S.Stan Boule's Culture Wars Battle Hymn of the Repulsive

Engaging the Squares

"I know it's thankless to be sensible in the face of someone's primitive distrust."

-- Don DeLillo

Thanks to my recent long-running health issues, for the past couple of years I've relied heavily on e-mail and the internet as a means of communication with the outside world, entertainment, and exercising whatever writing chops I may have. 

We live in extraordinary times, politically speaking, and we all know why.  What may be even more terrible to consider than the fact of Bush/Cheney bringing a somewhat modified but substantially Orwellian nightmare to life, is the number and devotion of people out there actively supporting and defending it.

I'm dating myself by using the word "squares."  I don't mind. The hippies called them "straights" but already the concept of “hip” was being diluted.  In the fifties, squares were people who "didn't get it."  What was to "get?"  Ha.  If you didn't know, you were a square.

By the late 60’s, you were a square if you didn’t smoke pot.  The assumption was that the herb automatically elevated the awareness of those who smoked it, and as soon as everybody had “turned on,”  they would “get it,” and that would be the end of war, greed, and all the rest of the major and minor human foibles and defects.  Instead, we got Beavis and Butthead.

Ah well, nice try.  Before long, drug-oriented “consciousness snobbery” spread out and subdivided, and we had speed freaks disrespecting junkies and vice versa, acid heads at loggerheads with seconal-gobbling winos, coke-sniffing, freebasing yuppies and rock stars cultivating Godzilla-sized egos while sitting in hot tubs with clueless chicks named Tiffany.  The square, given access to the magic substances, did not become hip.  Huxley must have been pinwheeling in his grave. 

As a fairly accurate gross generalization, today's "squares" are right wingers. There are degrees and levels, naturally --  but, the American language being what it is, we can't explore them in depth without treading dangerously near foo-foo New Age territory, so let’s keep it pretty general.

It’s probably fair to say there is something big --  a gross and obvious matter of plain sense, logic and conscience that tells reasonable people there is something badly wrong with the Bush/Cheney power structure and everything it does.  For our purposes, this simple perception   --  “accurate observation” as Shaw put it  -- is the “it” that the squares don’t “get.”  In my semi-invalid state of recovery, I would try and communicate with them.

For my efforts, I was told:

“Enjoy your eternity in hell.” 
 “God is a republican.” 
“Why are you so bitter?” 
“What happened in your life to make you a member of the “Blame America First club?”

And of course all the usual epithets:  Anti-American, godless cowardly terrorist-loving baby killer etc. 

Even as DeLay, Foley, Haggard, etc. smeared their crap all over the national psyche, determined right wing squares screamed about the moral depravity of the left.

One of the flag-wavers said “You must be a Howard Zinn fan.”   Another said, “You obviously get all your information from left wing websites.” These were some of the most telling things I heard.  A common theme, in everything the squares said, was the notion of getting one’s information (read: opinions) from outside sources. 

None of these people showed any evidence of having had an original thought or observation of their own.  And by extension, could not conceive that anyone else did, either. Information was something that appeared in the ether, from some mysterious source.  It only depended on whether you listened to the “good” (conservative) source, or the “bad” (liberal) source.

I saw that politics was just like religion:  a matter of “belief,” where the subject, having absorbed the dogma, becomes a one-way information valve.  A Crumb-like cartoon comes to mind: a gang of liberals on one side, the conservatives on the other, each group blabbing and quacking away with their respective clichés and slogans, and not a one of them listening to anything.

So.  What next?


 I've been engaging the squares again on the internet.  There is a triumvirate of obtuse right-wing self-declared patriots and all-around Good Americans (in the sense of Hitler's "Good Germans"), who have been sparring with me over aspects of various candidates and issues, most recently - and absurdly - over the idea that Hillary Clinton is a "socialist."  

