As a loyal listener to KCRW's "Left, Right and Center" (Fridays at 2:30 PM PST), one of the few forums for reasonable and energetic political debate, I have always enjoyed its spirited and stalwart cast of silver-tongued commentators: the occasionally irascible but scrupulously centric whiz of a host Matt Miller, the canny Arianna Huffington and the passionate Robert Scheer. Listening to their weekly analysis of the week's events I am assured of a frequently electrifying, always edifying experience, free from partisan histrionics and trite talking points.
But mostly, I look forward to conservative commentator Tony Blankley's articulate expressions on all issues which circulate through the perpetually running news cycle. His erudition and humor make his positions, pretty much all of which I dare say most liberals disagree with, palatable alternatives to the psychotic spew which passes for political dialogue of late.
But in this past Friday's installment, Tony (I like to think I am on a first name basis with the man, since I welcome him into my dank inner sanctum every week) informed us that, in his opinion, the entire global warming issue is at best a canard and any actions taken toward the alleviation of said issue, whether it is actual or merely a nefarious, liberal concoction, would lead the world to economic ruin.
This, to me, was a revelation on par with learning Oliver Wendell Holmes's views on eugenics (he was for it).
The sound of bubbles bursting among Left, Right and Center's loyal listenership must have sounded like Chinese New Year.
Huh? Really? Plus, Tony said it with such fed-up finality, it almost seemed like he could no longer be burdened by the process of empirical thought imposed on him by the show's format; that he had thrown all his erudition and education away for the sake of his chosen ideology.
But more than my own sense of disappointment, it points to what I think is at the core of the rapidly spreading division in the body politic: the fungibility of facts and the emergence of a veritable alternate reality based solely on the preservation of one's ideology.
Reeling from its loss to Obama, the Republican/Conservative world has pretty much detached from the Union and aggressively declared independence from even its own historical devotion to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Seeing the effect its zombie infantry of birthers, deathers, and other hurlers of distraction grenades have had upon the country, the right wing has said "fuck it" to a world in which it has to fight too damn hard to survive, let alone thrive. It's getting several steps closer to operating out of a David Koresh-like compound, daring anyone to pry the weapons of mossy distraction from their cold dead hands.
What this does is nullify any attempt to achieve a workable parity and keep the United States and its principles intact and functioning. And it reaches deep into the psyche of a conservative as embodied by Blankley and all the other high profile mouthpieces who speak on behalf of the dwindling and cornered herd. It is a nuclear option in the form of obstruction and denial.
As when I first learned about Glenn Beck's tragic upbringing and felt real sympathy for this person who endured so much tribulation (isn't that just like a spineless liberal fascist socialist pansy? To give a shit?), I can understand the pull toward extreme solutions to problems which seem insurmountable.
The election of Barack Obama must have amounted to such a trauma, the final straw for the right wing Conservative Republicans who have thrown in with and allowed wackos to define their once proud party. They have left flaming bags of dog crap on the country's collective doorstep, clearly taking stances which can only result in either their expulsion or secession. They are daring the country as the neo-cons dared the world.
It's beyond merely being sore losers. It is a primal survival mechanism kicking in with tragic ferocity. It's having a once formidable but now insane uncle, turning violent at the family picnic, spewing masticated egg salad and madness, frightening the children and endangering everyone.
In the case of Tony Blankley's assertions that global warming is sham science, preferring to ignore facts which point to certain inevitabilities is, like much of what has been expressed from the current Conservative perspective, short-sighted and desperate. And that's a real shame.
And frankly, hearing him spout such cant is causing me to experience my own trauma which will, I fear, inevitably lead me to behave in a similarly antisocial manner.
In fact, I am suddenly feeling the urge to denounce, oh, the law of gravity as a liberal hoax. I believe there is a pernicious "gravity lobby" which seeks to deprive patriotic Americans of their right to hover and wobble anywhere from a few inches to several yards above their God-given lawns.
And if we are bound by such a thing as "gravity," how then would we ever reach "Heaven"? See where I'm going with this?