Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Well this is incredibly revolting:

It was nearly two weeks ago that the House of Representatives, acting in a near-frenzy after the disclosure of bonuses paid to executives of AIG, passed a bill that would impose a 90 percent retroactive tax on those bonuses. Despite the overwhelming 328-93 vote, support for the measure began to collapse almost immediately. Within days, the Obama White House backed away from it, as did the Senate Democratic leadership. The bill stalled, and the populist storm that spawned it seemed to pass.
But now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.

The purpose of the legislation is to "prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards," according to the bill's language. That includes regular pay, bonuses -- everything -- paid to employees of companies in whom the government has a capital stake, including those that have received funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (emphasis mine)

And you would be judged, not on ordinary performance standards, mind you; but on government standards. You know, the kind of really really high standards by which say, Post Office employees, or IRS employees; or, the stratospherically high standards by which members of Congress are judged.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Wonderful World of Incompetence Rewarded! Because that's what government "performance standards" always lead to. When I was at NASA we used to joke about "Performance Awards"--which were given out like candy every year to just about everyone (you see, all government agencies are highly invested in being exceptionally politically correct and multiculturally sensitive). As I recall, the saying used go that the Awards were like hemorrhoids...in the end, every a$$hole gets one.

This proposal is a sick, bizarre joke, right? A joke perpetrated by the moronic, unparalleled idiot Barney Frank, Supreme Overlord of the Incompetent? Because, if something like this actually passes Congress, then I'm certain that I won't be the only one going Galt in the near future.

Do these jackasses want the economy of the U.S. to collapse? I think the spirit of Ayn Rand must be laughing and saying, "I told you so...."

From Atlas Shrugged, Part III, Chapter 6:
He knew that the reason behind the Plan was Orren Boyle; he know that the working of an intricate mechanism, operated by pull, threat, pressure, blackmail--a mechanism like an irrational adding machine run amuck and throwing up any chance sum at the whim of any moment--had happened to add up to Boyle's pressure upon these men to extort for him this last piece of plunder. He knew also that Boyle was not the cause of it or the essential to consider, that Boyle was only a chance rider, not the builder, of the infernal machine that had destroyed the world, that it was not Boyle who had made it possible, nor any of the men in this room. They, too, were only riders on a machine without a driver, they were trembling hitchhikers who knew that their vehicle was about to crash into its final abyss--and it was not love or fear of Boyle that made them cling to their course and press on toward their end, it was something else, it was some one nameless element which they knew and evaded knowing, something which was neither thought nor hope, something he identified only as a certain look in their faces, a furtive look saying: I can get away with it. Why?--he thought. Why do they think they can?
"We can't afford any theories!"cried Wesley Mouch. We've got to act!"
"Well, then, I'll offer you another solution. Why don't you take over my mills and be done with it?"
The jolt that shook them was genuine terror.
"Oh no!" gasped Mouch.
"We wouldn't think of it!" cried Holloway.
"We stand for free enterprise!" cried Dr. Ferris.
"We don't want to harm you!" cried Lawson. "We're your friends, Mr. Reardon. Can't we all work together? We're your friends."
There across the room, stood a table with a telephone, the same table, most likely, and the same instrument--and suddenly Reardon felt as if he were seeing the convulsed figure of a man bent over that telephone, a man who had then known what he, Reardon, was now beginning to learn, a man fighting to refuse him the same request when he was now refusing to the present tenants of this room--he saw the finish of that fight, a man's tortured face lifted to confront him and a desperate voice saying steadily: "Mr. Reardon, I swear to you.. by the woman I love...that I am your friend."
This was the act he had then called treason, and this was the man he had rejected in order to go on serving the men confronting him now. Who, then, had been the traitor?--he tought; he thought it almost without feeling, without right to feel, conscious of nothing but a solemnly reverent clarity. Who had chosen to give its present tenants the means to acquire this room? Whom had he sacrificed to whose profit?
"Mr. Reardon!" moaned Lawson. "What's the matter?"
"He turned his head, saw Lawson's eyes watching hm fearfully and guess what look Lawson had caught in his face.
"We don't want to seize your mills!" cried Mouch.
"We don't want to deprive you of your property!" cried Dr. ferris. "You don't understand us!"
"I'm beginning to."
A year ago, he thought, they would have shot him; two years ago, they would have confiscated his property; generations ago, men of their kind had been able to afford the luxury of murder and expropriation, the safety of pretending to themselves and their victims that material loot was their only objective. But their time was running out and his fellow victims had gone, gone sooner than any historical schedule had promised, and they, the looters, were now left to face the undisguised reality of their own goal.
"Look, boys," he said wearily. "I know what you want. You want to eat my mills and have them, too. And all I want to know is this: what makes you think it's possible?"
"I don't know what your mean, " said Mouch in an injured tone of voice. "We said we didn't want your mills."
"All right. I'll say it more precisely. You want to eat me and have me, too. How do you propose to do it?"
"I don't know how you can say that, after we've given you every assurance that we consider you of invaluable importance to the country, to the steel industry, to--"
"I believe you. That's what makes the riddle harder. You consider me of invaluable importance to the country? Hell, you consider me of invaluable importance even to your own nec ks. You sit there, trembling, because you know that time is as short as that. Yet you propose a plan to destroy me, a plan which demands, with an idiot's crudeness, without loopholes, detours or escape, that I work at a loss--that I work, with every ton I pour costing me more than I'll get for it--that I feed the last of my wealth away until we all starve together. That much irrationality is not possible to any man or any looter. For your own sake--never mind the country's or mine--you must be counting on something. What?"
He saw the getting-away-with-it look on their faces, a peculiar look that seemed secretive, yet resentful, as if, incredibly, it were he who was hiding some secret from them.
"I don't see why you should choose to take such a defeatist view of the situation," said Mouch sullenly.
"Defeatist? Do you really expect me to be able to remain in business under your Plan?"
"But it's only temporary!"
"There is no such thing as a temporary suicide."
"But it's only for the duration of the emergency!" Only untile the country recovers!"
"How do you expect it to recover?"
There was no answer.
"How do you expect me to produce after I go bankrupt?"
"You won't go bankrupt. you'll always produce," said Dr. Ferris indifferently, neither in praise nor in blame, merely in the tone of stating a fact of nature, as he would have said to another man, You'll always be a bum. "You can't help it. It's in your blood. Or, to be more scientific: you're conditioned that way."
Reardon sat up. it was as if he had been struggling to find the secret combination of a lock and felt, at those words, a faint click within, as of the first tumbler falling into place.
"It's only a matter of weathering this crisis, " said Mouch, "of giving people a reprieve, a chance to catch up."
"And then?"
"Then things will improve."
There was no answer.
"What will improve them?"
There was no answer.
"Who will improve them?"
"Christ, Mr. Reardon, people don't just stand still!" cried Holloway. "They do things, they grow, they move forward."
"What people?"
Holloway waved his hand vaguely. "People," he said.
"What people? The people to whom you're going to feed the last of Reardon Steel, without getting anything in return? The people who'll go on consuming more than they produce?"
"Conditions will change."
"Who'll change them?"
There was no answer.
"Have you anything left to loot? If you didn't see the nature of your policy before--it's not possible that your don't see it now. Look around you. All those damned People's States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country. But you--you have no place left to sponge on or mooch from. No country on the face of the globe. This was the greatest and last. You've drained it. You've milked it dry. Of all that irretrievable splendo, I'm only one remnant, the last. What will you do, you and your People's Globe, after you've finished me? What are you hoping for? What do you see ahead--except plain, stark, animal starvation?"
They did not answer. They did not look at him. Their faces were expressions of stubborn resentment, as if his were the plea of a liar.
Then Lawson said softly, half in reproach, half in scorn, "Well, after all, you businessmen have kept predicting disasters for years, youv've cried catastrophe at every progressive measure and told us that we'll perish--but we haven't." He started a smile, but drew back from the sudden intensity of Rearden's eyes.
Reardon had felt another click in his mind, the sharper click of the second tumbler connecting the circuits of the lock. He leaned forward. "What are you counting on?" he asked; his tone had changed, it was low, it had the steady, pressing, droning sound of a drill.
"It's only a matter of gaining time!" cried Mouch.
"There isn't any time left to gain."
"All we need is a chance!" cried Lawson.
"There are no chances left."
"It's only until we recover!" cried Holloway.
"There is no way to recover."
"Only until our policies begin to work!" cried Dr. Ferris.
"There is no way to make the irrational work." There was no answer. "What can save you now?"
"Oh, you'll do something!" cried James Taggart.
Then--even though it was only a sentence he had heard all his life--he felt a deafening crash within him, as of a steel door dropping open at the touch of the final tumbler, the one small number completing the sum and releasing the intricate lock, the answer uniting all the pieces the questions and the unsolved wounds of his life.
In the moment of silence after the crash, it seemed to him that he heard Franciscos's voice, asking him quietly in the ballroom of this building, yet asking it also here and now: "Who is the guiltiest man in this room?" He heard his own answer of the past: "I suppose--James Taggart?" and Francisco's voice saying without reproach: "No, Mr. Reardon, it's not James Taggart, "--but here, in this room and this moment, his mind answered: "I am."
He had cursed these looters for their stupid blindness? It was he who had made it possible.