For proof, one of them offers this:

"Hilary [sic] goes to a GM plant, where she was photographed wearing what looked like a Mao Tse-tung jacket , tell all that would listen: ( according to an AP headline. Lordstown, Ohio) 'Clinton Visits GM Plant, Outlines Plan to Crack Down on Corporations.'"
I suggest that the above comment about Hillary, while trying to prove she is a socialist, actually demonstrates the opposite. And that only a republican sort of mind could be clueless enough to wear a Mao jacket in a GM plant while trying to convince the workers to vote for her because she is "anti-business." She is not only listening to bad political advice, but desperately needs a new fashion consultant.

Clinton Inc. is about as anti-business as Donald Trump and anti-corporate as Dick Cheney. The woman sat on the board of Wal-Mart and is not, ever, going to "screw" any corporations, despite her considerable time spent in bed with them.

"I did not have sex with that corporation." 
This I add for humor, as these people are still churning about Bill's incident with Monica.  Note to self:  tell right-wing blockheads that the only "liberal" thing about the Clintons is that Bill's sexual embarrassment was with a girl.

For reasons I cannot entirely fathom, the mid-American conservative, while becoming apoplectic over "taxes and big government," has no objection to near-unimaginable war expense and Big Brother in every home.
It's becoming obvious that this is not politics:  it's religion.  In Wisconsin, while sitting in a bar that had 15 TV sets all playing different games, I was informed in no uncertain terms that "football is a religion here." It would have to be, come to think of it, for 60,000 people to sit outside in sub-zero temperatures, drink cold beer and cheer for the Badgers or Packers.  Religion or insanity, but we're just splitting hairs now.

These "good Americans" who place themselves at the top of some imagined moral pyramid and look down with suspicion and fear at those of us who "might want to take away their toys," BELIEVE in an American Dream concocted by carnival barkers and big-time scammers, every bit as much as evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses believe their physical bodies will be magically lifted off the earth to Heaven at the climax of the Apocalypse.
So, does it do any good to be aware of what we are up against?  Maybe, but it's pretty frustrating, too.

One of my right-wing antagonists has been going on lately about San Francisco and northern California in general, parroting all the stock propaganda about it being the center of all evil, the home of Satan incarnate, a den of iniquity and heaven forbid, permissiveness.  

I offer that the City has been, historically, a haven for outcasts, fringe dwellers (a demographic I am happy to be part of) and the like since gold rush days, and that back in the late 80's, a friend of mine was foreman of the crew that maintained the Golden Gate Bridge. A most dangerous job for what should be obvious reasons. He is a heterosexual, a "man's man" with enough "testicular fortitude" to ease the mind of the most manly men, and yet he was also a social "outcast" and so-called fringe dweller of the type that SF attracts.

Use of the term "elite" to describe such elements is wildly inappropriate and deflects attention from the real elite, the ultra wealthy, movers and shakers, architects of war and economies. As I recall it was the republican genius Dan Quayle who managed to put over this particular linguistic deception on large scale. Now if he could only learn to spell potato.

And on the right-wing view in general:  in 1965 I was an apolitical 19 year-old musician traveling with a rock and roll band.  Our hair was not long by today's or "hippie" standards, but in Eisenhower-era terms, we did certainly need haircuts.   In S. Glens Falls NY, we stopped to eat at a diner.  As we entered, the place went silent, then a man said "Look what you see when you ain't got a gun."  Immediately, a woman - ironically, rather overweight - chimed in with this gem:  "People who are DIFFERENT should be put in jail."  This was my introduction to the basic conservative, "all-American" mentality.  I hadn't yet discovered Mencken and felt woefully alone.

That experience was the first of many that helped me understand how and why men like George W Bush, and so many before him and no doubt after as well, can successfully play on and pander to the irrational fears and prejudices, and selfish concerns, of ordinary people in order to put themselves in power. 

That so many still operate on the general assumption that anyone outside their normal range of perception must necessarily be "bad," is a boon to what can be politely be called conservative political powers.  It helps them create enemies to "necessitate" war both abroad and on the home front, right down to keeping us suspicious enough of our fellow citizens to keep buying guns and alarm systems.

