INCURABLE

You know my opinion of "crowdfunding" but I think I've finally stumbled upon a worthwhile creative project made possible by Kickstarter. I know, I know. I never thought we'd see the day either.

This documentary, "The Brainwashing of My Dad", explores a phenomenon that far too many of us know far too well – when a normal person capable of living a normal, happy life turns into a rage-spewing, hateful right wing reactionary thanks to a steady diet of talk radio and eight hours per day in front of Fox News. How many fathers, mothers, friends, husbands, children, and once-bearable uncles have gone from being welcome parts of our lives to nearly unbearable sources of bile and hate and pretty much non-stop bitching. How many of us, in short, have lost someone to the right-wing noise machine?

I have an old friend, a high school classmate, whose family I got to know back in the day. Her dad was one of the dopiest, sweetest, nicest people I've ever met. His life revolved around the White Sox and sitcom-level Dad Jokes. He had not, to the best of anyone's knowledge, uttered a word about a serious topic in his life. I did detect some underlying South Side racism, but that was so common among people in the area that it barely registered. Over the past twenty years he has slowly descended into the Fox/AM Radio cesspool and is now, from second-hand reports, your typical Angry Old Asshole. He rants about anyone and everything, refers to Obama solely as "the sand nigger," and blames everything from local traffic to the global economy on The Liberals. He is probably going to die alone in a nursing home because none of his family can stand being around him anymore.

Sadly, I'd be willing to bet that we all have similar anecdata. Getting crotchety with age is not new; people age, the world changes around them, and they grumble about it. Unfortunately there's nothing cute and Archie Bunker-ish about the Fox brand of senility. Is it fair, though, to use the term "brainwashing"? We could debate the semantics, but this much is certain for anyone who has watched Fox News for an hour or two or spent an entire afternoon on the AM talk part of the dial: there is no way that a person could be normal after hours and hours of daily exposure to this for an extended period of time. There's just no way. You could not listen to Rush Limbaugh every day for two years and come out on the other side undamaged. You could not watch Fox News all day, every day (as many of its elderly viewers do) without developing a fear-based, wildly inaccurate view of the world around you.

Surely some people are born wingnut assholes who need no help from Fox. It sure is unpleasant, though, to see a person capable of living a very normal life turning into a Dittohead…forwarding ridiculous emails, subjecting you to all the talking points, and going on rants that are as tired as they are offensive. Will we learn anything that most of us don't already know from experience in this film? Probably not. Perhaps it will help to know that we are not alone, and if we're lucky it might save a few people from wandering the same shrill, dumbed-down path.

Be Sociable, Share!

67 Responses to “INCURABLE”

  1. freeportguy Says:

    Right wing media is like the Chinese water torture: the ever continuous repetition of the same little talking points, over time, will break the strongest people.

    Here is a huge difference between conservatives and non-conservatives: since conservatives get energized, their rage gets fueled from watching the Fox and their hatred is validated, they keep watching, while non-conservatives get depressed and tired watching MSNBC going at it, hence they stop watching!

    No wonder why Fox' ratings are THAT much better than MSNBC!

  2. wetcasements Says:

    This is basically my dad. He's 85 and he centers his day around "El Rushbo." Even when I visit him every summer all the way from South Korea, "Rush time" is sacred. He sits down with his crossword puzzle (thankfully that fights off the Alzheimer's, I guess) and just stews himself in this bizarro world of hate and resentment.

    The worm had turned under Clinton, but when a black guy entered the White House he went full retard on this stuff.

    And here's the kicker — for all his wails and nashing of teeth against Obama and the Fed, this is a man who receives a Federal pensions of roughly 7,000 dollars every month. He worked for the USDA for over 30 years (worked damn hard, I'd happily add) and now receives that sweet, sweet Obama cash (not to mention a gold-plated health plan).

    Of course I asked him about this. His response?

    "I earned it."

  3. Arslan Says:

    My mother and step-father have totally gone down the Tea Party rabbit hole, particularly the latter. I was actually introduced to right wing talk radio via my mother, but while it seemed she was always conservative, I'm sure she changed over time and became more fanatical thanks to right-wing noise.

