Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keeping the Bat in Motion

[photo of Roger Maris at bat from ]

Juan Cole closes a brief post on the recent Wilileaks dump of internal memos from the Stratfors private security analysis company with the following remarkable paragraph:

This fifth point, about the one percent interpreting the world for the one percent as being about the one percent, is a dire problem in our information system, since the one percent has the resources and can try to overwhelm reasoned analysis that recognizes the agency of the people. Ultimately, the political struggle here is an epistemological one (epistemology being the study of how we know what we know).

Cole's immediate point is that the intelligence coming from Stratfors was weak. His larger point is more important, particularly in a time of Citizens United. We are perhaps luckier than we know that there is even a single political party which remains at least to some degree connected to a world larger than the hall of mirrors. This is the deeper lesson of the utter collapse into absurdity of the other major American political party, the Republicans. America has allowed purchasing power to almost totally control information. Not only is one political party entirely lost to sanity--and I'd include most of the Republican elected officials as well as millions of Republican voters--we now have institutionalized voices which daily reinforce the lunacy: Fox news, the various radio hate-talkers, and even quite a few supposed institutions of "higher learning."

It's no wonder that one of the very few remaining mildly sensible Republican senators, Olympia Snowe, chose yesterday not to run again, in a campaign which she would likely have won. As she said (to paraphrase), dealing daily with unreasoning ideology is tiring, and six more years of it is not a welcome prospect.

Mr. Obama perhaps deserves a medal for being willing to run again, in the face of the entirely unreasonable opposition he will most likely face for a second term (although one can and might as well hope that somehow Democrats will regain control of the House--it ain't over till it's over). Yesterday he mustered a delightful stem-winder for an audience of auto workers, and how Mr. Romney can possibly counter Obama's speaking skills and his clear believability remains to be seen. The contrast at the moment is stark.

Thus, the ongoing efforts to making voting for all demographics who are expected to support Mr. Obama much more difficult this fall. And on the PR front, the right is hauling out the old welfare queen trope yet again, with ranters suggesting that anyone on government assistance shouldn't be allowed to vote at all, because "all they'll do is vote themselves more assistance."

As things become more dissonant, the volume rises. It's probably a matter of physics, which might be called the Law of Hannity, a guy who's mastered the weak skill of shouting down any and all opposition. See, e.g.:

The shouting doesn't obscure the fact that Hannity has nothing. Same as it ever was.

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