ON EATING ROACHES AND TALKING TO REPUBLICANS

In graduate school I had a colleague who was forever paying to see really bad movies and then expressing disappointment after the fact. Being blunt and generally unsympathetic, I finally asked her: What exactly were you expecting when you paid money to see these obviously horrible movies? Did you think the Sir Thomas More monologue from A Man For All Seasons was going to show up in the middle of Fast & Furious 4? Ben Affleck was going to channel Lionel Barrymore in Gigli? New cinematography techniques would be employed in the filming of Beerfest? I mean, being disappointed is never fun but at some point you have to reflect on the criteria you're using to decide where to set your expectations when it's happening over and over again.

Right wingers no longer anger or frustrate me because age and experience have taught me what to expect from them. Like a terrible pop country song, I only need to hear a few words to complete the rest of their sentences. Lots of people still get riled up because they share that characteristic that defined the first five years of Obama's presidency – the steadfast belief that Republicans will be Reasonable People if appealed to properly. This logic mimics the compulsive gambler who thinks that the next hand will be the big winner. For my own sanity I decided after experiencing the beginning of the Iraq War that I would never again expect that anything other than their own base self interest and craving for power motivates conservatives. There is no logic, there are no principles, there is no moment of clarity. There is only narcissism. That's why it is ludicrous to expect any consistency in their rhetoric from one moment to the next. Six years ago John McCain's major asset was his status as a war hero; now he's a big pussy because he ejected from a flaming airplane over Vietnam.

Does it make any sense? Of course it doesn't. Why would you expect it to.

Here's a perfect example, courtesy of A Good Cartoon. Recently in San Francisco a non-citizen named Francisco Sanchez fatally shot a young woman who was almost certainly not intended as a victim (details are fuzzy on whether the shooting was a pure accident or if the victim was shot accidentally while Sanchez struggled with someone else). Right wing hack editorial cartoonist was quick to point out that Sanchez was only partially responsible – Obama and Liberal Pussy Immigration Policy both helped him pull the trigger. They literally had their hand on the gun. They are equally culpable.

Sanchez

But if we look back to previous high profile shooting incidents, Ramirez has…a somewhat different message about responsibility.

Remember Jared Loughner, the guy who shot Gabby Giffords and killed a Federal judge?

Loughner

It was all him. 100% him. Absolutely no outside influences of any kind, and how is the availability of guns even possibly relevant.

Brown

Michael Brown is also 100% responsible for his own death. The guy who actually shot him bears no responsibility, not even one-millionth of one percent. Again, no longstanding social or cultural issues come into play either.

"Discovering" that a right-wing Tea Party type changed his tune to suit the ideologically correct narrative – rugged individualism one minute, It Takes a Village the next – should not surprise you. If it does at this point I'd suggest that you are not paying enough attention or perhaps are tiptoeing into the territory of naivety. In 6th grade I watched a classmate eat a live cockroach on a dare. He gagged and retched and made a great ruckus about how terrible it tasted. Even at the not terribly wise age of 11 I thought, Were you expecting it to be filled with chocolate ice cream? His example, though, was redeeming in the sense that he never* made the same mistake again.

*(Dan W., if you're out there and still eating cockroaches I am very disappointed. You're 36. Get it together.)

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24 Responses to “ON EATING ROACHES AND TALKING TO REPUBLICANS”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    In the course of teaching Olde Timey Literature, I find myself often having to explain Christian Doctrine–well YOU try making Paradise Lost comprehensible without it–and the principle of Divine Infallibility always makes their heads spin: God cannot be inconsistent, inasmuch as, being Truth Himself, He cannot contradict what is, because He IS what Is, and therefore is always right. Thus, if God in the Old Testament is a vicious, petty sociopath with a taste for mass slaughter, and God in the New Testament is Santa Claus on hugs-and-snuggles-binge, that is not a contradiction, but merely a misreading you are making because you are not God, you petty mortal, you.

    I do not find it at all difficult, then, to understand how a political party that is self-steeped in precisely the kind of insane dogma contained in the principle of Divine Infallibility would apply its benefits to their own conduct: "Look, if you understood, you'd understand, OK? But you don't, because you're part of the problem. It's not us; it's you. Always."