    The thing is I got into it as a kid and a teenager and I realize that it ruined a large portion of my youth. Here I was 12 or 13 and worried about the idea that my next public school would have no letter grades("outcome based education") women's studies classes, and Afrocentric history courses. This is what Limbaugh and the rest of those idiots told me was happening, yet it always seemed to be happening somewhere else. While other kids were enjoying their youth, I was angry and anxious about things that were simply not happening, or were totally insignificant. Thanks a lot, Rush, you fat fucking windbag.

  4. Noskilz Says:

    My horrible suspicion is that people tend not to change their minds until their current views no longer do whatever it is they need them to do, so most Fox News fans are probably boned. Since Fox is tends to be sloppy, careless, and doesn't have a problem dipping into fiction, I don't think objective reality is something its fanbase is that interested in, which is huge problem, because if hammering Fox on the bullshit artist angle was all it took, it'd be easy.

    Fox's shoddy mythology seems to give a lot of people something they want – or at least have a use for – and I'm afraid most won't let go of it as long as it does something they need done, like provide emotionally satisfying if fanciful reasons for the world around them and why it sucks far more than it should. Not sure how one goes about disentangling someone from that – it's not as if better explanations are hard to find, but they probably won't be as appealing or exciting as what Fox has on offer.

  5. Middle Seaman Says:

    Age doesn't make you conservative. Approaching 70, just finished HS, my views are as lefty as they were in HS. There were changes but the world has changed too. Never understood the right, in particular, the radical right.

    Hate and lack of sanity spreads to the pretend left too. Clintons hate on the left isn't much better than the Teas. The campaign in 2008 was a textbook example of ugly, rude, crude, hateful and disgusting bad mouthing of Hillary. It started in 1992 and is still alive and well.

  6. Tim H. Says:

    You know a twisted version of reality is being presented when a good friend of Wall $treet like Obama is portrayed as socialist. BTW, would "Don't blame me, I voted for Kucinech" loo good on a bumper sticker?

  7. US in the UK Says:

    I had/have almost the exact same experience as Arslan.

  8. Tim H. Says:

    Oops, that would be "Kucinich".

  9. Sifu Snafu Says:

    I think I lucked out on this score. My gramps and my folks were all hardcore, blue-collar, straight-ticket Dems my entire life. If anything, my dad's politics are only becoming more lefty as he gets older.

    Middle Seaman – Hillary's supporters in the 2008 campaign trafficked in enough ugly, rude, crude, hateful and disgusting behavior towards Obama to call that score even.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    And these folks have Rush & FOX infected Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    Where were they when Dumbaya was the real lawless President, under whose administration the following happened?:
    -The SCOTUS gave someone a Presidency for the 1st time.
    -China stole an AWACS plane, and gave it back in pieces.
    -Tax cuts for the rich started to undermine our economy.
    -They ignored "AWOOGA-AWOOGA-AWOOGA" sirens, bells, and flashing lights, leading-up to 9/11.
    -They acted like cowards, hiding, for a day or two, afterwards.
    -They shipped out every bin Laden family member – unquestioned.
    -After weeks of posturing, they went into Afghanistan, and didn't finish, because
    -They really wanted to invade Iraq for its oil, and trumped-up bullshit knowingly, and did so.
    -They started GITMO & Abu Ghraib.
    -They tortured.
    -They renditioned people to other countries to be tortured.
    -They (most probably) monkeyed with electronic voting machines in 2004.
    -Terry Schiavo.
    -Katrina.
    -Bye-bye to habeas corpus.
    -Made ripping-off people easier, and getting bankruptcy more difficult.
    -Etc.
    -And finally, after 8+ years of deregulation, our economy almost completely collapsed – and the world's economy with it.
    (Btw – this list of disasters and fuster-clucks is by no means anywhere NEAR complete!!!).

