I wrote about America's Representative and the people/movement he represents. https://t.co/JGgMD0ffXy
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) February 10, 2023
Something to start the weekend wind-down…
There is a perspective on the world that only comes through the windows of a car. There is what’s inside, and what’s outside; there’s the world and the people in it and their lives, and then there’s the person watching it through glass. Passing in climate-controlled comfort through all that disorder and non-control—or, anyway, through whatever those people are doing on the other, less-understood side of things—the person on the inside is in command, but also at the mercy of all those obstructions waiting to happen. They are at the very center of reality, and hopelessly surrounded.
The narcissism of this is not necessarily what you want, although envisioning yourself doing John McClane wisecracks while being hunted through your day by hordes of assassins is by now something like the resting American state of being. But there is a deeper and more global derangement to it, something that can, if left untreated, develop into a worldview. Spend enough time like this and everything on the outside, simply by dint of being where it is, starts to look like an enemy…
The wreck that this has made of the culture—which is atomized, simultaneously cynical and credulous, blithely predatory and outraged at its perceived victimhood, bottomlessly thirsty and generally too angry and lonesome and scared to think straight—is all around. There are a number of things to say about people who experience the world this way, but one is that their confusion and fear, and the fantasies of retribution and impunity that grow from that, and the fake-it-til-you-make-it recklessness that grows from that, make them not just reactive and jumpy and distractible, but extremely easy marks.
Someone out to enrich or empower himself at the expense or just through the credulity of such people wouldn’t even have to be an especially artful liar. Such a person would need only to tell those people the types of lies they like, and then just keep doing it. The problems can never go away; the problems are the only thing holding this curdled worldview and constituency of crabs in a barrel together; the terrifying/titillating lawlessness of the world outside is what justifies the giddier lawlessness that applies for those on the inside. So the sales pitch is merely a matter of reading The News back to the people who have made themselves its captives, and doing so in a way that suggests that you also believe it. If they hear the right tones of distaste and delight, these inside men and women will vote for that candidate, and for the problems that order their lives. Of all the many, many lies that George Santos told in hustling his way into the House of Representatives, these were surely the easiest…
The Times, in one of its many stories about Santos, identified “one of the most vexing questions” about this whole thing as being “how did the gate-keeping system of American politics—Republican leaders, adversarial Democrats, and the prying media—allow a fabulist who boasted about phantom mansions and a fake résumé to get away with his con for so long?” In a country that just had Donald Trump as its president, this framing lands somewhere between quaint and infuriating. The question is indeed pretty fucking vexing. Its answer is even more so. We live in it.
If candidate Santos represented a stress test of the electoral process, then that process failed in precisely the way it has been failing for some time. His continued presence in Congress despite something like 80 percent of the people in his district wanting him to resign represents less a failure of the broader system than maddening evidence of the broader system continuing to dither and drift rather than fail outright. “While Santos’s behavior is both egregious and clear-cut,” Matt Yglesias wrote at Bloomberg, “it’s not unusual for observers to disagree about which of a politician’s statements are lies and which are just normal rhetoric.” (The last words of that column are “leave well enough alone.”) Since being sworn in, Santos has done his job as it exists—showing up when everyone else does, going on friendly cable channels and blinking a lot, wandering into variously humiliating scenarios and looking flummoxed and then posting very strongly about it afterwards…
The critic Lionel Trilling’s famous assessment of reactionary politics as “a series of irritable mental gestures that seek to resemble ideas” has not gotten any less correct, but it has slipped out of balance, or just into a more gleeful expression of itself. The gestures long ago gave up the ghost of resembling anything larger. There is no longer any need for a conservative politician or reactionary TV pundit to justify what they say and do, but they absolutely cannot stop saying and doing those things. Politicians increasingly behave like influencers—not just always broadcasting, but always on, always upset, always ready to extrude some sort of response to whatever it is that is being responded to at that moment. In this sense, Santos is as fit and qualified for his position as anyone else…
The most and the least that can be said for Santos is that he has never quit. More or less nothing he says is true, his lies are witless and weird and easy to spot, but he stayed focused, never once told the truth when there was some lie around to tell, and knew enough not to stop, or apologize. The tidal currents of a lousy, stupid moment carried him on, and up, and he washed up gasping and pop-eyed on the further shore, victorious…
If there’s something poignant there, it’s by accident. One of the few things about Santos that seems demonstrably true is that he likes dogs, but even that is harder to credit because of how often he took money intended to help sick dogs and redirected it to his own accounts. He was not and is never thinking any of this through, but he knew enough. Trying to be what he thought the mark across from him wanted to see led Santos first to try to be Someone Interesting, and then Someone Important, and finally just to reflect the idle grievances and memetic horror and headlong heedlessness of those vain and furious marks back at themselves. He would not make them safe; they didn’t want to be safe. But he would luxuriate with them in the daily offense of what they believed they had lost, and embody the higher lawlessness to which they aspired; he would, in the blankest and most implicating sense, be their representative. It might be the first time he’s ever done what he said he would do.
