Sunday, December 01, 2013

Religion and social health

Sigh!! Once again it seems that I have to point out an elephant in  the room.  Elephant detection seems to have become one of my more frequent contributions to public debate lately.  I pointed out another one just yesterday.

There is a paper here by a Gregory S. Paul which claims that religion is bad for "societal health".  It is a 2005 paper but a reader has asked for my comments on it so I thought I might devote a few lines to it here.

The key finding is that the USA is more religious than other first world countries but has high levels of social dysfunction (crime etc.).  The elephant is that the paper treats the U.S. population as an homogeneous whole, which it is not.  The high  levels of crime in the USA largely reflect the doings of America's large African-origin population.  Look at whites alone and the case falls apart (see e.g. here).

There is a more thorough dissection of the paper here  -- JR.


Paranoid Style Revisited


Alan Wolfe, the professor of political science at Boston College, has written a reprise of Richard Hofstadter's 1965 book Paranoid Style In American Politics for the October 25th edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Hofstadter in the 1950's attempted to explain the inner workings of the political mind, i.e., the conservative mind. For Hofstadter, conservative positions that are based on repealing laws instead of passing them are signs of paranoia.

While Wolfe does not embrace this stance whole hog, he does note "Because psychology is now playing such a prominent role in the fervid imagination of the radical right, any deadlock is just one more step toward another." He goes on to conclude that "Hofstadter died in 1970, at the age of 54. He never got to witness just how correct he was."

This treatise is extremely useful as an exercise in psychological projection. The so-called radical right has an Affordable Healthcare Act rammed down its throat as it was told by Speaker Pelosi "pass it, then you can read it." When Republicans gained a majority in the House, they read and agreed it was neither affordable, nor healthy for the country. Is it paranoia to want to repeal an unworkable law?

Most significantly, Professor Wolfe overlooks the actions of those in the Democratic Party he favors. When Alan Grayson, Democratic congressman, equates the Tea Party to the KKK, one might say this is a stance more than "perfervid imagination." Grayson even argues that those who disagree with him must be racist.

Erstwhile Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed interrogators asking about those Americans killed in Benghazi by contending, "What difference does it make?" Talk about off-hand rejection.

Recently, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, responded to her critics by noting, "The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don't work for." Doesn't she work for the American people?

Reverend Al Sharpton, once a Democratic candidate for president, recites the word "racism" for any detractor who disapproves of his extortionate behavior. Isn't that paranoia or simply an easy way to quiet critics?

Democrats claim Republicans are at war with women. Yet there appears to be myopia over the sexually perverse behavior of fellow Democrats Anthony Weiner, Vito Lopez, Eliot Spitzer, and even former president Bill Clinton. Is this merely selective judgment or is there some psychological mechanism at work that encourages denial? After all, paranoia is predicated on the firm belief there are enemies whether or not they actually exist.

It is instructive that psychology is employed as an historical instrument to chastise rivals. Hofstadter disapproved of Barry Goldwater and used, perhaps abused, his book Conscience of A Conservative as a template for paranoid style. Senator Harry Reid employs the same tactic, often referring to Republicans as "enemies," not rivals, adversaries or the loyal opposition. This is certainly the language of fervid imagination.

The danger in the Hofstadter-Wolfe thesis is that pop psychology is being employed as an opening into the political mind. History becomes a form of historicism with judgments based on speculation rather than hard evidence. Clearly subjectivity can never be completely removed from historical judgment, but scholars might hope historians will rely on an empirical investigation. Clearly there is hyperinflated language employed by politicians - of both parties. Whether or not this is paranoia is a judgment historians should not be making. Hofstadter was a masterful historian, but he was not a master psychologist. Professor Wolfe is a political scientist and a liberal, but to suggest Hofstadter was correct is to debase historical judgment. Inter-disciplinary analysis can be useful as a heuristic tool, but when one leaves the area of his own discipline, great care should be exercised.



Lying is what liberals do

The truth would sink them so they avoid it

Every morning the media paws through a dictionary looking for the most innocuous ways to describe Obama's big health care lie.

According to the New York Times, Obama "misspoke" when he said over and over again that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. But unlike the times that the smartest man to ever put up his feet on the table in the Oval Office thought that Austrian was a language or that the United States had 57 states, he wasn't misspeaking.

44, as Politico likes to call him, was doing what 1 wouldn't do after he chopped down a cherry tree. And to call a lie, misspeaking, is itself a lie.

