The Widdershins

The enlightenment of doubt…

Posted on: April 25, 2014

Here’s hoping this Friday is yet another good Friday Widdershin friends.

Never stop questioning

Last weekend I reread the long story in The Washington Post of Lee Atwater’s deathbed confessions. Like several members of his family, Atwater was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor at the young age of 39 and lingered just a few days over a year with the debilitating pain of his medical death sentence.

Atwater was stricken just at the time when he was at the top of his game. In Republican circles, he was the amoral engineer of modern-day wedge issues. Giving us such 60-second slam dunks as Willie Horton and ads where white hands wadded up a job rejection letter while black hands held a job offer, he was the Picasso of divisive politics. Atwater defensively said he didn’t create the art form, but without fear of contradiction, his too short life was spent perfecting the technique.

Atwater spent his last year writing gracious letters of apology, shopping religions, and trying to reconcile both his open affair and his marriage. I don’t know if he succeeded in his personal absolution, but undoubtedly his quest was earnest and forthright.

Scratching HeadI was reminded of Atwater by the story about Charles Cooper, the attorney who argued in favor of California’s ban on same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court. It seems he is now in the throes of an earnest and forthright personal quest to “reconcile his beliefs” since he now finds himself planning his lesbian daughter’s wedding.

Then I read of Oklahoma’s ongoing bid to become the most crimson of the red states by making it illegal for local communities to enact raises in the minimum wage. Fearing this would not be enough to secure uber-infrared conservative status, Oklahoma has also enacted a tax on the sun via anyone who dares utilize solar panels.

Then I read about Georgia’s new “guns everywhere” legislation allowing guns in churches, schools, bars, government buildings, almost everywhere — that is except the state Capitol building. The Capitol is still off-limits for random pistol-packers since the sponsor of the legislation said, “We have some ongoing security concerns here in the Capitol.”

Then I found myself thinking about the states where making it harder to vote is all the rage to combat fictional voter fraud. And also thinking about the states where they are spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to prevent 5 million poor people from getting Medicaid coverage.

Then I found myself scratching my head about those who are opposed to both an increase in the minimum wage and food stamp expenditures. If ever there was a self-defeating Möbius loop this is it since an increase in the minimum wage would reduce spending on food stamps by $4.6 Billion a year or $46.0 Billion over the usual 10-year budget cycle.

Color Doubt

How to make sense out of this disparate group of facts and issues? It was then that I ran across an article about marketing and the genius of asking just the right question. Within the article was a quote from Descartes, “Doubt is the origin of all wisdom.”

Given that most of the tea party types have never before been part of the political process — never having sat through school board or city council meetings in seats of authority — they have no reason to doubt what imbued them with their new-found “power” in Congress and statehouses.

No compromise, no respect for another point of view, disrupting town hall meetings, being enthralled by conspiracies fomented by infotainment buffoons — why would they have any reason to doubt? They have ridden a tidal wave of unfocused anger to lead a band of voting pitchfork and torch wielders.

In the arena of politics for profit, doubt has zero purchasing power. Likewise, in a world where opinion has replaced reality, how could the seeds of doubt ever be sown? They can’t be sown in a media echo chamber where even a glimmer of doubt could foster the guilty pangs of responsibility.

Wisdom is rarely a spontaneous event and never is it found by those not seeking it. It took a medical death sentence for Lee Atwater and a father’s love for his lesbian daughter in the Cooper family, but inevitably their doubts led toward seeking wisdom and greater personal truth.

Sky question markIn those states where gun deaths, heightened hunger, deprived healthcare, or impoverishment wages are the spiteful answers for muddled questions of gossamer fictions, there is little hope for curative wisdom creeping into policy decisions. In the near term, the best we can hope for is the enlightenment of doubt.

This is an open thread.


18 Responses to "The enlightenment of doubt…"

What a fabulous post. I’m reminded of my Fundie friends and their no-retreat purity issues.
I can see charging solar users a modest fee for equipment usage – lines, etc. However, they are not alone in such folly. Gov. Bush made it illegal for Floridians to erect windmills for power. But, I have an idea – perhaps the good folks of Oklahoma would like to store the petrocoke that pollutues whatever ut touches. Enkughtenment might quickly follow.

Thanks Chat.

And petrocoke indeed — it should be spelled petroKoch — it is the Snidley Whiplash Bros. at it again. No wonder they are so up in the Keystone pipeline — given their millions of acres of leased tar sands, they can’t wait to bring a mountain of petroKoch to a neighborhood near us, the unwashed masses. And with petroKoch, it doesn’t matter how many times a day you shower, you will always be dirty.

Fredster, I thought I would get your blood boiling early today with this little fun fact:

LA is spending $134 Million it doesn’t have to spend in order to keep 294,000 Louisianans from having healthcare coverage with Medicaid expansion.

Forget the question about whether Jindal has a soul, from a fiscal standpoint, this is madness.

What a great and thought-provoking post Prolix. Ben Nevers, Dem from Bogalusa had a bill killed in committee in the state Senate that would have put a vote and constitutional amendment before the voters on whether to take expanded medicaid. It was killed 6-2 in committee on a party line vote.

The expansion of medicaid is favored by the voters according to polls taken. The Repubs could have let this go forward, put it to the voters as an amendment (not subject to the guv’s veto) and then they could have washed their hands of it, yet still provided health coverage to the poor. But I’m sure they thought “WWBJD?”.

Prolix, do you have a link to that $134 million thing?

I know he has sold and contracted out a number of the state charity hospitals that were run by LSU. Except…except CMS has not approved his hairbrained scheme yet. And if they don’t, he is fubared beyond belief.

Here’s a comment Patrick Robinson made over at Bob Mann’s blog:

Recently we were told the Feds are going to withhold Medicaid payments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to Louisiana, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars we will have to repay. This because the Jindal Administration has refused to answer questions on the Privatization of the LSU Hospitals, but not to worry, Kristy Nichols states we will appeal the action by the Feds. To whom and on what basis, she didn’t say, but obviously the plan is to delay until Jindal leaves office. I hope for the sake of Louisiana, the Legislature has a PLAN C, because PLAN A is a very expensive failure and they have rejected PLAN B. For those Legislators who are against participating in the Medicaid Expansion Program, the day will come when those of us who pay taxes are going to have to repay the Feds those hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars Jindal is “borrowing” to pay for PLAN A. I hope you realize when that day does come, ALL of your constituents are going to hold you responsible for the mess we will find ourselves in!

chat said: I can see charging solar users a modest fee for equipment usage

For what?

Lines,, etc. It still comes in through the usual methods.

Totall off Topic but I just loved this it was written for our next President and if it was not it should be:

@5, Fredster, no I don’t have a link I saw it on MSNBC about three hours ago. I was sourced, I’ll try and find it.

Lines,, etc. It still comes in through the usual methods.

If it’s the usual methods then why does the solar owner have to pay anything?

This looks like the owner is having everything installed on their end (and paying for it?).

Prolix@10: Thanks. No biggie if you can’t find anything linkable.

I actually had to get my comment out of moderation — Judge Spammy allowed me out on R.O.R. — ‘Ritin’ on my own Recognizance.

Prolix, thanks so much!

(sigh) Much like after Dubya, it will take years to clean up lil Booby’s mess. And I don’t hold much hope then if Diaper Dave gets in as guv.

@11: The owner of the house does not own their power lines.

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