Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The MSM-Democratic Propaganda Mill

I do a fair amount of work in a thoroughly corrupt industry known as the California Workers' Compensation system. This system, which began with the noble idea of avoiding litigation and treating injured workers in a fair and efficient manner, has become a hideous bureaucratic monstrosity, especially when it comes to allegations of psychiatric injury. (Although thanks to Governor Schwarzeneggers' recent reforms, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be.)

That is, the system was set up to assist people with obvious injuries--say, a meat cutter who accidentally severed a finger. It was not designed to deal with a paranoid or narcissistic personality who is stressed out at work because he unconsciously provokes others and is universally disliked. Or with an incompetent person who is simply upset because he is being criticized at work. Or someone who is fired, and then retroactively decides that he was stressed out during the entire time he as employed.

Especially when it comes to psychiatric injuries, the legal process often comes down to a battle of competing experts. There is the applicant side--the person alleging that he has been injured--and the defense side--the the workplace or workers comp carrier that will have to cover the injury.

The reason why the system is so corrupt is that patients quickly became ancillary players in the process. Instead, the system became a way for doctors and lawyers to make vast amounts of money on the backs of injured workers. Therefore, there developed a built-in incentive to claim injuries, even if no injury was present. Lawyers began luring patients into the system with advertising, assuring them that they would receive extensive medical care at no cost to them. Medical "mills" were set up in conjunction with the lawyers, so that workers would be sent to any number of useless, wasteful, and expensive medical evaluations.

As such, someone, say, with a back strain, might be sent to an orthopedist, an internist (in case the pain is causing an increase in blood pressure or a stomach ache), a chiropractor, a neurologist (perhaps the pain is causing headaches), and a psychiatrist or psychologist (in case they had become depressed or anxious as a result of the alleged pain). (Would it surprise you to learn that these mills, like a certain political party, defend their dubious practices by suggesting that they are truly "looking out for the little guy?" Or that thousands of jobs will never be created for the "little guy" as a result of the high cost of doing business in California because of spiraling workers' comp costs? )

These psychiatric mills issue thoroughly predictable reports which always--always--maintain in the most florid terms you can imagine, that the injured worker has developed dozens and dozens of psychological symptoms, that they are completely psychologically disabled from them, that they require extensive treatment, and that, even then, they will never, ever be the same. Often, believe it or not, the worker does not even know that a psychiatric injury has been filed on their behalf (especially workers from third world countries who don't even have a frame of reference for what it is a psychologist does). They just do as directed by their attorney, by going for appointments and filling out the paper work. Many times I've asked a patient, "Dr. X says you are hearing the voice of your supervisor. Is that true?" The patient will be surprised, and often offended, to learn that they are being depicted as psychotic.

In fact, I have seen many cases in which the report is already written: all the doctor does is insert the name of the patient into a pre-formatted report, with all of the same boilerplate language and adjectives--lots of adjectives. In an applicant report, adjectives generally substitute for facts and details, as they often do in any bad writing. Other times the doctor's staff will even forget to change the pronoun in the report from "him" to "her," as in, "Mr. Jackson says that she and her husband now have no sexual intimacy, whereas before his boss yelled at him, they enjoyed sexual relations six times a day."

My job, as an ethical evaluator, is not to submit a report that is simply the mirror opposite of the other side's report, but to find out what's actually going on--to determine the truth of the matter. I will spend many hours with a patient, reviewing their current condition, their allegations of injury, their past history, medical records, investigative reports, and sometimes even sub rosa video tape in order to arrive at my conclusions, each of which will be thoroughly supported by facts, logic, and evidence. I try never to speculate--in fact, the system dies not allow idle speculation, only opinions based on medical probability.

I see an almost exact parallel between the corrupt workers comp system and our current political scene. On the one side we have the applicants and their mills--the Democrats and the MSM--on the other side, the defense--the Republicans and the alternative media. The Democrats operate by throwing out as many outrageous statements as they can think of, hoping that something will "stick," and perhaps persuade the trier of fact: the American public. Therefore, when dealing with the MSM and their political action wing, the Democrats, you must constantly wade through the most outrageous, wholesale lies and distortions--America is a racist, sexist and homophobic country, Bush is a liar, Bush wants to impose a theocracy, Bush is a torturer, Bush is spying on us, the economy has never been worse, the environment is being ruined, Bush caused the hurricanes, Bush hates black people, etc., etc., etc. You know the dreary drill.

Just yesterday, I believe someone counted at least seventeen demonstrably outrageous lies in Ted Kennedy's opening remarks at the Alito confirmation hearings. Of course, since the MSM is part of the corrupt system, they will not do their job and determine the factual basis of Kennedy's allegations. Rather, they will simply repeat them.

It is now up to the alternative media to serve the identical purpose in the political system that I do in the workers comp system: to independently evaluate the issue, gather the facts, dispassionately assess the situation, and arrive at a logical and reasoned opinion. Are there ethical Democrats and unethical or careless Republicans? Of course. For example, although I might ultimately agree with much of what a Sean Hannity says, I don't trust him or rely upon him to tell me the truth, for he is the equivalent a Republican "mill." He will come down on the side of the Republicans, no matter what. Joe Lieberman would be an example of an ethical Democrat, for example, willing to independently assess the truth of the Iraq war as he sees it.

But by and large, the reason why it is so difficult to engage leftists in debate is the same reason why it is so difficult to deal with an applicant report. There is almost nothing in an applicant report that I can rely on as being factually true. It might be. It might not be. You just have no way of knowing. You have to assess the situation independently.

Democrats say this is a racist country. Is that true? Not in my analysis. Obviously there are some individual racists, but the country itself is remarkably free of racial animus. Was President Bush lying when he said he believed there were WMD in Iraq? I've seen no evidence for that, only lurid accusations. Is this the worst economy since the Great Depression, a "jobless revovery"? Not based on the facts I have seen. Is Bush spying on his political enemies? I have no basis for believing that. Were blacks disproportionately killed in hurricaine Katrina? As a matter of fact, no. Is Bush running the highest deficit in history? Not if you place it in the proper context as a percentage of GNP. Are terrorists covered by the Geneva Convention? Not based on my understanding. Did Saddam have intimate and extensive ties to the international terror world? No doubt.

So being a neo-con paleoliberal has come quite naturally to me. It just means ignoring the distorted allegations of the MSM-Democratic propaganda mill, independently evaluating the "patient," and arriving at conclusions based on fact, logic and reason.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thought and Language: Do Not Saturate Before Using

ShrinkWrapped is conducting an interesting experiment to determine if it is actually possible for leftists and neo-cons to engage in substantive debate without it quickly degenerating into name-calling and mutual demonization. To make things manageable, ShrinkWrapped is going to narrow the focus down to the differing perceptions between left and right as to the existential threat posed by Islamofascism. Obviously, those of us "on the right" regard it as a much more serious threat than do those on the left, who generally believe the threat has been manufactured by the President in order to consolidate power and impose a theocracy of his own. Not much middle ground between those two positions, for they aren't just "opposite," they're operating in two irreconcilable realities.

Although I am hoping for the best, I am personally pessimistic, as the first day of the experiment didn't seem to go particularly well. Partly my fault (you should read all the comments to get a sense of how it went). As I posted on ShrinkWrapped, "It's very simple. Leftists are naive about human evil, and always have been. For example, during the cold war, leftists refused to characterize the Soviet Union as evil, and castigated those who did. The identical pattern is occuring now with regard to Islamofascism. This has all sorts of ramifications. For example, if one cannot recognize true evil, one will see the non-evil as evil. As such, the left saw Ronald Reagan as evil, and now see George Bush as evil.... Leftists suffer from a poverty of imagination on the one hand (with regard to the true evil of Islamofascism), but an excess of it on the other hand (with regard to the fantasied evildoings of President Bush)."

Harsh words, perhaps, but are they inaccurate?

I find it virtually impossible to debate with most leftists, not just because they are wrong, but because they cannot possibly be right. In other words, they are not even wrong, for being wrong presupposes some rational basis upon which one can reason someone into, or out of, a position. Not so with with the typical leftist of contemporary America. As I posted, it would be pointless "to debate Cindy Sheehan as to whether George Bush is a bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden, Howard Dean as to whether Republicans enjoy seeing children go to bed hungry, John Kerry as to whether this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, Kos as to whether Americans working in Iraq are mercenaries that deserve to get killed, Kennedy as to whether the Iraq war was 'cooked up' in Texas for political gain, and Michael Moore as to whether those with whom we are fighting in Iraq are 'minute men' analogous to our own founders."

The psychoanalyst W. R. Bion used the term "saturated" to describe a particular kind of pseudo-thinking commonly encountered by the psychologist. That is, the proper use of language in a healthy mind fosters the evolution of thought. A word or concept is saturated when it cannot do this--it is already so full of meaning that it loses its capacity to actually facilitate thought. Words and concepts can become so overloaded with personal meaning that their use for communication with others becomes extremely problematic. Among other problems, when words are saturated, there is no space left for them to accumulate meaning through experience: the word has become functionally dead insofar as its capacity to allow a space for thinking about internal or external reality.

I believe this is one of the key problems that underlies leftist thought. It is so saturated with meaning that it is absolutely useless for conveying ideas to anyone who doesn't already believe them--anyone who isn't already franticly twirling about in the end-times liberal Ghost Dance.

