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July 30, 2011 - July 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Liberal Mystery

Everyone eats the same fruit. But it tastes different to everyone.

IT MUST BE EASTER SEASON. Helen Smith (wife of InstaPundit) has an interesting essay up today at Pajamas Media. The lengthy title is an honest question: "How Should Conservatives Deal with the Left’s Disrespect and Lack of Empathy?"

She does a good job of establishing the basis of her argument.

Jonathan Haidt, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, found that conservatives could more readily put themselves in the shoes of liberals and understand morally where they were coming from. The reverse was not true of liberals. They have little understanding of those with opposing views to their own. As Haidt states:

"I think of liberals as colorblind,” he says in a hushed tone that conveys the quiet intensity of a low-key crusader. “We have finely tuned sensors for harm and injustice but are blind to other moral dimensions. Look at the way the word ‘wall’ is used in liberal discourse. It’s almost always related to the idea that we have to knock them down.”

Why are liberals unable to sympathize with conservatives? I offer three possibilities.

The first one's a pip:

I often wonder if this “blind spot” for conservatives is similar to the psychopath who cannot comprehend the morality of those who are “normal.” At the present time, there is no known cure for treating the psychopath. Trying to get someone on the left to see where a conservative is coming from may be as difficult as trying to change the mind of a psychopath. Perhaps that will happen one day.

I am not saying here that liberals are psychopaths, for this would be incorrect for the most part.

Darn. Just when she was building up some promising momentum...

But seriously, she's right to register the disclaimer. Liberals are not psychopaths. I'm sure Dr. Smith could explain, if it suited her purpose, the real defining characteristic of psychopaths, which is certainly not that they "cannot comprehend the morality of those who are 'normal.'" It's rather that they fundamentally lack emotions of any kind. The clever ones can comprehend morality just fine; they just don't experience it themselves. They are driven by their appetites instead, which can be powerful indeed but are not the same thing as emotions. For example, they are capable of manifesting rage, but in their case it's not an explosion of outrage, the sense of being wronged. It's a simpler thing altogether, the fight part of the fight-or-flight response uninhibited by mitigating moral emotions. Hurt them or threaten them and they have no internal governor to prevent them from killing you. The "Rage to Live" is a nice sounding phrase, but it's also an outstanding description of the psychopath.

Why would Dr. Smith misrepresent a definition her professional training as a psychologist guarantees us she knows? The clue comes later in her essay:

Finally, and my third possibility, is it could be lack of education that allows the left to lack empathy. They are not exposed to right-leaning and libertarian ideas. For example, how many classes at school are teaching about the ideas of Hayek, Friedman, and Rand? If kids grow up without this information, they may turn into adults who lack the ability to understand other points of view.

This part of her argument is, of course, facile and empty. The left's unremitting focus on social justice and diversity are proofs that they are obsessed with other points of view, even to the point of denying their own in favor of every bomb-throwing minority that might have a grudge against their own culture and family tradition. The only interesting thing about Smith's point is the insistence on libertarians as part of the mix, with specific reference to Ayn Rand, who may be popular now, but she's popular for the plot of her most famous novel -- the able bailing out of a system intent on parastically sucking them dry -- not for her actual philosophy, which is a kind of psychopathy.

That's why seminal modern conservatives like William F. Buckley (not mentioned by Smith) went out of their way to read Ayn Rand out of the conservative movement. Ironically, it's also why so many traditionally raised Christians read, love, and applaud Rand without recognizing that the biography of their fountainhead bears a closer resemblance to that of Madalyn Murray O'Hair than, say, Clare Booth Luce, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, or Sarah Palin. They assume the existence of a basic human empathy that is nowhere to be found in Rand's writings, and so they find it easy to look past her atheism as if it were a kind of social tic. It isn't.

This is also why Dr. Smith's essay ultimately comes up short. It's like a movie with a great first act, a dud second, and a nonexistent third. She asks a great question, but she has in the end no answers. Which suggests that she has misunderstood the parameters of her own question.

I can correct that for you in a way that explains why Dr. Smith was destined to fail in her essay. I'm not being conceited here. The answer is obvious. So obvious that only smart people could miss it.

The United States is a Christian nation. Western civilization is a by-product of Christian consciousness. The real difference between conservatives and liberals has to do not with morality, per se, but the loss of faith in Christ himself.

