ONTD Political

curious-shadow rkt

crib sheet for those fun mealtime "discussions"

1:45 pm - 11/22/2012
A holiday guide to arguing with your right-wing relatives
Explaining voter fraud, Benghazi and the fiscal cliff to Fox-watching family members

BY ALEX PAREENE

TOPICS: 2012 ELECTIONS, BENGHAZI ATTACK, POLITICS, THANKSGIVING, POLITICS NEWS

“The Holidays” are now officially here, and all Americans will soon have to face their extended families and listen to them talk. For many young Americans — specifically young Americans related to old white Americans — Thanksgiving and our various Winter Holidays are extra stressful, because young Americans are largely a liberal, Obama-voting bunch, and old white Americans are mostly not. Unfortunately, old white Americans spend a lot of their time being lied to by conservatives on TV, the radio and the Internet, and while that is not their fault, it can be hard to talk about politics with people who believe an elaborate series of fictions and distortions.

If you actually want to engage your right-wing relatives — and let me be clear, you really should not do this, you are going to ruin Thanksgiving — it’s best to come prepared. Below, you’ll find a series of talking points designed to address some of the most popular current trending topics in the alternate conservative media world. (You’ll find last year’s guide here.)

Barack Obama stole the election. The proof is the 59 precincts in Philadelphia where Romney received no votes, which is impossible.

Do you know what these precincts in Philadelphia have in common? They are almost entirely black. They are also in … Philadelphia, where Mitt Romney did not bother to even pretend to campaign. You can count the number of registered Republicans in these areas on one hand. In 13 of these precincts no one voted for the Republican in 2012 or 2008. The thing is, Mitt Romney did not appeal to the urban black working class that much, and he did not try to. The Obama campaign, meanwhile, expended a lot of effort getting as many people in these neighborhoods registered and to the polls as possible. What’s shocking is that there weren’t more urban precincts where Romney received zero votes. The fact that Mitt Romney got 26,000 votes in the Bronx seems to me more likely to be a horrible mistake than Romney getting zero votes in much of Philly.

No, the proof is that black people voted in Maine.

Yeah, Maine has 15,000 black people, and they have to vote somewhere. But also, calm down for a second and think about this: How would that help Barack Obama win an election, exactly? Shipping illegal fraud voters into Maine is not actually a good way to steal a presidential election. It would’ve made much more sense to send them to Virginia.

ACORN.

No longer exists.

OK, but Obama only won because of the hurricane.

I guess it didn’t hurt him, politically, but Obama was winning before Sandy hit the Northeast and he continued winning afterward. Remember, every site that averaged battleground state polls showed the president with an electoral advantage that sometimes narrowed but never went away. Romney was never actually leading. It was only according to the polls that eventually turned out to be the most inaccurate — Rasmussen and Gallup — that Romney was beating Obama. According to national polls in general, Romney’s “momentum” had stalled before the superstorm.



Obama only won because of Chris Christie.

See above. Again, it didn’t hurt, but the president was already winning.

Obama only won because he gave gifts to poors/blacks/gays/Latinos.

Sure. This is also what politics is! When you are elected, you “give” your constituents the “gift” of supporting policies they support. With Republicans the “gifts” are massive tax cuts for rich people and new restrictions on women controlling their own bodies. More federal money for religious institutions and exciting new war airplanes and fewer regulations on companies that make a lot of money poisoning us, things like that. Nice “gifts” that certain Republican constituencies really like. (And let’s not forget that both parties promise old people that they will protect the greatest gift of all, love Medicare.)

The Obama “gifts” were all things that are also pretty good policy, like “healthcare for people” and “a brief promise not to deport you for no reason.”

The Obama administration did nothing to prevent Americans from being killed in Benghazi and then lied about the attack on our consulate as part of a massive cover-up.

None of the “Benghazi scandal” accusations actually have a coherent motive from the perspective of the Obama administration. Take the most out-there conspiracy: that the White House (or the Department of State) purposely didn’t scramble Marines who could’ve gotten there in time to rescue everyone. Even ignoring the fact that these Marines were hundreds of miles away and totally unfamiliar with the place currently under attack, the idea that armed support was specifically denied by the administration is completely nonsensical. Why would a president seeking reelection actively allow a deadly attack on an American diplomatic outpost to happen? What possible political purpose does that serve?

