Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gaslighting the Lost Generation

Now that she's corralled establishment Republicans and various moguls of the military-surveillance complex, conservative Democrat Hillary Clinton has decided that she needs the Bernie Sanders voters after all. So she's enlisted the liberal corporate press to crack the whip at all those whippersnappers out there who are crazily bucking the grand American tradition of voting for the Lesser Evil. They're even refusing to listen to Uncle Bernie's pleas, refusing to heed his exhortation that "our revolution" has to start with the election of Hillary and the repudiation of the "protest vote."

What a deplorable bunch of selfish free-thinkers. Their failure to get with the electoral program makes them as bad as Hillary's basket of deplorable white trash, even though they might be Black or Brown.

"I have never hated millennials more!" tweeted Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones magazine, about the polls showing that youth aren't loving Hillary. (Either the real lefty labor rights organizer Mother Jones is rolling in her grave, or her corpse has undergone a miraculous postmortem conversion to centrism.)

Following closely on the heels of champion Berniebro shamer Paul Krugman, the New York Times's Charles Blow got into the annoying act today, urging young people not to "throw their votes away" on third party candidates. (This election year marks yet another in the long tired series of the "this is not the right time for third parties" saga of fear-mongering in the service of the oligopoly.)

In addition, young people have allegedly succumbed to the dreaded False Equivalency bug that's been going around. It's causing brains all over America to insanely despise both candidates. No matter that Trump and Clinton are despised for very different reasons. In liberal pundit world, it is verboten to take issue with Hillary's history of war-mongering and attacks on the social safety net when Trump is out there, bellowing out his ignorance with a bullhorn.

Blow sniffs,
 I know immediately that they have bought into the false equivalency nonsense, and additionally are conflating the casting of a ballot with an endorsement of a candidate’s shortcomings.
So Clinton's disastrous votes for war and crusades for regime change and private $650,000 speeches to the banking mafia are reduced to mere "shortcomings" - whence we get a hysterical blow-by-blow litany of why a vote for a third party candidate is tantamount to putting your stamp of approval on police brutality and racism.

If Hillary loses, it's all your fault. If you're not "With Her" you're against her, much as you were against Bush's neocon wars for freedom. Ask not what Hillary can do for you, ask what you can do for Hillary. Remember - the slogan is "I'm With Her." She is not necessarily With You.

Shame, shame, shame on America's Lost Generation, saddled with functioning brains and college debt and a bleak future of dead-end jobs and few prospects. Don't you know that voting against your own economic interests is still better than voting for the economic interests of Donald Trump?

To supplement fear of Trump as the primary reason for millennials to vote for her, Hillary went on Between Two Ferns today. Talented actor Barack Obama has been able to skillfully co-opt political satire for his own ends by making himself a star performer in the genre, so she obviously thought she could follow in his show biz footsteps by gamely allowing the fun to be poked right to her face rather than behind her back.

It was awkward. She hasn't quite found her comedic timing this late in her career. I have a feeling that rather than winning the hearts and minds of millennials, she's only repelled them further by being as inept about parody as she is about her emails.

The professional passive-aggressive alternate shaming of and pandering to the Lost Generation contains the implicit insulting message that they are naive, selfish, shallow, and malleable.

  So how about, instead of shoving the Lesser Evil gospel down our throats, pundits explored the root class and income inequality causes of mass disaffection?

Rather than deploring the alleged amorality, bigotry and ignorance of the electorate, the pundits might instead call for better funding of public education and restoration of the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting.

Of course, teaching students to read and think critically is precisely what the Establishment doesn't want. And now manufactured ignorance is coming back to bite them with a Trumpian vengeance. The masses, both educated and uneducated, are proving themselves impervious to the concern-trolling and gaslighting cons. After being played with and tortured for so many years, they're way beyond being receptive to purring lectures from the fat cats.  As a matter of fact, the tactic is having the exact opposite effect. The more that the elites needfully knead their typing paws, the more that they rub up against their audience and hiss and yowl, the harder the electorate closes their ears and eyes. 

And people don't want to hold their noses in the voting booth. They don't want their rights and their dreams to be stifled. They want to breathe.

