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Preference cascade: How solid are Obama’s favorability numbers?

I wonder about the validity of these sorts of numbers:

While rising 14 points since February, Romney still trails the president, who currently has a 56% favorable rating, with 42% saying they hold an unfavorable opinion of Obama. The president’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are unchanged from CNN polls in March and April.

“The biggest gap between Obama and Romney’s favorable ratings is among younger Americans. More than two-thirds of those under 30 have a favorable view of Obama, compared to only four-in-ten who feel that way about Romney. Romney is much stronger among senior citizens, but the gap is not nearly as big," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney may have a small advantage among independent voters, but that is offset by his lower favorable rating among Republicans than Obama has among Democrats."

A couple of things – how strong, really, is Obama’s favorable ratings among a demographic scared to death of being called a racist if they happen to have an unfavorable view of our first black president?  That’s a legitimate question.

Old folks, for the most part, don’t give a damn about that and may more closely mirror the real feelings out in fly over land.

The reason I say that is Obama’s “favorable ratings” have continued to stay high while his job performance numbers have continued to fall.  That seems somewhat unlikely.  Usually the two show some movement in the same direction even if one is higher than the other.

Romney is going to grow on Republicans if he continues to attack (i.e. not be the designated place holder for the GOP and refuse to do what is necessary to win as did John McCain), keep the campaign focused on the real issues of the campaign (and Obama’s record) and not fall for the distractions that are sure to be tossed out to the media every week by the Obama campaign.  Republicans are eager for someone, anyone, who will carry the political battle to the Democrats.

John Hayward talks about the Glenn Reynolds “preference cascade”, a phenomenon Reynolds notes while talking about the collapse of totalitarian regimes.   Hayward describes it here:

A large population can be dominated by a small group only by persuading all dissenters that they stand alone.  Most of their fellow citizens are portrayed as loyal to the regime, and everyone around the dissident is a potential informer.  A huge dissident population can therefore be suppressed, by making them believe they’re all lonely voices in the wilderness… until the day they begin realizing they are not alone, and most people don’t support the regime.  The process by which dissent becomes seen as commonplace, and eventually overwhelming, is the preference cascade.

This analysis doesn’t have to be confined to the study of repressive, dictatorial regimes, or even politics.  Consider the phenomenon of celebrity without merit – that is, people who are famous for being famous.  Their popularity tends to evaporate in a preference cascade eventually, as people in the audience begin wondering if anyone else is tired of hearing about the ersatz “celebrity,” and soon discover that everyone is.

He then applies it to the politics of this race:

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – that disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral.  You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him, or at least a greedy tool of the Evil Rich, or a “Tea Party extremist.”

A negative mirror image of this narrative was installed around Mitt Romney, who is supposedly a fat-cat extremist (and, thanks to the insidious War On Mormons, a religious nut) who nobody likes… even though large numbers of people in many different states voted for him in the primaries.  Of course he has his critics, and I’m not seeking to dismiss the intensity or sincerity of that criticism… but the idea was to make Romney supporters feel isolated going into the general election, particularly the people who don’t really get involved in primary elections.

Both of those convergent narratives began crumbling this week: Obama is deeply vulnerable, and his campaign has no real answer to criticism of his record – they’ve even tried floating an outright fraud, the now-infamous Rex Nutting charts that presented Obama as some kind of fiscal hawk.  (Stop laughing – major media figures took this garbage seriously for a couple of days, and Team Obama did push it.)  Major Democrats, beginning with Newark mayor Cory Booker, expressed criticism of the Obama campaign… and the Left reacted with shrieking hysteria and vows of personal destruction for the “traitors.”

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney effectively presented both substantive criticism of Obama, and a positive agenda.  Attacks on his business record that were supposed to destroy him through class-warfare tactics failed to draw blood.  The idea that he can win became widely accepted.  That doesn’t mean he won the 2012 argument… but unlike Barack Obama, he is offering one.