Nothing that any homosexual, for instance, has ever done has ever affected my my life in the slightest.  Unless you count a few bad decorating jobs or clothing designs.  Why on earth should I (or anyone else) care what they do?  What the hell is the problem?

 A guy in Marin County glues some knick-knacks and trophies to his car.  So he's a little goofy.  Why do these things bug you so much, I ask.  Does it never occur to you that people are better off expressing themselves, and the world might be a better place if more of us did?  No, I don't mean crime and abuse if that's where you were going.  Far as I'm concerned, there would be less abusive behavior if people had enough testicular/intestinal fortitude to loosen up a bit and do something a little odd or different, without fear of what the Joneses might think.

With all this I am obviously talking to a brick wall.  But I am expressing myself and thereby keeping one criminal off the streets.  We do what we can.

 Engaging the Squares  pt. 4

When I was a kid, I asked my parents why they were arguing. My mother calmly turned to me and said, "We're not arguing, we're having a futile conversation."   Not having yet learned this lesson apparently,  I've continued a testy sort of dialog with a few hard-core conservatives.  It's kind of like talking back to the TV set.

Even with my lifetime of "cynicism," I am more astounded than ever at the obtuseness of these people.  All that bluster and blather about patriotism and being a Good American... and it is I who despair for the country, and say as much.  They may, I go on, be in the majority, and likely are the "winners" who "write history," but are also the reason why it's said that we never learn from history and are doomed to repeat it. The majority may rule, but that doesn't mean it's right, and I am not, by a long shot, the only one who sees all the loudly self-declared loyal patriots as the REAL thing that is "wrong" with the USA.   Once again I fail to endear myself...
(Interesting how these rightwingers can relentlessly ignore the hog-farm stink of their own business while sniffing around for little poots and farts from the left).

An Englishwoman mentions high crime rates in the USA and UK, and wonders of third world places, "who has got it as right as possible - us or them?" I respond that a common trait of our two countries - ironically a French word - is chauvinism.  We are, as nations, incapable of questioning what we believe is our incontrovertible "right"-ness. The USA has taken this to an unprecedented and very dangerous level. But our propagandists are very good, and as nation after nation lines up in opposition to our policies, we [sic] hold on ever more strongly and desperately to our self-righteous pig-headedness. It is THEY who who are wrong, they hate us for our freedom, etc.  She can take some comfort in that the UK is a failed empire, that has let go its larger destructive imperial designs. The USA has a ways to go on that account, I euphemize.

"Anarchy is really nothing more than the notion that it is possible for human society to exist without the bludgeon of authority over its head." At this simple statement one of them nearly has a stroke, and as an aside, knowing I'm in the San Francisco area, makes a snide crack about bath houses, suggesting that I might be homosexual, a "sissy."  Which, if I were, would therefore make me yet another degree of "bad."

I stressed rejection of any and all "isms." Every ism subdivides into more isms; as humans join any sort of "movement," they nearly always miss the essence of any political or philosophical idea.  To try and think of anarchy as a system or "ism" is to miss the point entirely. We humans seem to have a rough time wrapping our brains around certain concepts. Anais Nin said, "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."  The reply to this: "No, YOU see things as YOU are."
People are inherently bad, and must be controlled and more to the point, punished. Got that?

In what may be the most futile statement of all, I say Democrats are hardly better than repugs, just a bit less vicious in their tactics.  Sometimes.  I am absolutely "against" the two major parties. No others in our lifetime have gained enough momentum to threaten the big two, or become institutionalized (corrupted) enough to count for anything.  Here is the chicken-and-egg question: what came first, bad behavior, or the desire to control the behavior of others, which of course engenders more bad behavior? No one has an answer for this.

Engaging the Squares pt. 5

Continuing Adventures in Obtuseville

Another interesting thing about right-wing dogmatists is the fast and loose use of the words "facts" and "truth." Statistics and other "facts" of all sorts can be found to support any view. Just like various religions who all claim exclusive possession of "truth," so goes political dogma - someone has to be deluded, or lying. Hint: look for the loudest claims of "truth."