To illustrate my point, I went straight over to Petey's favorite idiotarium, huffingtonpost, knowing that there would be many fine examples of what I'm talking about. I plucked one off the top, entitled Bush as Bad Theatre, by a playwrite named Sherman Yellen. Although I am a film school graduate, I'd never heard of the man, but that doesn't mean anything. Apparently he's quite eminent in show biz circles, having won two Emmys and a Peabody Award, among other various encomiums.

Yellen's bio states that, having grown up in New York under FDR, he "has watched with great sadness the Bush administration’s dismantling of social programs and social progress in this country." That's quite an accomplishment to have escaped my notice, but no examples are given. I can't help wondering if it didn't really happen. Yellen "believes it is the obligation of artists to speak out against the erosion of our democracy during these troubling times." Again, no examples of the erosion he's so concerned about. No need to give any. Everyone who agrees with him already knows exactly what he's talking about, wink wink.

In fact, in the piece, one searches in vain for anything resembling an unsaturated thought--anything that can actually convey a fact or create curiosity in the unpersuaded, but persuadable, reader. Again, note the difference between Yellen's brand of saturated writing vs. writing that would allow a space for you to engage your curiosity as to just what has him so manifestly overwrought:

--"Bush is our own Tartuffe, Molière's insufferable pseudo-religious comedic character who uses his so called piety to gain power over the lives of others.... it is Bush's voice we hear as Tartuffe pronounces, 'How dare you even hinder or annoy when I've the means to ruin and destroy. You should have thought before my toes you trod. Attacking me, you set yourself 'gainst God.'"

Got it? Bush uses religion and so-called piety to gain control over others, whom he will ruin and destroy in the name of God if they resist. (Yellen is a pretty brave--even reckless--fellow to trod on this vindictive President's toes.)

Okay. Next?

--Bush "would serve nicely as a foolish father in a sit-com, or a ridiculous boss in an office comedy, but he is the Commander-in-Chief who can and does send young men and women to their deaths. Sadly, he does not even have the true villain's consciousness of when he has done wrong. This is why apology and admission of error is so difficult for him. He believes in his God-given rectitude in all situations."

Right. Bush is so stupid, he doesn't even know how wrong and evil he is. Plus, he thinks he is infallibly guided by God. This is convincing stuff. How foolish of me not to have recognized it myself.

Next?

--"Nobody can accuse George Bush of eloquence or locate his courage and love of country as he labors to strip it of its natural wonders, and sell his power to its worst exploiters. What he shares with Henry V is a ruthless ambition wed to a sense of royal entitlement. As Henry exploited his soldiers' patriotism, Bush exploits his nation's fears."

Haven't you been curious about what happened to all the natural wonders of the country? Stripped! That's right. Gone. Kaput. Bush did it while he had you looking the other way, at those two big buildings that fell down on TV. Because he thinks he's king. Plus he's not even eloquent. Not like a deep-thinking, silver-tongued New York playwrite, anyway.

Any more Emmy-worthy thoughts from our serious thinker of the left?

--"Like most incurious people Bush starts with a belief and then searches desperately for the evidence to support it. This faith-based approach to the world is one that most often has tragic consequences for others, rarely for the man himself, protected by his power and by the fear he has exploited in others.... In his heart of hearts he still believes that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to be found if only we had the right dogs to sniff them out."

Incurious. When Yellen calls Bush "incurious," this is code for "not interested in what fascinates secular New York intellectuals who have never encountered an alien thought in their hermetically sealed cognitive bubble." Thus, it is Bush who "searches desperately" for evidence to support his beliefs. In fact, Bush was so desperate in his search that he somehow got every single intelligence agency in the world to confirm his wacky beliefs about WMD--before he even became president!

Yellen continues his analysis:

--"... in Bush we have a man who cannot understand and feel the emotional weight of any situation, or recognize the consequences of his actions. If becomes clearer over time that he has never learned in the course of his misadventures, as he kept failing upwards toward the Presidency, the most essential lesson of life -- the value of other people's lives. For this inherited characteristic we need only look at his mother, Lady Barbara..."

So, not only can President Bush not think or understand consequences, he cannot even feel! Now we are in the realm of the truly monstrous--the reptilian. Bush is a sociopath: he places no value on other people's lives. And there's not a thing he or you or I can do about it, because it's an inherited trait from his beastly mother.

Yellen saves the most devastating critique for last. That is, President Bush cannot be dramatized, no, not even by an Emmy award winning playwrite!

--"A character such as Bush who lacks such consciousness may preside over a country but he cannot command a stage. Bush's smirk is a poor stand-in for Richard's hump." Yes, the hopelessly "boring," "self-righteous, unexamined bad behavior," that "we see in Bush on a daily basis" is just impossible to bring to the stage.

Noooooooooooooo! Not that! You can't make a TV movie out of his life? Scott Peterson? Sure. The Menendez Brothers? Of course. Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan? Yellen would write that script in a New York minute. George Bush? No way. Worse yet,

--"We have three more years of Bush as the main player in our national drama, three more years of platitudes, certainties, grinning, winking, cajoling, but never owning the consequences of his own actions. Since he cannot change his act, we will continue to get what we see -- an empty man propped up with a foolish sense of his own worth, taking us from one new disaster to another..."

Hmmmm. Platitudes. Certainties. Inability to change. Empty. Foolish sense of his own worth. And, I might add, saturated. Who does that remind me of?

What's that, Petey?

I won't say it. That would just cheapen the debate.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Weekend Sermon: Raids on the Wild Godhead

I try not to let too many things actually bother me, because being bothered doesn't help you resolve what you're bothered about, and just takes you out of your center to the periphery of existence. And if you don't live life from your center, you're not really living, but being lived. Moving from the center to the edge takes us from the depths of being to the shallow end of the gene pool.

Nevertheless, one thing that really bothers me about our elite secular fundamentalists is that they seem to think it's easy to know God--as if it simply involves believing some nice fairy tale and leaving it at that. Well, for some people that is undoubtedly true. In yoga terms, this kind of simple faith is called "bhakti" yoga, and I don't mean to devalue it. I actually envy people who can have a simple faith in the Divine, and as a result, feel the constant presence of the One in their lives.

I'll bet that coal miner in West Virginia who was buried alive was such an individual. Facing death, he left us with those beautiful, haunting words:

Tell all--
I see them on the other side
It wasn't bad
I just went to sleep
I love you

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.

Such a simple declaration of unwavering faith, calm courage, and even elegant beauty in the face of the abrupt end of horizontal existence! I've memorized those words. They are worth thousands, even millions of pages of secular fundamentalist drivel. I hope I can remember them in my final moments:

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.

Anyway, getting back to the subject of our post, it isn't that easy for most of us callous sophisticates to know God. It takes real effort, commitment, and discipline to begin to reliably cure ourselves of the materialitis and reductionosis that pervade contemporary life. It is really a moment-by-moment project of reorienting ourselves and turning things upside down and inside out--back to the way they're supposed to be. When we do that, we can begin to experience the truth of the Upanishads--that the universe is like a tree with its roots aloft, its branches down here below. Me? I am the ecstatic sap.

In our embodied state, we struggle with overcoming our default orientation to the surface, to the "outside" of things. Both religious and non-religious fundamentalists are still unwavering materialists, living in deadening servitude to matter. Our higher faculties are easily hijacked and enslaved by the lower, and the problem is only worse in a society as abundant as ours, with so many seductive distractions everywhere. The "I" that is pulled this way and that by these tempting distractions cannot remain the same and know God. Rather, we must close one I and open another, or transpose the melody of our life to a higher key, an octave or two above.

Intellectuals struggle with this, for we do not comprehend religious truths; rather, they comprehend us. The intellect must be "raised up" to the realm from which religions emanate. Again, this is something the typical secularist utterly fails to understand. You must work to intensify your mental power and then transcend it, like building a very sturdy ship, and then launching it--two very different things.

For you cannot know religious truth. You cannot even really understand it. Rather, you must undergo it. Secular fundamentalists know all about religion. But you can be sure that they understand nothing of it, for, as Blake wrote, truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed.

To understand is to apprehend an intelligible truth. Secularists would have you believe that it is possible to deeply understand something that isn't true, which actually makes no sense at all. As one "undergoes" spirituality and understanding grows, we move from the line to the plane, from seeing to envisioning, from thinking about God to being comprehended by God, to where the interior horizon of the imploding universe flows within itself. The negation of negation!

Achieving this new depth of vision is not a matter of piling on additional surfaces, as the intellectual does. It is changing the nature of the knower, so that a new light-infused known may be captured from the Wild Godhead. In turn, this divine light further elevates the mind so that we may better see divine things, the uncreated world from which the created world is a reflection dimly perceived through mirror and enigma.

Is it really possible to speak from the Ground, where we are unborn again and can know the youth of eternal spring within our hearts? As Meister Eckhart said, these things "are false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but true according to true understanding."

True understanding is the death of the conventional self. But don't worry.

It isn't bad. You just go to sleep.

Then you wake up. And remember. And live.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

End-Time Panic and The Liberal Ghost Dance

WELCOME, MY AMERICAN THINKER OVERLORDS! This is a pretty old post from not long after I started blogging, so feel free... no, feel obligated to check out some of my more recent efforts. Many people feel that my unusual writing style repays careful and thorough disregard, but I'm sure there are one or two of you who will disagree. After all, I don't mean to boast, but I have already been granted the extravagant honor of being named the Most Obnoxious Man In AmeriKKKa by the most obnoxious children in America. I hope they don't try to take it back when they find out about Lifson.

