Partisan Bullshit


If you’ve ever wondered why we can’t have a nice world. One that runs well and works for most everyone most of the time. It’s because of partisan bullshit. This deeply seated need too many of us have to pick a side and stick to it right, wrong, whatever because “GO TEAM!”

I have meandered all over the partisan map.  At some points half of my beliefs have been in opposition to the other half even.

However, most of the time I straddle the center line with the occasional tight-rope walk just to spice things up.

So when I am confronted with blind lemming followers of this or that, the best I can muster anymore is “Well, good for you. At least you care enough to sort of pay attention.” Seldom do I add “If only you’d bother to think for yourself and apply a bit of pragmatism and common sense.”

But you can’t have everything, right?

There are people who want to be involved and immerse themselves in doing their little or lot bit for the cause, and so what if they mostly don’t understand how their cause fits into the bigger picture? They care. Deeply. That matters. Right?

And it’s better than apathy. Right?

I’m not so sure.

Last night my Twitter feed was inundated with retweets about Ayn Rand’s personal failings.

The tweeter is not someone I follow. He’s a pompous ass. He only interacts with the adoring throngs because he isn’t interested in any sort of conversation that might show him up or disprove his preferred view of reality.

That’s fine. Twitter is kind of about building your own little tunnel vision and sharing it with those who are similarly blinkered.

But the gist of his argument boiled down to “Ayn Rand took amphetamines and had serial killer fetish, therefore her theories about capitalism are bullshit.”

I got a D in Logic and Reasoning back in the day. In retrospect I should have gone to class more than I wouldn’t have had to pull an all-nighter to get a B on the final and hold onto my pathetic D.

However, poor background aside, I am fairly sure that Ayn Rand’s rambling nonsense on all things the far right-wing loves is crap because it’s crap and not because she was a questionable human.

If you wanted to apply the questionable human equals someone who is full of shit logic, it just so happens that Thomas Jefferson, that great American Founding Father, would tumble off his pedestal too.

After all, how can the father of personal liberty hope to escape judgement given that he was not only a slave owner but he forced his 15-year-old sister-in-law into a sexual relationship with him because he owned her.

Yes, Jefferson’s long-time intimate companion Sally Hemmings – who bore him six children – was not only his sister-in-law and his slave but, according to some accounts – was the doppelgänger of his dead wife.

Creepy and worlds of wrong barely begin to cover this situation and yet, Jefferson is revered. His ideas are seminal in terms of American political world building.

Personally, I think Ayn Rand’s appeal is that most people who bother to read her dirge of a novel, Atlas Shrugged, are young adults or teens when they do. The themes are appealing to the young, and who really ever goes back and re-reads the “great” novels of their youth? Hardly anyone. The fuzzy memories are always better.

Randian love and worship is a sign that you’ve not quite grow up yet. At least in your political world view anyway. It’s like people who cling to the idea that pure socialism will save us all. An immature idea that refuses to incorporate the reality that life is complicated because “people”.

Even though Rand’s idea are simple-minded, her personal failings and quirks are just human. Humans can be awesome. They can completely suck. But for the most part, they are somewhere in the middle. None of these states of being detract from the things people can accomplish.

For all Rand’s faults, she wrote a novel decades ago people not only still read, but they find things in it which push them to think and learn, and let’s be real, not everyone who reads Atlas Shrugged gets stuck in the limited world view.

I fear there is no way to cure for the world of side-taking or the inevitable outliers who live and die in the absolutism that makes the world a less nice place for us all.

Personally, I am done pretending to care about the fringes. Feigning politeness rather than rolling my eyes. I am part of the problem if I don’t.

Sometimes the other side is right. Sometimes the middle path is the best way.

And sometimes people need to calm the fuck down, grow up and spend some quality time in the real world with real people who don’t reinforce every blind prejudice they learned as a child.

 

 

Lying Right and Left


Republican campaign poster from 1896 attacking...

Image via Wikipedia

The reality show known as the GOP debates produced a lovely but somewhat disingenuous meme the other night. Moderator Wolf Blitzer (who has to be hoping that someday he can escape back to some semblance of his cooler “scud stud” days before he dies a tool of the main stream media) asked candidate Ron Paul one of those delightful beside the point questions that involve hypothetical scenarios from an alternate United States timeline,

Headline meme’s on Facebook and Twitter embellished the lone gunman’s “yes” response to Blitzer’s “should society let him die” to GOP Audiences Cheer as Ron Paul Proclaims that the Uninsured Should be Left to Die. Which is not what the man said at all, and to be more fair, the audience cheered him on his rather wishy-washy “personal responsibility” point and not about letting a man in a coma die because he didn’t have health insurance.

