Tag Archives: right-wing

Read like a conservative to see the world in a new way!

Summary: Today’s exercise might open your eyes and raise you consciousness, hopefully in a good way. Here’s what a conservative, of the extreme variety, reads over the course of a week, stories describing a terrifying world of powerful enemies, foreign and domestic, poised to attack (or already subverting America from within). It’s about our weakness and their strength. But more importantly this distorted news flow has tilted the nation’s mental in an unbalanced and fearful way.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
— John 8:32. Yes, but lies told the weak are more politically useful.

Truth Will Make You Free

How have so many Americans become so fearful and militaristic since 9/11, urging an ever more belligerent foreign policy (despite its repeated failures)? There have been studies showing a large fraction of people with a bias or tilt towards these things, such as “Tea Party Members Cultural Dispositions ‘Authoritarianism, Fear Of Change, Libertarianism And Nativism’“.

But there’s more to it. An industry has arise to feed our fears. The information “diet” we consume exacerbates these traits, so that we see a distorted view of the world, with every threat exaggerated in size and immanence. The repeated failure of these threats to affect us does change their views, mysteriously.

Here’s a sample of stories from just a few days — most from respectable sources (it’s much worse in the shadowy corners of the Internet). Only a few from Fox News and the Washington Times, as that would be too easy. Nothing here from the flow of racism; we discussed that yesterday.

Some of these stories are accurate, but lack context. Some are exaggerated. Some are fanciful. It’s the selectivity of the diet that produces the desired effect, making the subject easy to rule. Imagine credulously reading these every day for years. Terror and a kind of paranoia are natural results, plus a desire to strike before they get us.

Foreign Enemies

How the Military Will Fight ISIS on the Dark Web“, Patrick Tucker, Defense One.  “Al-Qaeda morphs into a new movement since 9/11“, AP. AQ has gone thru more changes since 9/11 than Lady GaGa. Always threatening yet seldom acting.  “The U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State is underpowered“, Washington Post editorial.  “Islamic State group’s war chest is growing daily“, AP. Perhaps in a decade or so it will equal that of Liechtenstein ($420 million per year).

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Proof pointing to the people guilty of weakening America

Summary: We, Americans, delight in creative explanations blaming others for our problems. “It’s not my fault” is our mantra. Here are two examples suggesting that we can find the guilty parties can be found in the mirror. We can do better.

Einstein about problems

He didn’t say it, but should have

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In these pages I’ve attempted to convey some of the astonishing aspects of 21st century America. None are more astonishing than our disinterest in learning from our experiences (both Left and Right), and the parallel behavior of Left and Right (about which they’re oblivious). I’ve written scores of posts documenting these phenomena.

The conclusion drawn about these posts by many readers: they accurately describe foolish behavior of the other side (the bad guys), but say I show bias and politicization by pointing out similar behavior by the good guys (which is so obviously different). How sad to see such willful blindness. It’s one of the reasons I wonder about our capacity for self-government. The blind need guides. Perhaps that’s how the 1% see their relationship with us.

Here is an example for each.

Bush = Hitler

The Day of Action protest, 18 March 2006

(1) Bush is Hitler. So is Obama

Many at the Left said that President Bush Jr was like Hitler. Zomblog and Ringo’s Pictures have collected examples. Lied us into wars, illegal government surveillance, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay without charges or trials. The Right laughed.

Now the Left applauds Obama, with his illegal surveillance programs, most aggressive-ever use of the Espionage Act of 1917. continued use of Guantanamo Bay, expanded assassination programs (including US citizens). Most of the same things they condemned Bush Jr for doing, plus more that Bush Jr did not dare do.

And now the Right condemns Obama as — Hitler. David Neiwert at Orcinus has a few examples. Google Images points to hundreds more.

This suggests that both Left and Right love authoritarians, so long as they are on the correct side of the political aisle. Both are oblivious to the similarity of their behaviors to the behavior of those they despise. No wonder our politics have become so dysfunctional.

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Comment threads about global warming show the American mind at work, like a reality-TV horror show

Summary:  Belief in a secret conspiracy of government scientists manipulating US climate data to exaggerate global warming might join Benghazi BENGHAZI in the right-wing canon. See this happen in real time in the comment threads at Prof Curry’s website, showing the American mind at work on one of our most important public policy issues. It’s a sad spectacle, deserving your attention. We can do better, if only we would try. (updated July 2)

This is second in a series about this fascinating story. It is one of a series of posts using popular media as a mirror in which we can more clearly see who we are, and what we’re becoming.

