The demoralization of Dana Pico.

Our chief rival blogger, Dana Pico, has called it quits.

While there is always some value to a good rival, the decline of Dana’s site was ultimately an act of justice. By good rival, I mean Dana Pico and his crowd of co-bloggers and regular commenters were always ready to engage and at least present a fairly well-distilled authentic version of the blather that passed for Republican thought. I probably couldn’t last long on Red State without getting axed, but Dana Pico had one conceit that made his blog tragically superior to most rightwing blogs: he wanted an unfettered free speech zone, where liberals and conservatives would match wits without fear of removal.

Now, this is standard practice at Iowa Liberal, but for a rightwing blog that’s quite amazing. Rightwing blogs do no exist to create dialogues or foster advancing thought. They can only exist as echo chambers, and the only liberals who can hope to remain standing in a comments thread are those too weak and easily battered about to pose a real threat. The model is Rush Limbaugh’s show, where an intelligent, articulate liberal who will stand his ground has no chance of making it through the polished screeners or Rush’s mic-cutting button.

Dana bemoans the loss of his regular commenters, and I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of responsibility. As I read the names, Sharon, Eric, DNW, assovertincups, etc., I could almost recall the precise threads that led to their demise. And I was directly involved in each. Yes, I made Dana’s friends go away, but it’s a political blog, not a Facebook page. So screw’em. I didn’t chase them away with cruelty or mocking, I chased them into corners and didn’t let them bullshit their way out. Climbing out the window was their only option. Or stopping the bullshit and being intellectually honest, but apparently that’s a worse option than suicide to such folks. The bullshit is what fuels their existence. Why argue with me and concede anything when they can go listen to Sean Hannity tell them they’re brilliant?

The real sad part of it all is Dana himself, who really did exist in a class above his partners for most of his blog’s existence. Dana could marshall facts together in a manner that demonstrated at least some regard for the value of veracity. His interpretations of a chart might have been skewed, but he was much less likely than other rightwingers to throw complete fiction out there. He might have been veered into racist dogwhistling with his constant invocations of Barack Obama’s middle name, but he somehow managed to convey in his writing a bit of a wink and a nudge: hey, don’t take it too seriously, I’m just razzing.

But ultimately, Dana couldn’t outrun his allegiance to the letter R next to a politician’s name. After eight years of George W. Bush, leaving the country in financial ruin, disrepair, and locked in permanent war, Dana doubled down, declaring Gee Dubya the second best president of his life next to the sainted Ronald Reagan. The hated and reviled Dick Cheney, architect of America’s degradation via torture and surrender to polluters, was Dana’s choice for 2008. Dana dutifully defended Sarah Palin and recently Rick Perry, calling them smart and relying on the defense that people once called Reagan dumb. Personally, I think comparing Palin to Reagan demonstrates more disregard for Reagan than it does credibility for Palin.

The flipside of this is that Dana also tried getting revenge for Dubya by branding President Obama “the worst president” of Dana’s life. The fact that Dana was forced to recognize that Obama prosecuted the “War on Terror” with greater energy and effectiveness than hero Dubya boxed him in further, leaving him with one plank to rest his case on: Suggesting that not only did Obama fail to magically undo the destruction that Republican policies of the past thirty years had wrought on the economy, but that his policies had actually made the economy worse. I pointed out many times that Dana was against TARP, against the stimulus, against saving the auto industry, essentially advocating nothing as a means of fighting the Great Recession, and Dana readily concurred. I asked him, what if Obama had done “nothing,” and we were at 12% unemployment…? Dana said he wouldn’t give Obama the slightest quarter and would bludgeon him with the 12% number anyway, and literally admitted it was because he was a Republican, Obama was a Democrat, and thus he had to “restore fiscal sanity.” Exit integrity.

But Dana still had hopes of using this narrative to win an election. Until the debt ceiling fiasco.

The debt ceiling fiasco, where Republicans held the economy hostage, threatening to sink the whole ship if Democrats tried to combine spending cuts with tax increases to get our deficit problems under control. Obama surrendered, seeing his approval numbers shattered, the avenger of 9/11 bowed before Republican economic terrorism. In the immediate aftermath, the combination of being so close to the brink damaged our credit rating, and the threat of austerity measures dampened the stock market. How did Dana respond to this great Republican success? Yep, he blamed Obama. Integrity stood no chance of return.

