Thursday, October 29, 2009

Birds of a Feather

The more I am involved in local politics and neighborhood issues the more I am coming to realize that most people tend to seek out those who share their already held beliefs and look for reinforcement versus critical analysis. Have we become a country that is so entrenched in ideology that facts have become nonessential to rational discussion? My fear is that we have become a nation of intellectually lazy people who would rather have their news and facts spoon fed to them by the likes of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. It appears that the more technology we incorporate into our society the less many of us read, study, and work to understand the nuisances of different issues. Instead of witnessing accurate and factual discussions we have become spectators to a drunken family brawl, where facts are replaced with family indignation.

To see evidence of this phenomenon one only has to look as far as the popularity of not just “news shows” that encourage cacophony versus discussion but also the daily blurring of the line between entertainment and news. So much of what we call news today is manufactured news designed to sell dog food. Regardless of what you feel about Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk they sell a lot of dog food. If you are able to garner an audience of 10-20% of 300 million people that makes you a player in this new world of newstainment. Facts are optional and if you misrepresent the truth you can always state that you have been given the ability to read minds and know the hearts of others. Remember, the goal is to sell dog food and once you accept that fact and you still rely on these “news outlets” to provide you with your information then you have gone beyond intellectual slothfulness and have graduated to dim-wittedness.

How many times have we been told by these news insiders that the public option was dead? How many times have we been told that President Obama was not tough enough, not engaged enough, not you “fill in the blank” enough? I am reminded of the news coverage of the past election and how we were led to believe that the election was always in doubt despite huge leads in the polls these pundits continued to tell us how it was too close to call. I wish I could say it is just the wingnuts who perpetrate this fraud on the American public, but all of the networks play this game. They are all in the business to sell dog food. Many people believe that television is about the shows and that the commercials are just the filler, the truth is that the shows are the filler and the commercials are why television was invented and maintained the way that it is. I say all this to say that I think much of our intellectual stupor has been supported by the wealthy and crafted by the media so that our population remains easy to govern and easily deceived.

Even politicians have become well schooled in the art of the sleight of hand. As these health care bills proceed toward passage watch how many of these anonymous small or unpopulated state politicians try to hold sway on the debate in an attempt to elevate their status and take advantage of their 15 minutes of fame.The latest contestant in the health care sweepstakes is Joe Lieberman that stalwart of independence that was all set to become John McCain’s running mate until the demographics proved that the day of two old white guys ruling America had died a fitting and long overdue death. Much has been made by the pundits and the “news outlets” concerning Mr. Lieberman’s intention to side with Republicans to filibuster a health care bill with a public option. Since the election when was the last time any of us have seen Joe Lieberman on primetime anything? He was close to making his “Dancing with the Stars” debut, but like a modern day Lazarus he continues to rise and be the gift that keeps on giving to the Democratic Party. Who among us that is not selling their prescription for Prozac on Craig’s list believes that Joe Lieberman is an Independent? But let no one be fooled, Joe Lieberman needs the Democrats and recognizes like the rest of us that the chances of the Republicans coming out of the wilderness anytime soon is like the proverbial snowball in hell. The Democratic Party and this administration have the keys to the city and will have them for some time to come, so while Connecticut maybe the epicenter for insurance companies, Joe Lieberman has to deliver more than 40 million new customers to the insurance lobby. So despite his proud display of Republican colors not even Lieberman wants to be the one man who blocked healthcare reform in America.

So cheer up folks, there will be healthcare reform this year. Will it be everything that progressives want? Of course not, but what troubles me the most about progressives is that sometimes they are as intellectually as lazy as wingnuts. If you study history and large scale legislation they were all begun with the foundation being laid and each subsequent Democratic majority has added to it to make it what it has become. The social security we have today is not the program created by Roosevelt. What is important here and must be different for real reform to take place is that there must be a solid foundation upon which future Congresses can build. By the time this debate is over there will be a number of no’s that will turn into yeses and more than a few birds whose feathers will change. And don’t forget to keep buying that dog food.

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Disputed Truth

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