Friday, January 23, 2015

Some Thoughts of Mine to Someday Look Back On

There's a quote that says “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Maybe 'fascism' is a little strong, maybe not but it's a swipe at where I see too many conservatives today as they brandish their guns and bibles while caught up in a wave of nationalism that carries them along in a most peculiar display of unquestioning loyalty for a cause that is out of focus and offers them little other than fear in return. I don't get it.

There's been lots of discussion on social media this week about Clint Eastwood's new movie American Sniper based on the life of Chris Kyle. I have little to no desire to see it. Perhaps in my other life I'd have been singing its praises along with so many other Christians who can't seem to get enough of this sort of thing but I've moved on. Sorry for sounding so harsh but the way the Christian faith has been hijacked in this country is more than a little unsettling to me.

Rachel spent most of Wednesday afternoon and evening at home with us. We love her visits. For much of our time together she and I sat at the kitchen table and talked. It was so nice. I've been a little under the weather lately and she was just the ray of sunshine my world was craving.

We had dinner at Outback Steakhouse before returning home and settling down to watch the State of the Union address (her idea) that I'd recorded the previous night but hadn't yet had a chance to watch. I wouldn't say she's a political person but maybe she is. She surprises me with her interest in politics but mostly she passes it off as more about wanting to be informed than anything else. I admire that about her.

Her views of the world and her politics have evolved very similarly with Tammy's and mine over the last several years but what's most interesting about that is the way these changes have happened for us with very little influence from one another. We've all been moving in the same direction, separately but together.

I liked Obama's speech and sat amused watching as conservatives couldn't find it within themselves to at times applaud him. Why all of the disdain for this man? He's taken our country from the brink of economic collapse and with no help whatsoever from republicans he's helped guide us back to a place where had this been a republican president, conservatives would touting his accomplishments in terms of greatness.

It's difficult to watch right-wing media and not become annoyed when so much of what's being said there is often so far from what's actually happening. It's annoying to me because the audience appears to just accept what's being said without questioning it. How many times have you heard them talk about the national debt that's accrued during Obama's time in office while at the same time inferring that it's his policies and reckless spending that's to blame? Nothing could be further from the truth. But I get that it's easier to demonize Obama rather than acknowledge the real drivers of our debt and support the current administration in moving forward.

Dodd/Frank is legislation initiated by Obama's administration to help reign in the abuses on Wall Street. It's purpose is to help bring stability to the markets and prevent another meltdown of the kind that sent so many to financial ruin and worked to add to our national debt as revenues fell sharply in the wake of the collapse and the resulting Great Recession. Yet, knowing all that, republicans continue to do all they can to dismantle Dodd/Frank legislation. Why? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and is a much larger threat to our way of life than any radical Islamist militant could ever be. But ask a conservative voter to talk about Dodd/Frank and they'll likely give you a blank stare. This is important stuff!

One of the things Obama talked about was offering a community college education at no cost to the student. Yes, I get that at first blush this sounds like another cost we can't afford but think about it. What better investment can we make than in our youth? Don't we at the very least owe them that when you consider the debt we've piled up and will leave to them? One of the memes being shared on Facebook after the speech was the one to the right. It makes perfect sense.

But there's no selling this to republicans. None. Their idea of incentives is to reduce taxes and that's about it. We see where that's gotten us. For the life of me I cannot understand the amount of support that's still there for conservatism as it exists today with its lack of bold initiatives or even an original new idea.

There's so much divisiveness among us now. Social media with Facebook and such play a large role in that but I also look at Fox News as being a main contributor with their skewed set of talking points and relentless assault on anything democratic, especially toward Obama, all under the guise of "fair and balanced". They have a stranglehold on a sizeable percentage of the population and I have to wonder what percentage of their viewers ever question what they're being told or the way what they're being told is being presented; as an example: the heavy emphasis on social welfare programs being the culprit for much of what ails us while making no mention of corporate welfare which is nearly twice that of social welfare. Or the total lack of talk about abuses on Wall Street and how the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots is extremely deleterious to our economy.

The absence of balance is disturbing considering how many people rely on them for their understanding of the world at large. I get that we all have our biases; I have mine. I'm just finding that I'm losing patients with people who offer up the same talking points I hear from right-wing media while at the same time appearing clueless to some of the larger, more important issues that are seldom if ever talked about where they get their information. I find myself becoming dismissive of them and I don't want to be that way.

I'm sure this clip below was about nothing more than some administration staffers having some fun during a luncheon with the president this week but there's clearly some truth in it. Of all of the personalities on Fox News I actually don't mind Shepard Smith at all. I see him as being a standout, not trying to push an agenda unlike just about everyone else on the network.

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