On the constant carping about liberals: political correctness, perceived as a left-wing construct, is, according to my fine-feathered Nixon-country foes, responsible for the loss of freedoms we are experiencing in the USA.    Does that mean if we could say "spic, nigger, chink" with impunity, and openly express our deepest, most manly convictions that women shouldn't be allowed to vote or drive, the terrorists would fear us enough to never attack again and we'd no longer need wiretapping, computer spying, Mexican fences or long annoying waits and searches at the airport?  
Hitler had some pointed, cleverly worded things to say about liberals. Substitute "Jews" for "illegal immigrants" with some of these people and we're entering a very interesting area.

Let us take for example, a few persons who voted for Bush and who, like many others, began to see some years into the W presidency that they may well have made a bad choice. While it's a good thing that these folks are beginning to wake up, an awful lot of harm, a lot of damage has been done. Still, these conservatives insist on picking certain points of "Bush-ism" such as the Iraq debacle as "mistakes" while continuing to embrace the overall philosophy that W represents. How long will it take to see how destructive it is to the USA we grew up in and love, while claiming to stand for all that is good, clean, red white & blue and righteous.  At this notion, a couple of them nearly pop their corks.

When people like Bush and now John "Dr. Strangelove" McCain play on people's fears, prejudices and patriotism, it's a powerful message. Personally, every time I hear one of them use the words "national security" I cringe, because they are just boosting suspicion of foreigners and strangers, as their believers stock the gun cabinets and blame everything on welfare leeches and liberals.
I am accused of tunnel vision for failing to see the light of conservative wisdom.  I respond that The War is Peace party rolls on, bamboozling millions of citizens into thinking that everything will be all right once the taxes are lowered and those dirty filthy Arabs, Mexicans and Asians are remanded to their proper (read subordinate) place. The White Man's Burden! A dead concept that refuses to be buried, and it doesn't smell too good these days. Having taken our "rightful place" as Top Dog of the World, why don't they love us? I'm assured in so many words that it's because "they" are all wrong and we are all right. THIS is tunnel vision.

And taxes, always the whining about taxes.  I know people in Marin county who own property, have good jobs and never complain about taxes.  My only conclusion is that those carping about tax-and-spend liberals and welfare leeches, are in a pretty high income bracket, where the tax bill is ten or a hundred times my annual income. Never mentioned are the huge corporate tax breaks your precious conservative government hands out (yes, hand-out). Who makes up the money gap that leaves? You do. Also never mentioned is the Pentagon, the biggest single drain of your money, the biggest leech on society. The war rages on and we know the money figures. You think those thousand-dollar toilet seats and hammers are a thing of the past? But you can't complain about that stuff because someone might call you unpatriotic. That leaves the welfare moms to take the flak.

One of them out-and-out calls me a liar for saying some of these things. All I can think now of is a common movie scene where the culprit is caught, his accusers recite a list of his crimes, and as a response he gets a wild look in his eyes and cries "Lies! Lies! All lies!"


As long as there are still millions and millions of people in the US who continue to accept and believe myths of military heroism, equate anti-war with anti-American (implying that the "true" American prefers war), and listen to rubbish about the evils of big government from big government stalwarts, the angry, fear-exploiting, gunslinging profile will prevail in national politics.

My first brush with politics was in 1968, when Eugene McCarthy was campaigning in Boston.  There was a big rally at Fenway Park and I stumbled upon it accidentally.  The stadium was full of young people and McCarthy made a simple case of ending the war in Viet Nam NOW.  Made sense to me.  After that I began noticing the "other" guys, with bumper stickers describing the "peace" sign as the Footprint of the American Chicken.  And I saw that they were emotionally invested in the notion of war more in terms of their personal egos and inflated association of their own identities with military might and national power, than any professed love of country.  This continues as today's popular misconception of patriotism.