You definitely need to read the entire book; and if you haven't read it in a long time, you need to read it again.

UPDATE: BTW, the answer to my rhetorical question (Do these jackasses want the economy of the U.S. to collapse?) is clearly, yes.
March 30th turned to be quite a day for our domestic auto industry. Amidst the hullabaloo over Obama’s decision to fire former General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner, few noticed the U.S. Department of Transportation's release of a new 262-page regulation requiring automakers to meet yet another costly round of fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. (See Department of Transportation press release here.)
The Detroit News reported that the new standard will saddle Detroit’s reeling auto industry (and their dwindling number of consumers) with considerable new costs, costs that consumers may not recoup for almost eight years...

Yes. That should just about do it for the auto industry, Detroit, and Michigan.


Victor Davis Hanson seems a bit bemused by Obama's extensive use of the "I" and "me" in his speeches, and refers to it as "first-person socialism":
I think our president needs to invest more in the use of the third-person "government," since his speeches more and more center on the narcissistic "I" and "me." Even the car-takeover speech was "I-ed" to death. E.g.

My Auto Task Force

And so today, I am announcing that my administration will...

In this context, my administration will offer General Motors adequate working capital over the next 60 days. During this time, my team will be working closely with GM to produce a better business plan.

I am committed to doing all I can to see if a deal can be struck...

Now, I know that when people even hear the word "bankruptcy" it can be a bit unsettling, so let me explain what I mean. What I am talking about is..

What I am not talking about is a process where a company is broken up, sold off, and no longer exists. And what I am not talking about is having a company stuck in court for years...

It is my hope that the steps I am announcing...

let me say it as plainly as I can ...

I'm directing my team to take several steps.

I want to work with Congress to identify parts of the Recovery Act..

I am designating a new Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers...

What we have in Barack Obama is the perfect blending of postmodern Marxism with therapeutic psychobabble into a royal narcissistic mishmosh. Obama is not just Carter redux, he is the anti-Reagan; the chance the left has been waiting for for 20 years to undo everything that Reagan achieved. Obama is all the worse elements of government and its excesses personified--and he is here to help you; because government is the solution, not the problem! (Who knew?)

Siggy recently posted a cartoon that cuts to the heart of the issue and works on a number of levels:

From a recent post, where I write about the marriage of the left's neo-Marxist fascism with:
...the perfect postmodern politician/demagogue , who possessed all the necessary qualities to implement the economic and foreign policy strategies that are logically consistent with and derived from therapeutic psychobabble, was a dream come true for the floundering left.

In Obama they finally have the opportunity to translate the psychobabble into real political action. Let's look first at how the therapeutical inclined culture, one saturated with psychobabble and good feelings, approaches foreign policy.

Victor Davis Hanson stated in an essay titled "Why Study War" (in City Journal):

Indeed, by ignoring history, the modern age is free to interpret war as a failure of communication, of diplomacy, of talking—as if aggressors don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, frustrated by the Bush administration’s intransigence in the War on Terror, flew to Syria, hoping to persuade President Assad to stop funding terror in the Middle East. She assumed that Assad’s belligerence resulted from our aloofness and arrogance rather than from his dictatorship’s interest in destroying democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, before such contagious freedom might in fact destroy him. For a therapeutically inclined generation raised on Oprah and Dr. Phil—and not on the letters of William Tecumseh Sherman and William Shirer’s Berlin Diary—problems between states, like those in our personal lives, should be argued about by equally civilized and peaceful rivals, and so solved without resorting to violence.

Yet it’s hard to find many wars that result from miscommunication. Far more often they break out because of malevolent intent and the absence of deterrence. Margaret Atwood also wrote in her poem: “Wars happen because the ones who start them / think they can win.” Hitler did; so did Mussolini and Tojo—and their assumptions were logical, given the relative disarmament of the Western democracies at the time. Bin Laden attacked on September 11 not because there was a dearth of American diplomats willing to dialogue with him in the Hindu Kush. Instead, he recognized that a series of Islamic terrorist assaults against U.S. interests over two decades had met with no meaningful reprisals, and concluded that decadent Westerners would never fight, whatever the provocation—or that, if we did, we would withdraw as we had from Mogadishu.

And yet the political left and it's operational arm, the Democratic Party (including Speaker Pelosi, Secretary of State Clinton, and President Obama) have fundamentally accepted and overly rely on this idea that miscommunication is the root cause of all disagreements.

It is this idea that is behind much of the diplomatic insanity (i.e., lunatic appeasement) that runs through the Democratic Party's foreign policy initiatives. It is an almost shocking degree of naivete about people. In fact, it is also shockingly self-centered (i.e., narcissistic) because it assumes that your behavior is the primary determinant of other people's (e.g., "...Assad’s belligerence resulted from our aloofness and arrogance rather than from his dictatorship’s interest in destroying democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, before such contagious freedom might in fact destroy him) ; and that other people do not have thoughts, feelings, or motivations separate from or distinct from one's self.

Now, consider Bruce Thornton's thoughts about two important factors that keep the West vulnerable to terrorism: multiculturalism and what he refers to as "the therapeutic sensibility":
The therapeutic sensibility that now dominates our public thinking reinforces this tendency to excuse Islamic terror. Unlike the old tragic vision of the classical West, which saw human suffering as the consequence of an imperfect human nature and our own bad choices, the therapeutic sensibility sees suffering as a temporary glitch caused by unjust social and economic structures. Evil is just a superstition, for people’s environments, not their own choices, cause destructive actions. The terrorists whom the unenlightened call “evil,” then, are themselves victims; we should assist them in reforming their unjust environments. Meanwhile, we ignore the numerous Islamists, from Sayyid Qutb to Osama bin Laden, who tell us very plainly why they want to destroy us: because we are infidels who must convert to Islam, live in submission to it, or die.

Such hypersensitivity compromises our fight against Islamic radicalism in a thousand ways, ranging from self-censorship — for example, the Washington Post’s recent refusal to run an innocuous installment of Berke Breathed’s comic strip Opus for fear of offending Muslims — to politically correct warfare that refuses to accept the brutality, destruction, and death that have always been the cargo of war. We have seen such self-defeating behavior repeatedly in Iraq, where the Army’s rules of engagement have made U.S. forces hesitant to fire on mosques even though terrorists frequently use minarets as firing platforms.
Is this what Karl took away from his meeting with Sigmund? Freud was obsessed with science and its rigorous examination of reality. But Karl failed to appreciate that (at least his heirs did). Healing and compassion, kumbaya and love; make love not war, all evolved into a culturally-sanctioned embrace of a dysfunctional perception of reality; and directly led to a need to support the enemies of America and freedom and all the appeasement and counterproductive foreign policy actions advocated (primarily) by Democrats.

The Democrat's foreign policy assumptions fit in perfectly with the most revered elements of the therapeutic psychobabble so prevalent today. What we have is not a failure to communicate; no, what we have is a failure to use cognition and reason; a failure to have ego boundaries; and a strongly held belief that if you just wish for something very very hard, you can make it so because you are so special (i.e., magical thinking and the belief that feelings always trump reason).

Let us now see how the postmodern economic policy of our neo-Marxists is infused with the same sort of psychobabble.

