Funny, isn't it, that no matter how loony the mainstream Republican Party gets, it's still not loony enough for many of its supporters?
We saw this with the State of the Union address, too, when Michele Bachmann had to give a separate rebuttal from the usual Republican rebuttal. What, Paul Ryan wasn't loony enough for them? They had to get Michele Bachmann? Michele Bachmann?
We see this with the recent report on the financial crisis, too. It's not just that none of the four Republicans on the panel would accept reality, but that they couldn't even agree among themselves on which alternate history to present. Between the four of them, they had to present two separate dissents!
One of them even claims that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the primary cause of the meltdown. Heh, heh. Apparently, he's been watching too much Fox "News," huh? The thing is, there's clear evidence otherwise, but if you refuse to believe whatever you don't want to believe, what good is evidence?
These people don't live in the same world as the rest of us. But what they're finding is, if you can pick your own reality, then no one is going to agree on which one.
This really reminds me of the French Revolution. Back then, the leaders of the revolution lost control of their followers. Pretty soon, no one could be too extreme for the mob. If you were seen as a moderate, you lost your head (literally).
But the standards kept changing. Early leaders were soon seen as enemies, because they were just too moderate. You couldn't pick a position and stand still. You had to run as fast as you could to keep up with the mob, to become more and more extreme all the time. Because if you fell behind, you were considered a traitor and a reactionary, and the guillotine was waiting.
Forget about suggesting compromise. Forget about caution. Forget about common sense. When mobs rule, that's dangerous. When everyone else is running like a lemming towards the cliff, you'd better be in the lead. Because as dangerous as that is, it's far more dangerous - at least in the short-term - to be seen as lagging behind.
I see this in the Republican Party today. They started off with their Southern Strategy of appealing to white racists, and that was a big political success. They quickly took the entire South from the Democrats. Then they courted Christian fundamentalists, and found them to be a dedicated bunch of political activists. Too dedicated, because pretty soon, the tail started wagging the dog.
Fox "News" started out as a big help to Republicans. Now, it's Republicans who are a big help to Fox "News." No Republican dares to object. And with the Tea Party, Republicans were also quick to jump on board, encouraging their extremism. But they find there's no limit to extremism, none at all. And the same Republicans who thought to take advantage of it, find that they've lost all control over the situation.
These days, if a Republican leader doesn't keep Fox "News" and the Tea Party happy, he ends up a bloody mess in the trashcan of history. He doesn't dare even think about criticizing Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. And politicians run to become even more extreme than their rivals, because you just can't be too extreme for the GOP base,... but you can definitely be too moderate, too reasonable, too sane.
I don't know how this is going to end up. I hope it doesn't get quite as bad as the French Revolution. But seriously, when will this mad rush to the far-right end? When will we see a backlash from reasonable, rational people?
Unfortunately, when mobs run wild, reasonable, rational people seem to disappear. I certainly don't see any responsible Republican leaders trying to stem the mad stampede, do you?
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. Unfortunately, I rarely blog at all, anymore. So don't expect new posts. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle. - Molly Ivins
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill