Monday, May 05, 2014

Political Climate Change Is Real

“Turning to the weather forecast, the National Weather Bureau has issued a ‘severe alert’ for violent storms.  Joining us now is psychometeorologist Dr. Rebecca Engel to interpret the Bureau’s warning.  Rebecca, how serious is this threat?”

“Very serious, Lorna.  The atmosphere is highly charged; political climate change is real.  What were once considered freak events are occurring almost daily.  We haven’t heard rhetoric at this level of lunacy since Germany in the 1930s.  The  Insanity Index is at the highest level I’ve seen in my career.”

“Who’s at risk, Rebecca?”

“It’s the usual victims.  The old, the young, women, the poor, and the marginalized are most at risk.  Ideally, children should have caring, nurturing, and stable environments [gives a nervous laugh]--well, ideally we should all have caring, nurturing, and stable environments--but children are the least able to deal intellectually and emotionally with the kind of bizarre incidents we’ve been seeing.” 

“Could you do a quick run-through of some of those recent atmospheric disturbances for our viewers, Rebecca?”

“Sure.  Just in the past few months we’ve had:
  • a gunman shooting six people at a FedEx facility and then killing himself; 
  • an Iraq war veteran killing three people, injuring sixteen, and then shooting himself at Fort Hood; 
  • a report issued by the Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers concluding that doctors and psychologists working for the U.S. military and the CIA violated their profession ethical code of conduct by participating in the ‘cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment and torture of detainees’; 
  • a freeloading Nevada rancher who hasn’t paid any fees since 1996 for grazing his cattle on public land pulling together a group of armed supporters to intimidate Bureau of Land Management officials who were trying to collect money he owes, with Sean Hannity, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, and a slew of other Nevada politicians lavishing praise on him or defending him; 
  • a subsequent speech by the same Nevada rancher in which he said blacks might have been better off when they were slaves picking cotton--at which point Sean Hannity, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, and a slew of other Nevada politicians dropped him like a red-hot horseshoe;
  • a CIA station chief in Milan who oversaw the kidnapping of a radical Muslim cleric and flew him to a torture site in Egypt being arrested in Panama on an Interpol warrant, and then suddenly spirited out of custody and flown back to the U.S.;
  • a revelation by Dianne Feinstein that the CIA had secretly removed documents originally provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and then lied about it, and had spied on the work of the Senate committee by secretly searching its computers;
  • a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination whose name and political philosophy are derived from a novel glorifying the greed and arrogance of power-hungry sociopaths; 
  • a Democratic president who boasts of maintaining a ‘kill list’; 
  • and a former vice-presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, a woman who could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency, bragging that, if she were in charge, ‘waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists’.”

“That’s certainly a sobering list.  But weather events like these have always happened.  You can’t prove these particular events were caused by political climate change, can you?”

“Our Insanity Index has been fine-tuned over more than three decades of public affairs, Lorna, and its ability to predict the quality of our future has steadily increased.  If you look at this graph of pure political lunacy and moral degeneracy over that period, the red line shows the heat of political rhetoric sharply ascending, with only minor fluctuations typical of a year-to-year record.  The yellow line tracks acts of war and other politically-motivated violence, mass shootings, kidnappings, torture, and outrageous political acts.  As you can see, it follows the red line very closely.  The purple line tracks income inequality; what’s interesting is that line closely parallels the other two.   So no, you can’t prove a single political storm was caused by all that hot air, but the overall pattern is simply undeniable.”

“We’re running out of time here.  Could you, very quickly, take us through one of these recent atmospheric disturbances you’ve listed and explain why it matters?”

“Sure.  Let’s take the last one, Sarah Palin’s speech before the NRA where she boasted about her eagerness to waterboard terrorists.”

“Okay.  And its significance?”

“First of all, waterboarding is undeniably an act of torture.  It’s a clear violation of international law.  In addition to being illegal, it’s also ineffective and immoral.  Secondly, the so-called ‘terrorists’ we’ve been torturing by waterboard have overwhelmingly proven to be innocent people.  So she’s building on quicksand.  If she were making this speech in front of an audience with a shred of moral sensitivity, they would greet it with shocked silence, then get up and quietly exit the auditorium.”

“And the National Weather Bureau has included this speech among the bizarre events plugged into its Insanity Index?”


“Can you explain why?  We have one minute left.”
“It’s insane in so many ways--both her comments and the audience’s enthusiastic response--that we may run out of time.  You have to understand that Ms. Palin is a self-identified Christian who doesn’t miss an opportunity to trumpet her faith.   Baptism for Christians is a way of bringing people into the community of the church.  It’s an occasion of rejoicing when the person baptized receives forgiveness for all of his or her sins and is filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“And when Ms. Palin jokes about waterboarding as a form of baptism....?”

“That’s despicable from the perspective of any civilized human being.  But in Ms. Palin’s case it’s a stunning betrayal of the faith she claims to hold.  Waterboarding is an anti-baptism. It’s hateful, not loving; condemning, not forgiving; political, not spiritual; a disgrace, not grace.  It’s a perversion of everything baptism stands for.  For someone to preen and laugh about torturing other human beings, and compare it to a holy sacrament, is such a toxic blend of false religion, perverted patriotism, and political pandering that anyone exposed to it should receive treatment immediately.”

“Treatment in the form of....?”

“Therapy or spiritual counseling.”

“Thanks, Rebecca.  [Turns to face another camera]  More storms forecast for tomorrow; don’t forget your umbrellas, raincoats, emergency flares, and therapist’s telephone number.  That’s tonight’s weather report.”

© Tony Russell, 2014

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