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I come to the Daily Kos battle-hardened, and relieved to have finally started an account at a progressive place like this. Here’s why I’m here. Much of this will not be news to you, but it’s also, I think, the sort of stuff that can’t be re-emphasized enough.

To paraphrase the intro to MTV’s The Real World: this is the true story of a guy who tried to engage conservatives in civil debate, to find out what happens when people stop being polite... and start inhabiting an alternate reality.

For a few years now, I’ve spent a fair amount of my free time arguing with right-wingers. I felt it was a moral duty to focus my firepower on them; after all, liberals already agree with me, and my time is limited, so why would I spend it in the echo chamber of a liberals-only forum? So I’ve slugged it out in the toxic trenches of Faux News online comment threads. Last Christmas, I risked turkey dinner tension by explaining to my uncle that we can’t balance the budget by eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts (he genuinely seems to believe this). I also debate the imaginary conservatives in my head. That might sound lame, but it’s not as bad as it seems, because I can probably make a niftier case for conservatism than some conservatives can. Heck, I’ll give it a shot right now:

“Contrary to liberals’ contentions, America’s economic crisis was not caused by a deregulated free market. It is somewhat understandable that liberals adhere to this specious falsity, because superficially, it may appear that the crisis was wrought by private sector irresponsibility on Wall Sreet. However, the truth is that it was the government’s intrusion on and collusion with Wall Street that wreaked havoc. GSEs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, bowing down to big government’s bidding, offered subprime loans to people who could not afford them, all in the name of a well-intended--but economically dangerous--liberal notion of ‘fairness.’ Thus, it was not deregulation, but market-distortive over-regulation of the financial sector that got us into this quagmire.”

Not bad, eh? Maybe not the best, but it’s better than some of the tirades you see out there, e.g., “NOBAMA’S BIG GUBMINT MARXIST FASCIST EXPERIMENT KILLS JOBS AND ALSO HATES GODJESUS!!! [insert link to birther/NWO conspiracy website here.]” Now is a good time to lament that the brainlessness of online discourse can sometimes sink to sea cucumber-like levels. Actually, this is unfair to sea cucumbers, because they aren’t so misguided that they work against their own interests. If a sea cucumber ate all the plankton in its vicinity, it would elect to wiggle its cute/creepy little tube feet, crawl another part of the coral reef, and find more. But if a working class conservative met a Republican politician whose policies would cripple the working class, he would elect that politician President of the United States. (To be fair, the world is not devoid of bad liberal arguments. I’ll touch on that later. But that’s not the main point here.)

The main point is that there are two problems with my nifty anti-government argument. First, and most obviously, while it’s true that the GSEs behaved stupidly, the core claim amounts to a heaping pile of week-old wildebeest droppings. The second problem is a cultural one, extrinsic to the argument itself: Lots of people continue to believe it, and myriad other invalid beliefs, despite--and seemingly because of--their falseness. This has maddened me (and probably you) to no end, and it’s one reason why I need a respite from all those rhetorical skirmishes. You can only politely explain how the sky is blue to the blue sky-deniers so many times before you start to get a little fatigued.

Perplexingly, not all of these people are stupid. There are smart, sane conservatives out there. I am friends with some. And I’ve tussled with some brilliant libertarians who actually persuaded me to revise my political positions (albeit slightly). In other words, there are lots of conservatives who are vastly smarter than marine invertebrates--except maybe octopuses, which may be smarter than all of us. But beneath the rhetorical sheen, their ideas are too often reminiscent of the “Apollo moon landings were staged by Disney” theory: internally cohesive and “right-sounding” in a way, but only because it ignores ocean-sized swaths of observable reality. As H.L. Mencken might put it, whenever a big problem arises, the right is always right there with a solution that is impeccably “neat, plausible, and wrong.”

If you’re a liberal, it’s enough to make you seriously consider relocating to Finland (although I’m pretty sure they cover US politics even in Finland, so there’s really no escape). The most obvious explanation for this phenomenon is that right-wingers are simply lying for political gain. That this is part of the answer is so obvious as to not even require a hyperlink confirmation; just Google “Mitt Romney speech 2012” and take your pick from his ever-expanding smorgasbord of subterfuge.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Romney knows better, and that he’s just regurgitating this hogwash because he wants to become president, so that he can... um... well... OK, so not even Mitt Romney knows what Mitt Romney would do as president. But he wants to do it, that’s for damn sure!

But there’s more to it than mere mendacity. Many of those muttonheads over at Faux News actually believe this babble. But... how? Enter Chris Mooney’s new book, "The Republican Brain"--a really good one that also influenced my decision to stop squabbling with creationists and Ron Paul cultists, and just be a Daily Kos member for a while. Mooney is in a uniquely qualified position to discuss the topic of terminally delusional Republicans. His first book was a withering critique of Republicans’ rejection of the scientific consensus on evolution, climate change, etc. In that book, he simply debunked the right’s claims with logic and evidence. Presumably, he was hoping some Republicans might change their minds in light of the cold, hard, liberal-biased facts.