What is beginning to lose its effectiveness, it’s cache, is, as Hayward notes, " … disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him …”.

But when polled, especially among younger voters, that presumption is still powerful enough I would guess, to see those voters lie to pollsters.  It is a sort of social conditioning that has taught them to avoid such a label even at the cost of a lie (and even when speaking to a pollster).

So, and it is merely a guess, but based on a life long study of human nature, there is a distinct possibility that  the “Tom Bradley” effect may be pumping up Obama’s popularity numbers.

And, as Hayward points out, as it becomes less and less effective or acceptable to accuse those who do not like Obama of being racists, the possibility of a preference cascade negative to Obama’s favorability is a distinct possibility.

No one who has watched the beginnings of this race can, with any credibility, claim the Obama campaign isn’t struggling.  Donors are deserting him, his record is an albatross around his neck, there is strife between his administration and campaign and many of his political supporters seem luke warm at best with any number of Democrats running for reelection in Congress content not to be seen with the man.  Too many indicators that point to the probability that the numbers CNN are pushing aren’t quite as solid as they may seem.

Hayward concludes with an important update:

I should add that the most powerful cascades occur when an artificially imposed sense of isolation crumbles.  That’s very definitely what is happening here.  Widespread popular discontent with the Obama presidency has been suppressed by making the unhappy campers feel marginalized.  The failure of that strategy is akin to watching a dam burst under high pressure.

The race, once it gets into high gear, is what will cause the “dam burst” as more and more Americans discover they’re not alone in their feelings about the President and that they are not at all on the margins, but very mainstream. 

Once that happens (and it will), when everyone finally realizes they’re not the only one who has noticed the emperor has no clothes, the chances of a one-term Obama presidency increase exponentially.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Economic Statistics for 30 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Personal income rose 0.4% in March, while personal spending rose 0.3%. The PCE Price index, an inflation measure, rose 0.2%. One a year over year basis, personal income rose 3.2%, personal spending rose 4.0%, and the PCE Price index rose 2.1%.

The Dallas Fed Mfg Survey shows slowing growth, with the business activity index falling to -3.4, while the production index fell to 5.6.

The Chicago PMI shows growing business activity in the Chicago Area, with the Business Barometer Index at 65.2. This report is widely seen as a precursor to the national PMI due out tomorrow, but there is often substantial divergence between the Chicago and nationwide reports.

~
Dale Franks
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Tolerance is not a one-way street

Apparently T-shirts are a “human right” now (via The American Conservative):

The owner of “Hands On Originals,” a well-known t-shirt company in the region, declined to print the shirts for the city’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) because it would conflict with their Christian convictions.

The privately owned company is now accused of violating Lexington’s Fairness Act – which protects people and organizations from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

An attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the T-shirt company says:

“No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”

But the city says:

“Hands On Originals” will be “required by law to participate in the investigation.”

“We have subpoena power and have the backing of the law,” he said. “We are a law enforcement agency and people have to comply.”

Should the company be found guilty of discriminating against the homosexuals Sexton said they could be subjected to fines.

Yes, friends, a city has a “human rights commission” which is considered a “law enforcement agency” that can force compliance with a law that would do precisely what the ADF lawyer claims it shouldn’t have the power to do.

You’d think there’d be a solution that could be reached well before this is escalated to the use of government coercion, doesn’t it?  That is if all the GLSO wanted to do was buy T-shirts.

And, a solution was offered:

GLSO wanted “Hands On Original” to print shirts for the city’s fifth annual Lexington Pride Festival. The store offered to find another company that would honor its price – but that wasn’t good enough for the GLSO.

“Our feeling on that is, separate but equal wasn’t okay during the civil rights movement and it’s not okay now,” Aaron Baker told the television station. Baker is board president of GLSO.

