Friday, April 6, 2012

View from the Center--a Pox on the Right, Herpes on the Left...

Oddly enough. on's Jackie Evancho forum (she's an 11 year old classical crossover singer), one thread was started by some of her right wing fans after they found out she's appearing in a Robert Redford movie about aging activists. There you can find the usual rants about Creeping Progressivism, Global Warming, yada yada. Normally I don't bother but I unloaded on them today. Here it is:

re: solar heating

Our condo complex uses non-electrical solar panels to heat the water for our swimming pool. Saves money, only real problem is roof rats chewing the pipes. Water-heating panels aren't talked about enough.

Ditto simply designing buildings (homes & offices) to conserve energy. When we installed double-insulated windows on our condo it did wonders for our power usage in the winter and kept the place cooler in the summer (we don't have AC).

re: One reason some people believe me is that I'm not doctrinaire. I criticize extremism on both sides and change my own positions when I find I was wrong. I look for public pundits who do the same. Thus is frequently disagree with George F. Will, David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer, since I'm not a conservative, but I listen to them because all three are willing to contradict the Party Line. On my part my last entry in my political blog lambasted the President for his wowsers about the Supreme Court and the heavy spin in his 17 minute campaign video. Won't make me vote for Etcho-Sketcho, but it does dim his luster for me. 

And likewise I was appalled by MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell attacking Romney's LDS faith. 

See, I don't see the world in Black and White, and I do see the value of conservatism, liberalism, and pragmatism. I don't think they're truly opposed, but instead complementary. 

And I think most independents agree with me--that's why you see so many of us voting for a governor of a different party than whichever controls the state legislature. I did that with Schwarzenegger here. It's our own contribution to checks & balances.

re: teacher renumeration. That's not the problem. It's school districts top-heavy with administrators--at least six times as many as are really needed. And it's schools trying to do society's job and trying to save everyone, which in chaotic areas results in saving no one. One student with fetal alcohol syndrome in a classroom, who the teacher can't eject, will prevent education from happening in that classroom, no matter how good the teacher is or how much you pay him. 

It's called triage.

re: media. Fox is solidly, unapologetically right wing, not right-leaning. Even the so-called straight news broadcast segments that go up each day before the commentators' shows are wildly counterfactual, and most could simply be renamed "What Obama did wrong today that Threatens the Republic." They have a few liberalish punching bags like Colmes and the fat guy on The Five, and the black guy PBS fired (to their discredit), but the best you could say is that each commentator is a particular flavor of right winger. Hannity is pure Tea Party with a strong Choleric Catholic twist. O'Reilly makes at least a pretense of being "fair and balanced" but would only seem to to a diehard Republican. And his tacitly calling for the murder of a gynecologist until it happened, then quickly absolving himself from any blame for the murder, branded him a right wing anarchist in my book. Van Sustern quietly works on behalf of the RNC. 

And one thing both Fox and MSNBC do all the time is analyze the latest scandal or whatnot using a couple of commentators/excperts who are all on the same side, with the host throwing them softballs instead of ever challenging them. I expect this from Fox, but I'm very disappointed that MSNBC does the same thing. I'd hoped for better. 

Your lumping together of the MSNBC commentators is as simplistic as lumping Fox's would be. Matthews really does strive to get both sides' positions out there and does have people on his show who he disagrees with--and doesn't just shout them down like that bully O'Reilly does. I don't always agree with Matthews (especailly about illegal immigration), but at least he's in the ballpart. Sharpton is Sharpton. I hope no one expects me to defend him. Except that he is right for pointing out that the GOP's pretense of this being a postracial society is today's racism. It annoys me to agree with Sharpton about anyhthing, and he does represent the twilight of the black activist commentator. Ten years from now his ecological niche will be occupied by Mexican Americans. I like Rachel Maddow personally but I've caught her in enough assumptions that I have to listen to her very carefully. 

By assumptions I mean the stuff right wingers and left wingers announce with the assumption that no reasonable person could have any position about the topic but the one they just espoused. My debater's heart recoils at things being presented as undebatable. For example, Maddow believes amnesty for illegal aliens is undebatable. I could take her apart but she hasn't invited me on the show! And as I said Lawrence O'Donnell's attacking Romney's religion was both morally unacceptable and strategically stupid. He's much more of an attack dog than I like.

Meanwhile CNN does its best to be truly fair and balanced. They succeed, they fail, they succeed, they fail, but I appreciate them at least trying. Unfortunately it doesn't help to ask pols the tough questions if you simply accept their lying, spinning answers and move on to the next question. We need CNN to act more like the best of the British press, IMO.

As for the mainstream media--the reporters and news readers are Democrats who work for Republicans and answer to corporatist advertisers. Their general mantra is "if it bleeds it leads; if it thinks it stinks." Above all they need viewers to sell to advertisers; hence all the scandalmongering. They do it do Democrats and Republicans equally. Ask John Edwards or Bill Clinton if you don't believe me. Good reporters will tell unpleasant truths about their own side, whether they're registered Democrats or Republicans. Others will try to insert their side's GoodThink into stories, but they can't go very far that way without their corporatist overlords jumping on them. 

Mainstream newscasters have generally been cowed by the GOP's Ministry of Propaganda. It they say something Rush Limbaugh doesn't like, his minions will send a blizzard of emails and phone calls to the guy's bosses and advertisers--very hard to deal with. The Left isn't remotely as effective at this kind of guerilla warfare.

Modern-day conservatism is reactionary--reacting to the New Deal and the resulting social safety net, to racial integration, to feminism, to secularism, to rock & roll...they long for an America that never was, while liberals long for an America that never will be. But main difference between activist liberalism vs. conservatism is that the former is very grass-rootsy, while the latter is abundantly financed by the Angry Billionaire's Club. 

That doesn't mean the right is wrong and the left is right; but it does mean that the right has a vastly bigger bullhorn. Tone of money doesn't always work; billionaires lose elections, after all. But it does tilt the playing field.

And it gives us the interesting phenomenon of the richest Americans--who are, as a group. not social conservatives at all--helping social conservatives enact anti-contraception legislation and anti-homosexual amendments and religious lip-servicing and anti-science efforts galore so they can continue to pollute--while in turn the social conservatives let the billionaires loot the treasury with corporate welfare schemes that make all of America's ghetto welfare queens combined into nothing more than a blip compared to what the fat cats steal from us.

So that's the view from the center.

BTW it amuses me that one thing the Left and Right should agree on--a universal biometric ID database like India's--is staunchly opposed by both. Yet without such a database we will never get a grip on illegal immigration, welfare fraud, deadbeat dads, terrorists entering the country, and a host of other things. 

And the right wingers never seem to want any of the other nonpartisan structural reforms our country desperately needs, like nonpartisan redistricting. Instead the Right focuses on vote suppression in the name of stopping widespread election fraud that's virtually nonexistent--just a fig leaf for their efforts to keep Democrats from voting. 

Way to win elections....

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