In the less insane but still incomprehensible McCain/Graham version of the Benghazi conspiracy, the administration supposedly specifically lied to the American people when Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice blamed the attack on a “flash mob,” when in fact it was al-Qaida.

We have, now, the actual briefing materials the CIA prepared for Rice before she went on the Sunday shows that fateful day. The transcripts of her remarks make it very clear that she was carefully repeating what our intelligence agencies had told her was their current best understanding of what had happened at the consulate. There was no intent to deceive. The CIA still thought there had been a demonstration outside the consulate. It later determined that there hadn’t been. Rice did not deny that al-Qaida or an affiliated group could’ve been behind the attack. The CIA suspected as much but didn’t want to reveal too much about its classified investigation by saying which groups it was looking at. (This is the CIA we’re talking about; it doesn’t want to tell anyone anything.)

But regardless of whether what Rice said was technically accurate according to her understanding at the time, she had no reason to purposely lie. It had already been widely reported that the attack seemed to have been pre-planned, and had been carried out by very well-armed people. It wouldn’t have been a “better” incident for the administration if there had been a protest before the horrible attack that killed a bunch of people that everyone already knew about. As Matt Steinglass puts it in the Economist:

Such a cover-up would have made no sense because the attack would not have been less politically damaging had it grown out of a spontaneous demonstration. The attack on the Benghazi compound would not have been any less politically difficult for the administration if it had grown out of a riot, nor would any normal voter have expected it to be less politically damaging, nor would any normal campaign strategist have expected any normal voter to have expected it to be less politically damaging. Had Susan Rice gone on the talk shows on September 15th and inaccurately stated that the attackers had been wearing green pants, when in fact their pants had been red, there would be no reason to suspect this to be part of a political “cover-up”, because no American voters could conceivably have cared either way.


A proper cover-up would’ve involved trying to cover up the attack, not weirdly lying about a tangential detail.

David Petraeus only resigned because of something something Benghazi cover-up.

If he resigned to avoid implicating the administration in Benghazigate, he screwed up, because he testified on Benghazi last Friday.

Oh no, the Fiscal Cliff will kill us all, because of socialism and Obama’s debt!

OK, deep breath. The teevee news has been lying to you about what the “fiscal cliff” is and what it means and why it is happening. It is a series of measures designed to cut the deficit very quickly. People are worried about it because cutting the deficit a lot too quickly is … bad for a weak economy, like ours. That’s right, fixing the deficit now is bad for the economy. Even Republicans agree with this, or else they … would not be worried about “the fiscal cliff.” So p.s. you’re a Keynesian.

They will most likely avert it by basically doing the exact same thing again and putting forth some sort of huge austerity plan set to kick in like a year from now, and then a year from now we will all have this argument again. What rich CEOs want is a “grand bargain” that “fixes” everything by cutting taxes and slashing Social Security and Medicare, which is something they have always wanted, but that plan has nothing at all to do with averting the fiscal cliff. The cliff is merely being used as a convenient (invented) crisis.

I heard Papa John’s and Applebee’s are going to fire people because of Obamacare.

The new law says companies with more than 50 employees have to offer healthcare. The vast majority of companies with over 50 employees already do. The ones that don’t, and that are now crying that they will fire people instead of providing healthcare, are run by stingy assholes. Papa John is a stingy asshole. You are siding with a stingy asshole over nice pizza-making regular people. Also, if you don’t like our employer-based healthcare system GO BACK TO CANADA or alternatively just lobby for a Canadian-style healthcare system here.


save this. you'll need it in a month. simple and overly to the point, but helpful to avoid drinking yourself into a complete and utter stupour. maybe. 

cranberry sauce
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nesmith 22nd-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
Not that all this would help people whose relatives suffer from terminal Head Up The Ass.

So glad I'm staying put this year, nearly two hundred miles from my nearest Republican family member, and today having Thanksgiving dinner with just my mom and my roommate, with nary a conservative in sight.
hinoema Or you could use this:22nd-Nov-2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
Photobucket
wingstar102 22nd-Nov-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
LOL. Thanks for this. I needed the help. :)
squeeful 22nd-Nov-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
Not even noon and we've already had a shouty argument about the validity of a flat-rate income tax with no exceptions.
romp 22nd-Nov-2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
a big reason for holiday depression IME--you have my sympathy
strixluna 22nd-Nov-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
"If you actually want to engage your right-wing relatives — and let me be clear, you really should not do this, you are going to ruin Thanksgiving — it’s best to come prepared."

