Saturday, 10 December 2016

Go Home, Uncle Sam, You're Drunk

How Partisan Politics Wrecked America's Reputation

You can almost hear the sound of a can being crumpled and dropped to the floor, followed by a burp and a fart as Uncle Sam scratches his bum, rising from his battered sofa to stagger to the fridge for another beer. Whatever happened to the leader of the free world? And what will happen next?

What has Trump done now?

In a nutshell, he's beclowned himself again. The above comment was prompted by this tweet:

It's referring to the Transition Team's press release RE: allegations that the Russians hacked the election to get Trump into office. This is so batcrap insane I've taken a screenshot for posterity and posted it here:

Screenshot of Transition Team's press release RE: allegations that the Russians hacked the election

It says, if you can't read it:

These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and “Make America Great Again.”

While it's common knowledge that there are continuing failures in the intelligence community — which have a lot to do with the fact that the various agencies have a history of rivalry in which the FBI is trying (and failing) to supplant the CIA (don't get me started!) — America's government still needs its intelligence agencies to provide information on current and emerging threats. It should not permit its intelligence agencies to look as if the Russians sneaked up on them, yanked their pants down, and ran away laughing. As it is the NSA and its associated agencies have lost a great deal of respect over this and they have only got themselves to blame. Someone needs to take them in hand and do a spot of weeding.

What this means

Since Trump is apparently in the habit of missing the daily intelligence briefings because he doesn't take the agencies seriously, this could mean that he governs based on feelings, not facts. This is dangerous and irresponsible. What if he fails to respond to a threat or an incident because it contradicts a cherished opinion?

How partisanship destroys any chance of sorting this out

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer has called for an investigation into the allegations to get the truth on the table. That's great, but look at how the partisans are responding to the Washington Post's breathless allegations about Russian interference. Basically, they won't accept the possibility that it might be true and are accusing WaPo of disseminating fake news. The liberal progressives are going nuts on Twitter as I type, proudly describing unproven allegations as proof of treason, etc.; the Baton of Crazy has been passed on and they are racing away with it.

Red Scare politics is back

The whole Red Scare conspiracy theory series has been hugely entertaining for me but it has also exposed the deep chasm between people who identify as conservative and those who identify otherwise. Partisanship and identity politics is destroying America by pitting neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend, and family members against each other. It does this by demanding that you pick a side and toe the party line. Dissenting opinions get you kicked out of the club and lumped with t'other side whether you like it or not. It's interesting to note that the Republicans supporting the Democrats in investigating the allegations are opposed to Trump. In any case, despite all the hollering the truth is that embarrassing emails were leaked to Wikileaks that made the Democrats look bad. However, due to the partisan divisions in American society the Democrats could have put a cabbage up for election and the party faithful would have voted for it.

Each side has their own facts

Due to the partisan echo chamber mentality, each side in the culture wars has their own set of facts from sources they consider unimpeachable. This in turn has convinced them that sources of which they don't approve due to real or imaginary bias should be dismissed out of hand as fake news even if they're presenting verifiable facts. You can see this in the comments in any tweet stream when somebody criticises a sacred figure, usually Trump. His supporters are as thin-skinned as he is.

Is it too late to change?

Some people are beginning to realise how utterly harmful the partisan game is: alt-right partisan hack Glenn Beck has turned against Trump with the same vigour and rhetoric as he used against Obama. Isn't he the one whose constant carping helped to fuel the echo-chamber mentality? Why, yes, it was. So why the change? His Mormon beliefs are underpinned by great reverence for the US Constitution. Jumping on the partisan bandwagon increased his audience and made him a household name but he may find that switching sides gets him kicked out of the conservative club unless his fan base is locked in enough to continue to support him. Otherwise, he may find he's alienated them. Giving up the partisan pattycake game is hard, though. Look at this exchange I had with one chap on Bruce Bartlett's thread.

As you scroll down you'll see that the partisans bashing me have no clue as to their own logical failures because they're too locked into the sense of superiority that goes with being on the "right" team. Compare that with my exchange with "Matty" here:

If you follow our exchange you'll find he's a reasonable, decent fellow who feels a bit lost, like a small child watching his parents smash the house up as they fight.

If there's a will, there's a way

If Americans are going to have any chance of breaking the partisan deadlock the contest will have to be fought heart to heart, mind to mind, on policy and who can be the most grownup person in the room. Conservatives will have to learn the meaning of the word "integrity," the progressives will have to learn the value of true inclusivity, and the liberals will have to learn the value of community and patriotism. In other words, they're going to have to learn to get along with each other, to be willing to accept that they might not be right about everything all the time, and that's okay. I want them to succeed at this and take a genuine leadership position again. As it is, they're setting a terrible example that is hurting us all.

Go and sleep it off, Uncle Sam. Then go, have a shower and a shave. Smarten yourself up, sir. There's work to be done, we can't do it without you.

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