Turning Off and Tuning Out

I’ll admit that I’m a political junkie and a news addict. I read multiple papers each day, listen to NPR, check out CNN, and Fox News. Andrew Sullivan and the Huffington Post are must reads throughout the day. Slate, the Economist Magazine, Mother Jones, and the National Review make my weekly reading list. Heck, I even check out Bill O’Reilly on occasion just to hear what the crackpots are thinking.

But I am growing weary of the idiocy that passes for political thought in America today. Nancy Pelosi has decided President George Bush is to blame for the IRS scandal while she defends President Obama because he can’t know everything that happens in every government department. One assumes, Speaker Pelosi, that if the current President doesn’t know what’s going on, perhaps the ex-president is equally in the dark?

Rep. Stephen Fincher voted against food stamps (because the bible told him to) while accepting millions in farm subsidies for his family farm. Don’t you wonder if politicians ever listen what they actually say? Food stamps just make individuals dependent on the government, Rep. Fincher argues, farm subsidies help those farms that are struggling when times get tough.

Huh?

I’m no economist, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’m fairly certain one of the basic tenets of the free market is, in fact, not propping up businesses with tax dollars. The free market only works, Mr. Fincher, if some businesses fail.

Yet, I still listen, read, and watch the news, enjoying that sense of ironic detachment as we watch politicians perform linguistic gymnastics justifying hypocritical and contradictory ideas.

Until this week.

As I listened to Senator Rand Paul defend Apple computers for paying what they “legally” owe, regardless of the nefarious methods by which they avoid paying their fair share, I realized I had enough. At some point, the absurdity of hearings celebrating Apple’s ability to avoid paying taxes while holding hearings across the street about the IRS investigating conservative political organizations to be sure they pay the correct taxes was just too much.

And I turned off NPR earlier this week when Sen. Levin of Michigan refused to recognize that perhaps, just maybe, Congress might need to accept a little, tee-tiny amount of blame for passing ridiculously complex tax laws and using Capitol Hill hearings as opportunities to politicize and demonize everything from apple juice to disaster aid. Is it any wonder that various agencies and workers investigate groups their powerful political supporters characterize as nazis and terror groups?

What really pushed me over the edge, though, was listening to President Obama tell us, yet again, that he plans to close Gitmo and ask Congress to re-define the use of drones in the war on terror. Great goals all, and I have a great deal of sympathy for the President’s inability to convince Congress Gitmo is largely a concentration camp whose mere existence is offensive to American ideals of truth, justice, and fairness, but I find his stance on drones disingenuous. If you don’t like the way we use drones, Mr. President, stop using them that way. Just because an act is legal doesn’t mean you actually have to perform that action.

We shouldn’t have to pass a law showing us the moral path.

But, as I was falling over that ledge, the Republicans started throwing rocks from above. Evidently, the mere act of giving Congress the task of defining legal drone use and the simple hint that we might re-define the war on terror equates to letting the terrorists win. Remember, though the President is a Kenyan born Muslim who is trying to enact Sharia law in place of the Constitution. Ironically, of course, too many of those politicians ready and willing to kill in the name of American freedom deferred when their names where called back when it mattered.

Because, in American politics today, hate has replaced honest disagreement. Personal attack has replaced ideological differences.

And I’m fairly certain personal ambition has replaced willing public service.

This weekend the politicians can go on tv and explain how they can vote against disaster aid for the east coast while demanding it for the mid-west. The sons and daughters of immigrants, both legal and illegal, can argue about protecting our borders and deporting human beings. Married men and women can stand with their spouses while telling the rest of us who we can, and can’t, marry.

And they can all attack the IRS and our uneven, hypocritical, unethical, and incomprehensible system of taxation while never admitting they have seen the enemy and it is them.

But this weekend, as we honor those men and women who serve our country protecting my right to be apathetic and my elected representatives’ right to say stupid things, I’m turning off and turning out.

I’m pretty sure when I tune back in Tuesday, I won’t have missed much.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

2 Responses to Turning Off and Tuning Out

  1. klyse3 says:

    I will admit to listening to NPR and checking Fox News once daily, but I’ve found that the less I follow news/politics, the better my outlook on life is. I do care about it, I just don’t care to raise my blood pressure over it. Enjoy your break!

  2. kampenjust says:

    Enjoyed your blog. I have never understood American politics and the behaviour of congress, to think you are the most influential and powerful country in the world, it’s scary! Thanks

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Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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