Monday, January 19, 2015

"If Reagan is Not Risen...

...then our preaching is in vain."
-- Paul to the Christian community of Corinth, as filtered
through the American Conservative Movement.
So Professor Doctor Krugman went Full Driftglass over the weekend.

Which was nice:
Hating Good Government
JAN. 18, 2015

It’s now official: 2014 was the warmest year on record. You might expect this to be a politically important milestone. After all, climate change deniers have long used the blip of 1998 — an unusually hot year, mainly due to an upwelling of warm water in the Pacific — to claim that the planet has stopped warming. This claim involves a complete misunderstanding of how one goes about identifying underlying trends. (Hint: Don’t cherry-pick your observations.) But now even that bogus argument has collapsed. So will the deniers now concede that climate change is real?

Of course not. Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy, where I put scare quotes around “debate” because, given the obvious irrelevance of logic and evidence, it’s not really a debate in any normal sense. And this situation is by no means unique. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board. And the real question is why.

Before I get into that, let me remind you of some other news that won’t matter...
He even arrives at the same, alarming place many of us have been for years:  the realization that "debating" anything with Conservatives is simply futile:
All this is utterly at odds with dire predictions that reform would lead to declining coverage and soaring costs. So will we see any of the people claiming that Obamacare is doomed to utter failure revising their position? You know the answer.

And the list goes on. On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. And no matter the issue, it’s the same chunk. If you’ve gotten involved in any of these debates, you know that these people aren’t happy warriors; they’re red-faced angry, with special rage directed at know-it-alls who snootily point out that the facts don’t support their position.

The question, as I said at the beginning, is why. Why the dogmatism? Why the rage? And why do these issues go together, with the set of people insisting that climate change is a hoax pretty much the same as the set of people insisting that any attempt at providing universal health insurance must lead to disaster and tyranny?
But because he is a better person than I am,  like many Liberals, Dr. Krugman shies away from following his own chain of comprehensively incriminating proofs all the way to their logical conclusion. Leading to to an explanation -- that Conservative are reactionary --
And why this hatred of government in the public interest? Well, the political scientist Corey Robin argues that most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government, even (or perhaps especially) when that expansion makes the lives of ordinary citizens better and more secure. I’m partial to that story, partly because it helps explain why climate science and health economics inspire so much rage.
-- which is necessary but sadly insufficient.

Because no tactical analysis of Conservatism will ever be be sufficient, and no strategy to dismantle its electoral and media machinery will ever work, until we all get it through our heads that Conservatism is not merely reactionary, but a full blown religious cult.

A cult with with a totalizing vision of reality that rejects science, causality, history, Christianity and democracy  in favor of the pronouncements of its Leadership Caste.

A cult which believes with raging, messianic fervor that since all of America's problems were caused by the Original Sin of Big Gummint, the only way to restore their White Christian Nation to it's Righteous and pre-Fallen state (which they have only glimpsed every now and then in certain John Wayne movies) is to destroy the federal government and drive all of Jesusland's scheming, God-hating Liberals and parasitic minorities into the sea.

A cult of giddy fascism....wrapped in the American flag, carrying the bible, with a Toby Keith soundtrack.

A cult in harness to the loathsome agenda of evil men.

A cult which will stab itself in its collective belly over and over again on the orders of its Leadership Caste...just so it can spend another glorious day bitching about how Big Gummint Liberals are making their tummy hurt.

Back in 2009, I chose Paul's (the bible one, not the Nobel in Economics one) admonition to the Corinthians because it really is magnificent in its simplicity. He reduces the entire Christian doctrine as he understood it to a single syllogism, and shows why it is nearly impossible for many people to unleap certain leaps of faith:
  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen. 
  2. And if Christ has not risen, then everything we believe is nonsense.
Like any good Jesuit will tell you, the Bible is actually full of textual errors, mistranslated words, parables which were never meant to be taken at face value, texts in the "revelatory" style because that was the way dangerous writing about the tyrants of the day were encrypted, stories in which the characters leap all over the place geographically because rearranging things that way drove the polit better, and so forth.  None of these things bother me or disturb my faith, but they will unhinge a fundamentalist who has traded inquiry for idolatry and must believe that every word in that book is the literal and inerrant word of God,

Which, quicker than you can say "Australopithecus africanus", will find you in a Creationist "Science" class, being taught that the unimpeachable evidence of 17 different branches of science are all "lies straight from the Pit of Hell".

So too is this the case in American Conservatism, which is not merely a fundamentalist cult that worships terrible ideas, but a fundamentalist cult with immensely wealthy patrons that worships terrible ideas.

And like any other cult in which the members have gone all-in and done horrendous, unforgivable things in the name of the True Faith, it has become impossible for Conservatism to save itself, because like any successful cult, it has given its adherents no way out.  It is, by now, almost literally unthinkable for a Conservative to acknowledge any error other than being insufficiently pure in their raging Conservatism.  And to admit that, just maybe, the Dirty Hippies would be...catastrophic. Identity-annihilating.  

