Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lakoff reinvents the wheel

Poor old George Lakoff. There is a review of his latest book here. He is a linguist by trade but nobody takes him seriously there so he has for some years now been trying his hand at political psychology -- which happens to be my particular area of academic expertise.

It is no surprise to find that he has nothing original to say but it is sort-of sad that he gets some basic stuff ass-backwards. He buys into the compulsive Leftist myth that conservatives are "authoritarian", blithely ignoring that, from the French revolution onward, it has been Leftists (in the person of Communists like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and Socialists like Hitler and Mussolini) who have been by far the biggest authoritarians. For a quick summary of how and why Leftists sustain the myth that it is conservatives who are authoritarian, see here.

It always amuses me that even outright Marxists often identify authoritarianism with conservatism even though one of their founders, Friedrich Engels (co-author of Das Kapital) was perfectly commonsense about the matter:

"Revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon". -- from his controversy with the anarchists.

With such a wilfully blind start, Lakoff cannot possibly have much to offer. I was, however, amused by this Lakoff prescription that I found in the review above:

What should progressives say? That conservatism is "fundamentally antidemocratic."

Once again poor old George is reinventing the wheel. Precisely that assertion was an integral part of the old 1950 Adorno work that started the "authoritarian conservative" myth. I guess Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were democrats! There have been many Communist movements worldwide over the years but not one could reasonably be called democratic. So Communism is conservative? Black might as well be white. And in the Western democracies today, Leftists never stop their attempts to censor and suppress conservative speech. See my TONGUE-TIED blog for almost daily examples of that. Is that democratic? It is an attempt to hobble democracy as far as I can see.

To cap it off, the original Adorno questionnaire that was used to characterize conservatives as anti-democrratic (the F scale) was in fact a compilation of beliefs that were common in the "Progressive"-dominated America in the first half of the 20th century. See here on the nature of the F scale questions and see here for the rather surprising details of America's "Progressive" era. So if there were any ideas that were shown by Adorno to be anti-democratic, they were in fact "Progressive" ideas at the time!

Another amusing Lakoff prescription: "progressives should rely less on facts and more on images and drama". Talk about preaching to the converted! Since when did Leftists EVER rely on facts? Appeals to emotions have been their stock in trade since the year dot. If they relied on known facts they would certainly have given up very rapidly and very long ago any notion that socialism was a cure for poverty.

The reviewer (Saletan) goes on to point out more of the huge holes in Lakoff's thinking so I will not go on. I have however had a close look at Lakoff's threadbare old ideas previously. See here.


McCain still not impressive on oil

Oil, oil everywhere and not a well to sink, because of current US policies. John McCain came out for more drilling the other day, an utterly common sense thing that is overwhelmingly popular in the polls, and he has Dick Morris swooning at his superior political judgment to Obama. Standards in politics are low, apparently. But what about ANWR? In the course of complaining about Senator McCain's inexplicable devotion to the remote, utterly unpopulated northern reach of Alaska we call ANWR, Charles Krauthammer reminds us of some history:
Gas is $4 a gallon. Oil is $135 a barrel and rising. We import two-thirds of our oil, sending hundreds of billions of dollars to the likes of Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. And yet we voluntarily prohibit ourselves from even exploring huge domestic reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

At a time when U.S. crude oil production has fallen 40 percent in the last 25 years, 75 billion barrels of oil have been declared off-limits, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That would be enough to replace every barrel of non-North American imports (oil trade with Canada and Mexico is a net economic and national security plus) for 22 years. That's nearly a quarter-century of energy independence. The situation is absurd. To which John McCain is responding with a partial fix: Lift the federal ban on Outer Continental Shelf drilling, where a fifth of the off-limits stuff lies.

This is a change for McCain, but circumstances have changed. When the moratorium was imposed in 1982, gasoline was $1.20 and oil was $30 a barrel. Since the moratorium was instituted, we've had two wars in the Middle East, and in between a decade of garrisoning troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE to preserve the peace and keep untold oil riches out of the hands of the most malevolent of our enemies.

Technological conditions have changed as well. We now are able to drill with far more precision and environmental care than a quarter-century ago. We have thousands of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, yet not even hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in spills of any significance.

Krauthammer makes the common sense case that what is true offshore should obviously be true for ANWR, and chides McCain for his inconsistent stance, and that brings us to whether MCain's position is political or intellectual. For example, Paul Krugman thinks that Senator McCain's change of heart on offshore drilling is the result of cynical political calculation: "I'm reasonably sure that Mr. McCain's advisers realize that offshore drilling would do nothing for current gas prices. But they may believe that the public can be conned." Krugman's analysis and McCain's obstinance to date on ANWR raise the question of whether ANWR poll-tests poorly among swing voters, or whether McCain's stance is just uninformed and dumb.




Another Haditha Marine Prepares to Sue John Murtha: "Cold-blooded John Murtha was wrong about the Haditha marines. In May 2006 antiwar Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) accused US marines of killing innocent Iraqis "in cold blood" after the former news magazine TIME published a piece of Al-Qaeda propaganda about an incident in Haditha, Iraq. In May 2006 antiwar Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) also announced that there was a grand coverup to to stifle the story. Today Drudge reported that another one of the exonerated Haditha marines is preparing to sue John Murtha. With most of the eight Marines charged in the Haditha, Iraq, incident now exonerated, the highest-ranking officer among the accused is considering a lawsuit against Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who fueled the case by declaring the men cold-blooded killers. The lead attorney for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, Brian Rooney, acknowledged to (Michael) Savage it's difficult to sue a sitting congressman, but he believes it can be done".

Why can't Britain equip its soldiers properly?: "The Ministry of Defence must remove Snatch Land Rovers from operations following the deaths of four soldiers in Afghanistan this week, military experts have said. The poorly-protected vehicles, which are due to be phased out entirely later this year, have been withdrawn from use in Iraq but are still being used in Afghanistan, where it was thought that the bomb threat was less sophisticated. Three Special Forces soldiers and Corporal Sarah Bryant, the female Intelligence Corps soldier, were killed when their Land Rover was hit by a roadside explosion on Tuesday. Charles Heyman, a defence analyst and former Army major, said that the roads in Afghanistan were "too dangerous for normal troop movement." [But Britain has no shortage of money to pay clerks and "administrators", of course]

Surprise: A Jew-hating Jew is a nut: "Critics are calling for the resignation of a U.N. official who publicly supports investigating theories that the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were an "inside job." Richard Falk [pic above], the special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, investigates alleged Israeli violations of human rights law for the U.N.'s Human Rights Council. But the former Princeton professor would also like to investigate whether "some sort of controlled explosion from within" destroyed the Twin Towers, he told

Environmental wackos endorse Obama : "The NY Times reports that the Sierra Club is making its endorsement of Barack Obama official. This is not a man bites dog story. It is more of a dog licks man story. I think this is good news for Republicans. These wackos were not going to vote for McCain anyway and now they have associated their anti energy movement with the Democrat nominee it will make the attacks on his energy non policy all the more persuasive. In another shocker the United steel workers labor bosses will also endorse Obama. Whether their members will vote for him is an altogether different matter. One of Obama's real challenges this fall will be getting the blue collar vote. They are just not arugula type people nor do they shop at Whole Foods."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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