Liberals are believers in Christian morality who can no longer bring themselves to believe in personal salvation. This is the explanation of their extraordinarily vindictive and hateful bile. They are all jilted lovers. (Why they excuse every manifestation of personal depravity in themselves and celebrate their politicial morality instead. "Teddy Kennedy was a GOOD man..." Really?) They believe in Christ's message but they hate Christ because he isn't there, didn't exist, didn't rise from the dead, didn't save them. It's that simple. Every dreaded liberal apocalypse from nuclear Armageddon to global warming is just one more variation on original sin. But for them, the new Adam never came and so they wait, like Noah at the high-tech helm of his impossible ark, for the annihiliating rains to come.

Interestingly, this is also the explanation of the rise of a kind of rigid fundamentalism that eschews the philosophy of Christianity in favor of Jesus as a kind of dashboard totem. I'm saved. You're not. End of story. The liberals think they're reacting to a simple-minded version of the faith they've graduated from in their infinite wisdom, but the truth is they're responsible for the bogeyman they see in every rural corner of a country they've learned to loathe. As they grew rigid and progressively more self-destructive, fundamentalism became the scar tissue of the common folk, a way of protecting themselves against the soul death created by doubt.

Everything else that's happened in the last hundred or so years flows from this elementary observation. Liberals are the people who became their own version of Christ to save the sinners from themselves. Socialism, fascism, communism are all attempts by human pretenders to the throne of Christ to fill what they perceive as a vaccuum. Their mistakes are all attributable to the fact that men and committees and political parties are no substitute for Christ. Show me a liberal, a leftist, a progressive, etc, and I'll show you someone who doesn't really believe, in his heart of hearts, in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Their hatred for the believers who oppose them is an irrational fury they cannot contain.

Conservatives are the people who choose to believe in the Christ, as either a human-divine superposition or a parable good enough to be the organizing principle of their lives. Again, it's that simple. They're the non-jilted lovers. Yes, they're also sinners, as we all are, but they accept that. They also accept that things like poverty, disease, misfortune, endless other awful things are inherent in life itself and not the fault of insufficient government control. That's why the most rigidly braindead of them tithe to their churches.

Men who do not believe in God nevertheless feel the need of God and seek to become God or one of his factotums. They're the danger. Their greatest fear is the lack of belief in their own Godhood. That's why they turn ugly, controlling, violent, and murderous. But they're all still Christians. That's why they keep trying to expand their power. Their awful, debilitating secret is that there's no Christ and so they have to fill in for him.

How should conservatives deal with the left's disrespect and lack of empathy? By spanking their ass. Like a disappointed Dad. Until it gets so hot and red they call out to God to make it stop. That's how you learn there are consequences for personal choices that can only be called, uh, poor.


For one thing, I'm NOT bald. And there's
no bar code or other tattoo on my person.

REMINDER. I was talking about this movie with a friend of mine, and he had the nerve to say the protagonist reminded him of me. Entirely untrue. I'm completely not like this guy.

Looking for similarities? Don't look at me. Look at InstaPunk. His bar code reads "Not for sale." His number? 21 Or maybe 22. Does it mean anything that he's still alive? Yeah, I guess maybe you shouldn't mess with him? I know you shouldn't race him with a car or motorcycle or play him at pool, but that doesn't mean he'll actually kill you. Does it?

uh. Ave Maria.

Besides, everything InstaPunk does is justified. We're good with that. How 'bout you?

Friday, March 26, 2010

'Smart Diplomacy'
Applied to Israel

OBAHMUD? I'm not assuming you're unaware of the big headlines, but I know people are withdrawing somewhat from the news world in the wake of the healthcare law and the ugly mix of Democrat gloating and racial smears against the law's opponents that are dominating MSM journalism. So I'm just making sure you concentrate for a moment on this important and disturbing story:

Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after
Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

I know there are many different and complex conceivable explanations for such a direct diplomatic snub. Obama is sending a message to Israel that the current regime must be replaced before meaningful negotiations can resume. Alternatively, he is creating U.S. deniability -- and provocation -- for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities that is nevertheless "a consummation devoutly to be wished."

Still. It's impossible not to consider this in the context of Hillary Clinton's pollyana descriptions of the benefits of "smart power" in foreign diplomacy.

Is this really how "smart power" treats a nation that has lived under a constant existential threat from both war and terrorism since its founding 60 years ago?

