Monday, August 8, 2016

Some of the scariest stuff doesn't even involve Trump

You'll notice that fairly consistently the people least caught off guard by recent events (Ornstein & Mann, Krugman, Chait and particularly Marshall) have all been insisting for years that journalists have got to start honestly addressing the state of the GOP and the conservative movement. These writers were strongly criticized, even ostracized for these positions.

Now all but the most doctrinaire of radical centrists have acknowledged that, at least in the past few years, Republican extremism has become a serious concern, but the focus is still often limited to incidents involving the curreent GOP presidential candidate. A group of Trump supporters chanting racist slogans makes the news while the press (other than scrappy independents like TPM) still largely ignores stories like this:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) compared those mounting the efforts to address climate change to Joseph Stalin and Hugo Chavez, while claiming that it has been "proven scientifically" that the climate is not in fact warming. He suggested in a radio appearance that progressives' concern about climate change was driven by their desire for government control of Americans lives.

"The whole climate change debate gives, and there are all kinds of quotes from adherents of and promoters of climate change, the reason they're doing it is it's such a great opportunity to control, you know, pretty much, government, and control your lives," Johnson said Monday, on the Glenn Klein Show on the WRJN radio show. "There's an arrogance of power there that they're utopians, that they really think they can create heaven on earth, and where it's failed in the past, those people like Stalin and Chavez and the Castros, the nutcases in North Korea--by the way, if you want equal results, go to North Korea, you have equal misery."
You really need to read that passage two or three times for it to fully soak in. There is so much packed in here: the stunning scientific illiteracy; the arrogance; the paranoia (they're doing this to "control your lives"); the sheer hatred toward those who disagree with him. People who accept the overwhelming consensus opinion of researchers are accused of wanting to establish a totalitarian state and are compared with not just one or two, but with four notorious dictators.

This is not a fringe stance. Though the rhetoric is more subdued, you can find the same sentiments in every third George Will column. It has become mainstream opinion within the GOP. There was a time not so long ago that prominent Republicans could propose carbon taxes or cap-and-trade plans. Now simply acknowledging the problem is a career killer.

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