That’s right, it is agenda time.  This isn’t about T-shirts at all.  It’s about forcing their one-way version of tolerance on someone.  The irony is that GLSO appears to have absolutely no tolerance for the principles of the owners of the T-shirt company.

Which set me to wondering.  Here’s a hypothetical for you.  What if the owner of the T-shirt company was gay?  And what if Westboro Baptist Church placed an order for 10 dozen T-shirts which said “God hates faggots” on them? What if the T-shirt shop owner refused the order because of his principles?

Same reaction?

I’d guess no.  In fact, I’d guess precisely the opposite reaction.

The T-shirt company owner wrote an op-ed for the paper explaining his point of view:

“I decided to pass on the opportunity because, as a Christian owner, I cannot in good conscience endorse groups or events that run counter to my convictions,” Adamson wrote in the op-ed.

Adamson, who has been in business for more than 20 years, wrote that he “does not expect, or even ask, people to agree with my view.”

“All I ask for people is to respect my right as an owner to not produce a product that is contrary to my principles,” he wrote.

Adamson called on people to stand up for the rights of small business owners not “to be forced into producing a product with a message that conflicts with their beliefs and consciences.”

The reaction was anything but tolerant or understanding of a differing view:

“Hands On Originals” has faced a barrage of attacks since the accusations were made public. More than 2,000 people have joined a boycott movement on Facebook. Another group is trying to buy the company’s mortgage so they can be evicted.

The Fayette County public school system placed a temporary hold on buying t-shirts from the company until the issue is resolved. The University of Kentucky is also reviewing its future business with the t-shirt maker.

Even Lexington’s openly gay mayor has condemned the privately-owned t-shirt company, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”

“I’m against discrimination, period,” Gray said in a statement released to television station WKYT. “It’s bad for business and bad for the city. I support the Human Rights Commission in a full and thorough investigation.”

Real tolerance is apparently unacceptable.  The hypocrisy of GLSO is palpable.  And trying to use the coercive power of government is disgusting.

Tolerance isn’t a one-sided principle.  If  one wants people to tolerate their beliefs and lifestyle, it is incumbent upon them to do the same for others.  If they actually believe in true tolerance, that is.

What is clear here is GLSO doesn’t. 

More disgusting, at least to me, is the inclusion of this ridiculous city level “human rights commission” as a law enforcement agency and it’s obvious intent to force “compliance” against the conscience and principles of the owner. 

There was a problem (GLSO wanted T-shirts, T-shirt company refused due to conscience), an offered solution (T-shirt company offers to find another producer at same price) which was reasonable and a rejection of that solution because the group has an political agenda and wishes to force the company to violate its principles and conscience.  And which side does government take?

The side that wants to use its coercive power to force that violation.

Let freedom ring.

HT: papajj

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and the digital lynch mob

I have to admit watching this “discussion” over the who, what, when, where and how of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman with disgust.  I refrained from commenting on it when it first hit the news because I have learned enough over the years to recognize stories where one needs to let it develop a bit for all the facts to come out.

Of course that didn’t at all stop the usual suspects from pouncing on what seemed a perfect story with which they could push their favorite racial themes (Jesse Jackson’s “Blacks are under attack” for instance) and for others to involve themselves in something that they really have no business involving themselves in.

It has laid bare the polarization within this country and how extreme it has become.

The story, if you’ve taken time to research it, is nothing like the cut and dried “whitey killed a black man because he was black” meme the race baiters are pushing.   In fact, if you’ve bothered to research the story, it appears that race had little if anything to do with this tragedy.  It is not a racial issue, even if it has been portrayed as such by the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons and Louis Farrakhans of this world. 

George Zimmerman, if anything, appears to have been an overzealous neighborhood watch person with a history of calling in suspicious activities he saw in his neighborhood.  Treyvan Martin, who lived 250 miles away from that neighborhood, was apparently acting suspiciously (rummaging through garbage cans, etc.) when Zimmerman spotted him.  I doubt that Zimmerman cared one whit what Martin’s skin color was at the time.   Apparently somewhere during that time, a confrontation took place, a fight ensued and Zimmerman killed Martin with a shot to the chest.

