I want you to try a thought experiment here.
Think of something obvious and intimate that you use all the time: a cigarette lighter, a tube of lipstick, a shoehorn, whatever. Something convenient, even something that you’re carrying right now (not a pair of glasses you’re wearing, please). Your car keys. Something perhaps trivial, but something that you use every day.
Now, without looking at anything or moving, tell yourself where it is, and then go get it.
Odds are it’s right where you knew it would be.
Congratulations! You just did something important that humans do every day, something so profound that we do it constantly without ever thinking about it. We have done it from earliest age: when you “located” the object, you used your PICTURE, your SIMULATION of the world that you and I and all functional humans carry with us constantly. When you physically located the object, you existed in the “REAL” world, and you also refined your PICTURE of the real world at the same time. You refined your picture of the world, as we constantly do, with the feedback from “reality” constantly updating that simulation of the world you found your keys in.
It’s a loop, and it is in that picture that our greatest gift as a species resides: the ability to inject imagination to visualize a different reality that our efforts and plans alter, born in that dream based on reality, but merely a dream until translated INTO reality.
Sometimes, we are “sure” that something is somewhere, and it ISN’T there. It is LOST! No: your picture of the world and the real world don’t coincide. Some people like me will remain continually “bugged” by this “lost” object until we “find” it.
In the REAL world it was not lost. In fact, it could NEVER be “lost.” Because “lost” is a concept that denotes a fissure between the picture of the world and the actual world. But remember that dynamic: when your picture of the world and the world you ACTUALLY live in are out of skew, something is “lost,” like, say, the Higgs Bosun.
Wood Land Creature
The seduction in this unconscious process is that it is very easy to slip entirely into that “picture” of the world, as long as the “real” world never wakes us up: That we never learn the missing watch was snatched by a raccoon who liked its sparkle, which we never took into account. That it slipped behind the couch.The example is given in the old cruel riddle:
Q: How do Helen Keller’s parents punish her?
A: They rearrange the furniture.
You see, a blind person (Helen Keller in this case) can live very well (and often does) in an environment that they’ve built a clear “picture” of.
Shuffle the real world, and the “picture” is lost. The external world makes no sense. The “picture” of the world carried in the blind person’s head (not necessarily “sight” images) has taken a larger role in the ordering of their life and actions, but the process of that feedback loop between mental image and “real world” remains the same.
The image is formed from sense impressions and then continually updated as “data” is received on changes. You can probably find your way from the bed to the bathroom in near total darkness. Because of that internal “mapping” you carry between your ears.
Now: let me give you the political example: In 2000, it became the holy writ of the Presidential and congressional stakes that if we cut taxes, it would spur job creation. So, we, via the congress and the occupant of the office of the presidency cut taxes. Ten years later, having a decade of data showing that we DIDN’T spur any job creation, there are still those who claim that the obvious way to spur job growth and the economy is to cut taxes to the “job creators.”
Someone is living in their own picture.
Massacres and Wiseacres
“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”
…………………………………… — George W. Bush
I am struck lately with the parallels in recent weeks between the Republican radicals (e.g. virtually all) and the Jonestown, Guyana residents, although not necessarily at the end. You see, the whole People’s Temple thing started in Indiana, migrated (due to racism) to California, and HQ’ed in San Francisco; and they did good work: fed the hungry, homed the homeless, that sort of thing.
Military personnel evacuating bodies from Jonestown
And, slowly but surely their “picture” of the world and the real world diverged further and further … until someone freaked out, they machine-gunned a U.S. congressman and several others, and then, they all lined up, and drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid® (from whence the term “drinking the Kool-Aid®” enters the popular well of clichés) and were discovered in neat rows of bloated corpses a few days later.
Their picture of the world had led them into madness.
And the real world stopped impinging on their collective picture, their mental simulation of the real world, and they drove their collective bus off the Kool-Aid® kliff. As with several cults of recent and ancient vintage. People get together, get a bad idea together, and stop “reality checking” their internal “reality” with external Reality, but, unlike that inner “certitude” the external reality has a terrible tendency to bite you in the ass if you ignore it for too long.
Bodies at Jonestown
But slipping completely into the inner picture happens much more often than we’d like to think. What is our greatest asset as humans — our ability to recall and synthesize that memory into creative solutions — can also become our greatest impediment.
