Items from the Fringe, and the Perhaps Mentally Ill

  • Items about CPAC, MAGA’s thirst for blood, and Trump’s autocratic tirade and cognitive decline;
  • Robert Reich notes Trump’s unimpressive performance in the caucuses and primaries; that Libs of TikTok lady calls a reporter a “lizard person”; Republicans want to cancel Biden’s State of the Union speech.
  • The undermining of Alexender Smirnov has not deterred Republican obsession with impeaching people they don’t like;
  • Examples of Republicans as chaos agents, per the item I linked on Saturday; black and white thinking; measles;
  • The Alabama IVF issues; Republicans are distancing themselves from it; how it’s about (philosophically discredited) essentialist thinking, and an apparent belief in the (biologically obsolete) idea of “elan vital”;
  • A long guide to the MAGA universe;
  • How some fringe items are better described as “how religion poisons everything”;
  • And how, curiously, traffic to right-wing news sites has plummeted since 2020.

Given my attention to a long book this past week, I have a backlog of items from the fringe. If the Steven Pinker book was a model of rationality and evidence about human nature, a clear-thinking view of reality, one has to struggle to apply his conclusions to account for all the people involved in these items.

A number of items about CPAC, the annual conservative conference, that was held a week or so ago.

Salon, Heather Digby Parton, 23 Feb 2024: CPAC can’t quench MAGA’s thirst, subtitled “They don’t want frat house humor and obscure Latin American leaders. They want blood”

With items about Byron Donalds, Tommy Tuberville, El Salvador president Nayib Bukele, and Charlie Kirk, who called for Biden to be executed.


Tom Nichols. (Whom I reviewed here.)

The Atlantic, Tom Nichols, 26 Feb 2024: Trump Delivers Another Autocratic Tirade, subtitled “But many Americans seem to have gotten used to it.”

Donald Trump unleashed a flood of delusions and fascistic threats at CPAC this weekend in a speech to an audience that included actual neo-Nazis, a story overshadowed by the South Carolina GOP primary and his completely predictable defeat of the state’s former governor, Nikki Haley.


Salon, Chauncey DeVega, 26 Feb 2024: Trump’s CPAC speech showed clear signs of major cognitive decline — yet MAGA cheered, subtitled “A confused Donald Trump kept up his threats of retribution during this weekend’s conservative confab”

He continued with his Hitler-like threats of an apocalyptic end-times battle between good and evil and that the country would be destroyed if he is not installed in the White House. Of course, Trump continued to amplify the Big Lie about the 2020 election being “stolen” from him and the MAGA people. He also made great use of the classic propaganda technique, as though he learned it personally from Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels: Accuse your opposition of that which you are guilty of.


In the same vein.

LA Times, Jackie Calmes, 22 Feb 2024: Opinion: I watched a Trump rally so you don’t have to. But you need to know what he’s saying.

Incoherent ramblings, falsehoods, hate-mongering, more profanity than in the past, catcalls and profanities from the audience, name-calling, whining, the conflation of “radical-left Democrats, Marxists, Communists and fascists,” claims of election rigging, non sequiturs. The writer concludes: “Spoiler alert: The man is not fit to be president.”

My reaction, again and again: who are the people who admire this man? What does that say about the citizenry of the United States, not to mention human nature?


Robert Reich, 26 Feb 2024: Less than 60 percent of the vote in South Carolina? Sheesh. Trump continues to do poorly in Republican caucuses and primaries, subtitled “Why is the mainstream media referring to them as ‘big victories’ for Trump?”

If Joe Biden had gotten under 60 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary, the mainstream media would declare his reelection campaign in dire straits.


More about that Libs of TikTok lady. Headline says all.

Joe.My.God, 26 Feb 2024: Raichik: Reporter Who Exposed Me Is “A Lizard Person”


What country do these Republicans think they’re living in?

AlterNet, David Badash, 26 Feb 2024: Republicans want to cancel Biden State of the Union: ‘No reason we need to invite him’


Fallout from the Alexander Smirnov arrest “on charges of concocting a tale about President Biden’s supposed involvement in his family members’ business dealings.”

Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, 25 Feb 2024: Opinion | Dim or disloyal? Republicans again ensnared in possible Russian plot.

LA Times, Robin Abcarian, 25 Feb 2024: Column: MAGA Republicans pushing to impeach Biden don’t seem to notice the egg on their faces


Are Republicans precisely the kind of agents of chaos described in that article I linked Saturday? They’re not trying to solve problems; they ignore actual evidence; they gin up evidence to impeach people they don’t like; they deny the real world. Examples:

Joe.My.God, 24 Feb 2024: Cameron: Intolerance Is An “Essential Christian Virtue” (That’s Kirk Cameron, of course.)

Friendly Atheist, 24 Feb 2024: After non-binary teen’s death, lawmaker says Christians don’t “want that filth” in Oklahoma, subtitled “State Sen. Tom Woods said he’d fight ‘to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state'”

We? Who we? Why do Christians presume to deny that people unlike themselves exist, and should be disrespected or disappeared? He’s either massively arrogant, or dim.

Salon, Brian Karem, 24 Feb 2024: Joe Biden gives the media a desperately needed lesson about Donald Trump, subtitled “The president has to break the news to journalists that Trump plans to jail us”

The most disturbing thing I’ve ever heard a president say did not come from Donald Trump.

