Friday, November 23, 2012

Krugman: GOP - Grand Ole Planet

Excellent piece by Professor Krugman- dovetails nicely with the "conversative entertainment complex" mentioned by Frum in an earlier blog post.  As many of us sit around with family over Thanksgiving we see the results of this stuff live and in person... yesterday I heard that our President wants the U.S. to fail, that he laid out his Socialist plant in his book "Dreams of my Father",  and that there will be "blood in the streets" because of his socialist policies...

Today’s Republicans cocoon themselves in an alternate reality defined by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and only on rare occasions — like on election night — encounter any hint that what they believe might not be true.

More HERE 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On Self Reflection and our daily hubris

I thought this was a funny little piece at Slate - Narcissism: How to be vain without being a jerk -it raised this question for me... Why are we so bad at self reflection?

There is a tightrope to walk between seeing our actions and behaviors as others may view them and not tailoring one's behavior to the desires of others.  And while we see lots of navel gazing and self importance on everything from Oprah, to never read blogs such as this one, I would suggest much of the navel gazing is superficial, not serious looks at our own behaviors, or reflections on the justifications and stories we tell ourselves.

Some of this is easy to see and some pretty superficial, I'm thinking here of the skinny person who complains of needing to lose a few pounds or the average American lamenting our lives when 50% of the worlds population has never placed or received a phone call.

We also see it pretty clearly from the millionaire politicians, billionaire celebrities, and business moguls, who are unable to take a step back and say, "boy I'm lucky I was born into,or married into money... Or got wildly lucky when I met someone who changed my life or gave me a break....". How quickly it appears these folks bought into their own stories.   Easier to tell themselves lies about the road they've traveled than step back and give credit to fate, the sacrifice of others, etc.  I would argue the same is true for most of us... We're so caught up in our own stories, we either have no time for, or no stomach for, the truth.

Just a few hundred years ago the hubris was born into families... You were someone because of your superior bloodlines.  There is obviously still some of this,  but today I think I would argue that it's more likely that if you are conservative politically, nothing is more important to your political faith than to believe the social contract was of no importance to your success.  And related for another group, regardless of politics, it's important to believe we are "self made".  Frankly, it's this confidence I would argue that helped many of the successful, become so... it nothing is ever your fault you never lose your confidence.  But, here's the point where it begins to piss me off... 

If you've made your lot on the backs of others, and view it as either their aloofness, or their loyalty, or their "choices" that gave you an advantage then you're delusional.  Further, for both examples it is often their own self righteousness in the way they think, worship, eat, work, and live their lives that cause these delusions.

Joe Bageant tells a story about a fellow in Winchester VA who for somewhere around 50 years had an African-American women come to their house every Christmas morning and cook their Christmas breakfast... when he asked the fellow if he ever thought the woman would like to spend Christmas morning with her own family he replied, "Nah, she's been doing it so long she loves it, we're her Christmas family"... he was dead serious.  I have an acquaintance who is absolutely convinced that his mother in law just would not think it right if she didn't get to pay for their families vacation every summer, no mention of the fact that this man makes literally 50X what the mother-in-law makes, lives in 20X the house she does, or drives 30X the car... it's just something she likes to do... and he takes the 2 or 3K he saves on the vacation and invests it in the freaking stock market or on new golf clubs or a new seadoo and I suppose he would argue everybody is happy.  And when mother-in-law is dead, he'll sit on the porch at the lake house and think about how hard he worked, and how well he treated his mother in law by giving her the privilege of enjoying his view of the horizon when he invited her to come to his house for her birthday.  Never seriously wondering if it would have been more appropriate to go to her house on her birthday or paying for something she wanted.

Have we completely lost the ability to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes?" I think we have.  No strings, I suppose, are as hard to break as the one's we have tied to the stories we've told ourselves.

Obama - The Moderate Republican

This is the first of a couple of post on lying... in part, like the theme of this blog, it's about people who pull the public's strings, but primarily these will be a couple of post on self-reflection and lying to ourselves.

William Saletan has a good piece in Slate (HERE) entitled, "CHEER UP REPUBLICANS - You're going to have a moderate Republican in the White House for the next four years: Barack Obama".

What? 75% of the population would protest, picking their jaws up off the floor.  Saletan is insane, we know Obama's a socialist and a Muslim, or  a liberal, and a "good" Democrat.  But, as Saletan points out, the policies enacted and promoted by this president on a historical scale, put him slightly right of center along the lines of Eisenhower, Nixon, Gerald Ford... and I would argue Bill Clinton.

"A third of the stimulus was tax cuts. Once the economy began to revive, Obama offered a $4-trillion debt reduction framework that would have cut $3 to $6 of spending for every $1 in tax hikes. That’s a higher ratio of cuts to hikes than Republican voters, in a Gallup poll, said they preferred. It’s way more conservative than the ratio George H. W. Bush accepted in 1990. In last year’s debt-ceiling talks, Obama offered cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in exchange for revenue that didn’t even come from higher tax rates. Now he’s proposing to lower corporate tax rates, and Republicans are whining that he hacked $716 billion out of Medicare. Some socialist."
As conservative David Frum pointed out on Morning Joe this week, it's the conservative entertainment complex that lied to their constituents -

These are facts that the Limbaugh's of the world didn't want people to know... taxes have gone down, welfare ain't that much money (compared to what we do for the military and corporations)... Then, there's the more obvious lack of intellectual honesty that has been talked about quite a bit since this election - Republicans drank their own kool-aid.  Convinced that everyone believed as they did they made outlandish predictions about the outcome of the election.  And this wasn't just those we know are nuts (Dick Morris, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh), some of these were mainstream Republican thinkers (George Will, Peggy Noonan).

The final point I would make is about self-reflection... I wonder if Rush would consider reading, and try to understand, the dead-on points that Matt Taibbi makes in (HERE) Rolling Stone?  Has Rush become so invested in his own myth making that he can't look in the mirror and have even a moment of self reflection?  Even a moment of realization that he's dead wrong about what he believes?  I think he's too far gone, too far invested in the mythological figure he's created that is El Rushbo (my next post will point out that I think many of us are also in this position).

From Matt Taibbi's piece (emphasis mine):

"Similarly, the fact that so many Republicans this week think that all Hispanics care about is amnesty, all women want is abortions (and lots of them) and all teenagers want is to sit on their couches and smoke tons of weed legally, that tells you everything you need to know about the hopeless, anachronistic cluelessness of the modern Republican Party. A lot of these people, believe it or not, would respond positively, or at least with genuine curiosity, to the traditional conservative message of self-reliance and fiscal responsibility.
But modern Republicans will never be able to spread that message effectively, because they have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they're surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab. Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average "illegal," as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can't win votes when you're calling people lazy, stoned moochers.
It's hard to say whether it's good or bad that the Rushes of the world are too clueless to realize that it's their attitude, not their policies, that is screwing them most with minority voters. If they were self-aware at all, Mitt Romney would probably be president right now. So I guess we should be grateful that the light doesn't look like it will ever go on. But wow, is their angst tough to listen to."
Will the Frum conservative wing of the party lead or will the conservative entertainment complex?  I'd suggest it's the latter, people have too much invested in their Tea Party Rally's and long conversations at their Sunday School classrooms about our "socialist" President to step back and ask, "have I been an idiot for these four years?"...