A lone voice crying out in the wilderness of government regulation, more government regulation and the creeping "social justice" utopian (i.e., socialist) fantasies of the so-called 'leaders' in Congress:
The US government is executing a coup d’etat of capitalism and I fear that we will pay the price for many years to come. Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke and a host of others tell us the credit market is not working and the only way to get it working again is for the government to intervene. They claim this intervention is urgently needed and if we don’t act, the consequences are dire. Dire, as in New Depression dire. Have these supposed experts on capitalism forgotten how it really works?
The “crisis” we face today is not a creation of the market. Government intervention over many years (but especially the last year) is what brought us to the point where we’ve placed our hopes for economic recovery on the good intentions of a Congress facing re-election in a few weeks.
We are not on the verge of a new depression. The housing bubble collapse in California, Florida and a few other states is not enough to bring down the entire banking system. Investors who made mistakes in these markets should be held responsible and those who navigated the Fed-distorted market should be rewarded for their wisdom and prudence. Enacting the Paulson plan will not allow that to happen and our economy will suffer for it in the long run. The Japanese tried to prop up failed banks in the aftermath of the bursting of their twin bubbles and the result was 15 years of stagnation. Why are we emulating a strategy that is a demonstrable failure? A better alternative would be to allow capitalism to work as it should and stop the interventions of the Fed in the money market. Trust capitalism. It works.

Capitalism always gets blamed for these crises, and indeed, markets have their ups and downs; as well as their cycles and psychology. But, it is always the government interference that makes the normal ups and downs catastrophic; or creates the hysteria that leads to panic and idiocy. It is the under-the-table deals and winks exchanged between dishonest, immoral businessmen and dishonest, immoral legisislators drunk on the power they wield over others that lead to the unwholesome greed and self-destructive deals; and it is underscored by a willingness--no, a desperate need-- to ignore reality and the long-term consequences/destructiveness of their own behavior.

And behind the scapegoating of capitalism for their own immoral behavior lies the unquestioned premise--held by leaders of both the left and the right--that capitalism is just so evil that it needs to be firmly 'controlled' and 'regulated'--as if it were a horrible monster just waiting to escape from its bonds and kill us all.

Instead of holding individuals and companies accountable for their choices and mistakes; instead of encouraging personal responsibility and allowing failure (which results in learning and changed behavior), our economic policy is geared to reinforce irresponsibiity and encourage victimhood. Everyone is a 'victim' of the 'dog eat dog', greedy capitalist system.

But remember, human nature does not change depending on whether a capitalist or socialist/communist economy is in play. Greed, abuse of power, ruthless behavior and any other failing you may attribute to human beings will be in play whenever humans are involved.

As I noted in a recent post Hakuna Matata:
The truth is that we have entered into a frenzied neo-Keynesian, neo-Galbraithian revival in government policy. Just sit back and be happy with all the largesse being handed out and remember that, thinking about the “long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”

It's an economic philosophy that is understood clearly by a person in the throes of an acute manic episode; caught up in his excesses, spending money recklessly on all those unrealistic and grandiose plans. Many manic patients see themselves as 'saviors of the world'; and, in a perverted way from their perspective, they are--because in their own mind, they have carefully built a sturdy wall to keep reality at bay from their fantasy. All in all, mania and its less histrionic sibling hypomania are just two of the more flamboyant manifestations of psychological denial.

The entire 'hopeychangey' thing with its endless bailouts that take federal spending where no man has gone before, is simply economic therapeutic psychobabble.

Societies which integrate within their structure creative ways for human aggression to advance civilization rather than destroy it, will succeed over societies that attempt to deny human nature and, in the name of 'compassion', 'social justice' or 'egalitarianism' reinforce the most negative aspects of human nature. A society that meshes with human nature and, in particular, finds ways for the many negative aspects of that nature (e.g., envy, greed, desire for power, desire for wealth, aggression etc. etc.)to be sublimated in socially useful and/or harmless behavior--rather than attempting to crush or deny that they exist--will be a very powerful and successful society.

Progressives operate under an economic model that is more genetic as opposed to cognitive. They are still functioning with the herd mentality and have yet to embrace modern civilizization or individualism, preferring instead to function on an instictual, rather than a rational level. This is why they find capitalism and market economics so repugnant.

The economic primitivism that is unceasingly promoted by the political left is a remnant of the cave-dwelling days of mankind; an idyllic era of history to which the left desperately yearns to return. The word "Progressive" is thus a simple rhetorical manipulation to diguise the essential backwardness of the left's economc thinking.

Thus, even the most perfect and glib manifestation of neo-Marxism and postmodernism; as well as the ultimate incarnation of progressive therapeutic sensibility cannot hope to escape from reality.

Human nature is what it is. This is not tragic, it is simple truth. The biological fantasies of the utopians; and the delusional fantasies of Marxist, communists and socialists and all their heirs, have lead to incalculable levels of human suffering all over the globe, as the proponents of these theories have tried to force humans to some "ideal" state. All these systems have failed the real-world tests in the last century; and all current versions of these ideologies will also eventually fail and fade away.

Sigmund could have taught Karl that simple truth--but Karl was never searching for truth as much as he was searching for power over--not understanding of--the minds of men.

Essentially, under the Obamessiah Administration our country has begun to march backwards in history to the time where the "Divine Right" of kings and tyrants is the only law of the land. Obama's fervent committment to ideology, and ideology alone, has made this happen in an amazingly short time. It makes you wonder what things will look like one year into this egomaniacal and catastrophic Presidency.

UPDATE: Wretchard has this to say to those who may be inclined to Obama derangement:
I think Barack Obama will turn out to be, in part, who the public will let him become. There’s an interplay between whatever personal tendencies he has and political reality.

He cautions against developing the same kind of irrational hatred and bizarre paranoia toward BHO that the left subjected GWB to, and rightfully so. Criticism of Obama must be rooted in reality, and the reality is that we do not know yet what this man is capable of doing. The majority of Americans bet that he could do something good for the country, but that may have been more wishful thinking spurred on by superficial charm.

For anyone who looked carefully or in any depth at what, precisely, Obama had accomplished in his short life; or who bothered to read Obama's own words (in his two autobiographical statements) about what was important to him; or, who paid close attention to those he associated with and listened to over several decades; his actions in the first two months of his Presidency are no mystery; nor are they much of a surprise. In fact, they were fairly predictable.

My primary concern about this untried and untested person who has for better or worse been elected Leader of the Free World is the following: What kind of man will Obama become when his ideology fails in the real world? For me, this is the point at which "hope" and "change" will become meaningful concepts....

Meanwhile, BDS continues relatively unabated, and at the highest levels:

[Cartoons by Dana Summers]

Monday, March 30, 2009


Last week I received an email from the University of Michigan reminding me that March 28th from 8:30 - 9:30 was "Earth Hour" and that they were encouraging me to turn off all lights during that hour to "support the Earth."

Needless to say, I was rather outraged that a supposed institution of "higher learning" (let alone one I was associated with) seemed to feel that light was a bad thing and that darkness was some sort of tribute to the planet.

In a very real sense, this attitude is nothing more than a rather transparent cover for a deep-seated hatred of human life and achievement. It represents an animosity toward human civilization in general; and specifically, its goal is to rebuke the country that stands as the beacon of light and liberty for all of human civilization--that is, America.

Throughout our relatively short, but amazing history, Americans have been characterized by the possession of a rather formidable belief that freedom is so valuable, it is worth dying for.
The precioous liberty that was bequeathed to us just a few generations ago was an inseparable aspect of our lives; like the air we breath or the warm sun on our faces. We occasionally took it for granted and imagined that it would always be there.; but in every generation of Americans there was always those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve our liberty; and to bring its blessings and the light of its progress to others.

But even we tend to forget what a singularity America was when it was first founded two plus centuries ago; and what a singularity it remains to this very day. In the history of a world awash in human misery, bondage and oppression, America remains the "shining city" of the human mind, made real; it is a lone beacon of freedom and hope and opportunity that slices through a darkness that has shrouded the world since the dawn of time.

That darkness had dominion over the human soul.

And then, a few simple words were written which altered time and space forever; and the continuity of the darkness was broken . The universe was forced to shift to accommodate this unprecedented, remarkable idea, that glowed so brightly, it upset the balance of all those invisible forces impacting human destiny. And even though the raw power and energy of this bright new paradigm is still rippling through the time-space continuum, a higher, more perfect equilibrium was suddenly achieved in human affairs: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

In a universe of moral chaos; in a world of pain and suffering and hopelessness, America was founded and the world has never been in total darkness again.

But now there are forces in the world that want to extinguish the light. They mask their goals with rhetoric about "saving the planet", but make no mistake, the ultimate goal is to "save" the planet by limiting or reversing the progress of human life and civilization. They have little or no desire to use human ingenuity or achievement to find innovative solutions to keeping our planet healthy; instead, they are motivated by a hatred of all that makes us human in the first place. Their goal is nothing less than the enslavement of the human mind.

