Monday, January 30, 2012

THE DEBT GENERATION

My daughter's generation begins to speak out:




They have reason to be a teensy bit upset...just watch:


Visit USADebtClock.com to learn more!



And how long would it take to pay this debt off?



Hope and Change, Baby!

Friday, January 27, 2012

THE LIBERAL SOLUTION: FOSTERING DEPENDENCE

The hysteria on the left regarding Newt Gingrich's calling President Obama the "Food Stamps President" and asserting that more people are no on food stamps than at any other time in history, is fascinating.

Tom Blumer says that Gingrich was factually correct, both narrowly and broadly, then goes on to document why. Blumer cites Gingrich's response to the Food Stamp question and the resulting charge of "racism" leveled at him:
When conservatives care about the poor and conservatives offer ideas to help the poor, and conservatives suggest that the poor would rather have a paycheck than a food stamp, the very liberals who have failed them at places like the New York Times promptly scream “racism,” because they have no defense for the failure of liberal institutions which have trapped poor children in bad schools, trapped them in bad neighborhoods, trapped them in crime-ridden situations. Liberal solutions have failed, and their only answer is to cry “racism” and hide.


It used to be that "welfare" was thought of in this country as a compassionate and temporary means of supporting those in poverty, with the overall goal of helping them in various ways to get out of poverty and providing for themselves as quickly as possible. Gingrich's stark contrast between the "Paycheck vs Food Stamp" attitude reflects this attitude; and it also reflects the deeply held belief that welfare, particularly in the long run, has detrimental psychological effects on the recipients and can make them permanantly disabled.

Indeed, the primary psychological consequences of such long-term charity, especially for those who are aware on some level that they are not disabled, is the slow, steady erosion of genuine self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

In typically pervere manner, the "progressive" political left has developed a strategy to cover that problem as they forge full steam ahead in creating a permanent class of people dependent on the State. In the same way that they have distorted "self esteem" in childhood development and hyped it to the point that it fosters and enables an unhealthy narcissism, they have managed to foster a narcissistic sense of entitlement in welfare recipients, by eliminating any sense that handouts are a negative thing; and neglecting to mention that they foster dependence, passivity and continued poverty.

No, everyone is ENTITLED to handouts. Poverty is just something bad that happens to them and not ever the result of bad choices on the recipient's part; but rather the result of greedy rich people taking away their share of the American pie--nothing more. And the solution is always--not private charity (how demeaning!), but state-sponsored redistribution of wealth.

Strange as it seems today, people used to object to being the objects of handouts and charity , and the concomitant pity and condescension that it implied; except perhaps in dire circumstances. They looked to their own extended families and friends; or their church for help.

You might put aside your sense of pride and accept it for a while but, again, the goal was to "get back on your feet" as soon as possible.

Not any longer!

In an article in the NY Times from exactly 1 year ago, we are informed that, "Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance":
A decade ago, New York City officials were so reluctant to give out food stamps, they made people register one day and return the next just to get an application. The welfare commissioner said the program caused dependency and the poor were “better off” without it.

With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.

Now the city urges the needy to seek aid (in languages from Albanian to Yiddish). Neighborhood groups recruit clients at churches and grocery stores, with materials that all but proclaim a civic duty to apply — to “help New York farmers, grocers, and businesses.” There is even a program on Rikers Island to enroll inmates leaving the jail.

“Applying for food stamps is easier than ever,” city posters say.

The same is true nationwide. After a U-turn in the politics of poverty, food stamps, a program once scorned as “welfare,” enjoys broad new support. Following deep cuts in the 1990s, Congress reversed course to expand eligibility, cut red tape and burnish the program’s image, with a special effort to enroll the working poor. These changes, combined with soaring unemployment, have pushed enrollment to record highs, with one in eight Americans now getting aid.


Commenting on the article, The Weekly Standard noted at the time:
As with any social program, there are many people on it who are indeed needy, but the article makes clear that the revival of food stamp popularity has more to do with state and local officials who are glad to curry favor with local constituents using federal dollars.

Since they're not paying for it, local officials and a network of aid organizations happily aid the federal government in recruiting more food-stamp recipients, regardless of how much they actually need the assistance. Meet Juan Diego Castro, who demonstrates how the system works:
Juan Diego Castro, 24, is a college graduate and Americorps volunteer whose immigrant parents warned him “not to be a burden on this country.” He has a monthly stipend of about $2,500 and initially thought food stamps should go to needier people, like the tenants he organizes. “My concern was if I’m taking food stamps and I have a job, is it morally correct?” he said.

But federal law eases eligibility for Americorps members, and a food bank worker urged him and fellow volunteers to apply, arguing that there was enough aid to go around and that use would demonstrate continuing need. “That meeting definitely turned us around,” Mr. Castro said.


Of course it is morally correct, Juan! Especially in this day and age. Dependence is GOOD! Accepting a handout shouldn't make you even in the slightest bit anxious or impact your fragile self-esteem at all! You are entitled to other people's money, even if you are able to support yourself now!

The Food Stamp program (or SNAP, or whatever it is called now) is not the only program that started out with a good premise intended to help people or make life a little easier. But somehow with programs like this it always ends up fostering dependence and making eventual independence a mere pipe dream.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that it is wrong in any way to help people in need. I am not saying that people who need help are bad. I am suggesting that the specific approach that has been favored by the political progressive left and the Democrats has serious, psychologically damaging consequences that lead to never-ending dependence, passivity, and continued poverty.

And that approach is to let the government do it, i.e., to use other people's money to redistribute wealth in the manner the progressives want. Donating to private charities is clearly UNprogressive. Witness their personal stinginess in this area: Romney gives 15% of his large income to charity, while Obama gives 1%. But Obama and those of his political persuasion believe they are better people because they want to give YOUR money away to help people. Romney to them (and to some deluded people on the right) is just another evil, money-grubbing capitalist.

Paychecks or Food Stamps? The Free Market or Crony Socialized Capitalism? Private charity or Government Redistribution of Wealth? Independence or Dependence? Obama-style hopeychangey or Real Hope and Real Change?

Two visions of where America should be heading couldn't be more sharply defined than these choices.

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[Cartoons by Chip Bok here]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SAME OLD, SAME OLD USELESS RHETORIC FROM A USELESS PRESIDENT

Mickey Kaus says it was boring to read since he couldn't watch it. My response to that is that it would have been boring to watch if it hadn't been so infuriatingly empty of meaning and divisive; while all the time attempting to sound profound (8th grade profound?) and conciliatory (Presidential? Really? Really??)

And if you had the sense that you heard it all before....(h/t Instapundit)



To those of you 9th grade and above (I'm talking to YOU, Republican candidates!) will you please do something so that he does not get re-elected??? PLEASE? Otherwise, I'm throwing my support to this grownup:

Monday, January 23, 2012

EVERY FOUR YEARS, AMERICA HAS A MAJOR EXERCISE IN POLITICAL NARCISSISM

It's called the Presidential Campaign, and it starts earlier and earlier with every iteration. And, of course, in between the campaigns for both parties is the usual, everyday political narcissism we see emanating from Washington DC like some bad odor hovering over the country.

What do I mean by an exercise in political narcissism?

