Overcast and chilly this early-evening Wednesday here in California’s Central Valley — another gorgeous winter day until late in the afternoon, and fairly warm for the season this morning.
Weathering the weather is nothing well-worth mentioning if you are careful.
However, the governance landscape sucks because one of only two major political parties in this country is a complete cruel, nasty, lying rage machine incapable of anything but chaos. We’re never going to get a decent handle on the COVID pandemic, never start really fighting climate change, and will never return to democratic norms, all because Republicans are such assholes — yesterday a crystal-clear example (h/t tweet Susie):
I’ve known Tony Fauci for almost 40 years, I cannot remember when I’ve seen him so visibly hurt. I’ve called for federal action to protect prominent US scientists under attack… https://t.co/ASDBtHTBuG
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) January 11, 2022
Aaron Rupar, after summarizing the hearing in his Public Notice newsletter this morning, concluded Republicans are really, really shitty-acting people:
I ended up watching and live-tweeting the entire health committee hearing, and the shabby performances by some of the Republican senators really stood out.
In addition to Paul and Marshall, you had Susan Collins pursuing a confused line of questioning that suggested vaccination was overrated and Tommy Tuberville asking about the quack “cure” ivermectin.
But given where the party is today, Republicans trying to turn a pandemic that’s killed nearly 850,000 into Benghazi 2.0 isn’t really as surprising as it should be.
The outright ugliness of the remarks by both Paul and Marshall really stood out, though. Instead of making an earnest effort to inform their constituents about how best to protect themselves and those around them, they’re pulling out all the stops to undermine the notion that public health experts should be listened to at all.
And, tragically, people who listen to their misinformation earnestly are already paying a price.
In a somewhat contextual angle, Molly Jong-Fast at The Atlantic, also this morning, likewise concludes the shitty, nasty-sided operational tactics of Republicans:
Rage is a currency in today’s GOP. Think of all the culture-war tropes that rely on it, many of which have resulted in legislation: Rage against critical race theory, masks, vaccine mandates, COVID testing, shutdowns, unions, voting, trans people, abortion, Muslims. (And that’s before you even get to the made-up stuff, like the War on Christmas.) The modern GOP is for just one thing: Making Democrats mad. Think of Representative Thomas Massie’s Twitter Christmas greeting showing him and his wife and children holding what Forbes estimated was tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of guns, or Republican politicians’ obsession with the anti-Biden meme “Let’s go Brandon,” which they are using in everything from campaign advertisements to dresses. What do Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene have in common? A single-minded goal of owning the libs.
Donald Trump is gone (for now), but the very worst vestiges of him continue to drive the Republican Party: rage, grievance, and an obsession with the idea that others are getting something you’re entitled to. Rage farming is the product of a perfect storm of fuckery, an unholy mélange of algorithms and anxiety. And the social platforms that are making all this possible? They’ll take the engagement wherever they can get it.
Deliberate low-life ‘rage farmed’ to cause chaos:
You are being rage farmed.
Your angry quote tweet = the goal.
Left: the tweet everyone is dunking on.
Right: Texas GOP gloating at the engagement they got.
If you must dunk: screen-cap & don't use their handle. pic.twitter.com/I9qbsSPnQl
— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) January 8, 2022
Jong-Fast with Scott-Railton (of the tweet above), a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and the bigger picture of this ‘rage farming‘ on the immediate future:
I caught up with Scott-Railton on the phone.
He told me that he started noticing this trend on his own Twitter timeline; it “was filled with quote tweets of inflammatory things, that seemed almost structured to provoke that kind of engagement. I began suspecting that in some situations either by accident or by design, the inflammatory content was being amplified by an algorithm-driven engagement loop.”
“There’s a precedent for this,” he continued, with “neo-Nazi and extreme far-right groups seeking to do extreme and inflammatory things in the hopes of provoking a conflict or a reaction that will garner media attention. What I see here with rage farming is the distilled tactic of this strategy for social media … A lot of people experience social media as a 24-hour cage fight. The algorithm is giving us more of the people engaging with problematic content and less of their original thoughts. We’re quickly beginning to live in a dunkocracy. The dunkocracy is killing democracy.”
Always comes back around to that old chestnut — democracy going to shit in a wire basket, all because of Republicans. An idiots’ scam on the public, obvious and breathtaking in its outright shittiness.
Amanda Marcotte at Salon this afternoon calls the shamelessness of the rightwing assholes, ‘derangement feedback loop,’ and it’s spreading:
During another Senate hearing, this one held by the Health and Education Committee, both Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Roger Marshall of Kansas used the presence of Dr. Anthony Fauci —– Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a favorite hate object on the right — to generate more propaganda footage.
Both men floated elaborate and deliberately obtuse conspiracy theories about Dr. Fauci that simultaneously imply that he somehow created the coronavirus and also that COVID-19 is a socialist hoax.
Yes, these ideas contradict each other. No, the people who claim to believe these theories don’t care about that contradiction.
As usual, the point is not to make sense, but to grind rational discourse into dust.
As an added bonus, Marshall kept making false accusations that Dr. Fauci is hiding his financial position, with an obvious intent to imply that Dr. Fauci is somehow secretly profiting off of the pandemic. The same pandemic that right-wing conspiracy theories paint as somehow both a bioweapon but also not an actual threat.
Dr. Fauci got fed up with all this and called Marshall a “moron” into a hot mic.
Sadly, Marshall is not actually a moron. He’s a cynical opportunist who is deliberately generating misinformation in order to increase his name recognition with the GOP base and rake in more money.
Marshall, frankly, seems thrilled that Dr. Fauci called him a “moron.” He’s hyping the story, banking off the GOP base’s well-known hatred of Dr. Fauci.
There is no better way in GOP fundraising circles to get attention and make money than to cast yourself as a primo liberal-triggerer.
So right-wing politics should be understood as a topsy-turvy version of pro wrestling, where real-life heroes like Dr. Fauci are recast as the heel and real-life villains like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz get to play the role of the face.
By hijacking congressional hearings in order to put on these wrestling matches, Republicans aren’t just wasting taxpayer money and destroying the ostensible purpose of hearings to gather and expose the truth, they’re using the prestige of Congress in order to disseminate their conspiracy theories more widely.
It’s a derangement loop that’s driving the GOP base further away from reality and deeper into a fascist ideology.
Keep in mind, though, a shitheel Republican will under circumstances reveal/display/show their true self:
Yet here we are, once again…
(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Tête Raphaëlesque éclatée [Exploding Raphaelesque Head],’ found here)