Sunday, March 09, 2008

Brent Bozell - Typical Clueless Conservative

I wonder why they continue to do it, other than the obvious reason that they can make a lot of money doing it. But why do conservatives bother trying to convince people that they are right about what's wrong with the world? Or rather, why do they bother pretending to try to convince people that they are right and we liberals are wrong, about everything? I mean, they know they're wrong. At least, the smarter ones do. The smarter conservatives out there (usually the "leaders" of the movement, many of whom have their own TV or radio shows) know that they are using misinformation, distortions, exaggerations, and sometimes even outright lies in the arguments they present to their loyal audiences. What they also know is what John Stuart Mill famously said:

"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."

So there's an audience for these people (or "market", as they like to say in the business world, where everything is easier to do to people if you dehumanize them), and, as far as they're concerned, they're just providing a product to a group of consumers who want it. They won't tell you truthfully what it is that they are selling, they'll just describe it in terms that their audience wants to hear. "Fair and balanced news coverage" and "exposure of the liberal media bias". That always cracks me up because it shows that they have no idea what journalism is about. They intentionally blur the line between news and commentary, often by having the same person doing both and not really differentiating between roles. On Fox News Channel, Brit Hume will deliver the news, and then he'll join a panel of other commentators and talk about the story. They like to give the impression that they are "interviewing" some "expert" on the subject for the sake of "in-depth analysis", when in reality they are inviting some die-hard conservative to spout off his or her personal, incorrect, ill-informed opinions on the matter. They rarely quote any numbers and when they do, there is often something wrong with the numbers they use. Sometimes they'll even quote statistics or a source that proves them wrong!

But what do they care? They know that the people the words are intended to reach will never check up on them. They can say whatever they want, and they know that their target audience (stupid people, because stupid people tend to be conservative) will believe everything they say, even when they flat out deny saying something that they said from that very studio the day before! For all their talk of a liberal bias in the media, did you know that the highest rated cable news program is "The O'Reilly Factor" (and don't believe Bill-O for a minute when he tries to tell you he's not conservative)? And did you know that the three highest rated talk radio hosts are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, not one of whom could be mistaken for a liberal?

As for the network news shows (ABC, CBS, and NBC), this is where people need to understand what conservatives refuse to admit: If there's a "liberal bias" in the media, it's because of the overlap in types of personalities. Liberals tend to be people who want to seek out the truth. Journalists are people whose job it is to seek out and report the truth. If it seems like there are a lot of liberals in the media, it's because the nature of the job attracts people who tend to be liberal. Conservatives do not place a high value on the truth. (This is a fact.) So conservative people would be less likely to seek out a job in which digging for the truth is the entire purpose. Conservatives in the media today, if they aren't in charge, are generally doing what they do to promote an ideology. That ideology, Conservatism, is largely anchored in false beliefs. Did you know, for example, that "most conservatives" believe that all humans are afflicted with "Original Sin" and are, therefore, not inherently good from birth? So right from the beginning they're starting out with bad, negative feelings about people. Is it any surprise that most of the racists, bigots, xenophobes and homophobes you personally know are conservative?

Despite what the conservatives tell you, journalism is not about presenting both sides of a dispute and letting you, the viewer, listener, or reader, decide who's telling the truth. That approach takes the flawed assumption that both sides' views are equally valid and that "the truth" must lie somewhere in the middle. Simply put, this is as wrong as wrong can be. Journalism is about objectivity, not balance. It is about seeking out the truth, however bad that truth may make someone look. If you hear Person A say something that Person B flatly contradicts, they can't both be telling the truth, can they? Yet conservatives feel that you should hear what both sides say and decide for yourself what the truth really is. You should even use your own criteria for determining when you think someone is lying. So, who're you gonna believe? A scrawny little trainer, or a multiple-Cy Young Award winner? It doesn't matter to them that the trainer has evidence and corroborating testimony given under oath to back up what he's saying. The other guy denies it so it must be a lie. If a conservative is reporting this story, he'll stop with the he said-he said part. If a liberal is reporting the story, he'll give you the reasons why you shouldn't believe one side in this dispute. But conservatives can't use this approach, because it is often easy to quickly find proof that the side they support is not being truthful (or is basing their opinion on false information or beliefs.)

L. Brent Bozell is the founder and head of Media Research Center, an organization that claims to expose "liberal bias" in the media. Among other distortions of reality, he tried to make the claim in a recent Washington Post column, that if elected president, McCain "needs to call on the United States to rebuild its military infrastructure, so devastated by the Clinton administration." Bill Clinton did not destroy our military. This is a lie and always has been ever since the conservatives started trotting it out several years ago. What they fail to remember is that the Soviet Union had collapsed under President George H.W. Bush and that the entire country was behind the "peace dividend" that we would incur from not having to spend so much money fighting the Cold War. (We won, with help from Liberals like me. I was in the US Air Force and was stationed at Ramstein AB (1986-88), on the front lines in West Germany.) If anyone is "devastating" our military, it's our current president George W. Bush. But will you ever hear any conservatives come out and say that? No, of course not. And they won't say it because it's true and it tends to make the other things they say look stupid.

