All posts by Jonathan A

Bearing Drift Lost Virginia

Our opinion: Bearing Drift lost Virginia for the Republican ticket

Shortly after the November 8 presidential election in which Donald Trump lost the state of Virginia, Bearing Drift’s Shaun Kenney wrote a howler of a blog post essentially blaming Corey Stewart for the 2016 Virginia Republican loss – despite the fact an obvious case could be made that in fact Bearing Drift lost Virginia for the Republicans.

Corey Stewart is running for the 2017 Republican nomination for Virginia governor against, among others, Kenney’s former boss, Ed Gillespie.

It was an interesting argument for Kenney to make because, first, it may signal an ongoing NeverTrump proxy war in Virginia throughout 2017, but also because we think it denoted Shaun Kenney’s “Oh shit” moment upon realizing the full import of the November 8 results.

One could argue that several Bearing Drift writers played a key role in helping Republicans lose Virginia in 2016, by encouraging people not to vote for the Republican presidential ticket.

There is no need to even build a case that Bearing Drift was a major source of anti-Trump vitriol beginning at least last December. In our view, Bearing Drift owned the Republican anti-Trump propaganda effort in the state.

Instead of listing all their broadsides, therefore, let’s just review some of the impact. After all, Bearing Drift proudly bills itself as “Virginia’s loudest and most read conservative website” and “one of the leading voices of Republicans in Virginia.” Lest any doubts remain about their GOP pedigree, they profess dedication to upholding the state Party’s “Republican Creed.”

Last December, several weeks after the Muslim terrorist attacks in Paris, the Roanoke Times carried a Bearing Drift column asking all Republican and “center-right” Virginians to join Bearing Drift authors in “condemnation” of Trump’s statements calling for restrictions on Muslim immigration.

For many Virginia voters still unacquainted with Donald Trump as a politician, this forceful condemnation referencing the Constitution by prominent Republicans likely helped define the candidate very early in the process. It was an unfortunate role for an ostensibly “Republican” website to take, since U.S. law gives the president authority, literally, to keep out of the country anyone he wants to keep out. It’s all right there in 8 USC §1182. The Bearing Drift attack was based on a misreading of the Constitution and the law.

Along with the Roanoke daily, Bearing Drift fell in line with Left-wing propagandists who had been lambasting Trump for many months over Trump’s opinions about immigration and about the existence of “no go” areas in European cities.

Now, of course, following a year of Muslim-dominated crime and terrorism in Europe, Trump’s claim appears to be borne out. This is not surprising, because researchers documenting the impact of Muslim immigration have been reporting the reality of European cities – before Cologne, Brussels, Nice, and generally declining security throughout Sweden and many other countries.

But Bearing Drift, true to the #NeverTrump kindergartner pattern of allying with the dog, has a tendency to throw in with the Left against Republican opponents.

And the Left is happy to return the favor.

Earlier this year, when Virginia voters were still learning about the candidates, Bearing Drift provided more fodder for Democrat attacks defining Trump.

In February, in one of the local city news outlets, a prominent Arlington Democrat gleefully trumpeted Shaun Kenney’s post torching Trump and Trump’s “jackbooted” supporters.

Here’s what Shaun Kenney, the respected former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia, recently declared he would do if Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee:

“I will work actively against him to ensure his defeat in the general election should he obtain the Republican nomination. In this, I am not alone. Millions of Americans will not pull the lever for Trump. Millions more are absolutely sickened by the jackbooted tactics of a militated few.”

This is an uncommonly blunt declaration for a prominent party operative to make about his own party’s likely Presidential nominee.

Yes, it certainly was uncommon, and you can bet that Republican and center-right voters who normally might not have read the Bearing Drift blog took notice when Kenney’s educational lesson was published by the city paper.

At the other corner of the state, in a September story reprinted in the Washington Post, the major daily noted Bearing Drift’s “deluge of anti-Trump postings” to support the paper’s claim of “damage Trump has wrought in Virginia.”

When one of America’s most vocal NeverTrump Republicans, Liz Mair, was building the case for Republicans to vote for the Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, she invoked a Bearing Drift poll which actually only comprised a paltry 207 responses – but goes to show how Bearing Drift’s anti-Trump message spread through the force multiplier effect of other web channels.