As Bertrand Russell wrote in Free Thought and Official Propaganda,
If there is to be toleration in the world, one of the things taught in schools must be the habit of weighing evidence, and the practice of not giving full assent to propositions which there is no reason to believe true. For example, the art of reading newspapers should be taught. The schoolmaster should select some incident which happened a good many years ago, and roused political passions in its day. He should then read to the school children what was said by the newspapers on one side, what was said by those on the other, and some impartial account of what really happened. He should show, from the biased account of either side, a practised reader could infer what really happened, and he should make them understand that everything in newspapers is more or less untrue. The cynical skepticism which would result from this teaching would make the children in later life immune from those appeals to idealism by which decent people are induced to further the schemes of scoundrels.
Although newspapers are a moribund breed, Russell's advice applies just as well to cable news and the Internet. We should read from a variety of sources, not just those in the business of selling comforting confirmation bias.

The preaching of the neoliberal pundit class does not educate or elucidate. It simply aims to gaslight and guilt-trip struggling and oppressed people. Credulity is the enemy. Misinformation is the currency of the two big business political parties, which exist mainly to enrich and empower themselves and their plutocratic donors.

What Russell wrote nearly a hundred years ago holds just as true today: "Preaching and exhortation only add hypocrisy to the list of vices."


Elizabeth Adams said...

The pathological greed enabled by unfettered capitalism has ultimately resulted in a better informed generation known as millenials. Besides having less free time to watch mainstream media's 0.01% propaganda (working multiple low-wage jobs, etc), millenials -- like many of us -- can't afford the increased cost of cable TV and bypass the propaganda altogether. The internet is where the needed variety of sources is found, and that is why the internet must remain open.

Meredith NYC said...

I hope you put your lines in Times comments:
“I’m with her, instead of she’s with us. Plus ‘the 2 business parties’. Plus ‘Ask not what Hillary can do for you, ask what you can do for Hillary.’ But so many NYT commenters are fooled and fiercely support her. Many believe she has long worked for the well being of children and women for instance.

However---- please explain why it is that voting for a 3rd party WON’T lead to a Trump win. We don’t have multi party run off elections with 1st and 2nd choices as other nations do. US voters are good and stuck. Is this not true?

Great Bertrand Russell quote, in his lucid prose. What a great idea---teach kids to read the papers, and to judge ads on everything sold to them from movies to burgers to candidates. But that would challenge our whole maximum profit system equalized with democracy and freedom of speech.

Krugman is now a shameless shill.Says “ Clinton has staked out the most progressive policy positions ever advocated by a presidential candidate.” Ever?? How can he say that? How about FDR, LBJ, JFK, etc etc?

Gop Eisenhower was quite ‘left wing’, by today’s standards ---re high corporate tax rates, govt regulations, jobs kept here, union power, college subsidies, and federal infrastructure spending. Nobody thought of repealing Glass Steagall. Campaigns were not financed by billionaires.

I couldn’t believe it when I ran into Ike’s letter to his conservative brother Edgar:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”
“There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt ...a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

What a splinter group, negligible and stupid! They’ve become the dominant political force in politics. Would Ike believe a Dem pres would repeal basic Depression—era banking regulations?

So New Deal Dem Sanders was denigrated as a left wing radical by conscience of a liberal Krugman with his fervent True Believer conviction.
Is this what Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower led the world to defeat the Nazis for?

And Krug says “there’s no reason to believe Clinton’s positions are insincere”. Millions think there's plenty of reason. Krug gives no evidence from her past for his trust.

He says “new liberal economics” has sunk deep roots in the Dem party, and dominates the ranks of Clinton’s advisers (!) But what does liberal mean now? The gop rw crazies have set the standard for left vs right. Clinton and Krugman the big progressives can’t go beyond certain parameters.

Karen Garcia said...


You make an excellent point. The millennial-shaming being perpetrated by the mainstream media is not being directed at the millennials, but rather at the top 10 or 20% who've "recovered" from the economic meltdown. With the Times paywall, for example, and the high cost of cable, young unemployed or underemployed voters aren't getting the message, except indirectly. Good!


I have no idea whether third party votes will lead to a Trump win or not. All I know is contrary to Democratic myth, that Nader did not make Gore lose. Gore made Gore lose. The votes that put Bush over the top in Florida were cast by Reagan Democrats. Gore lost his own home state. And then the Supreme Court stopped the recount, effectively crowning George Bush king.

