Thursday, September 23, 2010

Disenchantment fever ...

I think I have caught the disenchantment fever, although I came the long way around.

There is enough information, now in your home if you have an internet connected computer, for you to know much of the detail of the history of the United States pretty darn quickly. If internet surfing (and TV watching and driving fast) has has not so sapped your attention span as to give you de facto ADD. I know it has sapped m - SQUIRREL!!!!!

(sorry, bad joke you won't get if you didn't see "Up!")(and yes, Stewart used it first)

It bothers me that the media gives credence to every nut job theory that comes down the pike simply by "fairly" reporting on it. I first became aware of this when I read Jonathan Schell's "Time of Illusion" in college (Schell, I have come to realize, is another nut job, except he is a left leaning nut job: I don't necessarily agree with Schell except in this one instance). Schell pointed out that when the Nixon administration criticized the main stream media as being controlled by liberals, the media did not simply dismiss this as an attack from an administration with a conservative agenda. Instead the networks (remember CBS, ABC, NBC?) had one hour prime time specials with furrowed brows and tortured admissions of have been liberals in college. In other words, the media took Nixon seriously and treated his accusations as something worth considering.

Needless to say, the media is just as bad when they are not being attacked personally and things are, if anything, worse than they were in the early seventies (of course I could stop and look at my own role in all this, but I will settle for this parenthetical notation that I do have a role). We all know (or should know) that the mainstream media is largely obsessed with appearing balanced as journalists, and not editorializing in news reports. The practical effect is that the vast majority of scientists who study climate and believe climate change is real and caused by human activities is equated with a much smaller number of scientists and non-scientists who refuse to acknowledge climate change is real, or if they do say it is real, claim it is not caused by human activity. Personally I believe most if not all climate deniers have an agenda (and possibly a check from energy companies), but I can not prove that (although now, for better or worse, I have put the idea in your head: you may agree totally or dismiss me as a paranoid lefty, but you can't not think of the possibility of industry influence now). Regardless of that, I think it is a crime that the media is not being more explicit that at least a majority of climate scientists think we are cooking the planet.

So a lot of voters, who are not really interested in politics, get these misleading messages of equivalencies. Except for the voters who get all their news from one of the more polarized networks or news magazines (Fox or Rolling Stone, for example). I favor the New York Times, which has some liberal leanings, but also shows some conservative tendencies, and frequently parrots the popular but also safe call (voters are angry and want to vote for Republicans). Unfortunately the more the equivalencies are repeated, and the standard line is repeated, the more people go from being confused to being sure of the mishmash they are being fed. So nobody in Washington or at the UN is actually sure about Climate Change, but at least the Republicans aren't trying to take our money to fix a problem that probably doesn't exist. And despite whatever silly thing Republicans are saying, either for themselves (shop owners should not be punished just bcause they refuse to serve black people and only black people) or about Democrats (Joe Sestak only cares what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama want), we should vote for the Republicans, because the Democrats promised results and didn't deliver. So now we should hand the government back to the Republicans, because at least they aren't the Democrats. Plus there is playing on fear (Muslims, Mexicans) and claiming that Obama has already raised taxes (in fact, one third of the stimulus was tax cuts, and only three Republicans could bring themselves to vote for that).

We have better access to information than we have ever had before, and yet we settle for the same old simplified messages. I'm not disenchanted because the Democrats aren't delivering, I've made my own peace with that issue. I am disenchanted because you can lead a voter to a vast array of information, but you can't make him/her see.

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