Weaponized Absurdity

When you first hear of some of the wild stuff uttered on Right Wing-nut Radio or printed in their sister organs, you think that they ain’t be so bad — what a sense of humor, even zaniness. Then you find out they are dead serious. For instance, from last year: Logging companies have been a principal reducer of dangerous wildfires because they remove the fuel, that is, trees. One often repeated this year from way back is that the minimum wage punishes the poor and cruelly so, because their jobs will just be cut to save profits. Seriously.

But today I found out that Arthur Laffer, he of trickle-down and tax cuts as promoters of higher government revenue (!!), recently remarked that the current surge in the economy was due to Obama’s stimulus running out of cash. Straight face. This guy has made a long career out of being consistently wrong about everything and perversely so. A fully credentialed crackpot. Of course, they love him.

It reminds me that a survey from last year showed that extreme right wing political broadsheets, newsletters, and other advocacy platforms are chock full of patently absurd advertising for miracle cures, losing weight while sleeping, and most of all, surefire ways to 1000% returns on your money. The editorial content and the advertising share the same universe of discourse.

What discourse is that? To borrow from movie trailer voice-over, in a world where billions of real dough is spent to cast doubt on real science about tobacco, global warming, the causes of poverty and so much else of what we call reality, the goal achieved is real indifference to evidence as in anyway relevant to understanding the world. Just as negative campaigning against individuals has created contempt for all politics and government, this engineered doubt has become pathological know-nothingism. The Left may enjoy Stephen Colbert. But the Right has righteous sincerity. They hate Colbert not because he is a “fake”. He is simply a fake. O’Reilly is the real McCoy.

Once you get this, Swift Boating is no more baffling than the Laffer Curve or Paul Ryanomics.


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