“Paranoia is reality on a finer scale.”
It’s been a weird week. And the high strangeness in the world is weirder too. The more I study world events and politics these days, the more disconnected from reality they seem. I suppose it’s always been the case to one degree or another every since the rise of the mass media in the nineteenth century, but I think the problem has reached new heights in the USA for a number of reasons. And it’s hard to even write about since these attitudes have so seeped into public consciousness, including mine, that even pointing them out is tricky. Of course, since when I have I let a topic’s difficulty to explain hold me back?
First I saw a thing recently about who was a better spokesman for the right, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. I suppose they have their points, but my mind still reeled. I’ve listened to Rush on a number of occasions, his talks are dripping with insults and name calling. Not to mention his habit of saying outrageous things just for their shock value, he recently suggested re-segregating buses for example. No disrespect intended, but someone who is constantly insulting and calling names probably isn’t attempting to seriously debate an issue. As for Glenn Beck, I’ve only seen one video of him, and it was shocking to me. He was going into histrionics over some email rumour that if you clicked on a certain web site, the government would take over your computer and you would give up a bunch of rights. He even went so far as to make a big deal about borrowing someone’s laptop to demonstrate, because he was afraid to use his own. It was like watching Geraldo Rivera open Al Capone’s Vault. IE, there wasn’t anything there. (And for the record, you CAN’T give up your rights by clicking on a web site or anything else, that’s why they are called inalienable rights. Don’t they teach civics in the schools anymore?) In most other countries, people who carried on like that would never be considered as spokesmen for a major political party, Hugo Chavez is the only current foreign leader who talks like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Can’t the right do better than that?
Speaking of journalism and weirdness, now we have this ACORN business. Some “journalists” went around to ACORN offices and apparently in some cases were able to get a few ACORN employees to say outrageous things. OK, so what? If one interviewed enough junior employees of any organization, you would soon enough be able to get someone to say terribly outrageous things … especially if you were going to great lengths to get them to do so. And this is being treated as some sort of major scandal or expose by the right, as if the actions of a few junior employees completely without context means something. If a temp janitor at the Republican Party Headquarters said similar nonsense, would it discredit the entire party? I mean, who were these employees anyhow, what footage aren’t they showing? This was a Borat style stunt, not serious journalism. Anyone with a camera and an agenda could create an expose this way, yet Congress is jumping onto the bandwagon to demonize ACORN over this. It’s surreal.
Speaking of surreal, one of our future presidents has been making his usual amazingly weird but well attuned to the modern sensibilities statements. He claimed that “failure” in Afghanistan would “intoxicate” terrorists everywhere. And went on to claim that pretty much every “extremist” on the planet would win if the US lost in Afghanistan. He literally makes it sound like there is this vast world wide conspiracy of “terrorists” that are fighting the USA, just like KAOS in the old Get Smart show. This isn’t just a simplification, it’s silly. Worse, he bases his argument on the idea that if we ever lose, our enemies will be emboldened. Reality check here, only some Americans actually believe that the USA is invincible and we never lose nor will we lose if we only put our best effort into it. Many Americans the rest of the world is under no such illusion, they know the USA lost in Somalia and Vietnam for starters, and even where we have bombed and bludgeoned our way to “victory” like in Iraq and Afghnaistan, and Kosiovo … the results have been less than stellar. “The Little Engine that Could” was a children’s book for God’s sake people. And General Petraeus is going to make a run at the presidency, God help us all.
Then of course there is the modern trend of being rude and insulting, and it’s cool. I don’t think I’m imagining that. That’s sort of tied into the trend of thinking that if someone disagrees with you, they must be stupid. It just seems like so much of public debate these days in on a very low level, and almost painfully obviously hijacked by special interests that don’t give a rat’s ass about the average American. And yet so many Americans, left and right, are absolutely convinced that their people at the top are sincere in their platitudes about democracy, freedom, and defending America.
Sigh, enough politics. Next week, some nice soothing posts about exploding stars, man-eating lizards, and a little known general who may very well be the most influential man in the history of the west. He also changed warfare forever and managed to completely annihilate armies vastly larger and as well equipped as his using the world’s first secret weapon … the shovel. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, and if I knew who to attribute it to, I would. It’s an image of course of black helicopters, a mainstay of paranoid conspiracy theorists. I just liked it’s dreamy creepy quality. Black helicopters, fodder for another blog? Of course not! Christ, it would be like blogging about cattle mutilations or chupacabra. The world may be weird, but it’s not insane.)