Far too often, narcissistically flawed individuals are hopelessly attracted by the grandiose opportunities of the political arena (as well as the Hollywood arena) like moths to a flame. Their sense of self is starkly invested in the desire for power over others (always, of course, "for their own good") , constant admiration and adulation and grandiose ambitions. This makes them remarkably adept at what is called the "politics of personal destruction".

For the narcissist it is always a zero-sum game he or she plays with other individuals. From the perspective of the narcissist, if someone else "wins", the narcissist "loses". It cannot be otherwise, since on some level they know that their own talent and skills are way overblown. Hence, they cannot hope to "win" based on those talents alone. Thus, the behavior of the classic narcissist is mostly directed toward making others lose so they can win by default. To that end, there is no behavior or tactic that is considered out -of-bounds or over-the-top.

This leads us to the current state of political discourse in this country and the ubiquitous personal attacks that have become the trademark of all political campaigns in both the Republican and Democrat parties.

If you want to understand why political campaigns have become so virulent and personally vicious you need not look any farther that this sad truth. While politics still occasionally brings out those who have strong personal integrity and values; often it is the people of no demonstrable integrity and elastic values who are obsessively attracted to the field and who triumph--and that is true on both sides of the political spectrum.

By that, I mean that those who would actually make the best leaders generally opt out of the process, because they tend to be too healthy to generate the continual all-consuming rage necessary to destroy all opponents; or they lack the required-- and mostly distorted --sense of personal "perfection" and grandiosity that drives the power-hungry.

Clearly, there can be other conflicts that motivate people in politics other than a broken sense of self. This is not an indictment of all politicians; but it does apply to many. Healthy self-respect and self-worth, i.e., healthy narcissism is essential for functioning in any profession; or, for that matter, for simply functioning effectively.

There are few politicians who are deficient in grandiosity and self-serving behavior. It becomes an issue of character when their identity gets re-invented regularly to please people. A healthy individual would not want to be POTUS if in doing so he would regularly have to violate his own sense of personal honor and integrity.

Such a committment to values and ideals is based on narcissism too, but it is the healthy kind of narcissism; the kind that generates values and ideals to begin with (for a discussion of this see here).

For a typical pathological narcisssist, the only value and the only ideal is himself.

I am frequently reminded that it is hopelessly naive these days to expect the electorate to vote for a person based on what that person actually stands for; instead, these days most people respond to the negative campaign ads that slice and dice the other guy; and are mainly influenced by botoxed faces and Hollywood-packaged good-looks rather than the content of any candidate's character. The less they know of that character, the better!

Unless you can dig up some dirt; then it becomes like a reality TV show and everyone is entranced.

As far as good looks, do you imagine that a Golda Meir or a Margaret Thatcher would have a chance to become the first woman president of the US. Not these days, for sure where there is favored a certain overly-thin, botoxed, plastic look--not only for the women, but for the men.

Real personal integrity and character comes from having a consistent set of values and exhibiting behavior driven by those values. Today's classic narcissistically-driven politicians can only flutter in the political winds, and, Zelig-like, easily adopt whatever characteristics their adoring public care to project onto them.

It is easy to be tough and ruthless with political adversaries in the US political battlefield. The kind of threat political adversaries pose is hardly life-threatening (though in other, less civilized nations it may well be). Political bullies in both parties feel perfectly safe in viciously attacking and denigrating those who oppose them. And, when it happens occasionally that a political adversary unexpectedly shoots back and won't go away, the bully easily falls back on the "victim" role and whines about "vast right or left-wing conspiracies" or sheds a few tears on cue; or belligerantly attacks anyone within reach.

This is not the kind of person who can face real threats in the real world very effectively because this is not the kind of person who can effectively deal with threats they do not perceive as personal--why should they care much about any other kind, unless the latest polls indicate they should?.

The best leaders are not obsessed with themselves; or with polls; or with accumulating power by pandering to all sides.

Those leaders may, in truth, have many other personal flaws--but not particularly of the dangerously narcissistic variety. Whatever those flaws (and we all possess them), they are characterologically able to be more concerned about dealing with external reality; rather than in preserving a distorted and fragile internal one. Avenging petty slights and insults is not a high priority to a psychologically healthy person. Those healthy individuals are far more likely to direct their psychological energy toward dealing with real-world geopolitical threats that endanger both their country and the people they have the responsibility to protect; rather than using that country or the power of their office to counter threats to their endangered self and act on their grandiose fantasies about themselves.

The latter is the same psychological pathology that is rampant among dictators and dictator wannabes of all stripes. Their concern about others in their group/nation is purely of the “l’├ętat c’est moi” variety.

That the needs of the nation, or the people they serve, might be different from their own; or that doing the right thing is often different from doing the popular thing, are foreign and dangerous concepts to the political narcissist.

The only reality they know--or care about--is the one inside themselves.

Having said all this, the voters of this country should also do a little introspection, because frequently these voters of all political persuasions, enable and encourage the narcissism of their leaders.

The sad truth is that negative campaigning works.

It appeals to the average voter who does not bother to look past the headlines or news bites to seek truth about a given situation. Oftimes, there is no "truth" to be discovered; or that can be discovered; and one must make voting decisions based on little things like character, integrity, past behavior, and mitigating factors.

It's not easy when accusations against character and integrity are hurled around unthinkingly and without consideration for facts.

And then, there is always the reality that candidates for public office, even that of the Office of the POTUS, cannot be held to an impossibly high standard of behavior, i.e., they cannot be expected to be "perfect" in every way.

If such a candidate were ever found by either political party, then I would be the first to do everything I could to ensure theat he would not get elected. Such candidates are either lying or hiding something about themselves, since such perfection is not generally a characteristic of the human species.

"Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone" seems like a good idea for these political campaigns, along with the vignette: "There is no one who has not sinned."

So, what is a voter to do?

First, we have to stop rewarding excessive political narcissism. No one is a God; no one is The One; no one is The Messiah who will lead us out of the Wilderness. While it is tempting to want to place all our faith and hope into one vessel, it is an abdication of personal responsibility and a flight into dependency and the desire for someone to take care of us.

Been there, done that as a nation--fairly recently, in fact.

It is also fairly natural, i.e. human, thing that we should flock to someone who promises to give us lots of free stuff. Children especially are attracted to such individuals. But,when you are grown up you usually have realized that getting "something or nothing" is a con, and that anyone proposing such a thing is nothing more than a con artist.

A real leader will not make unrealistic promises; his personal integrity and honesty would compel him to do what he thinks is the right thing, even if it is unpopular and difficult to do; and he would be able to state his reasons for doing what he did; and be able to persuade you that it was indeed the right thing to do--or be willing to live with the consequences afterwards if he doesn't. A real leader has nothing to hide and is honest about his mistakes.

This does not mean that a real leader is unable to compromise when the situation calls for it; but an honest man or woman who is not narcissistically preoccupied with pleasing or manipulating everyone does not compromise with fundamental values and understands when those values are at stake and when they are not.

That's why it is so important to understand a politician's basic character, because character underlies values.

Isn't it time America had a real national debate about what constitutes character in a politician?