@Baud: Yah, got a lot of gall to be asking that.
Christ on a crutch, ain’t that the truth?
@Baud: If only there were some institution we could rely on to investigate and accurately report on these things. Maybe they can get the editorial board to bandy some ideas about.
@Baud: Forget it, Baud. It’s the Times, and they are a-not changin’.
He uses the metaphor of looking at the world — through closed windows — from a car, and that’s apt enough, but I’d say a closer one is via a screen, either mostly passively by watching preferred TV channels or more actively by accessing, reading/watching, and sometimes contributing to preferred online media. There’s the same protective distance, and the same sense of relative powerlessness in the face of things huge and uncontrollable, but there is also heavy bias — a material fraction of which is unconscious IMO — in the images and ideas that one sees/hears/reads and the way they affect one’s worldview. That is, in a car, you almost can’t help seeing things that are different or new, even if you turn away from them, but online you can choose your view almost completely: you are forever driving in your own familiar neighborhood, seeing what you want to see, and shouting things to people who agree and shout them back at you (even if there are weird rumbling noises coming from just out of sight), and you almost never have to go out onto that annoying/scary highway.
As noted, it’s atomization, but it’s not only that. It’s artificial reality. It’s not quite a fantasy world — there are still Scary Things out there, and not just the ones you want to be scared by — but a lot of it IS controlled, and it’s exactly that degree of control, and the illusion (which you want to believe) that it’s complete, that makes you a mark.
You know what helps? Dealing with actual people. I always love doing volunteer work, and not just political stuff. It’s almost weird, after being online so much.
Sister Golden Bear
Santos is Trump, if Trump had been born poor.
Props for the Robyn Hitchcock reference.
At this point nothing the Rs do surprises me. They are utterly amoral.
OT: Something light hearted for a Friday evening.
Fun with names that have a’s.
He always has such a fucking smug look on his face in every photo.
@Baud: verily, ’tis a wonder (eyeroll)
It’s almost like the Times might question its assumptions first, and then perhaps set out to figure out which “gates” failed us here, and THEN perhaps report out.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I thought about this a lot when I took public transportation. Rich people never interact up close with the world that way; the rest of us take it for granted and have a completely and profoundly different experience of the world
@gwangung: gall or hubris? Like maybe a blind spot the size of Antarctica. The media “view from nowhere” … of themselves.
“But wait, if we’re viewing ourselves, and it’s a view from nowhere, then…! [pops out of existence]
Lies, damned lies, and bombastics.
@Sister Golden Bear: AND boosted by funding by who-knows-where (wait…that’s true of trump, too)
AND excused by the media (wait…that’s true of trump, too)
AND shamelessly doubled down on every accusation and/or blithely blew past it (wait…that’s true of trump, too)
I got nothing. Props.
Chacal Charles Calthrop
And there’s another Republican who has more or less reinvented herself, maybe not quite as much as Santos, but certainly to the point where her former friends and neighbors remember everything significantly differently:
(apologies for the WaPo paywall).
Reagan was an actor, Bush the younger the son of a former president from Connecticut who pretended to be a salt-of-the-earth bush-wacking Texan, Gingrich pretended to be an outsider, etc.
It’s almost as if the whole Republican party has turned itself into the party of people who really, really want to be someone other than who they are.
And to me all this echos Dorothy Thompson’s wonderful essay, “Who goes Nazi?”
Her conclusion: it wasn’t about politics, it wasn’t about nationalism, it wasn’t even about ethnicity or race: Fascism “appeals to a certain type of mind.” And she found a false core was key to that type of mind.
Read the whole thing, as the kids say today.
@schrodingers_cat: Hahaha…I can relate as someone with a first and last name that no one can pronounce or spell. My first name has six letters, and my last name has five. When I spell them for people the voice in my head says MIC-KEY MOUSE.
@Narya: This is going to happen to Santos all the time now. Someone will say something to him, he’ll mention it, and they’ll deny it.
