Being deliberately irrational has become the modus operandi for the GOP as the party of Political Conservatives. However, in recent months, the conservative norms have taken ever more extreme forms including the deliberately irrational or mendacious. Take the latter and Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona who declared in the Senate that 90% of Planned Parenthood services are for abortions. Then when fact checkers found that number to be wrong by a factor of 30 [3% is the true figure], Senator Kyl compounded the problem by declaring that his statement was “not intended to be a factual statement.” Stephen Colbert leaped on this for great comic effect tweeting hundreds of outlandishly false statements about Senator Kyl all protected by the phrase – this is not intended to be a factual statement.
Humor aside, this deliberate shading of the truth and outright fabrications has become a regular feature of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and a whole network, Fox News, devoted to supporting Republicans while attacking Democratic policy and people with deliberate falsehoods. MediaMatters is a website dedicated to researching and tracking media falsehoods, innuendos and deliberate mis-editings/misstatements of all the press. But Fox News leads the pusillanimous parade with hundreds of fabricated storylines. Now if these stories were directed roughly equally at Democrats and Republicans one could call this just a case of profiteering Yellow Journalism like such supermarket rag sheets like the National Enquirer. But not so. The peak of hypocrisy is Fox News labeling its coverage as fair and balanced – or hiding behind the cover of stories not being intended as news coverage but rather as “opinion pieces”. The problem is that the other major networks do bend over backwards to be fair and balanced while Fox news spurns such efforts – but there is a calculated method behind this mendacious madnesss. Researchers call it Motivated Social Cognition which explores the labyrinthine rationalizations of political conservative and leads to insights as to why.
Suffice it to say that the theory predicts end-means justifications like the “Starve the Beast” policy which condones deliberate deficit overspending as the means to force draconian government cutbacks[see here for how the last 3 Republican Presidents have been largely responsible for the current debt crisis confronting the US]. This is a prime example of the deliberately irrational. It is now being pushed to the extreme by the Republican Senator Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, who has taken the issue of massive Deficit Reduction and done the following:
a)simply ignored the fact that Republican overspendings have been the source for US debt crisis;
b)taken taxes and tax reform completely out of the equation for managing the budget except for –
c)giving massive tax breaks to the very wealthy who are the really endowed Social Welfare Queens.
All three of these steps are deeply flawed yet Senator Ryan is being praised for his patent irrationality. The NYTimes Paul Krugman catches the surreal when he describes Senator Ryan’s Proposal:
My description of the budget debate is in no way an exaggeration. Consider the Ryan budget proposal, which all the Very Serious People assured us was courageous and important. That proposal begins by warning that “a major debt crisis is inevitable” unless we confront the deficit. It then calls, not for tax increases, but for tax cuts, with taxes on the wealthy falling to their lowest level since 1931. And because of those large tax cuts, the only way the Ryan proposal can even claim to reduce the deficit is through savage cuts in spending, mainly falling on the poor and vulnerable.
And so deliberate irrationality thrives on the Right in Washington.
Threre are only whiffs of rationality as in the Gang of Six working on bipartisan deficit reductions. These deficit reductions reportedly take tax reform and selected tax increases into account. This is close to a last reprieve for Republicans to be taken seriously on Budget Reform; otherwise Republicans become identified in the public as being deliberately irrational. But some Republicans can live with Irrationality. First it plays well to the 45% of Republicans who are steadfast Birthers [true believers in the trumped up notion that President Obama was not born in the USA – see here for one of the best counter proofs]. Second, deliberate irrationality has worked well for the Republicans for the past 30 years since started by Ronald Reagan. Finally, in game theory there is an advantage in some games like Chicken and Prisoner’s Dilemma for being known as an “irrational player”. So choose your Republican Poison – in the months ahead Republicans may well seek to force you and the Nation to be deliberately irrational.