The Bearing Drift poll in question, by the way, purported to show that Johnson at nearly 30 percent support. Johnson’s final vote total in Virginia was less than 3 percent.

Bearing Drift lost Virginia
In 2016, Bearing Drift was a reliable source of discouraging news about the Republican ticket.

Kenney was also the Democrats’ hero when Virginia’s most influential progressive blog, Blue Virginia, featured two Bearing Drift columns to paint the picture of decent Republicans turning against Donald Trump.

The Democrat blogger was referring to this Shaun Kenney post tearing into colleagues at Bearing Drift for having the temerity to suggest there might be rationales for voting for Donald Trump and for insisting on the quite traditional belief that Party membership requires a certain degree of loyalty to its candidates over non-Republicans.

And this latter example of giving aid and comfort to the enemy illustrates why we think Bearing Drift occupies such a dubious role in the Republican community: We believe that Bearing Drift lost Virginia on November 8, 2016. But it was a greater offense – a worse act of sabotage, in our opinion – that a prominent, “respected” Republican was so bitterly critical of other Republicans who were attempting to follow the Party rules in good faith.

In our view, that is execrable behavior within the Party, albeit called “heroic” by Leftists.

To wit, when the mainstream media needed a “Republican voice” to discredit the Trump campaign in September, they turned to Bearing Drift founder Jim Hoeft.

And finally, when the Hillary Clinton campaign needed to build the narrative that Virginia Republicans were turning away from Trump, who would they turn to except Bearing Drift’s Shaun Kenney?

Hillary Clinton thanks Bearing Drift

Throughout 2016, Bearing Drift produced a constant stream of articles denouncing Trump and Trump’s supporters, feeding the narrative that Trump would lose, and most importantly, giving voters reasons not to vote for the Republican presidential candidate.

Amid the flurry of biased news reports and amazingly inaccurate polling analyses prior to the presidential election, Schoeneman, Kenney, and Hoeft gave Virginia voters numerous rationales not to vote for the Republican presidential ticket. These recognized conservative voices with decent (we admit) persuasive writing skills undoubtedly swayed voters – and we believe made a crucial difference in the final vote.

Here is the arithmetic from Virginia on November 8:

Total third-party and write in votes:

Hillary Clinton vote margin over Donald Trump:

Some may argue that the third-party total includes votes – especially for Jill Stein, and write-ins – that may have had nothing to do with Bearing Drift’s pleas to Republicans. We would agree we can’t blame all defections on Bearing Drift.

But we have not addressed the additional important, but murky, area of Republican voters persuaded by Bearing Drift not to vote third-party, but to positively vote for Hillary Clinton.

Because, yes: Although implicit in much of Bearing Drift’s 2016 anti-Trump writing, the all-knowing, all-powerful, self-assured Godly Republican premiere conservative web site of Virginia did go precisely there to explain why a vote for Hillary was justified.

So who really lost the state for the Republicans? We believe Bearing Drift lost Virginia.

And Corey Stewart might invite the Godly conservatives to take a hike up Old Rag to seek a vision or burning bush or other such humbling encounter.

In any case, we think it’s laughable to lay the blame on Corey Stewart, who actually supported the Trump ticket – although we understand why Shaun Kenney would wish to do so. When one is supposedly an influential Republican and a more-righteous-than-thou conservative in the commentary and consulting world, being proven devastatingly wrong, is a Very Bad Place To Be. The fault must be deflected, pronto.

In fact, judging by both pre- and post-election commentary at Bearing Drift, our entire Kindergartner post probably could have been constructed with examples from Schoeneman, Kenney, and Hoeft.

Rude, thuggish, debased, self-absorbed: Bearing Drift has shown it all in 2016.

But one more bit of weirdness they demonstrate which also seems endemic to NeverTrump “conservatives” is a bizarre degree of self-regard.

Minor provocations, it seems, are all it takes for Kenney and Hoeft in particular to break out their own renditions of the superiority dance. Whether as “conservatives” or “Republicans” or Godly men after the old, old – and by “old” we mean in the “Testament” sense – fashion, they can hold forth like nobody’s business.

