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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Right Is Wrong

Right Is Wrong

Even in these days of crisis, there isn’t anyone or anything more bankrupt than American right-wing political ideology. For their de facto leaders they have selected such intellectual dry wells as Rush Limbaugh, Joe the plumber, and Sarah “Africa is a country?” Palin. Their base is now the lowest common denominator, the demographic equivalent of a deep south, pre-civil rights movement lynch mob and getting uglier by the day.

The Republicans are rebounding from eight years in which they controlled the executive and judicial branches of government, and for six of those years they were in control of congress as well yet they are trying to blame all of the country’s many ills on Obama who has been in office for less than two months. Everything from the stock market crash, to job loss, to our failings in Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow to be blamed on the new guy. If I had a nickel for every time some righty mouthed off about how important it is for all of us to take responsibility for our own actions…well, let’s just say that I’d have enough nickels to bailout A.I.G. I guess taking responsibility for your own actions only applies to welfare mothers and homeless people because Republicans refuse to take the blame for the last eight years of utterly failed policy.

A classic example of the conservative idea of “taking responsibility for your own actions” was Rush Limbaugh’s phony mea culpa after he was caught red-handed in illegal drug transactions. He was incredibly sanctimonious about the fact that he was admitting to using drugs but this occurred after he was caught buying enough pain killers to kill off members of The Rolling Stones, Motley Crü, White Snake, and Spinal Tap, along with all of their roadies.

He told his gullible audience that he suffers from back pain and got hooked on pain pills which he was taking by the handful, a guy who is on record for denouncing drug rehabilitation and in favor of stiffer penalties for drug users. The back pain defense was so incredibly phony and disingenuous, at least to me. Over the course of my life I have had back pain at times that has literally crippled me yet I didn’t resort to drugs. Drugs can’t do a damn thing for back pain; any doctor will tell you that. I would have had a bit of respect for the tubby talk show host had he said that taking fistfuls of downers was a blast; just don’t tell me that you are addicted to pills because your back hurts. That isn’t taking responsibility for your own actions. That is blaming it on something that is out of your control and therefore the exact opposite of taking personal responsibility.

You may find this to be incredibly ironic, the fact that the party that has paid such lip service to the idea of personal responsibility can’t own up to a single mistake their party has committed. Conservatives don’t find it ironic because they don’t even understand the idea of irony. Either that or they have an irony deficiency, a sort of birth defect, kind of like how dogs are supposedly color blind. American conservatives also have an uncanny knack for changing the rules in mid-game. If you need any clarification on this matter just go back to the Iraq invasion. President Bush changed our reasons for entering that country at least a half dozen times.

But the most amazing facility of conservatives is their ability to change our definitions of just about anything you can think of in order to suit their own needs. Just look back to the 2004 Presidential campaign and the huge hullaballoo over the candidates’ service records. Cheney had five deferments so as not to serve in Viet Nam, a war he agreed with—at least ideologically. Bush was basically A.W.O.L. from the Texas National Guard. Once again, Bush agreed with our Viet Nam war policy. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, volunteered for service in the United States Navy. He served with distinction and bravery. He was decorated for his service in combat. With these facts to go on, in their despicable “Swift Boat” campaign the Republicans were able to change the reality and say all kinds of slanderous shit about Kerry and his war record. Forget about the medals he was awarded by our government for valiant service to our nation, Rush Limbaugh—another draft dodger-war monger—says that Kerry was basically a traitor. I guess I should have Rush review all of my service decorations to make sure they pass muster with the chicken hawks.

During the most recent Presidential Campaign, the Republicans attempted to paint Obama as a beneficiary of affirmative action by saying the only reason he got into Columbia and Harvard Law School was because he was black. Of course, they can’t explain how he did so well once he was inside those Ivy League walls. McCain on the other hand, only got into the Naval Academy because he was a legacy. Once in he graduated something like 5th from the bottom of his class. Obama was often described as a “slick talker.” I suppose this means anyone who speaks English as if it were their first language—something Bush never quite achieved. When everyone quickly realized that Bush is basically an idiot, especially compared to his first opponent, Al Gore, the Republican spin machine painted him as the guy you’d want to have a beer with—but you couldn’t because he’s an alcoholic and can’t drink. I certainly wouldn’t want to have a beer with anyone as stupid as Bush.

Back in 2004, presidential candidate John Kerry had to distance himself from the fact that he speaks fluent French after he was actually mocked for this by conservatives, as if speaking another language is somehow an impediment for anyone who wants to be the leader of the free world. This sort of critique of Kerry belongs somewhere back in the Chinese cultural revolution where intellectuals were ridiculed and forced to work as stable cleaners.

Bill Clinton was hounded half-to-death for saying that he smoked pot. His rather disingenuous claim that he didn’t inhale bothered me more than admitting he had smoked, but conservatives couldn’t shut up about the fact that he had tired pot. I would be seriously suspicious of anyone from this era who at least didn’t sample marijuana. It shows an incredible lack of curiosity. George W. Bush certainly didn’t suffer from lack of curiosity, at least as far as drugs were concerned. Bush was a notorious drug user and drunk. He got a DUI when he was in his 30´s—well past the indiscreet youth phase of drunkenness. I kept waiting for the “liberal media” to go after Bush’s drug history…cue crickets chirping. Nothing.

Obama was accused of being an elitist, whatever the hell that means in the minds of conservatives. I suppose that it could mean anyone who believes in evolution. Here’s one thing about conservatives: They aren’t exactly terrified of contradicting themselves.

And now we come to the modern era, and I mean that in a quite literal way after suffering through the eight almost medieval years of the Bush Administration where science was derided and the power of "faith" exalted. About the only idea the conservatives can come up with is to work in opposition to anything Obama proposes. They are suddenly the party of financial responsibility and highly opposed to government deficit spending. This while being up to our eyebrows in job loss (650,000 Americans lost their jobs in February alone). The Republicans didn’t seem to mind huge government deficits during the Bush years to pay for our failed efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense spending is about the least beneficial way to spend tax dollars. We basically siphoned money out of our country to pay for holes in the deserts of the two countries we invaded. The new Obama stimulus package, while far from perfect, will go to rebuild a lot of American infrastructure. The private sector has proven that it is completely incapable of jump-starting the economy and any economist worth his salt agrees that government spending is necessary. I tend to go along with the thinking of Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman on this issue. He says that this is no time to be cautious with government stimulus.

The Republicans ignore Nobel Prize winning economists in favor of Joe the plumber and Rush Limbaugh. This is just another example of the dream land they inhabit that is free from facts and immune to argument.