Well, that sure didn’t happen. If anything, a sizable segment of the right is even more convinced that Noah lured each of the 120+ species of sauropods (and their copious food supply) onto a 450-foot ark--in pairs! (Apparently, he got some baby brachiosauruses). This leads to the burning question addressed in Mooney’s new book: How are some right-wingers still clinging to such bizarre beliefs? Seriously? Still?

Now is a good time to confess that I’ve only read the Google Books preview of the book. My wife, a teacher, is unemployed due to savage public education cuts inflicted by You-Know-Who, so we’ve had to make discretionary spending cuts, and I didn’t want to steal it. But I’ve been casually researching this stuff on my own over the last six months or so, so I have a pretty solid layman’s grasp on it. Many font-pixels have been spilt on this book already, so I’ll just summarize it briefly: All humans--even liberals like you and me--are sometimes guilty of confirmation bias, and of the tendency to think we're engaged in Pure Reason even though we're really just rationalizing our raw gut instincts. But the right is more guilty of this, and guilty more often. And to make matters even more exasperating, they can’t even help themselves: it’s hardwired into their brains’ gray matter (or dearth thereof).

Conclusion: many of the hours I’ve spent crafting clever comments on Faux News threads and elsewhere were not only all for naught. They probably made matters worse. This is fascinating. It’s also deflating, discouraging and depressing. So depressing, in fact, that my brain used up all its dopamines trying to stay motivated so I could write this, and now my receptors are shriveled, starving and sad. Normally, this is where I’d speculate on how we might address this matter with hopeful proactivity, but I’ll have to follow up on that another time, perhaps after a few Stone IPAs and/or a jog around the block. But that’s OK, because this post is probably way too long in the first place.

The Big Question of the Ages: What should we do about this--if, that is, anything can be done at all? I do have some ideas, but any suggestions would be great, because frankly, I’m fucking bewildered, man.

Originally posted to izationalizer on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


Which right-wing canard drives you the most crazy?

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| 237 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Couple of ideas... (24+ / 0-)

    Take up a collection to buy a small island in the Tuvalu or something.

    Make Sarah Palin the Queen of Tuvulu.  Underwrite the emigration of all those who wish to move and become her subjects.

    Announce the opening of a Mega-Walmart SuperStore Sale for "One Day Only" in Kearny, Nebraska...when they show up to shop, build a fence around them and throw them some chips and pepsi every now and then.

  •  I try to carry on, despite them. (28+ / 0-)

    And ignore them.  And disprove them by action.

    And when they enlist me (as my teabagger brother-in-law often tries) I keep the conversation on specifics, such as: "When Medicaid is eliminated, your mother isn't going to a nursing home or assisted living facility; she'll be moving in with you.  But you'd better save some pennies, because we're all going to have to chip in to take care of our autistic nephew.  Hey, you get what you vote for!"

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 11:59:45 AM PDT

    •  Ha! That, too, is nice. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, Aunt Pat, splashy
      •  here's one: don't say "cold hard" facts. (20+ / 0-)

        It's all about the emotional narrative.  

        Emotions decide, reason explains, and ideology justifies.  

        The religious right's version of reality is "warm and fuzzy" to them, even though it makes no sense to us.

        When our side uses phrasing such as "cold hard facts" we are creating our own emotional narrative, and it is highly aversive.

        Would you like to sleep on a "cold, hard" bed?

        Better phrasing:  "inescapable facts," "well-proven facts," anything along those lines.   Or just drop the adjectives and stick to "the facts."  

        The advertising industry is absolutely brilliant at crafting successful emotional narratives.  Pay close attention to the emotional messages and emotional story-lines in national-brand advertising, particularly on TV, on radio, and in glossy magazines.

        To learn how to use emotional narratives effectively, do this:

        Turn on the TV, watch one ad, turn it off, then write:

        = Who are the characters?
        = What's their back-story?
        = What happens next?
        = How's that supposed to make you feel?

        For example an automobile ad shows the whole family piling into the car, including the dog.  On the surface the message is that the car is comfortable with a full load of passengers.  But the emotional narrative is happy family going on vacation.  And the key to the "vacation" part is when the dog hops into the car.  

        See how that works?  It offers a little glimpse of happiness, and if you see it enough times it'll stick in the background of your mind when you go shopping for a new car.  For a small percentage of people (but more than enough to make the ad profitable), it will influence their buying decision to some degree.  

        The same case works with political advertising and with the messages of major campaigns.  Always look for the emotional narrative: "what are the feelings and what story do they tell?"

