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“Obama Will Take Away Your Personal Freedoms”

February 3rd, 2012

Specifically, what do you mean?

Double Wall Near Tijuana by jonathan mcintosh

Newt Gingrich. Even his name sounds like some hobbit that I will tell my grandkids about. The Gingrich. He’ll steal your cheese while you sleep. The man who lost Florida but didn’t go away.

My Lunatic Right Wing Uncle, (new to this blog, but recent emails compel me), chimes in:

I like Newt. He was vilified in the mid-nineties when the press was entirely in liberal hands and there was no way for him to respond or get out his side of whatever story he was being excoriated for each week or month.

Now, with Fox and talk radio, the Right nearly has an equal ability to give the public responsible opposing views.

They keep saying Newt comes with so much  “baggage,” but in truth, Obama has done more every week that is hurtful to this nation than Newt did during his entire career.

This last sentence is an artful example of the “I know I am but what are you” debate technique. Otherwise, it caps off a fine paranoid vision quest.

I know you don’t see it, but someday I think you will.

Amen.

(Read On…)

Out of the Billowing Smoke, Emerged Gingrich

January 25th, 2012

Newt’s Revenge Could Kill the GOP Ticket, But My Bro Loves Him

Photo Courtesy Cain and Todd Benson

Ever since Newt’s South Carolinian putsch last weekend, the GOP race has provided some solid Reality Television. Outcomes have never been less certain. The polls are erratic, the pundits are confused, and the guy who wrote this press release feels like his work on Earth is now complete. In such a fast-changing environment, I honestly didn’t know what my brother would make of it.

He is as devout a Dittohead as they come, totally committed to supporting whichever candidate is “the most conservative.” But for what seems like the last 50 months and just as many nationally televised debates, each man, woman and Trump on stage has vied for that title. The current Santorum mess hasn’t altered this competition too much, and for once I had no idea what was going on in my brother’s player piano, Hannity-transcript-playing head.

This is my brother, after all, the “most conservative” person in my life—and in the lives of all of my relatives, even the ones who send me the unsolicited hardcover books from NewsMax.com. In case you’re new to this blog or are wondering how we got here: My brother changed in some fundamentally serious, and some absurd, and other just annoying ways after 9/11. Something was taken from this nation on that day, and I think my brother carries that loss in his anger and his rage.

(Read On…)

Hose Them Down

December 14th, 2011

Brother Uncensored

Photo courtesy JoeInSouthernCA

It looks like the Occupy Wall Street Movement is winding down, or at least going through a winter hibernation. Whether it has achieved any of its goals remains TBD. To the Rightists among us, needless to say, Occupy is pure evil, and it has totally failed. At times like this, it’s best to let my brother speak for the Right Wing uncensored, unedited and uninterrupted. Here he was, specifically in reference to questions of police brutality…

The police aggressiveness against these occupy assholes does not offend me at all. In fact it pleases me.  I detest these low life, liberal scum who are the parasite losers who of course the Democrats and Obama see as their voters. Don’t complain to me that the police are unjustified when multiple crimes are being committed by these morons every week. When are you going to find those things offensive? The police were probably justified with the pepper spray as well in [Davis] California. They didn’t listen to police orders to move, so fuck em’. I would be fine if the police threw them in a cell and hosed them down with a powerful fire engine hose for a while; with cold water of course. Don’t tell me that the police being aggressive is never a good thing when these parasites don’t offer one good thing to society AT ALL!!!

And that was that.

War Veterans and Occupy Wall Street

November 30th, 2011

“A greater understanding of sacrifice, but…”

"Soldier Speaking" courtesy Saint Huck

Sometimes Crazy isn’t entirely nuts. There is a code at the core of his worldview, an emotional patriotism mixed with a system of punishment that’s part Old Testament, part Charles Bronson. He is consistent, indignant, often insensitive, and, like all ideologues, self-righteous.

As you might imagine, he is none too sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street situation. I wanted to know how he felt, more specifically, about the two Iraq war veterans injured by the Oakland Police Department—one severely with a fractured skull and the other beaten by clubs until he lacerated his spleen. I told my brother that I found the OPD’s actions, “totally over the top. They sent a Marine Iraq veteran to the hospital,” I said.

His first response was ruthless:

What a disgrace that a marine would join these leftist idiots in their stupid protests. He is aligning himself with anti-American losers; he deserves what he got if not worse.

When my brother says this kind of thing, I realize it’s because he doesn’t know Scott Olsen, or Kayvan Sabehgi, and it’s because there’s a little bit of a sadist in my brother, but also because Michael Savage and Mark Levin and Ann Coulter have taught him that liberals are not really people, and it’s therefore entirely acceptable to wish ill upon them. (This dehumanizing effect of Rightist radio screamers is, by far, the most dangerous aspect of the medium.)

So I asked my brother, “Does protesting make the Marine an enemy of America? Or does he have a greater claim, because of his service, to patriotic criticism of American policies?”

This one sunk in. My brother reflected:

I don’t make him an enemy of America for this.  Whether he has a greater claim to patriotic criticism, I don’t know.  He actually has a different perspective and perhaps a greater understanding of sacrifice.