The Bush Administration, inarguably, fell victim to those facts they preferred to believe diverging from the actual facts. Dick Cheney, perhaps, still believes that they’ll greet us with flowers. In a collective visualization, like a government or an economy or a political ideology, it is much easier for the inner picture to persist for a long time before the reality of those consequences forces a change in that picture.
The bizarre events of the past several days have been almost beyond articulation, as I watched the Orange Speaker of the House REFUSE a Presidential request for a joint session of congress — FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC — claiming that the House had “important legislative business” on its schedule that would make such an appearance impossible.
Quorum Calls–Votes: One yea-and-nay vote developed during the proceedings of today and appears on pages H5947. There were no quorum calls.
Chamber ActionPages H5964-65
Additional Cosponsors:Pages H5965-67
Reports Filed: Reports were filed today as follows:
H.R. 2189, to encourage States to report to the Attorney General certain information regarding the deaths of individuals in the custody of law enforcement agencies, and for other purposes (H. Rept. 112-198);
H.R. 2633, to amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify the time limits for appeals in civil cases to which United States officers or employees are parties (H. Rept. 112-199); and
H. Res. 392, providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2218) to amend the charter school program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1892) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes (H. Rept. 112-200).Page H5963
Privileged Resolution: The House agreed to H. Con. Res. 74, providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President.Page H5942
Recess: The House recessed at 2:13 p.m. and reconvened at 5:30 p.m.Page H5942
Suspensions: The House agreed to suspend the rules and pass the following measures:
Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds:H. Con. Res. 67, to authorize the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 379 yeas with none voting “nay”, Roll No. 692 andPages H5942-43, H5947
Extending the Generalized System of Preferences: H.R. 2832, to extend the Generalized System of Preferences.Pages H5943-47
Recess: The House recessed at 5:37 p.m. and reconvened at 5:45 p.m.Page H5943
Recess: The House recessed at 6:15 p.m. and reconvened at 6:30 p.m.Page H5947
Point of Privilege: Representative Kucinich rose to a point of privilege and was recognized.Pages H5948-51
Senate Message: Message received from the Senate by the Clerk and subsequently presented to the House today appears on page H5942.
Quorum Calls–Votes: One yea-and-nay vote developed during the proceedings of today and appears on pages H5947. There were no quorum calls.
Adjournment: The House met at 2 p.m. and adjourned at 9:36 p.m.
That is the COMPLETE record of what happened on the floor* of Congress on the date that was “too busy” to allow the President of the United States to speak.
(* Minus a bunch of amateurish speeches to the cameras for the folks back home).
And, just so’s you KNOW that this important bill was taking up a huge part of the day, here is the complete transcript of its passage:
Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R….
Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5…
Mr. CAMP. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. LEVIN. I yield myself such time as I shall consume.
Mr. CAMP. I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Alabama (Mr….
Mr. ADERHOLT. Mr. Speaker, it is evident that our country is in desperate need…
Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I think today we’ll find that we’re the Congress of…
Mr. BRADY of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from…
Mr. BLUMENAUER. My good friend from Texas is right; there is strong bipartisan…
Mr. CAMP. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. CAMP. Well, the short answer is no. The gentleman is correct in his…
Mr. BLUMENAUER. If the gentleman would entertain an additional question. I…
Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield the gentleman 1 additional minute.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. As we move forward, hopefully we won’t be dealing with the…
Mr. CAMP. I haven’t had a chance to review your suggestion but would be happy…
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you. I appreciate the gentleman’s courtesy and interest…
Mr. CAMP. I am prepared to close at this point if the gentleman has no further…
Mr. McDERMOTT. I have no other speakers, so I will close on our side.
Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I want to thank both of my colleagues for their commitment to work with the other body to ensure that this legislation becomes law. As we all know, we can use all the help we can get when we get to the other side of the Capitol. But I want to just reemphasize that this is part of a 40-year history of more competition for U.S. manufacturers and U.S. companies. This is bipartisan legislation which has been around for a long time.[Page: H5947] GPO's PDF
It is important to continue to grow markets and create exports; and this legislation helps American employers, American manufacturers–and their employees, more importantly–by creating and supporting jobs here in America. So it’s just an important, valuable part of our export policy, and I urge all of my colleagues to join in supporting this bipartisan legislation.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Camp) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 2832.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
And here is the passage of the other important legislative business, the Special Olympics Police Charity Running Thing:
AUTHORIZING USE OF CAPITOL GROUNDS FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SPECIAL OLYMPICS LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN — (House of Representatives – September 07, 2011)[Page: H5947] GPO's PDF
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, proceedings will resume on the motion to suspend the rules previously postponed.
