Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cutting Off The Nose

I have a friend -- I guess we're friends, but we get pretty mad at each other when we talk politics -- who's about as hard-core right wing as it gets. Believes with all his heart that Fox "news" is fair and balanced; loves him some Bill O'Reilly, thinks Ann Coulter is the catty meow. Other than his political blinders, he's a truly good guy, a no-longer-active Marine (not "ex:" he informed me there's no such thing, and I get it), volunteers lots of time to help connect vets with services, loves his family, especially his grandkids. To me he once praised our Democratic senator for her help in setting up a veterans' center in his town, saying she and her staff were the best he'd ever worked with, that they understand veterans' issues like no one else and are committed to providing for them.

He made it clear he'd never vote for her, because she's a Democrat. He also agrees Subarus are great cars (I'd just bought one for my daughter-in-law), and said he'd never drive one, because liberals do. He wasn't kidding.

On one occasion I asked him, as a veteran, as a father and grandfather (characteristics we share), what, specifically, he saw happening if Rs take full control of our government that would be good for him and his. The only thing he could think of was that they'd fix the deficit. I pointed out, of course, that starting with Saint Ronnie every R president has increased deficits and every D has lowered them. "Well, that's what they claim," he said.

He used to be a typically Foxified climate change denier. I challenged him to take an online course with me, produced by the Scripps Oceanic Institute. He surprised me by agreeing; and by the end, he was convinced. Good for him. In his willingness to learn, he's exceptional among most on his side. I've tried to get him to consider that maybe the rest of the stuff he hears on Fox "news" is similarly false. He can't. Or won't.

When I've sent him information about various subjects on which we disagree, he dismisses it as liberal propaganda, no matter the facts at hand. If it comes from the NYT, he won't read it. Liberal media bias, he says. Pre-rejected. Okay.

Still, he's more open than most teabaggRs. When we get together for coffee, we find more common ground than when we fire emails at each other like 122s. But he's absolutely typical otherwise: despite being unable to offer one thing that Rs are for that he sees as positive for the future of his grandkids, other than his mistaken belief that they'd fix the deficit (I've referred him to Kansas; he denies it demonstrates the problem with R policies and doesn't accept the evidence), he'll vote for them till forever. He buys totally into the Ann Coulter description of liberals. (According to her, liberals hate America more than terrorists do; college is for effete wimps, and professors are to be laughed at; liberals hate religion because liberalism is religion to them and they can't stand the competition -- and those are accurate paraphrases. You can look it up.)

Kansas is hardly alone in demonstrating the failures of R economic evangelicism. Texas has cut 5 billion from its school funding. Throughout red states, voter suppression is rampant, denigration of science is everywhere. These things bode obviously ill for my friend's grandkids, and for mine.

Fox "news" is brilliant at keeping its followers' eyes off the ball. While they flog Benghazi and ISIS and Ebola, equate liberalism with hatred of everything good, whip up derision for half the population and victimhood for Christians, claim that enormous wealth inequality doesn't exist and if it does it's the fault of the poor, the real agenda of those to whom it's beholden is carefully kept out of sight. For who is it, really, that benefits from the R lockstep denialism (as opposed to this), from their zeal to cut taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, other than the wealthy and the corporations; who, other than polluters, is better off from eliminating environmental regulations? When has it ever worked to create jobs? More importantly, who gets hurt when the price is cutting funding for schools, for health, for research, for infrastructure? Everyone but the already wealthy.

Everyone, in other words, including the very people whose votes will put Rs in control. Which they'll do out of fear (terrorist immigrants!), out of nastiness (gays!!), out of a false sense of religious persecution (because they'll never understand, let alone agree with, the power of separation), and out of being daily distracted and perfectly propagandized into ignoring the consequences of R economics, even though the evidence is everywhere.

I can't understand it, and I can't stand it.

(Added: in eerily perfect timing, my hero CPP just posted this.)

[Image source]

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