Not Letting the Truth Get in the Way

I’m an old political science major. I appreciate differing points of view on the issues. I even solicit varying positions by reading a mix of publications. But what’s been going on in US politics is not that anymore. Reading this article, originally from the Guardian (UK), called The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left, I was particularly fascinated by this section:

Listen to what two former Republican ideologues, David Frum and Mike Lofgren, have been saying. Frum warns that “conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics”. The result is a “shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology” which has “ominous real-world consequences for American society”.

Lofgren complains that “the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today”. The Republican party, with its “prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science” is appealing to what he calls the “low-information voter”, or the “misinformation voter”. While most office holders probably don’t believe the “reactionary and paranoid claptrap” they peddle, “they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base”.

And, it’s not that I wasn’t already generally aware of this. But it does confirm that I’m not totally crazy.

I’m watching ABC News This Week a couple Sundays ago. Someone, I think it was Austin Goolsby, President Obama’s former economic czar, was talking about the economic recovery. He noted that it might be going even better if we hadn’t lost jobs in the public sector. And some conservative woman rolls her eyes and says, “Yeah, right.”

Well, yeah, right. In a Bureau of Labor Statistics report citing the drop in the unemployment rate from 8.5% to 8.3%, it read: Over the past 12 months, the [public] sector has lost 276,000 jobs, with declines in local government; state government, excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.

This is also an interesting read: “Among the people who saw this [economic] crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution…. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential. That’s because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon.” Watch and/or read the interview about Where the Right Went Wrong.

You know that old cliche about you’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts? I guess that depends on whether it’s politically expedient. And it does explain folks such as Donald Trump promoting the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the US or tweeting in October 2011 that the freak snowstorm was proof that man-made climate change is, in the words of the article, “an eco-fascist-communist-anarchist conspiracy,” or that “the deficit results from the greed of the poor, they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses, and find that it does them no harm in the polls.”

Worse, though, for this librarian is the egregious ignoring of factual evidence, by creating pseudoscience and ignoring facts (Obama DID provide his “long form” birth certificate) for political gain.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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13 thoughts on “Not Letting the Truth Get in the Way

  1. I would agree that the dialog is getting pretty extreme.

    There are lies on the “conservative” side. There’s also lies and misinformation on the “liberal” side. (If you’d like examples of either one, I’m happy to give a list of ones I’ve found.)

    One thing I always think is “Why are there just 2 sides?” There’s countless philosophies out there; do we really think that all of them fall on one side or the other? That doesn’t sound right, imho.

    • I’m sure there’s misinformation on the liberal side. I was fascinated, though, that the examples I gave were from Republicans.

  2. Yeah…

    I’m going to have to vote for some Republicans in the next election because I’ve decided everybody needs to get fired. All of them, the whole federal crew.

    We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan. We still have no realistic energy policy. We still have no plan if the banks fail again, or if the Euro collapses. So, I’m voting to fire the lot of them.

    However, I have to go over my list of state representatives and see who voted to end the death penalty in IL, because I wrote a pile of them promising to re-elect them if they did successfully end the DP in IL.

  3. I see it very, very differently than you and your readers do, that’s for sure. We’ve lost all semblance of honesty in reporting. FOX is referred to as CONSERVATIVE and CNN is THE NEWS; one only has to watch five minutes of CNN to see it’s as liberal as FOX leans Right IN THE NEWS…I’m not talking editorial shows. And even the editorials have both sides FAR more than CNN does.
    “A too polite Left”? Is this a joke? My gosh

  4. by the way, you’re in Albany? My whole Dad’s family is from Troy ..he’d add “when it was nice!” 🙂 Also, he went to RPI, which I’m sure you know!

  5. No one is going to correct me on the “troops” thing? We withdrew Dec 18th from Iraq.

    (Technically, still have mercenaries there, but still. No combat troops at the moment.)

    • I’ve always been uncomfortable with the whole mercenaries thing. They don’t “count” when we have war dead. They’ve been shadowy figures whose accountability has been in question more than once.

  6. Good memory, Roger.

    I remember when that whole Abu Ghraib thing happened. The first reports were about the mercenaries in Iraq who were basically raping and pillaging. Then they released pictures of troops, and everyone forgot about the mercenaries.

    I also remember that in Bosnia Blackwater – later Xe and now Academi – had mercenaries who were selling women and children into the sex trade.

    People don’t seem have a memory anymore. It’s very creepy, and allows things like “We’re not in Iraq (well, except for mercenaries…)” to go on.

  7. One little quibble, Roger. You refer to some female talking head on TV as being “conservative.” But how exactly are people who are completely re-writing history with a view to altering reality “conservative?” I call these people extreme radicals… and they control both our government and the corporate media.

    • Probably. Happens all the time, “Defense of Marriage,” e.g., or “pro-life” when it doesn’t seem to apply to the mother.

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