        Once you get some experience with this, you can try it out on righties.  You'll have to "go underground" and pretend to be one of them, but the key is to shift their emotional associations, because that is what changes opinions.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 01:34:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very Gramscian. (8+ / 0-)

          I've had to renew my acquaintence with the gentleman lately. His perception of 'common sense' and how it can be changed predated the Overton Window by over half a century.
          P.S. When you click on the link and see it is to an article in the Socialist Review, don't let your head explode. Socialism = bad is one of those concepts that have been inserted into your idea of common sense. Just saying'.

          "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

          by northsylvania on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:49:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  have i got newz for you:-) (9+ / 0-)

            By virtue of the fact that a growth-based economy can't persist on a limited planet that is rapidly overrunning the limits to growth, I've come around to the view that ultimately some form of socialism is not only necessary but inevitable.  Or alternately, theocratic feudalism, a dystopian hell roughly similar to Franco's Spain but with crushing poverty nearly universal.  

            That said, this stuff needs to be made more accessible in language that resonates with Americans.  European writers from an earlier time, basically aren't accessible to Americans.  

            I gotta scoot, be back later...

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:28:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  An excellent arguement for colonizing Mars (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage, mumtaznepal, glitterscale

              Well flip 'em for it. Either way we win.

              Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

              by Old Lefty on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:38:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              isabelle hayes, qofdisks

              I love Gramsci but when Americans see socialism, communism, or even liberal in a sentence, a bunch of red flags go up.
              I've got a diary on him coming up Sunday, but it is a bit tangential to this discussion, and fairly elementary. There is one reference I used from a right-wing source here that shows how difficult it would be to push Americans further toward a communitarian mind set because they have been programmed to believe that they are individuals rather than part of a group.

              "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

              by northsylvania on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 03:24:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Socialism also required if (0+ / 0-)

              new tech like graphene makes us super-productive, resulting in even fewer workers needed and even way more profit flowing to the 1% through their corporations.

              Remember those diaries, 'Humanity in One Hundred Years', one thousand etc?

              They mentioned space elevators enabling asteroid mining. That'd be super-profitable but only big corporations could do it.

  •  I was working with a bunch of teachers correcting (24+ / 0-)

    parts of the Michigan Assessment Test before the start of the second gulf war.  West Michigan Education was such that I was one of 2 McGovern voters on one staff.  Anyway they thought it would be a piece of cake.  As emphatically as I could I told them that it would be a disaster, that it had to be a disaster since nothing else was possible. I ended up telling one hardcore guy that Bush had one chance.  Take over and tell them Kurds head North, Sheites head south, Sunnis you stay in Bagdad. Tell them to get along and get the hell out of there.  SOB died before I could rub it in.  And later I found out Bush did not know there were different kinds of Muslims.  Anybody who knew anything knew that Wahabi Bin Ladin and Sunni Sadham would never have anything to do with each other.  And Bush went to Yale and I studied at Enormous State Public University.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 12:27:46 PM PDT

  •  As far as what to do, club them with reality. (15+ / 0-)

    They claim to be patriotic and wear tri corner hats to conventions yet they know nothing of our Founders thinking.  I have 2 quotes in paticular that are davistating to them. The first is from a July 4 1802 oration by the Rev. John Leland a Baptist who worked with Jefferson and Madison in Virginia in passing the Religious Freedom Act.

    Disdain mean suspicion, but cherish manly jealousy; be always jealous of your liberty, your rights. Nip the first bud of intrusion on your constitution. Be not devoted to men; let measures be your object, and estimate men according to the measures they pursue. Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. It converts religion into a principle of state policy, and the gospel into merchandise. Heaven forbids the bans of marriage between church and state; their embraces therefore, must be unlawful. Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes. If pure religion is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are void of it. Let honesty, talents and quick despatch, characterise the men of your choice. Such men will have a sympathy with their constituents, and will be willing to come to the light, that their deeds may be examined.
    The second is from Jefferson about poplitical parties.
    Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all. --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 12:46:39 PM PDT

    •  Oh yeah... (9+ / 0-)

      ...out-Founding-Father-ing them is one of my favorite strategies. Thanks for those quotes, by the way; duly added to my arsenal. That article in TNR today had some nice ammo regarding individual mandates and the ACA, too.

      Rereading it now, my post is probably unnecessarily pessimistic. I've rarely had conservatives explicitly admit defeat--no matter how thoroughly I've destroyed them--but with a combination of these two strategies, I've frequently ended the debate (i.e., they didn't offer a retort of any kind):

      1.) Be well-armed with historical knowledge and empirical data (obviously). This entails understanding their argument even better than they do.

      2.) Be polite and civil. It can be hard, but i think it's often effective. I'll often say things like, "That's a good point because of x and y, but I disagree, because..." It's easier to agree with nice people.

      On rare occasions, I'll even pretend to be a conservative that happens to disagree with whatever right-wing talking point we're discussing (I have many different accounts across the web, with many different pseudonyms). If they think that it's "one of their own" that, say, supports the individual mandate, their tribalistic mentality might make them more likely to agree with you.

