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Archive for the ‘Right-Wing Nut-jobery’ Category

The Alternative Reality of the Right

Posted by Bill Nance on April 24, 2010

Anonymous Liberal just posted an article that’s so completely descriptive of the complete abdication of any reality-based arguments on the right that I thought I should re-post it in toto here.

This is the first post I’ve written since last November. Part of what drove me to take a break from writing about politics was a growing realization that the Great Conversation in this country had completely ceased, that the various sides were no longer speaking the same language, like dialects that have–over time–drifted so far apart that they are no longer mutually intelligible. Watching Fox News and Tea Party rallies, it became apparent to me that the right wing in this country had severed the few remaining ties it had to the world I live in, the empirical world.

In its place, the Right has constructed its own Bubble World, a sort of political Truman Show complete with its own facts and rules (albeit facts and rules that are constantly changing based on political expediency). The writers, directors, and actors in this conservative version of Seahaven are the legions of GOP politicians, operatives, and conservative media outlets that relentlessly push this politically expedient alternative reality, and the Trumans are the millions of regular Americans who don’t realize the joke is on them.

In this Bubble World, it is an accepted truth that our President is a bumbling ignoramus who can only string together a coherent sentence if he uses a teleprompter (which, apparently, other politicians don’t use). I can understand a world in which Obama’s political opponents mock him as a being too professorial or out-of-touch or arrogant. But unintelligent? Inarticulate? I don’t know how to deal with that. It’s like mocking John Boehner for being pale.

Similarly, it is an accepted fact in the Bubble World that Obama is an extreme liberal, if not an outright socialist or communist. According to Newt Gingrich, Obama is “the most radical president in American history.” Again, I just don’t know how to deal with that. This is a guy who, at every point in his political career, has gone out of his way to position himself as a moderate, as a pragmatic technocrat. Since taking office, he has not, as far as I can tell, made a single policy decision that can fairly be described as liberal, much less radical. The only significant pieces of legislation he’s passed are a stimulus package that nearly every economist endorsed and a health care reform bill modeled on Romney-care (which, while better than nothing, is nowhere close to the kind of bill most liberals–much less a communists or socialists–would have crafted).

In Bubble World, there is a movement known as the Tea Party, whose members are simultaneously incensed about the size of the deficit and the fact that they have to pay taxes (even though they have the lowest tax rates in the free world and just got significant tax cuts–from Obama–in the past year). Moreover, they’re not angry at the party that built the deficit–by starting wars and giving massive tax cuts to people who are much richer than them–or that presided, just recently, over the near collapse of the economy. But they are furious at the party that just recently took the reins, inheriting both a crumbling economy and massive deficit. And if they had their way, they would put back in power a party whose only policy idea is, that’s right, cutting taxes; which, of course, would only make the deficit much worse.

But not in Bubble World. In Bubble World, cutting taxes actually raises revenue. In Bubble World, “the market” will magically solve all of our health care problems and true “freedom” is defined by one’s ability to be denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions. And in Bubble World, a set of sensible and long-overdue financial regulations designed to prevent another meltdown of the economy and foreclose any future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street is actually a “permanent bailout bill.”

In this alternative universe, the facts are literally whatever the political consultants say they should be. Whatever resonates with the focus group. If you’re working on behalf of Wall Street lobbyists to kill a bill that would impose more accountability on Wall Street, you simply accuse those who support the bill of doing Wall Street’s bidding. It doesn’t matter that this is the opposite of the truth and is, in fact, exactly what you’re doing. While these facts might matter to people in the empirical world, the facts in Bubble World are whatever the right wing wants them to be. In Bubble World, Mitch McConnell is bravely protecting the people from the Wall Street bigwigs, not doing the bidding of Wall Street lobbyists.

And that sad reality goes a long way toward explaining why I haven’t been blogging lately. We’ve reached a point where the right wing in this country has achieved complete epistemic closure. Aided by their extensive and growing media apparatus and a traditional media that is uninterested in playing umpire, the Right has managed to escape entirely from the gravitational pull of the empirical world, and in fact, has a created a world of its own, one with a rapidly growing gravitational field that, everyday, pulls in more and more of the unsuspecting and uninformed.

