I caught Bill Maher's REAL TIME last night live. I usually only get to see it later in repeats. And was struck by the reality of why the public conversation in this country, at least as exhibited on TV and radio and the Internet, including as illustrated in comments on this blog sometimes, is so intransigent and intolerant of opposing views.
He had a Tea Party activist, an attractive young woman, on the show who immediately, upon first sharing her perspective, demonstrated that the information she based that perspective on was not just faulty, but totally unreliable, i.e. just plain wrong. But she kept insisting that "these are the facts" and that the figures she was throwing around were "from the government" etc.
They weren't. Like her claim that the Obama government has spent more on the stimulus etc. then has been spent on the war in Iraq etc. Fortunately, Maher's other guests, a guy from Daily Kos and the musical phenom, John Legend, were well informed enough to counter her arguments with reason and real facts. And then a sports writer—I think he was from The Wall Street Journal—joined the panel and he had the numbers down cold so could refute pretty much everything she was basing her arguments on.
There was no doubt in my mind that this woman sincerely believed what she had obviously learned from the usual rightwing sources of misinformation and lies, and that her motives were totally pure, but her reasoning was unquestionably below the standards that I learned in Catholic elementary school, let alone at higher levels of education.
For instance, she kept making the point, as comments on this blog have, that the Tea Party is against the mistakes and chicanery of both parties and isn't part of the Republican Party. But Maher pointed out that out of the 138, I think the figure was, candidates who identify as Tea Party members running for office, all are running as Republicans!
And then when he pointed out that what many Tea Partyers say they are angry at, the Republicans have either caused or represent and that mamy Democratic candidates better represent what Tea Partyers say they're for (less government intrusion, etc.), she only reiterated what she called "facts" that were based on non facts.
There can't be any discussion, let alone debate, if the two sides viewpoints rely on two different sets of so-called "facts." And that's why I keep writing posts about the rightwing influence on the media. The media's footsoldiers—journalists—are in the main either independents or lean to the "liberal" side, but their corporate bosses are the opposite, they almost invariably lean to the right. So the way the actual reporters and commentators deal with that is to either cave and present the mostly rightwing framing of any discussion or they attempt to present "both sides of an argument" as if they are equal.
So if all of science agrees that evolution is a fact, but some religious extremists insist The Bible should be taken literally (though selectively since the Bible is full of all kinds of contradictory information and admonishments etc.) when it comes to the age of the earth and its creation, and that serves the interests of corporate greed, then by all means present these viewpoints as two equal sides to any discussion or debate.
Most of the information Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and other rightwing media personalities convey in their broadcasts is either based on selective facts that show only one possible interpretation or on outright lies. So there can be no reasonable discussion or debate on the facts. And when rightwingers try to argue, even on this blog, and continually offer up the same parroted perspective based on misinformation and lies, there is no recourse for the right but to either just start calling their opponents names (thus all the deletions recently) or quoting from the same misguided and often deliberately false sources.
That was the point of my last post (and many previous ones) and the article in The New Yorker that inspired it. The problem for those of us who aren't rightwing ideologues, unfortunately is, that the level of discourse is reduced to such a low standard that many who agree with our positions give up on trying to support them or believing any politician will, because the argument has become so noisy and off the real topic that they don't see the point in even trying to change the dynamic, and thus either don't vote or vote in protest against the incumbent, even if that incumbent represents the most sane alternative to the choices given this time around.
Life goes on. We will get through this crazy period as we have others. What's important will remain our loved ones and those moments in life when we get to express that love and experience it from others. But the practical circumstances of our lives will be better or worse, depending on the choices we make at the ballot box, whether we think those choices are the best possible or not. Even a slightly better choice will make a difference in the long run. If you don't think so, consider only the "American" troops lost in the Iraq fiasco that would never have died had Gore been elected by enough votes to prevent a right leaning Supreme Court installed by Republican administrations in the past from stealing that election and giving it to the man who actually lost the popular vote and had a plan already drawn up to invade Iraq and prove himself more macho than his war hero father.
[PS: Here's a great post by my friend RJ Eskow refuting one of the main rightwing lies the Tea Party representative on Maher last night was also spouting, as many Tea Partyers do.]