There is no greater sin against Saint Reagan in the hierarchy of Conservatives heresies than to entertain the concept -- even as a theoretically -- that Conservatism itself is the problem.  Doubters are instantly cast out as squishy RINOS, and reformed are declared abominations and cast out.  

As must needs be, because what dirty "realists" like Dr. Krugman can never quite wrap their heads around is that Conservatives are not citizens fighting policy battles for a specific, marginal tax rate, or against a particular regulation; they are holy warriors locked in a Ragnarok/End Times struggle against the Forces of Evil.  

They believe fervently that, if they win, America will finally be restored to the freedom-jizzing, gun-loving, Christian paradise on Earth as it was in the Days of Old.  And they believe just as fervently that, should they lose, and nothing shall remain of Her but a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape of runamok petty IRS bureaucrats, uppity pitchfork-wielding minority devils, union thugs, feminazis, free goodies like "health care" and "clean water" being handed out to every moocher in the land, and nothing but mandatory Commie kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone else.

Their holy war does not acknowledge factual reality and does permit compromise or reform, because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding:


Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

The rank-and-file reactionaries lose under plutocracy, so their continued support of it proves that the love of money is not the root of all evil. I could almost admire the skill of the Brain Caste at deceiving the Know-Nothing rank and file (in a "Rommel, you magnificent bastard" kind of admiration).

I suppose St. Paul meant "all" to mean "many kinds of evil" (in the sense we say "all kinds of" when we simply mean "many") which is true, rather than "the totality of evil", which is not true.

n1ck said...


There is the big lie, and there is observable reality which you eloquently describe here.

I love trolling conservatives, but ultimately, trolling a conservative is simply done by pointing at what a conservative says/believes, and then pointing at observable reality, and placing the two things side-by-side.

I think you could argue that real journalism is in a sense just pointing at what someone says/does/believes, and then pointing at reality and putting both things side-by-side for a third party to see.

bowtiejack said...

Nailed it!

Davis Statton said...

OK, this post alone prompted me to throw a little cash your way.

Neo Tuxedo said...

The really bad part is, they have their own evidence for their own facts, as witness the last item here, from Gary Benner of Hagerstown, MD, in one of my local papers:

"I see in the Jan. 17 paper, federal scientists say 2014 was the warmest year on record. I don’t know where they were at, but if they were over in Europe and Africa or someplace, might be, or Australia, like they say here, but I know I’m here in the U.S., and that’s all I’m worried about. I live in Maryland, and it sure wasn’t that hot this year in Maryland. So I don’t know where these scientists get their information at, because I’m not much on United Nations and their stuff, and I don’t believe in the NASA program. And this is for Larry Zaleski, about climate change denial. I’m a denier, because I don’t believe in science people. Look how cold it is this year."

Which is just one more piece of evidence that you're right about the Republican Party being a cult -- well, technically about the John Birch Society cult having hollowed out the Republican Party some time around 1964 and worn its skin as a Buffalo Bill suit ever since. If you look at what they do rather than what absurdities they believe that lead them to do it, I can only think of two meaningful differences between the John Birch Society doing business as the Republican Party and the Church of Scientology dba Religious Technology Center Inc.:

1) RTC lacks the political power to threaten anyone who doesn't go up against them directly, and isn't even that much of a danger to those outside the cult;
2) unlike Republican policy, the Scientology "tech" actually does help ordinary people sometimes -- really help them, not just temporarily pull their strings to keep them happy with insane leaders. The tech is, after all, just another method of mind training, based on what Hubbard learned from "the late Aleister Crowley, my very good friend", and which was known before him to Ignatius of Loyola, Yeshua ben Yusuf, Hillel the Elder, Siddhartha Gautama, and all those other illuminated souls who together form the embodiment of the Teacher.

Green Eagle said...

You are wrong. What liberals seem to be incapable of understanding is that Conservatives say things not because they believe them, but because those things advance their interests at any particular point in time. That is why they care nothing for demonstrable fact, or even for the consistency of their claims with what they have said before or after.

A classic example of this is the doctrine of "judicial restraint," which they abandon in an instant the minute it doesn't produce the desired results. I could cite dozens more, but I'm sure you are as familiar with them as I am.

Words are simply not a means to approach the truth to Conservatives, they are weapons to force what they want on the rest of us. So it is foolish to speak about what they "believe;" they believe in nothing but not paying taxes, and their right to hate.

Pamela Merritt said...

Bravo! An awesome distillation of why their minds are so closed, their hearts so implacable, and their powers of reason non-existent.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Ka-Pow! Boom! Slam! Drifty you inspire me to be a more truculent blogger.

lostnacfgop said...

Man, you cannot know how much Inherit the Wind resonated with me growing up (almost as much as "A Christmas Carol" or "IAWL" did beginning in my late 20's. I surely wish we knew one another better - even though you're better read than I am, for we clearly see the world in the same d*mn way . . . you know, as in Some men see things the way they are and say "why," I dream of things that never were and say, "why not." And I don't mean that the way GB Shaw did, but the way his most famous repeater did . . .