7/29/2009

Who Do You Trust?

"You can't trust politicians, they're all liars and crooks," my neighbor said, as a final nail in the coffin he'd built for national health insurance and taxes on the wealthy.

He's normally a fairly reasonable guy, but we had a few hot flashes during the last election cycle when he decorated his lawn with McCain/Palin and Norm Coleman posters. My Obama and Franken posters, apparently, caused a little conflict in his home life and he pulled the Coleman posters down almost immediately and the McCain posters slowly vanished over the next week or two. I think his wife is less strident about her Republican commitment.

Listening to him chant "we need to do this slowly and carefully" so that the politicians he distrusts so much can "get the best result for everybody," I realized that there are people, with normal-sized brains, who still listen to Faux News and yak-radio. Somehow, I'd hoped that all that crap had vanished into blurbs specially produced for Jon Stewart's monologue. Who knew that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and whatshisname O'Reilly still had an audience? I'm not kidding, I had foolishly assumed that the only listeners left to the crazy right were safely occupied by the unemployment line. Unfortunately, not so.

Here's a question for you, if one believes that all politicians are "liars and crooks," what makes so many of the middle class gravitate to the collection of "liars and crooks" with the worst record for insight, foresight, corruption, or any other important characteristic of leadership or accurate information? If you look at the record the Faux News and yak-radio crowd has generated in the last two decades, it's hard to find a single important issue where they have been right.

They totally missed their Crazyland guesses on how the Afghanistan/Iraq invasions would work out; in the sort and long term. They lied (or were "wrong") about the Bush Administration's abuse of the Constitution and the laws of the country. Remember Willy O'Reilly's "You can't produce one person who's been tortured by the United States" statement? How about Tony Snow's 2003 Faux News moronic claim, "Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints." Yep, we all know that war's been over for six years, right? Google "iraq invasion 2003 quotes" or just check out this page (http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2842) to see how far off the conservative news goofballs were on that issue.

Their proclamations on the state of the economy have been consistently out of focus with reality. I clearly remember the wingnuts' babble about our strong economy based on "the growth in homeownership and consumer spending linked to accumulated home equity." Yeah, everybody knows that an economy based on unrealistic inflated property prices and massive borrowing on imaginary "equity" is the core of a sound economic system. The logical extension of that thinking would be to borrow money against purchased groceries under the assumption that the crap digested groceries "produces" would be worth more than the food input.

The Republican/Faux News' blind loyalty to the idle rich and corporate socialism seems to be more deluded by the moment. Soon, we're going to hear Billy O'Reilly rant how Paris Hilton is going to take her fortune and inventive spirit to the Caymans and that great loss will be the downfall of the United States. Explain to me where the idle rich are going to go where they will be safe, marginally taxed, entertained, and properly honored. Not to mention the fact that most of their assets are tied up in US real estate, corporate investments, and state and federal bonds. How, exactly, do they move all of that to tiny islands in the Caribbean? I suppose they could move to the places where they've shipped middle class jobs: China, South Korea, and India. Sure they can. They'll be safe and loved in Communist China where the slightest dissent will get the most powerful people in the country a trip to a tiny cell and the opportunity to make toys for rich children in the US. I can see Paris and our overpaid, under-talented corporate execs going for that, can't you? No? Me either. The only place in the world where rich people are protected from the working class, have unlimited access to entertainment and power, and can freely wallow in their excesses is the United States. A change in the tax code is not going to change that.

So, what makes working class people gravitate to the sources that are consistently wrong? I can't figure it out any more than I can figure out why urban residents listen to country music or why rich white kids listen to rap. I'm not kidding, this is an aspect of human nature that totally baffles me. I imagine there are components of racism, suceptability to fear-mongering, the herd mentality, and psychological manipulation that contribute to this, but I'm still surprised that it works after decades of failure, corruption, incompetence, and outright foolishness.

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