Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Problem of "Evil" and the Madness of the Republican Mind

As part of my "opposition research" I subscribe to a number of Right-wing news services, here news being loosely construed as the information they disseminate which is almost all poorly written editorial and opinion pieces that use the genre of "news" as a means of propagandizing the reader.

(To borrow from Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, I dig into the muck and mire so that you, the friends and readers of Indomitable, will not have to do so.)

The cult of disinformation and fantasy that passes for reality which is on display in the Republican 2016 Debates, Carly Fiorina's sick obsession with dying fetuses she imagines she saw on a gimmicked video, and what Richard Hofstadter described as the religion-like bubble of Right-wing ideology, are the sum result of the power that the Fox News media has over its devotees.

America's broken politics is caused by a highly polarized public and elites, the lack of any unifying source of news that has legitimacy among the broad middle of the American people (self-identified conservatives quite literally only watch, respond to, and trust Fox News and its related media), and a Republican Party that is irresponsible, having abandoned any pretense of normal politics.

Biology and psychology also provides some troubling insight into the madness of the Republican mind in the Age of Obama (and to a lesser degree, Bill Clinton). Research on brain structure and neuroscience has revealed that the brains of conservatives/authoritarians have larger fear centers.

Conservatives are also more likely to fixate on disgusting and unsettling images (liberals tend to look away from and avoid them). Conservative/authoritarians also tend to think of the world in binary and simplistic terms: they have little tolerance for nuance and ambiguity. Thus, the world of movement conservatives is oriented around Manichean beliefs.

(One would also have to hypothesize that conservatives must experience powerful feelings of pleasure, safety, and security from having their political beliefs repeatedly validated by their media and isolated peer group. Participating in social dominance behavior is likely also a source of pleasure.

Are conservatives receiving hits of dopamine in their brains when they repeat Fox News talking points? Conversely, does the habituation to pleasure experienced by conservatives in the echo chamber explain why they are made angry, upset, and frustrated when confronted by facts that conflict with their fantasies?)

The Right-wing media complements these dynamics by creating heuristics for its believers. These decision rules are simple: if Obama and the Democrats say "X", then "good" obedient Republicans and conservatives must say "Y".

Confirmation bias is also primed as well. The Right-wing media has provided a cognitive map that colors "the pictures inside" the heads of American conservatives. When Republicans who are immersed in--or likely even party exposed to--the Right-wing media echo chamber think about the political world their ideology is so overpowering they are unable to see or imagine facts or alternatives that are contrary to their standing beliefs.

I recently received an email from a Right-wing advocacy group and PR firm that combines most, if not all, of the above themes. It is not particularly novel or well-written. However, this editorial (I will not share the source or provide a link as they do not merit any more attention) is a great example of the genre of writing and speech that has influenced the thinking of today's conservatives--and created the threat to the Common Good and national sanity that all folks of goodwill and conscience are fighting against.

What tropes can you identify in this editorial? Any insights on how the "brainwashing" and conditioning of its audience is taking place? And given last week's podcast conversation about the problem of "evil" in the West, the Manichean logic used here is fascinating as well.


What should one do when confronted by evil?

Walk away, shunt your eyes to the side and pretend you never saw it? Whisper to your friends and neighbors about it in an astonished tone while never doing anything? Or be an antagonist against that evil, shining a light on it, and confronting it without reservation?
What if the evil is cast in a way that many, perhaps even a majority, view it as being politically acceptable or even desirable? 
Should one remain silent and quietly work to change the culture that accepts evil through good hearted, private social welfare programs in the hopes that the love offered is enough?
These are the questions facing many Americans as we view an ever encroaching big government take a wrecking ball to what were once assumed freedoms under the false guise of tolerance.
Fundamental concepts like freedom of speech are being attacked by those who see hurts in every word or utterance, and from the role of manufactured victim demand that alternative opinions be censored.
This attack on speech is an obvious step toward tyranny, but other evil is more abstract and less easy to discern. 
One example is the government produced expectation that people are owed an income whether they work or not, and that denial of unearned "benefits" is an attack on their fundamental rights. The net effect of this claim against the government is that it effectively puts a demand for payment against those who produce wealth whether as an electrician, retail worker or Fortune 100 CEO making those who work subservient to those who don't.
The very benefits created to fulfill the expectations of those who choose not to work are used to gain political leverage an ever greater unearned piece of the pie has the perverse effect of making working in entry level jobs a bad economic decision. The very entitlement of those who could but won't, effectively makes fools out of those who can and do, as the doers are compelled to take care of the dependents further eroding their net earnings.
Another pernicious assault on liberty is the grinding expansion of the regulatory state often at the expense of the poor through higher costs for basic necessities. The EPA power plant regulation stands as a primary, but far from the only, example of this regulatory onslaught.  Borne out of a claimed need to address global warming, the EPA rule actually has a negligible impact on the problem it supposedly is designed to address.  Instead its impact will be to increase electricity costs by 16 percent over time — a cost that will be disproportionately be borne by those who can least afford it.
Additionally, the higher electricity costs will have another profound impact on lower income wage earners — it will decrease the likelihood that they will find a higher paying job as the U.S. manufacturing sector recedes due to the higher energy costs. The irony is that the American energy boom, absent the Obama regulations, is expected to dramatically increase domestic manufacturing without the need to level wages with the rest of the world. It is the abundance of energy here in America that makes this possible, and if left alone, the lower costs for electricity this abundance produces will likely become a major job creator over the next decade. Yet, Obama's regulatory assault on inexpensive electricity effectively negates this advantage.
Given the admission by the United Nation's climate chief, Christiana Figueres that the real goal of the global warming push is not protecting the environment but instead to change the world's economic structure, saying, "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution."
Global elitists attempting to change the world's economic structure away from a system that has produced more shared wealth than any in history under the guise of climate disaster at the expense of America's poor is exactly the kind of hidden evil that needs exposure. Yet, the cost of standing up against this liberty stealing power grab is ostracism and derision.
Is it worth it? 
Is fighting to keep the fundamental principles of self-determination and free enterprise as the cornerstones of our nation's economic system worth being attacked as an antagonist and naysayer?
The fight for freedom is never easy, and liberty only exists when there are those willing to push back hard against the natural slouch toward accepting government as the keeper of the least of these, rather than taking personal responsibility for that calling. 
Freedom of speech only exists when the purveyors of political correctness are rudely cast aside by those willing to mock them and break the cycle of perpetual offense that they wield as a weapon, weathering their ridicule while defeating attempts to incorporate their language cocoon into law.
Economic mobility and freedom only exists when markets are allowed to grow or contract based upon their overall value. When the federal government chooses to increase the cost of basic economic necessities, like burning fuel to generate electricity with a goal of creating scarcity out of abundance, people everywhere suffer.
Some are called to help the poor by providing bread, others to fight for secular solutions where liberty prevails and people are lifted out of poverty through the proven formula of private sector wealth creation. The two work well together, but if either lose the other cannot be sustained, and both are equal callings to confront evil.

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