We’re not ready to say they are completely full of themselves, but most Bearing Drift columns give the impression of being written under the watchful gaze of a painting of the Bearing Drift writer.

You can often sense a geyser of self-righteous fulmination bubbling just beneath the surface.

In what seems like every third post, the bloggers launch into tirades in an authorial style we call “Vomit of Pharisaical Cliches,” a word salad composed of digested truisms, catch phrases, essays, and sermons, coming back up all over your screen, along with spittle, bile, and unctuous fluids of self-anointing.

Click here a Hoeft sample and here for some of Kenney’s ponderous stylings.

Don’t look too hard for meaning or even logical sentences, because the discharge is mainly self-serving sophistry predicated on the writer’s own righteousness. Words pour forth with heavenly fury that neither reason nor Fowler’s nor Strunk & White shall hinder.

While Kenney appears to have scaled back his blogging since the election (but is still listed as an editor), we will continue to follow Mssrs Schoeneman and Hoeft in the coming year as the Virginia race for governor takes shape. A cursory review of Bearing Drift indicates they are not overly friendly to Corey Stewart, the Trump supporter, although that stance may change as the Trump administration becomes a reality.

We would hope to be able to report, in the future, that despite the fact Bearing Drift lost Virginia in 2016, the writers learn something from the failure besides doubling down in self-defensive self-righteousness.

NeverTrump conservatives

Everything you need to know about NeverTrump conservatives you can learn from a kindergartner

As The Hill reported recently, a few former NeverTrump conservatives are quietly transitioning to “I didn’t mean NEVER Trump,” possibly to salvage their careers on the assumption that everyone they spent 2016 spouting off to will have short memories.

Some of these Trump denouncers know their trek back to relevance will be long, and will begin on their knees.

Not all of them, though.

A dedicated corps of NeverTrump true believers refuses to accept the war is over. They’ve slathered themselves in mud, donned the boots they will die in, and fire volleys from their caves, seemingly following orders from long ago.

Let us note that out in the wilderness is a very bad place to be for political movers and shakers which, in their own minds at least, likely describes every single NeverTrumper. We offer this observation to explain what appears to be a mass descent into madness.

Their careers likely are wound up with their self-images as indispensable political experts, but they have just proven to be not only quite dispensable, but also laughable. Once the Trump Administration is in the White House, these formerly influential Republicans will no longer be the jokers, but the butts-of-jokes.

They have not been merely mistaken about the 2016 election, but have been so flamboyantly and persistently wrong they’re sort of hard to figure out.

Reading their bizarre post-election statements, one has to ask “Who could take this crap seriously?”

The answer is: no one with a brain.

But NeverTrump conservatives, who at one time were each viewed as intelligent people, seem unaware that when your sphere of influence is a circle of fools, you are probably seen as not too bright yourself.

To understand these odd ducks, these eternal soldiers of the petulant mind, we need look not to the Japanese Lubang holdouts but, much closer to home, to the kindergartner in the back seat of the car.

Psychologically, the NeverTrump conservative and the American 5-year old are the same person. Here are the key signs to look for:

1. Rude in victory:

If you’ve spent any time with the average kindergartner, you know that when they get their way, they’re happy but it’s a giddy sort of joy, frequently boisterous and graceless toward those who wanted something different.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, NeverTrump conservatives were champagne-popping dictators-in-waiting, as well as budding Torquemadas, obviously planning for a Trump shellacking and power vacuum in the Republican Party. They began celebrating and leveling insults, and announced purges, punishments, and blacklists, before the first votes were counted.

Amanda Carpenter, joined by the self-anointed conservative purists at RedState set the tone way back in March with an enemies list to blackball, in perpetuity, anyone who endorsed or supported Donald Trump.

Notably, they emphasized Trump supporters “have forever forfeited their right to have their opinion taken seriously,” a proposal to which we’ll return at the conclusion.

More recently, Rick Wilson called for a thorough purge of “the Trumpkins” with their “ignorant and angry primal screams,” and declared his intention to humiliate Trump and teach his “minions” a lesson: “You’re not purging us. We’re purging you.”

David Frum promised “a scorched earth period of recrimination” in the Republican Party against Trump supporters.

