A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Petition to Impeach

I know the arguments. I know the stalling. I know people have heard it before. I don't care: impeachment proceedings should begin immediately. Not later. Now.

It doesn't matter if it's late in his term. It doesn't matter if Republicans and Blue Dogs will try to stall. It doesn't matter if there aren't enough votes to impeach. What matters is that Congress remembers its duty to perform oversight and actively investigate the criminal acts of this administration. That is all that matters.

As a bonus, once the facts are revealed and displayed for the public in such a way that the media can't ignore it, voting against impeachment will become political suicide. No one but the most corrupt or self-deluded can possibly assert Bush's innocence even now, when only a fraction of the details are known.

The President is not above the law, no matter what Cheney wants to say. Else we can no longer claim to be a nation of laws.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance has become one of my famous phrases of late, because it very aptly describes the kind of arguments I'm getting from conservatives in defending Bush and their own conservative viewpoint. Simply put, cognitive dissonance is willful ignorance. The wiki article puts it a bit more eloquently: "In simple terms, it can be the filtering of information that conflicts with what one already believes, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce one's beliefs."

Am I calling conservatives liars? Not exactly. Conservatives honestly believe they've got it all figured out, and the fact that reality refuses to conform to their belief just means they're being sabotaged by us damned liberals. They're closing their eyes, plugging their ears and yelling "lalalalalala! I can't hear you!" so they don't have to acknowledge any facts that refute their beliefs.

A classic case of cognitive dissonance involves my mother. Shortly after I left home, a schism occurred in my family wherein my father was forced to choose between the family of his birth and his wife. From what my brother related to me, my mother was on the phone with my aunt (father's sister) when my younger cousin A apparently wandered by. My aunt asked if she wanted to chat with her and the response was "Ew! I don't want to talk to her!" Apparently, my mother was deeply offended by this and sent a letter demanding an apology. This then infuriated my aunt (who was never fond of my mother to begin with) and began a fight that split the family. My mother claims she never sent the letter, while my aunt claims she ripped up the letter and threw it away. Somebody was lying here, and I told my brother that the letter sounded very much like something our mother would do.

"Are you saying she's lying?" he demanded.

"No," I answered honestly. "I think she believes what she's saying. That doesn't mean she didn't send it."

"That's screwed up."

It is. But the reason I believe it is because I learned how to manipulate people from one of the masters: my mother. The best way to get away with a lie is to believe it when you're telling it. This is cognitive dissonance at its finest: to say something with utmost conviction when you know for a fact that the opposite is true.

This is purely anecdotal evidence is meant to establish my claim that I know cognitive dissonance when I see it. The New York Times reports that 81% of people polled believe that the nation is on the wrong track; only 4% believed the nation is better off than it was five years ago. Who are those 4%? Why do 18% of the American public still believe Dubya Bush is going to be remembered as the greatest President in American history? Why do conservatives believe we actually have a prayer of winning in Iraq, when we can't even figure out what constitutes victory? The answer is cognitive dissonance. They don't want to believe that Dubya is a bad President or that we committed a crime by invading Iraq, and therefore they don't. Any information that might support these notions is filtered out as liberal lies and propaganda.

So where else might cognitive dissonance operate in our society? Religion, maybe? The lottery? Politics, certainly. We don't want to hear about things that disagree with us, and that's true with every person. It's just that over the past ten years, conservatives have elevated cognitive dissonance to an art form.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What it means to be a Reagan Conservative?

This blog entry was a fascinating look at cognitive dissonance as art form. If you can't quite bring yourself to finish reading all eleven entries (the author was shooting for ten, but his math skills weren't quite up to the task), skip on down to the comments to see my take on it. Provided, of course, the author allows the comments to stay.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Forget the issues, let's talk bowling!

There was a time when talking politics was talking about the issues. More taxes or less? More regulation or less? Are we on the right track or not? Most importantly, how do we fix what we perceive as wrong?

But since the Reagan Administration, and particularly since the rise of Fox News, politics has become less about the issues and more about personalities. George Bush is a man people would like to have a beer with. Gore is cold and robotic. McCain is an honorable man of the people. Obama is elitist. Edwards is obsessed with his hair. Y'know what? I don't give a damn how much Edwards pays for his haircut or how well Obama bowls. I want to know what they propose to turn this nation back into a place I'm proud to call home. Because for the past seven years, I've been ashamed to call myself American.

People are starting to wake up to the fact that the media has been treating politics like a reality television show. We want to know when our troops are coming home. We want to know how we're going to fix our insanely expensive health care system. We want to hear solutions to our energy problems. But instead we get news that Obama's inability to bowl makes him elitist, Clinton's propensity for getting teary makes her unelectable and McCain throws a good party.

If you dig, and I mean really dig for it, you'll eventually learn that McCain wants to keep our troops in the line of fire for a hundred years and Clinton agrees with him. Obama wants to regulate health insurance, Clinton wants to make it mandatory for us to pay for health insurance regardless of what we're offered and McCain thinks we shouldn't change a thing. As for energy, Clinton recently said she'd confront OPEC, Obama would push biofuels and McCain favors the nuclear option (literally).

But what are we talking about today? How Rev. Wright is undermining Obama's campaign. Clinton's "nuclear option" to bring Michigan and Florida delegates to the national convention. McCain is a tough, moderate warrior. This isn't about issues, this is about personalities. They peddle this bullshit on reality television all the time and call it drama. This just happens to affect the outcome of our nation instead of just television ratings. Have you heard, Obama is an elitist and Clinton is a rich bitch? McCain, he's just a good old boy who happens to be a Vietnam vet and former prisoner of war.

What do I think? I think I'll vote for any Democrat before a Republican. I think if the independents and third parties were given a fair shake, they'd get a lot more representation in government. I think talk about "elitists" is pure bullshit, and the "liberal media" is a myth that may have reflected once media bias, but it's been the "conservative media" for a long, long time now. But the media controls the microphone, and they're skewing the discussion in the name of "news entertainment." I think Obama is flawed, Clinton is more about ambition than public service and McCain is the most elitist and out of touch of any of the candidates.

We're not going to get perfect candidates. We're going to get human beings. That's really all we have to choose from. None of them have God's special blessing or divine insight into the problems of the world. But they're the choices we're being given to represent us, and it's up to us to choose a candidate who will honestly put the good of the nation and the world ahead of their own agendas. We failed to do this in 2000 and 2004, and in that time we've gone from the world's prime superpower to crumbling empire. Our economy is imploding before our eyes, our credibility is shot, our moral piety has been completely discredited, our civil rights almost gone and all the pieces are in place for the Glorious Leader Bush to declare martial law and suspend elections. My gods, Rush Limbaugh suggests that Republicans should provoke a riot in Denver during the Democratic Convention, and gets away with it because he was "just joking!"

This nation is in serious trouble, and all we get is half-baked drama you couldn't sell to a cable station. Is it any wonder that I'm feeling increasingly paranoid about our future?