All Seeing Eye

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I strongly recommend reading the comments to “Skeptical of skeptics: is Steve Goddard right?“ by Judith Curry (Prof, GA Inst Tech) at her website, Climate Etc.  (update: and to her follow-up post here). It’s a typical discussion about politicized science in America, with comments by scientists, talented amateurs, and extremist partisans. The latter dominate, with anti-science their primary theme.

If you step back from the specific issue, this thread reads like countless others in recent years by the Right (e.g. about evolution, the extreme example) — and by the Left  (e.g., genetically-modified food and nuclear power).  And by both the Left and Right about climate and economics. A common element is people who have little or no understanding of the subject, but confidently proclaim the relevant scientists to be fools, crooks, or charlatans (this is a defining characteristic of the public climate wars, with activists on both sides so condemning scientists on the “other side”).

Political leaders cherish such followers, their vanguard of high-energy “useful idiots” (an essential concept for political engineers, origin unknown). They’re easily directed and immune to rebuttal by fact or logic (they don’t listen to their opponents, who are misguided if not evil). As a chorus they entertain the faithful and can often shout down saner voices.

“Then the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of `Four legs good, two legs bad!’ which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion.”

This is a manifestation of an deeper ill in American life, anti-intellectualism. The best-known descriptions of this are two works by Richard Hofstadter. The comment thread at Climate Etc shows both of these traits proudly displayed.

(1)  Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963).  It includes the belief that everyman can understand technical matters as well as experts, without bothering with years of study. It’s as or more serious now than in 1963.

Twenty-first century philistines, suffering from a lack of imagination and curiosity, have seized upon understandable economic anxieties since the financial crash of 2008, to shepherd an increasingly large flock of American sheep into the livestock freight carrier Pulitzer prize winning historian, Richard Hofstadter, called “anti-intellectualism.” … The American mind is swimming in icy waters …

— “America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism“, David Masciotra (journalist), The Daily Beast, 9 March 2014

(2) The Paranoid Style in American Politics“, Harpers Magazine, November 1964 — To the Right-wing climate scientists are not just wrong, but in an active conspiracy to deceive us — they “fake”, fiddle”, and “rig” the data. Excerpt:

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Did NASA and NOAA dramatically alter US climate history to exaggerate global warming?

Summary: A layman writing under the pseudonym of “Steve Goddard” accused the US government of fabricating temperature data. Sadly it quickly went viral. Fortunately in this case some conservatives are criticizing their own when they make outlandish statements, something rarely seen in US political debates — where truth is purely tribal. As we saw in the peak oil movement, which applauded all kinds of nonsense so long as it supported their narrative. Unfortunately this reduced this important research and public awareness campaign into a carnival of doomsters (examples in May 2008, August 2010).

So this internal criticism among climate skeptics is no small thing. This behavior should be encouraged by both Left and Right. Our gullibility to pleasing stories — confirmation bias — makes us weak, and this is a step towards a cure.

This post will be updated as more analysis becomes available (updated February 2015 with the last volley of accusations and rebuttals). See the follow-up posts below.

Clear vision

Contents

  1. Conservatives love tribal truths…
  2. Rebuttals come quickly
  3. Scientists weigh in — updated
  4. Why are we still having these debates?
  5. Science moves on
  6. Follow-up posts on this story
  7. For More Information

(1)  Conservatives love tribal truths…

…no matter how absurd. As do the Left. The climate wars show this in mad fashion, as both sides exploit this vital issue for political gain. Both, to varying extents, abandoning mainstream climate science for more vivid forecasts by laypeople (as documented here in so many posts). The world is cooling! No, the world is burning!

For today’s example, Tony Heller (aka “Steve Goddard”; bio here) makes a wild claim at his high-traffic website Real Science: “NOAA/NASA Dramatically Altered US Temperatures After The Year 2000“, 23 June 2014.

The reactions show politics at work, with science in the back seat. Also note the casual acceptance by so many people that the scientists involved are running a conspiracy, more evidence of the decline of confidence in institutions tracked by Gallup. “Scandal.” “Rigged”. “Fabricated.” “Fudged numbers.” No matter how this is resolved, these accusations will remain valid in the minds of conservatives. Perhaps millions of them.

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Congress did a great thing 50 years ago, but rot from that day has spread and taken root

Summary: 19 June 1964. I believe on this day America took a wrong turn. It was the day we took a large step to closure on the wound opened by the Civil War, another step to atoning for and overcoming the legacy of slavery. The Senate voted to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. But one of the opponents saw this as an opportunity, and we live with the dark results today

Barry Goldwater button

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Reflecting the parties geographical, not ideological, foundations, the vote passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act was mixed.

