The sad state of public discourse

The blogging experience has so far not changed my perspective about the total breakdown of public discourse.

A blog reader “Jack”, one of three people to comment on my blog since its inception ( wow, this thing is really taking off! ), didn’t care much for my post more on Ryan’s Budget , so he drew some conclusions and checked out.  Adios.  See ‘ya, I’m outta here.

I had high hopes for Jack.  He seems like a well educated guy.  His first reply seemed sincere, unlike many of the loons I run into when debating politics.  He made a strong appeal to have an open mind about Ryan’s budget plan as a legitimate proposal that deserved consideration just like any other proposal out there.  Let the process run its course and don’t discount the guy right off the smacker just because he’s a member of the Tea Party.  Okay, fair enough.  I agree with the “let the process run its course” part of that sentiment, and I’m sure it will.

So I got busy during the week and didn’t get a chance to reply until the weekend when I penned a few snarky comments and let my favorite liberal commentators do most of the talking for me.  Limited on time, I reckoned I couldn’t say it much better than Krugman had said it himself so I took the easy way out and linked to Krugman and sprinkled the post with some of my own snarky-ness.

Jack took offense to my left leaning comments and wrote me off as a closed minded lib with poor listening skills “too deeply invested emotionally in your ideology to carry on a reasoned & logical debate.”

Dang, that’s a fast conclusion!  All of that from two blog posts about Paul Ryan’s Budget?

I think it might be time for some self evaluation here to test if this is true.

Let’s see… let’s start with the fact that I’m an Independent.  I’ve been an independent voter since the start of the first Gulf War when I noticed that card-carrying Baath Party members were getting rounded up and shot for well, being card-carrying Baath Party members.  Can’t happen in this country?  Probably not but I decided not to risk it by affiliation to either party.  I couldn’t see any benefit what-so-ever to party affiliation and besides, I like to think I’m capable of making up my own mind and don’t need a party to speak for me.

What else?  Oh,  I think Nancy Pelosi should resign for her alleged involvement in insider trading.  That’s not very partisan, is it?

I think Fox News and MSNBC are each partisan hack networks that basically offset each other, one from the right, the other from the left.  The big difference being that Fox advertises itself as “Fair and Balanced”.  Hardly.

I think there should be a review of entitlements programs each and every year, identifying and eliminating waste where-ever it’s found.  Same thing with Tax Auditors.  That should be a simple mathematical equation, right?  For every auditor hired we get money back until that number reaches the point of diminishing returns?

I think elections start too soon, cost too much, and don’t provide us with real choices.  I’d like to see real spending caps on donations similar to what Jerry Brown committed to in California, only on a national level.  I heard a good quote this time around.  “This isn’t an election, it’s an auction.”  So true.

I’m beginning to think I’ve been mis-labeled prematurely here.  But that’s is what tends to happen these days if we examine the sad state of our public discourse.

One of the reasons I started blogging was to get away from pontificating political opinions on Facebook.  In some instances, decent discussions were had, but I think most people tended to just hide the blow-hard ( me ), and as I came to realize that, I reckoned it was the wrong forum, so here I am.  ( Now I can piss people off here, instead of on Facebook ).

But I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of the characteristics of people I’ve run across in the course of public debate.  Nothing to do with Jack, like I said, he seems like a well educated guy with different opinions than mine.  The fact that he drew a quick conclusion reminded me of so many other ‘public discussions’ gone south for various reasons.  So here’s what I run into:

  • People are sore losers.  Romney lost.  Get over it.
  • I get emotional responses like you would not believe, especially if the topic has anything to do with guns.  I can’t get half a sentence out before the other side is TYPING IN ALL CAPS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION, even though nobody mentioned a ban on guns at any point in time.
  • There’s a propensity to “never give an inch”.  Does anyone ever say “I see your point” anymore?  I try.  I honestly do.
  • There’s a total comfort in spreading half-truths and lies.  In my opinion, Fox News is the worst offender but MSNBC is just as partisan.
  • People parrot their “News” channels like Fox.  That’s why I watch Fox.  To see if someone is just channeling O’Reilly or Hannity.   Worst of all, Glenn Beck.

Funny enough, there seems to be a strong correlation between the loudest voices and raw ignorance on both sides.  But alas we have the internet now and everyone gets their say, including @pithyopine.

If there happen to be any conservatives out there reading this, good for you for getting this far!  I congratulate you on that.

It’s risky for me to give this advice, and probably arrogant too, but that’s never stopped me before.  It’s no secret the Republican party is in a shambles.  Witness this past week’s CPAC conference where individuals like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin get air-time.  Do Republicans know that every time they give the mic to one of these Tea Party loons that the Dems throw a banquet celebration while cheering “More!  More!”

I recently found myself 100% in agreement with something that Newt Gingrich said.  He said “look, we can’t just be the anti-Obama party”.

At the end of the day I think it comes down to demonstrating that the party is inclusive and promotes policies that will actually help grow the middle class.  Obama was re-elected with close to 8% unemployment.  That just doesn’t happen.  Not since FDR anyway.  Statistically speaking, all the Republicans had to do was find a reasonable candidate with a pulse and he should have won.  But they chose Romney instead.  So why did Romney lose?  In a word, money.

Romney went on the campaign trail touting the benefits of the Bush Tax cuts and how awesome they were ( despite the evidence that the job creators were indeed not creating jobs with those Tax Cuts ).  People didn’t buy it this time around.  So he defended the 1% and lost the election.  But what choice did he have?  He was funded in large part by the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson.  The poor guy was caught between a rock and a hard place.  As is the Republican party now.

I’m for whatever policies grow the middle class.  I am not a believer in trickle down economics and never will be.  I remember all too well the amount of money I gained with the first “Tax Cut” I received during Ronald Reagan’s first term.  $32.  That’s it.  Go stimulate the economy with that, will ‘ya?  C’mon!

I’m not for over taxing either.  It’s true that Kennedy lowered tax rates.  What were they at the time though?  90% for the top bracket?  Well of course that’s too high.  But the Republican’s this time around were running around like chicken little promoting the idea that the sky was falling.  Apparently capitalism fails somewhere between 36 and 39% ( okay, I stole that quote from my cousin, Jim Eady.  But it was brilliant, just the same ).

It’s my belief that Republicans stand firm with big business and big money whereas the Democrats tend to do a little better job ( not much ), of fighting for the little guy.  Hey, I only get two choices, give me a break here!   And remember, I’m an Independent!

Circling back to Public Discourse — it reminds me of this joke.

Harry from Boston was visiting Jerusalem. Each day his walk would take him past the Wailing Wall. Standing and praying at the wall each time he passed was a neighbor Sam. It didn’t matter if Harry walked by at 7AM, Noon, 4PM even later, he would always see Sam praying. Finally Harry approached Sam and asked him what he was praying for. Sam said that he only prayed for good things. He prayed that there will be peace on earth. He prayed that he will be good to his children and that his children will be good to him. 

Harry asked Sam if all that prayer was working.
Sam replied, “It’s like talking to a fucking wall!”

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