In the America where I grew up, "being an American" was not limited to one particular political view or philosophy.  In my America, people do not go around accusing each of treason because they don't care for the other's views or attitude. 

I agreed with McGovern, and was appalled when Nixon won in 72.  That is when I began to be really disillusioned with all the right wing flag-waving, overblown patriotism business. Tricky Dick was appealing to the dark spirit in everyone and that was getting confused with "being a good American."  And so it continues today. 

(McGovern's daughter Teresa froze to death in Madison, Wisconsin after getting drunk at The Crystal Corner bar on Williamson St.  Fell into a snow bank.  This affected me because I liked McGovern and because in my drinking days I put away quite a few in that same bar.  There is now a treatment facility for alcoholics in Madison called the Teresa McGovern Center.) 

Yep, as Hunter S. Thompson said, Nixon was a crook. I give Tricky Dick credit for helping set today's extreme right wing, mean-spirited nationalism in motion.   In that context I was musing about all the people who voted for Bush, and admit he's a disaster, yet seem to show no remorse for it, and are even eager to replace him with another of a similar sort.

I wonder if the republicans, post-Palin, are conducting little workshops, crash courses in the concept of sexism.  Hard enough learning how not to appear racist ... At least she's a gunslinger and properly evangelical.

The right has mastered the art of getting people to (pardon the overworked phrase) "vote against their own interests."  And they do it partly by promoting and playing on fear of enemies, real and imagined, foreign and domestic. Liberals, pacifists, intellectuals, become anti-American.  By dint of their refusal to join the torch-bearing villagers marching in lockstep against the scapegoat-of-the-week, they themselves become the scapegoat of next week.

From George W Bush on down to Rush Limbaugh and his followers, these people imagine themselves the natural heirs to, and owners of, the very concepts of freedom and what it means to be an American.  These things are much too big to fit in their little box.  “Outside of fascist circles, these things are understood."    -- Chomsky

Quotes on patriotism

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!
                                     -- Albert Einstein

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
                                -- George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.
                              -- Guy de Maupassant

It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars.
                                       -- Arthur C. Clarke
Quote on the Kennedys and MLK

 "Now I realized what makes our generation unique, what defines us apart from those who came before the hopeful winter of 1961, and those who came after the murderous spring of 1968.  We are the first generation that learned from experience, in our innocent twenties, that things were not really getting better, that we shall not overcome. We felt, by the time we reached thirty, that we had already glimpsed the most compassionate leaders our nation could produce, and they had been assassinated.  And from this time forward, things would get worse:  out best political leaders were part of memory now..."

           ---    Jack Newfield, Robert Kennedy: A Memoir

U.S. exceptionalism -- fascinating idea, eh?  We've come so far as to think our boot belongs in the face of everyone else on earth. 

Don't talk about regulation in the company of US right wingers.  They'll accuse you of being a liberal at best, a communist at worst .  Such is the solipsism and hubris that passes for patriotism in this country today.

The right wing, pro-war faction can always find a mother to say how proud she is that her son died "defending our freedom."  These women have either drunk the neocon's Kool-Aid or taken a payoff.  No "defense of our freedom" is going on anywhere.  And these same people call Cindy Sheehan an "un-American bitch" for demanding what "good cause" her son died for.  That answer has never been given.  Guess why.

We know there are people who equate pacifism with being "anti-American."  I am happy to accept that label from those people, because despite what they think, they do not have exclusive possession of "what it is to be an American." Their insults are empty and meaningless.

Is Obama a foreigner?  Some hyper-Americans would like to have you think so. These people operate from the view that "foreigners" (the word itself has an ominous ring, doesn't it?) are by definition guilty until proven innocent.  Guilty of what?  Not being American, of course.    Whenever we see that someone takes on "American exceptionalism" as their own personal identity, it's easier to understand how they can so blithely support our invasions across the world and dismiss residents of other countries as "lesser" or even "evil."  When nationalism is the only identity people can cling to, the fires of war, prejudice and persecution are easily stoked.