It's also impossible not to think anew about the -- to many Americans nauseating -- 'Apology Tour' of Obama's first year in office, the largely unrequited cordiality of his outreach to the most criminal despots in the world, and the borderline rudeness of his relations with allies like the U.K., France, and Germany.

And it's hard not to allow as a distinct possibility that our president is fundamentally anti-Israel if not anti-Jew. Are we really supposed to forget that Barack Obama sat in the pew of Jeremiah Wright's church during outbursts such as this?

Well, I can't forget. I'd welcome any guidance on how I can and why I should.

We're constantly assured (er, scorned and ridiculed for not quite believing) that Obama is neither a muslim nor a muslim sympathizer. How does that argument go again exactly?

Intellectual Mush

Gaia. You know. a.k.a. Systems Theory. Huh?

PATERNALISTIC OLD WHITE MEN. I don't usually take suggestions about posts. This time is the exception that proves the rule. Eduardo wanted me to see the Marxists among us and so he offered this link with the proviso that the comments were the only interesting part. He's right. Marxists all. Nothing to say about it, really. Except read them and weep. (Yawn.)

But then he provided this additional link about The Great Turning, which is far more interesting. Why? It's facinating, to me at least, because it's actually written. You know. Sentences. Paragraphs, Spelling and punctuation. Far better than the standard at a score of righty websites, including Ace of Spades, InstaPundit, Hugh Hewitt, Boortz, Hotair (with the sole exception of DocZero), PowerLine, and all the Breitbart sites (sadly). Useful. How? Because regardless of the close relationship that usually exists between them, writing and thinking aren't the same thing. It's possible to be a competent writer and a wildly, utterly incompetent thinker. (Thus explaining Norman Mailer, for example.) Anyway. Here's a sample paragraph:

Now, in this very time, these three rivers — anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings — flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink and awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, source of all we are and know. Despite centuries of mechanistic conditioning, we want to name, once again, this world as holy.

Whether they come through Gaia theory, systems theory, chaos theory, or through liberation theology, shamanic practices, or the Goddess, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the industrial-growth society. They offer us nobler goals and deeper pleasures. They redefine our wealth and our worth, liberating us from compulsions to consume and control.

So rich is the harvest, that when we claim these new understandings, there’s little room for panic or self-pity. Instead, gratitude arises to be alive at this moment, when, for all the darkness coming upon us, blessings abound. They help us stay alert and steady, so we can join hands to find the ways the world self-heals—and see the present chaos as seedbed for the future.

I love this (Thank you, Eduardo.) It's a perfect archetype of literate writing and, well, nonexistent thinking. Which makes it perfectly post-modern too. Consider that the first sentence of the second paragraph would make exactly as much sense if it had been written thus: "Whether they come through Lady Gaga, carburetor technology, flatulence jokes, or through G-spot theory, itinerant Gypsy fortunetellers, or Beyonce, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the Cleveland City Council..." There are virtually no commonalities among the strands of thought being so specifically referenced. Gaia theory is a pseudo-mythology imposed on the past, systems theory and chaos theory are legitimate branches of science and math, and everything else in the citation is post-modern, victim-centric bullshit. But it sure sounds scholarly, don't it?

AGAIN my thanks to Eduardo. Rare, really, to get such a distilled example of what people are exposed to every day in the mainstream media. That WTF feeling you get when you read a NYT editorial or hear a sententious commentary from some third-generation successor to Eric Severaid at CBS News is a result of exactly this kind of fakery, which can be given many names: pseudo-intellectualism, faux learning, narcissistic preening, ignorant elitist bombast, jargonized superiority, academically abstruse obtuseness, or what Lewis Carroll aptly named Jabberwocky.

But Lewis Carroll defined it only by example. Bertrand Russell, on the other hand, defined it in (gasp) precise dictionary terms (h/t to commenter Michael Murry at Sic Semper Tyrannis for the exact quote I remembered).

" ... what Mr. [Bertrand] Russell once called ... 'a purely prudential use of language,' ... using words not because he knows what he means by them, but because he knows how they are ordinarily used, and does with them what he has heard other people do with them before. He strings them together in suitable sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough, produces with them pretty well the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he may have not much more inkling of what he is really (or should be) doing with them than a telephone girl need have of the inner wiring of the switchboard she operates so deftly. He may merely be in the condition that Conrad ascribed to those Russians who pour words out 'with such an aptness of application sometimes that, as in the case of very accomplished parrots, one can't defend oneself from the suspicion that they really understand what they say.'" [boldface added]

That's what we're up against with the left. They tend to write better than their counterparts on the right. (That's what the Ivy League does after all... provide a vocabulary of disdain unaffiliated with actual experience.) But they have no idea what they're really talking about. It's just a pile of plausible phrases they've learned how to string together in a way that can be diagrammed as grammatically faultless and therefore superficially beyond reproach. Could you write a more literate paragraph?