I am not particularly satisfied with the Democratic Party answer to this quesion, because they are more concerned with demonizing anyone they label as "hypocrite" (i.e., anyone who espouses some high ieal what they consider the Good, but who personally fails to live up to it and lies to themselves about their own failures). The Democrats seem to believe that you just make every "sin" a political virtue; or accept that "anything goes" in the personal integrity sphere as long as the person is ideologically pure. They justify the way they treat corrupt or immoral Democrats is justified because Republicans are "hypocritical".

The Republicans aren't that much better, constantly espousing personal virtue and even legislating it onto others (something that the Democrats do as a matter of principle, for "our own good"). While Republicans are often intolerant of human frailty, at least they don't actively promote it like their political adversaries, whose relativistic morality makes excuses for everyone's behavior, except when it suits them politically to use such information to demonize their opponents.

Nevertheless, "demonizing one's opponents" is what it's all about these days. Candidates who refrain from doing it are punished at the polls. Candidates who try to speak about the issues have trouble gaining traction unless they too join in the demonization, even when it is against potential allies and not opponents.

So, now we come to the Republican Presidential Primary. How is one to choose?

Character does matter and so do Ideas. So does behavior and performance in both the personal and public spheres.

Each of us much decide for ourselves which candidate's character and ideas; behavior in the past and present, are most appealing to us and will work for our nation. Each of us much decide, based on past performance, past displays of character, what each candidate's future performance and character is likely to be.

As we say in psychiatry: The best predictor of FUTURE behavior is PAST behavior. Other factors may be involved, of course; and obviously, people can change for the good and give up their bad behaviors.

That doesn't necessarily mean that they are entitled to our vote. I believe in redemption for even the devil himself--but I wouldn't vote for him for President.

For example, most people will take into consideration the fact that Gingrich's past behavior in his personal and public life indicates that he had some serious character flaws which led to erratic performance and (to be blunt) narcissistic gratification chosen over responsibilities and committments. People can make mistakes and be genuinely sorry and changed for the better. The behavior I refer to happened quit a number of years ago in the past (I believe). I do not denounce Gingrich: he is only human. The question is, has he changed as he claims? Has his character improved? How will he function under stress? Will he continue to seek narcissistic gratification over his responsibilities and committments--to his family, his party and his nation? I do like his ideas; and I will be watching closely how he behaves during this primary season. In the end, he may be the best possible candidate to support--but I have not made up my mind based on the information provided and the behavior observed recently.

As for Romney, he has also some things in his past that indicate a flawed and weak character. He is definitely a good-intentioned person, but his political ambitions have lead him to support and believe in things all over the political map, left and right and East and West--a serious charge when considering character and values. I do not denounce him either for his time at Bain and I find it rather reprehensible that any conservative would, assuming such a conservative believes in the free market at all.

Santorum for me is pretty much WYSIWYG. He is politically consistent and his character seems steady. He says what he thinks wheter or not it is popular; and there is a lot to admire in that, even if you don't agree with him on some issues. He may be too much like the kind of Republican who wants to legislate morality for others, and I, for one, don't care for that. But he has some interesting ideas and he argues that he would leave most of the morality issues to the state and local levels. He will be demonized forcefully by Democrats and the Obama Administration because they disagree on policy as well as ideology. They will attempt to make it a character issue.

Paul has much to recommend him from an economic and idea perspective. But he too was so narcissistically engaged in the pursuit of his own personal glory, that he allowed some very nasty stuff to be published in his name in the past. I think he is unable to see the Big Picture in the foreign policy area, but some of his ideas there bear open discussion and debate and I am glad he is in the race to bring them up.

The only other candidate right now is Obama. I do not hesitate to say that most of his adult life has been an exercise in political narcissism and the accumulation of personal power. If Democrats and Independents who voted for him (and not a few Republicans, I would venture) are now disappointed, then they should read this post again to understand the psychological dynamics (their own as well as Obama's). Obama's ideas are old and stale. They have been tried all over the world with dismal and horrific results. All we have to do is to look at what is happening in Europe to see where it will all lead. But Obama has used these ideas to advance himself over the years

As far as Obama's character: He also has lots of skeletons in the closet for which he has received a pass from his Party; the media; and most of the voters. I suspect that if as much information about his past was known as is known about all the other candidates, there would be hell to pay.

But he came out of nowhere, a tabula rasa who was felt to be The One, The Messiah. He received a Nobel Prize for Peace for doing nothing to speak of; and several years later has brought America to the brink of economic and political disaster. His associations with people like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers are despicable, as is his ability to rapidly terminate any relationship which might do him political harm. I see him as a rather weak character overall; which strong narcissistic traits, whose ideas I totally deplore.

When it comes down to a choice, I prefer almost anyone on the Republican side and at least several on the Democratic side of the aisle.

It's going to be a long and painful year in many ways.

Friday, January 20, 2012

THE WINGS OF ENVY AND RESENTMENT

This piece by Thomas Sowell is very thought provoking. In it, he describes "the way history went down" so that the Western Europeans happened to develop a literate language (i.e., a written language) a few hundred years before the Eastern Europeans. This he explains is mostly due to the fact that the West of Europe happened to be conquered by the Romans. The later disparieties in development between the Eastern and Western European peoples can be traced back to this quirk of history:
Literate people obviously have many advantages over people who are illiterate. Even after Eastern European languages became literate, it was a long time before they had such accumulations of valuable written knowledge as Western European languages had, due to Western European languages’ centuries earlier head start.

Even the educated elites of Eastern Europe were often educated in Western European languages. None of this was due to the faults of one or the merits of the other. It is just the way that history went down.

But such mundane explanations of gross disparities are seldom emotionally satisfying — least of all to those on the short end of these disparities. With the rise over time of an indigenous intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of mass politics, more emotionally satisfying explanations emerged, such as oppression, exploitation, and the like.


He goes on to draw a parallel between the economic disparities between Eastern and Western Europe and the situation in America today:
Today, in America, many denounce the black-white gap in economic and other achievements, which they attribute to the same kinds of causes as those to which the lags of Eastern Europeans have been attributed. Moreover, the persistence of these gaps, years after the civil-rights laws were expected to close them, is regarded as something strange and even sinister.

Yet the economic disparities between Eastern Europeans and Western Europeans remain to this day greater than the economic disparities between blacks and whites in America — and the gap in Europe has lasted for centuries.

Focusing attention and attacks on people who have greater wealth-generating capacity — whether races, classes, or whatever — has had counterproductive consequences, including tragedies written in the blood of millions. Whole totalitarian governments have risen to dictatorial power on the wings of envy and resentment ideologies.

Intellectuals have all too often promoted these envy and resentment ideologies. There are both psychic and material rewards for the intelligentsia in doing so, even when the supposed beneficiaries of these ideologies end up worse off. When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.


I have quoted extensively from Sowell's argument because it is a very crucial point he is making.

One of the "Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism" is ENVY; and one of the key points about envy is that it is never directed at that which is bad; rather, it is a hateful attack on that which is good.

People who specialize in ENVY don't really want the good things the other person has; they want to insure that the other person doesn't have them or get to keep them.

Or, if they do want those things, it is a desire that comes in a distant second to their desire to destroy the good that others

ENVY is, without doubt, the underlying emotion behind the Marxist trope, "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". The "enlightened" and morally bankrupt left has always believed that economic self-interest means simply voting yourself a share of the money earned by others. They wouldn't know how to create wealth if their lives depended on it; that's why they seek power over others--they see it as the only way they can survive in the real world; but since they cannot admit that to themselves, they will seize other people's wealth with one hand, while signing the political bills that make it impossible to create the wealth on which they themselves depend.

The truth is that they deeply hate those who create the wealth they want to steal, and seek to destroy them--even though at some level, they understand they cannot survive without them.

They count on the fact that this reality never spoken of in polite society.

The envy of the postmodern progressive left is palpable. It is malignant and it consumes them. But they don't care. They have convinced themselves that they stand for things like "peace" and "freedom" and "truth"--but they have really chosen to ally themselves to the side of darkness and despair, slavery and oppression, lies and distortions; and they can no longer even appreciate when a truly magnificent achievement takes place before their very eyes unless they can claim credit for it.

RESENTMENT is closely allied with ENVY. Professor Sowell has written about the politics of resentment, too, and the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling:
Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” — a war that we have lost, by the way — bankrolled all kinds of local “leaders” and organizations with the taxpayers’ money, in the name of community “participation” in shaping the policies of government.

These “leaders” and community activists have had every reason to hype racial resentments and to make issues “us” against “them.”

One of the largely untold stories of our time has been the story of how ACORN, Jesse Jackson, and other community activists have been able to transfer billions of dollars from banks to their own organizations’ causes, with the aid of the federal government, exemplified by the Community Reinvestment Act and its sequels.

Racial anger and racial resentments are the fuel that keeps this lucrative racket going.


The modern Democratic party is almost entirely based on hyping both envy and resentment, and appealing to the worse of human nature. By doing so, they have created destructive and wealth-destroying armys of entitlement whose goal, whether they admit it or not, is to destroy wealth and the source of wealth.

Without envy, there would be no Democratic Party today.

And when Sowell says that, "Whole totalitarian governments have risen to dictatorial power on the wings of envy and resentment ideologies", it is clear to even the least observant that this is the destructive path which is being foisted on this country by the mostly clueless minions of the political left.

I have to ask again with some exasperation, why aren't Republicans making a case for the essential morality of capitalism? An entire cultural war is being fought against capitalism, and instead of making the case for why economic freedom and the free market is the best possible means to economic betterment for ALL PEOPLE, regardless of whether they are rich or poor; black or white; gay or straight; male or female or along any other divide the progressives can think of.

Instead, Republicans are busy legitimizing the narrative of the Democrats and their progressive left leaders. This is sheer stupidity and represents (sadly) how ubiquitous such narratives (such as "the 1% vs the 99%") have become.

Only in a free economic system within a free political system is it even possible to be moral, since benevolence toward others, compassion, charity, and generosity cannot exist without freedom. Benevolence, generosity, charity, and compassion that are mandated by the state, or by a religion (on pain of death or other consequence); or by any regulations on behavior; or by force--are meaningless insofar as individual morality is concerned.

So yes, we must make the moral case for capitalism. We must continually put forth these ideas in debate and argument because they are good ideas and shining through them is the essential morality of America and Americans.

ENVY and RESENTMENT are the bane (or should I say "Bain"?) of civilized society. In fact, these negative human emotions are essentially de-civilizing for those individuals who freociously cling to them and to their own sense of entitled victimhood.

Societies that are based on the emotions of envy and resentment are doomed to descend into "tragedies written in the blood of millions", as each individual and special interest group fights all the others for their "share" of an ever shrinking amount of wealth. Eventually, they run out of other people's wealth to steal .

For proof of this, all you have to do is look at human history.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

YES WE CAN'T !

RE: Obama on jobs

RE: Obama on energy dependence

RE: Obama on talking out of both sides of his mouth

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[Cartoons by Lisa Benson]

Sheesh. This should be a no-brainer. Instead it is the President who demonstrates that he has no brain, only his precious progressive ideology crammed between his ears.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

THE COST OF WARS UNWON

Mark Steyn writes about the Ron Paul phenomenon and wonders if it denotes a fracture in conservatism. In particular, he says the following:
It’s traditional at this point for non-Paulites to say that, while broadly sympathetic to his views on individual liberty, they deplore his neo-isolationism on foreign policy. But deploring it is an inadequate response to a faction that is likely to emerge with the second-highest number of delegates at the GOP convention. In the end, Newt represents Newt and Huntsman represents Huntsman, but Ron Paul represents a view of America’s role in the world, and one for which there are more and more takers after a decade of expensive but inconclusive war. President Obama has called for cuts of half a trillion dollars from the military budget. In response, too many of my friends on the right are demanding business as usual — that the Pentagon’s way of doing things must continue in perpetuity. It cannot.


Steyn goes on to talk about why we are not getting enough bang for the buck when it comes to the military and sugguest that it has to do with the idea that, ..."not unreasonably, serving soldiers are weary of unwon wars — of going to war with everything except war aims and strategic clarity."

Bullseye.

What can be said of a military superpower who, after a decade of "expensive but inconclusive war" has not much to show for it? Iraq is unraveling before our eyes after our hasty departure; and there is little reason to believe that Afghanistan will do better when we get the hell out of there. Our tails won't be between our legs, but they might as well be.

And this record of "inconclusiveness" hardly began in the last decade (remember the first war in Iraq? Remember the handwringing and mea culpas; the anguishing about civilian casualties; as well as the daily televising of any US military dead? Remember Abu Ghraib (where, incidentally no one was killed--but these days humiliating the enemy and treating them sans dignity is considered far worse than actually killing them)?
Steyn again:
I would hazard that the recent video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses is a coarser comment on the same psychosis, and the folly of fighting a determined and murderous enemy by distributing to your officers bulk orders of that charlatan’s bestseller Three Cups of Tea. There is a logical progression from three cups of sweet tea to those acts of micturition that the Pentagon would do well to ponder.


I submit that it is this record of "inconclusiveness" and attempting to wage politically correct war that has so many people, including those in the military, who support Ron Paul's candidacy.

Why in the hell do we bother going to war these days if we don't intend to win decisively? Why have all this military might and be afraid of killing the enemy and bringing them to their knees?

I'm not even in the military, yet the rules of engagement that our servicemen and women have to work under; the worry that they have to be so politically correct and nice to those who would ruthlessly cut off their heads or publically humiliate them without a moment's thought, is rather oppressive and completely unreasonable.

Instead our troops are expected to have tea with the Taliban and show some respect to Al Qaeda.

Victor Davis Hanson writing about the micturition outrage, picks up the many paradoxes of the current preferred manner of waging war in these glorious days of progressive enlightment:
The incident, though, reminds us of the contradictions of the American experience since 9/11, warped by both technology and politics. Abu Ghraib, where a few guards humiliated Iraqi prisoners (most of them terrorists with blood on their hands), was rightly condemned as both immoral and harmful to our mission. But it was a product of poor officer command and control at the prison, and no more a reflection of George Bush’s supposedly aberrant ideology than are urinating Marines of Barack Obama’s Afghan policy — and yet Abu Ghraib was often portrayed in the media as the touchstone to the Bush follies and crimes. One of the advantages of Obama as commander-in-chief (one at least) is that we will not see the Taliban corpses on posters throughout Europe and on American campuses as conveying some existential “truth” as we did the Abu Ghraib photos.