*****

The great psychoanalytic anthropologist Weston LaBarre wrote extensively of "crisis cults," which involve non-rational belief systems that cultures develop when under severe stress and faced with breakdown. Similar to the neurotic individual, at the core of every crisis cult is a welcome but false "noble lie" which "is defended with the same religious fanaticism as neurosis." As he writes, "Crisis cults are notable for their foolishness and unreality, because they tend to deny and misapprehend the real situation surrounding the society. But they all promise relief from unendurable current catastrophe." In fact, as irrational as they may appear on the surface, the crisis cult is "the would-be therapy of the traumatized culture." It doesn't do anything in the real world, but it comforts those who cling to the beliefs of the crisis cult.

In his book The Ghost Dance, LaBarre describes dozens of crisis cults. In fact, the book takes its title from one of the most famous crisis cults, the Ghost Dance of the late 19th century, when American Indians were facing the complete dissolution of their way of life--loss of their hunting territories, near extinction of the once vast buffalo herds, a series of disastrous military defeats, multiple droughts, and new and fatal diseases. The Ghost Dance was a fantasied solution to all their problems, involving the widespread idea that "a new skin would slide over the old earth, covering up the whites and all their works, and bringing upon it new trees and plants, great buffalo herds, the ghosts of the dead, and the great departed warriors and chiefs." This utopia would come about if only each person in all the tribes danced the elaborate Ghost Dance.

Another famous example is the "cargo cult" of early 20th century New Guinea. There, the natives couldn't help but notice that they had to work very hard, while the white colonialists seemed to sit around a lot, and received great stores of goods simply by sending out little scraps of paper. They reasoned that this had something to do with the mysterious cargo ships that left with native products and returned loaded down with all of the machines and other items that seemed to make the white men so powerful. The New Guineans developed the idea that these powerful objects were fashioned by their ancestors in a far-off volcano and were actually meant for them. But in order to ensure receiving them, they would have to imitate the behaviors of the white men by "sitting solemnly and speechlessly around tables," waiting for their ship to come in, so to speak.

Yesterday I ninety percent half-seriously proposed a new category of personality disorder to account for the increasing nuttiness and desperation of progressive thought, which has of late become so detached from reality. But upon further reflection, perhaps we are dealing with a crisis cult. After all, progressives are having to cope with a catastrophic collapse of their world and all of its comforting myths. As each myth crumbles in succession, they become increasingly frantic in papering over reality with the downright strange beliefs of their progressive crisis cult.

Just as a neurosis is a personal culture, a culture--especially a subculture--is often a collective neurosis. I realized quite some time ago that it is not possible to respond to the content of a dailykos, since it is so histrionic and perpendicular to reality. As a psychologist, I assumed that the hysterical, paranoid, narcissistic, or antisocial content had to do with the personal issues of the writers, but there could be another way of looking at the florid material, that is, as a collective response to the ongoing crisis at the core of progressive thought. Instead of examining their assumptions, these progressives prescribe more of the same--only worse!--in a way that seems calculated to turn off and drive away the average moderate voter who has at least one foot in the real world.

A case in point is the public's reaction ot the NSA non-scandal. I'm sure the number would be even higher if the public were totally informed about it, but as it stands, almost two thirds agree with the President that it is a pretty good idea to monitor incoming international calls from suspected terrorists. And yet, the left is now openly discussing impeachment charges, as if this will magically resuscitate their sagging fortunes. It's a classic ghost dance.

Likewise, Air America is a sad ghost dance. The primitive progressives observed the big bwana, Rush Limbaugh, and noticed that he simply sat at a table speaking into a microphone and attracted millions of listeners. They would angrily do the same thing, and watch their ratings soar! But it was not to be. The ratings ship loaded down with goodies never arrived. Nevertheless, the Air America ghost dance will continue for as long as George Soros and his ilk fund it.

Here is a fine example of a raving ghost dance plucked from huffingtonpost, entitled A Time to Slay the Republican Medusa by James Boyce, a Kerry campaign operative. Boyce is like the natives who noticed the powerful white men ruling their lives. He asks the obvious question any primitive would ask: how did they fool everyone and become so powerful?

Easy. The "appeasement of Republican Evil has led our country to the precipice where we stand today." The decent and fair-minded Democrats are "hindered by their own beliefs in equality" and "hamstrung by their sense of fair play." As such, they just don't understand "the Medusa of Republican Evil unleashed by the election of the Puppet King, George W. Bush," which will continue to "pursue its frighteningly radical agenda in the face of good intentions."

Problem is, "Decent rational human beings have a tendency to falter in front of pure evil" such as Adolf Hitler or George Bush. "Those who themselves have no capacity for evil within, respectable decent men like Joe Lieberman and Harry Reid, lack the fundamental capacity to recognize and fight evil in others. We do not need to become evil to defeat it -- but we need to recognize its presence to slaughter it." (Er, I think he has the wrong guy in Lieberman, who clearly does recognize evil. Only in Islamofascists, not George Bush.)

Boyce continues his desperate diagnosis of a crumbling world: if progressives "show any sign of resistance, the Medusa will become increasingly horrific in its actions like a wounded cornered wild animal.... [as] their dreams of their utopian world are finished, they will fight with all the weapons they possibly can without any sense of decency or conscience." (You first year psychology students out there, what is the name of the defense mechanism Boyce is squeezing every last drop from here? That's right, projection.)

This is the progressive supernatural nightmare that is happening before our eyes! "Imagine living in a world where the sole purpose of the US military is to attack countries and spread democracy through war.... Imagine no Social Security for our elders or disabled. No protection for women's rights.... Imagine a crippling national debt -- solely created for the purpose of funding vast and enormous wealth for a few who use their considerable wealth to fund and feed the Medusa in a cruel cycle which continually concentrates the wealth of the nation.... Student loans? Gone. Global warming? Accelerated because the fuels that create it drive the economic engine. Torture? Slithering from the prisons of Iraq to a jail near you. Torturing Americans in the name of the War on Terror? It's a matter of time sadly, unless, of course it's already happening.... This is the core of the true agenda."

It gets worse! "The Medusa, when cornered and threatened, will lash out with increasing ferocity and terror before it is destroyed. John Kerry was a real threat to them, and when this was recognized, the true evil surfaced.... what's truly important to realize is that we are not yet engaged in a fight to the death with them -- but they are fully engaged in a fight to the death with us." Delaying for even a second "leaves the Republican Medusa emboldened and gives it the oxygen it needs to grow and become more powerful."

Islamofascist, er, I mean, Republican evil "feeds upon weakness. Evil lives for the chance to destroy those who hesitate. Evil grows bolder when an opponent or something standing in its way falters."

Okay! We get it! The ghost dance must begin! Now!

What do we do?!!! What are the specific dance steps to kill the Republican Medusa and regain our progressive mojo?!!!

"You kill a Medusa by cutting off its head. You need to be a warrior and get blood on your hands and guts on your shoes."

Yes, but how, dammit?

By supporting the far left online community!

"The online community has the proven ability to fight and defend candidates. We need to defend them.... The online community has the proven ability to raise money and support candidates. We need to support them. We need to spread the word one person at a time, and one million people online at a time."

Excellent! God's gift to Republicans is the perpetual online ghost dance at dailykos, huffingtonpost and hundreds of other primitive progressive websites. As long as they keep dancing, our blessedly evil Medusa lives another day. I am proud to have my own personal ghost lap-dancing troll, L.A. Larry. It means the message is getting out, and the Great Liberal Ghost Dance drags on for our endless amusement. (Umm, anybody know how much I'm supposed to tip for a personal ghost dance?)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Weakness, Vanity, and Cruelty: A Glimpse into the Moral Dementia of Deepak Chopra

Honestly, how does someone become as morally confused as Deepak Chopra? What is the source of such an enfeebled ability to reason in the realm of morality? It's not just that he's wrong--rather, it is that he reverses good and evil, right and wrong, decent and indecent. So it's more than just ignorance. It's some kind of active process that is "jamming" his conscience and making it dysfunctional. It is a moral dementia.

Chopra's latest contribution over at Huffington Post is entitled "The Trail from Munich," as pompous, sanctimonious and self-righteous a review of Spielberg's new film as you could imagine. The "trail" he is referring to is the trail that leads directly from Palestinian massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 to the attacks of 9/11. Yes, that trail. What, you didn't know about that trail? It's the trail that was blazed by our "eye-for-an-eye approach to terrorism" that began in Munich 33 years ago.

You see, it's all our fault. The problem began not with the terrorists, but with our response to them. This is logical--no different than how crime is caused by police, ignorance is caused by education, and disease is caused by doctors.

For Chopra, the film depicts, "with sickeningly convincing brutality, how tragically that approach has failed." Follow the holy man's paradoxical reasoning closely here. You see, the terrorists have not failed. Rather, it is our "sickeningly brutal response" to the terrorists that has failed.

The message of Munich "is that we are still on the road of endless violence and that the War on Terror, no matter how many jihadists are killed, will become our own paralyzing nightmare." Exactly. Just like World War II. No matter how many nazis we killed, it just turned into our own paralyzing nightmare.

Chopra continues:

"I'm sure audiences will be surprised at how detailed and serious the morality in this film is." (In other words, we will be surprised how much it mirrors Chopra's deranged view of the world.) He states, "The motives of the Black September terrorists are credible: they want their homeland back, they want reprisal for Palestinians killed by Israel, and they want the world to notice them."

Got that? The Palestinians are morally serious and credible people. When they engage in unprovoked warfare and deliberately murder innocents just to be "noticed by the world," their motives make perfect sense.

"But unlike the terrorists," the Israelis "do not achieve [their] aims." Avner, the ex-Mossad agent who heads the assassination squad is a "morally corrupt man" who is "disowned by civilization." Not only that, but he "stands for us, the 'good' people who set out to destroy the 'evil' people, who in turn believe that they are good and we are evil." You see, in Chopra's twisted moral world, no one is good or evil except people who believe in good and evil (with the exception of Chopra, who clearly believes that people who fight evil, especially when they are conservatives, are evil).

What does the morally retarded holy man advise? We need "to see equality between Arabs and Israelis, not in terms of right and wrong, but in terms of two opponents equally victimized by hatred." No one is right and no one is wrong, except for people who believe there is no excuse for terror. Israelis who are victimized by Palestinian terror are in actuality victimized by their hatred of the terror. Get it?

But "Insofar as right-wing factions in this country drag us into a war against evil, we will also be victimized, and our claim to be civilized will weaken bit by bit." So here in America, we're all actually victims of George Bush, who has victimized us by turning us into barbarians who want to fight evil.

Again, where does this perverse morality come from? It doesn't come from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't come from orthodox Hinduism or Vedanta either. The Bhagavad Gita, probably the most revered teaching in Hinduism, takes the form of a dialogue between a frightened warrior, Arjuna, and the incarnate god, Krishna. Arjuna is afraid to do what needs to be done, telling Krishna,

Knower of all things,
Though they should slay me,
How could I harm them?
I cannot wish it:
Never, never....
Evil though they may be,
Worst of the wicked,
Yet if we kill them
Our sin is greater....
Let them come with their weapons
Against me in battle:
I shall not struggle,
I shall not strike them.
Now let them kill me,
That would be better.

Krishna's response:

"You ought not to hesitate; for to a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war. But if you refuse to fight in this righteous war, you will be turning aside from your duty. You will be a sinner, and disgraced.... Your enemies will also slander your courage....

"Shake off this fever of ignorance.... Be free from the sense of ego. Dedicate your actions to me. Then go forward and fight."

Krishna's response suggests that Arjuna, as noble as his pacifist sentiments might appear on the surface, is actually motivated by cowardice and by ego. Interestingly, this is exactly the conclusion drawn by the great Indian philosopher and sage Sri Aurobindo, in his celebrated Essays on the Gita. Aurobindo writes that the Gita "does not preach indifference to good and evil for the ordinary life of man, where such a doctrine would have the most pernicious consequences." He dismisses the notion that human beings are at a stage in their evolution that they can use "soul-force" alone to stop evil, as knaves like Chopra and Gandhi would have it. In the face of "soul force," the evil "in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes." Resort to passive resistance and "you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence."

"A day may come, must surely come, when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy of religion."

And here is the key: for it is not "compassion which actuates Arjuna in the rejection of his work and mission. That is not compassion but an impotence full of weak self-pity, a recoil from the mental suffering which his act must entail on himself.... Its pity for others is also a form of self-indulgence... This pity is a weakness of the mind and senses,--a weakness which may well be beneficial to men of a lower grade of development, who have to be weak because otherwise they will be hard and cruel; for they have to cure the harsher by the gentler forms of egoism."

Aha! So that's where the preening, narcissistic, and self-indulgent morality of the left comes from! Or as it says in the Talmud, "those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Brokeback Mountain and the Passion of the Left: Deconstructing the Deconstructers

I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain and I probably won't, but it is providing a fascinating glimpse into the deep structure of our contemporary cultural divide. I heard an ad for the movie on Air America that was so over-the-top in its praise that it struck me as downright religious.

This intrigued me, so I decided to do some investigating. I went to the website for the movie, which has links to many of the reviews. Reading the reviews made me realize that this is indeed the secular Passion of the Christ. It has so many religious overtones that the implicit message is inescapable, and demonstrates the religious underpinnings of secular belief.

In my very first post on this blog, Where Did the PC Virus Come From?, I put forth the idea that political correctness is a specifically Western perversion of Christianity, since Christianity is the religion that elevates the ultimate victim to the status of Godhood: God is the innocent victim and the innocent victim is God. But in the bi-logic of the unconscious mind, the message easily becomes distorted, so that all victims are seen as sacrificial-victim gods. Therefore, improperly understood, this Christian cognitive template puts in place a sort of cultural "race to the bottom" in competition for who is more oppressed, and therefore, more godlike. People who actually practice Christianity don't generally have this confusion. Rather, it is only secular types who are nevertheless parasitic on the deep structure of a specifically Christian phenomenology.

Therefore, in secular liberal iconography, the victim is by definition godlike by virtue of his being persecuted and oppressed. Brokeback Mountain deals with one of the holiest of holies of leftist iconography, the homosexual. Being that homosexuals are by definition victimized by a homophobic society that hates their innocent expressions of love, homosexuals are elevated to the highest realm of the leftist pantheon.

The movie strains to convey the message that those who do not celebrate homosexuality are at war with nature. Under the title of the movie, the newspaper ad even proclaims "Love is a Force of Nature." This is because in the upside down world of the secularist, who has removed God from the equation, nature becomes the highest expression to which humans may aspire. If you deny nature, you deny God.

In his review, Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times manages to get in three references to nature and naturalness. The two protagonists are "Alone in nature's grandness," and are "are drawn to each other almost without their knowing it's happening." Turan writes that the film "is determined to involve us in the naturalness and even inevitability of its epic, complicated love story." Moreover, "watching it gradually develop on screen, unfolding with a quiet, step-by-step naturalness, makes it emotionally convincing." In a world devoid of hierarchy, doing what comes naturally is the highest good.

Stephen Holden in the New York Times gets to the heart of the matter with a seemingly gratuitous reference to the writer Leslie Fiedler, who "characterized the bond between Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, as an unconscious romantic attachment shared by two males of different races as they flee the more constraining and civilizing domain of women." Holden adds that Fiedler's observation "certainly could be applied to the Lone Ranger and Tonto.... it might also be widened to include a long line of westerns and buddy movies, from Red River to Midnight Cowboy to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: the pure male bonding that dare not explore its shadow side."

This is a fascinatingly backward interpretation of male bonding. The entire basis of culture involves the transformation of the male of the species from aggressively competing with other males to cooperating with them in a desexualized, symbolic manner. As the psychoanalytic anthropologist Weston LaBarre wrote, culture is "the non-bodily and non-genetic contriving of bonds of agreement that enable this animal [males] to function as human. Such relationships--of father and son, and of male and male--must be forged morally....What connects father and son, male and male, is the mystery of logos and logos alone.... logos as laws, agreements, rules, and regularities of behavior."

In other words, culture is founded on the ability of males to rise above nature (including their own nature). Therefore, to elevate nature to the highest is a quite explicit assault on culture and civilization itself. Maleness is given by nature, but manhood isn't. Manhood can only be conveyed from man to man, from fathers to sons (either literally or symbolically). Males must be initiated into manhood, into the "wisdom" that holds males together. To sexualize this link is astoundingly subversive, something the Boy Scouts recognize but leftists do not. It is absolutely vital to civilization that young men be provided with a realm of male love that is unencumbered by sexuality, and there are fewer and fewer such realms available today because of the leftist assault on traditional manhood. This film is truly a shot across the civilizational bow.

Not surprisingly, one of the protagonists of Brokeback Mountain has a dysfunctional relationship with his own father. Ennis is "haunted by a childhood memory of his father taking him to see the mutilated body of a rancher, tortured and beaten to death with a tire iron for living with another man," and "is immobilized by fear and shame." Here is the reversal of the male-to-male civilizing process: a wicked father who has failed to initiate his son into the ways of manhood, and instead conveys the message that the world of the Fathers is a violent and oppressive one.

Holden draws exactly the wrong message, writing that "America's squeaky closet doors may have swung open far enough for a gay rodeo circuit to flourish. But let's not kid ourselves. In large segments of American society, especially in sports and the military, those doors remain sealed. The murder of Matthew Shepard, after all, took place in Brokeback territory. Another recent film, Jarhead, suggests how any kind of male behavior perceived as soft and feminine within certain closed male environments triggers abuse and violence and how that repression of sexual energy is directly channeled into warfare."

Even if Matthew Shepard had been murdered because he was gay, these would not be examples of manhood, but failures of the culture to properly initiate these violent and abusive males into manhood.

Jan Stuart in Newsday is also amazingly clueless in her analysis, writing that "the two intrepid young actors manage to bust up several mythologies," including "the myth of the cowboy West, a land of manlier-than-thou men who release any pent-up longings with a quick stop at the local cathouse and a long drag on a Marlboro cigarette." Again we see an explicit devaluing of the realm of the masculine, even the possibility of a non-sexualized and nonviolent realm of manhood. Not surprisingly, sex and violence are linked in the film: "Their simmering mutual attraction overtakes them by surprise, in a violent coital burst."

Stuart also makes explicit the Biblical connection to paradise and fallen man, except that it is not a catastrophic fall away from God, but from nature: the movie "coaxes audiences to walk several hundred miles in its characters' shoes, luring us with the scent of forbidden fruit," as "the men attempt to re-create their youthful Eden on the sly over the ensuing years."

Mike LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle finds implicit resonance with the revelation of Sinai, writing that the film "makes no sense, except in one place in the world, the place where it started, on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. And though they come down from that mountain and go about their lives, they keep going back to it, over the course of years, because however much the love doesn't make sense, it's real - so real, it makes their lives unreal." Again, it's the reverse Sinai-dispensation of the secular left: that nature is the highest to which we may aspire, the only thing in the world that makes sense.

Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun Times also makes reference to the dysfunctional father that is at the heart of the movie, quoting Ennis: "There were two old guys shacked up together. They were the talk of the town, even though they were pretty tough old birds." One day they were found beaten to death. Ennis says: "My dad, he made sure me and my brother saw it. For all I know, he did it."

So the father not only fails in his civilizing mission, he is the murderer at the heart of the film. This is the original sin: the violent father symbolically murdering his own son instead of ushering him into manhood. Indeed, Ebert acknowledges that "This childhood memory is always there, the ghost in the room.... When he was taught by his father to hate homosexuals, Ennis was taught to hate his own feelings." This film goes way back, all the way to the beginning of civilization: Abraham, the primordial father, instead of pulling back and founding monotheism, sacrifices Isaac and initiates the Culture of the Holy Victim.

Ebert gushes that Brokeback Mountain is "the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel."

Perpetual victims, crucified for doing what comes naturally. The Passion of the Secularist.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER--

Just in case it isn't clear, I am writing about deeper cultural trends, not about particular homosexuals, many of whom are obviously fine people. This is about homosexuality being used by the left as a sort of cultural battering ram, in exactly the same way that they use race and "gender." Just as the left doesn't actually care about the interests of blacks but simply uses them to advance the leftist agenda, so too do they use homosexuals for that purpose, the ultimate purpose being to attack the transcendental and hierarchical realm that actually makes us human.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year & Happy Bangday to the Cosmos!

The Cosmos is 13.7 billion years old today. I wonder why they measure it in years? A year is just one trip around the sun, but the cosmos was here way before there was an earth or a sun.

Wait a minute, what is time anyway? It's another case of having a word for something so that we lull ourselves into thinking that we know what it is, like "consciousness," "life," "eternity" and "energy."

I have this strong suspicion that many of these "limit case" words are related to each other in some way that we don't understand. In other words, life, energy, consciousness and time may all be aspects of one another and reflections of ultimate reality. We can't define them because they contain us. We can never contain them. For what is our existence but time, life, energy and consciousness?

People have had stranger notions about that old bald cheater, Time.

Here are some ideas about time from some notable personages:

In any attempt to bridge the domains of experience belonging to the spiritual and physical sides of our nature, time occupies the key position. --A. N. Whitehead

There is some sense--easier to feel than to state--in which time is an unimportant and superficial characteristic of reality. Past and future must be acknowledged to be as real as the present, and a certain emancipation from slavery to time is essential to philosophic thought. --Bertrand Russell

Time is the substance of which I am made. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which mangles me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges. --Jorge Luis Borges

For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one. --Alfred Einstein

Apart from time there is no meaning for purpose, hope, fear, energy. If there be no historic process, then everything is what it is, namely, a mere fact. Life and motion are lost. --A. N. Whitehead

What is intelligibly diverse must be unified and whole, and only what is whole and unified can be intelligibly diverse. At the same time, only what is diversified can be intelligibly one.... The reality of time, therefore, establishes concurrently the reality of a whole which is nontemporal.... Time without eternity is strictly inconceivable. --Errol Harris

It cannot be too often emphasized that physics is concerned with the measurement of time, rather than with the essentially metaphysical question as to its nature.... We must not believe that physical theories can ultimately solve the metaphysical problems that time raises. --Mary Cleugh

The mysterious now is the universal ordering principle which embodies the processual flow of eternity into serial structure. It is in this sense that human observers give rise to the cosmos that spawned them, and are the irreducible unit of there being a cosmos at all. --Petey

It is impossible to meditate on time and the mystery of the creative process of nature without an overwhelming emotion at the limitations of human intelligence. --A. N. Whitehead

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden. --T. S. Eliot

It lived, it knew, it saw itself sublime,
Deathless, outmeasuring Space, outlasting Time.

I have escaped and the small self is dead;
I am immortal, alone, ineffable;
I have gone out from the universe I made,
And have grown nameless and immeasurable.

I have become what before Time I was.
My heart is a centre of infinity
A momentless immensity pure and bare,
I stretch to an eternal everywhere. --Sri Aurobindo

HOW IT ALL BEGINS

The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent
of incandescent finitude,
As light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow,
And falls in love with the productions of time,
Hurtling higgledy-piggledy
into jivass godlings & samskara monsters,
All the way down

HOW IT ALL ENDED

O Death, take us before & beyond this womentary maninfestation,
Reveal not the horizontal
but our inmost upmost vertical bigending.
Floating upstream alongside the ancient celestial trail,
Out from under the toilsome tablets of time,
Cast your I on the meager image below.
So long. So short. Whoosh!
There went your life.

Returning to the Oneself, borne again
To the mysterious mamamatrix of our birthdeath,
Our winding binding river of light
Empties to the sea.

--Gagdad Bob

Friday, December 30, 2005

Stark Raving Sanity

I'm reading the latest book by Rodney Stark, this one entitled The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. It pursues some of the same themes as his last book, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery.

The purpose of both books is to demonstrate how Christianity, far from being antithetical or hostile to science, was instrumental in there being science at all. From the earliest days, church fathers "taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase their understanding of scripture and revelation... The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians."

Real science arose in only one place and at one time in human history--in the Christian West--and for very clear and understandable reasons. Stark marshals the most recent scholarship disproving the cliché that Christianity was at odds with science, and shows instead that it was essential for the rise of science. Put it this way: the scientific revolution occurred just once, in only one civilization--something like 99.98 percent of all scientific inventions and discoveries have occurred in Western Christendom. Everywhere else, science either never appeared, or it died out after some initial advances--for example, in China and the Islamic world. And the reasons why science could not be sustained in these civilizations have specifically to do with religious metaphysics.

Judeo-Christian metaphysics facilitated science in several unique ways. Remember, the practice of science is based on a number of a priori assumptions about the world that cannot be proven by science. Rather, they must be taken on faith--indeed, it would not be going too far to say that science is based on a foundation of revelation. In short, Christianity depicts God as the absolute epitome of reason, who created the universe in a rational, predictable, and lawful way that is subject to human comprehension. In other words, science is based on the faith that the world is intelligible, that human beings may unlock its secrets, and that doing so actually brings one closer to God.

Secondly, "with the exception of Judaism, the other great faiths have conceived of history as either an endlessly repeated cycle or inevitable decline.... In contrast, Judaism and Christianity have sustained a directional conception of history.... That we think of progress at all shows the extent of the influence of Christianity upon us." Christians developed science "because they believed it could be done, and should be done." Stark quotes one of my own favorite philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead, who wrote that "faith in the possibility of science" was "derivative from medieval theology," specifically, "the inexpugnable belief that there is a secret, a secret which can be unveiled," derived from the "insistence on the rationality of God."

Images of God in non Judeo-Christian religions are either too irrational or impersonal to sustain a scientific world view. Rather, they posit either an eternal universe without ultimate purpose or meaning, or an endlessly recurring one that either goes nowhere or is subject to decay. Although there is profound wisdom in Hindu and Buddhist metaphysics, neither could sustain science, because both regarded the world as unreal--as maya--and taught that the best way to deal with this was liberation or escape into samadhi or nirvana. This dismissive attitude toward the world delayed material progress for hundreds of years.

Stark clearly demonstrates that the ancient Greeks were not only not responsible for the rise of science, but shows how most of their ideas actually interfered with its development and had to be abandoned or ignored. While the Greeks had a lot of speculative theories, they never developed any way to empirically test them. In fact, Plato thought that it would be foolish to try, as the material world was subject to constant change, and truth could only be found by ascending to a timeless realm where the eternal forms abided.

And where the Greeks had empirical understanding--technology, crafts, even some engineering--their empiricism was quite atheoretical. Real science must involve both theory and research: "scientific theories are abstract statements about why and how some portion of nature fits together and works... Abstract statements are scientific only if it is possible to deduce from them some definite predictions and prohibitions about what will be observed."

Likewise, Islam cannot really be regarded as part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although science began to develop at the outskirts of Islam, it was eventually stymied because the attempt to formulate natural law and general principles denied Allah's absolute freedom to act in an arbitrary manner on a moment by moment basis. This has led to the stultifying fatalism that pervades the Islamic world, since Allah does what he pleases, and it is blasphemous to try to comprehend his weird ways.

And if science flourished in an atheistic paradigm, one would think that China would have developed it much earlier than the Christian West. But Stark shows that there were many philosophical obstacles that short-circuited Chinese science. For example, they never developed "the conception of a celestial lawgiver imposing ordinances on non-human Nature.'' Taoists "would have scorned such an idea as being too naive for the subtlety and complexity of the universe as they intuited it."

Stark's book also gets into of of my own personal passions, that is, the historical discovery of the individual self (which I wrote about in my own book). Here again, it is a mistake to think that this occurred on a widespread scale in any other time or place than the Christian West. For 99% of human history we were primarily a group animal, with our primary identity coming from merger with the collective. Christianity emphasized free will, personal responsibility, and individual sin, which helped launch the evolution of the inward horizon that has only been going on for a few hundred years, but which we in the West take for granted.

In point of fact, the interior self is a quite modern innovation, which, I believe, is one of the reasons it is subject to so many "bugs"--defense mechanisms, fixations, complexes, and other "mind parasites." We're still trying to work out the inevitable problems attendant to being a self-conscious being. And this is also why there are no "neurotics" in primitive groups. Instead, they're all crazy (such as the modern far-left). In these groups, the price of sanity is fervent belief in all of the insanites of your group. (One more reason why I loathe multi-culturalism--it's literally a psychological atavism, a devolution to an earlier mode of human existence and an abandonment of the hard work of individuation.)