    Deficits don't matter unless Democrats are creating them. Government oversight is pure evil unless it's needed to secure our borders. Freedom is precious unless it's being exercised by someone else in which case the jackbooted thugs become limp-wristed sissies who can't stand up to The Bad Guys Among Us.

    Yeah, but once you've accepted that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are the same guy, with NO contradictions, all similar crib-smotherings of logic are really quite easy to perform.

  2. Talisker Says:

    Good stuff, Ed.

    About half of those Americans who bother to vote, elect candidates who are like the Terminator: They can't be bargained with, they can't be reasoned with, they don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and they absolutely will not stop, ever.

    What does one do? It's a serious question, but I have no idea what the answer is.

    The USA is still a huge, rich country which faces no immediate threats to its existence. (Terrorists don't count, they can kill a lot of people but aren't capable of destroying the USA itself.) This means the Republicans can get away with all manner of insane behaviour for quite some time. The USA has a huge inheritance built up by more constructive and productive generations, and the Republicans are happy to piss it against a wall.

    They've already been doing this for a while — arguably since Reagan, definitely since GW Bush. It's becoming evident that sooner or later the inheritance will run out. That will not be a good time. We can only hope the US electorate comes to its senses in time.

    Yeah, I don't think that's very hopeful either.

  3. Talisker Says:

    @J Dryden: Yes, exactly. Yesterday a friend was trying to explain to me why certain Christians think it's OK to say God hates gay people. I'm fairly well read in Christian belief (for historical and literary reasons) but still, the "logic" being employed made my head hurt.

  4. Dan W Says:

    You're not the boss of me.

  5. Major Kong Says:

    "The Republican philosophy might be summarized thus: To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and that they do not."

    – Pat Buchanan

  6. Katydid Says:

    Part of being Middle Management means having to sit through inane, useless "management classes"run by companies that I'm sure exist just to funnel kickbacks to upper management. A common topic in these classes are What to Do with Impossible, Abusive Employees (with the unstated part being That Upper Management Loves So You Can't Fire Their Obnoxious Asses). These classes always–ALWAYS–push trying to appease and accommodate, in the loony reasoning that sociopaths, treated with respect, become self-reflective and settle down. I think President Obama must have been forced to sit through the same classes, and I'm only sorry it took him five years to figure out that sociopaths are sociopaths. As my spouse said to me while we were dating of my insane family, "You keep expecting them not to be crazy, and you're always surprised when they're not. Who's the one with the problem, here?"

  7. Fiddlin Bill Says:

    The Buchanan statement of Republican philosophy can be easily paraphrased as the definition of fascism re Il Duce: if I gain power, I will kill you. Re the about face you're speaking of, consider that when American born mass shooters are considered the fundamental principle is, no law could have change this. In the case of the Chattanoga shooter, an ostensible moderate Democrat, Wesley Clark, has called for detention centers such as were utilized against Japanese citizens in WWII, and the general Republican response is that there should be laws disallowing all immgration of muslims. But the guy in Chattanoga might have been stopped if there had been stricter gun laws, just like Mr. Roof (in fact even the existing laws might have stopped Roof).

  8. Dave Dell Says:

    The part that's hard for me is to take inane beliefs/statements seriously. "They" can't actually believe that? Can they? They are just trying to get a rise out of me because that's their idea of a sense of humor…

    They probably think the same about me.

    Oh, I've eaten bugs and other things as well as done other insane actions (Marines, various construction/labor crews) to foster the idea that, "That guys crazy, don't f#% with him." It worked to a certain degree, but not against the intoxicated.

  9. Major Kong Says:

    Part of USAF Survival School involved teaching us which bugs are edible.

    I don't think I ever got hungry enough to try one.

  10. Well mostly Says:

    Great points Ed. The only useful expectation to employ when observing our conservative friends is from watching NASCAR: what stupid thing will happen that takes them into the wall this time? It's junior high. Always a food fight at lunch. Every day.
    The only faintly interesting thing on the scene is watching The Donald. A rich kid who moved into the school district. Already has his future guaranteed. Doesn't need to worry about anything. Has a bunch of wannabes at his side. Will do or say anything to get attention. Civics class won't help. It's just not the game he's playing. The jocks and in-crowd folks are wetting their pants because he doesn't care about them or their prom king/queen games. His McCain comments? Trashing the quarterback because he didn't take the state title. There's something true about it but only in the way Dryden explains, for which thanks.