    What did we hear?
    Crickets…

    WE Liberals, had just a bit of justification for our Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    Here's what made the Conservatives crazy(ier):
    -A black guy won the Presidency.
    -He won the Nobel Peace Prize (prematurely, I'll grant you).
    -He tried to stimulate the failing economy.
    -He signed The Lily Ledbetter Act.
    -He signed PPACA, also known as Obamacare, giving the nation its first fledgling national health care policy.
    -He killed bin Laden.
    -He was reelected.

    Boy, I can sure see why they're rabidly insane now, can't you?

  11. Wim Says:

    My mother told me, apropos of nothing, that she knew she knew the truth because she only watched Fox News. Shortly after Bush was re-elected apparently BillO told her it would be a good idea to call up all of her libtard kin and gloat. About fifteen minutes into that conversation I begged her to tell me I was adopted, and she hung up on me. I didn't call her back. Finally she called me on Christmas and stumbled trying to say 'Happy Holidays' or 'Season's Greetings,' which came out 'Seasons Holidays.'

    'It's okay, Mom,' I said. 'You can say Christmas.' As I thought, well, bless her heart.

    'I know you people don't like that,' she said.

    'Just this once,' I said. 'For you.'

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    Btw – I too have had a number of relatives and friends of the family get "The Limbaugh Rash," and "FUXed-up!"

    I'm afraid, though, that "The Limbaugh Rash," and "FUXed-up!" maybe terminal.

    Of course, it may calm down some in January of 2017.

    Unless, of course, this fevered plague of hate, fear, ignorance, stupidity AND evil, morphs into Hillary Derangement Syndrome – which will be very similar to Bill Derangement Syndrome, except that she's a woman, so it'll be far, far, worse.

    Of course, losing first to a young black man, then an older white woman, may make this "terminal" in a different sense.

    I can't think of anything more terminal than head's REALLY exploding!

  13. skwerlhugger Says:

    The joke is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting the outcome to be different. That's the joke, but the reality is that it's stupidity, not insanity. The USA is not grown-up enough to have a black man president, and it's not grown-up enough to have a woman president. The rightwing hate machine is, in part, the tantrum the child threw when it was given a plate of food it didn't like. It hasn't changed. It won't be better with Clinton.

  14. Deggjr Says:

    This is one of the main reasons I fear retirement; how does all the time get filled? The antidote is to help someone less fortunate but clearly that takes additional effort.

  15. Richard Sellers Says:

    Passive consumption of the likes of Fox News and right wing radio isn't intended to do anything other than push people's buttons, to focus their inchoate anger and frustration on a handy target. You don't get a complete picture of things by sitting on your ass listening to Limbaugh or O'Reilly or Hannity or whoever. But that emotional manipulation is gratifying for people who have been long conditioned to be consumers. It's one of the worst vulnerabilities of the human mind, to be subject to such a weakness.

    Thinking is hard.

  16. maurinsky Says:

    My parents have mostly gotten more liberal as they've gotten older. My 70 year old mother writes "Friends don't let friends vote Republican" on every letter she sends out.

  17. John Danley Says:

    It's agoraphobia writ large. Loss aversion due to a lack of centrality. They're fixated on an Aristotelian view of society while trying to regain control and a sense of meaning in a Post-Copernicus world. Antiquated bigotry, recurrent, with delayed onset. Just like a disease that's in remission, it was probably always under the surface waiting for the genotype-environment covariance to get poked by the simpering stick of Sean Hannity.

  18. Major Kong Says:

    I had a couple guys like that in my crash pad. They were pilots like me, in their 40s or 50s. They would sit there with Fox News on all day long (unless maybe there was a major sporting event). And they would get agitated anytime the latest "Liberals are destroying the world!" story would come on.

  19. carrstone Says:

    Are you saying that, in those parts of the world where there is no Fox, there are no crotchety old men? Or, perhaps, no ranting opinionated demagogues, either?