With a dark warning of plans for “holding current and future Republican leaders accountable for their acceptance of Trump and other non-Republican con artists,” a group of anti-Trump Republicans unveiled their agenda to clean house at the GOP.

Displaying that same vengeance fever, Marybeth Glenn, the Angriest Christian In Wisconsin, promised such a “hostile environment” for that “subset of the GOP” after Trump’s upcoming loss, that they would either change or leave – but would never be trusted: “Forgive those who messed up, but don’t let them forget it.”

Retribution and mockery were the drivers of #NeverTrump social media:

Ben Howe on Twitter

Ben Howe on Twitter

Rick Wilson on Twitter

Liz Mair on Twitter

Liz Mair on Twitter

marybeth glenn on Twitter

Amanda Carpenter on Twitter

2. Thuggish in defeat:

But when someone else gets their way, watch out. The kid who lost out often retreats into an irrationally gloomy world, with the menacing portent: “It’s going to be TERRIBLE now.”

As we now know, Trump supporters chose wisely, causing the denouncers to look like fools themselves. Donald Trump is the top figure in the Republican Party, soon to be commander-in-chief. His wife and son will reflect on the insults as the First Family. And generally, those who did the threatening and premature grave dancing have a long, maybe impossible, journey back to credibility.

Unlike those who after the election sought forgiveness, the NeverTrump holdouts have doubled down, declaring how awful everything will now be, how every rumor and every Trump decision signal a disastrous and totally non-“conservative” presidency.

Having no historical basis to justify their portentous claims, since the last two Republican presidents were themselves pretty atrocious “conservatives,” the NeverTrump conservatives apparently intend to sway us with their moral authority and their credibility.

It has been so frankly surreal we could fill volumes, and likely will in the future. For now, a wafting from their burning heads will suffice.

Continue reading Everything you need to know about NeverTrump conservatives you can learn from a kindergartner

Surrendering Attention

Surrendering attention is our most wasteful habit

If you’re anything like us, you frequently find yourself reading or listening to some person’s ideas about current affairs and then immediately asking yourself, “Why do I pay attention to these idiots?” Our conclusion is, we allow ourselves to be robbed. This habit of surrendering attention underlies a lot that is wrong with our world today.

A few cases in point:

Jake Tapper, whose “news” program got caught coordinating messages with the Democratic National Committee, somehow saw fit to critique Donald Trump and his “Trumpkins” over Trump’s failure to subject himself to questions from the Jake Tappers of the world in a manner timely enough for Tapper.
Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper still presumably makes a good salary, commands sufficient audience attention to earn that money, and is not hooted off any stage on which he appears. You may see him on TV tonight.

David Frum, once considered a person with relevant opinions, who delivered one of the most laughably misguided takes on the GOP’s future (along with innumerable truly ignorant social media outbursts) is now reduced to trying to gin up controversy between the First Lady and First Daughter.

David Frum
David Frum not only has not been derided into quiet irrelevance, but he commands an influential position as senior editor of The Atlantic, and apparently never shuts up. He has 214,000 Twitter followers.

Finally, Rick Wilson, Republican consultant and self-proclaimed media guy (on both of which, much more on another day), who manages to be so wrong, so loudly, so consistently, like a machine gun of error, it’s a wonder anyone ever paid attention to him at all. Here he is in October explaining why the 2016 election would result in the destruction of the Republican Party. If you want to steep in stupid, read Rick Wilson’s Twitter feed for the past several months.

Wilson’s output since the election has devolved into schoolyard insults and a staccato outpouring of predictions and spittle. But he’s still got over 73,000 followers and still gets to appear on second-tier television programs now and then. If you follow political news, you’re likely to see his name come up in contexts other than raucus hysteria.

Rick Wilson

The common themes are, first, that each of these individuals deserves to be laughed at so hard that nobody who values an audience would ever allow them a public platform again. Second, despite being proven egregiously wrong, these bozos and plenty of others like them shrug it off and come right back at us, fulminating and lecturing, as though nothing had happened, and certainly not chastened nor hampered by self-reflection. Third, as though cogs in their machine, we continue surrendering attention to them.

Why do we, the audience, allow this plunder to go on?

Continue reading Surrendering attention is our most wasteful habit