The emphasis is mine and this is quoted for truth.
rkt 22nd-Nov-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
i agree, but sometimes it's so hard to stay silent and present.

which is why i abstain from attending
romp 22nd-Nov-2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
this is brilliant, wish I'd had it years ago
bonesnapdeez 22nd-Nov-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
I'm surrounded by right-wing relatives right now.

I could say something, but it's not worth it. Let them wallow in their own bullshit.
darth_eldritch 22nd-Nov-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
This

I don't say a thing to conservatives. I mentally tally up their misconceptions and think "This is why you lost."
a_leprechaun 22nd-Nov-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
This holiday I am thankful that my in-laws, while more conservative than I, are not Fox News automatons.

To those less fortunate, I wish you serenity, whether it comes from plenty of deep breaths or plenty of vodka.
akashasheiress 22nd-Nov-2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
cranberry sauce

I buried Paul!
omimouse 22nd-Nov-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
Praise be to everything, the MIL was moved out back in July, so that means no right-wing batshittery for the holidays anymore. Because if we're driving to see family, it's gonna be my side. Specifically, the long-running SF/F fans who are liberal and have senses of humor. And who have interesting lab stories.

Fun fact: When my dad was still going to college, he wound up working on something that involved first making something that was effectively tear gas. Which didn't get labeled properly. And then wound up going into the lab storage. Improperly labeled. They wound up having to clear the lab about half a dozen times that semester before someone finally labelled the damn container.)

celtic_thistle 22nd-Nov-2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, old white Americans spend a lot of their time being lied to by conservatives on TV, the radio and the Internet, and while that is not their fault, it can be hard to talk about politics with people who believe an elaborate series of fictions and distortions.

I see the author has met the American side of my family.

I already had to smack my parents down over Obamacare--my mom insists people at Wal Mart don't get enough hours/benefits because Wal Mart can't afford "healthcare being shoved down their throats." I was like NO THEY'VE ALWAYS DONE THAT, THEY'RE JUST GREEDY FUCKS AND PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE.
Raaaage. Fortunately my mom is not normally antagonistic. My dad trolls the fuck out of me and my husband about Obama and we literally ignore him and keep talking about something else. Idk if any of it'll come up tonight. I hope not.
futureframe 22nd-Nov-2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
omg please publish one of these for Christmas. I'm spending today at home with my partner but I will sooo need this in six weeks.
seishin 23rd-Nov-2012 04:01 am (UTC)
SECONDED.
lanwut 22nd-Nov-2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
I found an excellent tactic that doesn't involve trying to say something and being shouted down by my conservative family. I call it leaving. I wish them all a good night and just leave. That was before I was out to them and before I'd had some good talks with them about why these things hurt me so personally.

Now? I'd probably announce to them all that I'm sick and fucking tired of their hurtful bullshit and thank them for the lovely, life-affirming night. Then leave. My mother would be hurt, sure, and it would be incredibly petty and immature, but fuck if it wouldn't be satisfying.

This year, though, I found out that my rude as fuck inlaws and step siblings who would kick their son out if he was gay aren't coming by this years because they're massive assholes. So hopefully it'll be okay? Maybe?
freeze_i_say 23rd-Nov-2012 01:57 am (UTC)
((hugs))

Leaving is the healthiest option available tbh - they're not gonna change and your sanity / blood pressure / heart doesn't need any more toxic shit. I get up and leave when my dad starts being "difficult" too bb.
corinn 22nd-Nov-2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
So glad Thanksgiving is just me and my mom whose politics are now nearly identical to mine, and maybe a Harry Potter movie.