  20. Jacquie Says:

    One of the most pernicious aspects is how the Fox viewers and, I suppose, right-wingers in general create their own mythology, with its own facts and its own language of code words and mantras and resentments. I was just visiting my boyfriend's parents for Easter, and his dad was going on about how Wal-Mart was clearing out their stock of incandescent lightbulbs, which he referred to as "Obama Bulbs." He bought an entire shopping cart full of them–18 boxes in all–in some kind of imaginary protest against The Liberals. My bf, being a well-adjusted human, had NO IDEA what his father was talking about, so he just politely accepted a box of shitty lightbulbs that we "forgot" to take with us when we left.

  21. el mago Says:

    To carrstone: Having lived in Latin America and Europe I would say the crotchety raving old man syndrome is predominantly American.

  22. Graham Says:

    And if you pointed out that they were basically engaged in Jihad, they'd be offended.

    Oh and thank for that depressing recap, Mr Gulag.

  23. ladiesbane Says:

    Turning conservative is often a symptom of stress. One reason it's associated with aging is that stress accrues over time, and alienation increases as society stays focused on youth. If you can't come to grips with a sad world that never seems to improve, a society that has changed so much you don't feel connected to it, whatever, you start to retreat. If you curl up with your fingers in your ears, Fox & Rush & Joel Osteen provide the BLAH BLAH BLAH that block the scary old world. You don't have to hear the sound of the world turning, you don't have to think, you don't have to challenge your assumptions — no need to use your brain or open your heart.

    It's easy to do good deeds but hard to think good thoughts. It's hard to do bad deeds, but it's easy to think bad thoughts. We're socialized to behave, not to be philosophically and ethically astute. Over time, if you haven't learned how to feel safe with change, or that live-and-let-live is a practical attitude rather than an disgusting lack of standards, then you will grow more bitter and scared over time. The far right wing plays those insecurities into catastrophes and sells hate as the salve.

    Don't forget: news and religion are for-profit in this country. LBJ's quote: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." — Fox, Rush, et al., don't see that and recoil; they see it as a game plan. The first step is making a scared person feel low, then giving him someone to feel better-than. Then keep ginning up the threat level by constantly blowing dog whistles and you've hooked your patsy.

  24. Mo Says:

    Thank you, ladiesbane, for pointing out the money/drug pusher aspect of all this.

    Affective (that's "emotional" to those of us who don't speak psych-ese) reasoning is pretty scary. We all do it – feel first, then rationalize behavior based upon those feelings. Because it makes our brains feel good, and it isn't as much work as actual thinking.

    What causes someone to actually review the facts and change their mind – deny their prejudices? Anxiety, according to one study. If your rationalizations don't make you feel good, you get some new ones. But alas, contravening that is the extinction effect – if something isn't working to make you feel good, you double down, and do it harder and more often. Takes awhile for you to finally give up and abandon it, because you need that dopamine fix, or whatever. Finding a new dealer when your old one gets sent down the river takes work, and you probably have to be reduced to "going over the cracks in your room with a straw" to quote David Sedaris.

    So I wonder what the tipping point for Faux viewers would be – what bite from Reality would cause them to revise their opinions?

    These folks are being juiced like oranges by the right wing noise machine and the wingnut welfare system, all so that our bircher and libertarian oligarchs can run our country like their personal toy car.

    My bet is that the only reality that will change their minds is death.
    Too far gone.

  25. J. Dryden Says:

    @ carrstone: Aristotle's characterization of the elderly confirms your suspicion that this is universal–or at least, trans-historical–phenomenon. But I'd point out that we need to clean up our own yard, rather than point out that the neighbors' places are just as unkept.

    What nobody's brought up directly, but alluded to plenty, is how goddamned *addictive* Fox News and right-wing talk radio is. When my aunt and her new husband–who turned her onto Fox–come to visit my parents, they station themselves in front of the television, turn it to Fox and just…watch. All day. Really excited and engaged (terrifying, to be sure, but I can't deny that they really seem to enjoy it, in an angry-sports-fan kind of way.) Same with my in-laws, out in Nevada. First thing in the morning: Hit the recliners. Click. And that's pretty much their day.

