(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
“We will impose our reality on them.”
— Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
in a meeting with CIA
and State Department analysts
before the invasion of Iraq
Alas for Republicans, reality-imposing has fallen out of fashion.
Instead, much to their dismay, the rising waters of real Reality are lapping at the ankles of panicked right-wingers, borne on the tide of the Global Meltdown they have facilitated over the past 30 years. The ground has shifted beneath them and they don’t even know it. Their very political survival depends on their being able to find this “reality” they speak of; they are certain that it lies on the tiny island they inhabit and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Confined finally to the
very small and besieged archipelago known as the Islands of I, Me and Mine [Republicans] have taken to spluttering and fuming more and more strenuously as the rising tide of Global Meltdown – the same Global Meltdown their blindly followed instincts have created, the same Global Meltdown they still somehow believe it useful to deny – renders their natural habitat smaller and smaller, leaving them less and less room to maneuver. The past eight years have shown them to be flightless creatures incapable of soaring, let alone getting off the ground; thus they are reduced to squawking and flapping their gums and strutting imperiously about a comically ever-more-tiny domain of which they each believe themselves to be unchallenged master.
Stranded on these isolated and rapidly-disappearing spits of land that comprise the entire Republic of IOKIYAR, right-wingers are grasping at the last pitiful flotsam and jetsam of a belief system that once assured them that they alone knew what was real: Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris remaining confident that they have us surrounded. Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove finding the vast left wing conspiracy among those with the termidity (!) to use teh Google. Ari Fleischer praising George Bush for limiting Saddam to attacking us just the one time on 9/11. Norm Coleman’s top adviser giving Al Franken a heads-up about a freight train that is bearing down on him. Jonah Goldberg asserting that Barack Obama is a fear monger. Dorothy Rabinowitz assuring us that Obama’s inaugural address was very grim and devoid of celebration. Mary Matalin dismissing the current kerfuffle as an economic mini-crisis that we’re in for the moment and acknowledging that conservatives are better-educated thanks to Rush Limbaugh.
Regardless of what others might see, they still cling stubbornly, these curious creatures tossed onto these desolate shores by a whirlwind of their own making, a loose confederation of people united in their belief in what they’ve done.
”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
— A senior Bush aide
(thought by many to be Karl Rove), 2002
As the tide of Reality rises – a reality indeed, as the Bush aide said, of their making, but certainly not one to their liking – it’s getting crowded on the islands. Tempers are flaring. The natives are getting restless, itching for a fight. There is no escape from Reality, and when you fear that Reality – when part of that Reality includes a black Democratic president with an Arabic middle name and plans to bring America and the world back to a place of peace, prosperity, unity and inclusion – when you fear that Reality, fear it with every fiber of your sad, ignorant, selfish, tremulous being – then you begin to understand the wisdom – nay, the necessity – for building dirty bombs in your basement and carrying weapons into church so you can use them on other people. Or, if all else fails, you can try simply to secede from this disagreeable Reality, the reality you never intended but for which you are nonetheless responsible. And it’s all because Reality – reality, which you once considered your bitch; reality, which you had been able to impose on others; reality, which you thought gave you mastery over the very language that used to represent it – Reality had abandoned you.
It turned out that the kind of reality Republican masterminds thought they could impose was not sufficient to hold back floodwaters or keep unwed teenagers from getting pregnant or repel armor-piercing bullets from inadequate body armor or prop up teetering financial institutions whose balance sheets bore no relation to reality. But in spite of all evidence to the contrary (a phrase joined at the hip to Republicans) they refuse to believe that Reality is not simply whatever they say it is.
Humpty Dumpty took the book, and looked at it carefully. `That seems to be done right — ‘ he began.
`You’re holding it upside down!’ Alice interrupted . . .
‘There’s glory for you!’
`I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”‘ Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant, “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘
`But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument,”‘ Alice objected.
