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Saturday, December 26th, 2009 06:19 pm

#15.


People who never admit they're wrong -- or, more precisely, people who make a completely wrong statement and then, when presented with overwhelming evidence that they should be embarrassed to have been found anywhere near it, merely retreat into a more vague statement without admitting even a tiny bit of error... or change the subject entirely. (I know this doesn't sound very year-specific, but then you haven't been party to some of the political arguments I've been having with a certain relative. Perhaps I'll post relevant excerpts, if I ever have time. I should probably start with "Glenn Beck isn't so bad"...)

(I'm working on a way to keep score.)

#14.


Anyone who votes Republican whilst claiming to be fiscally conservative.

#13.


Climate change denialists who mainly oppose taking action against global warming because they don't want to make any "huge changes to their lifestyle".

For one thing, this is backwards; if we don't take action, there will be huge changes. But I guess that's the future, and who cares about that? I'll be gone, you'll be gone...

#12.


Fossil fuel addicts who claim, with apparent sincerity, that oil extraction technology will always keep improving and therefore we will always be able to get enough oil. (Are these the same people who invested in real estate at the peak because housing prices will always go up?)

#11.


Hell, anyone who votes Republican at all, without some clear mental deficiency as an excuse.

#10.


People who, apparently with the best of intentions, make statements like "we keep making the same mistakes"... "we never seem to learn from the past"... "we heedlessly threw away the tremendous gift we had been given"... ...when talking about ghastly political mistakes on just about any topic: wars, the environment, race relations....

Who's this "we"?

No. "We" knew the Iraq War was wrong. "We" knew Afghanistan was a bad idea. "We" knew the environment needed to be protected. "We" knew we needed to be investing heavily in alternative energy (back before gasoline had spent any significant time over a dollar a gallon). "We" never approved of torture, or spying on our own citizens in the name of "national security". "We" knew people should be treated equally regardless of gender, or color -- or sexuality.

Don't try to pin this on "us"... and in that word, well-meaning people, I do include you.

It wasn't us who made these tragic "mistakes", and then made them again and again.

It was our misguided leaders -- and the psychopaths who control them. Remember that. We don't need the guilt of thinking we are responsible for the muck filling our national Augean Stables as we struggle for the motivation (and resources) to clean them up.

#9.


Anyone who votes against the environment while claiming to be "conservative".

#8.


People who try to convert liberal disappointment in Obama into an admission that he's just as bad as Bush. No. We're sad because Obama didn't undo (well... hasn't yet undone...) as many of Bush's tragedies as we would have liked. Would McCain have undone any of them at all? Or would he have committed more? Remember "we might be in Iraq for 100 years"? Would Sarah Palin have argued forcefully that government policy should be evidence-based?

Note that there is some truth to be found when hunting in this direction -- see "the two-party system" -- but any claim that the two parties are equally bad requires selective use of a high-powered badness microscope.

#7.


Bush supporters who claim to be terrified of Obama, because he [insert something that Bush did and Obama has shown no sign of doing].

#6.


The "post-9/11 world", in which the imminent threat of dark-skinned men in turbans smuggling in Really Big Scary Bad Non-Christian Weapons is supposed to make us wet our pants and beg the government to take more of our freedoms away (when we're not busy hating it for raising "our" taxes and interfering in the private business of innocent megacorporations what never did no harm to nobody).

Terrorism has always been a threat; nothing has changed -- except that by our heavy-handed stomping on anthills and blowing up civilians in our war on abstract ideas ("terrorism" -- how can you kill "terrorism" with military troops?), we've given them some real reasons to hate us. Thanks, already, but can we have a little less "Homeland Security" now?

Addendum: ...and people who think we need more of this... and anyone who isn't horrified when someone says that.

#5.


"Patriots" who claim to "love America" while doing everything they can to eviscerate the parts of it that I like. (Related: people who claim that "America is a Christian nation", and cite as evidence things like "In God We Trust" on our coinage -- added in 1956 -- and "one nation, under God" -- also introduced in the 1950s, under pressure from Christian groups. Can you say "planting the evidence", boys and girls?)

#4.


Capitalism cheerleaders who are so certain that the private sector is always more efficient than the government but don't seem to have a clue about what makes competition work for the common good (as opposed to working for private benefit)... or even seem to think that private benefit is the whole point. It's okay if people get ripped off, because how else are you going to make a profit? (Perhaps this peeve should be further generalized as "zero-sum thinking".)

Not that I think I need to prove this point, but these people always strike me as being analogous to an automobile engineer who notices that the engine would be able to run a lot faster if it wasn't attached to the transmission, which really just slows the engine down... and hey, wouldn't it be even better if we just took out all those pistons and things and just poured gas directly on the spark plugs?

#3.


The two-party system, which commonly forces us to choose between psychopaths rather than voting for people whom we actually believe might do a good job -- because if we did that, the wrong psychopath might get in.

#2.


People who claim to be supportive of rational, skeptical inquiry and yet stigmatize attempts at rational, skeptical inquiry into certain subjects by branding them as "wacky conspiracy theories" -- no better than creationism, Holocaust denial, or flat-earthism.

As if real, genuine conspiracies never actually happen. As if the only real, genuine conspiracies are the ones where the perpetrators are caught and the media officially pronounce them guilty. What's so wacky about acknowledging that our leaders frequently have their own hidden agendas which are not always in our best interests, and that they would frequently prefer to prevent proper investigation rather than risk that their own secrets might come to light in the process?

You can disagree with 9/11 Truthers and Kennedy Assassination Theorists all you like, but it is a simple fact that the official stories against which those groups protest are full of bizarre inconsistencies and omissions; railing against such protests is its own form of denial. Calling them "wacky" is argument by ridicule, unworthy of a rational skeptic.

Call them wrong, but don't call them crazy. (And if you call them wrong, be prepared to offer your evidence.)

#1.


The way media consolidation has resulted in near-centralized control of our national consensus, and the way people seem to be pretty much unaware of this... or perhaps fatalistically resigned to not being able to do anything about it. (Maybe this isn't so much a peeve as a warning, but #1 had to stand out somehow, right?)

Those who control the debate control the outcome -- and those who control the debate are a frighteningly small number of very rich, very isolated (from us) people.

I have a strong suspicion that this has done more than anything else to bring us to this point: sick, demoralized, increasingly indebted to our financial fief lords, and too busy working to notice how we've been funneled and guided into that situation.

Can anyone think of a good reason why anyone -- any individual or company -- should have the right to control more than one broadcast or cable channel, anywhere?

What we have now is worse than a non-competitive media monoculture: it is very nearly a Pravda, an outlet for the establishment to tell us what to believe. Oh sure, there are a few dissenting voices thrown in for authenticity -- but at the end of the day we all know what's "important"; we know what they want us to know, and we also know that the alternative viewpoints are basically irrelevant (because they're, y'know, "alternative").

We need to restore a healthy ecosystem of individual voices and true disputational discourse to the realtime media, or we will never regain control over our country and ourselves.
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