A witness has come forward saying he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman punching him in the face. Martin, aged 17 and 6 foot 3, was not the innocent “child” the media has tried to portray.   He was a probably bigger than Zimmerman and was on a 10 day suspension from school.  Obviously that doesn’t justify killing him but it sheds a little different light on the situation.

I can’t get inside the heads of either of these people but is it reasonable to assume, given the situation, that Zimmerman might have feared for his life?   Possibly.  I don’t know – and neither does anyone else.

Does that justify the shooting.  Again, I don’t know.

But of course all the race pimps do. Just ask them.  And so they’ve essentially initiated a vendetta against George Zimmerman, who, by the way, isn’t white even though that assumption was immediately made by many given his name.  Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian and of Indian stock. 

An example of the thoughtless incitement that is going on can be found with none other than Spike Lee who, uninformed jerk that he is, published Zimmerman’s address on Twitter.    Numerous threats to Zimmerman have been published on Twitter as well.  The New Black Panthers have put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head.  Louis Farrakhan tweeted that the “law of retribution may soon be applied”, a not-so-veiled threat against Zimmerman.

The irony, of course, is this is a typical lynch mob mentality being stirred up here.  These are calls for violence outside the law. 

No one is claiming that George Zimmerman isn’t at fault here.  He may very well be. We don’t know yet.   That’s for a court of his peers to decide.  Certainly not a marginally informed and inflamed mob.  If something happens to Zimmerman before his day in court, you can most likely look to the digital lynch mob for the source.  I’ve always considered the racist white lynch mobs of the past to be one of the most horrific and disgusting manifestations of the racism of the past.  I find what is happening now no less horrific or disgusting.

There’s also another reason this is on the national radar.  And it has nothing to do with race.  I’ll let my favorite leftist hack columnist at the New York Times lay it out for you:

Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy — and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

If you are inclined to want to see guns controlled or banned and citizens required to flee any sort of confrontation vs. defending themselves, Paul Krugman is right there with you and has the goods on this now “infamous” law.

Except, as usual, it is a mish-mash of half-truths and innuendo cobbled together to make you think that corporate America is actually the villain in all of this.

We talked about this case on the podcast last night.  What is going on right now is all too predictable.  And it again points out how polarized this country is.  And it isn’t getting less polarized.

Final thought.  As I recall, President Obama was supposed to be the “post-racial” President, or that was his claim.  Yet he has inserted himself in two local incidents that I know of (the Skip Gates incident being the first) and inflamed the incidents with his remarks.  That, my friends, is not leadership. 

But then, he’s not a leader, and those of us who have actually been in leadership positions in our lives have known that from the beginning.   Instead he has difficulty denying his liberal roots and not succumbing to their siren call.

He’s an agitator.  And, as usual, he’s stepped in on something he should have stayed out of and made it far worse.  Inserting himself has given impetus, cover and justification for the Frarrakhans, Lees, Jacksons, Sharptons and the New Black Panthers to do what they’re doing.  Instead of calming the waters and talking about trusting the legal system and letting it do its work, he’s done exactly the opposite.

Congrats, Mr. Prez.  If anything happens to Zimmerman, you’re on the hook too as far as I’m concerned.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

If you’re going to have to apologize, don’t say it. But if you do say it, man up and live with it and the consequences

There are going to be very few times Bill Maher and I essentially agree.  Today would be one of those days. Apparently he doesn’t like the world Media Matters has created.  He begins his NYT piece defending Robert De Nero’s recent nonsense. 

THIS week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.

Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.

This is an example of the left’s propensity toward faux outrage at every utterance from the right backing up on them.  And, since Mr. Maher has been the target of that, he’s all for settling this once and for all.

In essence, Maher wants to be able to say anything he wants and not have to apologize for it.

