Paradigm Shift

I see where Lindsay Graham–the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Technology–has never used email. And of course, I’ve posted before about James Inhofe, the climate-change denier and evolution skeptic who inexplicably heads up the Senate Committee on the Environment.

Shades of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who described the Internet as a “series of tubes.”

Perhaps the most penetrating description of John McCain during his campaign for President was “An analog candidate for a digital age.” It summed up a problem we encounter in times of paradigm shift, when people living in a rapidly vanishing world can no longer communicate with inhabitants of the emerging reality.

We have lawmakers who might just as well occupy different planets, so different are their frames of reference and worldviews. No matter how well intentioned, no matter that they have some abstract understanding that new technologies are creating new cultural norms, it is simply not possible for such people to make rational decisions about realities with which they have no firsthand experience. (Think Ted Cruz’ embarrassing comments about net neutrality–comments that clearly demonstrated his total ignorance of what the issue actually was about. Or Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who demonstrated his lack of comprehension by saying  “The idea of regulating access to the internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard”–then multiply that cluelessness by the number of elected officials who are similarly rooted in another era.)

As a site called “The Big Blue Gumball” noted in a discussion of paradigms and paradigm shift:

Among the biggest paradigm shifts of the last 10 years have been the transitions from analog to digital, and from wired to wireless. These revolutionary technological changes have led to major sociological and behavioral modifications that impact our everyday lives – from the way we live and work, to the ways we entertain ourselves and engage with others.

But not the way all too many lawmakers understand the world.

We’re in big trouble.


No, We Aren’t There Yet

It has been abundantly clear for a long time now (and painfully obvious since Barack Obama’s election) that we still have a huge racism problem in this country. My friends in the LGBT community can attest that–despite enormous progress on gay rights–they still face plenty of homophobia. What has been less remarked–but is no less true–is that we women haven’t exactly “overcome,” either.

Juanita Jean–proprietor of the World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Shop–got right to the point, after Senator Lindsay Graham dismissed Elizabeth Warren’s objections to the omnibus funding bill by saying

“You’re tired, you’re frustrated, you’re upset about a provision in the bill you don’t like…..”

You’re tired and upset? Oh yeah, that’s the only reason we women fight for anything – we’re tired and upset. The only thing he forgot is that it must be that time of the month.

Oh, but he wasn’t finished.

“If you follow the lead of the senator of Massachusetts and bring this bill down … people are not going to believe you are mature enough to run the place,” Graham said on the Senate floor. “Don’t follow her lead. She’s the problem.”

The only thing absent from this offensively patronizing putdown is any response to her substantive arguments. Because, evidently, when a “girl” has objections to the content of a piece of legislation, the only rebuttal needed is a none-too-subtle reminder of her gender.

If Warren’s objections were wrongheaded, if there were sound responses available to those objections, surely a critique that included those responses would have been appropriate.

Evidently, however, arguments made by women don’t merit serious consideration. After all, how could we girls match the great job that’s being done by all those straight white men?


How Long Can This Continue?

The State, a newspaper in South Carolina, reports that Senator Lindsay Graham–the very right-wing South Carolina Senator who is coming up for re-election–has attracted a primary opponent. Because, you know, Graham is insufficiently insane.

State Sen. Lee Bright announced his candidacy Tuesday for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, calling incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham “a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“During the (congressional) recess, when I would hope that he would be around folks in South Carolina, getting their feelings on so many issues that affect their lives, he has instead chosen to take his time to be a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood and that concerns me,” Bright told supporters in a conference call. “He needs to spend more time listening to what the brothers in South Carolina have to say.”

Increasingly, I feel as though I have fallen down the Rabbit Hole with Alice, or I’m living in one of those science fiction books I used to read, where the protagonist goes to sleep only to wake up in an alternate universe.

Mr. (not very) Bright uses all the dog whistle words: community organizer. Muslim. Next thing you know, he’ll be accusing Graham of having been civil to the President (although he’d be hard pressed to find an example of Graham actually voting for something the President proposed. At this point, if President Obama suggested we endorse the sun continuing to rise in the east, most Republicans would call the very idea “socialism” and oppose it.)

I know we Americans have gone through periods of hysteria and bigotry and self-destructive behaviors before. We just didn’t have the internet and Facebook and blogs to rub our faces in every paranoid utterance, every display of aggressive ignorance and racial animus. I want to believe that this, too, shall pass…..

But I’d feel so much better if someone could assure me that we will come to the end of this cycle of crazy before the harm done becomes irreparable.



Senator Lindsay Graham is very conservative; however, he is not one of the extremist know-nothings currently attempting to turn the GOP into a religious/nationalist cult of some sort. And that fact–the fact that he is occasionally willing to work with–gasp!–Democrats–has led the S. Carolina Republican Party to censure him! 

As many who read this blog know, I was an active and visible Republican for thirty-plus years. I ran for Congress as a Republican. As the party moved further and further away from the fiscal responsibility and social liberalism/libertarianism that had attracted me–I left. Millions of others did likewise. Today the party is the mirror image of what it was when we belonged–rather than being fiscally conservative and socially liberal, it is socially conservative and fiscally liberal. And since most Americans do not agree that government should tax the poor to benefit the rich, or that it should intervene to keep people like Terry Schaivo “alive,” or that efforts to extend healthcare (whether one likes the bill or not) are comparable to the holocaust, the “true believers” are making the party’s candidates increasingly un-electable. 

When people as conservative as Lindsay Graham are no longer “pure” enough, you have a party intent upon destroying itself.