Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 18, 2010

HEADS IN THE SAND.... A decade ago, George W. Bush told voters he'd support a cap on carbon dioxide. Two years ago, the GOP's McCain/Palin presidential ticket supported a cap-and-trade policy.

The Republican hostility towards science and evidence isn't new, but its wholesale, party-wide rejection of all climate data is new.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has to be smiling. With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate -- including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning -- accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonized. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.

Some candidates are emphatic in their denial, like the Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who flatly rejects "the man-caused climate change mantra of the left." Others are merely wiggly, like California's Carly Fiorina, who says, "I'm not sure." Yet, over all (the exception being Mark Kirk in Illinois), the Republicans are huddled around an amazingly dismissive view of climate change.

For context, it's worth emphasizing that Mark Kirk voted for cap-and-trade, only to announce soon after that he opposed cap-and-trade and would vote against it in the Senate if given the chance.

We're not talking about a party that tries to resolve problems with misguided solutions; we're talking about a party that has convinced itself that the problems don't exist.

Worse, the approach extends to far too much of the policy landscape. Kevin Drum had this item last night.

The modern, tea party-inflected conservative movement is based on a few core principles. Global warming is a hoax. Income inequality hasn't been growing. Tax cuts don't increase the deficit. America has the best healthcare in the world. Evolution is a myth. The economy is weak because of regulatory uncertainty. Barack Obama is a socialist.

I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any....

It's also striking to me the ways in which these same conservatives act as if they have some kind of allergy to reason. One can present them with all kinds of evidence, but it's still like entering a Python-esque Argument Clinic.

Steve Benen 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

Bookmark and Share

All these fantasies emanate from big Oil's interests.

Posted by: jjm on October 18, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

All these fantasies emanate from big Oil's interests. Including the anti evolution thesis -- so we won't feel bad about using dinosaur remains...

Posted by: jjm on October 18, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Unproductive to try to understand right wing hysteria. Stupid is as stupid does.

That said, concentrate on the science based community... advance that communication.

PS: How many scientists/engineers are running for political office? Just more lawyers, and greedy businessman. Is there any wonder that we get no progress on environmental/science/technical issues?

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on October 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"heads in the sand"

not exactly the title i would have chosen, steve........

Posted by: just bill on October 18, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans on Science: Global warming is bunk, evolution is bunk, geology is bunk (the world is 4k years old!), astrophysics is bunk (the world is 4k years old!), lets build a thousand lasers to shoot down incoming ICBM's - what a great idea let's do it this afternoon!

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on October 18, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history"
-how about the Visigoths?

Posted by: DAY on October 18, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

These would be good topics for Obama to take up when he makes a guest appearance on MYTHBUSTERS later this year.

Posted by: Kerr Lockhart on October 18, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Pyschohistory: It's all about social tipping points

Drum: I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any....

The Nazi and their belief in a final solution.
That the Jews were the problem...
That was the last time this many people allowed themselves to be hypnotized by fantasy.

The real question continues to be: What percent of a population must pledge allegiance to a shared fantasy to cause a society to tip into the next version of fascism?

Posted by: koreyel on October 18, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

These are not the most dangerous myths.

The most dangerous myth is the Beltway belief (I'm looking at you , Barack) that there is some kind of bipartisan agreement that can be reached here.

Posted by: biggerbox on October 18, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"One can present them with all kinds of evidence, but it's still like entering a Python-esque Argument Clinic."

No it isn't!

Posted by: dsimon on October 18, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

The radical extremist republicans have adopted the Nazi propaganda of Herr Hitler and Herr Goebbels.

Propaganda...does not have to seek objectively for the truth as it favors an opponent...but exclusively has to serve our interests. It must adopt ever device of slander that ingenuity can suggest. Whenever our propaganda permits for a single moment the shimmer of an appearance of right on the other side, it has laid a foundation for doubt in the right of our cause..especially among a people that so suffer from objectivity mania as the German people.
Adolph Hitler

"Propaganda techniques of Fascism/Nazism"
Also, just type"The tricks of Fox's trade" into your search bar.