    And when you try to pull them away from it–when you try to change the channel to something (ANYTHING) else, they respond with the petulance of kids who've been told to turn off the Spongebob and go outside. They're clearly mid-fix, and cannot be withdrawn without–well, withdrawal. Fox News's ratings don't surprise me a bit–outrage and fear release adrenaline, and smug righteousness triggers endorphins. We're creating a grey generation of junkies–literal, honest to God, addicts–and to come between them and their fix–which isn't just Fox, but the World Created By Fox–is to come between them and their addictions.

    No wonder they're irrational, selfish, self-justifying, self-deluded, self-destructive assholes. They're addicts. Kind of explains everything, doesn't it?

  26. J. Dryden Says:

    Shit. This is what happens when you take a long time to type your comment. Mo gets in ahead of you and makes you sound like an oblivious late-comer. Apologies for the redundancy.

  27. Tim H. Says:

    Jacquie, you might remind them that the light bulb phase out was signed by "shrub", along with the extension of daylight savings time.

  28. Whatver Says:

    PFDD: Post Fox Derangement Disorder

    I put it up there with, PCD: Platonic Conflation Disorder, such as "In a REAL Free Market", or "Under a REAL communist system". Hey bitchboy, Reality is as REAL as it gets.

  29. c u n d gulag Says:

    Graham,
    Sorry, but it seems that you have to keep reminding today's Republicans of things that they once stood for – because, apparently, today's elephants ALWAY'S forget!

  30. Brian Says:

    This is a not very well formed thought.

    As I get older (don't we all?), I am starting to observe this phenomenon in people around me.

    Generally speaking, I think as people get older and accrue more responsibility and 'stuff', the maintenance and upkeep of those obligations becomes exhausting.

    So, as we get older and have less energy we spend more of our energy maintaining our lives. This is especially true of our consumer based culture.

    So, we architect methods to cope with all of these things. We grow accustomed to these methods, and don't have to expend energy learning new ways to cope.

    Unfortunately, the world doesn't sit around and not change. And any change is seen as a personal attack against us, because it means that we will have to learn a new way to maintain or cope with the world.

    Combine that with a noise machine feeding propaganda to us about the 'other'. Not only that, that noise machine speaks to us at our most vulnerable and tired:

    In our commutes, first thing in the morning….Sets the tone for the day. First thing after work…..when we are most tired.
    On TV after dinner, when we just want to relax and be passive…

  31. Lawrence Says:

    It's not just Fox. They soft pedal it on Jim Dobson's radio network, but it gets people halfway to loon town.

  32. mothra Says:

    My next-to oldest sister and my brother-in-law are Foxies. Sit in their house with a TV in every room tuned to Fox. My brother-in-law doesn't leave the house–and my sister rarely does. It's pretty damn frightening to hear them repeat Fox News talking points. When I challenge my sister and tell her to at least watch some other news stations, she says "oh, none of them tell the truth. They all have an angle." I just try to not talk about anything political with her.

  33. Mo Says:

    J. Dryden – Honestly, I think you presented the situation more viscerally than I did.

    Ahhhhh … visceral emotion, how we love it. [I'd add, "Leans back and smokes cig," except I don't smoke]

  34. quixote Says:

    If old people — or any group actually — can be egged on into addictive begrudgery by listening to demagogues, then doesn't that raise some huge issues about free speech?

    If a lie repeated becomes believed and then the basis for action by (some) voters, then the old hope that the cure for bad speech is truthful speech is nothing but tranquilizing bromide.

    So what do we do? Besides feeling pleased that we're smarter than that, we need a cure. In the high and far-off times, there was the fairness in broadcasting rule. It didn't seem very effective, but looking back, at least it reduced the amount of time the loonies had to spout. Could it even be applied these days with the interwebz and all? Doubtful. So do any of the smart folk here have any ideas on how to actually *prevent* such mass hypnosis from happening in the first place?

  35. Mo Says:

    Quixote –

    In light of recent Supreme Court decisions – you're kidding, right?

    I just hope SkyBot is benevolent and likes to keep us around as happy pets.

  36. Alan C Says:

    Mothra–are your sister and brother-in-law named Dee and Larry? Sounds just like my brother and sister-in-law! Unfortunately, there are lots of these people out there.

