Tuesday, July 19, 2011

sealed fate

Clever cult leaders' first priority is to isolate their followers from anyone and anything that might contradict what the cult leader says.

This goes beyond neutralizing active foes of your cult. It must include neutral parties as well, and even friends who don't toe the line 100%. "If you aren't for us you're against us."

Thus the GOP's efforts to rid itself of anyone who's a "RINO"--that is, any Republican who talks to a Democrat, cooperates with a Democrat, compromises with a Democrat, or advocates raising any taxes under any circumstances--especially including tax loopholes for the rich.

And thus the GOP's efforts to smear fact-checking sites like Factcheck.org and Politifact.org.

Ironic, since both sites frequently ding Democrats from Congressmen to the President. But that doesn't count because they also ding Republicans.

The lesson for GOP rank and file is you must get all your news and analysis from approved sources--anyone outside the circled wagons is suspect..probably a spy.

On the subliminal level the GOP propaganda machine cultivates personal animosity towards anyone who might contradict the party line, so that GOP tribesmen simply can't stand to hear the targeted person's voice. Paul Krugman & Rachel Maddow come to mind.This animosity then prevents them from taking in anything they say.

As part of this tribalism it cultivates black & white thinking. Thus, since Paul Krugman isn't factually correct 100% of the time there's no reason to listen to him any time.

Which brings me back to Factcheck.org. I've studied immigration issues for a long time and I believe factcheck.org doesn't always deal from the top of the deck on this issue. Yet elsewhere they seem to be solid, and they certainly criticize both Democrats and Republicans.

Yet I've seen GOP rank and file simply dismiss Factcheck.org out of hand because of some gotcha.

At the same time the national propaganda machine--and many conservative sites--quote Factcheck.org when it suits them. It's as if they put a filter over the site's output that clears away anything criticizing Republicans while delivering everything that criticizes Democrats.

That's consistent with tribalism, where tribal emotions wrap around every factual or logical consideration like a strangler fig around a giant rainforest tree.

Of course there is a Democratic propaganda machine and it does shade the truth, demonize the opposition, and try to encourage tribalism. They're just kind of half-hearted about it, while the GOP hasn't the slightest qualms.

And there is a reality out there. Thus the Lefties hated on Bush, the Righties hate on Obama. But the last nationwide survey of presidential historians showed a solid consensus putting Obama in 15th place among US presidents--and Bush II 6th from the bottom (above more than one crummy Democratic prez, to be sure).

My point is that despising one of the worst presidents in the nation's history--who needlessly sent thousands of servicemen to their deaths--is a very different kettle of fish from despising a president who, while not in the top bracket, shares a respectable high-middle ground (a few places higher than Reagan).

One represents a response to reality; the other a response to tribal dancing around a bonfire. Those are not equivalent.

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