No one is ever going to believe anything he says, although if he ever meets Trump all bets are off.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
He probably confused her with the other senator dressed as a banana with wings.
Unstoppable force meets immovable object.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: Wow, that article goes way back.
If I’d needed any further reminder that I shouldn’t bother to track down Big Media Matt and find out what pearls of wisdom he’s been producing lately, that would have sufficed.
caring & sensitive
Everyone should do themselves a favour and subscribe to Defector. $79 a year (perhaps an additional $20 if you wish to be able to comment). It is one of the only two website I pay to read (hello BJ) and it is money well spent. The articles are great and at least once a day I find myself laughing out loud (literally) at the comments
Nice segue there!
Motherfucker is Jay Gatsby without the looks, charm, money, intelligence or courage.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist
Unintentional reiteration on my part. Your comment wasn’t there whilst I was typing #15.
If you have a spare 15 minutes, Levels of Wealth merits a peek. Nothing ground breakingly new so much as info condensed into one easy to digest but not elementary chunk.
@eclare: Bengali a’s can be confusing.. People butcher my name IRL too.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: This is the only time I will believe a single word out of Sinema’s mouth.
Hoocuddanode? (Hint: Everybody.)
@lowtechcyclist: it appears that the Representative and the NYT and even the GOP as a whole share one thing…
a pathological need to refuse introspection…..
Probably because that “prying” media utterly failed to pay attention when his “adversarial Democrat” opponent pointed out that he was lying. I’ve heard a lot of people blasting his opponent for failing to do opposition research and catch him, but they actually did. It’s just that the local media utterly failed to pick it up until after the election. This is so often the case. The Democrats do actually catch the Republicans, but the media steadfastly refuses to pay attention until it’s too late, then blames the Democrat for their failure.
Steve in the ATL
Seriously. Always appropriate!
Jim, Foolish Literalist
A local paper, The North Shore Leader, ran an op-ed calling him out in October and Chris Hayes had on his show a reporter for New York Newsday who said he did several stories on Santos, but I forget his name and Newsday has a paywall, so I didn’t really pursue it.
You know what? I will no longer read any articles about Santos and I no longer give the FTFNYT one iota of credibility.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: that was very interesting, thanks!
And as Eric Hoffer said later in the True Believer, it takes an authoritarian mindset (paraphrasing).
When Santos arrived early for the State of the Union to get near the aisle to greet Biden and appear on television, I finally realized he is just not your garden variety nut, but an extraordinarily mentally Ill individual. An intervention is needed.
He’s certainly got the extra time. Not like there’s any committee responsibilities clogging up his calendar.
Mr. Bemused Senior
@oldgold: the intervention seems likely to be an arrest. He has left a trail of crime victims. He stole puppies to stage a puppy adoption!
Did he think nobody would notice? Who knows how many other people he has ripped off?
Okay, I know a lot of people around here are anti-car, but blaming cars for Santos is a bit steep.
I have actually often thought about the extreme separaton of the rich and everyone else, and how much it has changed in my lifetime. I grew up in a town of about 20,000 people in northern Indiana. The people who owned the large department store downtown had boys who played I played softball with, the grocery store was owned by local people, every business downtown was the same. The rich kids lived in a part of town with nicer homes, but no gates separated us and we all went to high school together. The vice president of a large steel company (25,000 employees) lived in town. I went to school with his daughter. The point is, the richer people were part of our community, cared about the schools and knew the people, and went to the same local events.
Now, everything is owned as a franchise or wholly by some out-of-town people whom I have never met and who live behind some gates or on Long Island or somewhere like that. Their kids all go to private schools and don’t mingle with the hoi-polio. It has become two separate worlds.
Hereafter to be known as the Santos Clause.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: It’s a sad comment on Sinema that I was completely ready to believe it.
Weekend wind-down, huh. I still observe weekends retired that I am. Politics, angst, worry, all take a weekend backseat for me if I can fix it so. Winding down, for me, means giving assholes, ghouls, liars, politicians less time in my head. Outa here. Be safe and sane all.
@Omnes Omnibus: Wait what?
Queen of Lurkers
@schrodingers_cat: Ha, ha. As a Bong, I really enjoyed this.
What if Santos is… DougJ?
Wow. That’s, like, a mind-blowing concept, man.
@Queen of Lurkers: Portha was the funniest.. I also loved the dramatic music.
@patrick II: exactly! Several people in my small working class town were from wealth (Colgate-Palmolive; Campbell’sSoup), which I did not realize at the time. We went to high school together.