Personal responsibility is a red herring catch-all phrase in the United States that allows people to safely distance themselves from the reality that many people are responsible and are still caught by rock and hard place scenarios from which only a government  safety net can save them. It’s a word we use when we don’t want to acknowledge that we are really heartless fucks who don’t care about anyone outside our personal circles.

Regardless, the meme spoke and it came down on the side of slightly twisting the event to make Ron Paul, the Tea Party and the GOP in general fit the storyline, which is that people on the right are cold, soulless bastards who want to make over the American government in their heartless, bible thumping, Ayn Rand loving images.

The reality, which is that Blitzer’s what if missed by a country mile, is that most uninsured Americans can’t afford health insurance and that Ron Paul lives in a fantasy world where churches and other charities still take care of these people. This, however, wouldn’t have made as compelling of a soundbite. It certainly wouldn’t have fit in a Tweet.

In keeping with their newfound zeal to fight half-truth and blatant lies with more of the same, the energized Left pounced all over The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson yesterday with a similar eye for clever editing and disingenuous headlines.

Robertson does this quaint Q&A during his broadcast. Viewers send in questions, and he plums the depths of his holy man status to advise them.

The Crooks and Liars (and they couldn’t have named themselves better if they tried) website quickly and crudely edited this gem*, which sped about the social media like new gossip in a high school lunchroom.

Pat Robertson Says Divorce Terminally Ill Wife went wild to the point that the mainstream was forced to pick it up and repeat the nonsense.

Nonsense because that’s not really what Robertson said. In a rare compassionate take on his own brand of Christianity, he admitted that wanting to move on from a marriage that has been effectively ended by one spouse’s dementia is an ethically difficult one, but that he would not judge someone who did. In his opinion, a man who wanted to do so should make sure his wife is well-cared for and divorce her though he admitted that perhaps an ethicist  would be the better person to ask.

I have little patience with hypotheticals that aren’t really. People die from lack of health insurance all the time. Spouses are effectively widowed by dementia all the time. Let’s not play with this scenarios as though they aren’t thorny and real. Just because you may have avoided some tragedy or other doesn’t make it just another thought exercise.

Anymore I can’t distinguish between Left, Progressive, Right, Moderate, Conservative, Liberal. It’s all shrill. Or half-lie to “make a point”. Or making light of the very real lives of very real people to make a point like the Robertson meme in particular. It’s mostly bullshit that distracts from the work that needs to be done to solve the actual problems that are crushing the democracy right out of the country.

A Facebook/Twitter friend, who suffers from a life-threatening illness, took understandable exception to the overlaid implication that abandoning sick/terminally ill spouses is okay. She comes at the meme from the opposite side of the equation from myself. In some ways, the sick person has the upper hand because they are, rightly, awarded the lion’s share of the sympathy, but speaking as the former spouse of a man who had dementia, there are two sides to every story regardless of how tragic it is.

She was appalled by Robertson’s stance that dementia leaves essentially a “walking dead person” in its wake, but that’s exactly what it does. And just because it makes you uncomfortable to “go there” doesn’t make it less a fact.

First they become a complete stranger, Then they devolve into a stranger who doesn’t know you. Finally, they become a breathing corpse. A simplified version. There is more, and most of it is sad, lonely and soul-crushing, so I will spare you the finer points.But “walking dead” is a good, if stark, analogy.

Like Robertson, I don’t fault anyone who wants to cut and run. I’d have run a hundred times if I’d had the opportunity. I am not a better person because I didn’t.

Loyal spouses are patted on the head for their exemplary capacity for self-sacrifice just as the terminally ill who fight tooth and nail, even when they and their families would be better off if they didn’t, are given posthumous gold stars for “courage”. It’s textbook. It’s Hollywood. And it’s beside the fucking point.

Sometimes I understand perfectly why Obama always looks like a middle school teacher just after his worst class of the day. Are there any grown-ups left in the room down south anymore?

 

*You can see the clip in its entirety here.