We are in an Orwellian situation when the media seems to think that the unfortunate but common dark side of war is somehow a carry-over from the Bush administration, one that now burdens Laureate Obama with responsibilities not of his own making. We’ve seen that assumption repeatedly over the last three years, when war critic Obama campaigned on blasting the Bush anti-terrorism protocols, then decided as president that they were useful and so adopted or expanded them, and then never quite explained to the American people the turn-around, but most certainly felt he was not a fair target for the anti-war fury he had a bit earlier helped to create but which mysteriously vanished in late January 2009.

One final example of the paradox: While we must ensure that urinating on enemy dead is an isolated and one-time occurrence, it seems to me, in terms of flesh and bone, as morally ambiguous or unambiguous as sending a Predator targeted assassination drone — its use expanded sevenfold by Barack Obama — as judge, jury, and executioner, to take out suspected terrorists — and everyone in their general vicinity, in a foreign country that we are not formally at war with. Selective outrage is a dangerous thing....


But selective outrage is one of the hallmarks of our current Administration and its media sycophants. If war is Hell; then unwon wars, like the politically correct kind we have been waging since 9/11 are endless Purgatory.

We all know the cost of war in terms of lives and treasure. But as we are beginning to see, the cost of wars unwon go on and on and on as this last decade has shown us. The slow attrition of human life; the inordinate cost of waging a PC war and the "nation building" that makes our professional soldiers perform all sorts of duties other than soldiering; the lack of accountability by a Congress and several Administrations that won't formally declare war and be done with it; and finally, the lack of ability of the American public to sustain interest in, or committment to, a half-hearted "overseas contingency operation" where "winning" is considered shameful to our PC politicians.

Ron Paul is entirely correct in this, at least: such decisions should be made based on our national interest and for our defense; and if we decide to get in it, then we should be doing our damnded to win it--no apologies.

The cost of wars unwon is far to high in terms of American lives and treasure, to do otherwise.

UPDATE: More from The Corner:
After Vietnam, our politicians demanded that our armed forces be trained to wield the most lethal weapons ever made, with the moral and cultural sensitivity of Peace Corps volunteers. To anyone who knows history, our troops have met this challenge with overwhelming and unprecedented success — as our real record in Iraq and Afghanistan attests.

But it has left our military trapped in a strange double bind, one reflected in the furor over this video. If Somalis drag our dead through the streets or Iraqi insurgents dismember captured Marines or the Taliban gang-rape and mutilate women to enforce their vicious version of sharia law, the media treat it as irrelevant to understanding who we are fighting, or why. They even suppress those stories and images — such as the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. Their grounds for that censorship is that such reporting might “inflame hatred” — in other words, make us fight harder.

On the other hand, if an American warrior oversteps civilized bounds, his behavior becomes proof that our mission is a moral failure and no longer deserving of support.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A "BAINFUL" REALITY INDEED

According to Power Line, the U.S. is slipping in economic freedom:
The source of America’s prosperity is no secret: our economy has historically been freer than those of almost all rivals. Unfortunately, that advantage–the essence of what America is all about–is being lost.

The Heritage Foundation has released its annual Index of Economic Freedom, and the United States has slipped to tenth place, trailing Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius and Ireland


Somebody should mention this to several of the idiot Republican Presidential candidates. You know the one's I'm talking about--the ones who are so obsessed with becoming the nominee, that they have abandoned even the pretense of supporting economic freedom and capitalism.

In their way of thinking, no one should ever be inconvenienced or upset when the impersonal market works its economic magic for the benefit of us all, i.e. when the creative destruction that is its hallmark brings constant change--and hope. Take Bill Gates and Microsoft, for example:
Bill Gates, with Microsoft Office, ended the need for thousands of accounting firm employees and typing pools (there are more than 1/3 fewer secretaries today than in 1980, totaling roughly 1.5 million jobs). Apple's Steve Jobs, well he probably ended the jobs of quite a few of Bill Gates' former employees by out-teching the master of tech.


If you only count jobs lost as a measure of success, then you are not understanding the way the Market works.
The problem with the entire discussion is that jobs are being used as the only measure of the "good" done by Romney. Profits are also good as they allow companies to grow and as they return capital to investors who can then fund the creation or growth of other companies. Indeed, despite our being surrounded by Keynesian-thinking politicians who believe that nothing is as important as consumers having spending money, the indirect benefits to society of profits to investors are arguably at least as large as the indirect benefits of employment.


The free market is always in a state of change, which for some may be a "Bainful" reality.

Progressives like Obama always say they want to "streamline" government, but they are lying or delusional or both. In fact, they are very regressive because they think they can accomplish efficiency and productivity without change, i.e., without ever anyone losing a job or economically suffering in the least.

But in capitalism there are winners and losers in the moment. The winners succeed, and, if they are capable of learning, the losers learn what they need to do to become winners next time around.

"Vulture" capitalism they call it; and they condemn Mitt Romney for practicing it when he was at Bain. But even vultures serve a useful purpose in life, though they get little credit for it and some find their function distasteful.

Let me be clear. I have not decided who I support in the Republican field; but this latest bit of disgusting emulation of all the egalitarian progressives who want everyone to always be equal--not in opportunity, but in outcome--is completely destructive without an ounce of creativity, i.e., it is utter delusional pandering.

It proves that even those on the right who trumpet being "pro-Market" have no idea how the Market works; and that they fully intend to continue to interfere with it in the same way the our current Dear Leader is doing.

Mona Charen captures the essence of the duplicity and hypocrisy heartlessness at issue:
So the president has proposed to streamline a number of agencies in the federal government. He claims to be trying to eliminate redundancy and duplication, but it’s clear that something else is going on.

Clearly President Obama has decided to join the Republicans in throwing widows and orphans into the snow. By suggesting that we cut vital government services, he wants to tell autistic children “You’re on your own.” He has decided to diminish “who we are” as a nation — a people who do “great things together.”


But, it is exactly a "Bainful turnaround" that is needed right now to save us all:
There’s a very troubled company out there called U.S. Government, Inc. It’s teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. And it badly needs to be taken over and turned around. It probably even needs the services of a good private-equity firm, with plenty of experience and a reasonably good track record in downsizing, modernizing, shrinking staff, and making substantial changes in management. Yes, layoffs will be a necessary part of the restructuring.

A quick look at the income statement of this troubled firm tells the story. Just in the past year (FY 2011) the firm spent $3.7 trillion, but took in only $2.2 trillion in sales revenues. Hence its deficit came to $1.5 trillion.

Advertisement Just in the first three months of the new year (FY 2012), the firm’s troubles continued. Outlays for all purposes came in at $874 billion, but income was only $554 billion. So the shortfall was $320 billion. No hope of a self-imposed turnaround here. Indeed, both the senior management and the board of directors show no signs of making major changes to their business strategy.

Hope for future profits? That’s out of the question. The firms only chance of survival is a takeover.


No wonder our economic freedom is declining in America!

I have no problem with those who want to act compassionately to help people whose lives are turned upside down because reality cannot be faked.

Right now, the biggest faker of reality is our own government and its representatives.

