinks we are the equivalent of Guatemala. Many in the GOP think that Obama weakened the US to Guatemala-like levels.

I'm reminded of something Studs Terkel wrote about in his book, "Working." He was chatting with a Taxi driver who said he loved his sport team, because they were #1. He said he loved the team, because they were winners. Because he hated losers. And that his city loved winners. Studs Terkel asked the guy if he thought he, himself, was a winner. The guy said no, that life is hard, and he's doing all he can just to make ends meet. And it was tragic and you immediately felt this guy's pain and understood what was going on. Basically, he was living his life vicariously through the triumphs of his sport team. His personal life was in tatters, but the successes of his sport team gave him hope, something to hang his hat on. And I think many Americans have always felt the same way about America. Their life might be falling apart, but America was still #1. Our military was still #1. We could always root for America to kick ass abroad, and that made some feel really good about themselves, in a deeply personal and pathological way.

Mind you, I'm not bashing patriotism. I'm not bashing the troops. I'm not espousing pacifism. But I'm saying that there's a big difference between supporting the utilization of military violence to further the national interest (in a cold, rational, objective manner), and supporting the use of the military abroad because it makes you feel better about yourself. The latter is a truly dangerous, reckless and insane approach to foreign policy, akin to the inner-workings of the mind of Kaiser Wilhelm. But its very similar to how many conservatives now see foreign policy. Kissinger, Bismarck, Metternich and old-school practitioners of Realpolitik are WORLDS AWAY from this new, existential, angsty form of reactionary populism. I wouldn't even call it conservativism. They'd call Bismarck and Kissinger a communist, because they were educated.

Comment by Maui Surfer on January 2, 2018 at 7:54pm

Rob- BINGO

The problem? The effite left truly cannot stand the smell of the hoi polloi. In truth, they may hate them more than the one percent does. They have less servants after all. Until the so called Progressive Left Wing can speak to the "Working" man without a clothespin on their nose we are stuck with some form of this very dangerous nonsense of today. Even when we win back the House and Senate, they immediately revert to how they feel, that the unwashed masses, and, yes, a lot of them actually do smell...they do not bathe daily and that is just one of the many things that go into this. The worst form of banishment in the Roman Empire was to be sent to such a place if one had been among the Senate or the Elite. Twice the punishment, physical and mental. And all very intentional.

Comment by Steel Breeze on January 3, 2018 at 8:01am

the best solutions to problems come from debate-discussion-compromise.......just because your a politician doesn't mean you have to be 'running' 24/7.......folks on the 'other side' are Americans....not the enemy....

Comment by Rob Wittmann on January 3, 2018 at 8:46am

Because of the necessity of fund-raising, the lack of spending limits on campaigns, and constant corporate and PAC spending in elections, politicians MUST constantly be campaigning, if only to keep in the spotlight and keep raising money for re-election. Most veterans of the Hill will tell you that the vast majority of Congressmen spend far more time fundraising than legislating. Even more so since Citizens United. The only ones who don't need to be in constant fundraising mode are those who come from the large size/small population western states that are wholly in the hands of a few large interests. See---Nevada/Gambling, Montana, Wyoming, Dakotas, Idaho/ranching, mining, etc....Congressmen and Congresswomen from the East Coast and West Coast have higher price points for advertising and they get less bang for their buck. I think it's like 1 million dollars for a 1 minute spot or something like that. But the most expensive areas are where all the liberals are. There are major structural forces shackling effective democratic representation, and we need to do more to liberate our representatives from these.

Comment by Steel Breeze on January 4, 2018 at 7:35am

Kosh...bullseye!.....thank you....

Comment by koshersalaami on January 4, 2018 at 12:38pm

Rob,

I never thought about the liberal seat/media market expense correlation. Thanks for that.

SB,

You’re welcome, though I think I need to elaborate a bit for Amy.

Amy,

There’s a difference between being loyal to America, particularly as a government, and being loyal to Americans. “America First” is a mixture of chauvinism and the opinion that national selfishness is both in our interest and somehow deserved. I share your distaste for what the expression is used to mean although, having lived through a time when the alternative to America was a very credible threat and a whole lot nastier than we were, the concept probably feels a bit less ridiculous to me than to you. Also through a time when the current governmment would have been completely unimaginable. 

What SB is talking about (per “bullseye!” above) is communal responsibility. We have a shared culture, a shared economy, and shared interests, and cultural or political Balkanization to the exclusion of this recognition is both irresponsible and counterproductive in addition to in some respects being ungrateful. As a Jew I am very conscious of being safe because I am here.  If you were to listen in on a conversation between Justin Trudeau and a Quebec separatist, you’d probably hear him say (in Quebec French) that we are Canadians first, and there’d be no hint of chauvinism. Pride, yes. 

This last point helped me get a better grasp on the distinction: “America First” and “We are Americans FIRST” operate in opposite directions. America First is directed outward; it is about how we are in comparison to the rest of the world, and favors a sort of national Balkanization over good world citizenship. We are Americans FIRST is directed inward, saying that we should stop sacrificing our common interests to our parochial ones. Perhaps a good way of illustrating his point is the way the wealthy have arranged for Washington to cut their taxes. They’re saying Fuck You to the rest of their country for their own benefit, and there is something immoral about that. And short-sighted, given that they live here. 

I’m probably making sense to SB, but am I making any to you?

I suppose I should add, from a previous comment of yours, that I don’t define my country strictly by its evils and failures. And I’m not saying that in a Hitler Loved His Dog sense. This place is in a lot of trouble but it’s not without value. 

Comment by Rob Wittmann on January 4, 2018 at 1:10pm

KOsh----it's one of the reasons why liberal congressmen/congresswomen and Senators from places like NY, NJ, California and the like have a much harder time on the Hill. They simply don't have the time, or the flexibility, to do the things that a Senator from Utah or Nevada can. And that's unfortunate, because the NY/NJ/CA legislator often has a better, more educated and imaginative staff.

This is most apparent in the US Senate, though. Far more turnover in highly populated states. And that's why they try very hard to raise funds, and keep their war machine primed.

In a sense, they are like an army that has to constantly fight and plunder to stay afloat, and as such, has very little time to govern or administer the areas they conquer. Sort of like the Mongols. The Genghis Khan theory of government, if you will. lol

Comment by koshersalaami on January 4, 2018 at 3:29pm

It also probably helps explain why the Republicans obstruct campaign finance reform - it hurts the other party more, and that’s how they think.

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