From the comfort of this Bubble World, people like Mitch McConnell can simply say whatever the hell they want to say, no matter how ludicrous, and trust that much of the country will readily accept it as true. As Christof famously says in the Truman Show, “we accept the reality with which we are presented.” And that’s particularly true when that reality is one that is focus-grouped tested to conform with our pre-existing biases and hammered home repeatedly by the folks we rely on to keep us informed (which, for a scary number of people these days, means Fox News and Rush Limbaugh).

From my perch back in the empirical world, I’m just not sure know to deal with this. How do you begin to make your case when there aren’t any mutually accepted facts? How do you convince someone that the people they trust are liars and charlatans? Writing posts trying to correct the record and dispel misinformation can at times feel about as pointless as trying to bail water out of the ocean.

I had high hopes after the thumping the Republicans took in 2006 and 2008 that we had finally turned a corner, that the cracks were beginning to show in Bubble World and the empirical world was slowly re-exerting its influence. I got the feeling that more and more people who had been stuck in the bubble were beginning to sense that something just wasn’t right.

But I was wrong. Freed from the burden of any actual governing responsibility, the GOP has been free to devote all of its efforts to reconstructing their Bubble World. And they’ve been largely successful. An entire movement has formed that is based, almost entirely, on confusion and mis-directed anger, a movement that sees the world only through the lens of Fox News and other right wing outlets. The Tea Party is an army of Trumans, a movement of people who have whole-heartedly embraced the false reality with which they’ve been presented.

The central dilemma for those us left in the empirical world is how to puncture the bubble. What can we do to make facts once again relevant? What can be done to dis-incentivize the kind of lying and reality denial that has become the hallmark of the modern conservative movement? I can’t say that I have answers to these questions, but I’m pretty confident that these are THE questions that we should be asking. Policy debates are great, but only when they take place in the empirical world. If a majority of Americans aren’t living in that world, then such debates risk becoming purely academic exercises.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better better description of what’s been going on with the right wing in this country over the last 18 months.

Posted in Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Scientists Predicted Ice Age? Not True

Posted by Bill Nance on October 17, 2009

I keep reading snark as well as serious arguments claiming that Global Warming is a myth. It seems that invariably in these screeds someone mentions that in the 70s there was some hoopla about the “coming Ice Age.”

Now, I remember being in school in the mid-70’s and remember reading something along these lines. But in fact, as a study published in the Bulletin of The American Meteorlogical Society shows, the people screaming gloom and doom over an ice age were newspaper reporters, not overwhelmingly scientists.

In the early to mid 70’s climatology was still a science still in it’s infancy, and more importantly a science without things like the space shuttle, or U-2 and SR-71 aircraft to use in their observations. Heck, weather satellites were still a fairly recent thing.

The report shows that due to some cooling observed from the mid-1940’s some scientists did indeed make the claim. –About 12% of them. The other 88% reported either no change (16%) or increased warming (72%).

climatology

Virtually all of the reports citing the possibility of global cooling came out in the years 1967 and 1971. By 1976 virtually no one was making the claim.

Find another straw-man argument folks, global warming is happening. We may or may not be able to address its man-made aspects in time to make a difference. But pretending it isn’t happening at all when there’s a broad concensus among climatologists and other scientists that it is and it is at least partially man-made just makes you look like a putz.  This isn’t Chemistry. It’s a theoretical science. We can’t prove the existence of black holes or human evolution either. We extrapolate from the data, come up with theories which best explain our observations. Global warming has been beaten to death by climatologists from day one. At this point, virtually none of the experts are questioning it any more. That’s called scientific consensus. Yes, it’s still theory, but no, no one has come up with an alternative that tests out as plausible.

