Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two gripes: Simplified solutions and Obvious political bias

This blog has covered a diverse array of topics. Tonight, I'm frustrated about two things: I'm calling them "Simplified solutions" and "Obvious political bias". My right-leaning friends no doubt see me as a knee-jerk "liberal" whereas I see many of them as knee-jerk "believers in the religious right wing". Whatever labels we choose to use to vilify each other don't really matter.

1. Simplified solutions. If we lived in a totally rational world (which, by the way, would necessarily have to exclude religious faith, since it is by definition irrational - i.e., based on faith rather than evidence!), then solutions to many problems would be trivial. Moral dilemmas over abortion and adultery, as well as concern for STDs would vanish completely and instantly if everyone lived by the rule of having sex only within the context of wedlock (apparently, an option that doesn't include homosexuals, so they must abstain entirely!). That's obviously the right thing to do and, as a side benefit, it takes care of all those nasty side-effects of sex outside of the institution of marriage. What a terrific solution! Now why didn't I think of that? It solves everything and keeps everyone inside the lines regarding sexual mores. O.K. - those troubling issues are solved! On to the next problem.

We as a nation are dealing with the consequences of drug use in this country, which involves the expenditure of billions of dollars and the tragic destruction of many, many lives through the use of drugs. A logical solution? Simple. "Just say no!" We needn't bother with all of the complex issues associated with prohibition of some drugs while at the same time permitting the free and legal use of others. If everyone just looked over the situation and decided not to use any drugs of any sort, then our problems with that would disappear. O.K. - another problem solved! Let's move on.

Got a war somewhere that's turned into a morass of complexity? Americans dying in the fight and billions being spent without any results? Simple. Just nuke the shit out of them! To heck with the concerns for "collateral damage" - let the missiles fly and leave it to God to sort out the good guys from the bad guys. When our enemies are cowed into surrender by the prospect of their nation being turned into a nuclear slag heap, that'll fix it! We can do it. Problem solved! Next!

Dealing with environmental issues is another thorny problem. O.K. - before we get involved in saving the world, or some stupid endangered fish or bird somewhere at the price of changing human lifestyles, let's just put it to a vote. Us or the bird/fish/lizard? Whattya know? I guess we prefer us over that critter. The future is someone else's problem. We have to deal with the threats in the "here and now". Oilfields in a protected area? What's more important - your right to cheap gas or some caribou or whatever? No problem. Trample on those nature preserves - just keep our gas prices down, thanks! That was easy. Environmental problems vanish when we put it to a vote! On to the next problem!

I could go on, but hopefully, I don't need to. These "solutions" are grotesque oversimplifications. The real world is complex and nonlinear. Simple ideas fail to grasp the subtleties - but subtleties are lost in a politically polarized world. Slogans and simplicity are preferred. Please, don't ask me to think!

2. Obvious political bias. The right-wing dominated media - yes, that's correct, the media are now dominated by right-wing "pundits" who use the guise of journalism to transmit their political agenda - these guys (notably, the Fox "news" folks) are currently suggesting that the Obama administration has been slow to respond to the recent (failed) attempt by a Nigerian terrorist trained in Yemen to blow up a plane. This righteous (pun intended) indignation by these anti-Obama politicians is deliciously absurd, given that the Bush administration ignored numerous warnings from their own intelligence community regarding the impending 11 September 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. These slip-ups by the GWB administration are forgotten in their haste to condemn the Obama administration. Hypocrisy is rampant, but apparently unrecognized by the right-wing apologists.

Incompetence is incompetence. I don't care who's responsible. But the notion of these folks being indignant over the shortcomings of the Obama administration actuallyis quite amusing in light of the shortcomings of the GW Bush Crime, Inc. administration. These right-wing pundits seem to be pining away for the ecstacy of a neocon in the Oval Office, the memory of a happier time (for them!). The notion that roughly half the nation is repulsed by the very notion of the GWB administration is lost on them. It is indeed a checkerboard world (see my earlier blog)!

We are a nation totally divided. Half the nation sees the world through the biased eyes of the apologists for GWB and his cohorts in crime. Half the nation sees the world through the lens of unabated hatred for everything that GWB and Cheney stood for. America is mired in a multitude of problems defying simple solutions and all we (the two halves of America) can seem to do is pour vitriol on each other. We stand still, paralyzed by bitter political bias, unable to act at a time when action seems especially important. The right-wing pundits, during the GWB administration, supposed that we should be united in support of a "wartime president" and then pour derision and act to prevent any actions by his successor, who has inherited wars initiated by his predecessor. Do they see the hypocrisy in this? I doubt it.

