Friday, September 18, 2009

The Real Political Divide: People's attitudes toward the world in which they Live

Everyone knows that Americans are bitterly divided over politics but what is the fundamental nature of that division? What is the core disagreement that separates conservatives from liberals, right from left?

Norman Podhoretz provided a provocative and persuasive answer to that question in a recent Wall Street Journal column (September 10) based on his new book, Why Are Jews Liberals? Podhoretz wrote: The great issue between the two political communities is how they feel about the nature of American society. With all exceptions duly noted, I think it fair to say that what liberals mostly see when they look at this country is injustice and oppression of every kind economic, social and political. By sharp contrast, conservatives see a nation shaped by a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that has afforded more freedom and, even factoring in periodic economic downturns, more prosperity to more of its citizens than in any society in human history. It follows that what liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded and apologized for to other nations is precisely what conservative are dedicating to preserving, reinvigorating and proudly defending against attack.

The bitterness of the current health care debate demonstrates the power of this important insight. Liberals invariably plead that the United States must follow the example of Britain or France, Canada or Cuba, and expand the governmental role in medicine to guarantee health care as a sacred human right. The left insists that despite the high cost of American medical care we actually lag far behind more enlightened countries in health outcomes. Conservatives, on the other hand, while decrying the rise in costs, cite the many ways that the US system leads the world (in technological breakthroughs, as well as responsiveness where America is ranked number one by the World Health Organization of the UN). Conservatives want other countries to learn from us and follow our example; liberals long for the United States to learn from our European counterparts and to follow their example.

In international affairs, similar differences apply. The left wants the United States to act multi-laterally at all times and in all things, emphasizing the danger that well probably make a mistake if we go it alone and ignore world opinion. The right concentrates on the need for American power in the world and stresses the positive role played by this country in every corner of the globe. Conservatives worry that if we wait for other (and often corrupt) international powers to join us in every endeavor, well make a mistake by abdicating the leadership role only we can play by deferring to world opinion.

When it comes to the nations history, the divisions between left and right remain similarly stark. Liberals stress U.S. guilt for slavery, mistreatment of Native Americans, and more than a century of imperialist adventures oppressing nations around the world. The right dwells on the way that America introduced ideals of liberty to all of humanity, gave rise to the planets first anti-slavery society, and rescued the earth from two world wars and the danger of international communism.

The opposing instincts toward America also help explain the liberal-conservative arguments over religion and its role in our society. All recent polls show a vast difference in political alignment between those who place a priority on traditional faith and those who describe themselves as irreligious or unaffiliated. From the days of our Puritan and Pilgrim forefathers, the people who inhabited the New World always placed a higher priority on religious practice and Biblical beliefs than the communities they left behind in Europe. In the 1830s, the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville singled out the powerful influence of fervent Christianity as perhaps the most dominant force in American society, and the clearest distinction between the new Republic and the Old World. Even today, the United States remains by every measure the most religious nation in the western world. For conservatives, the religious character of our past and our people stands as a point of pride; for liberals, its one more reason for embarrassment and apology.

On all of these issues, liberals and conservatives differ dramatically and profoundly. This is not to say that all liberals hate America, or that all conservatives glorify their country unreservedly. But in questions of emphasis the contrast couldnt be more clear: the left stresses Americas failures, shortcomings, hypocrisies, and embarrassments while the right trumpets the nations achievements, blessings, and distinctive advantages. Nothing enrages liberals more than the conservative tendency for jingoistic flag-waving and super-patriotism; nothing bothers conservatives more than the liberal habit of blaming America first and concentrating on historic guilt and present problems.

The more negative attitude by liberals toward the nation in which they live even accounts for the well-known happiness gap in which all survey data shows conservatives as far more satisfied and optimistic about their own lives. Even controlling for factors like race, age, economic and marital status, conservatives top liberals by all measures of happiness (as described in detail by Arthur Brooks in his valuable book, Gross National Happiness.) The liberal embrace of guilt rather than gratitude, and focus on the nations predicaments rather than its possibilities, clearly contribute to the gloomy temperament (and the inevitable calls for sweeping change) that accompany the leftwing world view.

The critical and even fearful attitude toward the United States has come to characterize the left in every corner of the globe, and it makes sense to extend the Podhoretz paradigm internationally. Contrasting visions of America distinguish every major conflict in todays world; the role of the United States has been the explosive, polarizing, outstanding international issue for the last twenty years.