This is a syndrome that reaches very high into the realm of the intellectually elite. It explains the opening paragraph of this post, for example. But there's nothing in their educations or predilections that makes them students of systems theory, chaos theory, shamanism, or mythology -- let alone economics, complexity theory, information theory, quantum physics, theology, archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and cosmology -- to the degree that a functioning human being who is grappling with the meaning of life in an oppressively secular age is inclined to do.

What's the biggest single cultural influence in the western world? The Bible. Ask the next intellectuals who patronize you whether they've ever read it. Be alert for deceitful answers because they haven't. From Judges to Proverbs to Isaiah to Romans, it's all Greek to them. (And believe me, they've never studied Greek either.) Everything they tell you about your supposed religious delusions is misdirection. Everything they condescend to share about their superior take on religion, philosophy, science, or politics is "the purely prudential use of language." In other words, intellectual mush.

We're governed these days by an elite class of emperors. All of whom have no clothes. Don't be afraid to jeer at their nakedness. Yes, they're articulate, assertive, arrogant, and if need be, assaultive. But they don't know shit. They're simply the brightest smears we've trained ourselves to track on the Internet. By bright I don't mean intelligent. I mean, rather, the strobing egos of those who know so little of their own paucity that they lack the humility to regard the spotlight as something other than a friend.

LESSON: If they give you a podium to preach from, be very afraid. If you're not afraid, there's a near 100 percent probability that you're a fool. If you take a podium no one gave you, be very very careful. You're probably a fool too. Those are the inevitable odds.

Unless you're InstaPunk. Because we're never ever ever wrong. Except when we're completely full of shit. [Which might have happened once or twice in the last seven years, Maybe.]

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Good News

(h/t NRO) Even ReasonTV sees through the lies.

STAVING OFF DESPAIR. Is there any? Not really. Well, some. Around the edges. But we take what we can get. Like this takedown of David Frum.

David is a man I’ve known professionally for almost a decade, and with whom my social interaction has always been very genial. He is a good and energetic man, and has, in the years since he left service at the White House, dedicated himself to being what I call a “polite-company conservative” (or PCC), much like David Brooks and Sam Tanenhaus at the New York Times (where the precocious Ross Douthat is shaping up to be a baby version of the species). A PCC is a conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway—who wishes, always, to have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a sense that liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness and their talk radio. The PCC, in fact, distinguishes himself from other conservatives not so much ideologically—though there is an element of that—as aesthetically.

And this takedown of James Cameron (w/no help btw from Fox News.)

Uh, oh, James Cameron’s angry and you know how James gets when he’s angry… Stupid:

“Glenn Beck is a f—ing a–hole,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve met him. He called me the Antichrist, and not about ‘Avatar.’ He hadn’t even seen ‘Avatar’ yet. I don’t know if he has seen it.” …

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” Cameron said. “Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their a–, I’m not sure they could hear me.”

Cameron said conservative criticism of the environmental message of “Avatar” aren’t necessarily attacks. “They’re just people ranting away, lost in their little bubbles of reality, steeped in their own hatred, their own fear and hatred,” he said. “That’s where it all comes from. Let’s just call it out. Let’s have a public discussion. That’s what movies are supposed to do, you know. You can have a mindless entertainment film that doesn’t affect anybody. I wasn’t interested in that.”

My first question for Mr. Global Warming would be to ask why a mansion-dweller so concerned with the welfare of the planet would initially release ”Avatar” on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras whatsoever.

Here’s what a cynical charlatan James Cameron is. The first “Avatar” DVD release occurs on Earth Day to take full advantage of all his Stupakky fans who want to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything to further their cause. But it’s a barebones release. This way Cameron can make a whole lot more money in the future releasing the same film again and again in Special Editions, Deluxe Editions, Platinum Editions and so on.

