Across The Pond

It’s been a busy few weeks and I’m not completely set up over here, but I’ve put off updating this space for too long. Please pardon the dust; we’re still under construction over here.

I was reminded of this typically lovely Penn Jillette monologue the other night. The whole thing is worth watching, but I was stuck on the bit about “believing that Obama is a skeptic and just lying about it” and laughing about how mortifying it is that this is a somehow a good thing. I can’t really argue with the point; I think that most people would agree that politicians say a lot of things that they don’t really believe because, you know, they have to in order to get elected. Of course, we probably all pick and choose differently which things we think they’re lying about, but that another discussion.

As an example, I don’t think the majority of Republican politicians are really as skeptical of science as they claim to be. They have to call global warming “junk science” because saying that it’s “really inconvenient for my donors” doesn’t make for a very good sound bite. Likewise, I don’t think they’re, taken as a group, as math-challenged as they claim to be. The Ryan austerity budget doesn’t work. I mean, literally, the numbers in it do no make any sense. It’s a great show pony in that it hits on all the priorities of the main Republican constituencies, but it isn’t really a budget. I can’t help but think that Ryan and many of the people who have voiced support for this budget know it.

There’s nothing new about any of this.

What is new is that, in these strange days of overheated rhetoric and news networks that exist openly as propaganda arms of a particular party, is that we seem to be electing some people who really do believe all the bizarre fantasies coming out of their mouth. Real, prominent, national politicians who really believe that science is a hoax and that The Lord’s will couldn’t possibly be impacted by, let alone thwarted by human activity (and man oh man, are they certain that they know The Lord’s will).

Remember the early, highly-entertaining Republican debates from earlier this year? You had Cain, Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum in a surreal race to disavow science the most strongly. Romney and Huntsman both looked flummoxed and even a little amused that people who were serious candidates for the highest office in the land were saying such foolish things. Ron Paul looked sounded like a voice of reason. I want you to take a moment and consider that last statement.

I’m not convinced that science denial is going to do us in, though. If these people think that faith trumps science, what makes you think they don’t feel the same way about math? I’ve heard that argument that, so long as the U.S. passes a “godly” budget, then God will take care of us and help us make ends meet. If that doesn’t make your head want to explode, I’m not sure what will. These are the folks who genuinely don’t mind flirting with default because, if that’s what it takes to get their budget (the one that can’t possibly add up) passed, then by all means, do it and let God clean up the mess.

Faith-based math. Seriously.

I guess this is the price we pay for not calling bullshit every time someone gets elected on a pile of lies that we know are lies. We’re just encouraging the nutters who believe that nonsense. We are so screwed.

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