So how are people reacting to impeachment?

Last week I looked primarily at how the least pro-Trump of the pro-Trump trio of groups were reacting to some Democrat electoral victories (short version: badly) but I didn’t talk much about the other two groups. There are weird and interesting things going on there as well. I’m not going to be posting many links for reasons that will become obvious.

Reluctant Converts

The group I call reluctant converts are conservatives/libertarians who were initially distrustful of Trump and apprehensive about him during the GOP Presidential nomination process but who pledged support for him by the time of the election or since. In terms of the milieu of right wing authors discussed here that would be people like Sarah Hoyt or John C Wright.

Their main political issue currently is the name of the whistle-blower who raised concerns about Trump’s Ukraine phone call. The case for anonymity for the whistle-blower is simple, they went through the right channels, we all should want some protection for public servants holding elected officials accountable and there is genuine reason to think they might come to some harm. In terms of the veracity of the complaint, the whistle-blower’s claims have since all been verified. There does not seem to be any key points of fact that rely on the integrity of the whistle-blower as a witness. To use an analogy with more conventional crime, they are the person who rang the cops rather than a key witness.

However, naming the whistle-blower has become a big thing among right-wing media. Fox News has been dancing around it. Former Superman actor and now right-wing personality Dean Cain, apparently named the wrong person. Supposed libertarian Rand Paul has been naming them and among the group I call the Reluctant Converts it has become a point of honour to circulate a name on social media.

Facebook and Twitter, mindful for once of the danger of internet mobs (which if you recall the Reluctant Converts are very much against if said mob is three or four people and left-wing) have adopt a no-tolerance policy to spreading names of potential whistle-blowers. With a mighty cry of “you’re not the boss of me” some of the Reluctant Converts have taken to posting multiple times one of the names. As a consequence they have ended up with Facebooks bans. Sarah Hoyt in particular has been busy disrupting her own social media presence to circulate a name, which essentially means nothing, as if it was a major revelation. Spoiler: the whistle-blower was somebody you have never heard of.

It’s both odd and predictable. The ad-hominem argument is central to the mode of debate as is a concept of contamination. If the whistle-blower can be shown to be a Democrat then, the argument goes, Trump is innocent even though the facts revealed by the whistle-blower have been confirmed by the White House.

The Ironic Cheerleaders

This is were things are a lot more strange. The Alt-Right is currently in one of its phases of shifting grifters. The good news is that there is currently lots of metaphorical back stabbing and infighting and the bad news is that whoever comes out on top will still be a racist arse spreading hate.

The current landscape can be summed up with three oddly-similar looking boyish fascists (links are to Rational Wiki). Off on the alt-lite/intellectual dark web side is the irritating Ben Shapiro who is nominally anti-Trump but mainly promotes similar ideas. More overtly supporting Trump is Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA. Currently seeking leadership of the 8-Channers and other odious internet denizens is Nick Fuentes of America First (which is as fascist as it sounds). Fuentes is actively disrupting Turning Point USA events presumably as a way of gaining status and also to give his followers something edgy to do (see https://www.diggitmagazine.com/column/charlie-kirk-culture-war-groyper-trolls ) In short Kirk hates Fuentes and Fuentes hates Kirk and everybody hates Ben Shapiro. It would be funny but Fuentes main objective is to push more overt anti-Semitism.

Confused yet? OK, remember Richard Spencer, the crypto-Nazi involved in the murderous Unite the Right Rally? Milo Yianopoulus (another name fading into obscurity) released audio of Spencer having a very emotional and very-Hitleresque rant in the wake of the disaster of the Unite the Right Rally. The release of the audio by Yianopoulus was clearly intended to discredit Spencer, presumably on the grounds of being too obviously a nazi. Why would he do that? The answer is that Spencer has been critical of Fuentes – I assume because everybody involved are an ugly mass of egos and bigotry. There’s a point where close examination just finds more gross toxic sludge.

Quite where Vox Day sits in that mess of backbiting shitholes I don’t know but I believe that Day’s friend, the flat-earth former actor Owen Benjamin is also feuding with Fuentes.

Relatively not grounded in reality

It would be hard to describe the ‘Sceptical Advocates’ reaction I discussed in an earlier post as either measured or rational (it ended with calls for mass executions of political opponents) but at least it was a comprehensible (if appalling) position. Heading into the other groups, things become even less grounded and bizarre.

Things are only going to get even stranger.


20 thoughts on “So how are people reacting to impeachment?

  1. Boy, Sarah Hoyt really is a piece of work, isn’t she? For the life of me I can’t figure out how someone who grew up while the Portuguese New State was dying can be such a rightist.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. She is very fiercely and independently for the purpose of freedom joining in a social media mob to target a guy because the state leader told her to. Sheep-like leftists like us just don’t understand the brilliant independent individualism that is required to mindlessly parrot what you’ve been told to say by your party leader.