Does this sound like someone who gives a hi-ho hearty damn about Mother Earth? No, this sounds like just another greedy capitalist wringing every possible nickel from his wares by finessing the market in a way that promotes as much consuming as possible of a product that, by the way, comes in a thick plastic case that must have a landfill half-life of a couple thousand years...

And a Global Warming defeat in France.

It was hailed as a major weapon in the fight against climate change, but France's plan for a domestic tax on carbon emissions has been shelved.

The government had to backtrack on the idea after France's highest court struck down the bill, insisting it had too many loopholes for industrial polluters.

But the government - still smarting from a massive defeat in regional elections on Sunday - appears to be more worried about the impact of a carbon tax on the French economy...

And a post by the most glamorously named economist ever (see video above).

I have been quite demoralized since Sunday: I couldn't believe the level of arm-twisting, deal-making and compromise in the final week of the health-care debate. Sometimes I forget how terrible politics is.

In any case, here is a good video by Reason TV giving three reasons why the health-care bill won't shrink the deficit. I hope it will help the people who are still believing that spending trillions to save billions is possible will open their eyes.

Watch and cry (that is, if you haven't been already for months).

And a lefty WAPO media columnist disses the Iranian Quisling Christiane Amanpour:

In a way, Amanpour, scheduled to leave CNN after 18 years of international coverage and take over the program in August, could be seen as the opposite of the perfect candidate. "This Week" deals mainly in domestic politics and inside-the-Beltway palaver, an area where Amanpour is widely considered to be deficient. Consider: Whenever CNN has thrown one of its big election-night, convention, or presidential debate spectaculars, drafting nearly every living staff member to appear, Amanpour has had a conspicuously low profile.

And even though Amanpour has often been touted for her expertise on foreign affairs, she has vocal and passionate critics in that arena as well. Supporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with bias against that country and its policies. A Web site devoted to criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety, "Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop," available via Facebook...

And a lefty takedown of Michael Moore:

Michael Moore gets the Michael Moore treatment in a new documentary created by a fellow Michigan resident. Accountant turned filmmaker Kevin Leffler isn’t a dyed in the wool Republican trying to score cheap shots off the liberal gadfly. He’s just a regular Midwesterner who knew the guy being trumped up in the press as the straight talking Everyman wasn’t the real deal.

Leffler grew up in the same part of Michigan as Moore, attending the same Catholic Church and even working together on a local youth hotline. So when Leffler calls out Moore, it means something.

Shooting Michael Moore” lets Leffler deconstruct the Moore myth. It’s a project with a tiny budget and little Hollywood razzmatazz – Leffler is a CPA and college professor, not a slick documentarian...

And ACORN is folding (but beware the sequel...)

The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues - six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.

"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.

And polls are only, well, polls:

If Democrats felt heartened after yesterday’s Gallup poll showing a plurality of support for their new ObamaCare plan, Bloomberg’s survey should bring them back to Earth. The survey asked over a thousand adults their opinions of the ObamaCare bill during and after its passage, and like almost every poll taken in the last several months, a majority of respondents opposed it. Moreover, a majority also consider it a government takeover of the American health-care system...

And no more free speech in Canada. Hurrah! Or is that 'eh'? (Don't be looking to NRO for updates on this one...)

After protesters at the University of Ottawa prevented Ann Coulter from giving a speech Tuesday night, the American conservative writer said it proved the point she came to make -- free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired.

Then she said what she really thought of the student protesters who surrounded Marion Hall, making it too unsafe, in the view of her bodyguard, for the pundit to attempt entry.

"The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn't it?" she said in an interview with the Citizen after the cancelled event.

"I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It's always the bush-league schools."

Coulter remarked on the reception she has had since entering the country.

"Since I've arrived in Canada, I've been denounced on the floor of Parliament -- which, by the way, is on my bucket list -- my posters have been banned, I've been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council, so welcome to Canada!"...

Coulter said... it's well known on the campus speaking circuit that conservatives need to travel with security staff, as she did.

"I'm pretty sure little François A-Houle does not need to travel with a bodyguard," she said. "I would like to know when this sort of violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim -- who appear to be, from what I've read of the human rights complaints, the only protected group in Canada. I think I'll give my speech tomorrow night in a burqa. That will protect me."...

And OOPS! The immediate benefits Fox & Friends have been promoting (promoting, promoting, promoting...) aren't actually there yet.

So the wheels keep grinding. Will they 'grind exceeding small'? We'll see.

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