December 28, 2011

Subjugation Paranoia

It is easy but rarely wise to bank on grand, unified theories to explain human behavior. That being said, viewing most Conservative positions as stemming from "subjugation paranoia" seems to hold up. For example, I had until now viewed climate change skepticism as just that -- skepticism. But why should there be public skepticism about a topic about which 99% of the pertinent scientists agree? Is it possible that what I had seen as stubborn skepticism in the face of facts may actually be nothing but paranoia?

Conspiracy Theories, cont.

"Air Loom"
from Illustrations of Madness
by John Haslam
Continuing the subject of conspiracy theories, a seminal essay from 1964, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard J. Hofstadter examines this aspect of American political culture and clarifies that the current climate of paranoia is an ongoing problem.

December 27, 2011

Fear of Subjugation

Credit: Shal Farley
Ron Paul's fear that the US, Canada, and Mexico will merge is just one example of the plethora of conspiracy theories floating around these days. In the past four to five years, there has been a mainstreaming of belief in conspiracies on the Conservative side of American politics. These conspiracies almost without exception involve non-Americans (with the aid of American dupes or collaborators) planning to displace or subjugate 'authentic' Americans. (See Victoria Jackson's theories for a more colorful example.) It is difficult to account for this level of paranoia on the right, since there is no obvious connection between such fears and a preference for free markets over government. Unless... belief in smaller, less-funded government is primarily inspired by fear of government oppression and not by confidence in unfettered markets. If this is correct, then most of today's Conservatism is nothing more than a paranoid fear of subjugation.

December 14, 2011

Gingrich the Liberal?

One danger of being a skilled verbal opponent is that the temptation to win the battle can damage your chances to win the war.

Credit: Pete Souza
Case in point: Gingrich 'got one over' on Romney by criticizing his tenure at Bain capital. Well... at least until you think about it for a few minutes. So, are we to interpret Gingrich as saying that sometimes free economic activity (that does not involve fraud, theft, etc.) can sometimes be wrong? Bearing in mind that the Speaker considers himself the quintessential Conservative, I think he should brush up on his laissez-faire capitalism, according to which no economic activity (barring the exceptions listed above) is per se wrong. Laissez-faire capitalism believes that unfettered markets are self-justifying and that the vicissitudes of economic activity are neither good nor bad -- they just 'are.' The results of this are that the strong survive and grow, while the weak shrivel and perish. It appears that Gingrich, through this criticism, is indeed backing away from a laissez-faire position, which puts him squarely in the moderate or even Liberal camp on this issue.

Misrepresentations notwithstanding, Liberals simply are not Socialists, but rather believe in free enterprise with some level of regulation -- the level thereof being driven by the circumstances. Liberals believe there is a morality to markets -- that whatever regulations promote a continual state of fair and open competition and provide an increasing level of prosperity to the widest swath of people are good regulations and should be implemented. Liberals also believe that entrepreneurs and others with influence over the economic lives of others should weigh more than just their own interests when making economic decisions.

I predict that Gingrich will qualify this statement if Romney makes it more of an issue. If not, then I welcome the Speaker to the Liberal side of the question.

December 07, 2011

The War in Rick Perry's Head

Credit: Sandy Wassenmiller 
Rick Perry's response to Obama's and Clinton's speeches condemning discrimination against homosexuals throughout the world is telling. The speeches both concentrated on condemning criminalization of homosexuality and violence against homosexuals. (Neither Obama nor Clinton favors same-sex marriage.) Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Iran all impose the death penalty for homosexuality. Homosexuality is still criminalized (usually with prison sentences of 10 years or more) throughout most of Africa, the Muslim world, and the Caribbean.

For Rick Perry to condemn Obama's and Clinton's speeches and characterize their objections as a war on people of faith is revelatory and repugnant. They are not waging war against this person of faith, because my faith tells me that Jesus would deem the punishment of homosexuals antithetical to his message: love the most 'disreputable' person you encounter as you do yourself.

December 06, 2011

The Osawatomie Speech

Credit: Lance Cpl. Michael J. Ayotte, USMC
The President made what I think is the most important speech of his Presidency so far today. Everyone should read or listen to this speech no matter whether they agree with it or not.
We are indeed 'all in this together.' Those among the 1% who decry the so-called 'class warfare' of the left should instead start acknowledging in their words and their deeds that we are all in this together by ceasing the actual class warfare they have been practicing -- one that is waged by securing one's own wants and needs to the utter exclusion of the needs and wants of everyone else.

December 05, 2011

Bush Under a Cloud

Credit: illuminating9_11
I just don't think that security concerns around protesters were the principal reason Bush's visit to Switzerland was canceled. He will always encounter significant protests at every public appearance he makes, particularly those outside of the US. However, I don't think that any US government would sit idly by while a former US President was arrested for actions he committed in office that pertain to his duties. Likewise, I don't think that any foreign government friendly to the US would arrest him on such charges, but would rather negotiate things out behind the scenes. So, bearing this all in mind, I think that this is just a diplomatic dance designed to make Bush feel like a pariah -- and I can't say that I am dismayed by that.

December 03, 2011

'Clarifying' the Norquist Pledge

Credit: Gage Skidmore
It truly amazes me that the Grover Norquists of the world are now being so open about their bias towards the rich. I guess that group of folks is ready to come out of the closet as being in favor of tax policy that openly and intentionally benefits those who live off of accumulated capital at the expense of those who live off of wages and salaries.