      Liked by 6 people

  2. I do enjoy watching the far right stab each other in the back. Like the Nazi group that fell apart when it turned out the leader was shtupping his right-hand man’s wife, who was also the leader’s mother-in-law.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. None of them care that Trump himself is getting impeached, but they do care that an impeachment of the avatar of the right is occurring. So the only really interesting measurement is whether they end up backing away from Trump if things get too public and knowingly blatant, planning to replace him with a new avatar, or whether they don’t and how many of them do one or the other. If they back away from Trump, then indeed a lot of splintering is going on throughout the right, though it will be temporary.

    Then there is the issue that Trump is highly unwell and clearly in early stages of dementia, which includes a lot of increasingly evident physical problems: shuffling walk, gripping the podium for balance, struggling to find words, drawing on weather maps with Sharpies, etc., along with openly admitting to extortion and corruption. If these symptoms continue to worsen into the spring here, the impeachment hearings may not be the worst of Trump’s problems. So a lot of people are doing sort of hovering stasis positions, while they are running as many grifts and persecution efforts as they can manage. Not really worth losing your professional Facebook page over.

    The party game of i.d.ing the whistleblower is also less about the whistleblower and more about showing how threatening they can be. A lot of the choices so far could not have logistically been the whistleblower, but it’s a display of power, trying to build the impression that impeachment is not possible or real. And of course it makes money.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There seem to be two general threads in Far Right thoughts on impeachment–it is either a sinister plot by the sinister Deep State elite to be sinister which much must be opposed, OR it’s a brilliant gambit by Trump that will allow him to destroy his enemies, which must be celebrated.

    That these things are somewhat contradictory hasn’t stopped people from believing them simultaneously.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Everything is transactional to them; it’s what they’ve been taught. So the impeachment is just a business negotiation and so the Democrats are doing a ploy which Trump will counter and out negotiate them on. They are victims, because that’s a negotiating stance, and at the same time they are victors, because that’s a negotiating stance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You could certainly see the ‘transactional’ part on display during the early Sad Puppies, where log-rolling seemed to be assumed and ‘it’s our turn’ was part of the rallying cry. It was like some of them just couldn’t conceive of an award that wasn’t explicitly dictated by a cabal in the background somewhere.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. And when “it’s our turn” was both rejected as ridiculous and disproved in the actual nomination/wins history of the awards, they started to get more and more fanciful about the reason for their protest, hoping to find one that worked as a justification and getting more and more soap operatic about how the “opposition” must be going after them. They called authors they didn’t even know hacks and cheaters rigging the votes, and then got huffy when people reacted, because calling people hacks and accusing them of unethical behavior is simply a negotiating tactic, as is getting huffy about people rejecting such accusations. And they used the tactic that because people were accusing them of unethical behavior in both making a voting bloc and using Beale’s online mobsters to do it, that was way worse than their original accusations. They disavowed that they’d made the accusations, while making new versions of the same accusations, (like, not only is there an author cabal that is rigging the elections, but Tor Books is running the whole thing!)

        They used Beale as a ploy and used whatever he suggested as tactics, no matter how contradictory it got. Then when they got creamed in the press for Beale’s discount GamerGate, they tried to distance themselves from him. It was very ping-ponging. They’d make an assertion, someone like Martin or Gerrold would write a reasonable argument showing the assertion was bunk, so they’d switch to another assertion. Gish Gallop, Whack a Mole, Throw It All Against the Wall and See What Sticks — it’s all bargaining, quid pro quo. And we’re going to get a master’s class in it during the impeachment hearings. It will be painful.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. There’s actual research showing…heck, I’ll just quote.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6396697/

      There is evidence that not only believing in one conspiracy theory (CT) makes a person more probable to believe in others, however unrelated their content is, but that people can even believe in contradictory CTs about a single event.

      Emphasis in the original here:

      Furthermore, there is evidence that not only believing in one CT makes a person more prone to believe in other CTs about different events, but a person is also more likely to believe in a CT about the same event that contradicts it. In an influential study designed to test these assumptions, Wood et al. (2012) registered positive correlations between believing in mutually exclusive CTs (i.e. “(Princess) Diana faked her own death so that she and Dodi (Al-Fayed) could retreat into isolation”, “One or more rogue ‘cells’ in the British secret service constructed and carried out a plot to kill (princess) Diana” and “Business enemies of Dodi and his father Mohammed Al-Fayed assassinated Dodi, with the death of (princess) Diana a cover-up for the operation”). They explained this finding not by assuming there were multiple CTs in the system that support each other, but by assuming that each CT was in coherence with a higher-order belief (e.g. The official narratives are not true).

      Lots more at the link. Fascinating reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. It’s easier to comprehend if you think about fan theories related to some popular media. People may have a couple of favourites that are at odds with each other – which is fine when we are talking about fiction. If though a person has a deep confusion between fiction & reality as categories then things start going horrible.

        A very mild example is Dave Freer’s multiple bias against conservative theories. He thinks Hugo votes are biased against conservatives, he think there is a cabal rigging the award and he thinks publisher in general are excluding conservatives from being published. All based on his quasi-factual observation that not enough conservatives win Hugos…but any one of his explanations would be sufficient even if his numbers were right. He doesn’t treat them as alternative hypotheses but as simultaneous all being true because each separately could explain his (faulty) observation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I’ve heard of this before.

