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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THE BIG FREAK OUT

"I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken."
-Pauline Kael

Some time ago I wrote about an effect I suspected was taking place on the left, where the modern media and the splintering of American society was leading those on the left to isolate themselves. Since then I've seen several different articles written about this effect, which they call "Cocooning."

In essence, cocooning is when you're able to successfully isolate yourself from news, ideas, and input you don't like or want to hear. This has always been possible to some degree, but lately it has become significantly more pronounced. Left and right in America are so separated these days that what was once tolerated is now utterly rejected.

I've found myself doing this. I used to be able to enjoy M*A*S*H on TV because it was funny but now the overpowering leftist preaching repulses me so much I just can't stand it any longer. I don't watch the Daily Show any longer because after around 2002, Jon Stewart became simply a propagandist for the left. His schtick just wasn't funny any more and I found myself yelling at the screen too much.

And the left does this too: Rush Limbaugh is evil, everything he says is a bigoted lie. Fox News is evil, they cannot be trusted or even listened to. Nothing a right winger says can be trusted, its all twisted and spun to be wrong. Exaggerating possible flaws into story-demolishing facts has become a fine art. A single factual error is proof, proof that the entire story is completely made up of lies.

So people shut out the voices they don't like and as a result end up walled off from things they really ought to know. The latest example of this is the Fast & Furious/Gunwalker scandal. Bill Maher was recently on his show Real Time that he'd never even heard of the scandal until a week ago.
"By the way, Darrell Issa, whose ahead of the committee that just held Holder in contempt, he was here about a year ago and he said to me backstage before the show, 'Are you going to talk about Fast and Furious?' and I said, 'I don't really like Vin Diesel.' I didn't know what he was talking about."
I was writing about this last year, and others had been before that. It was well known on the right, a well-documented scandal. How one arth could Bill Maher possibly not heard about this until a week ago, given that he's built a career on commenting on current events and news stories? By the way, Ace notes at his HQ that Maher then went on to mock Republicans for living "in a bubble" in the same discussion, bizarrely enough.

Well he's simply not paying any attention to any news source except a few carefully selected "trustworthy" ones he likes, such as the New York Times and CNN. And they've gone out of their way to avoid even mentioning the scandal or any details. NBC went a year without a single mention of the events until last week when they devoted ten seconds to it. This is the single most outrageous, bloody, and horrific presidential scandal in American history and the legacy media has been just hands off.

So if you get all your news from those sources, you would be simply unaware of what was going on. Totally ignorant. And they're likely ignorant of the other list of scandals the Obama administration has been involved in. Its not a surprisingly long one, every presidency ends up with this kind of list by the end of a term. Its just that this time the press has been going out of its way to not report on it, or if they do make it very short, carefully spun, and buried.

This kind of cocooning, this sort of self-imposed ignorance concerns me. I keep running into examples of how people who really ought to know better have only recently heard about certain events. Its like how the Democrats were shocked to find out that the Supreme Court will probably rule the entire Government Health Insurance Takeover Act as unconstitutional trash. It was obvious to us on the right, we discussed it with great detail and legal scholars carefully enumerated all the ways it was wrong. But they don't read those sites or those scholars. They discussed it with themselves and their friends, they consulted hard left legal professors at hard left institutions and were assured it was perfectly fine.
"And third, I want a recount! And no matter how it turns out, I want my old job back!"
-Mayor Miller, Robocop
James Fallows, blogger for the Atlantic wrote recently (thanks to Ace again):
Normally I shy away from apocalyptic readings of the American predicament... But when you look at the sequence from Bush v. Gore, through Citizens United, to what seems to be coming on the health-care front; and you combine it with ongoing efforts in Florida and elsewhere to prevent voting from presumably Democratic blocs; and add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate and then took the White House, you have what we'd identify as a kind of long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else.**

** You can try this at home. Pick a country and describe a sequence in which:
  • First, the presidential election is decided by five people, who don't even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.
  • Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology.
  • Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them.
  • Meanwhile their party's representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation -- and appointments, especially to the courts.
  • And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party's majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it -- even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party's presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago.
How would you describe a democracy where power was being shifted that way?
Now, putting aside the hilarious falsehoods, historical inaccuracies, and idiotic distortions in this depiction of events, consider what this guy is going through. His whole world seems to be falling apart. He really believes the nonsense he wrote above about secret Supreme Court conspiracies and Gore vs Bush. The fact that the recounts all showed Bush winning are irrelevant to this guy. Like many on the left, he's been perceiving events and the world through a bizarre lens ever since 2000 when their dreams of the Republicans never having power again fell apart.

