A Trifle I Couldn’t Resist

The last polar bear on the last ice floe? Uh, no.  Just a pic of another DC  pundit wondering why his his ass is so cold at night.

The last polar bear on the last ice floe? Uh, no. Just a pic of another DC pundit wondering why his ass is so cold at night.

This is in response to an existential question posed by the ultimate conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who asked the other day, “Why Are You So Angry?

I stepped away from the internet for a while. Hopping on I see sniping and fights between allies and friends. On twitter, I see conservatives enraged over this prisoner swap and more. There is a lot of anger and that is just the conservatives.

The liberals are always in a state of anger. When you’ve decided boy and girl are options, it’s rather a normal thing to define deviance as normal and normal as deviance and anger as good.

For conservatives though, it sometimes surprises me that there is so much anger — at each other, at the other side, etc. People, life is not fair. This several billion year old ball of hot magma, water, and rock is hurtling around a giant radioactive ball of burning plasma as it circles a cell crushing black hole through a vacuum of space. We are, in the whole expanse of space, a speck smaller than the smaller grain of sand on a beach. The slightest tilt in our orbit could kill us. Life is not fair. The universe is not fair. It all rather sucks if you think about too much.

And we are surrounded by people who are like us save for their faith in creation instead of the Creator. When left to their own devices they are “filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

That we are not left to our own devices and consequently not like those who are should make us smile, not scowl. Conservatives, particularly those with faith, read 2 Chronicles 7:14,

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land

and they get all bent out of shape. “This is about America. The nation must repent,” they think. Bull. That passage is not about America. That passage is about us. We should be humble and pray, and see God’s face. We should not be angry. We should not turn the country into an idol. I get the frustration. I do. And I understand why there is anger. I do. It is hard not to be angry sometimes. But stewing in the anger like so many on our own side are doing is neither healthy nor productive.

He offers bland, Biblical-sounding nostrums for the rest of the essay, too, but his essential argument (highlighted by me in bold) recapitulates a pragmatically nihilist explanation offered by the old baseball reliever Tug McGraw (singer Tim McGraw’s late dad for you youngsters) when he was asked how he could remain so calm with men on base in the ninth inning of a one-run game in the playoffs. He called it the snowball in space theory if I remember correctly. We’re so small, the universe is so big, and so in the final analysis it doesn’t matter if I give up a walk-off home run. Be in the moment, not in the artificial context of others. Great sports psychology. Rotten philosophy. (And, by the way, not Christianity either.)

So Erick the Wise wants us to calm down. Why we can’t. Professional political pundits whose hole card on the rest of us is that matters which affect us in every possible way are reducible to a game in which the outcomes ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter at all. Why professional political pundits can make pompous assertions an hour or two of real research would expose as ludicrous.

Exhibit I. A column by the chief political correspondent of the Washington Times, Timothy P. Carney.

Yes, the climate is changing. Now shut up and be reasonable.

In his fight against global warming, President Obama has issued new regulations on power plants’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.

Republicans blast the rules as “job destroyers” and a “war on coal.” Democrats attack Republicans as shills for Big Coal and “science deniers.”

Both sides need to grow up, and the climate debate needs to be shifted to reasonable grounds. In short, Republicans need to stop denying that climate change is real, and liberals need to admit that they don’t have all the answers.

There are things we know with a good level of certainty, and conservatives should grant these:

In general, the Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer. Of course, there is no single temperature of the atmosphere. Even speaking of an “average” is a bit tricky, because our temperature stations are irregularly spaced, and of varied reliability and longevity. But the aggregate of the data shows a general upward trend in temperatures on Earth.

We know that carbon dioxide, methane and some other gases will (all else being equal) increase atmospheric temperatures by trapping heat. This is the infamous greenhouse effect.

We also know that human industrial activity – such as burning coal and oil – adds to the concentration of greenhouse gasses.

Predicting the future is much harder, despite the certainty with which alarmists promise 20-foot sea-level rises, the death of bees and rising beer prices due to climate change.

Climate has always changed. Climate will change. Climate is massive, insanely complex and inherently unpredictable.

We do know that greenhouse gas concentrations are rising pretty rapidly, indicating that the warming trend will continue. Not all change is bad, but in general, rapid change in complex systems is disruptive and bad. While plants and animals can adapt—and have always adapted—they’re better off adapting slowly to gradual change. While human society can adapt, it will cost money and lives.

Conservatives need to come to grips with these facts. Too many Republican politicians simply declare, “climate change is a hoax.” This is a bad habit partisans and ideologues on both sides display: If the other side proposes an undesirable policy response to a problem, just deny the existence of the problem.

He goes on to lecture the left in similarly condescending terms, but as an avowed conservative, he is clearly only reaffirming his bona fides with this gambit. To him, as with Erickson, the prime issue is politics, and we’re supposed to take his authority — avuncular or arrogant — as a lesson about the nature of the game.

What’s most interesting about this obnoxiously patronizing piece is how thoroughly the Washington Times commenters take him to the woodshed. Politely for the most part, but in detail and with facts Carney clearly knows nothing of. So the most important part to read is…

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Never mind that in the big post here nobody wants to talk about I linked at least four previously published articles on this subject that make a mockery of Carney’s bombast.

Why so many of us are so angry. Who is in charge of what constitutes being reasonable? Compromising with the intellectually, morally, and culturally corrupt is not reasonable. Not even to Christians who know the inside of their Bible and not just the cover. We’re not meaningless specks in space. We’re accountable for what we do with our lives. All of us matter, all of everything matters, and there is no chapter and verse which tells us to fight for right only to the point where it might cause rancor or open conflict within families, cliques, or the community at large.

The fight is not about this or that. It’s not a game. It’s not an existential experiment. It’s not about careers, putting on a good show, striking bargains with people who want us dead or imprisoned or worse. It’s about everything. It’s about the meaning of life and our own lives, each and every one. If you can’t get angry about that, you’re as much of a loquacious bystander as our moral cipher of a president.

Here endeth the lesson, Master Erick.

2 thoughts on “A Trifle I Couldn’t Resist

  1. Great piece Robert. One of your best. Praying for you and all that we may love each other regardless of faults before it is too late. God Bless!

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