When broad scientific consensus is reached and points to something with catastrophic consequences for the entire human race, only a jackass makes it a matter of political point-scoring. We can argue all day about what the best possible course of action to deal with global warming may be. To argue that it isn’t happening or that we shouldn’t even try to address it is stupid at best a racially suicidal at worst.

When Rush Limbaugh shows me his PhD in a related hard science I’ll be interested in his nattering. Until then I’ll rely on what the actual experts tell me, thanks

Posted in Energy issues, News & Analysis, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | 2 Comments »

Healthcare Hysteria

Posted by Bill Nance on August 7, 2009

Unless you’ve been living in a cave these last few weeks, you cannot have failed to hear about the hysteria from many on the right about the proposed healthcare reform bills circulating around congress.

Now normally I’m all for confronting your elected officials about policies with which you’re unhappy .  I still think that’s a good thing. But confrontation and mob hysteria are two entirely different things, especially when the hysteria has been fed by highly paid political operatives from the GOP and slick campaigns of blatant lies by people with a vested financial interest in the status quo.

Rachel Maddow has done an excellent job recently exposing this fraud.  Whatever you may think of her politics, she has the facts straight. Before you head out to your congressperson’s next town hall meeting with a pocket full of outrage, be sure to watch this segment. It’s a microcosm of the fraud being perpetrated by vested interests to stop any and all progress on healthcare reform.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’d love to see the right get actively involved in a real debate on the issues with some concrete ideas that would seriously address the issues of why we pay 175% of what Canada pays for healthcare, have a life expectancy that’s 3.8% less than Canada’s, have a death rate that’s 8.4% higher than Canada’s and a system of health insurance and malpractice that’s literally putting American companies out of business.

What’s been proposed by the GOP has been so close to nothing as to be meaningless. It’s been at best a rehash of the McCain campaign’s proposals, which, in case you missed it, didn’t win the election. One reason for that is that the proposals he put forth, including taxing health benefits paid to employees, are non-starters.

I’ve recently been hearing Obama’s plans to reform healthcare compared to the Soviet Union.  It’s funny, but the friends I have in Canda, Australia, Holland and other places with some form of government assisted or administered healthcare don’t seem to think they live in the Evil Empire.  In fact, most of them are pretty pleased with the quality of their healthcare. Which is certainly more than I can say for most people I know in this country.

The Democrats really need serious input from people with alternative views. But mob hysteria and “NO” is not serious input. It’s plain old obstruction.

Posted in healthcare, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quote Of The Day

Posted by Bill Nance on July 28, 2009

If you’re a Republican, a lot of things are logical: the entire debt began the moment Obama took office; Bush and Cheney never tortured anyone, but Obama is about to; the WMDs really are in Iraq; the president has the constitutional power to send tanks into the streets to arrest any American without charges; deficits don’t matter; Obama is a Kenyan Muslim impostor; and Sarah Palin was qualified to be president of the United States at a moment’s notice. Politics as magical realism.

Andrew Sullivan, on the intellectual dishonesty and willful ignorance of right-wingers lately.

Posted in Barack Obama, humor, Politics, Quote of the Day, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Abortion Doctor Is Murdered. Yes Randall Terry, You ARE At Fault.

Posted by Bill Nance on May 31, 2009

I’m not a zealot on abortion in any sense of the word. I view abortion as at best, a conflict of rights, and sometimes, morally reprehensible.

But I also think the idea of giving a 6-week-old fetus co-equal rights with a woman who must spend the next 8 months pregnant and give birth to it is just silly. One person is here and has rights which cannot be argued. The other is at best, a potential human being.

At some point the choice becomes significantly more morally daunting. For me this is the third trimester. This is because a preemie born at seven months has a pretty good chance of survival, even without heroic life-saving measures. And let’s face it, if you haven’t been able to make up your mind after 6 months, asking you to wait another couple isn’t the end of the world.

There are exceptions to this.

1. The life or long-term health of the mother.  This is an inviolable rule. A potential human being does not have the right to kill, permanently sterilize or otherwise wreck the health of a person already here.