The unfinished business is the vote on the motion to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 67) authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, on which the yeas and nays were ordered.
The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Denham) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were–yeas 379, nays 0, not voting 52, as follows:
[Roll No. 692]YEAS–379
[Everybody’s name who voted for it]
So (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the concurrent resolution was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
[Begin Insert]* (* In other words, stuff stuck in retroactively.)
Mr. WALSH of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, on rollcall No. 692, had I been present, I would have voted “yea.”
Ms. SEWELL. Mr. Speaker, on rollcall No. 692, had I been present, I would have voted “yea.”
Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, on September 7, 2011, I inadvertently missed rollcall vote No. 692. Had I been present, I would have voted “yea.”
Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I was unavoidably detained in my district and missed the vote on September 7, 2011. Had I been present, I would have voted “yea” on rollcall No. 692, H. Con. Res. 67.
That’s it. That’s what caused the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to refuse the President’s request for a Joint Session address to Congress last Wednesday. The sheer known nature of the trivial and feeble “excuse” amplifies the intentional insult exponentially.*
[And yes, I realize that a GOP “debate” — by four months from the first primary — was being held the same night, but, frankly, the difference in magnitude between dealing with a clear and present crisis and a bunch of predictable yabble on America’s new least favorite game show, “Who Wants To Be President?” renders the game show into its miniscule significance in the life of the Nation. Seriously.]
Then there was the steady drip, drip, drip of GOP congress- and senatecritters loudly announcing they would NOT be attending the President’s speech. (Only lacking the use of the quaint Southern honorific “boy.”)
What we had thought was a bygone age in American politics
And then there was the speech. Here is Dana Milbank (who is, if nothing else, an expert on hubris):
By Dana Milbank, Published: September 8
The Washington Post
President Obama gave one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency when he addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. Too bad so many in the audience thought it was a big, fat joke.
“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.
“Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.
“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guffawed.
“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.
“We’ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms, which will save billions of dollars,” the president claimed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.
It was, in a way, more insulting than Joe Wilson’s “you lie” eruption during a previous presidential address to Congress.
Republican leaders, having forced Obama to postpone the speech because of the GOP debate, decided they wouldn’t dignify the event by offering a formal, televised “response.” And the White House, well aware of Obama’s declining popularity, moved up the speech time to 7 p.m. so it didn’t conflict with the Packers-Saints NFL opener at 8:30.
Now, you have to understand that this isn’t merely “politics” as has been practiced by Americans for 235+ years. This was a most egregious insult. Not the insult to the President and the implicit insult to his race. But the insult to We, the People, who elected him.
There is a deep, inchoate anger at this that has had difficulty in finding articulation.
And, of course, today’s “panty raid” frat house prank on the President, except that it is NOT a prank, and this is NOT a frat house.
We watch as the underlying foundations of democracy crumble beneath us and we say nothing.
Listen to the self-categorized vermin at Weasel Zippers:
Too Funny: GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert Nabs Name “American Jobs Act” After No Dem Files Bill On Obama’s Behalf…
Snooze you lose.
(The Foundry) — President Obama repeatedly asked members of Congress to pass the American Jobs Act last week. But when no Democrat filed Obama’s bill after he presented it to Congress, a conservative congressman swiped the name for his own legislation.
The American Jobs Act introduced in the House of Representatives looks quite different from the version President Obama outlined in his speech to Congress. Instead of hiking taxes on working Americans to pay for another stimulus, Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) legislation offers a tax cut.
Yup. That’s it. Merely quoting somebody else’s blog, taking time only to sneer and link. The main “creative” portion of the symbolic feces tossing seems to have been the hours of intense cogitation it must’ve taken to come up with the headline.
The deep insult belies an even deeper contempt that is both racial and ideological, and, in equal part unacknowledged.
It is sort of like the term “leftists.”
This has moved far beyond the pale of partisan politics, or even the schoolyard. It has moved into the realm of the Goths and the Visigoths, and still we cannot articulate how fundamentally WRONG this pettiness, this pettifoggery is.
But within one collective picture of the world, it is all right, and the Real World has not yet provided any sort of wakeup call.
However, in the thought experiment at the beginning, it needs be pointed out that Reality ALWAYS wins all arm-wrestling matches, no matter how drunk you might try to make Reality, or how you try to cheat the game. If your keys AREN’T in your pocket in the real world, no matter how clear the impression in your head, Reality trumps.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.