So liberal pundits are again scapegoating third parties as well as millennials, instead of aiming their wrath toward the main culprit: a weak candidate from a corrupt political party. The group hand-wringing from Krugman and Co. is pathetic.

I wish we had a parliamentary system and multiple parties rather than the winner take all electoral college system. Once again, a handful of "battleground" states will decide this election.

Jamie said...

Millennials got duped by Obama who pretended be a caring change agent, but was only a water carrier for Wall St and US Imperialism. I am glad they are smart enough to not get fooled again.

Meredith NYC said...

A bitter laugh, but so needed, and so enjoyable!

By Andy Borowitz , SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

At a campaign rally on Friday, Donald Trump warned that Hillary Clinton is scheming to “rig the debate by using facts” in their first televised face-off, on Monday.

“You just watch, folks,” Trump told supporters in Toledo, Ohio. “Crooked Hillary is going to slip in little facts all night long, and that’s how she’s going to try to rig the thing.”

“It’s a disgrace,” he added.

The billionaire drew a sharp contrast between himself and the former Secretary of State by claiming that his debate prep “involved no facts whatsoever.”

“I am taking a pledge not to use facts at the debate,” he said, raising his right hand. “I challenge Crooked Hillary to take that pledge.”

He also warned that unless CNN, which is hosting the debate, promises to forbid the use of facts, he might pull out of Monday’s contest. “I’m only going to debate if I’m treated fairly, and facts don’t treat me fairly,” he said.

At CNN, a spokesperson assured Trump that the network would do everything in its power to keep the debate “as free of facts as possible.”

“We have a well-established practice at CNN,” the spokesperson said. “If the candidates start straying into facts, data, or other verifiable information, we have instructed the moderators to cut them off.”

Kat said...

perhaps we should not group all millenials together? I'm sure there are more than a few that won't be voting for Hillary but still have fondness for Obama anyway. No generation has a lock on wisdom.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Something else to set you off laughing: This NYT News Alert, just in:

The Times editorial board has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Karen Garcia said...

Here's my Times comment on their Hillarious endorsement (if anybody else would like to republish their own response to some truly epic doggerel, even by their standards, please do so. We have plenty of time, space and despair to go around in these here parts!)

This is the most powerful endorsement of a presidential candidate since 1940, when the Gray Lady boldly opted for Wendell Willkie. It seems that FDR was too much of a peacenik, a class warrior, and fiscally irresponsible. And worst of all, he was seeking a third term.

The Times's "liberal bias" has changed not a whit since then and luckily for her, Hillary Clinton faces the most loathsome opponent not only in modern history, but perhaps in all of history. So a third Clinton term is conveniently just hunky-dory. Can't wait for the triangulation with her GOP pals to begin. Ditto for those no-fly zones.

I find the paper's reasons for endorsing Hillary pretty chilling. She's "bipartisan", as if that were a good thing for anybody besides the One Percent. She championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I suppose this is meant to be the dog-whistle that her opposition to it while campaigning is purely for cosmetic purposes.

There's plenty of dishonesty in this endorsement, not least of which is the paper's parroting of Clinton's self-praise about her mythical devotion to children. No mention of the welfare "reform" for which she fought so passionately in the 90s, which condemned millions of mothers and children into lifetimes of poverty and effectively doubled the extreme poverty rate. This is what is euphemized as "toughness."

The least the editorial board could have done was temper its endorsement with a few negative facts and caveats. But I guess Trumpism is catching.

Meredith NYC said...

I hadn't seen the Times yet today (which was very nice) But just saw this and sent a comment to the Times. I don't get it---I thought the Times already endorsed Clinton many months ago. Why now again?

Anyway, I said,

Clinton looks great only against the most loathsome candidate in the history of democracies. One could say, in a clumsy parody of a great Churchill speech--Never in the history of democracies has 1 candidate been loathed by so many. (and still could possibly win?)

We don't know how far she'll go to represent the majority vs the elites, despite promises. But she's got a lot of emotional supporters.

But one has to worry about the whole purpose of mass voting if these two are the best that a population of over 300 million can come up with.

But we did come up with better-- and they were efficiently sidelined. And with Sanders, the biggest threat to the elites running our politics, we saw the media and the Dem party banding together to guarantee that even with his millions of supporters and all the non corporate money he raised, no way was Bernie going to get near the nomination.