      •  Check out this 1791 sermon by a Baptist (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sockpuppet, Aunt Pat, linkage, IreGyre, mookins

        supporter of Jefferson and Madison in Virginia.  He was a great thinker.  Also I did a widely ignored diary covering their ideas in historical context recently using 2 parts of this sermon.  You have to love the title.

        The Rights of Conscience Inalienable; and therefore Religious Opinions not cognizable by Law: Or, The high-flying Churchman, stript of his legal Robe, appears a Yahoo

        Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

        by J Edward on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:28:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Know when to back off and let them hang (0+ / 0-)

        themselves with their own words.  This can be NOT getting in that last word.  It requires restraint on our part.  This happens to me all the time.  I almost tipped my hand today as a matter of fact.

  •  I spend a great deal of time (12+ / 0-) those trenches, but I don't argue anymore and spar only half-heartedly. I'm more interested in keeping them talking unguardedly. Observing.

    You're facing a neurological divide, here. I could tell you what's behind it, but suffice to say the brain continues to physically evolve during our own lifetimes. In reality, you are talking to a different species, as are they.

    •  I may have to respectfully disagree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Old Lefty

      "Conservatives" might be wired differently than "progressives", but they are not "the other" even though they might describe us so, and certainly the president.

      Unfortunately, they are our brothers and sisters. Fellow Sapiens, even if it's like chewing tinfoil to say it.

      I know it was a rhetorical statement, but I for one won't deny anyone their basic humanity.

      My hypocrisy on this issue is that I would like to deny it to child molesters.


      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 07:43:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough. (4+ / 0-)

        Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.

        by Pluto on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:06:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They may be brothers and sisters (5+ / 0-)

        but they support a wolrdview and plutocracy that is sociopathic and the root cause of a mindboggling amount of pain. And their denialism is literally killing the planet all earhtly life depends upon. Whether or not someone is intentionally choking your children, my guess is you (the generic "you") would treat them as enemy and do everything possible to stop them. And you should.

        It's an interesting conundrum at the root of progressivism.

        If WI had responded to Scott Walker in moderation, there would be no recall.

        The recall depended upon identifying Walker as an enemy to vital social interests and repsonding with a passion that is too often eschewed by moderates as extremism. Which is why so many on the left feel estranged from the centrists who, intentionally or not, enable the forces doing actual, devastating, life-threatening harm.

        If history demonstrates anything it shows that campaigning and voting are necessary but insufficient. If you aren't part of publicly visible, uncompromising, irresistible dissent, you are still part of the problem.

        by Words In Action on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:26:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Respectfully.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....vociferous rhetoric aside, your world-view doesn't stray far from "theirs." You evoke imagery of a life-and-death struggle, which it is. However I believe your (our) side doesn't have to behave in the same manner as the opposition in order to achieve it's goals. I'm pretty sure of the good people of Wisconscin, very few identified themselves as "extreme" in taking action to preserve their rights. Fewer still would call for Walker to be hunted to ground and summarily executed because they were convinced he was an "enemy/other."

          I think most would agree that he is just another thrall of Mammon.

          Should this situation be allowed to continue? Absolutely not. It demands an enormous amount of effort and money to educate enough people to vote one way or another. We have to suck it up and pay the piper. After all, it was our laziness in 2010 which allowed the Tea Party and their ilk to succeed, especially at the State level.

          And I take umbrage at your canard implying "moderation" on my part. Heh.

          Finally, your black-and-white sig line is quite telling. Tell me; How visible, uncompromising, and irresistible must I be to join your club? Does this mean if we aren't shoulder-to-shoulder with you, we're unpatriotic somehow -or worse- some sort of fair-weather fellow-travelers? I'm nearly 60. I've put in my time and will continue to do so as a progressive who -while an atheist- believes in basic humanity.

          "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

          by CanisMaximus on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 08:46:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  They still have to be aggressively engaged and (0+ / 0-)


  •  Do the imaginary conservatives in your head (4+ / 0-)

    make you hurt people?  As long as they don't, I think you're good.

  •  I guess I'm lucky (11+ / 0-)

    I live in an ultra-blue part of a very blue state, and I teach on the college level, which means that the only right wing people I'm likely to encounter are people like the wingnut economics professor and Scott Walker fan (because of the evil unions) whose office is in the same small building mine is in but who's also a misanthrope.  There are also the Paulista students, but there aren't many of those.

    I think the Socratic method, where you ask questions every so often to keep them talking, and, as Pluto said, observe, observe, observe. The key thing is not to let them draw you into an argument.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:00:40 PM PDT

    •  Mirror image (9+ / 0-)

      Living in an ultra-red part of a very red state, I get to teach plenty of home-schooled or christian-academied creationists who don't understand the concept of supporting evidence.