America was never perfect, but it was never conceived to be some abstract utopia showcasing human perfection. The 56 men who came together to usher it forth understood that in order to form a more perfect union they had to pledge their lifes, their fortunes and most of all, their sacred honor. They understood clearly that human freedom only guarantees that mistakes will be made; but that the human soul is only able to thrive when human nature is allowed to be free. Further, they understood that society too, will inevitably progress when the individual human soul is unchained.

A singularity, after all, is not perfect, it is simply a unique event in time.

Whatever our faults--and there are many-- our repeated willingness to stand and die for this incredible, shining idea of human freedom has never been one of them. This willingness exists at the heart of all our highest values; and it defines the essence of the primarily benevolent, generous--and often contemptously dismissed as naive and unsophisticated--character we present toward the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, those are the very traits that make us the object of all that envy, rage, contempt and reflex hatred that has been directed toward our country in recent decades.

For most of its history, America has been at the leading edge of Western civilization, promoting protecting, and nurturing the classical liberal values of that Civilization, which include freedom, democracy and individualism.

Those are the values that have brought light and progress to humanity. And that is what we need to be reminded of every day--especially now when the dark is rising once again.

At any rate, I deliberately turned on all the lights in every room in my house for that hour.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I guess this sort of proves the old saying, "You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you...." And, with their seemingly unlimited political power now, the left is definitely out to "get" conservatism. Never waste a crisis, and all that:
Paranoid Style with a Ph.D.

From UC-Berkeley, the school that told us about the "psychological factors" underpinning conservatism (i.e., "fear and aggression," "dogmatism," etc.), comes a brand-new effort to expand the horizons of human knowledge:

Now, with backing from an anonymous donor, the University of California, Berkeley ... is creating a Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements. According to experts in the field it is the first of its kind in higher education.

And hopefully the last. Talk about the politicization of science. Expect to see this sort of academic and scientific pseudoobjectivity to spread (remember the MSM? Soon we'll have to deal with MSS, or main-stream (i.e. lockstep) science); along with the ongoinganti-semitism; anf the gleeful stoking of class envy under the Obamessiah's leadership.

The class envy link above cheers on class warfare with little gems like this: "The Armani-clad parasite class have had a free ride since the first seconds of the Reagan Administration, engineering three decades of rising national productivity paired with flatlined or declining real wages for some 98 percent of the population even as their own pay packets bloated like blood-engorged ticks." Really. You've got to admire the constant moronic outpourings of Marxist rage and paranoia emanating from the left--even when they are in a position of power. You would think that they would be happy now that their Savior is leader of the free world; but, alas, such infantile ravings remain all too common among those who laughingly refer to themselves as the "reality-based" community. The particular author of the article linked to is fervently wished a long, environmentally friendly stint in a collectivist gulag somewhere, where the chance of coming into contact with those horrible 'Armani-clad parasites' is extremely remote--Cuba, Venezuela, or Zimbabwe perhaps.

Anyway, you might think that an academic center of learning would be interested in looking at political paranoia and political dysfunction in general--left and right variations; otherwise, how could they possibly explain the paranoid rantings we have been subjected to over the last eight years of the Bush Administration? Like this political cartoon that pretty much exemplifies the paranoid mindset that was rampant in this country during the Bush administration--and it wasn't coming from "rightwing" groups:

Why in the world would anyone think that the President and Vice President of the United States of America would be in a conspiracy with Islamofascists who openly state their intention of destroying both our country and our way of life? To what purpose? What could possibly be gained?

Don't expect a rational response to such questions. Don't expect reason at all from the leftwing groups that clearly don't deserve scientific inquiry because those on that side of the political spectrum are so vastly superior.

The numerous and complicated conspiracy theories constructed around all of the shibboleths of the left (many of which have evolved into dogma since 9/11)--anti-capitalism; multilateralism; multiculturalism; poverty; victims of US imperialism; anti-Americanism etc. etc. are off the table. Like Man-made global warming, there is no debate and if you question their position on any of these scriptural doctrines, you clearly deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Nevertheless, if anyone with a science background managed to put all the left's various conspiracy theories together end-to-end, they would have a neverending line of bizarre and often contradictory components that should make any reasonably intelligent person roll on the floor convulsed with laughter.

Not only are such a beliefs perfect examples of the depths of insanity to which the political left has sunk; but it is very interesting that all their various paranoias about the BushHitler/Darth Cheney evil seem to continue unabated since their ascension into heaven where they now control both the White House and Congress.

Indeed, the One can't seem to make a speech about either the financial situation or to talk about his foreign policy without gratuitously bashing Bush or Cheney or both in the process.

Now, as a psychiatrist, I can't help noticing that this obsessive behavior suggests that on some level the left understands that they really have no new ideas to offer at all--besides the same, old, tired socialist/marxist protocols that have been around for a few generations and have repeatedly failed to bring prosperity or wealth wherever they have been implemented. These destructive, and soul-killing totalitarian ideas should rightfully be languishing in the dustbin of history; but because of postmodernism's deconstruction of Western history and its infiltration into all curricula at our institutions of higher learning (of which the new center at Berkeley is sure to be a stellar standout)the young and stupid seem to be swallowing the "hope and change" snake-oil that Obama sells.

When they aren't outright denying the reality of 9/11; they are downplaying its significance or snidely suggesting that it is not a big deal historically speaking; and that the war on terror-- or, should I say "Contingency Overseas Operations"?--shouldn't even be on the priority list of things to do. Using the most simple of postmodern rhetorical devices ( changing the meaning of words) they are actively trying to "undo" the Bush years. Like children intent on doing the opposite of whatever their parents want them to do (sometimes called "oppositional-defiance"), they only suceed in defining themselves in derivative terms. In fact, they have no particular "self" at all that is separate from hating Bush, hating America, and hating freedom.

Richard Hofstadter wrote a famous essay in the 1950's titled The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

At the time he wrote the essay, Hofstadter was primarily concerned with the conspiratorial fantasies of the right side of the political spectrum. Our present political climate however, offers much support for those who suspect that paranoid strain now also infects the left side with a virulent case of the same illness.

Psychologically, it is very difficult to abandon paranoia and psychological projection once they are taken on by a particular group, since both--along with the delusions and distortions that they generate-- serve the purpose of accounting for an unacceptable status quo. Without a scapegoat who is considered to be racially, sexually, physically, or intellectually inferior, onto which your own fears can be projected; it would be horrifying and untenable to look inside one's own heart and soul for the source of the fear.

This is the nature of projection and paranoia. Those horrifying and unacceptable thoughts or feelings are denied ("not owned") by the person experiencing them, and instead are projected onto another individual or group. Thus, the person who originally had the offensive thought or feeling becomes the helpless victim of the evil "other" and they do not have to cope with the fact that the evil lies within themselves. This is the origin of almost all acts of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. It is the source of most prejudice in the world; and certain prejudices that become socially acceptable--like the casual anti-semitism ubiquitous in the Middle East; or the causal anti-Republican, anti-conservative rhetoric adopted by the intellectual "elite" of this country.

Let me be clear, though. Paranoia is not confined to one side of the political spectrum or the other. The paranoid style is a human condition; often brought about by envy or rage or hate. Such feelings are intensely felt, but conflict with a fantasized self-perfection ("I am more compassionate", "I am more loving", "I am a better person") cause them to be "disowned" and conveniently placed on the object of the envy, rage or hate.

For the mentally ill, the underlying etiology of this process is an inborn (genetic or physiological) defect. For groups or nations, it represents a fundamental defect in the ideology and philosophical premises that have been embraced, and leads to highly dysfunctional behavior and sometimes frank paranoia that is indistinguishable from the kind suffered by psychiatric patients.

The tools of the politically paranoid--i.e., the paranoid style of the extreme right or left -- are denial, distortion, and projection. These psychological tools are almost always pathological when used to cope with the real world. For the user these three primitive psychological defenses permit a rearrangement of external reality (so that actual reality may be avoided); for the beholder, the users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane. These are known as the "psychotic" defenses, common in overt psychosis, in dreams, and throughout childhood.

These immature psychological manipulations work together to keep a person or a group insulated from reality. And it is reality that always has the ultimate say. Transiently avoiding reality may work for a time, but eventually, objective reality will defeat any attempt to pretend it doesn't exist.

