the tower of babble

Monday 2012.10.08

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I never have had a lot of patience for politics, and the level of annoyance and aggravation of that realm is worse than ever. It just makes too many people stupid, or even just indistiguishable from full-out batshit crazy.

Some time ago, I told a little story. The basic gist, sitting around with some people and among the chattering, one of the people, a sort of always chatty fellow, let’s say, was rolling along and came out with some declaration of “you know, there are only two kinds of people in the world…“, and continuing on from there in defining whatever those were.

I hit my limit of patience and said “you know, there are only two kinds of people in the world, the people who say there are only two kinds of people in the world, and the people who think that’s a really silly idea“. That shut him up, at least for a few moments, and he looked awfully puzzled.

In a farewell speech as he was preparing to end his time in public life, George Washington talked at some length about political parties. He didn’t like them. In short, he thought they had the inherent problem of the hazard of becoming institutions unto themselves, with people’s loyalties becoming more devoted to the parties than to themselves as citizens and the welfare of the country as a whole. He was exactly right in his concern and warning, which has been lost, ignored, and forgotten, much like Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech articulating his concerns and warning about what he called “the military-industrial complex” has been largely lost, ignored, and forgotten.

Apparently, in a speech a day or two ago, President Barack Obama said this:

“This country doesn’t just succeed when just a few are doing well at the top. It succeeds when the middle class gets bigger. Our economy doesn’t grow from the top down — it grows from the middle out. We don’t believe that anybody is entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, and everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same rules.”

Sounds right to me.

But you know what? Apparently, from what I gather, a whole barrage of wigging out has broken out about this as being some new glaring example of Obama’s sheer awful evil and plan to destroy America and all that’s good and right, evidently beginning with some blovating idiocy from Rush Limbaugh.

Part of the deal there, it turns out, is that people are snipping just: “We don’t believe that anybody is entitled to success in this country” and going nuts. Take a minute, imagine Obama saying “we believe that everybody is entitled to success in this country”, and then imagine what kind of reaction would come from Limbaugh, et al. They would wig out about that.

It’s not exactly surprising. Consider the insanity a while back when Obama gave a speech telling people, there are all the kinds of things that are for the general public good and function, public school education, roads and everything we call “infrastructure”, even the internet, that help and support people doing what they do, and nobody built that stuff themselves. Somehow, that got turned into “Obama says you didn’t build your business!”, and it doesn’t matter how it’s explained and Obama quoted in full, not snipped out of context so a phrase seems to be something different than its actual meaning, people still echo the false version.

It’s like the fictional “death panels” argument about the Affordable Care Act, from way back in the early legislative process and arguments, just as fictional now as ever, and yet in the farce of the October 3 TV debate, there was candidate Romney recycling the whole “bureacrats deciding what care you can have” lie all over again, in the course of lying his ass off through the entire event.

Even worse, after the spectacle of the show of blatant dishonesty from Willard Romney, the post-event chatter from some people seems to indicate pretty clearly that truth or falsehood of actual factual matters in this circus doesn’t even matter to them.

Instead of that, you get all the idiotic noise about appearances and style, as I just wrote about along with Matt Taibbi and Steve Beren. People who are supposed to fufill the role and responsibility of actual journalism, to examine and report on relevant facts, chatter about audience response and Twitter brain farts.

A whole cult of people who have their own myopic version of “there are only two kinds of people in the world” will immediately dismiss actual journalism addressing facts of the matters at hand as “that left wing liberal media”.

The latest episode of “did you hear what Obama said? Outrageous!” is pretty ugly, but just a new symptom of some kind of epidemic, from people who have been so saturated, so incessantly, for so long, with manipulation by people telling what they’re supposed to think, that some of them seem to have even lost the ability to comprehend simple English without it warping into something different from what it actually means.

It’s like we’re doing an update of the biblical story of The Tower of Babel.

While all the babble and confusion churns away, we get people chattering about the same wishful thinking and delusions of avoidance about “energy independence”, while avoiding thinking about how to scale down what we do to not continue squandering the resources we have left.

People babble about the economy while avoiding the clusterfuck of banking and finance, and in the meantime, here comes more, as games of financial derivatives go even crazier, as the banksters and financiers continue any game they can think of to create illusions of “growth”.

Above all, the planet itself is getting rolling in earnest in the process of smacking us silly for being so careless, stupid, and saturated with hubris and narcissism. How’s this for God getting all biblical on our asses?

We’re being warned about all of these things. There is no shortage of that, with plenty of information on exacrlt what’s happening in all departments. I don’t claim any special insight. I can be as big a goober as anybody. I do, however, manage the skill of shutting the fuck up and trying to pay attention, and furthermore, find the people who are paying attention and know what they’re talking about, and pay attention to them, rather than the collection of showbiz clowns and swindlers dominating most attention.

However, most attention is fixed on the latter bunch. Arguments swirl around with different versions of pretenses; that we can continue to devour finite resources as if they’re without limits, that we can contrive endless “growth”, that we can continue bankrupting our government to feed the hubris of trying to be a worldwide dominating military empire, and that we can endlessly abuse the planet Earth, and it will just happily absorb all the abuse.

At some point soon people have to snap out of a whole batch of spells.

This goes beyond the things I just mentioned, as well. The confusion, misdirected attention and sense of value, and general dysfunction runs through many realms.

We’ve got barely functional or malfunctioning telecommunications while people like to yap about how we’re supposedly the finest in the world, while the operation involved can’t get their act together, but focus on “we care a lot” kind of self promotion in customer service that can’t actually understand and take care of problems, malfunctioning internet connections, people changing what were perfectly good computer software or websites and just fucking them up for no apparent reason other than somebody saying “look, we did something!”, and everybody involved just pretending that it’s all just grand, while it actually gets worse and worse to the point where an honest and objective observer has to wonder if it’s going to work at all.

We’re making all kinds of Towers of Babel and telling ourselves we’re just great, we’re so wonderful, we’re so clever. And even when people manage to be conscious enough to recognize that something isn’t right, they’re so caught up in some knot of pretense and what they think they’re supposed to think that they lurch into some nonsense of thinking that the problem is something different than what it really is.

This isn’t working so well.

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong. -H.L. Mencken

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