Rob Ford didn't misspeak when he claimed not to be on crack, despite being on crack. Barack Obama didn't misspeak when he promised to let you keep your health plan, when he had no intention of letting you do any such thing. And the New York Times didn't misspeak when it tried to pass that lie off as a mere slip of the tongue.

The New York Times, which never hesitated to call George W. Bush a liar,  switched up its euphemisms and began calling Obama's lie an "incorrect promise". NBC News called it a "promise they couldn't keep." The Associated Press called it an "inflated promise."

A few of their more honestly dishonest colleagues in the media argued that Obama did the right thing  because he could never have pried the health plans of Americans out of their grubby little hands if he hadn't promised them that his government takeover of healthcare would affect everyone else but them. Some of the pundits making that argument included those on Obama's regular reading list.

The excuse that Obama lied blatantly about the impact of a law he wanted to pass in order to pass it will no doubt be a great comfort to those gun owners who were willing to trust that his crusade against gun rights would stop where he told them it would and those Republican supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens who believed that he really would secure the borders once he got his millions of newly minted Democratic Party voters

If Obama lied to pass one law, what sensible argument can any of his supporters make for believing him the next time he promises, "If you like your guns, you can keep your guns" or "If you like your borders, you can keep your borders"?

Obama wasn't the first politician to lie. He won't be the last. But most politicians who lie don't have an army of reporters swarming around them to explain that they didn't lie, but just inflated their misspeaking. One man did not get up in front of the microphones and cameras and lie over and over again. The entire liberal establishment lied. And it's still lying.

The media's lies and excuses, even more than the original Obama lie, reveal why liberals can never be trusted.

If Obama had only lied about being on crack or with an intern, that might be an impeachable act, but an understandable human failing. But he wasn't lying to cover up something shameful that he did. He lied because he didn't think Americans deserved to keep their health plans... or the truth.

Obama lied because he is a liberal.

That Obama would lie was an inevitable as the sun rising in the morning and the taxman coming in the spring. The lie was baked into the nature of the progressive movement that he identified with and its social experiments with human lives for the greater good that he participated in.

Lying isn't incidental to a liberal. Liberal is another word for liar. Someone who believes, as Obama and his media cronies do, that Americans are too stupid and ignorant to be trusted to choose their own health care, isn't about to trust them with the truth.

Telling someone the truth shows that we respect them as people. We give them the information and then trust that they will make the right decision. Trust and respect are the key words here.

Liars don't trust and respect people. Neither do liberals.

Liberals don't believe that the people they lie to are their equals. If they did, not only wouldn't they lie to them, but they wouldn't subscribe to a skewed leftist take on liberalism that compels them to take away choices from people for their own good.

You don't take away someone's right to choose unless you think that they are inferior to you. The  policies of liberalism can only be justified by assuming that the people whose lives they run into the ground are their ethical and intellectual inferiors.

If you think that the next person over can run his life just as well as you run yours, then there's no reason to take over his life and to lie to him about it. But if you think that he's probably a racist moron who worships the flag and clings to his gun and bible and can't be trusted to buy a car, raise his kids, drink a large soda and see a doctor; then you're probably a liberal.

And a liar.

That's the difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives respect people's choices. Liberals don't. And if you don't respect someone's choices, you don't respect them.

If you think that the average person is a moron, then the only answer is to set up to some ideal  republic of liberal philosopher kings who will nudge the marching morons into the death panels for their own greater good while lying to them that the death panelists are really the judges for the next hot talent competition.

If ordinary people don't deserve the basic decency of being allowed to make decisions about their own health care, then they also don't deserve the basic decency of not being lied to their faces about those decisions being taken away from them.



Michigan library system forced to allow firearms after attempting to undermine state law

The Michigan Supreme Court is passing on a gun rights case involving a Lansing-based library system.  The justices said Thursday they won’t intervene in a case over whether Capital Area District Libraries is within its right to ban guns. In a 6-1 decision, the state’s top court said Thursday it wouldn’t hear the appeal from CADL, which has several branches in Ingham County.

The library banned firearms at its branches in 2011 but the state appeals court last year struck down that policy.

The Court of Appeals had said the library was stepping on the authority of the Michigan Legislature by trying to regulate guns.

The courts effectively ruled that the Capital Areas District Libraries were not a government unto themselves, with the ability to create and impose laws. It’s frankly stunning that the library system even tried this.

Anti-gun Democrats may attempt to amend existing laws to add libraries to the state’s existing list of “gun free zones,” but CADL Director Maureen Hirten does not have the authority to arbitrarily amend state law on her own.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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