One of the most common psychological defenses we have been witnessing over the last eight years since 9/11 is psychological projection by the political left.

Projection is never a good long-term strategy--nor is it healthy--in an adult; and using such a defense mechanism represents a primitive attempt to shirk the responsibility for one's own feelings, thoughts, and actions. It causes and has caused much human misery, death, destruction and some of the most horrific acts that humans are capable of. When entire countries subscribe to a projected delusion (e.g., the "Jews" are to blame; the "Blacks" are the cause of all of our problems; "Republicans" are evil; homosexuals are evil--especially Republican homosexuals) it can lead to genocide and other behaviors that are paranoid and psychotically delusional. Full-blown paranoia occurs when one's mind severs the connection with reality entirely. Paranoia is a symptom of mental illness. Projection is only a symptom of severe mental dysfunction, as the psyche attempts to cope with a threatening world.

The motivations of the left have been a conglomeration of desperate psychological strategies to deny the reality of Islamofascist terror; distort the struggle to eliminate it and to blame America for its very existence. It is safe to blame America, Israel and the West because (to paraphrase the wise words of Han Solo, speaking of Wookies) they don't cut off your head with a dull blade when they lose. Their agenda has always been anti-America and anti-capitalism.

Unfortunately, though they have had eight years to correct their false premises and re-evaluate their philosophy, they did not. A series of unfortunate events (to coin a phrase), as well as some serious philosophical errors by those who professed to support capitalism and freedom, have led to the left's regaining power in this country. The problem is that they regained power not because they gained wisdom; or because they checked their philosophical premises and came to more rational or "reality-based" (as they would like to say) conclusions. On the contrary, they came back to power on the coattails of one of the most talented postmodern political demagogues this country has ever seen (and we though Bill Clinton was rhetorically gifted!).

Let me be perfectly clear about the behavior of the left. They are not really "antiwar". They do not stage protests about the killing of innocent people by Al Qaeda's or Hamas or Hezbollah. They never demonstrated against the 100 million or more people murdered by communism in the last century--they cozy up to 21st century communists and thugs like Hugo Chavez. They never expressed their rage at the mass graves of Saddam; instead, they reserved that rage for Saddam's execution, which they can blame on the US.

They do not really support free speech--except for themselves. Their behavior on college campuses and in the political arena in general demostrate clearly that their behavior and rhetoric is designed to shut down debate and censor and/or distort any speech they don't happen to agree with; and they have a variety of rhetorical strategies to do this.

This is not to say that there is no paranoia on the political right. Check out the religiously "righteous" protestors at soldier's funeral or the anti-semitism of a David Duke; or any of those who feel their belief in God--or Allah for that matter-- justifies uncivilized and even barbaric behavior on their part. Let us be equally honest about this variation of the paranoid style: their behavior serves to camouflage the unacceptable feelings within that must be externalized to keep their own souls "holy" and "pure".

You will notice that both groups reserve their most intense hatred and rage for America and its values and ideals.

And that is what both philosophically and ideologically have in common and which is at the "root cause" that motivates the two supposedly politically opposite groups. Both are rabidly, vehemently and unapologetically anti-American, and believe that America and its values are the source of all evil in the world.

If either really wanted to understand the origins of human evil, all they would need to do is look within their own motivations and "own" their own feelings. This is the heart of the matter; but it is an extremely frightening proposition, requiring a degree of self-awareness, courage and honesty that is unlikely to be found in any who embrace the paranoid style.

So, if Berkeley really supports science and truth and reason--rather than their politicalization--then perhaps they might think twice about accepting money from anonymous donors (Soros?) for the demonization of the left's political enemies. Oh, wait....

Friday, March 27, 2009


[The following post was originally published on 3/29/07 and continues to be relevant today. I will be at a conference all day; back to regular blogging on Saturday]

Avaro Vargas Llosa writes in TCS about the impossibility of "perfect" totalitarianism (a perfect oxymoron, in my opinion):
What "The Lives of Others'' reminds us of -- and the reason it is such a timeless work of art -- is that man is capable of totalitarianism, but not perfect totalitarianism. Even when all the pegs are in place, something will alter the clockwork mechanism of the regime. That ``something'' is human nature, pure and simple. Nobody in the film is a perfect totalitarian in the sense that no one -- not the bosses, not the servants, not the victims -- acts in the way that the logic of the system dictates they should act in any given circumstance. There will be moments of weakness in the least humane of despots and moments of fortitude in the most hopeless victims that will shatter the perfect order of the totalitarian system.
The minister who uses the power of the Stasi to satisfy his libido rather than to preserve the German Democratic Republic's ideological purity, and who blacklists a theater director for reasons that have little to do with cultural orthodoxy, ensures that the system is less than perfect: His actions have consequences that in small ways subvert the order he is supposed to preserve by triggering the gradual disobedience of a subordinate, the moral awakening of an artist who has shown no prior penchant for rebellion, or the self-doubt of a woman torn between her career and her heart. Emotions, intuitions, and free expressions of will begin to erode the edifice of oppression in the most unpredictable circumstances....

The lesson of our time, a decade and a half after the fall of communism in Europe, is that the slow, almost geological, accumulation of little bits of heroism throughout society can bring down a totalitarian giant over time. These acts of heroism, both inside and outside the structure of power, constitute the best hope for countries in which governments continue to enslave millions of people today.

But even if these acts of silent heroism are not enough to cause all despots to come tumbling down, they are at least enough to keep the human spirit alive. That is a comforting thought.(emphasis mine)

It is indeed a comforting thought, especially in light of the unbelievable idiocy and totalitarian proclivities of some people in the teaching profession:
...the Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle has banned Legos.

A pair of teachers at the center, which provides afterschool activities for elementary-school kids, recently described their policy in a Rethinking Schools cover story called “Why We Banned Legos.” (See the magazine’s cover here.)

It has something to do with “social justice learning.”
The root cause of Hilltop’s Lego problem was that, well, the kids were being kids: There were disputes over “cool pieces,” instances of bigger kids bossing around little ones, and so on.

An ordinary person might recognize this as child’s play. But the social theorists at Hilltop saw something else: “The children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive.”

This is probably as good an example as anything of the kind of biological fantasies that swirl around in the minds of tyrants not too dissimilar from those teachers. The teachers at Hilltop justify their particular brand of "selfless" tyranny and malignant narcissism by couching its oppression in terms like "social justice", but it is tyranny nonetheless. Because, unlike the capitalist system they abhor, where basic human nature--both the good and the bad parts--is harnessed and made socially useful, the ideologically-motivated teachers intend to stamp out all the parts of human nature they don't happen to like.

Someone should tell them it has been tried before, and by much smarter tyrants than they will ever be. It won't work.

A Cato Institute Policy Report from 2005 notes:
In the spring of 1845, Karl Marx wrote, ". . . the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations." Marx's idea was that a change in the "ensemble of social relations" can change "the human essence."

In June 2004 the communist North Korean government issued a statement to its starving citizens recommending the consumption of pine needles. Pyongyang maintained that pine needle tea could effectively prevent and treat cancer, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cerebral hemorrhage, and even turn grey hair to black.

Tragically, human nature isn't at all as advertised, and neither is pine needle tea. According to the U.S. State Department, at least one million North Koreans have died of famine since 1995.

Marx's theory of human nature, like Kim Jong Il's theory of pine needle tea, is a biological fantasy, and we have the corpses to prove it. Which may drive us to wonder: if communism is deadly because it is contrary to human nature, does that imply that capitalism, which is contrary to communism, is distinctively compatible with human nature?

The Cato article goes on to discuss evolutionary psychology, which is a relatively new area of psychology that "seeks to understand the unique nature of the human mind by applying the logic and methods of contemporary evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology."

Somewhere between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene era, when humans adapted from a "hunter-gatherer" to "agricultural" mode of living, the physiology and structure of the human brain--and hence, human psychology--was finalized by the concerted environmental and biological pressures on the human species during the previous 1.6 million years. In other words, modern human beings have the brain of their stone age ancestors. Our brains are not designed specifically for the "modern" world that we live in.