Think for a minute about all those who lost their jobs at Solyndra. Or all the other companies that the Obama Administration invested your and my money in who are going to go bankrupt any day now? Or, how about those who lost their livings when the US Government takeovers of the auto companies forced the closure of small plants and dealerships?

Obama's sudden fascination with "streamlining" the government is just another bit of fakery. And, frankly, I expect it from the likes of him and his cronies. No amount of reality will ever convince them that their policies lead to more suffering and pain than any venture capital firm could possibly imagine doing.

Because a venture/vulture capital firm is only in it for profit--and rightly so. The market is neutral. It doesn't care if you are black or white or yellow or green; it doesn't care if you have good intentions and want to save the earth or if you want to destroy it. It only cares about supply and demand. And whatever companies can meet the demand and supply what the consumer wants for the best possible price/quality ratio.

But your typical leftist progressive, social justice/redistributionist types are in it for far far more than some piddling profit! In fact, they turn up their noses at the idea of money (even as they cash their government checks) and disdain financial profit openly and loudly and repeatedly. What they get out of their particular brand of looting is power over others and a transcendant feeling of superiority as they contemplate their own wonderfulness.

It's bad enough to watch Obama and his crew engage in this narcissistic behavior. It's sickening to witness those who supposedly support the free market and claim to want to get the government off our backs strike at the core of how the market works.

The free market is the essence of "hope and change" in the real world not some progressive postmodern fantasy world.

How, pray tell, do they intend to get us out of debt and streamline government without being able to fire people--especially incompetent people; or lazy people; or people who have jobs that are not needed any more? How do they intend to do it without letting inefficient or badly run companies fail without bail outs from you and me?

No wonder people are seriously considering a nominee like Ron Paul, who for all his shortcomings and crackpot ideas and refusal to face reality in the foreign policy area, is at least firmly entrenched in economic reality.

It is a "Bainful" reality indeed that there are winners and losers in life. The good part is that the composition of each group changes constantly. Change and suffering go hand in hand. The forces of Nature (i.e., reality), like those of the Market, are indifferent to how any one of us might feel about it.

Reality can be very painful at times; but to ignore it always causes more pain and suffering for more people in the long run.

Photobucket

[More cartoons by Lisa Benson here}

Thursday, January 12, 2012

OCCUPIETY, EUROTRAGEDY, AND THE WORLDWIDE NARCISSISTIC CRISIS

Most people would agree, at least theoretically, that is is quite natural for parents to want to give their children a good life and even sacrifice in the present so that their children's future would be better than their own. Supposedly this is a key tenet of the American Dream.

But that's just an old-fashioned and outdated perspective. Under the auspices of Hope and Change, The American Dream is being transformed into cradle-to-grave dependence on the State. We have pius and (presumably) serious people occupying our cities demanding to be taken care of. All they want is free food, free housing, free education and so on. Not too much to ask of a free society, after all!

Their European counterparts, a few years ahead of them evolutionally, are rioting and are just a little pissed off that the gravy train is ending because they have run out of other people's money to spend on themselves.

Quelle Trag├ędie! A crisis of megalomaniacal proportions! A triumph of psychological denial!

If you want to understand how the extremely malignant form of entitled narcissism which is prevalent today--the same psychopathology, BTW, that got us into the current economic meltdown in this country and worldwide--then you need look no further than the following two articles.... It never has been about the children...it's all about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

First, from Greece :
Children are being abandoned on Greece's streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.
Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.


Got that? This is a "tragic" consequence of the Euro crisis! That parents would abandon their small children, leaving them in the street because they can't afford to take care of them anymore.

The crisis is that these self-absorbed parents have always put their own needs and self-fulfillment and satisfaction above the needs of their children. Otherwise they would not be where they are. And, of course, by dumping the children on the streets, they are still doing so.

Who is responsible for their children except for them?

Then we have this, from the Annals of Occupiety:
A man is facing child cruelty charges after his 13-month-old daughter was found alone in a tent in the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Square.


This isn't the first instance of children's needs taking a remote second to the narcissistic antics of their loving, compassionate parents.

But..but...but, you might say, isn't "social justice" and all the leftist and Democratic bullsh**t propaganda (reference the ravings of Nancy Pelosi) all about the children??

No.

It's all about narcissism, victimhood, entitlement, self-indulgence, and the unwillingness to face the consequences of their own choices.

Sadly, children will suffer and there will not be much of a future for them when their parents are more interested in their own comfort and satisfying their every whim and desire.

We are in the midst of a worldwide narcissistic crisis; and, I can assure you that the consequences of this "tragedy" are going to be devastating to civilization.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

FLAUNTING THEIR EMPATHY

Recently, two prominent members of the progressive left thought it would be appropriate to mock the Santorum family for bringing home a newborn who had died shortly after birthso that the entire family (including all the other children) could understand and mourn his short life and death.

Mark Steyn rightly excoriates Alan Colmes and Eugene Robinson for their rather shocking lack of empathy toward the Santorums for doing this:
There is something telling about what Peter Wehner at Commentary rightly called the “casual cruelty” of Eugene Robinson. The Left endlessly trumpets its “empathy.” President Obama, for example, has said that what he looks for in his judges is “the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.” As he told his pro-abortion pals at Planned Parenthood, “we need somebody who’s got the heart — the empathy — to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom.” Empathy, empathy, empathy: You barely heard the word outside clinical circles until the liberals decided it was one of those accessories no self-proclaimed caring progressive should be without.

Indeed, flaunting their empathy is what got Eugene Robinson and many others their Pulitzers — Robinson describes his newspaper column as “a license to feel.” Yet he’s entirely incapable of imagining how it must feel for a parent to experience within the same day both new life and death — or even to understand that the inability to imagine being in that situation ought to prompt a little circumspection.


Steyn notes that, "The Left’s much-vaunted powers of empathy routinely fail when confronted by those who do not agree with them politically"; but I would like to suggest that the problem Steyn identifies is actually more deep-rooted and characterological than mere political partisanship.

If you look below the surface of the supposed "compassion" and "empathy" that the political left constantly trumpets about itself, you will find neither.

From a psychological perspective, many of them are not mature enough to be capable of either true compassion or real empathy when it comes to anything that remotely touches on their political dogma--a dogma that infuses every aspect of their life and relationships.

This is all part of the same pattern that makes the progressive movement so completely pathological. They are constantly emphasizing how
- "reality-based" they are--while refusing to acknowledge any reality that doesn't conform to their constricted worldview (e.g. that you don't get out of debt by constantly spending more money);

- "progressive" they are--while being firmly and consistently against progress (particularly economic progress);

-how normal, peaceful, "grassroots" and appropriate the "Occupy" movement is compared to the evil Tea Partiers who are a bunch of Republican "Mobs", astroturfing phonies; Nazis with swastikas, and "these people are too well-dressed to be genuine protesters". is a case of the leftist projecting their own thuggish motives onto relatively normal Americans who are unhappy with what is going on right now in Washington. Meanwhile the angry and often violent and disgusting tactics of the poorly dressed, gentle, drug-abusing, raping Occupy crowds is honored and sacred.

