The Widdershins

Humble in victory, gracious in defeat…

Posted on: June 20, 2014

Good afternoon Widdershins.

Have you caught Soccer World Cup fever? I seem to have some natural immunity to the fever, but that doesn’t mean I’ll pass up a life lesson from the “beautiful sport”.3 Japanese Fans cleaning Stadium

In the opening round of the World Cup, Japan lost to the Ivory Coast 2-1. The Japanese fans, instead of burning couches, overturning cars, or generally rioting, saluted the victory of the Ivory Coast by quietly cleaning up the mess left in the stadium. That’s right, the Japanese fans solemnly picked up the trash left behind in the stadium in deference to the victory of the Ivory Coast. The Japanese were humble in victory and most gracious in defeat. There’s a lesson there.

For a moment, let’s imagine you are moving across the country. You are moving to a small community about which you have little or no information. You and your spouse take a trip to this community to investigate and learn as any prudent Widdershin would.

You first search out a bank and an investment manager. You meet an investment manager and ask their advice. The manager advises you to go into debt and tell your employer to reduce your salary. Taken aback, you ask the manager, “What kind of strategy is that? Has that ever worked?” The manager replies, “It’s always our strategy. It’s what we tell everyone. While it hasn’t worked for anyone yet, we are true believers and if we just stay the course, we believe it will work eventually.”

After the bank, you go visit the local school. You meet the principal who proceeds to tell you that the school teaches creationism, little science, and the lunchroom continues to look like a 7-11 because it’s what the children like to eat.

Leaving the school, you visit the community center to get a feel for the community’s diversity. To your surprise, everyone pretty much looks just like you. You’re told that the community likes the current demographic makeup just fine and the community discourages “other” people from immigrating.

You stop by the hospital to see the healthcare available and the emergency room is full of people waiting to be seen. You casually ask the admission clerk, “Has there been an accident,” to which he replies, “No, that’s just normal around here since we don’t believe in expanding Medicaid. Don’t worry though, since this is all uncompensated care, no one ever notices the increases on their private insurance to pay for it.”

From there you go visit City Hall where you are fortunate enough to meet the Mayor for a chat. The Mayor is just a bundle of energy and quickly peppers you with a series of questions, “What’s your religion? We are almost all Christians here, but some of my best friends are…” she trails off. “Are you business owners,” she continues, “If you are you’ll be happy to know there’s no corporate income tax here because business is job one around these parts.”

Trying to hold back a riverJumping in while the Mayor is taking a breath, you ask, “What is the biggest issue facing the city?” The Mayor then tells you about a water project on a nearby river. The city decided about ten years previous to put a dam across the river to hold back the flow and increase the comfort level about the water supply. You ask, “Did it work?” The Mayor then explains, “The professionals told us we were going about the project all wrong and trying to do the project on the cheap. We didn’t listen.  We knew better. We’ve been at it for ten years now, but we are doubling down. We know we are right. We will fight that river and eventually we will change the laws of nature.”

Would this be a city where you would choose to live?

I bet not. Just the same, this is the current iteration of the vision of the Republican/Tea Party for the country. Offering the same tired economic policy proven wrong both here and aboard. Under the rubric of choice, the schools offer anything but choice. The policy offerings: No immigration, no plan for healthcare even though the inaction costs us all, corporate largesse, and in terms of foreign policy, doubling down on the worst foreign policy decision in modern history despite every scintilla of evidence pointing in the opposite direction.

This last point of doubling down on Iraq was never more prominently displayed than last Sunday on the talkety-talk morning shows. There was Paul Wolfowitz, a major architect of Iraq policy, being asked on Meet the David Gregory, what we should do in Iraq. This is the same Paul Wolfowitz who helped shape the WMD lie.

Wolfowitz wasn’t alone in last Sunday’s version of Back to the Future. There was the man who helped give us Sarah Wrong on IraqPalin, the editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, who has never been right about anything relative to Iraq. Kristol said, “Now is not the time to re-litigate the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.” Of course, Kristol comes to his imaginary position of authority the hard way — by not being still-born. Kristol, like so many men of his ilk, was born on third base and insists he hit a triple while his father was doing the batting.

Then there was L. Paul Bremer, the former special envoy to Iraq, or a modern-day imperial regent not unlike Gen. McArthur in Japan after WWII. Paul Bremer is the man responsible for disbanding the Iraqi Army and de-Ba’athification of the entire Iraqi government. After Bremer was relieved of his duties, he went on the speaking circuit and my employer at the time hired him to speak to a world conference. I met him. The words in his speech burn to this day. He claimed he could not get his phone calls returned from Rumsfeld or the White House and he knew — he, L. Paul Bremer — knew a decision must be made and so he just made it. Let that sink in — unelected, without portfolio, Paul Bremer claimed he alone made the decision that created the Iraq civil war, both then and now, because he couldn’t get a decision from Washington.

