Okay, this blog entry is going to be a bit rambling and angry… somewhat of a drunkard’s walk, while ranting at the lamp posts! Hope it at least entertains. Here goes.
We’ve all known this and said it for a long time. I laid it out in explicit detail in my Dispuations Arenas article. Still, it’s nice to see a cogent naming of the Phenomenon — Brandolini’s law – or, as Alberto Brandolini suggests, the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle:
The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.
== Heading for war? ==
Sorry, this is a wrongheaded reflex. Back in 2002 – 2003, the issue was never “should Saddam Hussein be toppled and replaced?” Nor was it “should the Taliban – who supported and helped bin Laden to attack us be toppled and replaced?” We needed to do both things. (Though in Saddam’s case it deserved genuine policy debate and not a festival of Bushite lies.)
No, the real issue, re US involvement/meddling over there, is and was “should it be done in the stupidest and most expensive ways possible? In a calamitous, gruesomely thuggish methodology that would cost us trillions, damn-near ruin our military and our reputations and leave only two winners: Iran and Haliburton?”
If you actually (astonishingly) think that there will be any resemblance between the coming Obama-led engagement and the Bushite quagmires, you really need to read about the diametrically opposite ways that democrats and republicans wage war.
America’s transportation infrastructure, once a continental engine of mobility, productivity and opportunity, has fallen into such disrepair that it’s become an economic albatross. Consumers shell out billions of dollars for extra car repairs every year. Insufficient and poorly maintained roads mean costly bottlenecks for businesses, which discourage expansion and hobble American companies competing in the global economy. We all have heard of 60,000 bridges in desperate need of maintenance. Why is almost nothing being done?
At a time of steeply declining budget deficits (always true during democratic administrations and never true during GOP ones) it might seem simple to put middle class blokes back to work, stimulating the economy with high velocity cash while fixing the damaged streets and bridges and getting tons of benefits. One obstacle though. The do-nothing US House of Representatives… the laziest and least accomplished in the history of the republic… has refused to fund infrastructure repairs.
Moreover, several gopper congressfolk have openly admitted their reason — that the resulting improvements and economic boost might help democrats at the polls. It is the Hastert Rule. Never cooperate or negotiate in good faith with democrats, ever. (The last GOP leader who did that – Newt Gingrich – was dumped and jettisoned by Hastert, DeLay, Boehner and other leaders of the madness that has taken over today’s Republican Party.)
Anyone who continues to support this mutant betrayal of true conservatism/libertarianism is a rationalizing fool.
==War against Nerds==
Salon runs a fun article eviscerating how explicit has become the mad-right’s Assault on Nerds. It has got so clear and full-pitch that even William F. Buckley’s once-intellectual National Review has joined the War Against All Smartypants. Scientists and members of every knowledge caste have been driven out of today’s hijacked version of conservatism. God help us if this relentless campaign drives them all the way across — past moderate liberalism — all the way to the opposite madness on the far left.
I doubt that will happen. All we want is a sensible society where adults negotiate with each other mixed-pragmatic solutions to problems, aiming for a future that will be vastly better than the past that nostalgic loonies (of both the far-left and the entire-right) yearn for.
More evidence? In late May, the Republicans in the House put an amendment in the Defense Spending Authorization Bill that forbids the Defense Department from spending any money preparing for the consequences of climate change. This article – on an admittedly liberal site – nevertheless lays this latest lunacy bare and lists an impressive array of serving and retired officers and military contractors who are deeply concerned. The Bill is now in the Senate.
One of you in the community commented: “Our military wargames all kinds of scenarios. Preparedness is part of the job of our military planners, and having a plan prepared is the first step to winning a fight. I expect that somewhere the US military has a plan to deal with a threat from just about any conceivable direction. Oh, but not waves of hungry and thirsty refugees from all over the world, not that. We cannot plan for that contingency.”
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have thrown another grenade. “Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity-particularly diversity of viewpoints-for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity.”
Read that between the lines. It is an indictment of the political correctness that rules in several hundred university soft studies departments. Along with San Francisco, Berkeley and Illinois, these are the places where you get to see the reason moderate liberals are rightfully wary of their lefty allies. And I will not be squelched in reminding you folks that there is danger there! But again… a few hundred university soft studies departments are a far cry from the worst danger to our republic and freedoms and planet.
I am wary of that direction. I am bloody furious at the New Confederates who are (at present) vastly more damaging and lethally dangerous to civilization.
== Ironies abound ==
My sci fi author colleague John Shirley dissects “sovereign citizen”… a cult-like movement among those who take the anti-government wing of our widely shared Suspicion of Authority ethos to an extreme that denies any legitimacy of common bonds with three hundred million fellow Americans. While I agree with John, on many levels, I believe his approach is more left-versus-right than it needs to be, regarding this matter. (Indeed, while they are fewer – today – there ARE would be tyrants whose metaphors of outrage and hate come from (shall we say) the opposite direction. Surfaces can be misleading.)
In fact, it can be dissected very simply. Those who deny any validity to shared institutions that derive their legitimacy from the electoral political processes, that in-turn reflect consensus of a great and educated nation, are not simply asserting autonomy — (while hypocritically depending on that nation, utterly). They are either ignoring 6000 years of brutal feudal rule by armed thugs, or else deeply committed to becoming precisely those same armed thugs and feudal lords.
I attempted to portray this in The Postman, way back in the 1980s… and it is one part of the book that Kevin Costner translated to the film with utter accuracy! Especially Will Patton’s delightful General Bethlehem, who conveyed where all this would inevitably lead.
Indeed, I wrote The Postman specifically as a direct answer to these fellows. How average folks would not just cower before the would be lords, but instead might (if properly inspired) rise up to restore that gracious consensus nation, once again.
Having tasted civilization, many of us will gladly fight to the death, to keep it.
In an impromptu interview at a Portland restaurant, I gave a six minute run down of why I think the American political process has so broken down that we are effectively in phase eight of the US Civil War. Not one of the factors that I mention has a scintilla to do with so-called “left-versus-right” or any of the matters that you are being told to hate-over.
==The Tea Party and the Confederacy==
Here’s a somewhat too-radical but interesting essay about how the Confederacy lost phase four of the Civil War, in 1865, then won phase five with the collapse of Reconstruction and minority rights, in 1877. Indeed, things have swung back and forth, ever since, including the Civil Rights phase that was won by Blue America – finally crushing the vileness of segregation – but at a cost that resulted in the complete flip-reversal of the two US political parties. In that light, today’s raging “culture war” is only the latest phase.
Clearly the Tea Party is not heir to the 1776 Founders. Their romantic delusions about that Revolution are discussed elsewhere…
… but the crux is clear; instead of wearing three-cornered hats, our Tea Party neighbors should wear gray, for they are the neo-confederate party. In fact, more and more of them are realizing this. Their devotion to the rising, worldwide oligarchy is identical to the feudal loyalty that their forebears gave to plantation lords. The aim – to tear down the future-oriented, change-welcoming, scientific and pragmatic Blue America, in order to replace it with classic nostalgia and feudal hierarchy – is identical to that of the southern tories who rode with Cornwallis and Tarleton.
My own, earlier take: The crucial phase of the Civil War, phase three, started in 1852, when waves of southern irregular cavalry began 8 years of violent raids into Northern states to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. This was never the “war of northern aggression.” It was the diametric opposite. And it is time to re-learn the Battle Hymn of the Republic.