Strange “Facts” in Conservative World

Josh MarshallI used to be the head of IT at moderate sized investment company. I loved the job but hated the company. It was owned by a couple of old millionaires and every day I had to walk past their pictures with Ronald Reagan, Bush the Elder, and eventually Bush the Younger. And as is usually the case in such places, the big wheeler-dealer types were mostly very conservative. In fact, they were reflexively conservative. They didn’t have to think about it and that was good, because they were not great thinkers.

Much of what I think about the “job creator” brigade comes from this period of my life. I don’t use that term just to be cute. All these agents were employees. In fact, there was a big issue when I was there that the owner, who was showing clear signs of dementia, wanted all these “independent contractors” to be at their phones from nine to five. Neither the fact that they were only paid on commission nor them being required to work set hours (which made them unqualified to be independent contractors) mattered in the least. In their minds they were “job creators,” even if the term wasn’t in widespread use. I’m sure their six-figure salaries made them think they were. I mean, the economy would come to a standstill without them constantly lubricating it!

During the 2004 campaign, John Kerry’s heroism during the Vietnam War came up just in passing. One of the agents said, “What did he do? Get shot in the ass was all!” I wasn’t as involved in politics as I am now, so I let it rest. But even I knew that what Kerry had done was amazing. And the guy who said that had never been in the military. But like most Republicans, he was for a belligerent foreign policy. I lost a great deal of respect for conservatives at that time. Until then, I had always thought that at least they had respect for the military. But when it came down to partisan politics, they were eager to dishonor an American war hero just to elect a man who at best finessed his way out of the war and at worst was a deserter.

I bring this up because of an article this morning by Josh Marshall, Into the Truther Jungle. It is his reflection after running right into the conservative movement’s inability to look at facts. He sent out a tweet about how the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius showed that the Obamacare rollout had been a success. That’s a no-brainer. She had been waiting for victory before she resigned. That should be obvious to anyone. But apparently it isn’t. He received replies like this:

The point isn’t the disagreement. As Marshall wrote, “What is notable is the total shock that there’s not total unanimity that the program is failing.” The entire conservative movement keeps itself so walled up from inconvenient truths, that they just can’t manage when those truths fall on their heads. That’s where we got “John Kerry just got a medal because he was shot in the butt”—a still common belief on the right. And that’s where we got Unskewed Polls—now morphed into “ACORN stole the election,” even though it didn’t exist in 2012. And that’s where we now get “Obamacare is a failure and the government is just lying about it.”

The only thing that changes from here is that the explanations for why Obamacare really is failing will become more extreme. Or at least they will until conservatives just stop talking about it. That’s how they give up. And in 20 years, a new crop of conservatives will protest outside the White House with signs that read, “Government hands off my Obamacare!” And sadly, that will be a major improvement.

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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 “Strange “Facts” in Conservative World

  1. Hah. I just went with the SO and a niece to visit the preserved mansion of one James J. Hill, a railroad baron/colossal dickhead from the Gilded Age.

    The niece is half-Black (those dumb blood standards again, I have on old dictionary that actually defines "octaroon") and she, along with the only other Black people on the tour, were more interested in how the mansion showed the difference between the way servants were treated vs. rich guests than they were the old finery. (Guess what? Old gold-plated shit just looks like cheap brass, given 125 years.)

    Naturally JJ Hill saw himself as a "job creator." If you blow up buildings, you’re a job creator for wreckage-removal crews! Cancer is a job creator for oncologists . . . etc.

    Interestingly enough, the mansion had steel grates on every entrance that were foldable, so you could remove them from sight during fancy social functions . . . but put them in place later so po’ people couldn’t sneak in and kill you for being a rat bastard plutocrat. Say one thing about those guys, the Hills, Carnegies, etc . . . they weren’t as deluded as our modern plutocrats about how well they were loved (or, as in the case of our modern versions, how much they deserved to be loved.) They knew that the people they screwed hated their guts.

  2. @JMF – The funny thing is that the Gilded Age tycoons actually had a much greater sense of social responsibility. That’s what is so terrible about the "job creator" myth. It allows really rich people to think that they are good by definition.

    Hill got rich distorting the market to his own ends. As those guys go, I don’t think he was especially bad. But regardless, the railroads were all about getting the government to give you stuff. It still amazes me that people today think anyone can make their own way. But the government is no longer giving away farm land. People today are stuck looking to the "job creators" for jobs. This is why I call it proto-feudalism. But just like racism where apparently we aren’t supposed to call it that unless someone shouts "Nigger!" we can’t call this feudalism unless it is [i]exactly[/i] like feudalism of the past. Another is the idea that America isn’t an imperial power just because our empire doesn’t look like England’s. In America, language is only used for distinctions without meaning.

  3. He WAS kind of an ass. One thing the railroad tycoons did was squeeze farmers on shipping rates.They couldn’t survive without a way to get crops to market, and they were too spread out to transport the crops themselves. Railroad tycoons pimped settling this farmland, which was only connectable to places you could sell crops via railroad, through their political and newspaper connections, then gouged the farmers. And were in cahoots with the banks that then bought foreclosed land and tenant-farmed it out. Old story. (Eugene Debs did stand up to Hill on behalf of railroad workers and achieve a modest victory, but it didn’t help farmers much.)

    Worse, Hill assumed because he was rich, he was a valued public figure. He could never stop giving speeches and public pronouncements on issues of the day. For some reason, then as now, if someone made it rich as, say, an entertainer, they were considered silly and expected to stay out of politics . . . but if someone made it rich as, say, a rail tycoon or oil baron, well, then, they Know Things and should be Listened To.

    When people bring up modern right-wing designs on feudalism, I think it’s half-correct. That IS about what they want. Except that Middle Ages feudalism wasn’t quite as bad as the Gilded Age kind. And those assholes weren’t as extreme as the Kochs and their ilk are today!

  4. @JMF – Employers collectively have power over employees that is much greater than that of feudal lords. I would think conservatives would realize this and not support things like the Hobby Lobby case. But as usual, they never see the long term. This is perhaps the biggest problem with Ayn Rand: she always claimed businessmen would do what was in their [i]enlightened[/i] self-interest. But they never do. One financial quarter is the longest they ever think. Where does that leave society?

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