At the time, that was the Bremer explanation on dismantling the Iraqi Army and de-Ba’athification. Today, you will not hear Bremer so brazenly take ownership of what many call the coffin nails of any chance for success in Iraq.

Cheney and LizAnd then there’s Dick Cheney and daughter Liz. Their list of egregious errors about Iraq is too long to even begin cataloguing. Suffice it to say, ten years is not the few months Cheney originally prognosticated, 4,477 American lives and over 30,000 grievously injured are not the evidence of being greeted as liberators, and a single drop of Iraqi oil has yet to be sold to reimburse us the Three Trillion dollars in treasure wasted.

How is it possible that these people have the audacity to appear on television and erase and then rewrite history? How is it that the show bookers believe our collective memories or our Googling skills are that bad?

I came across a term this past week that I believe helps explain it. The term is “movement conservatism” or as I prefer to call it, “institutional conservatism”. Technically the definition is:  an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.

In friendlier terms, the proposition means there is no personal cost for being wrong as a conservative. It works something like this: If you are conservative and have a favorable benefactor in the White House, you are sitting in high clover. You sing the psalms of conservatism knowing full well the policies are bogus and the effects are deleterious to everyone other than corporations and the moneyed, but advocating for such feckless policies is the price of being an institutional conservative.

Being an institutional conservative is a no risk career path. When your party vacates the White House, you find a Mission Accomplishednice, comfortable seat in a conservative think tank, an endowed chair, or a conservative fundraising committee. This type of institutionalism is unique to conservatism. There is no moral equivalency argument here — these types of endowed “free spaces” don’t exist on the Left. In large measure this revolving career nesting and hibernation cycle has been engineered by none other than the Brothers Koch through their web of affiliated organizations.

With this type of safety net, movement conservatism is a very safe and lucrative career choice. It’s a shame those like Wolfowitz, Bremer, Kristol and others who have been the coddled recipients of this luxurious career migration can’t or won’t learn from the Japanese soccer fans. We know these institutional conservatives are genetically incapable of being either humble or gracious, but the very least they could do is just shut up while we try to clean up their mess.

This is an open thread.


15 Responses to "Humble in victory, gracious in defeat…"

I stand in awe of the japanese fans. What a lesson to sports fans everywhere.

Absolutely outstanding post Prolix! And I dearly loved your story about the couple checking out the community.

As far as those loser neo-cons, it galls me every time I see them on the teevee. It makes me want to throw things at the tube! 👿

Ditto what Fredster and chat said. Fabulous post. Your illustrations are excellent. I have also been choking with fury this past week watching these murderous creeps criticizing the current admin (and Hillary) and completely ignoring their own guilt. It sickens me. My mom also, we just talked about it last nite.

One of the things I liked about Japan was that there was never any litter or graffiti, and the people were extremely polite.

annie said: and completely ignoring their own guilt.

That’s it! They either can’t or won’t admit their own complicity in how that fiasco turned out. And then for Prolix to actually hear Bremer spew his b.s. personally…poor Prolix must have had to choke back quite a few comments.

Oh puhleeze! May I vomit now?

“Meet the David Gregory”!!!!

Finally, Prolix has identified the problem which had no name.

Happy summer Sunday everyone! Since sports are huge this week, here’s a great music vid about sports:

@6: Charles Price has a name for him that I can’t recall right now. I’ll have to go look at some of his prior comments.

Hillary gets surprised by Chris Colfer from Glee at a Cali booksigning.

annie: Love that vid!!

Fredster, I wanted to go to a Hillary signing. Can’t believe I missed it.

annie@11: I haven’t even bothered to look for the schedule to see where the tour takes her. I’ve just got a feeling she probably won’t be making any trips to AL, MS, LA or the like.

Nope, here’s what left of the tour.

Wow, checking at Amazon, the trolls were sure out for the comments on the book.

@8: Charles Pierce often calls David Gregory “Dancing Dave”.

Here’s just one example of Dave gettin’ down with his bad self on the teevee. ( Vomit alert: Near the end of the video, Dave seems to be doing his unique version of the Funky Chicken. It’s, um, “haunting”. )

Beata: I thought that’s what it was but i wasn’t sure.

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