the dog and pony show

Tuesday 2012.07.31

In the last installment, I spent some time dissecting the awful mess of a televised display of one Newton Gingrich addressing what appeared to be a small group of college students, and, essentially, leading them off a cliff. To describe his words to this group of impressionable young people as misleading would be a gross understatement. It really, truly, was absolutely grotesque. Today, I’m sort of picking up where I left off, from that ugly scene, and on to other things that, unfortunately are more or less cut from the same kind of toxic synthetic material.

As I may have said in some previous note along the way, there’s a certain irony that keeps coming to mind for me. When I set up this blog space, I had no great grandiose vision for the purpose of the thing. I just threw a name on it that I had used back in 1997 when I first set up a humble little personal website, related to my musical activity and just whatever else might be rolling around my world and inside my tiny little noggin. The name Brain Noise has ended up being weirdly appropriate here, as I’ve ended up writing about themes that often end up touching on strange mental states among much of the general public.

I’ve stated this more than once, in one form or another, previously, and I’m certainly not the only one making this observation. We have a large set of broad problems that affect everyone, and they are complex and interrelated and interacting. In the face of all this, instead of facing it, we have a pretty serious lack of a general public consensus about reality based on how things really are.

In the previous piece, when the circus comes to town, I told you about Newt Gingrich’s appearance. Among other things he said was something that seems to be a thriving meme bouncing around, his version claiming that the United States has 125 years worth of natural gas supply, suddenly, thanks to the miracle and wonder of hydraulic fracturing, the infamous fracking process. From what I can gather looking around, it seems that more serious people who know what they’re talking about because it’s a field they know well, and are not trying to sell somebody something, say that it’s more likely that we will be in deep shit in the natural gas supply domain in maybe a decade or so.

It was, by the way, very telling to take in part of Gingrich’s words to the group he was addressing. He made quite a point of stressing to his audience, a group of college students from the looks of it, that this claimed 125 year natural gas bonanza would mean they’ll have no worries about natural gas supply for the rest of their lives. What about after that, then, after them? Apparently, in the mind of Newt Gingrich, and in the minds of many other people, the general answer is “we don’t care“.

President Obama hasn’t been much better in this, passing along the notion that the United States now has a 100 year supply of natural gas. I don’t know what Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is passing along to the president in terms of information and counsel on this or any other energy resource matters.

As I’ve pointed out multiple times, the Hirsch report was submitted to the US Department of Energy back in 2005, a stout and sobering reality check for the US government, the people charged with the task of responsible governing on behalf of the American citizenry, and the American people, and that has been kept very obscure. It’s not a secret. Everybody can read the thing, I’ll refer again to the document publically available on the Department of Energy website. Good luck finding any reference to this report from any public official. Jimmy Carter was the last American president to make an earnest and honest and forthright effort to focus the attention of the nation on the reality of finite hydrocarbon resources and how we’ve been squandering the stuff. Overall, the response of much of the American public and people in the political realm was to pout like spolied children being informed that they can’t have anything and everything they want, and as much of it as they want, whenever they want it. That was over three decades ago.

In the appearance by Newt Gingrich I talked about previously, there was a comment from Gingrich, that I have to paraphrase from memory, something like “you have to remember what an enormously endowed nation we are”. The right way to phrase this to bring it in line with reality would be to change the last word to “were“. This reveals a really fundamental problem with this subject in the political realm. Gingrich is just one of a whole herd of people who very clearly seem to think and act upon a notion that metaphorically speaking holds an idea that you can have a cake, eat the cake, and still have your cake.

Almost invariably, the political games of present day America consist of different varieties all sharing a characteristic of severe evasion of reality, because people think that voters will like that much better than facing reality and dealing with it rationally.

But, then, dealing clearly with reality in the realm of politics and government is a problem that is becoming more and more severe. In the present moment, President Barack Obama is not being forthright and clear about exactly what our situation is in terms of “energy issues”, with it being unclear what he knows and understands and what sort of information and counsel he might or might not be getting from Secretary Steven Chu (who absolutely should know very clearly and in detail what the situation is). But even addressing this, or any other very real and serious criticism there is to be made of Obama as president in the three and a half years so far of his term, runs straight into the massive problems of people drowning in all kinds of absurd and even fully fictional nonsense directed at him that make it nearly impossible to have any serious conversation about the real criticisms.

Say anything about this matter, of seriously and candidly addressing the “energy issues” of finite hydrocarbon resources and our sustained squandering of them, and you’ll get mob hysterics from people shouting “see! you see how terrible he is!”.

We have a whole chunk of the American population operating under various batches of alternate reality Straw Man fiction and nonsense regarding Obama as president, from nonexistent “death panels” in the various proposed bills in Congress that became the Affordable Care Act (almost constantly referred to now as “Obamacare”, even though it has very little to do with what Obama proposed as candidate fro president, and is almost entirely the product of Max Baucus and previous Republican party plans), to the recent aggressive stupidity of people taking something Obama said in a recent speech and somehow extracting a meaning from it very different from what the man actually said, and then going apeshit over that.

In any circumstances where “energy policy” comes up as a point of governance and politics, nobody, or almost nobody, effectively useless by being ignored, is willing to stand up and say what the situation really is, and tell the general public, we’re got a tough road ahead, we have to make large and serious and fundamental changes, and it’s not going to be convenient and easy.

For that matter, while looking at what’s missing from Barack Obama as president in terms of stepping up and laying it out in front of the American people and getting things across in terms of reality, and the challenges we have, To even think seriously about how Willard Romney would handle this if he became president is an absurd waste of time. It would be a bad joke, end of story.

Given all this, with the circus of people in some form of bipolar mental illness that shoves everybody and any subject into bins marked “Liberal/Left” or “Conservative/Right”, with assumptions, cliché’s and platitudes laid out for each, focused attention on the reality at hand is not just scarce, it’s shoved aside and pushed into oblivion. On one “side”, you tend to have the party line of the kind of false deluded idiocy propagated to a crowd of young students by Newt Gingrich (and televised on C-Span), and “the other side” more often than not featuring a standard set of wishes that somehow, if only The Man were not holding things back, we would continue running everything essentially as we have been, but simply removing “fossil fuels” and replacing them by plugging in “green energy”, and on we go.

What passes these days for news media is no help at all in nearly all of it. I’ve talked about that before. Instead of a little bit of serious research and reporting of the numbers and concepts and circumstances related to the overall picture, like any other subject, we get lots of vague noise, unquestioning repetition of somebody’s PR hype propaganda, and these ridiculous scenarios where you get people from “the opposing sides” yapping and producing lots of noise, false or misleading “information”, vague and poorly supported opinions, and leave people with no better understanding of the story than before. Worse, they’re often left with misunderstanding and nonsense, and thinking they now know what’s what.


“It is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
signifying nothing”
William Shakespeare- Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

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