  11. Skipper Says:

    More succintly — two versions:

    1. You can't reason someone out of something he wasn't reasoned into.

    2. Expecting a right winger to be reasonable with you because you're reasonable with him is like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn't eat him.

    (Neither is original, but I'm too tired to research the sources.)

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    You want to see and hear the conservative Id on display?

    Look and listen no further than Dumb-'n-old Chump!
    The conservative base LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVES him!!!

    Then, go to some Reich-Wing website, and read the comments – if you dare!

    And, finally, wash those eyeballs in acid, or pluck them out, because what you read will offend your sight so much, that you'd prefer being blind.

    About 27% of our populations, consists of hard-core Authoritarian followers.

    Think about it like this:
    Depending on the state where you live, and whether it's an urban, a suburban, or rural, area, 1 in 4 cars is driven by someone who'd gladly drive head-on into you, if they were sure you're a liberal or progressive!

    Not a conservative maniac.
    Probably not a conservative maniac.
    Most probably not a conservative maniac.
    MANIAC!!!
    BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @gulag:
    Trump is too much of a fuckup and a coward to stay in for more than another month or two, but I'm rooting for him to get the nomination.

    The far right has had so much fun excommunicating every reasonable person from its ranks.

    I'd like for them to see where it's gotten them.

  14. c u n d gulag Says:

    @Emerson,

    There are no conservative who are so blind or deaf that they don't appreciate Chump's bigoted messages!

    Yes, I know his "candidacy" is a vanity project to deep his name in the news – but, he has a large following of fellow loud-mouthed bigots.

    He'll drop out soon.
    But not before dragging what's left of the GOP into the bigoted toilet with him!

  15. Skippper Says:

    @gulag

    I don't know if he'll drag them into the toilet with him. He is so over the top that he will allow them to use him as a punching bag, so they can appear high-minded and reasonable, while still remaining bigoted. It's a great opportunity for them.

  16. Tim H. Says:

    Emerson, that sounds remarkably like a Mad magazine gag about the motorist that wondered what a dog would do if it caught the car, so they stopped. You wouldn't even need to change the punch line.

  17. Gin and Cookies Says:

    Excellent.

  18. Nick Says:

    Glad to see Dan W. showed up already.

  19. ronzie Says:

    I thought this post was going to be about eating lobsters.

  20. JustRuss Says:

    I have to quibble with your compulsive gambler analogy: A gambler may not ever hit "the big one" but he will win enough hands or payouts to keep him in the game. But logical consistency from conservatives pretty much never happens, believing in it is like believing in unicorns.

  21. Skepticalist Says:

    When it comes to giving Republicans a serious look when it comes to suport for the 99%, Like Ed, I find it a waste of time. I use the shorthand of looking over something like a health care issue. Under Democrats, health care support may not improve but it won't get worse. Under the GOP and its walk it off health care planning, things will always go the other way. All they want of us is to be able to sign a pay check, not to learn too much and go to church.

    Republicans are masters at using irrational fear for campaign issues. It's stunning how they have turned the Iran agreement and Cuba into something as terrifying as the Cold War. The President saying that if these ideas don't work, just pull out and try again, gets little notice. Cuba's different though. AT&T, big media and GM are not about to let it go. Get a grip.

    Republicans truly do love America but hate Americans.

  22. Katydid Says:

    @Skepticalist; speaking of Republicans and Cuba, the national news had a quick piece about the USA opening up relations with Cuba, and the huge, screaming temper tantrum the Miami Cubans are throwing. One woman shrieked about how the USA's opening of Cuba was "abandoning the Cubans", which just sounded crazy.

    It makes sense when you realize that the original people who fled Cuba were the rightwing 1%, the ones with the money to leave. They and their descendants were often coddled by the USA, leading them to the same cognitive dissonance that the non-Cuban rightwingers have.

  23. April Says:

    Best case scenario is that Trump runs as a third-party candidate. Splits the crazy vote and Dems for the win, no matter WHO the Dem is.

    (Wouldn't it be fun if it were Bernie?)

  24. don Says:

    you guys are adorable with your Donald Trump "candidate" hope-he-stays-in thing. He's not really a candidate; the Bushes paid him to be the ugly girl standing next to Jeb so we'll think Jeb's pretty and take him to the prom.