Thursday, July 06, 2017

Willful Ignorance, Or Just Stupid?

I can't even begin to count the number of times I have been accused by conservatives/Republicans of being biased because I don't give equal time to conservative arguments. My response to this?

Well, duh. I am a liberal blogger, publishing opinion pieces. What did you expect?

That's not to say I operate in a completely fact-free environment, far from it. However, the facts are presented in the service of supporting my position. When possible I also include sources so that my suppositions can be independently corroborated.

The problem lies with the apparent inability of Republicans to understand this.

Out of the approximately 950 million posts I have published in the past few months, only two have not been subjected to an unending stream of outraged comments by members of the right, accusing me of liberal bias and of obfuscating the facts. Of those two, one was purely factual reporting of the shooting in Alexandria as it happened ... there was no opinion, no interpretation, just "this is what happened, this is where it happened, this is what law enforcement is saying now" (in fact, I did have one guy comment that I was guilty of liberal bias, but it turned out he hadn't even bothered to read the article in the first place). The second was my Independence Day post in which I simply posted the text of the Declaration of Independence ... which prompted one commenter to accuse me of being anti-Native American and that he hoped I enjoyed the genocide.

It takes all kinds, I guess.

Here's the thing. I have never knowingly published false information. Sure, I may engage in hyperbole from time to time to make a point, and some would argue that I am unnecessarily profane, but I never write anything with the intent to deceive. And on the rare occasion that I do get something factually wrong, I will offer a mea culpa.

So here are some of the facts as we know them today, along with my take on the conservative response (anticipated or actual).

Russian interference in the election of 2016
The Kremlin interfered in the election of 2016. This is undisputed fact by everyone except the brainstems on the far right. It has been confirmed by the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, Israel's Mossad, Britain's MI6, Bill Kristol, George Will, Keith Olberman (surprising, huh?), the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN, the BBC, AP, UPI, Reuters, the cast of "The West Wing," and some guy selling souvenirs on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian. So it's only natural to assume that these people and organizations are all wrong, and that Sean Hannity's four or five functioning brain cells are spot on.

In addition, Republicans seem to be incapable of discerning the difference between "interference" and "collusion." They also like to trot out the "collusion isn't a crime" trope, even though a) it is, and 2) in this case, if it is found to have happened, then it would constitute treason -- which, last time I checked, absolutely is criminal behavior.

Climate changeWhenever I have mentioned climate change, conservatives immediately start accusing me of being an alarmist and that we should wait for the science to be settled. I've got a news flash.

No science is "settled." Even something as fundamental as the law of gravitation was upended when Albert Einstein showed that gravity is not a force at all but a fundamental part of the very shape of the space-time continuum. So when conservatives say they are waiting for the science to be settled, what they are actually doing is trying to kick the can down the road so they can enjoy another quarter of healthy profit from the fossil fuel companies.

Here's the reality. Climate change is real. It is caused almost overwhelmingly by human activity, evidenced by the fact that global mean temperatures started rising with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the resulting use of fossil fuels (coal at first, then oil). Glaciers have been shrinking. Polar sea ice is breaking up sooner in the spring and forming later in the fall. Flowers are blooming earlier, disrupting pollinators. Plant and animal ranges are shifting poleward.

Temperatures are expected to rise from 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. The Arctic Ocean is expected to completely ice-free in the summer by the middle of this century. Sea levels will rise by between one and four feet. We are already seeing the effects of this in some areas ... in south Florida, for example, wells that supply drinking water are being contaminated by saltwater intrusion. Parking lots in Miami that would flood only during storms or "king tides" (unusually high tides caused by a combination of meteorological conditions and the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth) are now underwater twice a day during normal high tides.

But of course, Jim Inhofe was able to make a snowball during a snowstorm -- and in January, no less! -- so this is proof that climate change isn't happening, right?

Health care
This is my personal favorite, simply because the level of stupid is enough to bury Mount Everest without a trace. Any time I post anything even remotely related to the ACA, I get one or more of the following responses:
  • Obama care is a disaster and it's causing premiums to rise (it's not; those are set by the insurance companies).
  • Why should I have to pay for someone else's health care? (Because you're a member of society, dumbass. Ever heard of "no man is an island?")
  • I've already got insurance through the ACA that works just fine, thank you very much. I don't need any communist Muslim atheist gay Obamacare (this is my personal favorite as it demonstrates not just a partial, but a total, repudiation of reality on this person's part).
  • Why don't these people just get jobs so they can get insurance through their employer? (Well, sure. Let's tell the 79 year old Alzheimer's patient that she should go back to work, or the minimum wage worker for whom health insurance premiums would suck up about 75% of their pay.)
  • I've got Medicare. I don't need no socialized medicine (where to begin).
 And those are just the big three. I haven't even begun to touch on preposterous claims about voter fraud, or conflicts of interest, or North Korea, or corruption, or any of another 15,000 topics.

What it comes down to is this. Many people on the right are just plain stupid. In some cases it's deliberate, in others it's inherent, but in almost all instances it is viewed as some sort of badge of honor to deny reality even when it is bitch-slapping them across the face. In other hands this would be the basis of what I am sure would be a fascinating sociological study.I'm not that deep, though, so I will simply continue to point out the stupid and let conservatives make fools of themselves denying what is in plain sight before their eyes.

I gotta lie down.

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