Why Crazy Matters

A lot of people will often maxe excuses for various right-wing voices like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Andy McCarthy and others by arguing that they’re really smart people, and they probably don’t really mean a lot of what they say, and are just “trying to win.” And there’s probably something to that. In Limbaugh’s case, I’ve always thought the guy didn’t believe much of what he said, but rather had discovered that he could make a lot of money if he went on the radio and told a bunch of people what they wanted to hear everyday. And so that’s what he does.

But the problem with this outlook is that a lot of people around the country do believe this stuff, and they believe it because they’ve had it constantly reinforced over an extended period of time by Rush Limbaugh and other aspects of the right-wing echo chamber. And as we’re hitting a period of 15-20 years into this echo chamber construction, we’re seeing the long term effect it’s had on our politics, as more and more true believers run for, and get elected to, Congress. People like Michelle Bachman of Minnesota.

Bachmann is of course the special brand of wingnut who first got some prominence by being a prominent spokesperson for the Republican Congressional contingent grandstadning advoating for more oil drilling over the summer recess, telling Nancy Pelosi not to worry about global warming because “Jesus already saved the planet,”¬†and is now gaining a large degree of notoriety for this appearance on Hardball.

But if you really want to understand Michelle Bachmann, and the other wingnuts like her, this is best illustration you could ask for:

How many members of Congress does it take to change a light bulb? Americans may soon find out, courtesy of a contrarian piece of legislation introduced this month by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Titled the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” the bill seeks to repeal the nationwide phase-out of conventional light bulbs, the kind that have been used for more than a century — pretty much since the invention of the incandescent light bulb.

Bachmann, a first-term Republican, is challenging the nation’s embrace of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights, saying the government has no business telling consumers what kind of light bulbs they can buy.

“This is an issue of science over fads and fashions,” Bachmann said in an interview Tuesday.

Now, it’s fairly easy to dismiss this with a laugh and an eyeroll, but for the hell of it, let’s give it an honest glance. Is their some sort of inherent advantage to conventional bulbs over the more efficient ones? No, not really? Are they cheaper? Maybe at the margins, but any minimal savings at the retail level would be lost and then some to the extra amount of energy it would needlessly consume over its lifetime. Is it some libertarian “I’m not hurting anyone, I can do whatever I want” scenario? Well, not really, because when someone inefficiently consumes a resource like energy, they artificially drive up levels of demand which leads to increased cost for everyone else. So, in other words, Bachmann’s proposal is going to cost everyone money. Well, does it piss liberals off? You betcha! And, at the end of the day, that’s what life is all about to people like Michelle Bachmann, pissing off liberals. Which is just fine if you’re listening to Sean Hannity on the way home from work or telling a gallup pollster that you think George W. Bush has been the most awesomest President ever, but it’s a whole other matter when you’re a member of Congress excercising your pique through silly legislative proposals.