The book also got me to thinking about the intelligent design debate. Personally, although I am quite certain that the universe manifests intelligent design, I do not believe it should be taught in science class, but in philosophy (or philosophy of science) class. Then again, it doesn't really matter if it were to be taught in science class, since most of the greatest scientists throughout history simply took it for granted (as I do). Secular fundamentalists are desperately worried that if we were to breathe a word of this to children, we would immediately fall behind other nations in science and technology.

Nonsense. Here's a little experiment for liberals. Let us have vouchers. I'll send my kid to a religious school, you keep yours in a secular public one. Let's see who ends up with the better science education.

Chicken?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Petey's Big Night

Petey's supposedly got a gig New Year's Eve at some kind of comedy club "on the other side," and he wants to test-run some of the material on you. He rarely asks for favors, and I can't think of anything to write about anyway, so here it is. Frankly, some of the material makes me a little squeamish, because Petey sometimes hits below the suicide belt. But that's his problem. Don't hold me accountable.

********

Everyone thinks the Left is just being cynical in their relentless attacks on the war effort, but there's a greater principle involved. That is, if they change their normal behavior and stop trying to weaken the nation, it's like the terrorists have won. Making us less safe is their way of sticking it to the terrorists.

And why should the the Left stop attacking the Boy Scouts? After all, the ACLU just wants to make sure that the Boy Scouts will always be a safe place to scout for boys.

I guess what really disgusts the Left about the Boy Scouts is their policy of racial profiling. You know, helping little old ladies cross the street but not Muslim men in their twenties.

Then again, I have an idea for how the Boy Scouts could get around the the ACLU's attempts to bar them from using public property. Just have the boys run around naked in the woods and smear each other with chocolate syrup, and then give them an NEA grant.

Or, maybe the Boy Scouts could strike a compromise with homosexual activists and allow a merit badge for fabulous makeovers.

Personally, I think it would be a good idea for the Scouts to begin awarding a merit badge for keying an ACLU attorney's BMW.

I guess I just don't get it. Why do these leftists need to change the Boy Scouts so that they'll fit in? If they want to be part of a group of atheistic, morally relativistic, America-hating adolescents, they can always join the Democratic party.

I don't know how you feel about Bush spying on the terrorists, but I'm all for it. They need to monitor these mosques and do some basic ignorance gathering. But these Muslim groups like CAIR are always complaining, deflecting responsibility. It's like they're raising an entire not-me! generation.

I read a study that says that in some Muslim countries, sixty percent of the girls are forced to undergo clitoridectomies. I like to look on the bright side. This means that forty percent of the girls can run faster than their brothers.

What about this new President of Iran? I'd say he's a few goats short of a harem. Either that or a few nails short of a suicide bomb.

And the Democrats are still calling for us to surrender in Iraq. Then again, they do support the troops. In fact, if their support gets any stronger, the troops will have to obtain a restraining order.

Of course, if only Kerry had been elected, none of this would have happened. Unlike Bush, he promised to bend over forwards to rebuild our alliances. In fact, if Kerry had been elected, France would never have left Americans' behind. Nor, with John Edwards by his side, would we be living in "two Americas," one that can afford the finest hair care products, the other living in constant fear of a bad hair day.

But at the moment they're stuck with Howard Dean at the helm of the DNC. He works so closely with the a-holes at dailykos and moveon.org, that after his chairmanship is over he'll be able to switch his specialty to proctology.

Speaking of France, everyone thinks they're anti-Semitic, but they're actually quite evenhanded toward Jews and Palestinians. True, they want the Palestinians to have a homeland, but they also clamored for the return of Jews to their homeland in Germany during W.W.II.

I still hate the MSM. Could they be any more clueless? Their motto ought to be, "Always the last to know, so you won't have to be." They're always looking for "the roots of terror." What do you need to know about the roots of terror except that the average Palestinian roots for terror?

At least now that Israel is out of Gaza, the Palestinians are fighting with each other. It's even worse than when they escalated the truce with Israel. In fact, they're fighting like the Jihatfields & McMartyrs.

I read a story the other day about China selling arms to the Sudan, which, last time I checked, was committing genocide against Christians. That reminded me of some of the lost sayings of Confucius:

--Confucius say man who feed allahgator get eaten last.

--Confucius say man who do business with Muslim must beware of evil in tent.

--Confucius say Christians pay arm and leg for arms sold to Sudan.

--Confucius say Chinese government like peeping Tom--enjoy watching Christians get screwed.

--Confucius say Bill Clintons' secretary not permanent unless screwed on desk.

How did that one get in there? That was 1998.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Political Entomology, Part II: Liberal Ants and Their Circular Mill

I'm reading an interesting book entitled The Wisdom of Crowds, which is full of counter-intuitive insights until you think about them for a moment and realize that they're not really so counter-intuitive at all.

Surowiecki's main point is that groups are often smarter than the smartest individuals. Anyone who knows anything about economics knows that this certainly applies to the allocation of scarce resources, which decentralized free markets accomplish much more efficiently and effectively than any individual ever could, no matter how brilliant.

But it turns out that the collective wisdom of crowds generally surpasses experts in most realms, so long as the crowd satisfies four conditions: diversity of opinion (note: the very opposite of the leftist definition of diversity), independence of thought (opinions are not determined by the opinions of those those around them), decentralization (in particular, the ability to draw on local knowledge), and aggregation (a mechanism for converting private judgments into a collective decision).

It turns out that if you assemble a group of just the brightest people to solve a problem, it will actually be less effective at solving the problem than a more diverse group with fewer brilliant people. (One immediately thinks of how our liberal looniversity bins have become such cognitively sealed asylums of foolishness.) For one thing, smart people tend to resemble each other in what they can do and how they think: "Adding in a few people who know less, but have different skills, actually improves the group's performance..... The development of knowledge may depend on maintaining an influx of the naive and the ignorant.... Groups that are too much alike find it harder to keep learning, because each member is bringing less and less new information to the table."

To cite just one example, between 1984 and 1999, almost 90 percent of all mutual find managers underperformed the Wilshire 5000 Index, "a relatively low bar." In short there was no correlation at all beween expertise and accuracy in predicting the stock market. Nevertheless, the more educated one is, the more one is likely to overestimate one's abilities and judgment, not just in the field of finance, but among "physicians, nurses, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs," who all believe they know much more than they actually do. Here, Paul Krugman comes to mind, an expert economist who is merely wrong about everything, every time.

Obviously there are unwise crowds, but for very specific reasons. Surowiecki cites the example of what entomologists call a "circular mill." In the early 20th century a naturalist came upon a group of army ants in the Guyana jungle. They were moving in a huge circle some 1,200 feet in circumference, one ant following the next, in a closed loop that took each ant two and a half hours to complete. The circle went on for a couple of days, as one ant after another eventually dropped dead from exhaustion and starvation.

Surowiecki explains: "The [circular] mill is created when army ants find themselves separated from their colony. Once they're lost, they obey a simple rule: follow the ant in front of you. The result is the mill, which usually only breaks up when a few ants straggle off by chance and the others follow them away..... The simple tools that make ants so successful are also responsible for the demise of the ants who get trapped in the circular mill."

This is an example of an unwise group. Why? Because its members are not independent decision makers. They just follow each other blindly. As Surowiecki explains, independence prevents people's mistakes from becoming correlated, from everyone making the same mistake. Secondly, "independent individuals are more likely to have new information rather than the same old data everyone is already familiar with. The smartest groups are made up of people with diverse perspectives who are able to stay independent of each other."

Exactly like the internet. And exactly unlike the MSM and its political action wing, the Democratic party. (And, I might add, the liberal R & D facility known as the university system.)

Let's hearken back to last week's post on Political Entomology and Blue-Bellied Liberals. There I noted that the liberal world is full of "media ants, Hollywood ants, academic ants, singing ants, judicial ants, educational establishment ants, and lastly, political ants who all run around randomly bumping their heads together, so that they're constantly regurgitating little half-digested bits of information and feeding them to one another. Pretty soon, just like the ants, they're all the same color."

In fact, it's even worse than I thought--our hopelessly lost and disoriented liberal elites are caught in a circular mill! They've lost touch with reality, but each is simply obeying the simple rule that he should blindly follow the liberal ant in front of him, even if it means going around in circles or taking the country over the cliff.

Remember the words of Thomas Lifson, writing on The Liberal Bubble: our liberal elites inhabit a "comfortable, supportive, and self esteem-enhancing environment. The most prestigious and widest-reaching media outlets reinforce their views, rock stars and film makers provide lyrics and stories making their points, college professors tell them they are right, and the biggest foundations like Ford fund studies to prove them correct." Liberals "are able to live their lives untroubled by what they regard as serious contrary opinion. The capture of the media, academic, and institutional high ground enables them to dismiss their conservative opponents as ill-informed, crude, bigoted, and evil." Liberalism has been reduced to an "in-group code, perfectly understandable and comforting among the elect, but increasingly disconnected from everyone else, and off-putting to those not included in the ranks of the in-group."

Not only have liberals become detached from the greater colony--as reflected in plunging ratings, fleeing readership, and diminished influence--but they have become increasingly detached from reality itself. Plodding along in a grim circle, the New York Times following behind Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean, Time and Newsweek trudging along behind the New York Times, CNN trundling behind Time and Newsweek, academics apeing other unoriginal academics, Air America slinking behind Howard Dean, dailykos goose-stepping after George Soros, George Soros shuffling behind Ted Turner... it's endless and yet finite, because it's a circle. The circle is certainly internally consistent--in fact, there's no diversity at all. Nor is there much contact with what you or I would call reality.