    I hung up on my brother once because he referred to Obama as the "monkey in the White House." He can barely have a conversation without turning to some wingnuttery he heard on Fox.

  37. Two Below Says:

    Jefferson said to give people the facts and they will make the right decision. Fox obviously fears that is true.

  38. Robert Says:

    Glad to say this did not happen to my dad. He kept the faith with Saint Franklin and the Blessed Eleanor to the end.

    He did have a funny patch towards the end of the 1960s, when he became convinced the USA was headed for Helter Skelter. His idea was moving the entire family to Spain. Mom talked him out of it.

  39. Ed Says:

    Older white people – They are most afraid that when Obama was elected President, they were going to start to get treated like Brown people. And they are afraid of that because they looked the other way when minorities were mistreated for so long. They "Want their country back" – a country where White Hetero Christian Males are in control, and everyone else "knows their place".

    Fox is in place to tell them that everything is going to hell since we let women, gays, and brown people have rights.

    I am flabbergasted when I read really horrible racist drivel on the internet and I find out that a pretty good chunk of it was written by women. I guess I imagine a racist as a Klansman or something and that the women would still be nurturing, etc. it really surprises me.

  40. Gerald McGrew Says:

    A couple of things…

    I listen to AM right-wing radio almost every day, especially Christian versions. I refer to it as my "daily dose of the crazy". For whatever reason, I have little interest in listening to political talk from people I already agree with. I guess I get my validation/reassurance from seeing first-hand how demonstrably wrong the other side's arguments are.

    So it is possible to tune in regularly and not be brainwashed.

    But I do notice a few common themes. The main one is that they consistently paint a picture of a world that is scary and on the verge of one disaster or another. Be it the collapse of the dollar, takeover by the UN, invasion by someone, infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood, WW III, a famine…whatever, it's right around the corner. And guess what's on the commercials? Buy gold, freeze-dried food, survival kits, water filtration systems, etc.

    Seems like a pretty good scam to me. Scare the crap out of your listeners and during the break, exploit their fears and sell them crap.

    The other thing is specific to Fox News. Don't underestimate just how important and significant the fact that the people they put on screen are usually very, very good looking women in tight, tiny outfits. One of my friends who is a tea party libertarian says all the time, "Say what you will about Fox, but no one brings the eye candy like they do".

    Finally, given AM radio and Fox News listeners' demographics (almost exclusively older whites, IOW baby boomers), I wonder as they die off, will they be steadily replaced by newly-retired old white people? Or is the baby boomer generation the bubble that will slowly deflate?

    Food for thought.

  41. cromartie Says:

    You people act like this is new.

    Father Coughlin begs to differ. Or at least, he would if he weren't dead.

    Mass Media demagoguery isn't new. And it has always been dangerous to at least a portion of the electorate.

    Fox News' median viewer is now so old that Nielsen no longer measures it. Take some solace in the fact that a lot of these people will be dead soon, and they won't be replaced.

  42. Tom in NL Says:

    The right-wing noise machine has long fascinated me about American culture. We do have right-wing talk radio in Canada, and a Fox knock off called Sun News, but they aren't nearly so pervasive and people I don't think people listen to them all day. I can't think of a single hate spewer in my life. Also, our Conservative Party is awful, but mostly sane.

  43. Nunya Says:

    My grandparents were Okies that migrated to California in 1936. After benefitting directly from New Deal legislation they were loyal democrats. Being Southern, religious types, they also watched a lot of 700 Club. When Reagan came into office they switched to the Republican party and voted straight ticket GOP until they died.

    As a man that was generous and kind to individuals that shared his faith, he was convinced by Pat Roberts that God wanted him to vote against every Christian principle that he believed based solely on the fact that Democrats supported abortion and gay rights.

    He was still a good man but religion, especially the contrived televangelist drivel that he spent hours watching every day had convinced him that tough love and hatred were somehow principles representes somewhere in the bible.

    If it helps, all of his children and grandchildren are now atheists.