2. In the case where only late-term tests can tell about the viability/health of a fetus. For all you zealots out there arguing this point, Either show me your adopted Downs Syndrome, Autistic or Crohn’s disease children or STFU.  No one should be forced to go through with a pregnancy, usually a very much wanted one, when the child will be horribly disabled.

Enter the latest case of abortion doctor murders, Dr. George Tiller.

Tiller was gunned down in his church, in front of his wife today. No doubt in connection with his work as a physician who provides late-term abortions.

Perhaps Dr. Tiller was not a nice man. I don’t know. What I do know is that he operated within the law and was one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions. Something as I’ve already said I have mixed feelings about, but also something that in some cases is clearly a moral choice. -Unless you’re a religious fanatic like Randall Terry, Godfather of the nut-job organization Operation Rescue.

This organization has been calling doctors who perform abortions of any kind at any stage of development murderers for over 20 years.  Of course they never bother to mention in their disgusting literature that fetuses are spontaneously aborted (miscarried) in about 40% of all early pregnancies. Most women never even know they are pregnant when this happens. So their God is the biggest abortionist of all, but that doesn’t count I guess.

Here is Terry’s Statement on the murder of Doctor Tiller:

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

When you repeatedly call someone a mass murderer and inject God into the mix, people will take you at your word. They will say to themselves: “Hey, this is a mass-murderer for Gosh sake!  Killing him will be saving thousands of lives!” And do the deed. Terry knows this very well. And he doesn’t even bother to express sorrow that the doctor was murdered. Merely that “We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God.”

If you want to know why I’ve com to truly despise the right wing-crazies in this country, look not further than Terry’s statement. What a dirtbag. He’s an unindicted co-conspirator to multiple murders. We can’t prosecute his speech, but we can sure as Hell call it what it is: Incitement to murder.

Posted in Crime, Law & Order, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Theocrat Watch | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

A Thought For Dick Cheney

Posted by Bill Nance on May 19, 2009

How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

Posted in Le Snark, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Speechless

Posted by Bill Nance on April 24, 2009

Speechless. That’s how I’ve felt lately.

Since the election I’ve been watching people I know, some of them friends, frankly lose their bloody minds.

Since 9/12/01 We’ve lived with the worst abuses of power, the most demonstrably dishonest, corrupt and incompetent administration perhaps in our nation’s history.

For at least the last three years, five if you start from the first revelations, it’s become quite apparent that the Bush administration wire-tapped everyone in sight -sans warrants or probable cause. That they held American citizens without charge incommunicado and without access to an attorney for years at a time, implemented a policy where detainees were tortured on a routine basis, spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and generally left America vastly less safe, it’s economy in shambles and its reputation in the trash.

These aren’t even debatable questions.  As Mark Kleiman is fond of saying: Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.

So after eight years of this utter disaster, the American people voted in a clear plurality last November to elect a Democrat…and NOW the wing-nuts on the right are suddenly civil libertarians, fiscal conservatives and sticklers for the law…oh, except for that pesky torture thing.

I don’t even have a response for this level of intellectual dishonesty and blatant partisanship.  It’s inexcuseable and inexplicable.  And so I am left..speechless.

Posted in Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Color Me Disgusted

Posted by Bill Nance on April 22, 2009

Practically every blogger on the internet is writing about the torture memos recently released by the Obama Administration which show a deliberate, concerted and widespread policy of torture of detainees in American custody. I won’t be doing so often as I think others have and continue to do a much better job. But the video below particularly disgusted me.

To defend these practices and to compare the behavior of barbaric thugs with whom we are war to our own behavior, therefore attempting to justify violations of U.S. law, international treaties and all standards of basic human decency is nothing short of barbaric in itself.

This video captures the type of thinking these fools and cowards use to justify such things.  Mind you, this is not some idiot on talk radio or a pundit, this is a United States congressman.

If the words don’t ring any bells for you, I suggest you look at the defense used by Nazis at the Nuremberg trials.