The article goes into some of the recent research of evolutionary psychologist, who are trying to understand exacly what "human nature" is all about. Basically, the results of their research shows that we are hard-wired--and therefore psychologically the same "hunter-gatherers" of 50,000 years ago. OUr social interactions are thus defined and limited by those ancient humans. Their findings are:

We tend to form into groups of 25 - 150 most easily. Larger groups--where we do not have face-to-face contact with other members, are instinctively considered less trustworthy; and we tend to think often in terms of "us" versus "them". Having said that, when we develop social institutions that reinforce this built-in coalitional tendency (e.g., representative, democratic government) social tensions are relaxed and societies can thrive. OTOH, when political rhetoric encourages people to identify themselves as members of groups with no biological basis (e.g., "rich" versus "poor") tensions rise and animosity interferes with social stability. Free trade, or capitalism, encourages us to be wary of other groups, but also wo view them as partners in mutually beneficial trade; rahter than as "enemies".

If you look around you will see evidence of this in every aspect of our life. Most social organizations have formal heirarchical structures (president, VP and the like). Even in area that aren't "formally" organized (e.g., high school or middle school) dominance and status issues are a primary concern of the students who vie with each other to be the most "cool". We so dislike being at the bottom of a heirarchy, that we naturally form coalitions that help to check the power of the dominant groups.

We have difficulty in thinking of resources or wealth as ever-expanding, and tend to think that their gain must be our loss. This leads to envy and all the associated social and political conflicts. And yet, the first two characteristics (coalition and heirarchy forming qualities) show that by working together and engaging in mutually beneficial trade and thereby increasing productivity, wealth can be created beyond what we think it can. But this tendency from hunter-gatherer days makes us have difficulty understanding our own economic system (especially if coalitions are formed which enhance the "us" versus "them" thinking).

In order to prevent the allocation of all resources to those at the top of heirarchies, the recognition of individual property rights has been part of our make-up for thousands of years. Animals mark out territories for exclusive use in foraging, hunting, and mating--and so did our ancestors. This is "hard-wired" into our species as a survival tool.

Trade, exchange, and division of labor are human universals that existed long before complex societal structures.

We have a biological capacity for and need to trust others. This psychological trust enables us to solve otherwise unsolvable social problems--e.g., how to deal with strangers; outsiders; and other groups. Without this biological instinct to give other humans the benefit of the doubt, complex social interactions are impossible.

An article in the LA Times titled "The Anatomy of Give and Take" discusses some recent research that tries to explain the economic interaction of humans, using high technology equipment such as MRI scanners. In one such experiment, two individuals are pitted against each other in an attempt to see which one could maximize their financial gain in the marketplace:
As the pair wavered between cooperation and betrayal, scientists recorded how their brains changed. The researchers hoped to discover the secret of trust — the human variable missing from the mathematics of modern economics.

The terms of the experiment were simple: At the beginning of each round, Belur could put up to $20 in play. Any investment automatically tripled. Tang then decided how much to return and how much to keep.

Belur's safest strategy was to hoard all of her money. Tang's most logical move was to cheat her partner at every opportunity.

There was a riskier but potentially more profitable way.

They could trust each other.

The experiment was part of a new frontier in the exploration of the brain — a field called neuro- economics that seeks to understand the biology underlying economic behavior.

In universities and research centers across the country, scientists are probing the brain with coin flips, $5 bills and gift certificates from Amazon.com. Bit by bit, they are assembling a mosaic of the financial brain, identifying how competing neural circuits shape decisions.
This is an example of a new scientific field known as "neuroeconomics", which trys to figure out why people trust each other, when economic theory says they won't. The field of evolutionary psychology has evidence that such trust is built into our brains, and it is what makes such economic activities as "trade" and "production" possible.

Matt Ridley, in his book The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation tackles this particular issue head-on (and is well worth reading, I might add).

The point of all this discussion is to emphasize that human nature must be taken into account as we evaluate the usefulness and consequences of certain economic and political systems that are advocated in the world today.

Humans are clearly well-suited to some economic and political systems and not to others. Some social, economic, and political systems--socialism and communism to be precise-- are nothing more than the Procrustean bed of mythology that try to adjust human nature to their "perfect" theories. That is why their implementation almost always end in either in catastrophic human misery and death (when the theory is applied ruthlessly and viciously) or stagnation and decay (when applied nonchalantly and accepted passively).

Many will say that it is capitalism that destroys humans, spiritually and physically, but they are incorrect; and all the evidence leans to the exact opposite conclusion. In fact, among social, political and economic systems, democratic capitalism is probably the one and only system that is most consistent with human nature in that it allows all aspects of human nature to express itself in socially acceptable ways that can benefit the individual and the society-at-large.

Capitalism does not pretend that those messy and omnipresent negative human emotions can be "stamped out" by the will of a tyrant or even an elementary school teacher in Seattle, for that matter. It accepts human nature as a given and provides a system through which humans are able to sublimate and redirect those negative emotions to better both themselves and incidentally the larger society. As economic systems go, this is a miraculous psychological breakthrough; and it is why capitalism dovetails so nicely with political systems that promote individual freedom and democracy. Altogether, these theories come as close to "perfection" as humans are likely to get--and it isn't accomplished by making humans survive on pine needle tea; or squelching their quite natural inclination to stake out a territory and mark it as their own.

And, far from encouraging the "survival of the fittest", capitalism encourages cooperation for mutually beneficial trade as well as for competition. Instead of encouraging war and dominance; capitalism thrives on trust and human cooperation; as well as alliances to maximize productivity and wealth creation.

Far from concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, capitalism makes it possible for anyone to accumulate wealth (contrast for example the number of people who earn over $100,000 a year in the U.S., with those do in Cuba. The only really wealthy person there is Fidel Castro and his cronies. Likewise, in Iraq, the only wealthy were Saddam and his thugs).

Envy and greed are both real human emotions that will always be part of the human condition, but only in a capitalist system can one transform both envy and greed into socially acceptable actions that improve one's own lot without attacking or destroying others. As Llosa's article on "The Lives of Others" demonstrates so clearly, it is actually in the totalitarian systems that emotions like envy and greed are allowed to run amok because they are pushed into the unconscious and given no healthy outlet. Because of that, their destructiveness in those societies is unchallenged and unparalleled.

Human nature is what it is. This is not at all tragic; it is a simple truth. The biological fantasies of the leftist utopians; and the delusional fantasies of communists and socialists and all their 21st century heirs, have lead to incalculable levels of human suffering all over the world, as the proponents of these theories have tried to force humans to evolve into some sort of "ideal" state.
All such systems have failed the real-world tests in the last century; and all current versions of these ideologies will also eventually fail and fade away. To the extent that they attempt to incorporate some aspects of "human nature" into their failing system, they may last a bit longer as they slowly chip away at the human spirit and work to extinguish it; but it is actually much more likely that human nature will transform the perverse ideology than that the reverse will happen.

What we see in the Middle East today is the re-assertion of human nature after years of being crushed under the oppression of yet another social system that has attempted to rebuild humans along the lines of a religious "ideal", spiked with totalitarian fantasizing. For all the opposition to giving democracy and freedom a chance in Iraq in Afghanistan, the seeds have been planted and there is little doubt that those seeds will grow as healthy human nature reasserts itself after decades of oppression.

Ask yourself how many deaths will it take before despots like Kim Jung Il with his theory of pine needle tea will be wholly and unequivocally discredited in the minds of those pathetic socialist teachers/oppressors at Hilltop Children's Center in Seattle? Oh, they would be so shocked!shocked! at the idea that their little exercise in "social justice" lays the moral foundation for a social system quite indistinguishable from Kim's paradise, where all structures belong to everyone and no one; where the individual means nothing and his desires and needs are subservient to the state; and where nothing is special and everything is "standard" (except of course for Dear Leader who looms rather large).

How much human misery and oppressive injustice will it take before the social engineers of today's neo-fascist left abandon their attempts to force human beings to adapt to their fantasies? When will their "moral awakening" occur? As SC&A noted once, " Utopias cannot be created without imposing tyranny.

In a post titled "Utopian Dreams and Nightmares" I wrote about the differences between today's left who advocate the New!Improved! versions of totalitarian ideologies; and the selfish capitalists they so despise:
The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists--offers the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.

The capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profit, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must wnat what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.

Imperfect freedom and selfish capitalism do not rely on biological fantasies for their implementation. That is why they work.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


[Cartoons by John Cole]

I never thought about it till I saw the cartoon above, but the alien plant named Audrey II (Pelosi II ?) that feeds only off human blood in "Little Shop of Horrors" is a lot like our rapidly expanding government....

All that hopeychangey loveydoveyness emanating from Congress and the Obama Administration is just a bloodthirsty monster disguised as a cute little plant...come to think of it, so is socialism--and collectivism of all types.