      "It's not like lightning or earthquakes. We've got a bad thing made by men, and by God that's something we can change." John Steinbeck

      by Snarky McAngus on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:45:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Off topic Dave (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, Aunt Pat

      but I know you've mentioned you teach at the community college level and I was wondering which one. I'm in your area (unless it's a different Northridge) and I was curious. You don't have to answer if you don't want to.

      "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."--Will Rogers

      by vgranucci on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:48:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't mind at all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sockpuppet, Aunt Pat

        I'm in California, and I'll be a little vague, but all my teaching is done within the Los Angeles Community College District, and one of the assignments is an eight week weekend college course where I teach at four of them.

        -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

        by Dave in Northridge on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:37:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think conservatives are much more tribal (8+ / 0-)

      than liberals are. They tend to strongly identify with one particular group - be it national, racial, religious, or cultural. They are are inherently suspicious of, and often hostile to whatever they see as foreign.

      They are intensely loyal, with motivations rooted in fear of the other, and protectiveness of one's own. The notion of being somehow assimilated by another group, or having their own group diluted or changed by another group, is a constant threat to them.

      They don't like anything that appears weird or unconventional, and they tend to distrust new ways of thinking and behaving.

      They don't mix easily or well with people who are noticeably different than themselves.

      "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

      by native on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 06:03:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And they are generally mentally lazy (8+ / 0-)

        and willfully ignorant.   "Don't want no facts, and if you keep tryin' to give me some, I'm gonna stick my fingers in my ears and sing LALALALALALA, I can't hear you!"

        Or, as in my Klan:  "I'm not havin' this discussion with you!  I'm not doin' it!  I don't care what your facts are!  I'm outta here!"
         [This after tossing out incendiary red meat like, "Obama is a socialist!  He has Czars!  He has more czars than we've ever had in our government!"]

        On and on, ad nauseum.

        (Heaven help me if my Klan ever pierces my veil of anonymity here on Dkos. ;)~

        •  We did not evolve (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mumtaznepal, sockpuppet

          as fact-seeking biological computing machines.  We are social, tribal, cave-dwelling primates.  Our basic needs are the same as any other, food, shelter, sex, socialization.  Science?  Not so much.

          190 milliseconds....

          by Kingsmeg on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:10:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not wilfully ignorant but in denial (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sockpuppet, isabelle hayes, BusyinCA

          Jared Diamond, author of "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" had this to say about why some societies make disastrous decisions

          The last reason that I shall mention for irrational failure to try to solve a perceived problem is psychological denial. This is a technical term with a precisely defined meaning in individual psychology, and it has been taken over into the pop culture. If something that you perceive arouses an unbearably painful emotion, you may subconsciously suppress or deny your perception in order to avoid the unbearable pain, even though the practical results of ignoring your perception may prove ultimately disastrous. The emotions most often responsible are terror, anxiety, and sadness. Typical examples include refusing to think about the likelihood that your husband, wife, child, or best friend may be dying, because the thought is so painfully sad, or else blocking out a terrifying experience. For example, consider a narrow deep river valley below a high dam, such that if the dam burst, the resulting flood of water would drown people for a long distance downstream. When attitude pollsters ask people downstream of the dam how concerned they are about the dam's bursting, it's not surprising that fear of a dam burst is lowest far downstream, and increases among residents increasingly close to the dam. Surprisingly, though, when one gets within a few miles of the dam, where fear of the dam's breaking is highest, as you then get closer to the dam the concern falls off to zero! That is, the people living immediately under the dam who are certain to be drowned in a dam burst profess unconcern. That is because of psychological denial: the only way of preserving one's sanity while living immediately under the high dam is to deny the finite possibility that it could burst.
          I really don't think that conservatives are less intelligent than liberals.  I do think that, as a current diary explains, conservatives are more motivated by fear and more willing to rely on simple explanations.  If you are more motivated by fear, you are more susceptible to  denial.  If you are more willing to seek out simple explanations, you are more likely to consider explain things using your own personal observations.  

          So, here's what happens.  A conservative is hurting financially.  The reason for this is that the elites have figured out how to use the political system to depress wages without threatening their own capital.  That's a pretty awful thing to contemplate because it means that, barring utter societal collapse in which the wealthy literally starve along with the rest of us, most of us have a very slim chance of becoming financially independent.  At the same time, conservatives hear about how they can "think" themselves to wealth, they experience having to take home less than their hourly rate through taxes, and they witness people with different social values behaving in ways that they perceive are anti-social (petty criminals, homosexuality).  The result is that the conservative denies the social upheaval caused by the concentration of wealth but instead focuses on taxes and the obvious (to them) social deviants.

          We can call this stupidity, or we can recognize it as an unavoidable response of those under tremendous stress.  If we can help conservatives understand not only who is hurting them, but how they can realistically be stopped, we might just win them over.  

