Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wrapping Our Heads Around Reality

I never did it, and I'll never do it again.
A few columns caught my fancy this weekend, and they all have to do with reality, as in being in touch with. I know, it can sound pretty arrogant to suggest I'm in touch, but you're not. So that's not what I'm saying.

If I have a standard complaint about the conservative side of our societal spectrum, it's that conservatives thrive on a good deal of denial. Case in point: Herman Cain.

So, to column one: Dahlia Lithwick's stark assessment about the conservative take on Herman Cain's sexual harassment travails. The party of family values doesn't have a problem with Herman Cain for what at first seems like a contradiction: for the conservatives, there's no there there. Since there is no such thing as sexual harassment, Herman Cain must be innocent.

My initial prediction was only slightly different: since the conservatives believe in the authoritarian father figure model, the rightful place of the woman in the family is subservient to the father. Thus, in a very religious sense, women should defer to men.

Dahlia's take is close: conservatives view women who sue men for sexual harassment as litigious, money-grubbing sluts. Anyway, read it for yourself. Also, too, read the Amanda Marcotte piece on it, also at

By the way, my thoughts -- and Lithwick's and Marcotte's as well -- have nothing to do with Herman Cain the candidate. He's unqualified in a Sarah Palin sort of way and won't get nominated. He's actually on a book tour and accidentally morphed. Oh well.

How many of these do we have in the U.S.? In India? In China?

Column two that caught my eye was by Juan Cole, the Middle-East expert from the University of Michigan, who popped off a post at his Informed Comment blog that was, a surprise, about the huge spike in carbon dioxide being pushed into the atmosphere. Apparently, 2010 marked a significant 6% spike in carbon dioxide emissions, totaling 512 million metric tons, an amount not seen for about 50 million years.

My initial reaction was, how are the climate-change deniers going to deal with this? Then it hit me: they don't have to do or say anything. Facts have no meaning when you're already in denial. They can just say that it's the usual distortion of the truth by the ivory-tower elites at the universities and the liberal media with their anti-business agenda.

Solar energy is for sissies. Drill, baby, drill!

Then I saw Paul Krugman's article about solar power and how it's getting so cheap that we may be reaching a tipping point where it might just cost the same as coal, especially when you factor in the cost of coal in pollution and the health problems it causes. Again, rather than this being good news for the whole world, it's just more liberal clap-trap aimed at harming U.S. business interests. It's just more job-killing liberal do-good-ism. Down with Solyndra, and drill, baby, drill!

Give a girl a break. Marriage is hard!

News article three that capped my week of what-the-hell came from New York Times' op-ed writer Frank Bruni. He laid out for all to comprehend how, between Kim Kardashian, Herman Cain, Jon Corzine, and the Greek tragedy, reality has morphed into, well, reality, but one too far from what it is commonly understood to be, somewhat of a FUBAR reality.

As I wrote this, another example of reality gone mad is current discussions on raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67. It's a favored method for reining in federal spending, especially among the Republican presidential candidates and the Republican leadership in Congress. Even Barack Obama and other centrist Democrats are warm to the idea.

The trouble is that all reasonable studies of the subject show that by raising the age from 65 to 67, we actually raise the overall costs of healthcare for ALL Americans. Oddly, there is an exception. Those in the 65-67 cohort would likely save money because their employers, if they're working, would have to continue to offer them healthcare benefits, and if they're retired or poor, they'll likely qualify for Medicaid or other healthcare assistance programs.

I love me some Medicare savings.

You see, because the 65-67 cohort are the healthiest in the current Medicare system, they actually keep rates down. Once they're booted out, those remaining on Medicare will see their rates go up. So reason and reality would dictate that we not raise the Medicare eligibility age. But we likely will because, well, we got to do something!

To recap: Kim Kardashian really did get married to Kris Humphries only to file for divorce 72 days later, while really making millions of dollars doing it; Herman Cain was really forgiven by most conservatives because sexual harassment isn't really what you think it is; Jon Corzine really did tank his company, MF Global, by overspeculating in European debt and likely participated in crimes while doing it; the Euro-bosses of the EU, Germany and France continue to bully Greece with austerity measures, actually sending the Greek in an economic death spiral that could have been predicted -- and was -- even though it's not in Europe's or the West's interests to do so; and the U.S. is probably going to raise the eligibility age for Medicare even though it's actually going to increase, not decrease, overall costs to society.

Back in 2002, author Ron Suskind had a conversation with a senior Bush aide who famously told him:
“That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” the Bush aide told the journalist. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.”
 How'd that work out, huh?

No, we've got some considerable amount of work to do where reality is concerned. Starting now, I'm actually going to work really hard to restore some sanity. All joking aside, it's why I write this blog.

After I'm done with MF Global, maybe I can have a reality show. Trump has one!

Update: Herman Cain's poll numbers are dropping and a new accuser is planning a press conference. Holy crap, her lawyer is Gloria Allred. Reality bites! Jon Corzine is getting lawyered up. And Kim Kardashian is, well, still famous for being famous.

Update 2: The Cain scandal is entering what Josh Marshall of TPM calls the "Gloria Allred phase" with, well, watch the video:

I guess we're inching up to reality after all.

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