Despite that 170 respected economists signed a letter supporting his plan to reform Wall St.
Despite that the US for decades made state colleges free. Despite dozens of nations having health care for all at lower cost.
Where was the coverage of all this---MSNBC, NYT, CNN?

After all, Bernie Sanders was actually a New Deal Democrat---with ideas that once created the strong middle class---and that is to be portrayed as a wild eyed, left wing radical dreamer.
New Deal Dems can’t be tolerated and must be shunned even by mainstream liberals in an America dominated by tiny elites of huge wealth who pay for and direct our politics.

So at this stage of our history, Hillary Clinton is the apt candidate. So the NYT, resolutely in the center no matter what, endorses her.

Kate Flannery said...

Karen - I'm just in awe of your ability to write comments. Every time you zero-in on the target like one of Obama's missiles. I don't know how you do it. I find myself too often spluttering to myself in outrage and disgust and can barely think clearly let alone write coherently - especially when reading the commenters who just obediently go along with the most shallow and obvious, non-thinking propagandistic drivel. Anyway...this was my comment on the Times pathetic HRC endorsement.

Kate Flannery
New York 2 hours ago
No surprise that the NYT would endorse HRC - what took you so long? You endorsed her over Bernie in the primaries before the race was barely started.

She's certainly one of you fine folks on the board, so it makes sense. There are millions who will eagerly vote for her, and that's their right. But for millions more, all the carefully sculpted rhetoric in her favor no longer has any influence.

The facts though, (those stubborn things) tell a different story. HRC - as her lifetime record reveals has spent her career hurting the vulnerable in the service of powerful interests. Walmart board, Tyson foods, aided Coca-Cola in breaking a union in Ark. In favor of NAFTA, welfare reform, crime bill, market-based solutions for everything in the public domain, deregulation, fracking and Wall Street, XL Pipeline, GMOs. She takes $ from Wall St., Big Pharma, oil and gas, for-profit prisons and weapons manufacturers. She's covered the Middle East in huge arms sales, made a personal fortune from special interests groups. She's destroyed various parts of the world and by her actions multitudes died. She is enamored of the military in a supremely unhealthy way. This is not a woman of greatness, or deep morality or conviction - except maybe of all the wrong, most immoral things.

Spin, spin, spin away. Compared to Trump, at a glance, she could appear the "better" choice. But if HRC is an epitome of competence and character, then forgive me for not seeing it given her record.

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Karen Garcia said...

Great comments, Kate and Meredith.

Did you get a load of the pic of Hill they used to accompany their endorsement? Her irises fill the whole eye. Totally black sclera, like something out of an alien horror movie. Somebody either fell asleep at the switch, or somebody is sabotaging her. Or maybe it's to get us all excited about the debate.

It's not even Halloween yet, but I am feeling the horror. And the comic relief.

Valerie said...

Loved your comment to the Times - bet THAT brought out the paid and unpaid Hillary trolls!

Also, loved your essay. That Two Ferns interview was really something. I watched the interview with Hill and then Barack. I have to say, Zach REALLY hates her! Either that or there is just more material for him to confront her with.

I have to say, I hadn't really thought about the poverty factor driving the millenniums off MSM and on to the Internet. No wonder those in power want to control the Internet. Imagine that a different point of view out there for everyone to read. Millenniums might well be the saving grace of the Greens. The fear factor is strong with Trump. People in Australia are really scared. Because all they read here of American politics comes from the MSM in the U.S, they hold a favourable view of Hill, Bill and Barack. But I am standing with the Greens. The TLOTE factor has been overused.

I also think that people voted for Ralph over Al because he had reasonable ideas that made sense. After NAFTA it was clear to a lot of people that we needed good working class factory jobs in the ole US of A. And those, whose jobs went overseas, were not easily retrained into the technology sector. In fact, they had few to no prospects for good paying jobs at all. Even then, smart people who were aware, were seeing that Free Trade was a sham supported by both parties (a reason to smell a rat) and Ralph's words that there wasn't a whole lot of difference between the two parties rang believable. The bottom line was scaring the Left into holding their noses and voting for Hill or Barack or Al is a lot cheaper to them that actually having to make concessions in there greedy quest to the true Left and Working Class.

Great quote from Bertrand Russell. I will pass it on to one of my few thinking friends who happens to teach high school History.

Valerie said...

Yes, great comment Kate!