          One man gathers what another man spills

          by John Chapman on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 01:26:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Interesting comment (0+ / 0-)
            We can call this stupidity, or we can recognize it as an unavoidable response of those under tremendous stress.
            My kinfolk-Klan are very comfortable, believe me.   They are definitely not under "tremendous stress", mostly because they refuse to acknowledge the impending effects of, say, climate change on their locale.  Willful ignorance.  Or of massive social unrest due to crushing economic factors of the less-fortunate, gated communities notwithstanding (literally).
            If we can help conservatives understand not only who is hurting them, but how they can realistically be stopped, we might just win them over.
            Good luck with that.  I've talked for 20 years, til I'm blue in the face (pun intended), and get nowhere.   Willful ignorance.   (Tried to get them to look at my copy of The Shock Doctrine.  Refused.   "Lib'rul conspiracy theories.")
            •  P.S. (0+ / 0-)

              I can understand the psychology of "blocking out an impending terrifying experience".   I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.   We live under hourly threat of the Hayward Fault and/or the San Andreas Fault suddenly quaking and bringing massive death and destruction down on our heads.  

              Thus we have no guarantee each day that we're gonna make it through till bedtime (or even until dawn), but we live as if we live on solid ground, that the Earth will not betray us by tossing us off like an elephant shaking off flies.

              Willful denial.  I hear ya.

  •  The answer to your question is to (4+ / 0-)

    be friends with everyone and if they like you, their behavior will start to change in subtle ways. They may just give someone or something a break because of you. That's much better than direct arguing, that will never work.

    "But Brandine, you're supposed to be in Iraq stopping 911!"

    by leftyguitarist on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:46:08 PM PDT

  •  I didn't want to, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    I couldn't help myself.

    I actually read the 'Noah's Ark' link that you posted. 'Hilarious' doesn't even begin to describe it.

  •  Don't bother (4+ / 0-)

    The best strategy is to ignore them.
    First, it'll help your personal well being.
    Second, though they will initially feel insulted, they will anyway, but have less impulse and more self doubt.
    Third, by ignoring them you will demonstrate to others that they and their positions are not worthy of consideration, while arguing with them is validating them.

    Memo to President Obama: On the campaign you should have only 2 sentences - 1, "Vote for Democrat x because (fascist candidate) voted for y and that's why (your house got foreclosed, or you got laid off, or whatever applies)" and 2, "Mitt who?"

  •  a core problem is the conservative myth that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sharman, Aunt Pat, isabelle hayes

    libruls are trying to 'save' them. First, they see this as jay-zeus's job, and second,it enables them like children under the watchful gaze of a parent: they really believe if they screw things up, a librul will save them.

    I phrase everything in the context of the selfish asshole, something like: you can drink all the methane-spiked well water you want. I just dont want it for myself.

     That usually throws them for a loop.

  •  I've done something of the same (5+ / 0-)

    and my game is to play the polite liberal- getting my objection or observation in without getting annoying or overbearing or overly predictable.

    Better to say and post too little than too much.  When they reply with nastiness I'll often get in a return shot or two, but it's best not to break persona.  

    The conservative worldview is a sad one, with a core narcissism and an artificial rigid boundary constructed around Self and dysfunctional relationships will all Other.  

    You have to keep in mind that liberals and liberals' politicians have to supply about 85%-95% of the effort and fixes to make things better.  Conservatives largely exist to annoy liberals into making all the effort and come up with comprehensive solutions, which liberals are bit lazy about.  Conservatives also have a sense of how much worse many crisis situations are than liberals, liberals being optimistic people.  And not given to imagining just how stupid, corrupted, criminal, miserable, indebted, and mismanaged the center-of-the-problem endeavors and institutions and movements (mostly conservative ones) are.  Which liberals, being generally smart and mobile people, tend already to have avoided for a long time as dens of dysfunction and wrongdoing.

    This 90/10 split of improving things by liberal vs conservative governments annoys conservatives no end.  But they're not really capable of learning, only of rearranging their biases somewhat and adjusting their rules of thumb.  In a sense their role is to make things worse, then see all their victories prove worthless in the long run.

    The current sort is particularly erratic and irresponsible because they gambled big and via Nixon and Reagan made a stand for the pre-Modern condition, tried to make the society stall at the condition of laws and divisions of wealth and power that existed in 1968 or before.  For a while they had supermajorities in American society for that status quo.  But the young proved almost impervious to wanting that condition or regarding the arguments for it as plausible.  Now the 50/50 point and tipping is not far off- five to eight years away- and conservatives sense that it's all slipping.  The Modern society, the social democratic governance, the passing of the white 'Christian Nation' are getting closer and closer.  The inevitability of it has some mix of panicked and paralyzed them.  Now that it looks almost lost they want to fight, but the things they thought they were fighting for have thinned and hollowed out enormously in their eyes.  

    But the most determined, and nonsensical, defenses are made when the war is already lost.    