Start a chain email to friends, family, etc.. and let them know that the radical extremist republicans have been attempting to brainwash them with lies.

Posted by: ghostcommamder on October 18, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

It may be that recent discoveries of the scientific elites of the right wing are recognising the persuasiveness of the Stentorian scale . This has as its basis an ability to be heard . Scientific approval is widely noted in the Stentorian System by the careful inclusion of either the sign or spoken token , "I hear you" .
As with many endeavors the strangeness of advances in science and technology punishes the early adopters with costly models which are less able to abide the heresies of progress . The Limbaugh school being the standard to which all modern Stentorian technology has been measured after the "Long" and "Coughlin" experiments has winnowed the field for a clean adoption of lord Xerox . Limbaugh Stentorian worship has forked the former long standing doctrinaire understanding of Phantasm and Phobia . Where the complications of rival beliefs once were quibbled over cheesy confections of bright orange , the accepted practice is now reflected in the power and ability of Lord Xerox's reproduction of Stentorian law thus clearing the field of devotion for those without auditory problems . The "Morbid One" as the popular voice of reason and action promises that the "Altar of Fear" will not be compromised by any "Liberal" understanding or definition . Morbid both by design and action the pure roots of truth marked by Lord Xerox are contradicted by fools and the soon to be obeisant sinners .

Posted by: FRP on October 18, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any...."

The Catholic Church?

Posted by: joyzeeboy on October 18, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any...."


Posted by: Badlands on October 18, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Rejecting scientific evidence is foolishness, but human beings have a penchant for ignoring inconvenient facts. The time wasted in transitioning the world's economies away from oil and gas will simply result in greater disruption and death when the reality of Peak Oil becomes clearly evident. Geologic energy supplies are finite and being depleted at staggering and unsustainable rates. Good luck getting politicians to aknowledge this unpleasant fact.

Posted by: REN on October 18, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

J. Frank Parnell, @15:15,

You think you're so smart; you think your airs and graces and sneers impress anyone. Well, they do not and you're not. You don't know squat. It's NOT 4k; it's SIX!

(retires, giggling maniacally)

Posted by: exlibra on October 18, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

For all you folks that get your science education via the proxy of 'Know Nothings' like Al Gore, the science of climate has come along quite a bit since "An Inconvenient Truth" happened along. Nearly everything you knew now has half a dozen "peer-reviewed" papers casting doubt to make anyone with a brain, a skeptic. The only deniers are those who refuse to understand that "scientific consensus" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Neo on October 18, 2010 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any....

Well there was that one successful political movement in Germany, based on a lot of crazy, "objectively fantastical beliefs," the one that won an election 77 years ago that had quite an effect on the rest of the world for quite awhile, remember???

Posted by: TCinLA on October 18, 2010 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

"...another successful political movement..." Kevin Drum quoted by Steve Benen.
Successful? I beg to differ.
With each denial of scientific fact the Republican/Teabaggers are screwing another hole in their (politcal) coffin's lid. What happens when the effects of climate change become so obvious as to be undeniable? When hurricanes start heading up the Hudson or the Chesapeake?
When the Southwest is in its fourth, sixth, tenth year of drought? Or the oil pipelines in Alaska start collapsing because the perma-frost is no longer permanent? What will they do when food prices start going through the roof because of droughts/floods/late frosts/early frosts in the Great Plains and Midwestern states?
Don't forget, the above is based on the increasingly unlikely possibility that the Republicans will make significant gains this election and in succeeding ones. Some gains this year? Most likely. Major gains? I doubt it. Gains and possibly majority rule in the near (next decade) future? No.
Having spent decades denying that there is a problem, Republicans and their enablers simply won't be able to visualize any response to the crises that will arise. Well, other than their usual one of invading some country and using ITS resources. Hopefully by then Darth Cheney will have returned to the void from whence he came and will be unable to provide his well-honed talents.

