Monday, January 31, 2011

The Fighting Side

In response to this recent story, a conservative commenter repeated the standard Republican canard that the deficit had skyrocketed under Barack Obama, it presumably having been under control before then. I responded by explaining that while, yes, the deficit had risen dramatically in 2009, the federal government fiscal year had begun on October 1, 2008. Which essentially lays the 2009 deficit at the feet of the final Bush budget. I then enumerated the main contributors to the deficit: two unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare Part D, TARP, etc.

The commenter responded by calling me a liar.

Upon which it occurred to me that this exchange was emblematic of the two-year rhetorical food fight that passes for public discourse in this country. The bones of it are this:
  1. A conservative repeats an unfounded right-wing talking point about Barack Obama
  2. A liberal refutes the assertion with facts that require some effort to put across
  3. Challenged by facts, the conservative denies reality by making an ad hominem attack on the liberal.
This dynamic plays out over and over. Here's another one:
Ireland's fiscal calamity is due to its socialist economy and welfare state. 
That might be the case were Ireland socialist, but it isn't: This is a crisis of capitalism, not a cautionary tale about socialism.
You are a socialist elitist libtard.
Obama is a socialist because he socialized the auto industry.
No, he didn't. Two of the three auto companies were temporarily and partially nationalized. That's a different thing altogether. Plus, the auto companies asked the federal government to step in.
How does it feel to be a tool of union bosses?
One side assumes an error of fact and responds appropriately. The other assumes duplicity and responds as if personally attacked.

Read the conservative comments on MSNBC some time: They are basically one unfounded assertion after another, without the slightest effort at providing supporting evidence. One of the latest is to ascribe every piece of negative economic news about health care to the Affordable Care Act, without bothering to account for medical inflation. (The ACA has barely begun to take effect, so any attribution of negative impact is bound to be an overstatement.) Then there are the obvious attempts to spread rumors. Take this one: The health care law has caused private physician practices and long-term care facilities all over the country to close. No evidence is cited of this because there is no evidence of it.

Which is no surprise, as conservatives, like Pavlov's, dog, have been trained by their masters at Fox News and on talk radio to respond to reality with a snarl. (Although surely their mouths water first.) There's no such thing as debate in conworld: Only attacks on their wallets and way of life. Well, their wallets are being attacked, just not by who they think. As for their precious way of life -- the one in which shooting and God are equal moral values -- they've somehow drawn the contorted conclusion that anyone who doesn't want to share it is attacking it.

Seriously, does Mark Holwager actually believe that gay marriage is going to bring Sodom and Gomorrah to Monroe City, Indiana (pop. 548). Or that regulating firearms in Washington, D.C., will keep him from shooting? Do the Cosgrays fret that $33,000,000.00 in federal grants will end Life As They Know It in White County? Or that a blogger in Redmond, WA hates them with every fiber of his being? Apparently, they do.

It's old news, I suppose, but conservatives have gone from hiding behind a distortion of facts to showing blatant contempt for them. That's a fact.


Murr Brewster said...

Liberals will never win a fight as long as they insist on being all facty.

Oh well, I guess we'll have to be lovers.

K. said...

Not a bad alternative! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Steven said...

Thanks, K. Well said as always. Don't stop doing what you do...

Roy said...

Yeah, my old Internet hangout - - has been inundated by teabagger and religious right types who pile on any article published there that they disagree with, clogging the comments threads with the usual ad hominem attacks and "LA-LA-LA, I'M NOT LISTENING" digging in that they're notorious for. I read a lot less there these days, mainly because I'm trying to watch my blood pressure.

Jerry Critter said...

Well said, K. It is so true. Since republicans don't have the facts on their side, they have to yell louder, distract, miss-direct, lie, and call you and/or your comments either stupid, ignorant, or a tool of some other "hated" group.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I admire what you try to do, Citizen K, bring facts and reason to discussions with the righties.

I'm discouraged by the fact that the conservative movement pays any attention to people like Bachmann, Palin, and Beck, [not to mention the gasbag], and don't see them for the tools of the Koch Brothers that they are.

K. said...

I don't expect it to have any effect. But it sharpens my thinking and comes in handy whenever I'm talking with anyone who has honest questions. I had a great talk a couple of months ago with a pair of young people who saw me reading my health policy textbook and started pumping me for information and opinion. There's not enough money to buy moments like those.

Darlene said...

The right wing remind me of the old bumper sticker"Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind's made up."

Classof65 said...

If they don't follow up with an insult, they quote some made-up statistic -- when you try to pin them down regarding the source, they either don't remember or they claim it's a Republican publication that I couldn't have read since I'm a liberal.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Beyond frustrating, isn't it, K?

At least at the Citizen K blog, I can feel a little better by getting a daily dose of common sense and a feeling that I am not alone with these frustrations.

Thanks, Dude!