Reality Check

It’s getting so I hate to turn on the news.  I physically cringe.  Bear with me here.

Here’s a quick recap:  There was a shooting yesterday, a man I think can best be described as a domestic terrorist plinking away at a Congressional charity baseball team at practice.  There was a horrific fire at a London apartment highrise where, apparently, the sprinklers malfunctioned and dozens of people were killed.  (It’s been called “corporate manslaughter”.)  Congress approved a multibillion dollar arms sale to Qatar, a nation presently being embargoed by all their neighbors except Iran for their apparently overt support of terror groups.  Not long ago, Iran of all places got hit by a major terrorist attack.

Top headline across the US?  “Trump May Be Under Investigation”

Editorials?  “Shooter Was Bernie Bro” was one; “Rand Paul Leaves Up Pro-Gun Tweet” was another.  We’re talking major media here.  I won’t link it because it disgusts me so very much.  I refuse to give countenance to this asinine drivel.

It’s not so much that it’s such obviously divisive hatemongering on the part of the media.  No, it’s that it’s apparently being undertaken automatically, without much more than a bare nod to malice.  It’s become habit for the press to spout hate.

Don’t mistake me:  CNN sells entertainment, tuned to the tastes of their target audience.  Different versions of some shows are broadcast for different regions, each with a carefully constructed spin.  The website uses different headlines depending on what state it thinks you live in.  This is even more evident when comparing newspaper headlines– but I won’t condemn the press for being cynical; they’re in a dying business, after all, and desperate measures are, if not acceptable, at least understandable.

No, I condemn the American public for this.

We love to hate each other, don’t we?  To feel this inner fire, this self-righteous fury at how evil that bunch of people is, and how much better we are!  My God, it’s intoxicating, isn’t it?  Because that’s what I’m doing right now, you nation of damned hypocrites — I’m feeling a mile better than you are, and I’m going to tell you why.

Because there’s almost no difference between Republicans and Democrats.

Let me explain.  And I’ll be sure to use small words– no, never mind.  If you can’t follow what I write here, I don’t have the patience for you today.  Go back to Twitter and Facebook.

Democrats famously take a pro-Choice stance on abortion.  It’s all about the woman’s right to choose, and they point to the horrors of days gone by when there were back-alley abortionists and rich people flying to Switzerland, children’s homes and the unwanted and neglected.  Republicans are generally pro-Life, taking the position that the more important right to be protected is that of the helpless unborn to be alive rather than the risk of harm and certainty of consequences to the mother.  Democrats spin Republicans as cruel and restrictive; Republicans spin Democrats as wanton murderers.

But the two options are, fundamentally, a difference in the degree of which rights require protection and when.  The variance between the two positions is a hair’s breadth — important to those concerned, but in principle not dissimilar.  What’s more to the point, though, is that the overwhelming majority is content with the present compromise we now have: that early abortion is permitted while late is not, and profiting from the remains and other practices viewed as inhumane are suppressed.

Let me simplify that:  We all agree.  Republicans, Democrats, even the Greens and Libertarians are pretty much unified here:  It’s a reasonable compromise.

But every election, there’s all this hype about how the balance of the Supreme Court will change — as though Roe v. Wade could ever be struck down in this day and age!  To do so would be entirely without precedent, and Congress wouldn’t stand for it.  Neither would the people.

It’s just hype, ladies and gentlemen.  It’s spin, designed to manipulate you.  And you love it; you eat it up.

It’s exactly the same for a hundred other non-issues that get hauled out every time there’s an election:  Republicans want to take away your Social Security.  (They don’t.)  Democrats will bankrupt the system.  (They won’t.)  Socialized medicine is the next thing to Communism.  (It’s not.)  Gun control will stop shootings.  (It won’t.)

Lie upon lie after lie against lie, just like Goebbels used to make.  And you morons love it.  God, I hate this place sometimes.

I know; you don’t believe me.  You’re pointing to something everyone knows, probably that Paul Ryan is on record as hating Social Security or some other half-brained nonsense.  He’s not.  Ryan’s famous plan involved a fairly esoteric taxation scheme designed to encourage both private investment and provide retirement assistance during a mild recession.   I can’t tell you if it would have helped the economy or hurt it overall (hint: nobody can), but it certainly wasn’t a death knell for your Social Security checks.

Normally I link these things for you, but I can’t be bothered today.  You’ll just run a Google search and pick one of the top ten most popular articles, because that’s what you do.  Trouble is, the top ten were all written by the same people who think the same way, and it’s just repeating the same political spin you’ve been eating up for years.  You’re never going to learn anything that way; all you’ll end up with is a handful of bullshit you’ve picked to support your own prejudices.

Listen:  You want to know which economic plan will help the country?  Either learn something about economics or find yourself an unbiased expert.  (No, that’s not Robert Reich; his biases are legendary.)  Read a book; it won’t kill you.  The theory behind Keynes’ “General Theory Of Employment” is simple; Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” is even more so.  Adam Smith might be a bit impenetrable, but Marx isn’t; “On Capital” is very easy to understand.  He wrote it for factory workers in the 1850s.  Even a modern American college student should be able to follow it.

Funny thing about Marx:  He’s excoriated as a Communist saint, but his scholarly works read just like Honest Abe Lincoln.  They held a lot of the same ideals, in particular that slavery is a bad thing both morally and economically.

But you’ll never actually learn that, will you?  Because it just might kill you to read a book, and anyway, who has the time?

Actually, I take that back.  Very few people will have read this far, and those few who have probably agree with me on at least some of this.  Because you few do read — I can tell because you’re reading.  You have at least a rudimentary idea of how to think for yourselves.

So let me close with a bit of advice:  Don’t waste your hate on each other.  Don’t even spend it on the ignorant masses that surround you; they can’t help themselves, and are more to be pitied than censured.  Don’t hate the media; they’re just working stiffs.  Don’t even hate the spin doctors; for the most part, they think they’re doing the right thing, and a few of them even are.

Hate ignorance, and work to oppose it.

Read a newspaper, and take the time to send a letter to the editor when they screw it up.  Do the same with your online news feeds.  Don’t just write a comment; send feedback.  (“No, CNN; an SKS is not a variant of an AK-47.  It’s important.  You look stupid, and worse: uncaring.”)

And when someone you know says something dumb, stop them — politely — and tell them, as a friend would.  (Pretend they have toilet paper stuck to their shoe.  You don’t want them to embarrass themselves.)  Do some research on the subject, and later on you can be prepared to answer questions.  Do it well enough and I might even host your words here.

Hell, I’m always happy to help someone who wants to help fix the world.  Lord knows it needs doing.

TL;DR:  America, you’re ignorant schmucks.  I’m ashamed of you.  Stop it already.

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