Unfortunately for Dana and the Republicans, Obama’s rope-a-dope strategy snared them again. With the debt deal complete and the public soured on the issue, Obama was able to pivot to active job creation measures. It had been proven to the public and the media for anybody to see that the Republicans were utterly intransigent, and would do absolutely anything to block Obama in the hope of drawing blood for 2012. Emboldened, they weren’t about to stop and suddenly cooperate, and thus the Republicans found themselves once again advocating nothing except more passes for the rich, the 1%, to pay fewer taxes, pollute more, and ship more jobs out of the country.

Then Occupy Wall Street happened, and the dynamic of the country shifted. Everything became crystalline, and the real picture of the past thirty years of Reaganomics became clear. The system was rigged for the rich to get richer and everybody else to suck on their fumes. “Trickle down” economics didn’t work. Bush’s tax cuts broke the bank. The “job creators” were moving factories elsewhere and had the Republican Party firmly in pocket re-writing the rules to keep the money moving in one direction- up. They weren’t making jobs, they were inventing piles of money on paper, calling shit loans triple-A, and when they came up short, when reality intervened, the country took the blow and the taxpayers were handed the bill. Right now, millions of homeowners are still underwater, obligated to pay imaginary prices, facing no good options while the bankers responsible got a bailout.

In that aftermath, lodged in this reality, it’s no surprise that the Republican primary process is a circus, that any halfway-decent candidates long ago opted out, and that we get to tune in to buffoons tossing word salads around trying to pretend that somehow, Dana’s alternate world actually exists. That yes, it’s really Obama’s rescue measures that hurt us, not Republican deregulation. That lower taxes for the rich will do us some good. That we should really keep pouring billions into overseas wars that the public wants out of, and maybe start the biggest one of all with Iran. Why the fuck not nominate a pizza salesman who is proudly ignorant? Knowing things hurts the Republican dream, knowing things chases the la-la fantasies away. Why the hell not claim that Rick Perry is smart and that, you know, he couldn’t do worse than Obama!?

This is an utterly horrible time to be a Republican, and an even worse time to be a Republican blogger who doesn’t want to ban opposing voices from his blog. Dana was too dedicated to his flock, yet his flock wanted seclusion and affirmation. Free speech? Dana’s product didn’t sell.

And so he’s now resigned to offering some content to the blog of his craziest collaborator, John Hitchcock, who’s now begging their few readers for handouts because he’s too broke to afford a decent car (I drive a 2007 Honda CR-V, and I don’t exactly make a fortune, so what’s the deal, Hitchcock?).

I turned very bitter on Dana after the debt ceiling disaster, my patience finally snapped. But it was all politics. Personally, I have no trouble understanding that Dana is a genial, nice guy who would probably make a great neighbor. I’d trust him with him son, I’d hand him the keys to my home if he needed to crash. To me, stuff like that really has nothing to do with political arguments. Even most segregationists were lovely people back in the day, if you were white. But if Republicans tried understanding that principle, they’d deflate the core of what drives populist Republicanism, resentment.

I simply say to Dana, either embrace rational thought or go the way of your friends and heroes. The two have become mutually exclusive. Your blog, in that it was an attempt to reconcile the two, was doomed from the start. I believed at one point you were smarter and wiser than your friends, now I think you to be merely a slicker salesman trying to make blatantly unpopular and unsound positions sound like folksy “common sense” that defies any real common sense. Maybe there’s a brighter future for you, but in all likelihood the only chance is to sell out completely and turn those skills into cash money pimping for the Republican Party at a higher level. Revive the blog, make it exclusive, keep the interfering liberals out, and watch your garden thrive. You might even get your Joe the Plumber moment. Won’t do the country any good, but hey, that obviously stopped mattering awhile ago, didn’t it?


6 Responses to “The demoralization of Dana Pico.”

  1. Perry Says:

    Excellent post, Henry!

    You may be interested to know that Dana could not resist, and has started a new blog:

  2. Henry Whistler Says:

    That dirty bird, he’s going full steam, looks like he’s even got some of the commenters back. What, changing his handle to “Editor” is his grand solution?

    Well, I advocated him returning to blogging, but if he continues to allow liberals full privileges to dismantle the propaganda in comments, the wingers will scatter again.

    Honestly, though, I thought, “Few commenters? Whoopty-doo!” We so thoroughly destroy rightwinger attempts to gain traction here with bullshit that we end up with few commenters. We’d like more fights, but we’re too damn good at them!

