Why Conservatives Hate the Government

Darrell IssaI’ve got a great way to make a group of people think that the government is complete corrupt and without any accountability. It’s really easy. Have the people on TV tell them every day about some terrible scandal. Of course, there is no actual scandal. The news readers just report things that indicate that there is a scandal and don’t report the vast majority of the evidence that indicates there is nothing going on. And then, when all the possible scandal confirming information has been reported, the TV drops the subject altogether.

This is brilliant because the news source never actually lied. It provided true, if highly misleading information. But the biggest part of this is not information at all; it is the sudden lack of reporting. Why would they do that?! It must be yet another example of the government clamping down on the news media. We really do have a fascist government! It won’t even let them talk about these scandals on TV!

Yesterday, The Hill reported, House Republicans See Long Slog Ahead for Probes of IRS Targeting. It got me thinking about the effects that all of these non-scandals are having on conservative television viewers. For almost a year, they’ve been told that Benghazi is a big scandal: Obama killed those four people! And now? Nothing other than occasional comments to the effect that Benghazi is a bad scandal that shows how terrible the administration is, even if there is no evidence to support that.

What’s interesting about the article in The Hill is that the Republicans themselves seem to be aware that they are doing this. Actually, it’s been pretty clear for a while. Why else would Darrell Issa be selectively and deceptively releasing information from the House hearings? But it goes further than that:

“We knew that there was going to be a time when we would not put any new information out there,” said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who heads the Ways and Means investigations subcommittee. “I wouldn’t even describe it as a lull in the process. I would just say that without new information to reveal out to the media, it seems quiet.”

In other words, “We are only going to put out information that furthers our goals of embarrassing the White House.” It also makes it sound as if the Republicans on the committee want to slow the process down so that they can use this non-scandal (You do know it is a non-scandal, right?) throughout next year’s election cycle to impugn the Democratic Party.

As much as any group, conservatives bemoan the fact that the people have no respect or confidence in the major institutions of American life (except shockingly, the military). Yet they are willing to hurt our country on this score in the name of short term political gain. There is no doubt that Charles Boustany and Darrell Issa know there is no scandal behind the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. But they will use their plausible narrative and willing accomplices in the conservative media to imply that it is true. It’s shameful. It’s traitorous.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Why Conservatives Hate the Government

  1. I’m going to pimp a book here, since I’m not in contact with anyone else who will read it, and I think it needs to be read by as many people as possible — "The Democracy Project," by David Graeber.

    One of the many, many original observations in it is that the media in America does not serve to make us fall in love with unfettered capitalism; it can’t and couldn’t, as most of us are not deranged. What it does it make us believe that everyone else is in love with it; hence, resistance is useless.

    An earlier book by Graeber, "Debt: The First 5000 Years," blew my head clean off, but it’s a monster-heavy tome (Graeber is an anthropologist by profession, and that book covers tons and tons of different societies’ approaches to economic structure.) So as much as I enjoyed it, it was a bit of a slog to read, and I don’t suggest slogs to people.

    "The Democracy Project" is not a slog; past the opening chapter, it’s whiplash-fast. In 300 pages, Graeber documents the history of the Occupy Wall Street movement (apparently he was a major contributor, and came up with the 99% meme), an overview of democracy’s past, and revolutionary guidelines for its’ future.

    The opening chapter was dull to me because I was never a big fan of the Occupy movement. I liked the poster; I liked the spirit of the thing, and I bought them a pizza like so many other observers. I was frustrated, though, by its seemingly unfocused nature. So many things are wrong with our society; couldn’t those activists pick one and work on changing it? After all, Gandhi’s movement worked because they had a concrete goal. The US civil-rights movement had specific goals.

    After the opening chapter on Occupy’s origins, Greaber’s book gets into why the movement resonated, where most liberal protest actions don’t. From there, I was hooked. The criticism of our current situation is as sharp as any I have ever read. And, in Graeber’s telling, the movement’s dissolution had less to do with flagging enthusiam than it did coordinated police brutality. Graeber describes the activist’s paradox: if you do something illegal, you can be arrested. If you’re not doing anything illegal, you can have your fingers broken, breasts groped, eyes Maced, etc. If the police aren’t instructed to arrest you, but to intimidate you, they have no need to restrain their behavior in a way that might harm their case in court.

    This book made me re-think about the importance of the Occupy movement, and all failed movements (the public-employees in Wisconsin, the Arab Spring.) After all, the participants carry memories of resistance with them. Did they get established power to agree with their goals? No. Did they get some people to believe that established power has no legitimacy? Yes.

    In the end, Graeber asks just what the notion of revolution really is, anyway. Is it takeover of the state? Or simply changing the way people think, making it impossible for institutions like the mass media to pretend that, say, everyone who’s reasonable agrees that those marchers in Selma are just going too far, too fast?

    It’s a stunningly provocative book. I haven’t read one that makes me re-think my attitudes like this does in a long time. Highly pimped.

  2. @JMF – I’ve requested both books. A couple of things, though. The OWS movement really took off because police started pepper spraying women. And it isn’t over. It is just the protest is over because the power elite made it so with their uniformed thugs. But they are still working in a much more directed, if fragmented way. I assure you, if OWS were a conservative group, the mainstream news would still be running stories about them. But liberal organizing is so dog bites man.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. Hope you enjoy them. You won’t agree with everything Graeber stands for (and he wouldn’t expect anyone to!) but ideally you’ll find quite a bit to chew on. I did. One doesn’t have to be a radical to appreciate the worth of imagining different social arrangements. And even the process of puzzling over "well, how would THAT work?" has been fun since I read "Democracy Project."

    The sequence on how the pepper-spraying did build public sympathy, but later, more violent actions were all but unreported was illuminating to me. I hadn’t known; I hadn’t payed enough attention. I had bad experiences with college friends who played at rebellion because it was popular on campus but soon after graduating got corporate jobs and ridiculed me because I didn’t, so I assumed the OWS youth were of that variety. (Not that one can be mad at anyone for trying to make good money, but why did they have to shit on anyone who didn’t? Shedding past skins, I suppose.)

    Graeber describes a different, more passionate sort of activist. No doubt his perspective is one among many, but it did change the way I saw that movement.

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