I'm going to be attending a continuing medical education conference all day, so consider this an open thread.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In the Obama escalation of the war against capitalism, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" !.

As Jennifer Rubin notes:
Now Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner want the power to seize companies, abrogate contracts and repeat the AIG experience presumably at will. Do we honestly think that this sort of institutionalized capriciousness is a good idea? The Washington Post quotes an official in the private-equity industry: “Anytime you give a political entity sweeping powers, it’s something that you want to be very careful about.” Indeed. We should think very carefully before replicating this sorry tale again and again – thereby imposing the threat of similar treatment throughout the financial sector, which after all is the linchpin of our economic recovery.

And Mark Steyn:
...if you own even modest assets (a small house, a savings account) and you think that in a battle between the political class and the business class it's in your interest for the latter to lose, you're a fool who entirely deserves the vaporization of his wealth on which Barney Frank & Co have embarked.

Likewise, watching a couple of dozen ACORN activists pretending to be indignant citizens leading a ton of news reporters willingly colluding in the fraud around suburban avenues in Connecticut, a talented executive would have to be completely desperate to offer his services to any entity bailed out by the government.

Who in the financial sector in their right mind is going to partner up with this Administration to deal with the financial crisis? I'll tell you who--the very greedy and unethical members of Congress and the ongoingly corrupt businesses with CEO's whose poor judgment and desire to skim whatever they could off the top and personally enrich themselves while leaving their companies and the American people with the toxic remains--that's who.

Because "institutionalized capriciousness" is just a nice way of saying that the State can do whatever the hell it wants to you, your property, and your life.

Say goodbye to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and prepare to be assimilated into the collective.


John Derbyshire asks a very pertinent question, "Will Obama Kill Science?" Political Correctness has always been rather insane, but now it has a license to kill so to speak in the postmodern rhetoric of the Obama Administration and the PC excesses of its minions--who cannot wait to subjugate the rest of us to their way of 'thinking' about things:
The U.S. is “frenzied” by “belligerent nationalism”? Perhaps Geoffrey Miller should chat with some young Chinese males. And while it’s nice to see Satoshi Kanazawa say things that a non-Asian would be horse-whipped on the steps of his club for saying, someone should explain to him that not all fundamentalist Christians in the U.S.A. are pumping gas or serving Big Macs. Also, his take on the public presentation of evolutionary psychology — basically, just keep the rubes in the dark — is a tad too much de haut en bas even for this elitist.

The less the civilians know, the better. Once again, science is not democracy; we cannot enlighten everybody. Science is an inherently elitist enterprise.

Possibly so: But it is also an enterprise that is constantly demanding public funds — funds, that is, torn from the rubes’ pockets by force of law, as taxation. However, Kanazawa redeems himself to some degree at the end of his piece:

On September 11, 2001, our Muslim enemies made one crucial mistake; the chose the wrong symbolic target in New York. What makes America great is not the Twin Towers; if it were, then Malaysia, with its magnificent Petronas Towers, will be the greatest nation on earth. No, what makes America great is the Statue of Liberty. The Twin Towers, evolutionary psychology, and everything else in America are mere consequences of the Statue of Liberty and what she stands for.

I’ll drink to that — and what odd sentiments to find in a science journal (though to be sure, one of the less rigorous ones). I think Kanazawa is also correct to say that:

If anything can interfere with the future of evolutionary psychology in the United States and Europe, it is the cultural insanity of political correctness. That is the true enemy that we must fight.

Which is what I was saying back in October. Our “science-friendly” president (discreetly) and his supporters (much more loudly) are crowing over the lifting of restrictions on federal funding for embryo-destructive stem-cell research. Such a splendid victory over those reactionary troglodyte fundamentalists!

Right. Wait till science comes crashing up against political correctness, as it will at some point in coming years — probably under an Obama administration. Let’s see how much they love science then.

Read the entire article for the full context.

I have discussed this issue before, but it is worth repeating especially now since it appears to be impossible for leftists to appreciate the distinction between limiting Federal funding of science and the outright banning or prohibition of scientific inquiry.

Postmodernism and the politically correct dogma that flow from it focus on the prohibition of "unacceptable" thoughts and ideas which effectively shuts down scientific inquiry.

Additionally, postmodernism subscribes to the notion that the human mind is incapable of knowing the real world because there is no world out there that exists separately from our senses. In other words, everything that exists is all in our heads.

And, furthermore, what's in your head is no better than what's in my head.

When you think about it, that's a rather an amazing assertion, particularly since it is inherently contradictory. Those who fervently believe this are Cretans--or rather, they suffer from a variation of the famous Cretan Paradox. "What is in your head is no better than what is in my head" is a statement of absolutes which presupposes that the "my head" person is correct --i.e., what's in his head about this issue is the absolute truth--that what he "thinks" is no better or worse than what you think.

But, what if what's in your head tells you differently--i.e., what if you think you think better than him? Personally, I get a bad headache just thinking about the mental contortions necessary to formulate this theory in the first place.

In fact, almost all applications of postmodern philosophy --from art criticism to politics; and psychology from philosophy and rhetoric to science--result in a pervasive blurring and distortion of reality, rather than in its understanding.

The assertion that I hear repeatedly in the academic setting is that science is "under attack" from the religious right. Yet what I actually observe time and again is that it is the secular left that is intent on suppressing ideas and research that aren't ideologically pure.

I witnessed this same phenomenon in the Soviet Union, during my visits there while doing research at NASA. The secular Soviets continually ridiculed religion, yet in their own scientific writings, the first couple of paragraphs were given to praising and humoring the secular god of Communism.

"GLORY TO SOVIET SCIENCE" huge banners would proclaim, on the outside of Soviet research institutions. And "WORKERS OF THE USSR APPLAUD THE ADVANCES OF SOVIET SCIENCE." Woe be it to any scientist that was interested in testing an hypothesis that might in any way reflect badly on "official" state-sponsored communist ideology (a perfect example is the Lysenko theories in biology which held glorious Soviet biology back for decades).

One thing you can say about the religious right is that their desire to teach "intelligent design" (a theory I do not think has sufficient evidence to be included in children's science textbooks) basically represents a rather desperate desire to have their religious views respected in a system that has deliberately and with malice aforethought been excluding them for years. even as other "religions" views are substituted. As examples, consider that even the word "Christmas" is prohibited in schools these days for fear of offending some sensitive leftist's feelings; but these same leftists are eager to make sure kids learn all about Islam (we don't want them to become Islamophobic, do we?), or that the religion of the left-- multiculturalism-- is integrated into the curriculum without so much as a by-your-leave.

We are also subjected to grown women (or should I say "indoctrinated feminists"?) who presume to call themselves "scientists" swooning when a University President suggests the possibility that factors other than sexism--i.e., biological considerations-- might be at work in explaining disparities between women and men in academia. That University president was forced out of his position for daring to have such ideas and expressing them in a spirit of open-mindedness. It was considered sexist to even suggest such an idea.
I guess some ideas are just far too threatening to be freely discussed and debated and must be suppressed at all costs.

So, which of the above two scenarios has had the most chilling effect on free speech in this country? The debate about intelligent design? Or the lack of one about the biological differences between males and females? I submit that the latter, which had serious repercussions on that particular University President and effectively warned anyone who might want to explore theories other than sexism that they would be appropriately persecuted.

Meanwhile, even the advocates of the whole intelligent design theory or creationism are not advocating (that I am aware) that Darwinian evolution theory be struck from the curriculum and not be allowed in public discourse or debate. All they ask is that their ideas be included in the debate. (If I am incorrect on this and you have evidence that they are trying to exclude Darwin, please let me know in the comments).

This brings up an important point about "crackpot ideas" in general. On their own (i.e., without the State or a Religion literally forcing them into people's minds and enshrining them as scientific dogma) crackpot ideas do not hurt science.

In fact, a few of them even eventually turn out to have some merit when pursued. And a few that were considered "crackpot" in their day ( like the earth not being the center of the solar system, for example) have turned out to stand the test of time and reality.

What hurts science is when only certain ideas are allowed; or when there is a band of elites who determine what is "crackpot" and what isn't. And, when thinking about or exploring certain ideas are considered not "politically correct."