In 1989-91, with the Western victory in the Cold War, disputes over American influence and values came to replace the issue that had divided the world for the previous 70 years: the response to Marxism. For more than two generations, attitudes toward socialism and the rise of all-powerful (often totalitarian) governments not only separated the nations of the world, but also characterized political disputes within each nation. The Russian Revolution created the prospect of world-shattering revolt, and conservatives defined themselves by their implacable opposition to that prospect just as liberals argued for the need to embrace or accommodate it. Anywhere on earth, your approach toward Marxist ideology placed you in one political camp or the other, just as your response to Americas influence and example will shape your ideological position from Moscow to Mumbai, from Mombasa to Maracaibo.

Some partisans on the left (in America and around the world) will resist this formulation, insisting that they love the United States just as much as any right winger. The distinction, progressives regularly aver, involves their affection for a perfected America that might, through hope and change, come into existence sometime in the future, or else their nostalgic reverence for an America that once was, but ceased to exist through some malevolent influence (greedy businessmen, the religious right, conniving conservatives, take your pick).

Anyone with a modicum of experience in human relations will tell you that a devotion based on what your love object might become, or may have been in the past, is a suspect and toxic form of affection. If, in a moment of insecurity, a wife asks a husband, Honey, do you love me? the last thing she wants to hear is, Actually, I love the idea of you if you changed completely. In other words, its not advisable to tell the woman in your life that youd adore her if shed only lose fifty pounds, submit to liposuction and breast augmentation surgery, get a new set of gleaming white caps for her teeth, and complete a post graduate degree so shed offer more intriguing conversation.

By the same token, it always seems bizarre to hear liberals insist that they consider themselves committed patriots and enthusiastic America lovers because they love the notion of a new U.S. purged of racism, and pollution, and economic exploitation, and sexism, and homophobia, and Mickey Mouse, McDonalds and the Designated Hitter Rule.

Conservatives have an easier time connecting with the sentiments of everyday Americans because our love of country remains less complicated: we admire and relish and savor the United States just as it is, even with all its quirks and imperfections. For us, the sight of Old Glory in the autumn breeze inspires a sense of instant pride and exaltation, not the bittersweet ruminations of a guilty liberal who automatically evokes embarrassing episodes associated with the flag and sighs over the gap between U.S. ideals and contemporary reality.

The more that conservatives understand and adopt the idea that attitudes toward America divide the left and right everywhere, the better our chances of building durable majorities. The health care debate offers a fine opportunity to spread this notion. While the left hopes that well abandon our distinctiveness and welcome international influence in shaping a new health care system, the right hopes for a clear-cut victory for liberty and against big government a victory that can advance the cause of Americanism as a unique and valuable creed both here at home and around the world.



Statement of Deneen Borelli on Allegations of Racism Against Critics of Obama Policies

This statement was issued today by Deneen Borelli of the national black leadership network Project 21: "There they go again. Now Jimmy Carter has joined House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, New York Governor David Paterson, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, the New York Times' Maureen Dowd and others on the left in claiming racism is behind criticism of President Obama's big-spending policies.

The public is outraged about the president's policies -- the spending, the budget, the deficit -- not his skin color.

President Obama was not elected only with black votes. Are those who cry 'racism' saying the American people suddenly woke up and said, 'oh, he's black so I don't like him anymore'? That makes no sense. The criticism of Obama's policies is about the policies -- the stimulus, the growth of government, cap-and-trade, the health care bills, the overspending.

It's easier for the left to play the race card than address the public's legitimate concerns, but what the left and the media are doing is damaging and dangerous. It's damaging because when everything is racist, then nothing is. Those who cry racism without evidence will cause people to tune out in cases in which there is evidence.

It's dangerous also to send a message that racism is behind everything. What does that tell young black men and women? It tells them they will never get a fair shake and that white people who have never met them dislike them. With a message like that, its no surprise we're seeing apparently racial incidents like the widely-circulated video of a young white student being beaten up on a school bus by black students while other black students cheer. What message have those black students internalized from liberal leaders like Rangel, Johnson, Paterson, Matthews and Dowd and now former President Carter? That white people are their enemy.

If this continues -- if not already -- the left will literally have blood on its hands, and all because it was too dishonest and too cowardly to have a fair debate with the American people on policy."