I agree.

Please, do so.  And don’t apologize.  That is fine with me.

But … and you knew there had to be one … that doesn’t mean what you say is consequence free.  You still get to pay the price for what you say.

That’s really what Maher wants to see go by the boards, make no mistake about it.  No-penalty “free speech”. 

Sorry, no such thing.  Never has been, never will be. 

However, the faux apologies to address the faux outrage (and hypocrisy), yeah, I can do without those.  They’re only trotted out when the consequences of stupid, degrading or demeaning speech put the speaker in an untenable situation.

Here’s an idea – think before you speak?  Exercise a little self-discipline?

Nah … way to restrictive, huh?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

The will to power, exemplified

Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times today, offers a refreshingly honest view of "slutgate", moral equivalency, and double standards. It is, in fact, a bold statement of what we’ve always imagined the Progressive view is, though they have, in the past, been ever so careful not to admit it. It is, frankly, nice to see such honesty. As Mr. Fish explains:

Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?

There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

There you have it. Conservatives are evil, progressives are good. It follows, therefore, that because progressives are good, then what they do in  combating conservatives is right.  Conservatives, being evil, deserve no respect and no attempts at courteous disagreement. They deserve nothing more than to be driven from the public sphere by any necessary means. Progressives are good, and if they commit what would otherwise be questionable acts, it is only the depravity of their political opponents that drives them to it.

Make no mistake: If the Stanley Fishes of this country could imprison you for holding contrary political beliefs, they’d do it in a second.  After all, you are "on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy". This is, of course, justification for a tyranny of the very worst sort. As C.S. Lewis pointed out:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Progressivism, for all its puffing about equality and justice, is nothing more than totalitarianism cloaked in modern, politically-correct pieties.

It’s nice to see a progressive honestly admit it.

The thing is, it is not possible to have a sustainable, self-governing polity when a substantial portion of the electorate denies the fundamental morality or legitimacy of their opponents. The ultimate outcome of such a belief in a society has historically been an inevitable slide to civil unrest, resulting in either totalitarian repression, civil war, or dissolution into competing states.

I am increasingly beginning to wonder which of those three outcomes is most likely in our case.

~
Dale Franks
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The problem with “Progressivism”

Stanley Fish lays it out pretty well:

If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what [Ed] Schultz and [Bill] Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?

There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

Rand Simberg illustrates:

It should be shocking, by the conventional narrative, that the White House of a “liberal” president would be a hostile work environment for women, but it is not at all a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the Democrats and the Left, going back at least to the 1960s, when a prominent Democrat politician got a pass from the media for abandoning a young woman (possibly pregnant by him) to drown in his car. The same man went on to later fame as the top slice of bread in a “waitress sandwich,” and yet was so lionized by the Left that not that long ago, at the time of his death, a woman(!) wrote that Mary Jo Kopechne might have been happy to undergo the terror as her lungs filled with the brackish water of Martha’s Vineyard had she only known what a great legislator he would turn out to be.

To see similar hypocritical Leftist misogyny, we need only go back to the last time a Democrat was in the White House. Whenever a woman came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by Bill Clinton, the response of the Clinton defenders, both in and out of the media, was to attack her credibility, character, and virtue. Advisor James Carville famously said of Paula Jones (the young Arkansas state employee whom Clinton as governor had his state police guard procure to his hotel room for the purpose of orally pleasuring him), “Drag $100 bills through trailer parks, there’s no telling what you’ll find.” Evan Thomas of Newsweek dutifully complemented the slander by declaring her on national television “just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks,” though he later was compelled to apologize in print. (One wonders how residents of trailer parks felt about that, but I guess empathy for them is for the little people.) When Kathleen Willey accused the president of groping her in the White House, and was physically threatened for her trouble, feminist icon and (former) scourge of sexual harassers Gloria Steinem said that it was no problem — he was entitled to a freebie, after which Cathy Young of Reason magazine reported on “the death of sexual harassment.”

