Saturday, June 29, 2019

When hip waders just aren't enough... keep the muck away.

Rather than puke, I'll just vent a little about the recent fainting-couch theatrics in Oregon over some predictably sweeping and authoritarian climate change bill. This sort of horror-show bill, and these sorts of political gameplay shenanigans, are so depressingly common (and ironic) that they hardly even rate outrage any more. So, maybe my bile today is more a result of the gorge finally spilling over, than of anything unique about this particular episode. Whatever.

Stipulated: that the walkout by Republican state senators was pure gameplay, intended to deny a quorum and thus kill off a bill they did not have the power to defeat by conventional means. I'll leave the arguments for and against the legitimacy of such procedural stunts to those who give a shit about such things, but it is historically undeniable that organized walkouts such as this are not uncommon for either blue or red wings of the Boot On Your Neck Party.

So, are we ready to play the spin game?

Here's the [Oregon governor] Kate Brown version of events:

  • Oregon Democrats offer a common-sense Save The Planet bill, sure to pass with Democrat supermajorities in both houses. The squee! 
  • Oregon Republican senators throw a tizzy and leave the state, clearly being unwilling to Save The Planet, instead being more interested in actively impeding your own Brighter Future, and probably eating kittens. The droogs! 
  • Kate the Great orders the Oregon State Police to go and fetch the criminal miscreants with all due Authority. The justice! 
  • Republican senator Brian Boquist brazenly threatens OSP, the government of Oregon and thus all living things by extension, by indicating he will not submit to Kate's common-sense extradition order. The handlebar mustache! 
  • Totally documentably (trust me!) violent antigovernment militia extremist inbred fascistic ammosexual teabagging gunhugger misogynist racists of white male privilege and self-evidently low intelligence (why won't you ever come to the table with us?), and their inexplicable race- and gender-traitor hangers-on, threaten to appear at the state house in protest. The orc army! 
  • OSP quite sensibly closes the Capitol due to the obvious and documented militia threat. The white knight! 
  • Friendly media outlets help us out by pointing out that some of these threatening groups supported...the Malheur Refuge protest (gasp). The moral authority! 
  • Politically reliable Esquire magazine contributes a wonderful hitpiece for the cause, which properly and sensibly calls out the seditious rabble for its instantaneous, unprovoked resort to violence. The outrage!

And certainly, if you read "The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future" and don't ask a lot of questions, you might well see Courageous Kate & Co. in a positive light, and the walkout and its backers as mustache-twirling villains. It was designed and written that way.  If you're already a card-carrying Woke Progressive--well hell, you could probably have written the story even better, eh, and even added an Orange Man Bad flourish for good measure. Your sky is clearly the same color as ol' Kate's.

What color that may actually be, though, is open to speculation. Clearly it ain't blue.

The thing that sticks out the most, here, is the brazen chutzpah of painting the protestors as aggressors. Apparently Courageous Kate & Co. don't believe that sending the Oregon State Police, on an extradition sortie to other states, constitutes aggression. Those guns they wear are just decorations, you see, and if those who have gone elsewhere in protest politely refuse to go quietly with the nice large men with the rippling muscles, "weapons of war", legal impunity, and Mustaches of Understanding, they'll just say, "Oh, I see. Tut tut, guess we've wasted our time then, very well, have a nice day," and leave peaceably.

Uh-huh. Pull the other one. Even the most dimly honest observer of history can see that on such a mission, law enforcement absolutely will continue to escalate until the victim either complies unconditionally, or needs a body bag. No matter how long it may take. If this does not constitute aggression, then the word has no fucking meaning at all. It's bad enough that people usually just ignore the always-present official threat of "comply or die" as though it somehow doesn't exist, just because most people exercise--under obvious duress--the first option. "We" don't like stating it how it really is--that even the collection of a parking ticket carries with it the ultimate threat of death--but that doesn't make it untrue. But then, for officialdom to step up on the moral soapbox and paint someone who actually removes himself from a brewing fight, as an aggressor...

...with or without a response that declares, "No. Your move."...

"Hypocrite". "Chutzpah." "Cognitive dissonance." "Hubris." "Tyrant." Mere words are insufficient to fully convey the complete absence of moral authority here. This isn't a public discussion, it's a show trial, a pile-on, and if you look at it that way, a whole lot of things make more sense.

(I seriously miss the late Will Grigg at moments like this. He'd find the perfect historical parallel in some forgotten story of fugitive slave recovery, weave it into an anthology-ready narrative--and be able to do it all without swearing. He'd also observe that, whether or not he'd agree with Brian Boquist's politics in any way, the latter's response to the threat of forcible kidnapping over a disagreement in politics is not so much a quintessentially American attitude, as it is nearly a human duty.)

That may be, for me, the worst smear--painting a "no" response to a clear threat of political violence, as aggression--but it's far from the only one in this sordid story. For those who cannot--or will not--see the difference between aggression and response, the smears come easy, and the Hive Mind's juvenile attempts to portray gun-rights activists of any sort--here, it's Threepers, Oath Keepers, and local private militia, plus their supporters--as imminently aggressive and violent, would be dismissable as "file photo" retread, if it didn't still work so depressingly well on the credulous. Look, I've got my own objections to some of the things I've seen these groups do, but one thing they are not, is preemptively violent, or even impolite, in the face of a pretty much never-ending onslaught of bigotry and dehumanization from the victim-disarmament (VD) crowd. And that latter's open contempt inadvertently reveals that they damn well do understand that gunnies are not fight-pickers; as Joel has put it before, if these people actually thought we [gunnies] were as dangerous as they say they think we are, well, they'd treat us a lot more politely. Given the spin-production machine the VD types have metastasized into over the last few decades, squatting on every opportunity they can imagine or invent, one can't help but get the impression they're quite deliberately poking the wolverine until they get a bite back.

There are other, more garden-variety contributions to the spin, too, but again, these have been so common for so long now, they hardly even register on the reader's radar anymore. There's the simple political hypocrisy:  it seems that ol' Indignant Kate apparently thought that partisans going AWOL for the purpose of denying a quorum was just fine some years back, when Team Blue was doing it for (I'm sure) some purpose of noble embiggenment. There's the partisan partial-truth-telling:  thinly veiled media hitpieces conveniently forget to mention that walkouts are and have been common;  why do that when cheap PR points can be scored against the opposition that they insist they don't have, because they're so unbiased and professional and all. And of course there's all the other usual shenanigans of business-as-usual partisan politics--on both "sides" of the aisle--usually delivered with great sanctimony along the lines of "if you don't drink all my Kool-Aid then you clearly want to spit-roast your own children".

There's an interesting article here, about that notion of weaponizing everything and radicalizing everyone in the process, and that goes along with a pretty well-done statement here which simply further generalizes the same idea.  (Sometimes, with so much stoopid in the world, it helps simply to recognize that not everyone is so credulous.)

At this writing, there are still two days left before Oregon's legislative session expires, and at this point the fugitive slaves will probably stay away for the duration.  Of course, nobody should be surprised if the home team manages some sort of ace-in-the-hole surprise when people do come back--these are politicians, after all.  That group of people whose approval ratings may, some day, with a sincere and dedicated effort, make it up to their hat size.

And yet, millions of people put these same oxygen thieves into, and back into, "legitimate" positions of power, every year.  Afterward, those same people wax betrayed and indignant at the ensuing shenanigans.  (And call me the crazy one, since I want nothing to do with any of it.  The world is baffling sometimes.)