Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nutjob Republican

Ronald Reagan was successful partly because he had the discipline not to speak ill of other Republicans.  I am more blunt, nay, tactless, than that.

Conservatives get used to being defensive about such things, openly wondering whether the Huffington Post's reports about Stella Tremblay (R-Auburn) should be taken seriously at all, or suspiciously asking whether important facts have been left out of this story.  You may continue to be suspicious of HuffPo, and I can state from personal knowledge that important facts have indeed been left out of this story.  Nonetheless, it is essentially true.  I have encountered this woman personally as she tries to intervene on behalf of a deeply paranoid man who has been at our hospital.  She has had the appropriate statutes about involuntary treatment and the clinical information about mental illness explained to her repeatedly.  She doesn't get it, or doesn't want to.

She doesn't seem to be mentally ill herself.  She seems ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray.  As in the article above, she is unable to differentiate between ambiguous historical information that requires some explanation and proof of nefarious doings.  If she had simply said that Woodrow Wilson was a racist, to a degree that we would brand white supremacist now, she would be fine.  People who want to plump up the liberal version of the 20th C may not want to hear it, but it's a quite defensible position.  Leaping from there to "agreed with Hitler" is exactly the sort of fevered reasoning common to paranoid folk, both cultural and psychotic.

I have been encountering an unusual number of conservative nutjobs lately.  Such things tempt one to modify his political identification - until I go over to HuffPo and the ad at the top asks if I am a person rather than a corporation, encouraging me to support Al Franken's bid to overturn Citizens United.

Whatever view you have of Citizens United,* if you can't get that the word "person" in the discussion is not being used in the ordinary sense, but in some evolved legal sense, I don't see how discussion can proceed. I also don't get how Franken, clearly intelligent enough to understand the distinction if he wanted to, gets to be called anything but dishonest.

But as for Tremblay, I hope Auburn comes to its senses and gives her the heave-ho.

*I take as automatic that if more than one SCOTUS justice casts his/her vote for a position, it is by definition not insane legally, however wrong it may be. Biased, convenient, cowardly - sure, sure.  But it has to have something going for it.


SJ said...

Sounds like the same kind of thinking, and a similar kind of statement, that led Todd Akin to make some very foolish-sounding comments about rape and abortion.

They are impassioned-but-thoughtless statements that appear to be pointed towards keeping status inside a particular group. The person speaking is doing a little one-upmanship.

And thus, Senator Franken is pursuing a cause that could remove First Amendment protection from large newspapers, Cable TV networks, Union newsletters, as well as any communication funded by any kind of corporation.

But members of his in-group insist that Corporations are suspect, and should be limited so that they don't drown out The People's political speech.

And Mrs. Tremblay has brought together something that might be historical (Woodrow Wilson did talk about superior races, and may have even talked about the Aryan race) and linked it up with several kinds of extreme-nut-sounding comments.

And members of her in-group insist that the Progressive hero of the early 20th Century was a fellow-traveler with Hitler. Because both were racists and socialists.

jaed said...

It's surprising how few people are familiar with the fact pattern underlying Citizens United. (Well, come to think of it, maybe not, since most people got their information from the mainstream-media corporations that were specifically exempted from the political-speech ban that CU threw out. It did give them a big market advantage.)

However, I assume that Franken and others of his ilk have read the decision and do know the facts. And therefore, that they believe it is acceptable, even right, to threaten to imprison documentary filmmakers if they allow a movie to be shown that is critical of a politician running for office.

What I wonder about is how they intend to write law and enforcement regulations in such a way that it only cuts both ways. "Fahrenheit 911" would have been just as illegal to show during the pre-vote blackout period as "Hillary: The Movie" under McCain-Feingold, yet I cannot imagine they want a Michael Moore threatened or thrown in prison for it.

Which leads me, in a roundable way, to think SD is right and that they don't actually expect or want these bans enacted into law. They don't really want to repeal the First Amendment when it comes to political speech. They can't. So they must be saying these things to posture.

I think Akin's mistake was different. Someone who opposes abortion needs to confront the fact of rape victims who become pregnant, and this is difficult without compromising your humanity toward one or the other. It would be much easier if those pregnancies simply didn't happen - or at least, if they were vanishingly rare. Akin probably heard someplace that stress and trauma can keep a woman from ovulating, and transformed this in his mind into "women just don't get pregnant from rape" - because the distortion of fact made life morally easier for him. I think this is something everyone does (and needs to watch out for): beware of the easy answer.

But you can fall into this sort of thinking without it having anything to do with wanting to show off for an in-group.

jaed said...

(SJ is right, of course, not SD.)

Sam L. said...

Re: The PuffHo:

icr said...

She'll have to denounce TR as well:
Theodore Roosevelt thought blacks were “a perfectly stupid race,” and blamed Southerners for bringing them to America. In 1901 he wrote: “I have not been able to think out any solution to the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent ... he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away ... .” As for Indians, he once said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t inquire too closely into the health of the tenth.”