  • Democratic Party: 46–21   (69–31%)
  • Republican Party: 27–06   (82–18%)

But one of those “no” votes was by the GOP candidate for the Presidency, who saw an opportunity to redraw America’s political map and end the  dominant position the Democratic Party had held since the Great Depression. The price was betrayal of the Republican Party’s legacy.

Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) lost the 1964 presidential election, but his campaign reforged a Republican Party with racism as a core element — burned into an alliance with the right-wing social and economic ideologies. The poison took time to spread through the GOP, but by 1980 — amplified by Nixon and Reagan — it helped make conservatism become the dominant political force in America (affecting both parties).

That day 50 years ago could have begun a break with our past. Instead we’re still grappling with our racist legacy from slavery.

Here’s the speech Goldwater gave justifying his betrayal. Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) decodes the key phrases he uses to disguise his political logic.

  • “Demagogue” = “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington”
  • “Calm environment” = “an end to sit-ins and Freedom Rides”
  • “Special appeals for special welfare” = “desire by African-Americans to eat at lunch counters and stay at hotels open to others”

The text, from DeLong’s post:

There have been few, if any, occasions when the searching of my conscience and the re-examination of my views of our constitutional system have played a greater part in the determination of my vote than they have on this occasion.

I am unalterably opposed to discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, or creed, or on any other basis; not only my words, but more importantly my actions through the years have repeatedly demonstrated the sincerity of my feeling in this regard.

This is fundamentally a matter of the heart. The problems of discrimination can never by cured by laws alone; but I would be the first to agree that laws can help — laws carefully considered and weighed in an atmosphere of dispassion, in the absence of political demagoguery, and in the light of fundamental constitutional principles.

For example, throughout my 12 years as a member of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, I have repeatedly offered amendments to bills pertaining to labor that would end discrimination in unions, and repeatedly those amendments have been turned down by the very members of both parties who now so vociferously support the present approach to the solution of our problem. Talk is one thing, action is another, and until the members of this body and the people of this country realize this, there will be no real solution to the problem we fact.

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The secret to Conservatives’ success, and why they deserve to win

Summary: Cantor’s defeat to a Tea Party challenger marks Americans move one notch further to the Right. Rather than whine about it, we should consider how and why the Right has won for several decades. They’ve patiently planned and planted; now they reap.

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“People, ideas and hardware, in that order!”
— the late John R. Boyd (Colonel, USAF), “A Discourse on Winning and Losing” (unpublished), August 1987. Good advice for all spheres of life. Conservatives have proven it works for politics.

“Fifty years is ample time in which to change a world and its people almost beyond recognition. All that is required for the task are a sound knowledge of social engineering, a clear sight of the intended goal – and power. These things the Overlords possessed.”
— Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood’s End (1953)

I am a Conservative

By TitanticFan1000, at DiviantART

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Right: Art by TitanticFan1000 at DeviantART

Contents

  1. Patient, long-term investment
  2. It’s intelligent design of a society…
  3. For More Information
  4. Future historians will study these giants

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(1) Patient, long-term investment

After 50 years of victories of the Right, slowly people on the Left see a source to their power. As Paul Krugman explains in “Fall of an Apparatchik“, in his blog at the NYT, 11 June 2014 — Krugman is a brilliant economist, Leftist ideologue and Democratic Party hack. Here he displays the last two aspects of his thinking while muting the first.

Movement conservatism — as distinct from just plain conservatism, which has always been a part of the landscape and always will be — is a distinct feature of modern American politics. It dates, more or less, back to the 1970s, when conservatives, with lots of money from the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, set about building an institutional infrastructure of think tanks, pressure groups, captive media, etc.. At first this infrastructure mainly provided backing to right-thinking (in both senses) politicians. But eventually it provided a career path for up and coming conservatives.

In particular, being a movement conservative in good standing meant considerable career safety: even if you or the politician you worked for lost an election, there were jobs to be had at think tanks (e.g. Rick Santorum heading up the “America’s enemies” program at a Scaife-backed think tank), media gigs (two Bush speechwriters writing columns for the Washington Post, not to mention the gaggle at the WSJ and Fox News), and so on.

In other words, being a hard line conservative, which to be fair involved some career risks back in the 60s and into the 70s, became a safe choice; you could count on powerful backing, and if not favored by fortune, you could fall back on wingnut welfare.