        Of course, this is one thing when you’re talking about conspiracy theories like the Philadelphia Experiment, which doesn’t exactly interact with everyday life. It’s another thing when the conspiracy theories involve ‘Sandy Hook Crisis Actors being used to Take Our Guns’, because that hits close enough to home that people start insisting that something Must Be Done.

        And just like a logical system that contains contradictions can be used to prove pretty much anything, a set of contradictory conspiracy theories can be used to get people wound up to support anything. Heck, part of what makes a ‘conspiracy theory’ is the inherent unfalsifiability: if any evidence against the theory is taken as evidence of the cover-up, you’ve already cut the mooring lines from reality.

        Like

  5. Of course, the latest news on this sort of front is that a book signing for Donald Trump Jr.’s new book “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence US” was interrupted by a civil war inside the right between Turning Point USA (which helps run a lot of campus Republican groups) and America First, which thinks the Trump administration isn’t racist and anti-immigrant enough. The latter group has been hitting Q&A sessions with other conservative groups, and when it was announced there wouldn’t actually be a Q&A session at the signing, things hit the fan.

    Eventually the little Don stalked off the stage, demonstrating once again that there is little so easily triggered as a right-winger being required to actually take criticism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oddly, the disrupters are claiming to be pro-Trump and that they were just trying to embarrass TPUSA. I case that somehow makes sense but it looks like the enemy is sowing seeds of confusion among itself – which is probably a net good for the planet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It makes perfect sense if you think of it as a fight between those who want to maintain at least a vague semblance of respectability and those who want to just let their freak flags fly. America First are pro-Trumpers who want to let it all hang out, while Donald Trump Jr. was pretending respectability because it was a large public event, and because the entire thesis of his book is that the alt-righters are the rational ones fending off the screeching harpy leftists.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Conspiracy theories are getting even less substantial. The author of a new book (read interviews with her but not the book) calls it “conspiracism” in that it doesn’t require even the distorted facts that fueled past conspiracies. Just “Democrats are harvesting baby parts for Satanic rituals” without any supporting evidence is enough.
        Along with being unfalsifiable, they’re also flattering. The whole “yeah, sheeple who watch the lamestream media may believe the government propaganda, but I’m too smart!” is a seductive trap (CS Lewis made a point to that effect). And if you’re standing against a vast commie/satanist/deep state conspiracy to destroy America, you become a noble, moral person without once having to remove the beam from your own eye.
        I do think the reaction to Junior shows why if (as some suspect) he runs for president, he’ll tank. Trump, for all his mental failings, knows what his audience wants and gives it to them. Junior’s more at the Sarah Palin level — less a politician than a celebrity (though Palin did actually have political cred).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. @frasersherman:
        Fred Clark at Slacktivist has done a fair bit of writing on this sort of thing, mostly from the point of view of understanding the twisted internals of modern White American Evangelicism. (And the way both ‘White’ and ‘American’ are critical, defining parts of the movement.) Two of the pages he regularly refers back to are pretty relevant.

        The first is the story of Jackie at the Crossroads, where ‘Bad Jackie’ is the sort of person whose self-image relies on never being wrong and thus will double down and dig in on any sort of attempt to refute urban legends or the like. It’s all about the sort of person who seems to be actively disappointed that the horror stories aren’t true.

        The second is about The Anti-Kitten-Burning Coalition, which was inspired in part by the old Proctor and Gamble Satanism story. In this case, it’s about the sort of people who treat the absolute minimum required level of humanity as being a thing to be proud of, and who actively help spread horrible rumours (like the idea that Proctor and Gamble were a Satanist conspiracy) because it makes them feel like part of the elite fighting for what is good in the world.

        As for Junior, I think you’re right. He couldn’t maintain the sort of attitude his father does; he doesn’t have the same level of boisterous narcissism that his father uses to shamelessly gaslight everyone around him. (If he did, they wouldn’t likely be on speaking terms with each other anyway.)

        Like

      4. @frasersherman:
        I’m not a regular commenter there anymore because Disqus is a horrible bloated piece of Javascript crap, and one of the advantages of NoScript is that it greatly improves page loading times by not allowing any of that.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It’s simpler than that. The head of America First is a 21 year old who got essentially sat on when he was trying to be a prominent figure in Turning Point USA. So this is basically his revenge — started his own group that has to be even more extreme and disrupt Turning Point USA’s place as a maker of conservative events and big cheese on college campuses. He was rejected, so he’s stalking them and trying to use that to make money and position.

        And this is pretty much the operating stance on the entire right activist sphere. Milo released the tapes on Richard Spencer and then went off and dined with Gavin McInnes, so the attack on Spencer was apparently both revenge and part of Milo getting back in by allying with McInnes. Conspiracy theories for all these guys are simply like accessories and provide excuses for in-fighting.

        Liked by 2 people

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