@Poe Larity: Aren’t we all DougJ?
Mr. Bemused Senior
We are all Fafnir
@Mr. Bemused Senior: That always was a very strange blog.
@Narya: Same here, my public schools, especially high school, ran the gamut from the girl who got a Corvette when she turned sixteen to kids from a low income housing development. I doubt you would see that socio-economic mix today.
@gwangung: Yes. They didn’t report, they had a Narrative. And it was Crime Crime Crime All The Time Time Time And It’s All The Democrats’ Fault.
@Poe Larity: We’d get lots of clever music references tucked into his dialogue.
I keep thinking Santos looks like Clark Kent gone to seed.
West of the Rockies
@Mr. Bemused Senior:
We are all Tim Kono.
@Omnes Omnibus: And Giblets was a very demanding Giblets.
I haven’t thought about it in years. Now I’m missing it.
@Baud: OMG Kyrsten Bananawings. Done.
@Mr. Bemused Senior: Lol yes, yes we are. But we are also Giblets.
@West of the Rockies: That was a character in Only Murders in the Building…
@different-church-lady: This is a case of which lying liar to believe 🤷🏼♀️ I honestly don’t know who to believe.
It’s a shame Jon Lovitz isn’t still on SNL; yeah, that would have been the ticket.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Dangerman: he brought that character back on (I think) the Tonight Show
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: I was always a bit uncomfortable with that Thompson essay, since I suspect the real answer is: nearly all of them go Nazi, once they realize the Nazis are now in charge and not being Nazi might be inconvenient or dangerous.
@Jackie: Neither? Sinema and Santos exchanged words, but not those words, maybe?
just cant ignore the parallels between Santos in the specific and the GOP writ large…
they lie unrepentingly, when confronted with their lies; they deflect it with something else…
they believe that everyone lies, and to a degree, that’s true but we’re talking about if we bought fast food when we’re on a diet lie and they’re making up whole new identities and claiming deeds and accomplishments that are used to build a reputation and are upset at “our” hypocrisy because they equate the small lies that we use every day are the same as the ones they use to exploit the system.
Mike in NC
Seems likely that 25%+ of the people who’ll run for Congress for the first time in 2024 will be clones of “George Santos”.
Ya dance with them that brung ya.
Has this assclown claimed to be D. B. Cooper and Amelia Earhart yet?
The FTNYT released some chaff and everyone goes off course following it.
I want to know more about Santos connections with Intrater and the rest of Putin’s oligarchs. Santos is a plant, deeply enmeshed along with the rest of the Trump crime family.
@patrick II: Piketty deserves a Nobel prize.
@Other MJS: On Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, a few weeks ago, Emmy Blotnik referred to Santos as “Marco Rubio’s Clark Kent”.
@patrick II: My high school graduating class of 111 included the now president of a probably $400~$500 million dollar family company. Four plywood mills, 10,000 acres of timberland, 3 building supply stores, a lot of heavy equipment and class 8 trucks. We had a pleasant conversation at an old high school friend’s wedding a few years ago.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Is it possible that we have found someone who can’t even tell the truth by mistake? He’s the ultimate con man. Every word is a lie.
Is it possible that Santos (if that in fact is his real name) is the person that can’t even stumble over the truth? He’s so used to making shit up that he has to lie. It’s his one and only nature.
Mark von Wisco
The post title is one of my favorite songs by Robyn Hitchcock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsZIzQQF2_E
Major Major Major Major
@AlaskaReader: I get more of a “laundering money for the mob” vibe
@Narya: I ran that experiment on myself when I returned to public transit after having had a car for a decade. I defintely felt more patient and in general more in touvh with people. The difference felt striking.
@Sister Golden Bear:
Santos is a lying sack of shit. SFB is a sack of bullshit, the colloquial version. IOW Santos lies as often as he breaths, he works at lying, SFB isn’t smart enough to lie, he bullshits. And yes constantly. But there is a difference, it may only be in degree but they are not the same, other than being rethuglicans. Which in it self is more than bad enough. Santos has no boundaries, he lies about everything, likely knows he’s lying but can’t help himself. He’s a lying sack of shit. SFB is a stupid fuck who bullshits his way through everything. If Santos’s entire life wasn’t about lying he might be believable because it’s the degree of lying that tips off everyone. SFB bullshits to a degree. Yes as he’s gotten older he bullshits to a degree that everyone that isn’t drunk or asleep for the last 20 yrs recognizes he’s lying. But he’s consistent about his lying. Santos lies about the time of day. SFB just doesn’t know what time or often what day it is.