Also glad I was too young to pay attention/give a damn about political discussions at holidays when I was a kid. I'm betting there was tension with conservative father and grandfather, two closeted-but-openly-liberal relatives, and left-of-center-but-mostly-silent-except-to-play-moderator Mom. I wonder if part of why my closeted relatives spent so much time watching children's movies with us kids or watching us play video games was to avoid hanging out with Dad and Grampa. Sounds legit.
lemonsalt 22nd-Nov-2012 11:02 pm (UTC)
If you guys need more help about the deficit Madddow is here for you: http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/11/21/15343715-your-helpful-thanksgiving-charts-about-the-deficit?lite (with charts!)
bnmc2005 23rd-Nov-2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Saw this . It was great! "How to deal with your giant uncle... "
glamoursnipe 23rd-Nov-2012 12:34 am (UTC)
By the grace of Carl Sagan, this Thanksgiving was just me and my immediate family: lefties one and all, and not a single, solitary political soundbite was uttered over our feast.
amyura 23rd-Nov-2012 01:02 am (UTC)
Am I to infer that "go back to Canada" is specifically directed at Mark Steyn? I think it's hysterical when right-wing Canadians get socialized university educations in Canada, on the Canadian taxpayers's dime, and then come to the US and become a shill for the hard right. (I'm also looking at you, Jeff Kuhner.)

I'm pretty lucky. In my immediate family, the furthest person to the right is my father-in-law, who's a moderate Democrat. My sister, her boyfriend and I are straight up leftist socialists, and everyone else is most closely aligned with the left end of the Democrats-- we all think Obama's a little too right-wing for our tastes. Politics didn't come up at ALL today, except to talk about how awesome Nate Silver is. (Because in a group of nine adults, we had four math teachers, two engineers, and a tech support guy.)

Edited for spelling.

Edited at 2012-11-23 02:02 am (UTC)
romp 23rd-Nov-2012 05:07 am (UTC)
I don't know about these bad Canadians. D:
wikilobbying 23rd-Nov-2012 01:43 am (UTC)
nope, doesn't work with my dad. he will derail from sun up to sun down and there is nothing i can do about it except not even bother anymore. -_-
yamamanama 23rd-Nov-2012 01:55 am (UTC)
Perhaps I should be thankful I don't have any crazy hard-right family members.
quizzicalsphinx 23rd-Nov-2012 02:04 am (UTC)
I find my mental health improves with every day of no-contact that passes.
lovelokest 23rd-Nov-2012 02:16 am (UTC)
So glad that the half of my family that talks about politics is nearly as blue as I am (I'm not sure about my aunt, however my folks and 90 year old grandma are pretty damn liberal). Other half doesn't talk about politics, but they have mentioned liking Obamacare.
chasingtides 23rd-Nov-2012 02:16 am (UTC)
I had an absolutely delightful debate about healthcare with my father (who works in insurance) tonight.

After twenty minutes of "But it's not economically feasible for everyone to have access to healthcare!" I grabbed a paper bag and crinkled it up into a ball. I told him, "That's what someone's lungs sound like when they've got pneumonia. That's the point when my friends without health insurance go to the hospital."

He had the balls to ask, "How do you know that?"

And I said, "Because that's the point when I offer to go with them to the ER. I know it because I hear it from my friends in the winter. They're the people making and serving your food, stocking your stores, ringing you up, and handling your money. And I go with them to the hospital when their lungs sound like paper bags because you don't think it's feasible for my friends to have antibiotics."

Our conversation sort of stopped.
recorded 23rd-Nov-2012 02:22 am (UTC)
tabaqui 23rd-Nov-2012 02:28 am (UTC)
As if any of these logical, sane, and fact-filled arguments will actually sway or even *shut up* the die-hard Bill'O, Limbaugh and Teabag trolls.

Gah.

masakochan 23rd-Nov-2012 04:23 am (UTC)
IKR? A good number of these facts would be just be labeled as 'liberal media brainwash materical' a good number of my family members.
nicosian 23rd-Nov-2012 02:30 am (UTC)
I stopped doing the family gathering stuff. Couldn't take my right wing/baptist/fundie/ardent catholic bigoted, homophobic half of them. The other half are LOVELY intelligent people.

Then the other half are raging bible thumpers with a hate on for poors, gays and all else.

Life is so much nicer now. I had to go back for a funeral, the plan then is "stay in the basement and drink." ( I don't have a car, leaving isn't an option. feh)
thistlerose 23rd-Nov-2012 02:31 am (UTC)
So thankful for the fact that most of my relatives are bleeding-heart socialists like me. (And the ones who aren't, we don't really speak to.)
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