It came from Joe Biden. Speaking with reporters in California on Thursday, the president said this about Donald Trump. “Two of your former colleagues not at the same network personally told me if he wins, they will have to leave the country because he’s threatened to put them in jail,” Biden told Katie Couric. “He embraces political violence,” Biden said of Trump “No president since the Civil War has done that. Embrace it. Encourages it.”


Conservatives assert without evidence, and they’ll assert that the world is black and white, that nuance and color do not exist, if they can.

Joe.My.God, 27 Feb 2024: Alabama GOP Bill Would Define “Male” And “Female”


Media Matters, 27 Feb 2024: Amid lack of vaccinations, Fox News baselessly blames migrants for Florida’s measles outbreak

No, the measles outbreak is due to Florida’s anti-vax surgeon general, installed by the state’s anti-vax governor. Not vaccinating has consequences; why do conservatives not realize this? And is Fox News dumb, or dishonest?


Back to the Alabama IVF issue. Maybe, given their black and white thinking and inability to detect nuance, it’s that conservatives really *can’t tell* the difference between an embryo and a child?

The fascinating thing is that many conservatives/Republicans are trying to bury the story, knowing it will lose them votes.

Media Matters, 23 Feb 2024: Fox News buries Alabama frozen embryo ruling imperiling IVF, giving it just 6 minutes of coverage, subtitled “CNN and MSNBC each devoted over 3 hours to Alabama’s radical “personhood” ruling, but Fox really doesn’t want to talk about it”

That’s 6 minutes and 3 hours over a 7 day period.


OnlySky, Adam Lee, 26 Feb 2024: Embryos are people in Alabama, but women aren’t, subtitled “The Yellowhammer State sinks further into the mire of theocracy”

The Christian right’s goal was never just to ban abortion. That was only the first step in a bigger plan.

They believe life should be a rigid hierarchy, where everyone’s role is assigned at birth and unchangeable. Specifically, they believe men are meant to rule and women to obey. Their goal, as atheists and feminists have been warning for decades, is to turn that medieval fantasy into reality by making it the law of the land. They want to give men all the power and return women to a state of subordination, reversing all the moral progress of the last hundred years.

They hate abortion not out of any deep concern for life, but because it gives women the power to avoid what they see as “the consequences” of sex. For similar reasons, they want to ban birth control, erase LGBTQ people, and outlaw sex outside of heterosexual marriage. In their puritanical theology, sex is only for procreation, not pleasure, and women should be barefoot-and-pregnant helpmeets.

Their attitude is deeply essentialist, as if things have supernaturally-endowed *purposes* and laws must be passed to limit use to those purposes — despite, as we’ve recently read, essentialism is obsolete and things don’t have “purposes.” (The philosophy books, and the Steven Pinker book just read, for example.) But theirs is a kind of fantasy world… extending the primitive intuitive thinking of small tribes, to a modern world in which verifiable discoveries about the real world have superseded that intuitive thinking.


Similarly this.

NY Times, 24 Feb 2024: What Christian Traditions Say About I.V.F. Treatments, subtitled “While Catholic teaching expressly forbids in vitro fertilization, Protestants tend to be more open.”

At the heart of the decision, there is also Christian theology. “Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” the court’s chief justice, Tom Parker, wrote in his decision.

Among conservative Christians, the belief that life begins at conception has been a driving force behind anti-abortion policies for years. Among the most ardent abortion opponents, that thinking has also led to uncompromising opposition to in vitro fertilization.

“That is the fundamental premise of our entire movement,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, which opposes abortion. I.V.F., she said, “is literally a business model built on disposable children and treating children as commodities.”

These are obsolete beliefs. There is no “élan vital,” or “soul.” Individual people can believe whatever intuitive fantasy they like, but some of us resent their imposing those (religious, supernatural) beliefs on everyone else. And that’s one of *my* sincerely held beliefs, OK?


Media Matters, 26 Feb 2024: A guide to the MAGA media universe

A handy, very lengthy, list of “extremism, authoritarianism, bigotry, and misinformation” pushed by Trump’s inner circle in their media appearances, including Steven Bannon, Tucker Carlson, Jeffrey Clark, Mike Davis, Boris Epshteyn, Liz Harrington, Laura Loomer, Jason Miller, Stephen Miller, Kash Patel, Kevin Roberts, Donald Trump Jr., and Russ Vought.


Some of these items, instead of being called “fringe,” might better be described as examples of “how religion poisons everything,” to borrow Christopher Hitchens’ subtitle. How else to explain such hateful attitudes?

Joe.My.God, 25 Feb 2024: Megachurch Pastor: Attending Same-Sex Weddings Is “Celebrating Stepping Into Fury Of God’s Judgement”

It’s tempting to consider those so certain of God’s judgement as being mentally ill. You can easily find similarly extreme attitudes among Islamic clergy, for example.


Now this is interesting.

Mediaite, 22 Feb 2024: Right-Wing News Sites See Traffic Plummet at Start of 2024, Compared to 2020 – Breitbart Down 87% (via)

No obvious reason given, except for changes in the media landscape, changes at Facebook, etc.

This entry was posted in Conservative Resistance, Lunacy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.