The methods used by the Gestapo and others, many of which are virtually identical to what was revealed in the document released a few days ago were all legal under German law and indeed violated no then-existing international agreements. This is the defense used by the Nazis. The acts were legal under German law and the torturers were “just following orders and policy.”

The standards set at Nuremberg was that “just following orders” was no excuse, nor were laws tailor-made to expressly viiolate all standards of civilized conduct.

The architects of this policy should be prosecuted for war crimes. I’ve no particular interest in going after the torturers themselves until this is done. I want no more Abu Ghraib prosecutions where a few low-level stooges stand in for people far more culpable.

Prosecute, Mr. Holder.  Let the torturers and their cowardly defenders howl all they want. If you do not, the United States will forever be dishonored -and rightly so.

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, Crime, National Security, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Let’s Bomb Iran! -Not

Posted by Bill Nance on March 31, 2009

Well, here we go again…

It seems Elliot “we’ll be greeted as liberators” Abrams has a new target in mind for the use of raw American military power: Iran.

What we are here to discuss is what should be done if and when all that fails. What do we do when one day perhaps not all that far in the future, the Director of National
Intelligence walks in to the Oval Office and tells the president that there is now persuasive evidence that Iran has or is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons?
On that day a lot of things change, questions of the regimeʹs hostility toward America and our allies gain new significance. Today, statements issued by the Iranian regime
calling for Israel to be wiped off the map are disgusting. But we all can be comforted by the fact that the regime cannot follow through on its threats. The world of a nuclear Iran however, will carry with it the possibility of a true Holocaust. Quote, ʺWe have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should
be removed from the region.ʺ Iranʹs supreme leader has said, quote, ʺThereʹs no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israelʺ. Heʹs also said, ʺWe will no longer be able to write off such threats as vile but empty.ʺ

The Iranian regime is currently the largest state sponsor of terror. It has already through its own actions and through its proxies, expanded its influence throughout the Middle East in a serious effort to become the regional henchman. Itʹs responsible for countless deaths in Iraq and it threatens the stability of the entire Middle East.

We must ask ourselves if we are really prepared to live with the Iranian regime possessing nuclear weapons.

So Abrams’ solution is, you guessed, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, Bomb, bomb, Iran.”

There’s a lot of this nonsense floating about and not just among the Neocons.  If you read the rantings of the right wing, they’re all scared to death of the Mad Mullahs™.

I do, however, notice a distinct absence of actual experts on Iran in this equation.  No, it seems most of those, you know, the people who actually speak the language (Farsi), read the newspapers and visit the country don’t seem to be calling for a bombing campaign. -Probably because it’s a stupid idea.

I’ve mentioned the book “The Devil We Know” by former CIA operations agent Robert Baer before on these pages, and it’s a book frankly that every American should read. I say this because Baer, along with some other folks who actually travel to Iran have been shouting from the rooftops for some time now that Iran’s objective is to become a strategic regional power.  Given it’s size, location, natural resources and the heretofore demonstrated savvy of it’s leaders, I don’t think there’s a damn thing anyone can do to stop this over the longer term and it’s probably stupid to try.

It’s quite true the U.S. could, for a time, set back Iran’s nuclear program by a matter of a few years.  But given time, if the regime is dead-set on getting a nuke, there’s little we could do to stop it short of an all-out invasion which would make Iraq on it’s worst day look like a walk in the park.

But what’s Abram’s big fear really? Let’s go down the list:

1. Iran will nuke Israel

This is what happens when you read the Likud Party press and ignore every expert on Iran I’ve ever heard talk on the subject.  Iran is a theocracy certainly. But it’s also been a very rational state actor.  To hit Israel with a nuclear weapon, or even three or four, would only guarantee without a doubt the complete destruction of Iran. Israel is a heavily armed nuclear power with full retaliatory capacity.  It’s called MAD General Abrams, and it kept the U.S., China and the USSR from nuclear conflict for 40 years.  And even if the threat were real, since when is it the job of the U.S. to defend Israel from threats it could deal with itself?  At what point did I miss the vote that made Israel the 51st state?  Let them spend their own blood and treasure if the threat is so dire -and it’s not.