It is instructive, at least, to realize how the W Bushes and McCains achieve power and get to continue their wars making the world safe for our business interests, by appealing to simple-minded self-interest. It seems there are people who would feel like the hole in a doughnut if they didn't have the notion of American supremacy to cling to.   But gosh, isn't Sarah Palin cute?

No matter who may not the like the idea -- and there are many -- it's MY country too.  It is not the supposed USA I grew up in, and we are just plain not necessarily better than everyone else just because some of us would like to think we have the right to push everybody else around, invade their homelands, feed them McDonald’s crap and take their resources.

 I was born in 1946 and remember being patriotic (in the normal knee-jerk sense) until I found out that life was not a John Wayne movie where America was always the good guy and always won.  Now I'm patriotic in the sense that I will not sit back silently and watch my country being taken over by people who tell me I'm anti-American because I don't think like they do, or live in a black & white world where "you're either with us or against us." It's impossible to explain color to those who only see black and white or tell lines on paper about the concept of depth.

One of the most common right-wing propaganda techniques is to condemn "intellectuals," because it really chaps their asses when the majority of high-profile smart people tend to leftish views.   Famous 60's segregationist governor George Wallace of Alabama railed against "pointy-headed intellectuals" to rally low IQ racists in the south against civil rights progress.  The tradition continued with W Bush (ultra-wealthy ruling class elite) with his completely phony appeal as "regular folks.”  The relentless insistence that dull-witted equals "true American" has been very effective, and show why it's been said that we "got the leadership we deserve."
Anti-American Troop Hater Plays the USO Club

The internet forum where I jousted with right-wingers for more than a year has closed down, in part due to the hostility, insults and bad language that characterized the discourse. Essentially, I knew the futility of arguing with them.  When I started on the site I was recovering from prostate surgery, and almost immediately after, was diagnosed with throat cancer.  Outside of the hospital visits for treatment and examinations, I rarely left the house for well over a year.  The internet was a good deal of my social life.  The forum came in a spam and I blundered into the right-left fireworks.  Some of the posts were so appalling I had to fire back.  What developed was an education process in which I learned how bad it really is out there -- and understood how the Bush/Cheneys and the rest of the neocons got where they are by appealing to the worst of human nature, from simple self-interest all the way down to lynch-mob mentality.

I began to wonder: exactly how insecure, how lacking a basic sense of identity must someone be to not only desperately attach oneself to an abstraction like national pride, but be ready, willing and eager to persecute anyone not displaying the same sentiment? 

A woman in Michigan asked me: " Ever notice how many engineers and business persons are conservatives and the creative people are liberal?" ... Of course.  A lot of them just plain hate artists.   Hence the efforts to devalue self-expression, glorify war heroics and corporate power.  When Bush or the like makes clumsy photo-op attempts at dancing or playing a guitar and is so terribly uncoordinated, tone deaf and awkward, the Hannnity types cheer all the more.  After all, it shows that their guys are no sissies, and after a while it becomes clear that proving oneself not a sissy but a “real man” is a big priority in right-wing world. And that is what I was called:  sissy,  anti-American, troop-hater, coward.   The flag-wrapped phony, the Angry White Man, inflates himself by attacking all that is "different."  If you ever see someone in a car with a "Support the Troops" sticker stopping to help one of those homeless veterans holding a sign, let me know, will you?

So here I am, being vilified as an Enemy of All That is Good and Righteous about the Red White and Blue, and I get a call to play music at a USO club.  The irony of this is too perfect, and I invite one of my uber-patriot antagonists to call the club and warn them that one of of the musicians coming in is an un-American troop hater.

The people at the gig were not kids, not “regular” soldiers. A few of those showed up real late, but not many.  No uniforms.  Mostly Viet Nam and Iraq veterans or "lifers," some older, lot of long hair. Wives and girlfriends.  There were no flag-wrapped hyper-Americans, no Charlton Hestons, no Ann Coulters in this crowd.  And they were not interested in the political views of the band members.