“Wingnut welfare” is Krugman’s mocking description of one component to the conservative infrastructure built during the past 50 years. Someone less inclined to rebuttal by insult than Krugman (it’s his primary mode) would call it large scale, patient investment by the 1% in people .

To see the duration, scale, and depth of this program, see the bios of conservative activists at the SHAME project. Often recruited at college, carefully trained and nurtured through a succession of jobs, it’s a career path for conservative activists run quite differently than anything on the Left.

The 1% also invested in ideas, think-tanks to generate them and news media and conferences (e.g., the CPAC and the CLC) to disseminate them. Like David Brat, who leads banker John Allison’s “BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program” teaching libertarian thought at Randolph-Macon College (for more information see articles at VOX) and at AlterNet).

Conservatives now reap the well-deserved rewards to their time, effort, and money.  They can laugh at Krugman’s mockery.

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Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America

Summary: Another in a long series of studies illustrating America’s inability to process information, and our collapse into tribes incapable (or unwilling) to communicate with one another. Today we look at reactions to posts on the FM website. These attacks from both Left and Right test its accuracy and fairness. You judge the result.

Here’s a hors d’oeuvre. Yes, they’re both talking about me:

“The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds. I swear, these Baghdad Bobs are going to be crowing about the earth cooling right up until their proteins start congealing from the heat.”  {by Lidia; link}

“Perhaps a step back on your global warming doom nonsense is in order as well.” {by climate change skeptic Jeff Condon, aka Jeff Id, of The Air Vent; link}

Truth Will Make You Free

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Contents

  1. Journalism
  2. Examples of attacks by the alarmists
  3. Examples of attacks by the skeptics
  4. Conclusions
  5. For More Information

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(1)  Journalism

Most of what we do at the FM website is journalism, citing data and experts in ways that attempt to illuminate trends in America and the world. In a society become madly tribal, how you tell if the reporting is accurate and fair?  Here are some answers to these questions for the FM website.

Accuracy

Hindsight — applying the test of time to old posts — provides the acid test of accuracy. For the FM website posts you can see the pages on the top menu bar recording past successes and mistakes (Smackdowns) going back to 2003. I believe you’ll find it an impressive record.

Fairness

Subjective evaluation of balance and fairness is more difficult. Fortunately others do this for us. For examples see Politics of the FM site: radical leftist reformer or right-wing iconoclast? I’m the former to the latter, and the latter to the former.

For a more recent example see the post 184 posts about climate change. Straight journalism: excerpts from reports of the IPCC, the major climate agencies, and the peer-reviewed literature (plus analysis of the politics, which is mostly ignored). I thought these would be useful and uncontroversial. As I should have known, these have received attacks from both sides — with few substantive rebuttals.

It’s an indicator of fairness and balance, perhaps the best available in mad 21st C America.

We can draw wider inferences from this data, and the similar results on thousands of other websites. In America truth is tribal. Wearing blinders is mandatory. Heterodox thought is condemned. Evidence follows (mostly from other websites; the comments to the posts themselves sizzle with outrage).

(2) Examples of attacks by the alarmists

(a)  Comment by Robert Marston Fanney (fantasy writer; bio here), at his blog RobertScribbler: “Scribbling for economic, social, and environmental justice”, 27 January 2014. In reply to a comment citing my post about the pause and a post contrasting hysterical statements about climate doom with an exchange of views between two climate scientists.

“This is classic poor representation of the science from a blog that appears to have been wrapped up in right-wing misinformation, at least in this case.”

He follow with a series of simple factual errors. Details here.

(b)  From a comment thread at Naked Capitalism, in a post where Yves Smith cites two of my posts.

“The fact that he’s a climate denialist also doesn’t do much for his case.” {By Joe; link}

Joe’s reasons were frivolous (my posts steadfastly defend the IPCC consensus), but steadfastly held. Next, a fun rebuttal:

“The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds. I swear, these Baghdad Bobs are going to be crowing about the earth cooling right up until their proteins start congealing from the heat.”  {by Lidia; link}

The story about a lake at the North Pole was denied as bogus by the science group it was attributed to. The bit about global cooling is tribalism. I’m called a denier, therefore I must believe in global cooling. QED!  In fact I’ve written 4 posts debunking the subject. No admission of error from Lidia, of course.

(c)  Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder) published “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change” at 538, provoking a two-minute hate by the Left. I had the temerity to cite the peer-reviewed literature supporting his view (and the lack of offsetting articles in rebuttal). See the responses; feel the hate flow.

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