    But to hell with it. I see the traffic numbers (and we always trounced Dana, a ten-member conservative circle jerk doesn’t always translate into lots of readers), so I know I have a venue where I can at least get my point of view out there when something gets my goat. I rely on the butterfly effect for my opinion to transform the country:)

    If Dana wants to keep speaking out, he should. But he should also bullshit less, and I can see that isn’t about to stop. Given that he hasn’t yet linked to us or mentioned the site, I’ll let him have some fun for awhile. And if he wants to keep having fun, he should probably block me, because people hate having their sacred cows slaughtered and getting their noses rubbed in the guts.

  3. Dana Says:

    Our esteemed host tries to take too much credit for himself:

    Dana bemoans the loss of his regular commenters, and I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of responsibility. As I read the names, Sharon, Eric, DNW, assovertincups, etc., I could almost recall the precise threads that led to their demise. And I was directly involved in each. Yes, I made Dana’s friends go away, but it’s a political blog, not a Facebook page. So screw’em. I didn’t chase them away with cruelty or mocking, I chased them into corners and didn’t let them bullshit their way out. Climbing out the window was their only option.

    Actually, you were far less responsible than you give your self credit for. You could be tolerated. It was the Phoenician’s continual personal attacks, and the utter bile between Perry and Hube, both of whom were releasing personal information on each other, which led to the shutdown.

    However, one thing is clear: when you have a totally free speech zone, without actual respect for others, it degenerates into a pissing contest, and I was just plain tired of it.

    How, one wonders, does using the President’s real, actual, on the birth certificate name constitute a “racist dogwhist(e)?” Is it somehow disrespectful to call a President by his real name whilst referring to another one as “dubya” is not?

    I see the traffic numbers (and we always trounced Dana, a ten-member conservative circle jerk doesn’t always translate into lots of readers),

    Ahh, regrettably, you didn’t choose to add a Sitemeter to Iowa Liberal — it is free, you know — so who knows. But even now, with CSPT shut down, it’s Sitemeter said that it received (as of this writing) 79 visitors just today, with an average of 146 per day, and 2,411 visits just in November, after the site was shut down!

    So, please, put up a sitemeter, Mr Whistler; that would be the easiest way of actually proving your claim.

    You said that you get few commenters because you so thoroughly destroy them with your brilliant arguments, yet you entitle articles here things like “Erick Erickson is an ignorant c**t.” referring to someone who has, to my knowledge, never visited this site and thus never addressed you at all, and then add:

    Really, Erickson, you ignorant idiot, I’d love to see you take the bait and show up here, because “Erickson gets ass handed to him on obscure blog” would be a great headline. Unfortunately, Erickson, like any weak-minded idiot on the right, won’t let himself get caught up in anything resembling a rational debate with anybody who isn’t already a mouthbreathing rightwinger unless he can spout some soundbites and scramble.

    The utter brilliance of that argument astounds me: without refuting a single thing Mr Erickson writes, you proclaim him an idiot.

    A terrible time to be a Republican? Dude, we’re winning! We won in 2010, and the odds are that we’ll win in 2012. More, we’re winning around the world: the Europeans are responding to the debt crisis not by more Keynesian overborrowing — probably because the responsible leaders recognize that they’ve been “stimulation” their economies for decades now, and it hasn’t worked — but by just the kind of things conservatives have advocated: cutting government spending and balancing their budgets. The only Keynesians left are learned economists like Paul Krugman, who is free to make any proposals he wishes, given that he isn’t actually responsible fore the success or failure of his proposed policies. The people who actually are responsible for things have finally figured it out: doing it the liberal way has not worked.

  4. Henry Whistler Says:

    1. I love how your argument about HUSSEIN! not being a racist dogwhistle immediately pivots to “Dubya is disrespectful too!” Eh? The train of logic there escapes me. For instance, “Barry Soetero” is not something I’ve every regarded as racist…I just regard anybody who calls Obama that as an asshole. See how that works?

    You know exactly what purpose HUSSEIN! had and why you kept doing it, so don’t play ignoramus with me.

    2. I understand which straws broke your back, but I was addressing the siphoning of commenters as people like Sharon and AOTC went running off to cry in their cereal.

    Side note: Mike pointed out to me that Sharon eventually softened her stance on gay marriage. Hallelujah for small miracles!

    3. Mike handles stuff like the sitemeter choice, but I could give a rat’s arse about proving stuff like that to you. If you don’t believe us, that’s your prerogative. I think whatever your disagreements with us you could hardly describe us as liars. That said, your latest stats sound a lot higher than in our previous discussions, so it hardly sounds like CSPT was diminishing as much as you thought. Perhaps you were about to go big time!

    4. I provided a link to the refutation of Erickson’s tripe. If you think there is something further to be said in his defense and wish to act as his proxy, by all means provide the rebuttal I should consider.