2. Iran will give it’s nukes to a terrorist

Don’t make me laugh. Seriously folks, the idea that a nation state would hand over the crown jewels of its defense program to a terrorist is so patently stupid it doesn’t bear mentioning. You need to stop watching 24 General, it’s Hollywood, not reality.

3. Iran will be unstable and it’s nukes will get loose

So far over the last 30 years the actual power base in Iran has been quite stable. Easily as stable as the Soviet Politburo ever was. Ahmedinejad is a figurehead with little real power. He’s a tool of the Mullahs currently running the Revolutionary Guards, who are but one of the several power bases in Iran. He doesn’t speak for anyone other than as a good PR man for Iran show it’s standing up to the U.S. which is something every country in the region has been looking to do successfully for many years.  Taking his rhetoric seriously is about as stupid as taking Pat Robertson seriously to get a grasp on U.S. policy aims.

4. Iran will become a more powerful regional player and inspire more proliferation in the region

Iran is going to be a bigger player on the regional scene no matter what we do. It’s larger and more populous than any other country in the region (66.5 million) has an abundance of oil and other natural resources, a highly educated workforce and a long history of regional importance. The Mullahs are going to continue to work towards their actual goal, which is replacing Shia Islam as the dominant Middle East variant and possibly (or so they hope) deposing the House of Saud and replacing it with a Shia, or at least a less hostile Sunni regime. It has already asserted virtual puppetry over Syria, a great deal of dominance over Lebanon and massive influence in Iraq thanks to the inept pre-war planning of Abrams Et Al.  We can’t change the face of all that with a few bombs followed with some “good messaging” as Abrams calls it.  This is nationalism and a desire to become a regional power, a national aim since the days of the Shah.

The real threat, and the one Abrams calls correctly in my opinion, is the threat of increased proliferation. But again, I fail to see how a few air strikes will do anything other than postpone that by a few years, perhaps a decade at most. -A decade during which Iran can make things very difficult for the U.S….far more difficult than we can make it for them, and a decade in which new proliferation might arise among our so-called friends, like Saudi Arabia? Are we going to threaten them with bombing too? Something tells me no, and the actual threat of an unstable regime is far, far worse in Saudi Arabia than it is in Iran.

The facts are it’s a crappy situation for the U.S. There are a lot of not very good options and a long-term balance of power in the region looks to favor Iran, no matter what we do. But one thing it would be catastrophic to do would be to bomb them. They can hurt us a lot more and with a lot less effort than we can hurt them. We’re not going to bomb their oilfields…not as long as Germany, France and Japan depend on them.  We’d be left to sanctions (which we can do now) some covert action (which we’re already taking) and a few token air raids on the Revolutionary Guards. Meanwhile, if you bother to look on a map, you’ll notice we’re deeply involved for the foreseeable future in two countries bordering Iran, both with either majority (Iraq) or large minority (Afghanistan) Shia populations who are poor, eager for assistance and can make life very difficult for the U.S.

Abrams should shut the Hell up. He got it so wrong on Iraq, in so many ways, pride alone should keep him silent, not trying to start Iraq part deux.  And the rest of the right-wing nutjobs should shut their yaps as well, especially since in my albeit limited reading of their screeds, hardly a one of these fools even knows what the national language is called, much less anything of significance other than the meaningless rhetoric of a “President” in power only because he licks his masters’ boots well.

-Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

Posted in International, Iran, National Security, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Racists Target Wikipedia Entry For President Of The United States

Posted by Bill Nance on January 20, 2009

This just appeared on the Wikipedia entry under “President of the United States.”

140px-wassermeloneOfficial Seal

Get used to it, the racists are going to be very unhappy in the next 4 years. Let us all pray the Secret Service never lets its guard down.

Posted in Barack Obama, News & Analysis, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »