Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Republican Party: In The Twilight Zone

The ability to assert two mutually exclusive statements, as both being true, has been a requirement in politics for some time. But the cognitive dissonance within the Republican Party has gone off into the twilight zone.

The Republicans have threatened to not raise the federal debt limit unless the Democrats agree to substantial cuts in spending. This is equivalent to threatening to end a hostage standoff with a nuclear weapon. Obviously the United States government cannot default on its debt obligations because the worldwide economic catastrophe that would result would make the 2007-08 financial crisis look insignificant in comparison. A threat that can never be executed isn’t much of a threat at all.

Actually, it’s interesting to track where the federal largess that the Republicans so bitterly complain about goes. A USA Today article on April 25 ranks states in order of government benefits received. Heavily Republican states that voted for McCain in the 2008 presidential election tend to rank high on this list, meaning that they receive more government benefits than most states. For example, West Virginia ranks number 2. Some followers that voted Republican, with their rankings in parenthesis, are Kentucky (8), Mississippi (11), Arkansas (12), Alabama (14), and Louisiana (17). Why are the Republicans in those states so opposed to the benefits that they receive? Maybe they should be careful what they wish for.

On that note, I wish Ayn Rand were alive and giving interviews on her economic and philosophical theories. She is a cult figure in the Republican Party, especially among the Tea Party wing, for her advocacy of unfettered capitalism and ethic of rational self-interest. A new movie has just been released based on her novel Atlas Shrugged in which the capitalists are the heroes.

Actually, Ayn Rand, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States at the age of 21, was a committed atheist who opposed all forms of religion. To her, valid knowledge arose only from sense perceptions and human reason. She rejected all claims of knowledge obtained outside of the senses, such as divine revelation. It’s hard to imagine her going very far in today’s political climate as a Republican or a Democrat.

Although, some Republicans simply ignore inconvenient historical facts about their heroes. Maybe Republican Congresswoman and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann could re-write Rand’s biography in the same way that she re-wrote American history in a recent speech. She stated in regards to the U. S. Constitution that: “the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Actually, many of the founders, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves. Not until after the Civil War, nearly 100 years later and long after the founders were dead, was slavery abolished.

On the other hand, if Ayn Rand did endorse Republicans her religious views might not matter. The Reverend Franklin Graham in an interview with Christine Amanpour says that Donald Trump could become his “candidate of choice” for president because “the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, may be the guy’s right.” This was said in the same interview that Graham questioned Obama’s Christian faith. There was no discussion of Trump’s faith. Franklin Graham has since been clarifying his comments. I would advise him not seek help from John Kyle’s press agent for issuing clarifications.

John Kyle stated on the Senate floor that “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does” relates to abortion. When called out on that obvious falsehood, his office released a statement that “his remark was not meant to be a factual statement.” I checked the definition of the noun “lie” at and found this definition: “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.” In other words, according to John Kyle’s office his statement on the Senate floor was a lie. Evidently John Kyle must have realized this too because he clarified his clarification by stating that he “misspoke.” As to the earlier statement released by his office, he said: “"That was not me - that was my press person.”

The upcoming presidential contest should be a great event for comedy writers. Unfortunately it’s going to be a very bad contest for the electorate who will have to listen to all this nonsense.