    5. You must be reading too many Rasmussen polls. Only Romney stands a chance against Obama, and a pretty thin one at that. He only looks better than the other Republican candidates because they’re so uniformly f’ing terrible. The candy-colored clown show that passes for debates is a continuous Obama ad, and it’s only going to get better.

    6. I don’t know how to explain this to you, but elections are not ends unto themselves. Yes, you won in 2010, but did you give a flying fuck about losing dramatically in 2006 or 2008? And you won in 2010 (via continuous horseshit, naturally), what was the result? Any great jobs plans? No, the result was a gun held to the nation’s head to prevent any kind of taxation sanity. Oh, and a war on unions and women! Great job, Dana!

    Your victory in 2010 is the best case against ever letting you or people who think like you near office again. You’ve had some responsibility the past year, and it’s reminded the public how bad you were before. Not to mention the responsibility you held in the previous Congress for the continuous filibusters that shattered all records. No, Dana, despite your best efforts to pretend Republicans are innocent bystanders, you have a problem as long as anybody possesses a working memory and had their eyes open since January 2009.

    Is it such a surprise that the architects of the 2008 economic collapse are responsible for continuing to muck up absolutely everything they can? That the disaster was gladly passed off to a Democrat who you could turn around and attempt to blame everything for, while you kept pouring gasoline and fanning flames?

    Dana, 2012 isn’t going to be the simple referendum you want it to be. Republican actions are going to be tallied as well, and people will decide whether or not you’ve actually earned a shot at regaining responsibility. But you made your bed, and as Mitch McConnell accurately stated, your ultimate responsibility was trying to make sure Obama was a one-term president.

    Too bad it wasn’t about fixing the country.

    7. Europe’s financial resilience and borrowing power is a very different beast than ours, compounded by a unified currency with no unified economic oversight. Not that austerity has been a success anyway.

    8. Want to see a Keynesian? Easy, find a Republican and start threatening to cut military spending. Not that all government spending really counts as Keynesianism, but hey, Hayek supported universal health care so who the hell cares, right?

    We’d have been in a lot better position to deal with the crisis Republican deregulatory policies gave us in 2008 if we hadn’t just completed eight years of completely wild and reckless credit card spending by George W. Bush, mostly done with a veto-less Republican Congress. You see, Democrats and various other liberals, Dana, actually like to balance books and keep debt from spiraling out of control. But then you Republicans cut taxes and explode spending, trying to create crises that you can then use as excuses to go after social spending programs you hate while directing money towards your own interests (and districts).

    Doing things the conservative way the past thirty years has given us low taxes, high supply, and insufficient demand. We have huge costs for school and health, and all increases in productivity have delivered nothing more than rising piles of money under the fat asses of the ultra-wealthy, who play casino with the economy and let people like you and me handle the fallout. Except they’ve got you firmly tucked in their pocket, and they got you for a bargain.

    I wish you the poorest luck in continuing to screw this country over.

  5. Perry Says:

    Dana, you are in denial of so much, not only the obvious fact that most of your conservative commenters could not stand up to the debate as Henry indicates, but also because your site became increasing lacking in civility. Some who left said it got boring. In contrast, you want to place all of the blame on PiaToR and the Hube/Perry conflict. On the former, you were unwilling to acknowledge an effective and responsive debater. On the latter, you might ask yourself who was the initiator and who the responder. You have permitted your ideology to obscure reason, and your ego to avoid effective debates!

    The same exact behavior has started on your new blog. Unless you acknowledge and step up to these issues, I predict that your new blog will come to the same demise. Then you will be left with “Truth Before Dishonor”, where all you have is a gaggle of conservatives patting each other on the back! Then it’s easy, right Dana?

  6. Henry Whistler Says:

    Yeah, dunno but in my experience Hube was a vapid bimbo who pretty much relied around 90% on just straight up insults and anger. When he tried making an argument and got rebutted, he just made like an egg and scrambled.

    I think almost three times he would be like (paraphrased, in case Diehard Nazi Warrior is reading), “OMG Whistler you think Obama is the best president of your lifetime nuff said!” and I’d explain calmly why I thought so, and then crickets. He tried once, I believe, and it was mainly Bush apologetics, excusing the guy who couldn’t be bothered with reports of bin Laden planning to attack the US, while offering no explanation why the guy who actually killed bin Laden was worse.

    I haven’t read CSPT in awhile so I’m not aware of any particular thread in question, but my experience is that Perry typically tried to punch above the belt, whereas Hube begins with mud and ends with shit.