I mourn for our nation, which is more divided than ever at a time when action is most needed, but is prevented by political opposition. I don't see Obama as the savior of our nation - he is, however, our President, at a time of great crisis. Should he be given carte blanche? No. But neither should his every effort to take action be blocked along purely political lines.

Sad, sad, sad ...


===== Roger ===== said...

Your argument seems to be tumbling off a precarious precipice into a fallacy that all solutions MUST be complex, which is, in and of itself, a grotesque oversimplification -- and as such, an apparent self-contradiction.

You see, some solutions ARE brutally simple. I get just as irritated at "overcomplication" as you do at oversimplification. Hence, we agree on much of what's in the middle, but disagree strongly on the edges.

My observation: Too many "thinkers" genuflect reflexively at the altar of subtlety and nuance, as if those characteristics themselves were holy objects of idolatry, while searching forever, and often in vain, for some shade o'gray in every issue. Meanwhile, the black-and-white solutions to some issues were staring them straight in their blinded eye all along. Big brains can "out-think" themselves, too often overlooking the straightforward, little things. Two plus two is subtleties, no nuances, no ifs, ands or buts.

Now, I dare someone...anyone: Show me how I'm logically or wrong in my contention that abstinence prevents STDs, teen pregnancy and abortion? Try as you may, you cannot. It just DOES. Venereal disease and undesired pregnancies do not occur without copulation. It truly is that simple. It only is those who *choose* not to exercise self-control, those who *choose* not to behave responsibly, and those who *choose* mask the issue in "complexity" in order to coddle and enable those who behave irrespponsibly, who complicate the issue. None of that "complication" is the least bit necessary. In other words, the only reason the issue is "complicated" is because of those who twist it unnecessarily to be so. The solution itself, of course, is simple.

Some issues necessarily are complex: the bulk of war, for example, as you pointed out, or an 1100-page "health care" bill that not one Congressman who voted YES (and almost none who voted NO) has taken the responsibility to read yet, in its entirety. Complex issues and solutions indeed do abound. But subtlety and nuance are not always appropriate, nor always correct.

Some solutions are not anywhere nearly as complex as advertised, i.e. abortion. Only those selfish, shortsighted personal decision-makers who want to have their cake (extramarital sex) and eat it too (abortion) cause the great majority of situations leading to abortions. Individuals should choose to keep the zipper shut on their promiscuous selfishness. Then abortion becomes extraordinarily rare, and a virtually moot topic. Very straightforward, very logical...and notice that I haven't brought one microgram of religion into the deliberation! It's actually quite logical. Spock and the Pope would agree with me on the solution, albeit from different frames of reference.

RJ Evans said...

Yep. Sounds perfectly logical to me. And, if people didn't eat, they wouldn't get fat. And, if people didn't own guns, people wouldn't get shot, and if everybody believed in a skydaddy, the world would be a terrific place. And, if everyone was a Christian Nationalist (read Republican) we wouldn't have to deal with those damn socialist, godless, intellectual liberals.

Black and white baby! The way "God" wants it to be. Yep, sounds really logical to me. But, the last time I checked, logic also requires an important element... Feasibility. Good thing the only thing you can do is vote Roger. I'd really hate to see the country under your control Ooop's! I forgot... It was in a way. His name was George W. Bush. My mistake.

Anonymous said...

Sad indeed. While I don't have solutions to all the problems we have, I do wish we could get past the left wing/right wing bickering long enough to at least look at the important questions and TRY to come up with solutions, even if they are not perfect ones. (As Billy Joel once said, the world will always be a mess, no matter how hard you try - and always has been - but that doesn't mean you give up - you should at least try to do what you can to influence at least the world immediately around you in some positive way.) People say there are always two sides to an argument. I think that's very limiting. There are always at least three sides . . . or more.

I voted for Barack Obama (mainly to spite my absurdly over-the-top racist relatives), but you know what would have really inspired me? If he had run under the "Barack Obama" party instead of the "Democratic" party, that would have truly inspired me. Will a politician ever again have the guts to run on his/her own merits rather than some foolish party affiliation? I doubt it . . . but . . . isn't it pretty to think so?

Scott said...

"Thoughts about a lying, arrogant, cowardly, rich boy, frat-rat pissant"

In your blog you linked to the above essay.....

Chuck, please don't hold back so much, tell us what you really think :)

Don't feel like you need to sugar-coat things.

Just kidding, I like people who aren't afraid to say what they think.

Scott said...

I see part of the problem as coming from career politicians who have no term limits. Their only cares are money and getting re-elected.

Term limits for senators and reps are badly needed. Maybe 1 term is optimum for all politicians at the national level. No re-election worries. Maybe they will do what is best for the country instead of what is expedient.

Getting rid of the political parties wouldn't be a bad idea either.