`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’
`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’
The reason Republicans have had such a tightly orchestrated messaging apparatus for the past 30 years is because they knew they had no other choice: in order to sell their artificial, unsupported, irrational, reality-defying, self-serving agenda to a sufficient portion of the American electorate, they couldn’t afford to speak of their policies and beliefs using English the way most Americans understood it; instead, like Humpty Dumpty, they declared that a word would mean whatever they decided it would mean.
They imposed their “reality” on the English language, using words that everyone knows, but saying – as the inhabitants of another island group in the distant past would have said – The Thing Which Is Not. It’s called “lying” when you do it to someone else; when you and your fellow psychotics are the only ones listening, it’s called “delusion.”
In the land of IOKIYAR on the tiny islands of I, Me and Mine can be found a curious dying language, the Boontling of the political world. Although the words are English, their meanings are unique: “bipartisan,” “family values,” “compassionate conservatives,” “fiscal responsibility,” “war on drugs,” “sanctity of marriage,” “enhanced interrogation,” “right to life,” “Clear Skies,” “Healthy Forests,” “stewards of the environment.”
Just before leaving office, the BushCheney Administration put out two amazing publications. Although the creators of “Highlights of Accomplishments and Results: The Administration of George W. Bush” (PDF file) and “100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration Record” (PDF file) used letters and words that would be recognized by any English-speaking person, they used them to describe a separate reality, a reality that exists only in the land of IOKIYAR.
After nearly 30 years of such tortured English, American voters have realized that it hasn’t been raining – Republicans have been peeing on them all along. Which leaves the Republicans, like the last japanese soldier found 35 years after the war ended, to now fight on for their political survival in a world they don’t understand, a world where they believe everyone else is the enemy, a world in which their irrelevance grows every single day.
It is poetic justice, Ayn Rand style, that the tenets of Republicanism won’t sell in a truly laissez-faire marketplace of ideas. (Even Alan Greenspan – now – knows that.) That’s because, when subjected to the harsh light of Reality, they collapse. They fail. Utterly and, too often, spectacularly.
And still they cling to their Rand, thumping Atlas Shrugged as if it were the very Gospel. (But Jesus dear god, couldn’t they have picked a better-written, more lively manifesto – something by, say, Karl Marx or Adam Smith or even, so help me, Ted Kaczynski? Rand could’ve saved 1300-odd pages and countless billions of brain cells by condensing her work to the essence of Republicanism: “I’ve got mine – f@#k you!”)
As the tide of Reality rises, rightwingers are faced with the unspeakably horrible realization that their fate, too, is bound up with that of all humanity, and that there is in fact no separation, no “Other,” as desperately as they want there to be, as much as they have spent their insular lifetimes believing that there must be. There must be someone beneath them, apart from them, less than them, upon whom all of their troubles can be blamed. As long as they can keep pointing to the mote in the eyes of Others, rightwingers would rather drown in the rising waters of Reality than float to salvation by grabbing hold of the beam in their own eyes.
And some, sensing that their belief system will soon be drowned out by the inexorably rising tide of Reality, are not content merely to curse the dampness, but rather are lashing out with threats of violence. Which, according to Glenn Beck – yes, the Omnipresent, All-Surrounding, There-Are-More-Of-Us-Than-There-Are-Of-Them Glenn Beck – is perfectly understandable.
So, what does “reality” look like to a Republican? Suffice to say it does not much resemble the world that the vast majority of Americans live and move around in every single day.
In Republican World, in the land of IOKIYAR, when 700 people show up to fill a janitor’s position it proves that the fundamentals of the economy are strong and that Americans won’t do hard work for $50 an hour.
In Republican World, it is important to look at those indices which provide a measure of our financial system’s pre-crisis success, much as a silver lining can be discerned when one takes note of the pre-indictment yields of Bernie Madoff’s funds.
In Republican World, it is possible, before the cock crows this day, to deny, not just the Reality that is closing in on you, not only the existence of thousands of people in dire straits, but to go so far as to deny your very own existence.
In Republican World, it’s a virtue to be wrong because, well,
Being proven right too many times is dangerous. It breeds intellectual arrogance and complacency.