It was a somber moment, and he promptly regained his footing:

Putting all that aside, his involvement with Occupy basically makes him a stupid asshole.

The Space Between Us

November 2nd, 2011

How much does the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street really have in common?

Earlier this month, the Cato Institute posted this Venn diagram to illustrate the overlapping frustrations of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street:

I sent it to my brother, who initially called it an “interesting analysis.” Upon further reflection, which in this case meant listening to this clip of Al Sharpton on Glenn Beck’s website, he came around to a less nuanced position.

The real story behind the occupy wall street is a grander movement of a Marxist-like revolution which Glenn Beck correctly identified on O’Reilly last night. Sharpton and your scum-in-chief Obama can’t help themselves but to show their real colors: Communists who want to spread the wealth and foment more class warfare which is exactly the sentiment of the mob on Wall Street and actually has nothing in common with the Tea Party.

San Antonio, April 15, 2009

Cato’s diagram (borrowed from James Sinclair’s thoughtful blog) is devastatingly succinct. But my brother has a point: these two movements are ideologically and politically opposed. And while the fruitier windbags of Occupy Wall Street and the loonier Bible-thumpers in the Tea Party might share the same desperate rage, they are not of the same cloth. The pierced and tatted Millenials I drove by in Zuccotti Park last month are not the paunchy, stars-and-stripes-vomiting baby boomers I saw at a San Antonio Tea Party in 2009. The Occupy Crowd is, for starters, a bit more ragged.

Photo Courtesy DoctorTongs

Or as my brother put it:

These people are also behaving like bums, are anti-Semitic, leftist-minded, and are defying authority. There are no Tea Party rallies that resemble these bums in any way. If you believe the lies the media is making by comparing them then I have nothing to say but they are wrong.

My brother sees warring tribal factions. Understandably. The dissonances between the Tea Party and #OWS are shaped by the context of easily caricatured sub-cultures: Red vs. blue, rural vs. urban, Toby Keith vs. Keith Olberman, diabetes vs. gonorrhea. Such a wide cultural gap makes the other side’s motivations either invisible or incomprehensibly evil. This endless culture war keeps my brother at a boil, and the airwaves humming.

But put aside for a moment whatever it is you like or loathe in either camp, and some commonality in their discontents is also clear. They are angry about more or less the same thing: government and/or corporations wield too much power. (The true disease, we know, lurks in the interactions between government and corporations.) Aspects of both complaints are valid, and despite their differing tools of expression, both movements can rightly claim a deep concern for their country.

Maybe instead of the crude cartoon versions we are forcefed, the media could respect us (and the protestors) enough to show us the commonality between them, and by extension, the larger body politic. Tell us how we are alike, for once, instead of how we hate each other. (This novel concept was last exploited by one Barack Hussein Obama, circa summer, 2008. In the media, Reason magazine has been doing the best job of this lately.)

Ah, but Identifying some common ground could lead to actual political problem solving. And as we are all slowly learning, solving problems is no longer the political imperative in this country. For the greater Politicotainment Complex, the real money is in division.

Illustrated, ever so colorfully, by my very angry, very patriotic older brother:

My sympathies are not with the protesters. I have read and heard it is true that the Oakland protesters were the ones out of line and there wasn’t any police brutality. These law defying, leftist scum deserved whatever beatings and arrests they got.

To Be Continued…

“The fact is, liberals are mostly bad people”

October 17th, 2011

My brother turns his ire to the recently deceased

This Saturday I went to the funeral of a man I was privileged to know, Lorenzo “Pat” Murphy. We only spoke a handful of times, and I can’t claim that we were close, but he was a man that left an impression. Around the office, we knew him simply as “Murph,” and his regular greeting, no matter the circumstance, was always the newsman’s same, gruff “What!?”

Murph was also, I learned on Saturday, a man who gave meaning to the saying, “a full life.” He fought in Korea. He flew jets. He spent 67 years of marriage with the Toronto Beauty queen he proposed to on the fourth date. He was friends with Barry Goldwater. He dined with Reagan. It went on and on, making the rest of us feel hopeless and puny by comparison.

After the funeral, I received a typical unsolicited email from my brother linking to a Glenn Beck “news” story about the Wall Street protests. I responded with the sad news about the funeral and a bit about what kind of guy Murph had been:

He was a grizzled old newspaper man, but what I found out today was much more impressive: he was also a war here in Korea, where he won the Bronze Star for bravery. He was also a man you might not have liked very much. He was a staunch liberal, and over the years he wrote a column that regularly pissed off conservatives and Republicans.

My brother provided the obligatory condolence:

Sorry for your loss of Pat Murphy.  If he was your friend I’m sorry.

And then launched into what seemed like the equally obligatory job of ruthlessly attacking a dead man for his political beliefs:

It always perplexes me how a man who served his country and even won a bronze star for bravery embraces a way of thinking years later that opposes almost everything he won that star for: pride in the military, a belief in American exceptionalism and that America is the true force of good in this world.  He died standing for the polar opposite of this. This explains how wrong liberalism really is to me and how it really winds up poisoning and ruining a once good mind.