In case you missed it, the video of ‘The Audacity of Hos’, where Jon Stewart of the ‘Daily Show’ Skewers ACORN is here. He doesn’t sugar-coat the embarrassment at all — to the apparent delight of his audience, who get kudos of their own. How can the national news media ignore the many allegations of corruption at ACORN, which gets millions of dollars in federal funding, and allow a couple of independents with $3,000 and a bad wardrobe scoop them on the undercover story of the year? It’s easy when newsrooms are more concerned with political direction than truth. Stick around to the end, when Stewart zings Michelle Malkin haters.

The Stimulus Didn't Work: "Is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 working? At the time of the act's passage last February, this question was hotly debated. Administration economists cited Keynesian models that predicted that the $787 billion stimulus package would increase GDP by enough to create 3.6 million jobs. Our own research showed that more modern macroeconomic models predicted only one-sixth of that GDP impact. Estimates by economist Robert Barro of Harvard predicted the impact would not be significantly different from zero. Now, six months after the act's passage, we no longer have to rely solely on the predictions of models. We can look and see what actually happened. Incoming data will reveal more in coming months, but the data available so far tell us that the government transfers and rebates have not stimulated consumption at all, and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic not the fiscal stimulus program deserves the lion's share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter."

Egyptian antisemite welcome at the UN: "An Egyptian government minister who offered to burn Hebrew books could be elected tomorrow as the new head of Unesco despite fierce hostility from Jewish groups and unease among western governments. Farouk Hosni, 71, who has been Egypt’s Culture Minister for two decades, was confident that he could win outright in tomorrow’s first round of voting at the Paris headquarters of the United Nation’s cultural section. Until last spring, Mr Hosni was thought certain to succeed Koichiro Matsuura of Japan as director-general because of the feeling, shared in Washington and many EU capitals, that it was time for an Arab to lead Unesco for the first time since it was founded in 1945. Mr Hosni was thrown on the defensive when Jewish organisations and European intellectuals exposed what they said was a long record of “nauseating” anti-Semitic actions and statements. Chief among these was his response in the Cairo parliament last year to an Islamic fundamentalist MP who complained about Hebrew language books in the Alexandria Library. “If there are any there, I will myself burn them in front of you,” he said."

Taxpayer to fund Postal Service retirees: "“The House voted Tuesday to let the struggling U.S. Postal Service cover a budget shortfall by reducing its annual payment to a health care fund for retirees by $4 billion. Under current law, the Postal Service is required to transfer $5.4 billion to the Retiree Health Benefits Fund by Sept. 30, the end of the budget year. Postal officials have said they don’t have enough money to make the payment.”

MA: Health costs to rise again: "The state’s major health insurers plan to raise premiums by about 10 percent next year, prompting many employers to reduce benefits and shift additional costs to workers. Increases will range from 7 to 12 percent, capping a decade of consecutive double-digit premium increases, according to a Globe survey of the state’s top health insurers. Actual rates for 2010 will depend on the size of the employer and the type of coverage, with small businesses and individuals expected to be hit hardest. Overall, premiums are more than twice as high as they were 10 years ago. The higher insurance costs undermine a key tenet of the state’s landmark healthcare law passed two years ago, as well as President Obama’s effort to overhaul health care. In addition to mandating insurance for most residents, the Massachusetts bill sought to rein in healthcare costs.”

Typical Leftist projection from Obama: "But people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Calling Sarah Palin a liar was most unfortunate given the speech on health care Barack Obama gave last Wednesday night. In that speech, President Obama accused his critics of spreading ‘misinformation’ and ‘bogus claims,’ of ‘demagoguery and distortion,’ and of ’scare tactics’ instead of honest debate. But all of that was most prominently featured in his own speech.”

Spreading the wealth: "When Barack Obama said he wanted to ’spread the wealth around,’ he meant it. A new study from Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that Obama’s policies would spend $10.3 trillion on welfare programs over the next decade. Obama started increasing welfare spending immediately after assuming office. The stimulus bill included $220 billion in new means-tested spending, including a little-noticed provision that repealed one of the key welfare reforms of the Clinton era. The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act capped welfare dollars to states, ending the perverse system that rewarded states for adding cases to their welfare rolls. The 2009 stimulus bill lifted the caps. Once again, states that add to their rolls qualify for more cash.”

Do not be a victim: "As I resumed my rather hectic schedule during the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, two questions were asked of me more than any others during my travel. First, why would an airplane full of people allow a handful of men, armed only with box cutters, to take over the aircraft and fly in into one of the world’s tallest structures? And, what would have happened if only one or two of the passengers or crew members on those doomed flights had been armed for self-defense? Funny how one question kind of answers the other.”


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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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