Friday, October 21, 2011

The Evidence is In

The evidence is in: it is that the evidence doesn't matter.

In connection with an upcoming event I'll get into later, I've been reading about the Great Depression period, and politically, there's an awful lot that's familiar: namely the same amnesia just a few years after near catastrophe, the same irrational politics, including hysterical media figures and ignoramus right wingers.  There are big differences--for instance, that the economic collapse was so much worse that FDR was given much greater power by an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress to act fast and on his own.  But the political culture was not all that different.  Which means--and I don't know if this should be comforting or not--that today's apparent insanity is not all that unusual, given the roiling changes and fear out there.

But it does help explain why this craziness, and especially this inability to confront real evidence and realistically address problems, is so ascendant.  It's probably in that Bob Dylan quote up there: "It's not dark yet.  But it's getting there."  It isn't dark enough.  Not yet.

But everybody knows it's getting there.  People just fixate on different causes, and ignore evidence to the contrary.  Really, really ignore it.

Not everybody, of course.  The Occupy Wall Street/99% Movement is basically trying to bring back a sense of reality, as well as urgency.  But when it comes to GOPers especially, to that "coalition" of the self-serving and determinedly deluded, they insist on really, really ignoring the evidence.

How else to explain the discourse at the GOPer presidential debates.  Apart from what's become a generalized explanation--that many if not most of the candidates aren't serious candidates, they are just enhancing their brands for the lucrative Rabid Right (Corporate plus Teavangelical) markets.  There is a pandering to the particular fantasies, feelings and primarily hatreds of the "base," that doesn't really care about any evidence to the contrary of their believed realities.  Or as Jonathan Bernstein perfectly puts it: "It's not Rick Perry and Mitt Romney who aren't serious; it's the party they're trying to lead."

Clearly congressional GOPers aren't serious about addressing the economic suffering.  They defy political realities as well as economic ones, and make clear, stark choices that feeds perfectly into the 99% narrative and the Democratic analysis.  When the Senate filibustered and therefore killed the part of the jobs bill that provides funding to rehire and keep on the job teachers, police, firefighters and first responders, refusing the minuscule millionaires' tax that over two-thirds of the electorate favors--where is the political sanity, let alone the governance sanity, in that?  They made it possible for Harry Reid to say with very obvious accuracy that they killed "a bill that would have kept 400,000 teachers in the classroom and first responders on the job because they refuse to ask millionaires to pay their fair share."

Also on Thursday, most GOPers refused to give President Obama any credit for a successful outcome in Libya.  The GOPers have such hypnotic (and probably other) power over America media that they are able to suppress evidence from public consciousness of a record that would make any other President a lock for reelection.  To the point where people apparently have to feel apologetic for noticing it.

And of course, the truly momentous example of ignoring all evidence is denying the realities of the Climate Crisis.  Yet another study released Thursday concluded that scientific issues raised by skeptics had no meaningful effect on the conclusion that global warming is real, and very, very evident.   But it won't matter.  Climate Crisis denial is faith-based, including faith in whatever you have to say to make a lot of money from people paying you to believe what they tell you.   It's also fear-based, which accounts for that percentage of people who swing back and forth on the question.  Most of the deniers are irredeemable, but this group will swing back to accepting the reality right in front of them, when it's so dark for so long that the darkness can't be denied.

I confess that I can't figure out what's going to happen with the GOPers in their presidential selection process.  I'm a bit confounded by Cowboy Rick's weakness in the polls, and without winning Iowa (he's way back in the pack now), no one seems likely to derail Newt Romney, despite GOPer disdain for him.  And that's the true test of this unreality: the "base" is requiring such purity of simplistic stands and grievances that are so patently unrealistic for anyone who has thought for even two seconds about them in the real world, that no one is going to satisfy them.   "It's not Rick Perry and Mitt Romney who aren't serious; it's the party they're trying to lead."  (Well, actually I don't think they're serious either, in the sense of having serious approaches and solutions to serious problems.)

But this is such a powerful trajectory right now that its very insanity seems to say that it has to play itself out, and nobody knows where this is going.  There's enough in the polling data to permit the hope that the country won't be crazy enough to replace President Obama with one of these virulent crazies--and I include Newt Romney in that assessment, judging him by his campaigning words.  But it is really hard to see how any of these growing problems--and especially the combination of a collapsing economy with a collapsing climate--are going to be realistically addressed,  if Congress stays as crazy as it is.

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