But, I reminded my brother, Murph was a veteran, a man who knew patriotism more intimately than my brother ever will. There are, I said, “good people on both sides of the political divide.”

Not so, he says:

The fact is that liberals are mostly bad people and conservatives are mostly good, decent people. That has become greatly apparent to me over the past few years and no one has proven that more to me than Obama and the rest of the Democrat party.

I’m inclined to say that this kind of fucked-up-ness doesn’t need much explaining, but since this blog has been on hiatus, here’s a primer: My brother was apolitical most of his life, then 9/11 happened, and like countless Americans, it scared him into action. Political engagement is always, of course, a good thing. But over the years I watched my brother’s sudden interest turn into a rigid and extreme set of beliefs. More alarming was the ready supply of supporting arguments from the ever-growing conservative media outlets—Rush, Hannity, Savage, radio and tv, internet and print. It seems these days that, no matter how radical the notion, there is a verified “commentator” to back it up.

With his comments on my dead liberal friend, what’s so tough to stomach isn’t the crassness or disrespect, it’s the fact that my brother has lost his independence and self reliance. He never strays from the talking points. He poured his fluid mind into the mold of an AM radio jock, and it cooled and hardened into a block of thick obstinate metal.

Then again, maybe it’s the politics that did the doing. Today’s Right strikes me much as the 60′s Left must have seemed to the “silent majority.” It’s not just a set of ideas that draw the lost, moth-to-flame-like. It’s more active and menacing than that, more of a net cast into the waters. With my right wing brother, it seems more and more that the ideology has trapped the man.

“A Small, Nice Event”

May 4th, 2011

Can’t Good News Just be Good News?

Photo Courtesy John McNab

After a day of national unity, when I felt those stirrings of pride and patriotic appreciation, it helps to check in, reality-wise, with my right wing brother. After the news about bin Laden broke, I needled him: “How’s that for a president who sympathizes with the jihadis and wants to destroy America?” And I got pretty much what I was asking for.

If I am correct the military did this while Obama was drinking his coffee. (Read On…)

Passover’s Forgotten Plague

April 22nd, 2011

My Uncle Takes his Seder to Eleven

Earlier this week, my family gathered for the Passover Seder. The table was strewn with symbolic everything—wine, herbs, matzoh, the whole deal.

One of the most memorable parts of the Seder is the bit about the ten plagues, when God rained down terror on the Egyptians for refusing to free the Jews from slavery. As a kid, I loved this part—dipping my pinky in a rose-crystal wine glass and inking little Manischewitz blots on the slope of my dinner plate. One for each plague. Blood—dip, blot. Frogs!—dip, blot. Pests—dip…

I love how each plague is more arcane and creatively sinister than the last. Pests (what kinds of pests?), beasts, cattle disease (what?), boils (now we’re talking), hail, locusts, darkness…and lastly, the not so funny slaying-of-the-first born. Heavy Old Testament shit. (Read On…)

Fools, Bitches and Scum

January 25th, 2011

Is my brother really crazy, or just a jerk?

photo courtesy Rail Junk

Name-calling is never defensible. So how do I get away with calling my brother crazy?

I could say that he started it (and that would be true enough). But honestly, this blog is not about his principled beliefs on (most) issues. Over the years he has articulated plenty of persuasive arguments about the proper balance between an active government and free market capitalism. My brother’s opinions on taxes and business regulations are not crazy. His patriotism and national pride are not insane.

But there is a deeper problem. My brother’s political ideas are rarely self-determined. Instead, they rely on identifying and isolating a single and powerful enemy: liberalism. To defeat an evil such as this, Rightists conjure an even bolder moral absolutism. They place, to use Barack Obama’s words, “all that ails the world” at the feet of their foes. My brother is in thrall with this apocalyptic war, and to be on the winning side he has developed a prejudiced, undemocratic and just plain rude view of Democrats, his neighbors, indeed, of his own family.

That is crazy. (Read On…)

Her Crazy Right Wing Sister

January 20th, 2011

A reader writes in

I started this blog because I knew that my brother and I are not unique. American politics has (re)arrived at a distressing point, and to those of us who can’t recall the 60s (for whatever reasons), it’s an alien terrain. Our first reader comment, from “Donna from the Mountains,” brings it home:

My sister—we can call her the “Conservative Throw-back Bitch” or the “Bitch-Who-Just-Simply-Hates-Other-People-In-Favor-Of-Money-For-Status’-Sake”—subscribes to every proven-wrong email, to every hate monger on TV and to blogs such as jihadwatch.com.

Not only has this proven bewildering, but it has infected all our relationships. Her influence is insidious. And there is not even a moment any longer of a possibility of getting along. Her view is that politics make the people. If you are a liberal, you are dirt. Or worse.

Donna’s situation is sad, but illuminating. It’s obvious that both sisters are capable of substantial disrespect and hurt. (I won’t speculate on who called who a bitch first.) But her confession reminds us how politics has shredded, so needlessly shredded, some of our society’s strongest and most sacred bonds. (Read On…)