Bearing in mind, therefore, the inescapable conclusion that Republicans must be among the most intellectually humble people ever to have graced the planet, here is a very, very abridged list of some other Things You Would Not Have Known If A Republican Hadn’t Told You:
In Republican World:
- George Bush’s presidency was a great success.
- We are in a mental recession.
- Redistribution of wealth is only moral when it happens in one direction.
- Philanthropy will take care of all the needs of the needy in the same way that voluntary caps on carbon dioxide emissions will prevent global warming.
- God punished New Orleans for a parade and American stockholders for electing a black man.
- I am just about to get rich, so it’s important to lower taxes for people who actually are rich.
- Under Ronald Reagan, Americans paid less taxes and fiscal responsibility blossomed.
- America is a center-right nation.
- If we don’t stop them over there they’ll come over here.
The corporate media over the past dozen years or so have done a superb job of assisting the Republican effort to impose their reality on the American people. From enthusiastically using military “analysts” who were hired by the Pentagon specifically to spread propaganda, to booking 50% more Republican talking heads than Democratic ones.
So accustomed have Republicans become to this co-operation from corporate media that in those rare instances when they are called to account for their words and actions, it’s evidence of a vast left-wing conspiracy; otherwise, they just throw a tantrum when their lies are called out.
Cheney’s aide – wife of the then-chairman of the FCC – booked him on Meet the Press because she knew he could control the message there. And given this display of journalistic integrity and judgment –
– it’s likely Republicans still will find it easy to control their message on Meet the Press.
Forget “fairness” – it’s the REALITY Doctrine they fear. Media outlets for the past 15 years profess to have done the public a service by giving the same weight to a ton of bullshit as they did to a ton of gold – because, after all, the public expects them to be fair and balanced, right? In Reality, rather than “debating” the ridiculous, demonstrably failed ideas of conservatism, the media should laugh them off the stage. Instead, corporate media, with straight faces, run with these insane ideas. Ideas like, “The issue of torture is more complicated than it seems.” Or that 92% equals two-thirds.
Because of the willingness of corporate media to confuse stenography with journalism, Republicans in the past have been shameless about lying and misrepresenting reality. They will say things today and expect people to forget them tomorrow.
But that is changing.
What Republicans themselves forget about are YouTube, teh Google and the rest of the Intert00bz. This is why Limbaugh can, in 2009, actually utter the phrase “for those of you that [sic] don’t use computers” to his audience and not sound ridiculous. Because Reality can so easily be checked on a computer – including the assertion Limbaugh was making which he prefaced with “for those of you that [sic] don’t use computers” – Republicans hate it when people actually know how to use a computer. Or a video camera. Or worse, both.
What the Internet and YouTube have brought is the opportunity for Republicans to be shamed, the only problem being, of course, they have no shame – and it is the combination of those two facts that has proven their undoing. YouTube and the rest of the Intert00bz have made the emperor’s nakedness an embarrassment throughout the kingdom. When you try to sell chicken shit as chicken salad – when you try to pawn off a photo of Istanbul as Baghdad, you’re not “imposing your reality,” you’re proving to the entire world what a lying idiot you are.
Thom Hartmann, on his radio show this morning, had as his guest Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. Brook’s contention is that the reason we are in the mess we are is that there was too much regulation of and govenmental intererence in the financial sector, particularly with respect to credit default swaps. He said (presumably with a straight face) we could not make a fair assessment of the hands-off approach taken with credit default swaps because in what he called a mixed regulatory environment there was no way to truly judge what might have happened in an absolutely laissez-faire environment. This is Ayn Randian delusion at its finest: Anything less than an absolutely unregulated economy is doomed to failure.
My beef with Thom Hartmann is simply this: these people are now isolated and delusional. They should be left alone by the vast majority of the American populace, particularly including the media, to wander aimlessly about their ever-tinier islands, muttering to themselves in shocked disbelief, trying to convince anyone who will listen that their “reality” is in fact The Reality.
The thing is, “anyone who will listen” should not include anyone in the media – especially not Thom Hartmann.
Also available in Orange