Saturday, September 17, 2011

Obama vs The Great White Dope

Unless some as yet completely unknown super candidate mysteriously appears from some as yet unknown planet it will surely be Obama versus some Great White Dope. None of the existing candidates for the Republican nomination look at all promising, some of them appear at best to be only on the margins of sanity, others seem to have no credentials other than ego, and still others haven’t as yet even declared their intentions. This latter doesn’t matter as the undeclared are every bit as loony as those who have, or perhaps even worse.

Two of the three leading candidates are obviously religious nut-cases (probably “Dominionists”) and the third belongs to a religion that, among other strange things, believes underwear can be sacred. It is likely that one of these three will actually get the Republican nomination but also unlikely any of them can win in the general election. Why Republicans believe any one of these three might defeat President Obama is a mystery to me, but they do, apparently because they think Obama is “weak” and in trouble. Don’t know about weak but he is in trouble, trouble of the Republicans making as they have blocked him at every turn, are trying to destroy the economy so they can falsely blame it on him, and have in general acted in what I believe is a rather treasonous fashion. Moreover they seem to ignore the fact that however bad Obama appears they themselves are considered even worse. The only candidate that has said anything even remotely reasonable, like believing in science and evolution, is going absolutely nowhere and may be lucky to escape the fate of Galileo. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is the United States where any form of intellectual activity, even reason, has long since been abandoned in favor of ignorance, so there is no telling what might happen.

Speaking of ignorance brings to mind for me the two and a half years I spent with natives in the New Guinea Highlands, people usually described as “primitive” or still living “in the Stone Age.” I never thought of them as stupid but they were terribly ignorant of so much as they were illiterate, had no television, no education, and rarely even a radio. One of their most outstanding features was what I took to be a lack of curiosity or a concern with explanations. If you asked them why they did certain things they would typically reply in Pidgin, “Fesin b’long tumbuna” (this is what the ancestors did). As a simple example, when a girl experiences her first menses there is an elaborate ceremony for her. She is isolated for a month, not allowed to touch the ground, serenaded at night, and so on. On the day she reappears she is feasted with pork and vegetables, has to carry an arrow in her left hand, and, at one point in the ceremony an older man pulls on her finger to crack her knuckles. If you inquire as to why this is done they will tell you it’s “the way of our ancestors.” They don’t know any other explanation and seem unconcerned to know any. There are many more examples of this, apparently a kind of magical thinking.

This is, in my opinion, not entirely different from what I take to be Republican magical beliefs. They constantly claim we need to reduce taxes , shrink government, and balance the budget, and wait for things to “trickle down,” even though these ideas are demonstrably false as has now been shown to be true. Not only that, Republicans have not even followed these ideas themselves when they had the power to do so. You may recall that one of their greatest culture heroes, Saint Ronnie the Boneheaded, raised taxes eleven times during his Presidency. Similarly, there is little evidence that government ever shrunk much under Republican administrations. Nor, as far as I can remember, did any Republican administration ever balance a budget. These are little more than magical beliefs. If you ask them why they still believe them they offer no sensible explanation. They seem to believe them because that is what Republicans have always believed, little more than magical thinking.

The Republican Party, as it is currently constituted, seems to have nothing to offer except these magical beliefs. They have no concrete proposals to create jobs and/or improve the economy. They just repeat their magical formula, lower taxes, shrink government, balance the budget, with no serious suggestions as to how to do this or what the outcome would be. However bad Obama may be he does appear to be trying to do something, Republicans predictably stand in his way at every opportunity, yet they believe this is going to return them to power in 2012. In any other country I would suggest this is merely magical thinking, in the U.S., perhaps not, as their magical thinking takes precedence over science and reason, their religious beliefs deny even the basic facts of evolution and the age of the earth, some even believe god is telling them what to do, and all we have to do is return to the bible and pray for directions and all will be well. There are many citizens who apparently agree with this assessment. If ever there was a time for Mohammed Ali’s “Rope-a-Dope” strategy it is now, it doesn’t even matter which Dope it turns out to be.

The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.

H. L. Mencken

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