It couldn't be more different than the mighty internet, more on which tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sifting Through the Ruins of Broken Attachment

Reader Bryan has asked an excellent question about yesterday's post on the psychopathology of dailykos.

First, he observes that "This is a very interesting idea on what subconsciously motivates our current young leftists, and it makes intuitive sense to me because it reminded me of some encounters that I have had with a leftist friend. Observing how certain political issues would cause her to fly into a rage, I began to suspect that what she was really angry about was her unhappy childhood and that being perpetually angry about politics was a way of not facing her grief and anger toward her parents."

He goes on:

"However, one thing about this idea confuses me. Why is it that leftists complete the gestalt of 'abandoning parent' only with Republican leaders and not with Democratic leaders? Why, for instance, was it impossible to project the imago (if that is the correct term; forgive again my amateurishness) of the abandoning parent onto President Clinton?"

That is a very fair question, with no easy answer. I am actually reluctant to use psychology to simply pathologize those with whom I disagree, but in this case, how can you not? Kos acknowledges up front that he is not dealing in the realm of argument or ideas. Therefore, you cannot engage him on that level. As such, you really have only two choices--either descend to his primitive level of mid-brain noise, or "go meta" on him, as I have done.

I would never do this with someone posing a substantive argument or challenge--it would be insulting and condescending to do so. But some modern psychoanalysts, in particular W. R. Bion, have done extremely important work on what might be called "epistemological pathologies" of the mind. In many people, the thinking mind more or less fails to develop, and instead becomes an organ for the discharge and projection of primitive emotional elements (Bion called them "beta elements"). For those people it is not an act of condescension but an act of empathy to meet them "where they live," so to speak. This is an important lesson I learned early in my training.

If you are remotely sensitive, you can actually feel it when primitive elements are being projected into you. Obviously not all people on the left do this, but there are certain more primitive "psychoclasses" on the left that are quite prone to this type of aggressive projection--really, it's more of an expulsion and invasion of beta elements. It emanates from a psychotic (developmentally early) part of the mind, and when you are being used as a receptacle for someone's beta elements, it is difficult to keep your cool.

For one thing, one of the purposes of the projections is to "attack the links" in your own mind. Again, this is an idea developed by Bion; it may sound abstract or esoteric, but it is actually based on sound observation of what transpires when you are being projected into. You may subjectively experience a dismantling of your own cognitive structure, and be left with a sort of empty confusion, not quite knowing how to respond.

I would place someone like Randi Rhodes of Air America into the same category as the Kos contingent. Yesterday I decided to tune in and listen for the "beta elements," that is, projected bits of undigested anger and rage. I only listened for about ten minutes, because the remainder of her program was pre-empted by a Clippers basketball game. But in just those ten minutes I was overwhelmed with material, and there were more beta elements than I could even transcribe: Conservatives don't believe in freedom, but want to impose a theocracy. Conservatives don't really want to overturn Roe vs. Wade because it will threaten their fundraising. Bush wants to spread religious fundamentalism so that the rapture will come sooner. Jerry Falwell has a policy of never being alone in the same room with a woman other than his wife, and Republicans secretly wish to put this policy into law. Republicans want to make it against the law to be an atheist. Belief in intelligent design is code for imposing a Taliban theocracy.

It went on and on and on. With all due respect, I would say that it would be foolish to engage such an individual in rational debate. This is a cognitive pathology. But where is it coming from? Frankly, I don't know. However, within about two sessions on the couch, I believe I'd have a pretty good idea. Again, forget about the content of her thought, as objectionable as it may be. As a psychologist, I am actually more interested in the form of her thought, especially at this primitive level. In a neurotic one is more concerned with the content, but here we are dealing with damaged psychological structure, a very different thing. (One other fascinating observation by Bion is that these individuals tend to convert epistemological problems into moral problems, thus accounting for the stridently moralistic tone of contemporary liberals; this accords with the truism--again, a generalization--that conservatives think liberals are merely uninformed or foolish, whereas liberals think conservatives are actually evil.)

Are there people and groups on the right that do this? Undoubtedly. I'm just not plugged into those groups, nor are those groups particularly prominent on the right. I would be tempted to say that a Michael Savage falls into that category, but I'm pretty sure that what he's doing is just his "schtick." But these people on the left are true believers, plus they are normative for their group, not exceptions.

Are there generational psychopathologies, general patterns, or styles of group neurosis? I think so. In my generation, for example, the style of pathology was different. Unlike the present 18-35 group, we were probably the most indulged psychoclass in history. For example, my mother--along with so many other mothers--was a fanatical devotee of the child-centered parenting style of Dr. Spock, who was a disciple of the great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott. Among the generational cohort of baby boomers, that indulgence led to a plethora of narcissism, entitlement, utopian fantasies, and other distinct problems. In fact, you could probably draw a distinction between the contemporary "old" and "new" left by noting the very different styles of narcissism (for you insiders, this might correspond with the Kohut vs. Kernberg models of narcissism--their models might describe different populations of narcissists, Kohut's more mature, Kernberg's more primitive).

Since the early 1970's we have, in fact, been engaging in a completely novel psychohistorical experiment with unknown cultural ramifications. Specifically, what is the effect of abandoning children to daycare very shortly after they are born, thereby disrupting the primordial attachment system bequeathed to us by evolution, the very system that ushers us into humanity? There are many provocative studies, all loudly attacked and suppressed by the feminist beta element crying machine.

But use your intuition, especially if you're enjoying the bonding experience with your infant, as I am. If it's so pleasurable for me, imagine how it feels for him. Actually, it's pretty obvious how it feels for him. It's more or less ecstatic. What are the long term effects of having this primordial joy of being alive short-circuited? What sort of worldview emerges from its ruins? Why do all of the studies show that happy people are more likely to be conservative, and vice versa?

I can't say with certainty, but I'm sure it will be an ongoing subject of future posts.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Kos Kids, Nihilism, and the Ghosts of the Nursery

Yesterday, in a post entitled A Little Reason Free From Passion, Please, Dr. Sanity reviewed the legal arguments for the NSA intercept program, writing that the courts "have unanimously held that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to order warrantless searches for purposes of gathering foreign intelligence information, which includes information about terrorist threats."

However, she adds, "Some people don't like that such a clear case can be made for the President's actions. For them, Bush is simply a liar and a fascist; and the law is completely irrelevant." For example, at dailykos, we are assured that fascism "is coming. The lure of fascism is too powerful for men like the ones currently pissing all over our Constitution." This time the targets for genocide "Probably won’t be the Jews. Maybe Arabs. Maybe gays. Maybe 'libruls.' Who the f*ck knows? It almost certainly won’t be recognizable to most people until it’s far too late."

"When it comes to the high anxiety of the Left today," notes Dr. Sanity, "they do not fear Osama Bin Laden or Abu Musab Al Zarqawi--they fear George Bush." Interestingly, the paranoid left is overwhelmed by the "eery parallels" between Hitler's Germany of the 1930's and George Bush's contemporary America. And it turns out that they are absolutely right, but in an unexpected way. She quotes Stafford Cripps, a left wing member of Parliament who warned that if Churchill became prime minister he would "introduce fascist measures and there would be no more general elections." Like our contemporary leftist paranoiacs, Cripps didn't fear Hitler, the true evil, but Churchill, who was devoted to fighting it.

Dr. Sanity also quotes Simone de Beauvoir, who didn't think that Germany was the threat, "but instead worried that the 'panic that the Right was spreading' would drag France, Britain, and the rest of Europe into war."

This got me to thinking. One of the maddening things about the left is that they never engage your argument, but always question your motives. You know the drill by now: if you are against government mandated racial discrimination, you are a racist; if you have reservations about redefining marriage, you're a homophobe; if you believe the strict scientific evidence implies an intelligent creator, you are a religious fanatic who wishes to impose a theocracy; etc, etc.

In the contemporary left, it has become gospel that the so-called "war on terror" is really just an excuse for President Bush to take away our civil liberties and impose a "fascist theocracy." Please note, this is not hyperbole--they really and truly believe this (see my post from a couple of days ago, On the Bizarro World of the Left: Krystallnacht Comes to AmeriKKKa). The left actually believes that President Bush was just waiting for a 9-11 so that he could use it as an excuse to commence the fascist takeover on 9-12.

But Dr. Sanity's diagnosis suggests the opposite: that leftists were just waiting for September 11 so that they could use it to advance their agenda on September 12. And just what is the leftist agenda? Many thinkers, such as Steven Hicks (see my review of his Explaining Postmodernism) have argued that they don't actually have one anymore. That is, they have become purely reactionary. Now that Marxism has been thoroughly discredited, the intellectual pillars upon which leftism rests no longer exist. All that remains is the hungry ghost of Marxism, which involves a radical critique of Western civilization, and an unwavering commitment to the idea that it must be defeated and even destroyed. This is why leftism is so incoherent and contradictory, not to say enraged and angry. It is not about argument but about action. To the extent that language is used, it is deployed as a blunt instrument. Since September 12, they have simply taken every opportunity to use this blunt instrument to question or attack any effort to defend us from those who wish to destroy us.

