By Bob Dorn
Hubris it might be called. From Richard Nixon’s embarrassing proposal for a White House ceremonial guard dressed in musical comedy uniforms to Ronald Reagan’s naked affection for ranchero machismo to George Dubya’s endorsement of even faker ranchero machismo (he didn’t like horses and went awol from his national guard post); professed Republicans have tended to talk tough. And done poof.
They’re fantasists, of a particular variety.
Locally, there’s no better example of this commitment to the wet dreams of destiny than the website, San Diego Rostra.
Latin is the origin of the site’s name — the plural of rostrum, which in ancient Rome was the place in the Forum where, as the website explains, “Many of history’s giants spoke from the Rostra (sic) including Cicero, Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, among others.” A tall bunch to join, but the brave bloggers at San Diego Rostra aren’t embarrassed to try.
You don’t have to read far into the list of contributors to find that this is a culture that strives to maintain Eurocentric, even mythological purity. First and mightiest is the website’s moderator, who calls himself The Mighty Thor.
As any teenaged reader of comic books and most Harley riders know, Thor was an early medieval Germanic invincible with a taste for a lot of different women, a guy who just naturally liked to disrupt the peace. That Original Thor wouldn’t have cared much for the Romans’ love of oration and organization (which, of course, the Germans were later able to cultivate to a horrific degree) but let that go; The aspirational founders of SD Rostra chose Thor as their guiding light. The assistant to the founding Mighty Thor is known as Thor’s Assistant.
Back in August of 2009 the founding semi-deity welcomed his first tribe members thusly:
“I am MIGHTY THOR, your moderator. This website is meant to be a forum wherein news and opinion, usually from the perspective of the center-right, can be read, discussed, and argued. Our Republic is only made stronger when citizens are active in open debate. Although this website’s bloggers are all right of center, MIGHTY THOR welcomes well reasoned opinions from across the political spectrum.”
The celestial and thunderous authorities on the right who show up on the list of contributors include Ayn Rand, another German. Now, what should come to mind is, where is humility? What sort of human would have the nerve to pretend to the name of her/his idol? That would be like somebody writing for The Reader under the pseudonym David Foster Wallace (or, let’s face it, Ayn Rand).
Humor is suggested by some of the pseudonyms, but those, too, suggest a certain embrace of warfare and mayhem.
There’s Buck Turgidsen, self-named after the gum-chewing hyperkinetic Air Force General played by George C. Scott in Stanley Kubrick’s “ Dr. Strangelove” who does a joyous back flip at the thought of SAC bomber’s actually penetrating Soviet air defenses and bombing us all into the Stone Age, a place where Thor would prefer we all had remained.
Another fiction-lover who writes at SD Rostra is Elliot Ness. Ness was an actual Treasury Department agent during Prohibition, the son of Norse immigrants, who proved himself so effective at self-promotion that he’s often mistakenly credited with having rounded up Al Capone and his Chicago Mafia. The latter day myth of Ness was advanced by a long-running television serial back in the late 50s and early 60s that starred a no-nonsensical, stoical and puritanical Robert Stack. Hearts throbbed back in the American Heartland.
This 21st C. Ayn Rand’s latest contribution to SD Rostra was a recent reference to Carl DeMaio’s exploration of a run against Democrat Scott Peters for the 52nd Dist. Congressional seat. Peters is the guy who only last fall defeated incumbent and 16-time SD Rostra contributor Brian Bilbray. Who can say if Bilbray’s posts helped or hurt him?
A surprising number of San Diego politicians show up on the site’s list of contributors, everyone from mild-mannered Nathan Fletcher to the fire-breathing Richard Rider, of San Diego Tax Fighters who, with 211 short essays, is one of the principals at the site. As well, D.A. Bonnie Dumanis has contributed no fewer than 15 times (unless, of course, if she also wrote five times as Elliot Ness).
Assembly members from the solidly Republican North County confess themselves here, along with Congressional Rep. Darrell Issa who has contributed 26 times. Duncan Hunter is a less frequent blogger. Other Republicans are San Diego City Councilmember Lorie Zapf, County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and other of San Diego’s leading lights and lightweights on the right.
The second-most frequent contributor, behind Richard Rider, is Carl DeMaio, with 196 appearances. These aren’t just one-line tweets; they’re fully elaborated political messages.
Like most right-wing politicians and their followers these days, ethics, beliefs, morality, principled argument and stuff like that are, kinda, situational.
Ayn Rand exonerates U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy’s surprising endorsement of Carl DeMaio over Bob Filner in last fall’s mayoral election even before the Federal Election Commission completes its investigation of Filner’s claim Duffy violated federal law in doing so.
Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee recently attacked Gov. Jerry Brown for proposing to hire, among others, the long-term unemployed and homeless to work on the construction of the high-speed rail project. But then Jones declared within a few sentences that Brown should, “Hire the dad who got laid off from his job, or the single mom who is trying to support her family, or the college graduates that can’t find jobs in California.”
In other words, certain kinds of people are deserving and others are not. Jones can tell the difference. So can Ayn Rand.
Gods know who should get a break, and who shouldn’t, and so do the memetoads at SD Rostra, where words mean exactly what they mean them to say.
Bob Dorn’s explorations of the memetoads of the blogosphere appear at San Diego Free Press weekly, more or less.