Saturday, December 10, 2005

Right Wing Lunacy

My sister-in-law was at it again today. I was driving her to work and she got on my case about Venezuela again. I don't know if you guys notice, but I like Venezuela and I like Chavez. This infuriates her. She tells me that he's anti-American and needs to be assasinated. It would honestly surprise you to know how many people think Pat Robertson's right on the mark with that one.

I think in my past posts about my sister-in-law's Conservative lunacy (I'll explain the difference later in the post about the difference between Right Wing-lunatics and ACTUAL Conservatives) I've failed to mention the fact that she is a Political Science Major at UVSC. For one of her classes (I think she said Geography) she had to look up some raw data about countries and stumbled upon some about Venezuela.

She explained to me that Chavez was, and I quote, "an unpopular moron." She went on to explain that, and again I quote, "His country has gone down 8.9% since he took office."

I had no idea what this statement could possibly mean. His country had gone down 8.9%?

She didn't have any of her documentation with her, but asssured me that I would find everything in order. She left it on my kitchen table. I assured her that I would offer it the same scrutiny as her paper on poverty and would proceed to shred it apart just as I did the other. She told me that the other paper, despite my shredding of it's "facts" and assertions was still, and yet again I quote, "solid and true. I believe it. You haven't been to Arkansas." As though her anecdotal mission experience was more accurate than the census bureau and a number of other credible sources I found. I told her as much.

So, I went and got the papers. The first was this paper: Social and Political Divisions Frustrate Efforts to Improve Venezuelans Lives. From this paper came her assertion that Hugo Chavez is wildly unpopular in his country and is running it into the ground. And by the sound of the headline, one might assume that she was right in her interpretation of it. But if you actually read the article, it goes on to say that Chavez was dogged by the 2002 Coup and resulting work strike and that these have impeded progress in his country, but despite these setbacks, UN agencies have seen advances in health and longevity in the people and the article applauds Chavez' broad-based response to HIV/AIDS.

To directly refute the claims of unpopularity, I found the following articles: Indybay. Alternet.

The only thing I could find that said Chavez was wildly unpopular was this from the BBC. Although, perhaps I see it through a filter, but it seems as though the opposition is fueled by America and consists largely of the wealthy in Venzuela.

That being said, you should also read all of these Greg Palast articles about Venezuela.

According to this site, Automobile sales in Venezuela have risen 73% over last year. does this sound like a country that's down 8.9%? Venezuela also enjoyed 16 percent GDP growth in 2004. Sound like things are getting better? Thought so.

Then I went through the other paper which was a Demographic Data and Estimates sheet for Countries and regions of the World from the same Population Reference Bureau source. I can't find anything on it about Venezuela and 8.9%, but that could just be because she didn't have the papers with her. But I did find this article that I thought was quite helpful as well: A Note on Venezuela's Economic Performance. This article went on to support the fact that although the numbers don't look on the surface like Chavez has turned things around, he has turned things around plus some. This came from the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

Then her and her mother mentioned the fact that Chavez was a godless communist because he kicked all of the Mormon Missionaries out of Venezuela. Which, at best, is only a half truth. He only kicked out those with US passports. All the others were allowed to stay. Why? Because he felt that they might be able to be used as spies for the CIA. Crazy? Maybe. Or maybe not. Or maybe he's sick of the church doing sketchy things with Venezuelan customs. I'll let Steve talk about that, as he served his mission in Venezuela and actually has proof of the actual wrong-doing.

Anyhow, long story short, this is another instance of how much conservatives like her have no idea what they're talking about. (She told her sister that it didn't matter how much I said she was wrong, I was the one who was wrong because I'm uneducated and not currently enrolled in school. I don't recall any schools paying her to come speak to their students...)

Oh, now to the difference between good Conservatives and dumb ones. I have some good friends that are and/or were in the military and I was talking with them a few weeks ago. We talked alot of politics, religion and philosophy. They're conservative, I'm know... A "liberal." And in talking religion, we discussed the Christian way of taking care of each other and all of the socialist ideals that Christianity espouses.

He's a good Christian, I think I am, despite my lack of belief in an actual God, merely an internal transcendent thing... long story... We agreed about all the things that needed to happen in this country to make it better, better health care covering more people, social safety nets, etc.

Where we differed was politically. He felt that what we wanted for this country was the same. I feel the government has a responibilty in taking an active role in that process. My friend felt the oppposite, he felt it was the governments job to stand out of the way and let things work on a community level. This was someone whom I was able to have an intelligent and civil conversation with and we found that our beliefs about the way people should be treated, Christian-like, were the same. We found we differed in the way those goals should be reached. He was what I would call a smart conservative.

The dumb Conservatives are the ones who just shout Republican party talking points, like my sister-in-law.


Anonymous said...

Several comments on handling the dumb conservatives (a brother-in-law in my case).

First, I've stopped getting angry at the dummies (for the most part) and now take a bored tone with them to a point.

The real dummies regurgetate the arguments they heard like parrots (just not as pretty or clever). They are usually so "one-sourced" that they think the particular argument is insightful and clever and are oblivious to counter arguments (and usually facts).

At this point I just take the tone of bordom and I start reciting and expanding their argument. It is obnoxious and does drive them nuts when you make their points FOR them and if possible give some background and insight into the particular bit of right-wing nonesense.

A even more obnoxious tact is just to ask them how their opinion(s)significantly from those of Rush, and how his opinions significantly differs from those of the RNC. This is most effective when someone styles themself "independent" while repeatedly parroting nonesense they picked up without much critical thought.

This tact really worked well when they are particular unctitical thinkers, and when you generally feel the moment. i.e. "Why are we talking when you just repeat things you heard."

A co-worker last election walked up to a group of us actually having a political discussion. He started with the Kerry's a flip-floper, "he voted for the war before he voted against it. I asked him why wasnt' upset that the republicans voted against the war before they voted for it (as the group JUST had been discussing). He was clueless about the details, but continued arguing until out of exasperation I just had to ask him, "Why are we talking? Do you have your own opinion? If so how does it significantly differ from that of Rush Limbaugh? How does his opinion significantly differ from the RNC?

He shut and left the group embarrassed...and he diserved to be embarassed.

FINAL THOUGHT (sorry for the length)

Sometimes the rabid ones get obsessivly into detail. They get baffled by their own BS. In these cases I won't argue the endless details or alegations I just reduce it to something manageble.

For instance...Swift Boat Veterans.

The right a drift in what they believe are facts and details regarding Kerry. It was fruitless to argue this case as there was so much crap flying.

I simply said to them...the SBV book is not journalism, it is personal allegations written by people that are admittedly against Kerry and for Bush.

Fine, believe it if you want...but by the same logic you MUST accept the Kitty Kelly book also. I personally am leary of any book that comes out in the election cycle.

So you see where that is going, it put them in knots at the time trying to justify why one obvious smear book should be accepted as truth and the other rejected as partisan hackery.

I continually maintained that I had some intellectual integrity and would be leary of ANY smear book released just prior to an election. (here I talk about intellectual integrity while some of this sparing took place on Howard Stern's message board).

~Foo Fighter~

doug said...

You can't be serious.

Check out my post on Chavez and the huge INCREASE inpoverty and indigence that Venezuela has "enjoyed" since he came to power.

doug said...

Correct link.

Sorry about that.

Unknown said...

Well, the Economic Policy link is to an essay that says the numbers of poverty and indigence is decieving, as the root cause of the increase is to the US backed coup and ressulting work strike.