  •  When I discount the "thought processes" (3+ / 0-)

    ..of people of people who mistake 24 hour cable propaganda for "News" (because the network has "News" in the name?) and for whom one book has all the answers to any question worth asking (but they have to attend weekly meetings in order to have someone divinely translate it for them) - am I engaging in "conformation bias?"

    Pretty sure The Flintstones wasn't an historical documentary.

    The only "left" the Democrats have given us is the last couple of decades is a Southpaw President

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:17:25 PM PDT

  •  What should we do about this? Give them enough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    rope and they'll hang themselves.

    For instance: let California enact school choice and do away with teacher's unions for ten years. See what happens.

    For clues, see what happened to the performance of California's education system when Republicans lost political dominance and Democrats gained it. I think it's called something like "first-to-worst."

    I joined this site determined to do only one thing: answer questions. I will not preach or lecture or even point out glaring inaccuracies where I see them.

    by Morticia on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 05:31:23 PM PDT

    •  Well, the Great Depression (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, isabelle hayes

      did give us the New Deal.  But hella price to pay.

      I've said often in the last 3 years, the biggest mistake our party made was fixing the Rs fuckup before it became a major disaster.  As an only pretty bad disaster, it allows shitheads like Mitt to admit that Obama didn't create the recession--and then blithely, pretend that it doesn't bear remembering or analyzing what did create it, or offering policies to make sure it doesn't happen again

      And to then go on to lie about Obama being the reason a pretty bad disaster isn't completely fixed in 3 years.

      Obama calls it amnesia.  It call it willful amnesia, and fucking depressing

    •  Well, be careful.... (6+ / 0-)

      I said that after W stole the 2000 and '04 elections. Give them rope and they will hang themselves. They will trash the economy and no one will ever vote for a Republican again.

      Here we are 12 years later. I never could have forseen the reach of power that Bush stole and accrued to the Executive, and which is being maintained by Obama. The Constitution is almost meaningless. Citizens United was only the beginning. Orwell may have been right, only off by 50 years. Government is larger than ever, in both size and reach. The NSA is reading this in real-time, I'm sure.

      Give them enough rope and they will hang YOU.

      We fight them now, or we are lost as a true representitive republic. Democratic speech, dissent, and our right to assemble peacefully for redress are increasingly eroded in favor of "civil order" enforced by an increasingly militarized police force.

      Give them enough rope and you get tied up, shipped to Gitmo, and waterboarded.

      I'm terrified for my grandaughters.

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:06:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's The Byproduct Of Abusive Childhoods In Most (4+ / 0-)


    The ability to internalize the level of cognitive dissonance that your average Republican displays these days can only be beaten into them.

    I'm not kidding. I think this all goes back to the ages old evolution of child-rearing techniques. From abusive to non-abusive. The Repub party is the remnants of our society who still believe and adhere to abusive child-rearing techniques.

    They are being left behind by progress and evolution and what we are currently seeing is the desperate effort to cling on to their "right" to raise their children in the same abusive environments they were raised in.

    After all, they turned out ok, right? So why shouldn't they raise their kids in the same way?

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: []

    by Beetwasher on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 06:38:53 PM PDT

  •  Welcome to DK..., (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, linkage

    I love your style of writing. You've obviously had background there. My dad was an editor and newsman. My missives tend to be pedantic and pointed. Your facility and ease (being at ease) with language is beyond my talent, but I recognize it when I see it.

    Good diary, very well written.

    Much of what you describe in conservatives is what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness." If it "feels" true, it must be. I too get tired of explaining why the sky is blue. I believe the problem is that stupid people breed faster than those with a measurable IQ.

    And you can't fight stupid.

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 07:27:03 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget the deficit is caused by foreign aid. (4+ / 0-)

    Yup.  If we'd just cut off all those beggars in other countries, we could take better care of ourselves.

    I loved it a few nights ago when Erin Burnett on CNN announced with some panic that the Chinese were building HOSPITALS in the Caribbean!  OH MY GOD HOSPITALS!  And that it was part of a concerted Chinese plan to spend many billions of dollars on islands off our shore to CURRY FAVOR WITH THEIR GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLE by giving them (oh god, it's so diabolical) HOSPITALS TO TREAT THEIR SICK PEOPLE.

    Now, you might think, some Republican would get alarmed by this and say, "We can't let them do that!  We have to make the Pentagon start building bigger and better hospitals and get them put out there in the Caribbean FIRST!"  

    Give a no-bid contract to Halliburton to build them, and the Republicans will be on board, all right.  We could even embed Fox News reporters in the military units that we send out to help out with the construction.

  •  What you need then, (0+ / 0-)

    is a good stiff shot of cocaine.  Or sex.  Chocolate?  Off-road mud-hole racing?