- how everyone else is "racist" (or homophobic, Islamophobic; as well as anti-woman, children-abusing; anti-old and anti- poor people); and how the goal of their opponents is to kill old people, poor people, people of color and oppress them (instead of having a different perspective on how to best help them). This allows these compassionate and caring people to pretend that the social policies they support don't have any destructive effects (e.g., encouraging permanent victimhood and resentment in the people they claim to be "helping"; increasing dependence; promotion of class warfare instead of "brotherhood")--effects which can be seen all around us. It is never their own policies or beliefs that are to blame for the worsening situation, it is NOT ENOUGH of their policies have been implemented. Many beg to differ.

The list could go on and on.

Do you begin to see a pattern here? It is a psychological pattern that is certainly not exclusive to the political left (remember when Richard Nixon kept loudly proclaiming, "I am not a crook!" when Watergate proved that he was not only lying to himself, but to the country); but the political left currently bows to no one in expressing their immaturity and denial of reality.

This psychological maneuver is very common and pervasive. It is a maneuver that I have written about repeatedly on this blog and it is called projection.

I believe it is Ann Coulter who has said that, "You can always tell what liberals are up to by what they accuse you of."

That is the essence of psychological projection, the psychological strategy by which the user is able to disown his or her own thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors-- even as they virtuously accuse others of possessing those same thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

I wrote in an earlier post about psychological defenses:
I frequently use psychiatric and psychological concepts to describe behavior in this blog, and because of that, many people accuse me of labeling anyone who disagrees with me politically as having a mental illness.

This is not true; and it suggests that most of these critics know little about psychiatry, psychiatric diagnoses, or psychological defenses.

While I do believe that some of the people I describe might indeed have a mental illness; and that some are, in fact, perfectly healthy but simply malevolent or evil; it is simply not the case that by exposing certain psychological defense mechanisms that explain their behavior, I am giving the political opposition a medical/psychiatric diagnosis. Nevertheless, if a particular diagnosis fits, I am perfectly content to let them wear it.

In discussing psychological defense mechanisms, what I am trying to do is understand how and why people behave in the way that they do. Describing psychological defenses is not the same thing as "making a diagnosis" for one very simple reason. All humans utilize psychological defenses, all the time. Both Democrat and Republican; Left and Right. Good and Bad.

Psychological defenses are involuntary, regulatory coping processes.

By themselves, defenses are not evidence of "illness". When used, they may appear to be "sick," evil, or even irrational, but basically, they reflect a creative adaptation to the world.

George Vaillant, a brilliant researcher in this area, and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, uses the analogy that defenses mechanisms are deployed in a fashion similar to physical symptoms-- such as a fever, cough or elevated white blood cell count. All of the latter physical symptoms occur when an individual is coming down with an illness.

Vaillant points out that the body reacts to the environment with these physiological responses in order to prevent or ameliorate the attacking illness. Without these normal physiological responses, we would be at the mercy of many illness and die.

In similar fashion, the psychological defenses are employed by the ego to respond to a threatening reality. With varying levels of success, our defense mechanisms ameliorate, distort and/or transform reality in order to protect our psychological self. The healthier and more mature defenses are a remarkably creative synthesis of our conflicts, needs and external reality; a synthesis that enable us to both give and receive pleasure in life.

Some defenses may be considered "immature" or even completely out of touch with reality; while others are "mature". This is not necessarily a value judgement, since it only reflects the fact that throughout development from childhood to adulthood; certain psychological strategies are generally discarded in favor of healthier and more effective strategies. The difference between the two types--mature and immature--is that the psychotic and immature defenses may cause considerable human misery and are, in the long run, not particularly adaptive or healthy. In some cases, they can even distort or warp reality to such an extent, that the person using the defense puts his life (and possibly others lives) at stake.

This is a very high price to pay to avoid a reality that is unpleasant or unacceptable.

Thus, when I see the predominance of "immature" strategies (e.g. projection, fantasy, acting out)--and/or some of the more primitive and potentially psychotic strategies (denial, distortion, paranoia)--being used by supposedly grownup adults, I begin to look around for explanations of their conduct that are not being acknowledged.

When I observe such strategies being used by large groups or even nations, I cringe; because the liklihood of a large number of deaths and considerable human misery is an almost inevitable outcome.


A healthy person will use many different defenses throughout life. A defense mechanism becomes pathological when it is used persistantly and leads to maladaptive behavior that will eventually threaten the physical and/or mental health of the individual. Having said that, there are psychological defenses that are:
1) almost always pathological - when they prevent the individual from being able to cope with a real threat and obscure his/her ability to perceive reality;
2) immature - used in childhood and adolescence, but mostly abandoned by adulthood, since they lead to socially unacceptable behavior and/or prevent the adult from optimal coping with reality;
3) neurotic - common in everyone, but clearly not optimal for coping with reality since they lead to problems in relationships; work; and problems in enjoying life; and finally,
4) mature defense mechanisms - used by "healthy" adults, they optimize one's ability to have normal relationships; enjoy work, and to take pleasure in life.

So, what is going on here with the so-called "empathy" of the progressive left?

There actually IS a connection between projection and empathy.

Projection is considered a primitive or immature defense mechanism because it is used frequently by children (and in their case it is not considered pathological, just childish, and is easily seen through). As an individual matures, gains insight and self-awareness into his or her own psychological realities and acknowledges the reality that is outside his or her own head, the same capacity to project one's own feelings onto others matures and becomes the ability to appreciate the feelings of others.

In the former (immature) case, one disowns "unacceptable" feelings in one's self and projects those feelings into someone else. In the latter (mature) case, one is now able to accept one's own imperfections and tolerate one's own emotions (even painful ones), all of which makes an individual able to accurately and deeply appreciate what others might be feeling.

This latter psychological trait is not a defense mechanism per se, but the abilty to experience appropriate empathy toward others as a conscious and daily process.

Of course, if a person consistently and repeatedly refuses to acknowledge inner and outer reality, then the maturation process is halted, or even reversed. Paranoia, is projection that is not only immature, but psychotic (i.e., completely out of touch with reality). Empathy, OTOH, is projection grown up and used to enhance relationships, rather than to destroy them.

When anyone flaunts their empathy, look closely to see what they are hiding from in themselves.

In the case of the Santorums' baby who died after only a few hours, the people in question were not only unable to get past projection, but it is clear that they were actually frightened by the emotions the Santorums' actions engendered within them. These emotions had to be quickly and firmly rejected if their worldview and their image of themselves was to remain unquestioned. Hence they projected their own inner weirdness and angst (even hate) onto the person who was causing them to have questions.

Steyn goes on to compare the Santorums actions with another individual in the news cycle:
Santorum’s respect for all life, including even the smallest bleakest meanest two-hour life, speaks well for him, especially in comparison with his fellow Pennsylvanian, the accused mass murderer Kermit Gosnell, an industrial-scale abortionist at a Philadelphia charnel house who plunged scissors into the spinal cords of healthy delivered babies. Few of Gosnell’s employees seemed to find anything “weird” about that: Indeed, they helped him out by tossing their remains in jars and bags piled up in freezers and cupboards. Much less crazy than taking ’em home and holding a funeral, right?


The unwillingness to face reality and its consequences; the unwillingness to look within one's own self and truly see and acknowledge one's own negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors is probably the most serious mental illness of our time.