I happen to think that intelligent design is a "crackpot idea" for various reasons, but I don't see the harm of pursuing it to its scientific conclusion. Let anyone who wants to, come up with a way of testing it or studying it. Have institutes that support research on it. If there is any merit in the theory, it will come out. After all, there are some pretty bizarre theories out there in astrophysics that don't have much evidence and have not discovered adequate ways to be tested--but I really hate that anyone's ideas to be banned from discussion and refutation.

Even in the Soviet Union, if Lysenko's theories had not been enshrined by the Communist State, then science could have moved on--as it tends to do--and taken the interesting parts of Lysenko's thoughts and either disproved or amended them. In other words, Lysenko's ideas were not a threat to science until they became recognized by the politburo as being the one and only "politically correct" answer to all biological questions.

In the religious right's case, we have a group who has some ideas and who wants to be heard (so what if I think they verge on the "crackpot" side of things--I am not omnipotent. Something valuable might come out of research and study in this area) .

In the secular left's case, we have a group that is intent on silencing all opposing viewpoints. They believe implicitly that they are omnipotent and know which ideas are worthwhile and which ones are not. The current discussion of Man-made Global Warming is a case in point. Those who say the discussion is closed; that the science cannot be questioned and that those who dare to suggest there are still open issues should be jailed , fail to understand on the most fundamental level how science works.

The politicization of science is what really threatens science. Making "global warming" the absolute dogma of political policy is just as dangerous to free scientific inquiry--if not more so--than merely objecting because of one's religious beliefs to a specific technical procedure used in science.

Just as Lysenkoism was made official state-sponsored biology by the communists, who saw in it a chance to use science to force people to accept their ideology, today's leftists desire their popular scientific theories to be declared Official State Dogma. Once that goal is accomplished, then they do not ever again have to refute or deal with any pesky ideas or theories that are not compatible with their ideological agenda.

Now, ask yourself, which postition presents the real threat to free scientific inquiry?

Political opportunists will always try to appropriate science to advance their ideological agendas; but, believe it or not, as long as ideas are able to be freely expressed and investigated, real science will always be able to move beyond the political and filter the bad hypotheses from the good--with or without the opportunists' assistance; and, amazingly, even without government support or sanction.

Thus, Derbyshire's concerns that Obama and his leftist base are the real threats to free scientific inquiry has a lot of merit. Expect to see political correctness--and scientific insanity-- accelerate under this thoroughly postmodern Presidency.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


[Cartoons by Dana Summers]


David Thompson has an interview posted with philosopher Steven Hicks, author of Explaining Postmodernism. If you haven't read this book yet, you are missing out on what is the most important, coherent and detailed explanations of the origins and implications of postmodern philosophy and rhetoric. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
SH: Pomo is rhetoric-heavy, yes. But rhetoric is a tool, so one can ask how it’s being used and why it’s being used that way. The postmodernists have rejected reason, and along with it concern for evidence and consistency. What then is the purpose of rhetoric? In pomo practice, there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that rhetoric becomes a kind of subjectivist expressionism - you play around with language and hope that something interesting pops out. Derrida is often like this - I think of him as a performance artist of postmodernism. In its darker moods, this approach recalls a line from Kate Ellis, a sympathetic-to-postmodernism commentator, who noted “the characteristically apolitical pessimism of most postmodernism, by which creation is simply a form of defecation.” Whatever’s been processing and churning up inside you - you just let ‘er rip.

The other use of rhetoric is politically-charged persuasion. Pomo rhetoric becomes long on emotionalism, ad hominem, and so on, and it becomes short on logic and evidence. But the point of such rhetoric is effectiveness, not truth.

You mention that much pomo political rhetoric is anti-capitalist and champions unlikely causes such as fundamentalist Islam. Here the pomo are taking a page out of Lenin’s and Marcuse’s playbooks. There’s a long-ish story here that I talk about in Chapter 5 of Explaining Postmodernism: Traditional Marxism said that capitalism would collapse from the inside (the exploited and alienated workers would rise); but when that didn’t happen, Marxists theorized that capitalism had exported its misery to the Third World (Lenin’s idea) or to outcast and marginalized subcultures (Marcuse’s idea). So the new strategy was to cultivate the anti-capitalist resistance in those places.

Like other pomo of this generation, Žižek is an evolving combination of the above.

Go read the entire interview. And check out the book:

UPDATE: Now here is a perfect example of the kind of rhetoric designed to end debate that is so typical of today's left, "Barney Frank's Namecalling":
Barney Frank’s attack on Justice Scalia as a “homophobe” is inane at several levels:

First, the term “homophobe” is an ugly epithet designed to stigmatize (“he’s the sicko”) those who don’t embrace the homosexual agenda. It’s intended to cut off serious discussion, not to promote it. It doesn’t belong in public discourse.

Second, Frank uses his epithet in the course of expressing his concern that a Supreme Court that includes Scalia might not strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act was approved by overwhelming majorities in each House of Congress (85-14 in the Senate, 342-67 in the House) in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton. Senators in favor of DOMA included Biden, Bradley, Daschle, Kohl, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Murray, Reid, Sarbanes, and Wellstone. Millions and millions of voters in state after state have acted to preserve traditional marriage. Does Frank regard all these Americans as “homophobes”?

Third, Scalia’s position is clear: The Constitution does not address the matter of same-sex marriage. Therefore, the political processes are free to decide whether or not to adopt it. He, as a justice, will defer to the political processes, whatever the result. In other words, on this matter as on so many more, Scalia will not indulge his own policy preferences (whatever they are) and will not write those preferences into the Constitution. Frank wants liberal activist justices who will indulge his and the Left’s own policy preferences on homosexual matters (and so much more). That’s his real beef with Scalia, and he’s masquerading it under the “homophobe” label.

I’ll leave to others whether Frank’s name-calling is a tactic designed to distract attention from his role in causing the ongoing financial crisis.

In fact, this is precisely how postmodern rhetoric works so brilliantly--to distract from real issues and a rational discussion of them; and to demonize anyone who dares to criticize any political policy that the left promotes. Those who dare oppose them (or, in this case, not actively support them) are always "racist", "sexist", "homophobic" etc. etc. Hence, we can't have a rational discussion in this country anymore about abortion, Gay marriage, or any policy like National Health Care (those who oppose that "want poor people to die or suffer") and so on. The idea that there might be reasonable concerns or consequences that accrue socially or culturally from these policies--intended or unintended--is completely alien to the left's mindset. It's all part of the idea that SC&A have explained many times, the left is of the opinion that they are better people and aren't nearly as concerned about finding better ideas as much as they are with proving to you how superior they are.

Monday, March 23, 2009


It's like any dysfunctional, lopsided relationship, and the spiral of groveling has already begun:
The alternative to the “escalation trap” is the spiral of groveling. If the leadership in Teheran believe that the Obama administration is incapable of doing anything except offering more carrots then they will continue to behave as if a stick didn’t exist. Without a downside to their actions, the Ayatollahs will logically be motivated to hold out for more. And more. And more. The Times Online notes that Iran has already publicly rejected Obama’s overture. The administration’s response to the rebuff has so far been to offer more overtures....

Iran has stated its conditions. Lift the sanctions. Make nice. Stop supporting Israel. By publicly offering to speak to Teheran without knowing what that regime’s response would be, President Obama gave it a chance to throw pie in his face, which it did; and it implicitly left the Ayatollah’s with the power to determine when its suitor in the White House would be sufficiently shaved, barbered and bathed to be worthy of speech. The President will have his dialogue in due time. But only after he has paid the price.

Meanwhile, Hamas is only a step away from an invite to the oval office. You've got to wonder which of the players in this sick relationship will be on their knees in the characteristic Lewinski pose.

[hat tip: Sigmund, Carl and Alfred]

And, Scott at Power Line explains why he (and I) are depressed:
I feel utterly powerless to do anything about the fellow in the Oval Office who combines infantile leftism and adolescent grandiosity in roughly equal measures. It seems to me that every day he is responsible for assaults on the freedom and well being of the American people. I can't keep up and I can't stand to pay attention.

His aim seems to be to reduce us to government dependents. His inattention to rehabilitation of the financial system in lieu of vastly expanding the size and scope of the government is a dead giveaway, as is his lack of concern over the vast destruction of wealth his policies are working (and will continue to work).

Perhaps most depressing to me is the manifestation of his adolescent grandiosity in his stewardship of foreign policy and national security. He doesn't understand that the government of Iran is intent on acquiring nuclear weapons it can put to evil purposes. He thinks he can sweet-talk them out of achieving this objective.

Infantile leftism and adolescent grandiosity pretty much sum it up.