It got worse.

And it has.  Just take a look at what Simberg said and then take a look at this so-called “war on women” the left has ginned up recently.

Jeff G. at Protein Wisdom explains:

Fish’s single standard, distilled and properly understood, is that liberals are (they’ll claim) morally superior by virtue of their very belief in their own political identities — which identity is tied to an ideology that, manifested politically, privileges governmental theft, sanctioned inequality as a function of tribal identity, and a giant foundational question beg: namely, that moral superiority comes from being on the left, so therefore being on the left means you can really do no fundamental moral wrong. Progressivism (that is, the leftist political home to philosophical anti-foundationalism), as Fish sees it, is the “non-formal” — that is, I suppose, situationally free-floating — antidote to restrictive “conservative” or classically liberal universalism*. That that restrictive conservative/classical liberal universalism is, as we know from the Declaration and Constitution, the foundation upon which this country was imagined and later framed, well, that’s irrelevant. Those documents are hoary totems, and their impulses Enlightenment fantasies. And we can “fundamentally transform” the country simply by denying it its institutionalized powers by force of will.

Or, progressivism (don’t let them continue to coopt the word “liberal”) leads to tyranny because it isn’t based in any moral principles but instead based in power.  Its goal isn’t a better or more moral world,  modern progressivism is based on doing whatever is necessary, by whatever means they can get away with,  to gather and wield power.  Progressivism uses the same tactics and means that every tyranny the world has ever seen used to gain control of the political system.

Victor David Hanson points out that the right has handcuffed itself (or allowed itself to be handcuffed) by the left:

Conservatives are put into awkward positions of critiquing liberal ideas on grounds that they are impractical, unworkable, or counterproductive. Yet rarely, at least outside the religious sphere, do they identify the progressive as often immoral. And the unfortunate result is that they have often ceded moral claims to supposedly dreamy, utopian, and well-meaning progressives, when in fact the latter increasingly have little moral ground to stand upon.

Morality isn’t just something based in religion.  Essentially “moral” means a concern with the principles of good and bad behavior as applied to everything.

What progressives have tried to do for decades is tie the word to religion even as they denigrated religion unmercifully (specifically Christianity). They’ve made “morality” a bad word, one that causes the public to shy away from those talking about it.   We’ve also been indoctrinated by them to believe that intolerance is one of the worst of secular sins (although they’d never use such language) and we have no right to be intolerant.  Well, unless we’re a progressive.

Add in moral equivalency (used whenever it is useful to the left) tied to their multicultural riff and their tendency to redefine key words to their own advantage, and the goals of progressivism start to become clear.

Back to Protein Wisdom:

To the progressive, your social and political worth — in fact, your very claim to morality — comes from your various identity politics alliances. That is, your morality is a function not so much of what you do, but rather of where you claim to stand, and with whom.

Progressivism cares not about fairness or equality in the sense those words are used under a political paradigm that adheres to classical liberalism; instead, it seeks to redefine “fairness” and “equality” (and “tolerance”) as based on the outcomes it desires, a deconstructive procedure it then justifies by tying those outcomes to its own self-serving descriptions of what comes to count as moral. It is circular reasoning made perfect. Might makes right. The ends justify the means.

The progressive movement is a tyrannical movement aimed at completely remaking America and taking it away from its foundational philosophy of individualism, equal rights and freedom.  Principles that work and made this the most prosperous and free nation on earth.

What the right and libertarians identify as “hypocrisy” on the left is simply what you see described above at work – a principle free attempt to take power by any means necessary.  There are no foundational principles at work for them in reality … anything is “OK” as long as it advances the cause.  Although they’ll claim they are driven by principles (but their “hypocritical” actions in the wake of those declarations always show them to be false principles), they’re essentially malleable talking points used to take in and gain the support of the gullible.  However, as Saul Alinsky taught them, they will use the other side’s principles against them at every opportunity (see the Rush Limbaugh kerfuffle).