  44. Glen h Says:

    Nunya, I suspect the atheist grandchildren thing is becoming more common, exactly for the same sorts of reasons as you noted.
    For myself, I sometimes suspect many of our elders have changed far less than we would like to think. That is, mostly they were always selfish assholes, but now they have whole television networks providing justification and articulation of their views.
    This might seem a bit harsh, but I just spent the weekend getting the "your taxpayer dollars" lectures from my seventy year old mother, until I pointed out that they were my dollars, and I would much prefer to see them going to various left wing programmes.

  45. Anonymouse Says:

    @Gerald: the "all-fear, all-the-time" is also a tactic used by the right-wing conservative bosses in my field to try to keep the workerbees in line. Distract, distort, instill terror…and get a docile workforce.

  46. fernando_g Says:

    I'm sorry to bring Godwin's law into the discussion here, but I believe in this instance is relevant:

    Isn't Rush Limbaugh following the Goebbels dictum, where he said that a lie repeated 1000 times becomes the truth -or something to that effect?

  47. Carter Says:

    The right-wing universe reminds me of nothing so much as old-school Marxism. It is an all-encompassing worldview that gives loud, angry answers to every conceivable problem, and becomes more of a lifestyle than just a set of ideological beliefs.

  48. carrstone Says:

    @fernando_g

    By attributing this aphorism to Goebbels and not to Lenin, the actual coiner of the phrase, you have added to the perpetuation of the error. Or maybe you wanted to end the argument on a high note? You are aware about what Godwin says about the use of the 'Hitler Argument', aren't you?

  49. Mo Says:

    Ed, two words:

    Phyllis Schlafly.

    Gerald: yep, Roger Ailes wanks to blondes. The Glass Table

  50. Major Kong Says:

    "You are aware about what Godwin says about the use of the 'Hitler Argument', aren't you?"

    If the jackboot fits….

  51. lord karnage Says:

    just want to say thanks for this article. i think many of us have watched an otherwise reasonable person morph into something unrecognizable. it's easy to look at people who are already around the bend, and detect the influence of too much conservative media but i had not thought about the issue quite this way. by default, i frame this issue around the PIPA study that was done in 2003. it showed that people who watched fox news were less informed than people who got their news from other sources. but the most significant thing to come out of that study was that there was a direct relationship between how much fox news you consumed and how wrong you were. it's almost like an epidemiological approach where duration of exposure to fox news is the dependent variable and your absolute wrongness on objective facts is the independent variable. the blog post above is more like the longitudinal follow up: what are the accumulated emotional, intellectual and physical impacts of repeated exposure. and there you have it.

    brief aside: my son came home from school the other day and something was bothering him. he had to do a presentation at school on a terrible disease, and his friend from school and hockey, who i have known for years and is a really decent kid, showed up at school and did a presentation on obamacare. this kid has no idea. there's only one place that comes from, and it's not from that kid.

    these things have impacts beyond the individuals themselves that may take years to undo. very tragic. i'm fine if they want to be stupid and wrong, but i resent that fact that these crusader personality types feel it's gods will that they share it with everyone else! a crusades for the 21st century, downward and dumber…

  52. anotherbozo Says:

    Never has the comments section here been so interesting, informative, intelligent. And affirming for the peeps doing the writing, not the asshats they describe. Living in a liberal bubble in NYC, I have no real anecdotes of my own, have nothing to add except thanks. (I saved gulag's a few other responses in my files, since they were so devastatingly on target.)

  53. Graham Says:

    Carter: that is exactly what I think. Fox and co use some kind of weird dialectics in which black becomes white in increments you can never quite follow.

    Koestler is amusing in his biographies on this process, in which the Individual is always wrong and the Process always right.

  54. quixote Says:

    Mo asked, in light of recent Supremes flapdoodle, whether I was joking upthread about how you deal with free speech issues if it turns out democracy actually isn't compatible with unbridled lying.

    Well, yes, as a current action item, I'd have to be joking.

    But I'm also really asking because I'm not sure how you'd deal with it even in an ideal world. Theoretically, is there a solution? Could there be a solution to lies destroying democracy?

