More about Alternate Realities

Republicans, Democrats, and alternate realities.

Salon, Heather Digby Parton, 2 Sep 2022: Biden’s MAGA warning drowned out: Republicans’ hissy fit works to distract the media, subtitled, “‘The Art of the Hissy Fit’ never fails for the GOP”

I have often referred to what I call “The Art of the Hissy Fit,” defined as the right using “faux outrage to get the media to press the Democrats to disavow or apologize for something they were perfectly entitled to say or do. Most often, it’s something extremely mild compared to what Republicans say and do every day.”


Washington Post, Greg Sargent, 2 Sep 2022: MAGA Republicans are seething with rage because Biden hit his target

Republicans are in a rage over President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, in which he flatly declared that the American democratic experiment is in serious danger due to Donald Trump and the Republicans who remain allied with his political project.

So here’s a question for those Republicans: What exactly in Biden’s speech was wrong?

The article fact-checks Biden’s claims, confirming them with links to Republican examples.


Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 2 Sep 2022: Biden’s speech wasn’t “partisan” — it was the plain truth the media is too timid to make clear

Subtitle: “The Republican Party is a threat to democracy — and the media needs to get out of the ‘both sides’ trap to say so”

She calls out pieces in Washington Post and New York Times as being too focused on ‘partisanship’ and not worried enough about authoritarianism.

What’s frustrating is that all of these outlets have otherwise done rock solid reporting showing that Biden’s warning is not “partisanship,” but flat-out facts.

With links to pieces from those same sources substantiating Biden’s claims.

To be fair, many other outlets took a more responsible approach, framing Biden’s speech as the warning it was intended and not merely as a political posture.
CNN’s Stephen Collinson drew the necessary contrast, in his opening paragraph, “Even on the day that President Joe Biden delivered his most jarring warning yet that democracy is in severe danger, Donald Trump teased how he might use a new White House term to further erode that core American birthright.”


Of course, there *are* two or more sides to every story, even when one of the sides is bonkers. Actually there are as many sides as there are people thinking about an issue, even if opinions tend to coalesce around polar opposites (that’s just how human cognition works, at its most basic: white/black, yes/no). Rational adults (those not given to fantasy) generally know when the ‘other side’ of an issue can be safely ignored; weathermen do not discuss the notion that hurricanes are the wrath of God; apologists for the airline industry do not invoke flat-earth thinking to blame away flight delays.

This brings to mind the most general kind of thought about the idea of alternate realities. In one sense, as I said, every single person has a slightly different experience of life, and thus makes slightly different conclusions about what is true and real. Is there any single reality? Not one that everyone can agree on, but in principle, yes there’s a single reality that could be captured at any given moment.

There’s a genre of science fiction called “alternate history” or “alternative history,” in which some event in the past is imagined to have gone differently, and the consequences of that difference are explored. The most famous example might be Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, in which the author imagines that Germany and Japan won World War II, and portrays how 1960s US would be as a consequence.

So my partner and I began watching, belatedly, the TV series For All Mankind a couple weeks ago, and he was upset by the premise — that the Soviets landed humans on the moon before the US did with Apollo 11. Mind you, he is more representative of the average TV viewer than I am, I suppose. He felt it was a “lie” to depict a version of history that didn’t actually happen.

*Every* story is an alternate history. Fiction, almost by definition, involves people who have not existed. This ties with the human compulsion to tell and retell events from history, often to soften and “explain” such events in ways that make sense to humans with their propensity to find cause-and-effect, everything-happens-for-a-reason, in random events.

Could go on and on about this, but need to wrap up for tonight.

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