To Neo @ 7:04 PM - Providing links to those "peer-reviewed" studies would go a long way to disprove the impression that you're nothing but a troll...

Posted by: Doug on October 18, 2010 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party of today: the last resort for the criminally-insane.

The culture of corruption and racism Republican's Southern Strategy has worked, expanding to the rest of America. The arch-conservative Southern Bible Belt. The Southern income gap between the rich and poor, with Southern governments owned by the rich, for the rich.

I just watched Lawrence O'Donnell's extraordinary interview with author Isabel Wilkerson ("Warmth of Other Suns") and NBA legend Bill Russell, describing the exodus of black citizens from the hardcore, racist, caste-system South between 1950 and 1970, in which blacks fled the whites-only South for friendlier, freer climes.

The Republicans have just expanded their Southern Strategy out of the South to the rest of our society, resulting in a new Caste System (based on the old), with the typically whites-only ultra-wealthy Southern Culture malignantly transforming our country into a Caste System, but based on a division between the rich and poor, the haves versus the have nots, with all levels of government bought and paid for by the ultra-wealthy (mainly whites), just like what was present in the Jim Crow South.

And I'm white. And from the South. But I'm not fooled. And I'm voting straight Democratic Party ticket this election, in an attempt to stop this conservative Republican madness, if possible, before they completely destroy our nation, and the future of our nation's children, no matter what their color of skin.

Posted by: The Oracle on October 18, 2010 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

You can to Kevin's list of Republican core principles -- perhaps the core principle -- Any action taken by the government has negative consequences.

Posted by: patrick II on October 19, 2010 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Doug: I'm not going to replace Al Gore as your proxy, so I suggest you look for yourself.

Posted by: Neo on October 19, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

What a pile of bull. Really, the left extremists are no less guilty of hate, denial, and lies than the far-right extremists. Both on either side are guilty of tossing that "nazi" word around, and it is the quickest way of nixing their own credibility, no matter what other points they try to make. Grow up.

Posted by: Miss Capri on October 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Neo, with all due respect -- take the anti-science bullshit that ExxonMobil pays Rush Limbaugh to spoon-feed you, and shove it.

You may impress other weak-minded, ignorant, gullible Ditto-Head dupes of the phony "right wing" media with your ability to slavishly copy and paste scripted fossil fuel industry-funded talking points, but in the real world, real people are only impressed by your stupidity.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The global warming koolaid-drinkers are so far into their human-hating cult beliefs that they've deluded themselves into thinking their extremist green religion is actually science. That's what happens when anti-social misanthropes take over enough of the scientific and political scene to ram their idiology down the throats of everyone else. There is a real perversion on either left and right, every time the left shrills about "tea-b***ers" it says much more about themselves as gutter-minded twits than any republican they rant about. The left just hankers and fantasises for anyone who isn't on their huge propaganda bandwagon to be southern racists. That is just as stupid as the birther bull coming from the far-right, and just as hateful and dishonest.

Posted by: Miss Capri on October 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Miss Capri: "... thinking their extremist green religion is actually science."

Your arrogance is exceeded only by your ignorance.

Every single national scientific academy in the entire world, as well as every single international scientific organization that has anything to do with climate, says that global warming is real, is happening now, is caused by human emissions of CO2, and represents a grave and rapidly increasing danger to human civilization.

You don't have a clue as to what is or is not "actually science". You have probably never read even one peer-reviewed scientific study of climate change, or anything else, in your entire life.

What you have, though, is very strongly held opinions based on your profound, pathetic, and perhaps willful ignorance.

Such as, for example, your opinion that literally thousands of scientists from all over the world are "global warming koolaid-drinkers" driven by "human-hating cult beliefs".

You would do well to educate yourself on the subject of global warming before you go around embarrassing yourself in public spouting complete BS as in your comment above.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material

Posted by: Meabeve on November 29, 2010 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly