scientific experts

A Sour Grape of Wrath (…?)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).Something about market demand goes here. To the one, it is easy enough to mourn last month’s midterm election. To the other, sure, there is certainly some custom suggesting the dignified thing to do would be to move on. The beeblebrox, however, might suggest that the machinations of history during any given period are defined by the contemporary literary record. And if we want a fourth to raise while we sit around licking ourselves we might also wonder whether future considerations of our own contemporary literary record will account for marketplace demand in the context of various interests attempting to shape the historical record.

To wit, it is one thing to consider a legacy of history, another to attempt to manipulate our own legacies as we live our lives. And it is another thing altogether that our society includes a cottage industry dedicated to the shaping of historical narratives.

msnbcRepublicans might have been better off – which is to say, they would have ended up with a more conservative outcome – if they’d actually compromised and taken governing seriously in some key areas.

But McConnell thought it’d be easier to win through scorched-earth obstructionism.

Again, as of next month, he’ll be the Senate Majority Leader, so maybe he doesn’t care about the substantive setbacks. But for all the GOP gains at the ballot box, it’s Obama, not Republicans, moving a policy agenda forward.

(Benen)

The question of punditry takes on an interesting context when experts in subjective rhetoric enjoy increased marketplace demand while actual expert consultation faces public sector hostility.

But it is all ultimately part of the same narrative. Mr. Benen might sound akin to grasping at straws, but the 2014 midterm really was phenomenally demonstrative of something. Nobody is certain just what, but consider this context within the narrative: What does playing the centrist game get liberals? Trounced by rightist extremism.

Really, though, just how liberal are Democrats? Really?

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Benen, Steve. “Mitch McConnell and the limits of scorched-earth obstructionism”. msnbc. 1 December 2014.

Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research“. Salon. 19 November 2014.

An Attempt to Explain Republicans to an Overseas Neighbor

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) (C) speaks during a news conference to introduce a GOP-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla)

Ed. note: The following is a repost of a Facebook comment offered to a friend from New Zealand who is constantly baffled by what he witnesses in the American political process, and happened to inquire about Republican efforts to … well, right. It has to do with recent House bills pertaining to the role of science in government policy.

I think the best way to explain it is to once again invoke a Cold War analogy; after all, depicting Democrats as “liberals”, with “liberals” meaning “Soviet Communists” was a key to Ronald Reagan’s electoral success.

But think about it this way, too: By that analogy, Republicans are the “capitalists”.

So it goes, then, that if we look at votes as “capital”, then the actions of the RNC, Congressional Republicans, and various surrogates and allies make sense: Get the capital by whatever means necessary.

That’s why the whole thing is so puzzling to people who, you know, have a conscience. The GOP ain’t playin’ that way. This is about winning votes, and nothing more. And in the United States, conservative voters will take whatever they can get to reinforce their platform. Additionally, superstition and subjective moral outrage are much more attractive to most American voters than obvious logic that, if attended, would skip the melodrama and slapstick that has become our political system.

To that end, we might consider Manichean dualisms or, simply, reality television. Just as many people believe in a basic struggle between good and evil, so also do many people believe reality television depicts reality.

In that context, it becomes a capitalistic ratings game; our elections become a functional part of our entertainment industry.

What Republicans are trying to do here is twofold: (1) Bolster their own political fantasies by excluding reality; (2) create a situation in which government will experience an even greater failure about its performance of duty so that they can complain even louder that government just doesn’t work.

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Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research”. Salon. 19 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Republicans take aim at imaginary target: ‘secret science'”. msnbc. 20 November 2014.