Fallows probably doesn't know a single person who'll vote for Romney, he probably is as cocooned as Bill Maher, or more so. And I suspect there's a lot more of this going around than just a few prominent examples. I have a friend who confidently and absolutely predicted that President Obama will win reelection. He's totally certain of it. He lives in an area and works with people who all probably think the same way. He doesn't get any other input.

So... if the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act is thrown out entirely, which I expect will take place Thursday, and Romney wins election, which I expect will happen in November, what will happen to people like this?

Their entire world is informed by people who agree with them. They read PPP polling and think Obama is cruising to victory, don't know anyone who would vote for Romney, hear nothing about problems with the Obama administration, get all their news from sources which are specifically and deliberately avoiding bad news about America's economy and president as much as they can possibly get away with.
We're doomed!
-Hudson, Aliens
They are almost totally unprepared. How will people like this react? These are the people who threw a four year tantrum when Al Gore failed to steal the 2000 election, and refused the listen to the facts, screaming about stolen elections and Supreme Court deciding it all. These are the people who said that President Obama's election meant an entire generation before Republicans would ever have power in any place ever again, then watched the Tea Party movement they declared utterly meaningless and tiny lead the way to a GOP victory, defeating the party in power with a turnaround that hadn't been seen since the great depression.

What will they do? How will they react? This will take many of these people utterly by surprise, a complete shock because they are so ill informed on so many topics. What will happen? I and many others have already predicted riots in cities if Obama loses. But what will the pundits, the Occupiers, the leftist bloggers, the Jon Stewarts and Bill Mahers of the world do?

And more importantly, how much am I cocooned? What if my friend is right, what if Obama is cruising to victory? What if, despite my best information I'm missing critical data that is presented by people I don't watch (like Stewart) or read (like ThinkProgress)? What if the Supreme Court simply rules the bill perfectly fine, or violates the severability principle and keeps parts of it?

The Supreme Court just ruled that Florida's law enforcement officials cannot enforce federal law which is unthinkably absurd. That was completely out of left field, I'm as confused as Justice Scalia who noted this is simply idiotic. Its a lot harder for people on the right to be cocooned because the left dominates modern culture, academics, entertainment, and news, but its not totally impossible (particularly in some rural parts of America).

I can guess how I'll react if these things happen. I'll be deeply saddened by what has happened to my country, how reason and law are being discarded for leftist ideology, how the war has been lost and the left has won so completely that minor victories count for nothing. I'll blog darker topics and sadder commentary a while. I'll be frustrated and probably want to just get away from politics entirely because of how incredibly depressing it is.

At the risk of sounding hysterical, this country is utterly screwed with a second term of President Obama. Sure, he's not going to build the concentration camps and execute Rush Limbaugh against a wall, but the damage he can and will inflict will be largely if not totally irreversible, particularly with the candidates a demoralized and cowardly Republican Party will offer for years after.

But the truth is, this country is just one country in one part of the world, and ultimately through history times have gotten bad and been better over and over. For whatever reason God has graced the planet with an almost inconceivably long period of wealth, comfort, and prosperity. You never read about the population-wiping plague or the extended starvation-causing famine except in small, isolated areas of the third world, which the rest of the world is so wealthy and bounteous we can help them through it.

That is aberrant in human history. It is not normal to have such an extended period of broad civilization, or lack of catastrophe. It is unprecedented in human history to have a nation and time of such advancement and liberty as America has enjoyed. So it shouldn't surprise anyone to find that this comes crashing down. Because mark my words, that's exactly what will happen, and probably will even if Romney wins.

Europe is like Wiley E Coyote running on thin air after the Roadrunner. He hasn't looked down yet, he can keep going, but eventually - soon - the entire economy is going to take that 1000 foot plunge to the desert floor. Propped up by America's insatiable hunger for cheap goods, China's economy has been built up on a house of cards, but there's signs its beginning to fall apart. If Europe craters, America will be pulled off the edge its teetering on right now, and China will go with it.

And the great depression will look like happy times when that happens. So ultimately, who wins what presidency and how the Supreme Court decides is not incredibly significant, in the grand scheme of things. It probably won't even matter in a decade or so. I pray I'm wrong, but I just don't see it playing out any other way.

But as a Christian, I know this isn't a series of chaotic, random events. I know this is playing out as a grand plan by God, moving toward a glorious and triumphant conclusion. I have that hope to cling to, that knjowledge to look forward to. I've read the end of the book, I know how it turns out.

But Bill Maher and James Fallows? Not so much.

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