Daily Bread for 7.5.22: Denial

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see scattered afternoon thundershowers and a high of 94. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:36 PM for 15h 12m 53s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 34.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1832, Gen. Atkinson enters, but then withdraws, from the Trembling Lands:

On this date, General Atkinson and his troops entered the area known by the Native Americans as “trembling lands” in their pursuit of Black Hawk. The area was some 10 square miles and contained a large bog. Although the land appeared safe, it would undulate or tremble for yards when pressure was applied. Many of the militiamen were on horses, which plunged to their bellies in the swamp. The “trembling lands” forced Atkinson to retrace his steps back toward the Rock River, in the process losing days in his pursuit of Black Hawk.

In The Atlantic, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney writes that America Is in Denial. There are points in his essay over which one would disagree (and concern that Romney, himself, has not done more). The main contention, however, is spot-on: our country suffers from debilitating political and social maladies. The excerpts below from his essay on America’s denial are, to a sensible person, undeniable:

[W]hen a renowned conservative former federal appellate judge testifies that we are already in a war for our democracy and that January 6, 2021, was a genuine constitutional crisis, MAGA loyalists snicker that he speaks slowly and celebrate that most people weren’t watching.

What accounts for the blithe dismissal of potentially cataclysmic threats? The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial.

I have witnessed time and again—in myself and in others—a powerful impulse to believe what we hope to be the case. We don’t need to cut back on watering, because the drought is just part of a cycle that will reverseWith economic growth, the debt will take care of itselfJanuary 6 was a false-flag operation. A classic example of denial comes from Donald Trump: “I won in a landslide.” Perhaps this is a branch of the same delusion that leads people to feed money into slot machines: Because I really want to win, I believe that I will win.


Bolstering our natural inclination toward wishful thinking are the carefully constructed, prejudice-confirming arguments from the usual gang of sophists, grifters, and truth-deniers. Watching angry commentators on cable news, I’m reminded of H. L. Mencken’s observation: “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

Update, morning of 7.5.22: Jennifer Rubin’s replied to Romney in the Washington Post. Rubin’s Sorry, Mitt Romney. Denial is not an equal opportunity offense puts the blame with Republicans. She writes:

Alas, Romney engages in his own brand of disappointing rhetoric by equating right-wing denial on the 2020 election and climate change (he could have added covid-19 and gun violence) with Democrats’ supposed denial about the debt and illegal immigration. Aside from the fact that deficits are projected to fall substantially in 2022 and Democrats have repeatedly offered comprehensive immigration reform, including border security, Romney’s lamentation of both parties smacks of, well, denialism.

Only one party has adopted as its default setting conspiracy theories and disinformation, from carrying water for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to quack remedies for covid to the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. Only one party rallies its base with resentment, anger and vitriol. And only one party relies on a propagandistic media that shields its base from disagreeable facts.

While he’s not wrong in the excerpts that I’ve chosen, she’s right about the broader point: America does not have two factions of equal-opportunity offenders. (It is for this reason that conservative and libertarian #NeverTrumpers are now part of a grand coalition with Democrats and independents in support of liberal democracy. If we truly thought both major factions were of equal culpability, then we’d not have made our commitment to one of them. We have made that commitment, and justifiably so. It is, in fact, the same commitment that Rubin sensibly made.)

A Garbage Mountain Burned for Months — But These People Couldn’t Leave:

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