It was a typical bar gig and you’d never know these were military people if not for the name of the place.  My concern was not that someone here might suspect me of not being patriotic enough.  I just needed to tap into their musical tastes.  This was pretty clearly a blues and/or country crowd, and couple of requests from them confirmed it.  Toward the end of the first set a few people started dancing, always a good sign.  Then the girl who manages the place requested a song which I was able to fake on the spot.

So we went over well enough to be asked back, and the irony of an anti-war, “troop hating” musician being paid to play a USO club was nothing at all.  It’s almost too bad my internet foe, a two-bit Joe McCarthy type if there ever was one, didn’t call to warn them about the traitor in their midst. He blew his chance to be a hero.

Engaging the Squares epilog

Bath House Logic

Conservative writer P.J. O'Rourke, who used to butt heads with Molly Ivins on TV, came on the Tonight show once and explained right wing logic:  "If you weren't a liberal when young, you had no heart.  If you're not a conservative when older, you have no brain."  Tell that to Chomsky... or Molly Ivins' ghost.  But part of his statement is true: attaining a conservative brain comes with abandonment of the heart.

O'Rourke wrote for the National Lampoon in the early 70's.  It was a viciously funny rag evolved from the Harvard Lampoon, a bastion of privileged WASPs, where they mercilessly ridiculed Jews, Italians, Negroes, and Hispanics.  This was not lynch-mob bigotry -- these rich white kids had no need to be angry, the world was going to be their oyster, headed as they were for corporate boardrooms, and the law firms who served them -- it was just good, solid, upper class snobbery.

The right-wingers I’ve been sparring with on the internet are "former democrats" who "saw the light." The euphemism for this is "enlightened self-interest," which I call "fear of someone taking away one’s toys."  One, despite his straight-down-the-alley conservative views, fears and prejudices, claims contempt for Party Loyalists.  Must be because the only party he's loyal to went down at Nuremberg.  If everyone these people say hate America really hated America, the only Real Americans would be living in an armed compound in Idaho.

One of the biggest points of contention in these discussions has been homosexuality and you guessed it, San Francisco.  One of these guys is bent over the very idea of “gay lifestyle” - which he is “repulsed” by - and like so many other “good Americans” across the USA, thoroughly believes that San Francisco is a seething den of iniquity where gay men romp wildly in bath houses and take delight in spreading AIDS, while the ultra-left wing Nancy Pelosi, in cahoots with Barbra Streisand, plots the overthrow of the government and end of the civilized world.

Any attempt to explain that homosexuality is a congenital condition like curly hair, a big nose or artistic talent is met only with silence and further snide remarks about bath houses. Or, as in one case, Barbra Streisand’s nose.
One has already assailed me for suggesting "war hero" Dr. Strangelove McCain has PTSD and tried to turn it into another anti-gay-AIDs rant, even comparing the "dangers" of homosexual behavior to the threat of nuclear war.  (Maybe he’s just a repressed old closet queen hiding behind the flag.)  Failing to persecute gays, I learn, constitutes “support” for the spread of AIDS.  By this logic, my failure to “support the troops” constitutes support for the war, since I also do not persecute them.

I imagine a doorman or bouncer outside a neocon club of some sort, checking the conservative credentials of all who try and enter...those who fail the test are sent to the "interrogation room..."   where, to paraphrase Ambrose Bierce, their eyes are plucked out in order to improve their vision.

 Or a headline:  Angry White Men, wrapped in flags and rigidly standing their ground, defy violent onslaught of sissy peaceniks. 

It's really impossible communicating with anyone who assumes superior morality and uses self-righteousness as a weapon.

Patriotism may certainly be the "last refuge of a scoundrel" (Johnson) or even "the first" (Bierce).  But I'm seeing a new aspect here: Patriotism seems to the haven, clung to in desperation, of many an essentially empty person.