Saturday, October 5, 2013

Already It Was Impossible to Tell Which Was Which

Okay, I don't disagree that the Tea Party minority in the House who've shut the federal government down are bad people; their account of what is wrong with the government, and what would be a good government, is irrational, misinformed, dishonest, self-serving.  Is that understood?

Where I begin to part company with Democratic partisans is on their conviction that because their opponents are irrational, they must, by the process of elimination, be rational, well-informed, and concerned only with the common good.  Not only doesn't it follow logically, it's fairly obvious that many if not most Dems are fighting irrationality with irrationality, batshit crazy with batshit crazy.  And hell, I don't know, maybe that's the right thing to do.  The Tea Party's irrationality, combined with generous corporate support and the use of that support to do some grassroots organizing, has taken them pretty far.  I'd like to think it won't get them much farther, and that the present crisis will leave scorched earth behind it where the Republican Party formerly stood.  It would be even nicer if the Democrats learned something from the shutdown in their turn, and stopped trying to out-batshit the Right, but that of course would be irrational for me to believe.  It's "cynical," as I was told last week by one Obama devotee, to judge the Democrats by their record; it is not cynical to judge the Republicans by theirs.

So, I'm now seeing a meme featuring Elizabeth Warren denouncing the shutdown in these terms:

There's actually been some pushback against this one.  Some anarchists (and fellow-travelers like me) have pointed out that anarchism does not mean something like "every man for himself" (that would be free-market capitalism, as it's laughingly known), and that Warren is simply using the word to mean something like "uppity troublemakers I don't like," which is hardly a contribution to reasoned discourse.   (She doesn't like real anarchists anyway: she fell into the corporate elite line on the Occupy movement, for example.  But then so, in the end, did most mainstream Democrats.)

An old friend linked to a rant by a Methodist minister somewhere, and added his own layer of froth to it:
This is EXACTLY right. So much bull shit propaganda is speed out to the public as "facts". These are the real facts. The moderate - and trainable - on both sides need to come together to permanently oust these tea party legislative terrorists. It's time to take back our country with reason and compromise. These are NOT bad words and what WILL get our government working again.
"Moderate" is a "bad word," in my opinion, for reasons I've given before.  "Trainable" is even worse.  Just off the bat, who's going to do the training?  Our government wasn't founded to "train" us, or our elected representatives.  "Reason" is an okay word, but there's no reason in my friend's words.  "Compromise" is a bad word, since in practice what it has meant during the Obama administration is that the Republicans have been handed much of what they want, and are thereby emboldened to demand the rest of it later.  And it's hilarious of my friend (and he's far from alone among pious Democrats) to demand compromise, when both sides here are refusing to compromise.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, because there are times when one must not give in.  Obama and the Democrats have decided not to compromise any further on the Affordable Care Act.  Their supporters agree that they shouldn't.  So this time, right now, compromise is a bad word.

After a few snarling comments between us, my friend wrote exactly that: "There is no compromising on this issue," he wrote. Wait a minute, didn't you just demand compromise a few minutes ago?  Compromise isn't a bad word, and all that?  It's convenient, if not exactly gratifying, to have such a blatant textbook example of doublethink in action.

Then I got in e-mail a link to a Daily Kos post, "President Obama NAILS IT in one sentence," by a writer using the pixelname MinistryOfTruth.  Once again reality leaves satire gasping in the dust, since in Orwell's 1984 "The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink."  And credit where credit's due: the Daily Kos writer seems to have mastered doublethink in that pseudonym -- there's no indication that he or she is aware of the irony in that choice of name.

But I digress.  What is Obama's one sentence that NAILS IT?  "The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder."  Okay, I know I'm like hypercritical, but I'm not impressed.  But Minitrue thinks it's so nice it should be quoted twice:
This is what a dying Republican party looks like. I'm glad President Obama has brought out the BIG STICK.

President Obama: The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder
... though in neither case does that sentence, as quoted, end with a period.  As for "BIG STICK" -- no, I shouldn't, but I will anyway.  But I knew Sheriff Bart, and President Obama is no Sheriff Bart.  MinistryOfTruth returned to the BIG STICK in comments, again with remarkable unselfconsciousness.

"Millions of Americans voted for a government that makes our lives better, not harder," wrote Ministry of Truth.  But instead they got a government that entrenched health care in the hands of private corporate insurance companies, that refused to hold Wall Street accountable for the crash of 2008, continued and escalated wars that killed and injured more people of various nations and made the US more hated and therefore insecure, that capitulated in advance to the Republicans by extending upper-bracket tax cuts before negotiations on the stimulus had even begun (via), so that the economy continues to stagnate -- except for the very rich.  But then, the One Percent elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder; and President Obama is their representative, all that stands between them and the pitchforks and torches.

Though I'm the first to point out the limits of reason, reason is important to me.  When the Right mounts its deranged campaigns, I look to evidence and reason to try to keep my balance.  The Democrats, all too often, join the Republicans in hysteria and irrationality.

"The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought," Orwell also wrote in 1984.  Which party?  Both parties.  And they're winning.