But Bozell's idiocy didn't end there. He also suggested that it was "good" that McCain had "embraced making the Bush tax cuts permanent." But then he went on to say that "he should pledge to end the estate tax and lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent." As for the corporate tax rate, why? They don't pay enough in taxes as it is, especially the larger ones. And the estate tax only affects a small percentage of people. Despite what they would have you believe, this money is often not being taxed twice. The reason that an estate tax exists is because many wealthy people put their money in places where they won't have to pay any taxes until they withdraw the money. And since they have an obscenely huge amount of money, they won't ever have to touch it and can leave it to their children and grandchildren. Once they die and pass that money along to their heirs, it may never have been taxed at all. That's why the estate tax is there, to catch up with the taxes owed. In all seriousness, I have absolutely no sympathy for rich people who whine about having to pay taxes. They acquired their wealth because of the liberal policies of this country. They should try to show a little gratitude to the country that helped make them wealthy. And Brent Bozell's heirs are, I'm sure, among the people who will be affected by the Estate Tax. No wonder he thinks it should be eliminated. He must not want his children to have to work hard for a living.

What you and I and all the other people with IQs in the three-digit range and a knowledge of the constitution know is that what Bozell refers to as the "congressional obstructionism of...nominations to the federal judiciary," is actually known by its more widely-used name, "Senate Confirmation Hearings." Conservatives just don't like that part of the constitution that gives the US Senate the responsibility and obligation to give their approval to many people whom the president (this one in particular) wants doing the work of the people. Maybe they feel that the government shouldn't be doing the work of the people, but the work of corporations, instead? (They tried that in Italy some seventy years ago. Didn't work.) Conservatives do have a tendency to favor the corporation over the individual. And it's not like the Republicans didn't hold up many of Clinton's nominees. Besides all that, the main problem isn't that the Democrats are holding up nominations, it's that the president isn't sending them nominees to reject. He's holding out because he wants certain die-hard ideologues to get the jobs he wants to give them, and the Senate is saying no to them. In retaliation, because he can't have his way, he's acting like a child and refusing to carry out his own responsibilities (which include submitting the names of nominees for confirmation to the Senate.) Senate Republicans, who believe that winning is more important than being right, are helping the president by not outright rejecting the bad nominees. (The usual problem with Bush's nominees is one of conflict-of-interest. And since conservatives believe that the role of government should be to help businesses, they see nothing wrong with having the chief lobbyist on behalf of certain industries be put in charge of regulating those industries. Perhaps this is because they view regulation of their industries as one of their biggest problems.)

He then goes on to say that McCain "should call on the entertainment industry to stop polluting America's youth with its videos and its music and on the Internet." I notice he seems more concerned about music rather than movies. If he was really concerned about "the entertainment industry"'s influence on children, then why doesn't he decry the kind of high-body-count violence found in the films of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, yeah. They're all well-known Republican white men, and they're just giving the people what they want to see. But if it's violent lyrics coming from a black artist, that's somehow worse.

He wraps up his message to McCain by saying "We wait to hear him call for the United States to honor the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and family, and to return God to the public square." I don't believe that any man that would support war could seriously be expected to "honor the sanctity of life," especially if that person supports the use of capital punishment. When you use the word "sanctity", you are ascribing a religious overtone to your argument. If you're going to claim that all life is sacred, then you can't also be putting people to death. That would be trying to have it both ways. And, in the end, who decides who lives and who dies? In this scenario you have set up, who gets to play God? As for "the sanctity of marriage and family", I'd like to know exactly what the hell he's talking about? Not everyone is as religious as he claims to be, so not everyone's marriage was, necessarily, a "sacred one." Mine isn't. Jane and I were married in a restaurant by a Justice of the Peace. Nothing "sacred" about it. Does that mean that our marriage doesn't deserve protection? Jane and I also made the conscious choice not to bring more children into the world. Does that also make our marriage less deserving of protection? And, finally, Mr. Bozell needs to understand that it is not our government's place, nor the place of the elected officials who serve us from within it, "to return God to the public square." Our government is, by constitution, a secular one. If private citizens, acting on their own and without government direction, wish "to return God to the public square," I suppose that would be their ill-advised choice. But keep my government out of it.


Anonymous said...

Typical Clueless (and Useless) Conservative.

Two great posts today, Wayne. :)


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