    ...that my brain used up all its dopamines trying to stay motivated so I could write this, and now my receptors are shriveled, starving and sad.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:08:03 PM PDT

  •  Very enjoyable piece and nicely written. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Lefty

    Folks here at dkos appreciate us some good writin'.  Please keep it up.  Thanks.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:26:00 PM PDT

  •  Telling the truth or truth being told, not lying (0+ / 0-)

    I say!

    And a second all the favorable critiques above. Admirable.

    Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

    by Old Lefty on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:44:09 PM PDT

  •  Dinesh D'Sousa: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    izationalizer, splashy

    David Brock used to call him "Distort D'Newsa" and that was when Brock was a conservative. (Source: "Blinded By the Right", David Brock).

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat

    by commonmass on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:45:53 AM PDT

  •  My Favorites (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    izationalizer, Damnit Janet

    Here are a Few More Bits of "Wisdom" that You
    can Add to the List.

    "Fox News is the ONLY News program that Tells
    the TRUTH. Everything Else is Socialist Propagnda."

    "Climate change is a CONSPIRACY created by Scientists to
    Get More Money for Research Projects."

    "Any Government Agency that is NOT specifically
    mentioned in the Constitution is ILLEGAL."

    It Boggles the Mind.
    45 Miles North of Boston.
    It Feels like 45 LIGHT YEARS.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 08:01:39 AM PDT

  •  There are a few - myself included (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, isabelle hayes

    Believe it or not, I voted for Nixon, worked on both Reagan Presidential campaigns, and also for the first McCain Pres. campaign (versus Shrub). Most of my core beliefs haven't really changed too much, but due to the insane movement of the right to the extreme neo-Fascist position, I now find myself as a radical Leftist! One of my best friends back in my work in Hollywood was the godson of Ted Kennedy, and we used to have political discussions all the time - but in the old style way, where we exchanged ideas in a logical and cogent manner.

    Unfortunately I base my life and arguments on rationale and logic, and the maniacs who are 'Republicans' today have no ability or interest in those qualities. Hate is easier to do than think, and stupidity is easier to manipulate. So for the most part it is a waste of time and energy to try to talk sense to these people, but it's up to the individual to decide whether the effort is worth it. I'm too old and jaded to try, but I know the philosophy of the river wearing down a mountain.

    As my pappy used to tell me though; 'Talking sense to people is like trying to teach a pig to sing - it wastes your time and annoys the pig'.

    Romney 2012 - You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 09:03:34 AM PDT

  •  Wow, thanks! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, isabelle hayes

    You guys/gals' ideas and comments are splendid, thoughtful and funny, so I appreciate that a lot! It kind of inspires re-enter the fray right now... but I'll try to resist. I'm one who feels that you should always know the opposition's claims inside and out, which is why I've spent a near-inordinate amount of time reading stuff at places like But as far as actually conversing (or debating) with people goes, I seem to be getting much more productive use out of DK. So I'll just hang out for now.

    So yes, thanks again for the lively discussion! I was a little nervous when I posted this, because was is my first-ever foray into blogging/diary-ing of any kind, so this sets my mind at ease.

  •  I just try to be as (0+ / 0-)

    mean to them as they are to everyone else.

    In person I am a nice guy - I refuse to talk politics to Republicans in person.

    Online, I am an A-hole.

    Which is good news for John McCain.

    by AppleP on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 09:09:05 AM PDT

  •  I think the biggest problem (0+ / 0-)

    with today's conservative crowd is that they tend to prefer simple rules made in accordance with how they believe the world should work.

    This method is in contrast to making rules that, whether simple or complicated, work in accordance with how the world actually works* and tries to take into account the real-world impact of any change in policy.

    * or, in accordance with our best current understanding of how the world works

    Take the estate tax as one example.  The conservatives will typically say something like "why should the government take my money away from my family just because I die?  It's a death tax."  

    "Death tax" is simple, easy to understand and makes sense. It also fails to account for the negative impacts on the budget, the fact that exemptions mean it's not really a problem for the vast majority of people, etc.

    The other factor is definitely tribal.  On every issue I can think of, the right wing tries to figure out a way to label things such that people mostly recoil from even the thought of certain things or, when it's something they want, to accept it without too many questions.  

    Some examples:

    Want to spend government money so we can have healthcare for all?  Well, that's socialism and, therefore, instantly dismissed.  

    Want to spend government money on letting a Wal Mart store avoid paying sales taxes for the next twenty years?  No problem because that's free market capitalism.

    Want to cut of benefits for children and the poor?  No problem, because if you keep it up that just creates dependency for those loser people (who are not like us).

    Want to give some more money to the top 1%?  No problem because they are the job creators.

    They have a much easier job in terms of messaging.

    "Why do we see the same old Republicans all over the news all the time when they were kicked out for screwing everything up?" - socratic's grandma

    by Michael James on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 12:00:22 PM PDT

  •  I actually think we are making headway on (0+ / 0-)

    the grassroots level concerning the War on Drugs as a major example.

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