What we had, what our founders created, what it stands for, is rejected by this bunch:

“Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous,” Obama said.

This is the real problem we face in America.  Jeff G. calls it “un-American”.  In the strictest sense of the word and given the fact that it rejects everything our founders believed in – I agree.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Cambodia: Remembering the Killing Fields and the Communist drive for “equality”

Douglas Levene takes a look back at what happened in Cambodia under Communist leader Pol Pot.  He makes the point that although some would like to label it “genocide”, it simply doesn’t fit the definition.  Cambodia is 95% Khmer and what happened was “Khmer on Khmer” violence.  It wasn’t genocide:

Rather, what happened in Cambodia is what happened in the French Revolution, and in Stalin’s purges and mass collectivization campaigns, and in Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, only on a proportionately larger scale. It was mass murder in the name of equality. It wasn’t “genocide”; it was Communist utopianism carried to its logical extreme. The Khmer Rouge, who called themselves Maoists, believed that the most important social and political value was equality and that in order to create their new, classless society in which everyone was equal, it was necessary to exterminate anyone who might be smarter, or better educated, or wealthier, or more talented than anyone else. Thus, they killed the educated, the bourgeoisie, the middle classes, and the rich; movie stars, pop singers, authors, urban residents, and workers for the former government; and anyone who protested — as well as the families of all the above. Towards the end, they also killed cadres who were thought to be a political threat. Whatever their crimes were, the Khmer Rouge do not seem to have been motivated by racial, ethnic, or religious hatred.

The standard leftist cause these days is “equality”.  We’re seeing it play out right here in this country today with the demonization of the rich, corporations and other capitalists entities.  And while it is easy to attempt to wave away what happened in Cambodia as an extremist example carried out by a splinter Communist group, in fact Stalin’s and Mao’s purges were driven by much the same goal.   All were striving for a “communist utopia” and they murdered extensively in its name.  Certainly there were other reasons, such as Stalin’s paranoia, but the murder regime had already been established and was functioning when those victims were added to the collective total.

Given that, Levene wonders why the world insists then on claiming “genocide” as the reason for Cambodia’s Killing Fields:

However, I suspect that the most important reason for the usage worldwide is that many people in the international media, international agencies, and international NGOs (not to mention academia) are reluctant to face up to the crimes committed by Communism in the name of equality. To do so might call into question the weight attached by them to equality as the most important social value and undermine the multicultural faith that evil is predominantly the product of inequality, racism, ethnic hatred, or religious fanaticism. That cannot be permitted, so such crimes must be either ignored or mislabeled. And, of course, the remaining Communist regimes in the world are only too happy to cooperate in characterizing the killing fields as the products of irrational paranoia on the part of Pol Pot and his gang rather than the perfectly rational result of the quest for perfect equality.

While there certainly are examples of “evil” driven by “racism, ethnic hatred or religious fanaticism”, few match the scale of the evil perpetrated by Communist regimes.  Marx called for it in his “Communist Manifesto”:

‘The violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.’

And they simply carried out his instructions:

‘What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.’

Cambodia unfortunately saw a communist group take Marx at his word:

‘The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.’ … ‘When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.’

The Khmer Rouge attempted to impose these dicta in the quickest and most basic of ways – through murder of all those who represented the hated “bourgeoisie” in an attempt to make society “equal”.  As Leven says, they carried out the “perfectly rational” pursuit of Marx’s utopia.  A violent overthrow of the existing culture, the murder of those who weren’t politically and ideologically pure or were members of the bourgeoisie class and the abolition of private property in favor of common property in order to equalize society.  And, of course, it yielded the horror that became Kampuchea, with its killing fields, mass graves and torture rooms.

While certainly not on the obvious scale of the Khmer Rouge, the left continues the same sort of pursuit here.  Equality has become its ideological banner, and it constantly touts it as its cultural goal in the West.  Stealth Marxism – not really so stealthy to those who have bothered to look. 

