"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today's Must-Read: A Twofer

There. I'm being very up front about it this time.

Two posts in my morning reading started building links between themselves. (Well, OK, I did it, but it's just the way my mind works: it's right-brain thinking, in which your mind makes connections that are not obvious to rational -- i.e., left-brain -- thinking. It's the way an artist thinks.)

At any rate, the first is Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo on the "Deep State," President Bannon's chief bugaboo:

The deep state is the latest "fifth column" narrative of betrayal from within. Conservative radio host Mark Levin alleges Obama and the Democrats have “squirreled their appointees into the bureaucracy” to engage in a "silent coup" against Trump. But for the Trump administration the narrative functions rather neatly as a preemptive explanation for his administration's own failures. Andrew Sullivan sees Trump's unsupported accusations of wiretapping against President Obama and attacks against the press as "designed to erode the very notion of an empirical reality, independent of his own ideology and power." Peter Beinart believes that deep state rumors are a diversion that will allow Trump to dismiss as partisan hackery any findings by the Justice Department that his administration has ties to the Russian government.
(Emphasis added.)

The portion I emphasized ties in very neatly to this article by David Roberts at Vox, via Digby, which, in spite of the headline is not about climate change denial:

Indeed, the climate fight has long since moved past the stage when it was about the facts.

Allow me an analogy. Imagine you’re playing a basketball game. A member of the other team travels. The referee calls the travel, but the opposing player just shrugs and says, “I don’t care.” He refuses to surrender the ball and just keeps going. Then his team starts putting extra players on the court, fouling at will, and pelting your team with refuse. The referee continues calling violations, but the other team simply disregards him. They start appealing to their own referees, friends of theirs in the stands. “Bob says there was no foul.”

At that point, the dispute is no longer about what happened in this play or that play. The facts are not at issue. The dispute is over the authority of the referee. The question is whether both teams will honor the referee’s calls, and if not, how the game can be played at all and what “winning” means under the circumstances.

If it’s not obvious, the referee in this analogy is science.

Roberts does us the favor of extending that analogy:

But in a sense, climate denial is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.

Trumpism is just the flowering of a process that has been underway for a couple of generations, and which we're seeing in all sorts of contexts -- climate change denial, "fake news," "alternative facts," "Christians" rejecting the authority of the law, the press' "both sides do it" mantra, and on and on. Ascribing it to emerging fascism is almost too trite -- it's the erosion of the very foundations of civilization.

And we can thank "conservatism" when it all comes tumbling down.

Footnote: This is a prime example of the tactics conservatives use:

Aiming to erode public trust in the Congressional Budget Office ahead of its report this week expected to show that the GOP's Obamacare repeal bill will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance, Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials are rewriting the history of the CBO's analysis of the Affordable Care Act.

"They were way, way off last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters. "If you look at the number of people they projected would be on Obamacare, they were off by millions.

1 comment:

Pieter said...

One aspect of the Bannon administration's response to the "deep state" is that it makes it possible to remove all the people who actually know how to keep the country going, and replace them with novices whose ideals run counter to their positions. That way, they can point to the government and claim truthfully that government gets in the way rather than getting things done -- and people who aren't paying attention won't necessarily understand that the not getting things done is a result of the evisceration carried out by Bannon and his cohorts.