  55. Mo Says:

    quixote –

    I'm re-reading The Republican Brain. You probably remember the hissy fit that was thrown when the book was first published about the connection between the amygdala, fear, and conservatism.

    Faced with a large percentage of the population with brains that physically cannot be changed and that generate rationalizations for their fear, eliminate the fear.

    And what do most of us fear most? Poverty.

    Especially if you're part of the racist demographic frightened of "Them." Lyndon Johnson nailed it – "I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it," he said. "If you can convince the lowest white man that he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll even empty his pockets for you."

    LBJ again

    he approved an antipoverty program that would try to end-run some deeply ingrained institutional obstacles to social justice.

    In his more expansive moments, LBJ talked of going all the way. "Let's conquer the vastness of space, create schools and jobs for everyone," he said. "Let's care for the elderly, let's build schools and libraries, let's increase the affluence of the middle-class. Let's improve the productivity of business, let's do more for civil rights in one Congress than the last one hundred years combined. Let's get started in all of these areas," as he said in his first State of the Union Address, "by summer" and "with no increase in spending."

    What to do? Soak the 1% and get back the money they siphoned off the rest of us. TAX THE BASTARDS.

    And read Piketty, for starters.

  56. Glen h Says:

    Carter and Graham- glad I'm not the only one thinking along those lines! Perhaps the Ayn Rand types are the equivalent of the crazier Maoist types. Actually scrub that, at least some of our nuttier Ultras here in Australia ARE former college Maoists!

  57. EJ Says:

    My parents, who are both in their 70s, recently had their first exposure to Fox News during a cross-country drive, in some little diner in Podunkville, Middle America. They were fairly horrified.

    Turns out they'd been wondering why a significant number of their friends had been gradually turning into paranoid right-wing nutbars. "No wonder!" said my mom, "It's all sensationalistic crime stories, how the terrorists are coming to get us, and how the liberals are ruining the country. Of course you're going to be warped by a steady diet of that!" I told them about Fox Geezer Syndrome, and they agreed that pretty much summed it up.

    I guess I got lucky in that my parents started out fairly liberal and if anything have gotten more so as they've gotten older.

  58. Kevin Says:

    I watched FOX NEWS and wound up with lots of prescription drugs, survival supplies, a hover-round and six AR-15s.

  59. JHill Says:

    My father disowned me because I would comment back on all his right wingnut trash. Haven't talked to him in 6 years. Even after I suggested he not send it, and I wouldn't feel obligated to respond to the lies, he continued, then told me he would never talk to me again.

  60. Arslan Says:

    Once again Carrstone the fuckup…fucks up. The "lie repeated" quote cannot be attributed to either Goebbels or Lenin. Next time you try to derail a conversation with a red herring, get it right.

  61. Arslan Says:

    @JHill

    That's Fox, bringing American families together.

  62. quixote Says:

    Yeah, I saw the articles about the conservative mind. That research goes right back to the 1930s. I even wrote about it myself (in 2005 "Conservatives: What's wrong with them?"). And that's part of my point: any system that assumes a human nature that doesn't exist — the "rational man" comes to mind — is not sustainable. And I'd like democracy to be sustainable.

    You're saying that greater economic equality and therefore better economic security could calm people down enough to make them (more) rational. You may have a point. Europe has much less problem with this crap than the US. But is that because people are less afraid, or because their broadcast industries are more effectively regulated, or both?

  63. Arslan Says:

    Not true. Europe is rife with all kinds of right-wing ideas now, from Hungarian and Ukrainian nationalism to your garden variety Islamophobia in the Western countries.

  64. fernando_g Says:

    @carrstone
    Yes, I understand Godwin's law with respect to Hitler and blog comments.
    That is why I started with the phrase: " I'm sorry to bring Godwin…."
    And ended with a question mark.

    Chill out, man.

  65. Arslan Says:

    He's really upset about people slandering poor Goebbels' name. I'm sure he's already said as much to the rest of the super-geniuses on 4chan.