Quaker in a Basement
Too much examining and analyzing. Not enough saying that it’s just fucking wrong.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: I.e., a conformist. Fine essay, thanks for the link.
@Major Major Major Major:
@AlaskaReader: The Intrater connection may be very important. Intrater’s money made it to the Nassau County Republican Committee as well as Lee Zeldin’s campaign. That may be why the party tolerated Santos and his bogus resume (they may have thought Santos would not win and then be exposed).
Andrew Intrater is an American citizen and can legally give money to Republicans. However, his investment company, Columbus Nova was founded in 2000 as an investment vehicle for Intrater’s cousin, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Intrater’s donations might have come from Vekselberg.
Vekselberg and Intrater have been in hot water for several years now over sanctions evasion. On last September 6, FBI agents searched Vekselberg’s homes in Miami, New York City and Long Island. So it’s possible Santos was caught up in that investigation already when he won the NY 3rd CD unexpectedly.
Intrater is reported to have backed the dubious Florida company that apparently accountes for the sudden “wealth” Santos claimed in his 2022 campaign filings. Intrater is said to claim that he was scammed by Santos, but Intrater does not seem to be the type anyone scams.
I sometimes wonder if the advent of private jets in the early Seventies is what created the bizarre isolation of the ultra-wealthy. Before that, they had to go to the same airport as everyone else, and the isolation of first class from the rest of the plane isn’t that much. The era of private rail cars had passed decades ago (before WWII) and a small private yacht is a rough way to cross the Atlantic.
With private jets, the limo goes straight to the plane or a small private lounge, you travel alone, or with business associates, or with family, and arrive the same way. You never meet the public, ever, and the only people you do meet are servants or other oligarchs. A few years of this rarefied isolation would really skew your world view. (For example, I’m not sure T**** has ever driven a car for himself, and golf carts don’t count.)
@Omnes Omnibus: I told the Medium Lobster that I had two words for him, viz. “drawn butter”. The Fafblog went silent soon thereafter….
Stolen from Reddit
@ColoradoGuy: Hell, he doesn’t know how to give out Halloween candy! At a White House Halloween event, he put the candy on top of the kid’s head instead of in his bag.
Or maybe he was being deliberately cruel again, hard to tell sometimes.
Qrop Non Sequitur
Maybe some weird dance between the two. Sinema liked being the least trustworthy person in Congress, now she’s really gonna have to work for it.
All of the Santos lies are despicable, but I don’t see enough emphasis on his financial fraud, stealing clothes, dogs and who knows what else.
@AlaskaReader: yes and now ask yourself why the NYT is focusing on and directing us to the stupid lies instead of to the fundraising fraud and the money and people behind him.
@Chacal Charles Calthrop: Someone on Twitter said it’s as if Luna created a candidate to appeal to every segment of the gerrymandered district, Hispanic, Jewish, military, crime victim, gun toting, used her own bootstraps, etc., etc.
Your hopes for the FTFNYFT seem to be, what’s that concept, possibly a tad too high, even in jest.
As we all should know, the FTFNYFT is a paper for rich people who “earn” their big bucks by moving money around – for a cut. It is not a paper that gives a rats ass about anything but money and who has it. Us peons are here solely to support them, those rich fucks who make a living moving money around – for a cut. We are their waiters and waitresses, we are their bank tellers so that they can get a cut of everyone else’s money, we are the ones that sell them their well over $60,000 cars and maintain them and likely drive them. We are their servants, in all ways that word can be used. And because we are their servants, we are all absolute trash. We expect to be paid reasonably and their concept of reasonable is the absolute least they can get away with. They don’t need much out of the government, from any level. And the people that provide those needs are as low as everyone else at the base of the totem pole they sit a top of, pissing down on everyone else. Thing is they would still be rich beyond any need if taxed at 86.45%, as we did during WWII. That maximum US income tax rate is currently 37%. And they are still becoming extreme billionaires. They would still be extremely wealthy if that was raised to 45 or 50%. But the country would be far better off. And they don’t give even a shitty fuck.
It’s almost like he’s based his character on the book. Lie, lie some more, get rich and powerful. And then lie some more.
I wonder if he understands the book is fiction and this isn’t the roaring 20s?
@Major Major Major Major: If by ‘mob’ you mean the Russian mob.
@Geminid: …yes, nothing about it is a recent development.
@Princess: I stopped asking why the FTNYT ran interference for the despicable long ago. It’s because they are every bit as despicable as those they protect.