Ironically, it is as much a religion to those who believe in it as any featuring a deity.  It requires an abiding faith that at its base the Marxist principles are sound and will someday be “properly” implemented despite the numerous examples of the horror and death it has consistently brought.  As much as they deride the faith of Christians and their belief in “heaven”, Marxists and Maoists and all the assorted different communists still pursue their “heaven” on earth and as a result continue to fill the mass graves its pursuit requires.

Cambodia was not genocide.  Cambodia was just the timeline of Communism (and all the other Marxist “isms”) in other countries speeded up for the convenience of the self-declared proletariat. 

All in the name of “equality”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Politics has become a “reality show” of diversion

Over at United Liberty, Louis DeBroux articulates something that has been driving me crazy:

It truly is almost unbelievable. Our national debt is at $16 trillion and rising, with annual deficits of more than $1.5 trillion. Our national debt is now greater than our GDP, and at a level greater than what Greece was at when its economy collapsed. Our lauded entitlement programs are bankrupt, yet our politicians seek to expand them. Unemployment is still well above 8%, the longest such period of sustained unemployment at that level since the Great Depression. We’re barely past Valentine’s Day and gas is more than $3.50 per gallon, and expected to rise above $4, and possibly as high as $5/gallon, by summer. Iran appears the be rapidly closing in on getting a functional nuclear weapon, and has been threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil supply flows. We have a president hell bent on destroying the fossil fuel industry, much like his signature achievement, ObamaCare, is crippling the health care industry.

Our own government has been selling assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels, and is now directly responsible for the deaths of dozens of Mexicans and Americans, yet they act as if it were of no more import than having incorrectly filled out some government form (actually, they’d probably find that a much more grievous sin). The dollar is weak and the economy anemic, despite the trillions spent on the stimulus, auto union and Wall Street bailouts, and slush funds for the politically connected.

Yet with all of this, what stories are dominating the headlines? That would be the religious beliefs of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum regarding birth control, and now the furor over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about a college “coed” called to testify before Congress on the topic of birth control.

It is enough to make you tear your hair out.  There is so much that should be at the forefront of the news and we’re talking about what?  Go look at Memeorandum for the past few weeks.  It’s appalling.

And who benefits by these diversionary and divisive discussions? 

Well certainly not the nation.  In the case of the current diversion of the day, we see the usual hypocrisy from both sides as Rush Limbaugh is crucified for calling a woman a “slut” while one of Obama’s major donors is given a free pass by the same people for calling Sarah Palin a far worse name (and worse, won’t condemn the use of the word).  After all, he’s one of theirs. 

It is a cycle of wash, rise, repeat.  On just about any given week you can find someone on one side or the other saying something outrageous and the other side whipping themselves into a frenzy of outrage and condemning it while demanding the other side condemn it too.   Tit for tat politics.  Juvenile nonsense.

Why any of this is seen as major news can only be understood in a “reality show” culture.  We’ve become a nation of voyeurs who like scandal and enjoy watching the lives of “celebrities” whose only claim to fame is their screwed up life.  And that apparently now translates to our politics. 

Instead of paying attention to the important things about our political world, most are more interested in the “he said, she said” stupidity of situations like that of the Limbaugh debacle.  Apparently politics has become just another reality show where we prefer to be entertained by the unimportant but controversial instead of doing the hard but boring work of understanding our real problems and looking for solutions.

Unemployment, economics, energy, government … boring!

Limbaugh calls someone a slut.  That’s the ticket.

And, naturally, aiding and abetting all of this is the “if it bleeds it leads” media who have decided that sensationalism trumps substance. 

We’re 16 trillion dollars in debt folks and that number is going to go higher if we don’t do something.

B..b…but Limbaugh called someone a “slut”!

Oh.

Never mind.

Turn up the volume and get the popcorn.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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