Yesterday, Washington Monthly published a timely interview with Markos Moulitsas, proprietor of dailykos, the most popular and influential Democratic blog. The interviewer--who was actually sympathetic to Moulitsas--notes that "the most salient thing about" his politics "is not where he falls on the left-right spectrum.... It's his relentless competitiveness, founded not on any particular set of political principles, but on an obsession with tactics —and in particular, with the tactics of a besieged minority, struggling for survival: stand up for your principles, stay united, and never back down from a fight." Moulitsas boasts that “I'm not ideological at all.... I'm just all about winning.”

As a typical--indeed, prototypical--leftist, he doesn't believe that conservatives have any arguments that are worth considering for even a moment. Rather, he believes that conservatives simply possess a more effective “noise machine," that is, "a coalition of coordinated advocacy and opinion media outlets that pressure the mainstream media into reporting, and repeating, GOP-friendly spin."

In other words, Moulitsas' philosophy is admittedly entirely content-free, consisting of pure emotion. It is as if he lives in the animal world. One animal brays, and he will simply bray louder and proclaim victory. “The simplest fact about American politics,” says Moulitsas, “is that Republicans have a noise machine and we don't.” Therefore, he decided that dailykos "would become the Democratic noise machine, pressing the case against the Bush administration and the Iraq war in the strongest terms possible." Even the writer of this piece observes that "Moulitsas's posts are not long or involved—and he clearly has no literary pretensions—but they are clear and consistent. Some news of the day has reinforced either the corruption and evil of Republicans, the gullible incomprehension of the media, or the timidity and incoherence of the Democrats. The site is for the true believers, not the aesthetes; its tone is harsh, impassioned, and frequently humorless.... And sometimes infantile and absurd."

Harsh. Impassioned. Humorless. Infantile. Absurd. This is exactly the impression one comes away with after dipping into the truly joyless, endarkened, and unhappy world of dailykos. But one could easily add paranoid, shrill, nihilistic, and frankly, delusional (and I use this word advisedly, in the strict clinical sense). As a psychologist, one is trained not just to listen to the content of a patient's verbal associations, but to listen with a "third ear" to the feelings they engender in you (known as "counter-transference"). If one reads dailykos (including the comments) in this way, it's really rather sad.

The tone of destructive nihilism is especially prominent, and very troubling, because it appears to be generational. "As this generation begins to move into positions of power within the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, they don't pose much of a challenge on issues or substance. So the tactical critique takes center stage. Moulitsas's sensibility suits his generation perfectly.... Moulitsas is just basically uninterested in the intellectual and philosophical debates that lie behind the daily political trench warfare. By his own admission, he just doesn't care about policy."

I won't get into all of them here, but I have a number of ideas and intuitions as to why so many members of this 18-35 generation would be so angry, cynical, nihilistic and paranoid. For example, it is difficult to imagine many of them having had happy childhoods in intact, loving families, where they weren't abandoned to daycare or riven by divorce. Theirs' is indeed a radical critique, but it has the hallmarks of that undying and unquenchable resentment that can only be rooted in the Great Lost Entitlement of Childhood. I can't see anything in it that remotely resembles the leftism that seduced me and my generational cohort, which may have been foolish and naive, but at least spoke of universal love and spiritual transcendence. How different the tone is today.

As a psychologist, I can't help thinking that George Bush is simply a stand-in for the soul-destroying "ghosts of the nursery" that result from having been bitterly disillusioned so long ago. No one is so menacing as the abandoning parent one has internalized. These shape-shifting specters of childhood haunt the landscape of the mind, causing those who harbor them to compulsively search for their symbolic representation in the external world. Better to fight them there than to realize that the omnipotent enemy is really inside one's own head. Thus, the world is full of malevolent traitors who were supposed take care of us! (This is a role bin Laden cannot fill, because he was never supposed to be our caretaker.)

So now there is a Democratic Noise Machine. Now that I have a little Gagdad, I understand better than ever where that shrill noise comes from, and what he's asking for. Except in his case, he's more than entitled to it. I will be pretty surprised if he grows up feeling cheated of the entitlement that is owed to all children, and proceeds to vainly search for it later in life through politics.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Political Entomology and Blue-Bellied Liberals

Some political behavior is just so primitive that human psychology falls short of explaining it. Instead, a keen-eyed psychologist has to rely on other sciences, like, oh, I don't know, entomology.

Ever notice how ants, in their busy peregrinations, are constantly rushing up to each other and bumping heads? It turns out that it's not just to exchange pleasantries with one another, but to feed one another. If one ant is well fed and the other one hungry, the former will produce a drop from its mouth that the other one gratefully gobbles down.

Apparently, ants have what is known as a "social stomach" in addition to a personal stomach. Until food passes into the personal stomach and becomes the private property of said ant, any ant can stake a claim to it. They have even done experiments on this, for example, feeding a few ants honey that has been colored with a blue-tinted dye. Soon enough, all of the ants in the community will show a blue tint in their abdomen.

This is pretty much how the left/liberal world works. It is filled with media ants, Hollywood ants, academic ants, singing ants, judicial ants, educational establishment ants, and lastly, political ants who all run around randomly bumping their heads together, so that they're constantly regurgitating little half-digested bits of information and feeding them to one another. Pretty soon, just like the ants, they're all the same color.

Take, for example, the current bogus controversy about President Bush and the "domestic spying." If we could have somehow placed a dye in the New York Times, we would have seen how the meme left their proboscis and was sucked up by the MSM. From there, the MSM fed it to the politicians, and they bumped heads with all the legions of dopey TV lawyers like Jonathan Turley and Jeffrey Toobin, who assured us that what Bush has been doing is illegal. It then trickles further down into the darker precincts of academia, the left-wing blogosphere, and Air America, and pretty soon every liberal's stomach is the same color as the New York Times was last Friday morning.

I thought about this as I was reading Thomas Lifson's typically excellent piece, The Liberal Bubble. He points out how our liberal elites have managed to construct such "a comfortable, supportive, and self esteem-enhancing environment. The most prestigious and widest-reaching media outlets reinforce their views, rock stars and film makers provide lyrics and stories making their points, college professors tell them they are right, and the biggest foundations like Ford fund studies to prove them correct."

If you're an empty-headed liberal, you never have to go far to get yourself a fill-up. Just turn on the TV. Pick up the newspaper. Listen to Bono. Read Time or Newsweek. Go to college. Go to a Christmas party. Liberalism is always in the air, like political muzak. Unlike conservatives, liberals find themselves in a congenial world that constantly mirrors their half-baked philosophy, so that it need never be thought through and actually digested in the personal stomach-mind.

According to Lifson, "American liberals are able to live their lives untroubled by what they regard as serious contrary opinion. The capture of the media, academic, and institutional high ground enables them to dismiss their conservative opponents as ill-informed, crude, bigoted, and evil. The memes are by now familiar. Rush Limbaugh and the other radio talkers 'preach hate.' Evangelicals are 'religious fanatics' comparable to the Islamo-fascists in their desire to impose 'theocracy'.... Jewish conservatives are members of the 'neocon' cult..."

I am sure you have witnessed how free liberals feel to casually utter the most obnoxious, bigoted, and hateful comments about President Bush or about conservatives in general. Members of my own family do so. As Lifson writes, liberalism has been reduced to an "in-group code, perfectly understandable and comforting among the elect, but increasingly disconnected from everyone else, and off-putting to those not included in the ranks of the in-group. Rather than focusing on facts, logic, and persuasion, liberals find it easier to employ labeling ('That’s racist!') and airy dismissal of contrary views to sway their audience, and because their authority figures in the media and academia accept this behavior, they assume it is persuasive to the rest of us."

Within the liberal in-group, such expressions of group norms "earn prestige." Ted Kennedy tells it like it is! Howard Dan speaks truth to power! "But to the rest of society it becomes stranger and stranger, until it becomes repellant," writes Lifson. Liberals "experience their differences with the rest of society as a sign of their advanced intelligence and consciousness. At best, they are perplexed at how long it is taking everyone else to catch-up with their enlightened state of understanding."

Liberals inhabit a world of such constant intellectual mirroring and self-reinforcement, that it is possible for them to live a life relatively free of any "cognitive friction." Or at least it used to be. You can see how irritating it is--traumatic, really--for them to have to actually contend with competing world views, even something as innocuous as Fox Cable (which is clearly more populist than conservative).

Odd that liberals accuse President Bush of living in a bubble, when the typical liberal is so amazingly provincial. I don't think there is anyone living in a more cognitively closed intellectual world than the typical secular New York liberal, where there is no diversity of thought and all the stomachs are blue. I would be bored to death if I had to live in such an intellectually and especially spiritually endeadened environment. What bothers me about the New York Times is not so much the liberal bias, as its parochial and small-minded pseudo-sophistication.

Unlike liberals, conservatives, in order to get through life, must have "dual citizenship." They must learn to negotiate a world dominated by liberals and by liberalism. I would never dream of publicly uttering the kinds of things liberals feel free to say in public (although Petey is a different story--he has a sort of political Tourette's Syndrome). Since conservatives have been outsiders for so long, they not only know how to "pass" in polite society, but they also know how to argue. In fact, most conservatives (including myself) started out liberal, so we know exactly how liberals think. The reverse is almost never true; conservatives don't become liberal unless they have sustained a closed head injury or are unfortunate victims of some other organic process.

On the one hand it would be much easier to live in an intellectually narcissistic world that mirrored my own thoughts. But once that happens, you may realize that they're not even really your thoughts. They're just half-digested blue memes, passed from one mind to another, in a caricature of thought. Another predictable day in the liberal anthill.