Unlike those suffering from real, biological illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar illness, who are not responsible for the physiological defects that haunt their thoughts and behaviors; these modern deniers repeatedly lie to themselves and the world despite all evidence to the contrary; and ultimately choose over and over again to ignore external and internal reality. They pretend that they are perfect and virtuous, and flaunt their empathy like a shield against that reality.

But, hey! They mean well.

How sad for them that they represent the source of everything which stands against the Good in the world today.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

THE COCOON OF DENIAL

Happy New Year! Same as the Old Year?
Ring out the new, ring in the old.

No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn’t it? Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion — a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months’ time.

At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke — broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur — and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece’s. That’s true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.


If this does not worry you, then you are definitely in that "cocoon of denial." The US is playing a game of "let's pretend" and almost everyone in political power is happily closing their eyes to reality.

Why?

Because America has finally reached the point where telling the truth--even suggesting that we talk about the truth-- about our financial situation is political suicide.

Look at how quickly Paul Ryan was demonized after he made some fairly reasonable suggestions about Medicare.

Old people are up in arms at the thought (even though Ryan did not suggest it) that their entitlements might be cut. Young people are camping out in public parks, aimlessly demanding even more entitlements and free stuff.

Middle aged people are mostly going to work every day trying to make ends meet. Some of them believe the hype about the "99% vs 1%" when they aren't dreaming of becoming one of the 1%.

But it isn't really 99% vs 1%. It's come down to the 50% vs 50%.

50% of this country works hard and produces. The other 50% are what Ayn Rand called "looters"-- these are people who basically believe the idea that their “economic self-interest” means voting yourself a share of your neighbor’s earnings.

Those who have resisted entering the warm and comforting cocoon of denial understand that real "economic self-interest" dictates behavior quite different from the entitled, childish and destructive looter mentality.

The absolute last thing that those in the cocoon of denial are concerned about is economic self-interest. Rather, they always see economics as a zero-sum game:
In short, the means of creating unlimited wealth weren't really stumbled upon by human beings until the rise of industrial capitalism. Human beings had finally discovered the key to economic growth, which came down to the magical combination of individual liberty, free markets, strong private property rights, sound money, and the rule of law. And then get the hell out of the way.

And even then, it took several hundred more years to tame the "boom or bust" cycle [oops!], to the point that people no longer expect economic recessions, much less, depressions. It is now as if people imagine that unlimited economic growth and prosperity are the norm instead of an extraordinary deviation from the past. And with that, a sense of entitlement is nurtured, which in turn is rooted in what the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein called constitutional envy....

In other words, communism is our default state (as seen in our immediate families), whereas certain traits and habits of mind associated with capitalism must be learned, among them, trust of the stranger, the tamping down of envy, a focus on the future instead of the present, and an understanding that economic exchange isn't a zero-sum game....

For the vast majority of human beings, liberty is not a particularly important value, much less the most important one. They would just as soon barter it away for security, as they have done in western Europe.

Once you understand this, then much about the left begins to make sense. In Europe, we can see how the welfare state puts in place a system of incentives that creates a new kind of enfeebled man, but that's not exactly correct. In reality, it simply reveals man for what he is -- a lazy, frightened, selfish, superstitious, instinct-loving and lowdown rascal. Leftism aims low and always reaches its target.


Not only does the left "aim low", their fundamental economic assumption is that the only way to get wealth is to steal it from someone else because they cannot imagine how to create it.

The looter simply cannot imagine running out of other peoples' money. For them, "hope and change" means finding newer, more improved ways of stealing it.


Thus, all their political policies are imbued with an infantile economic primitivism. Like modern cavemen (whose cave is the cocoon they have created with their denial of reality) their only real strategy is brute force in the old days it was easy: Ug hits Grog over the head with his big club to get his "rightful" share of nuts and berries. In our modern progressive society, Ug elects people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and Barack Obama who will disguise the force and pass laws to force Grog to give Ug his "rightful" share of nuts and berries.

Unlimited nuts and berries for all! All the time! Forever!

This is the the looter mentality. It is the mentality of the parasite who wants the benefits of wealth without the effort of having to create any; who is always demanding "his 'fair' share" of wealth without the necessity of providing any value to anyone. Looters are people who think that wealth just appears out of nothingness and that it is perfectly justifiable to steal it from someone else, since it is a zero-sum game; and therefore it is a matter of "social justice" to redistribute it according to their whim.

Their redistribution plans have become more sophisticated and "progressive" than Ug's, but follow the same basic principle.

This is why the political left's economic policies (and not a few on the political right have bought into it) almost always end up enabling and exposing the worse and most brutish aspects of human nature.

Curiously, or perhaps not so much, these are almost always the same people who are always coming up with some new, improved utopian scheme that promises a veritable paradise of human love, compassion, kindness and brotherhood; along with free medical care, free food, free houses, free education, free everything!

Perhaps, the best answer to that question is that, when it comes to themselves, the looters of both the left and the right are constitutionally unable to understand or accept the dark side of their own natures with any degree of clarity, let alone honesty.

That's why I found this column of interest this morning--about how to deal honestly with one's self.

The squalid utopian fantasies of socialism, communism and the "redistribution of wealth" (a fancy way of saying to someone, "give me what you've got", while pointing a gun at them) appeals to people who refuse to acknowledge their own human imperfections, and hence their own capacity for evil.

We've reached a tipping point in our society where about 50% of the population are so firmly wrapped in that cocoon of denial, they are entirely capable of inflicting great evil on others.

They don't want to admit it too openly, but these deniers tend to see themselves as superior; above all those boring, ordinary human beings around them-- you know, the presumed neanderthals who "cling" to their guns and religion? The 50% who want to redistribute the other 50%'s wealth see themselves as more virtuous, more compassionate, more intelligent; and of course, much better qualified to decide what's best for lesser beings like you and me.


In essence, the psychological denial so rampant in our culture today is extremely psychologically attractive and amazingly comforting to those who embrace it. But the only "hope and change" it spawns is envy, entitlement, and a host of other negative and sadistic human traits. And, along the way,it promotes a cult of victimhood and generates the identity politics with which we are now very familiar.

Contrary to leftist dogma, economic self-interest is not a matter of race or gender or age victimhood--or victimhood pimping of any kind. It is not a matter of "oppressor" versus "oppressed"; nor of "social justice"--it is a matter of supporting the freedom of the individual mind the fountainhead from which all wealth is created.

The wealth of any individual not only benefits him or her, but also ultimately benefit everyone else in a free society because it slowly and inexorably pulls all up to a higher standard of living.

In a free society, wealth is never a zero-sum game; it is constantly created and exchanged; but in the Looter Utopia of Obama, where the looter mentality reigns, whatever wealth is created by those able to produce it is confiscated by brute force.

Ultimately, this process is able to continue only until all those who are able to produce are prevented (for the sake of society! for the children!) from producing. Then, the creation of wealth ceases, since the very process has been killed by the looters.

Ultimately, the Looter Utopia ends up enshrining and enabling human barbarism, ensuring that we all return to the cave--or, in our present situation, the comforting cocoon of denial.

As Steyn says, "The sooner we recognize the 20th-century entitlement state is over, the sooner we can ring in something new. The longer we delay ringing out the old, the worse it will be. Happy New Year?"

What will your choice be in 2012?