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The yen for authoritarians

As far as foreign policy and the debate went, viewers will have noticed how the GOP, using its media, has made global warming a third rail issue in American politics. It simply went missing in all debates, replaced by both candidates squabbling over who would be the better miner and digger of fossil fuels.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times ran a front page story on how global warming has opened up so much water in what was formerly the ice-locked Arctic, the Coast Guard has had to expand its patrols.

"The rapid melting of the polar ice cap is turning the once ice-clogged waters off northern Alaska into a navigable ocean ..." reads the piece.

However, in 2012 America, one insane and dangerous political party, faced often by supine opposition, has successfully convinced half the country that this isn't happening or is of no consequence.

It's sometimes difficult to grasp how this type of thing comes about. That is, until you recognize that human beings, and the way they think, haven't changed much.

Here's William L. Shirer, in a yellowed 1959 copy of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," with something to say on people who live in media cages:

"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state ... It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsification and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was to try to even make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were."

So when Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi wrote last night that Mitt Romney had "f----- the dog" in the debate, he immediately qualified it with: "This should be the death-blow to Romney, but I've said that before and been wrong."

The GOP, the demographics predisposed to vote for a Mitt Romney, has its media, much like the one Shirer described experiencing in his book. The internet did not give anyone a free, uncensored world. In practice, it made it easier to wall off the space of one's own tribe.

This week's comic musical interlude, Binders Full of Women Blues.

Originally published at Dick Destiny blog. About the author.

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