Short version: no one is running the world. The 60's fantasy of trying to figure out who is behind it all - and the idea that it was the phone company was pretty funny - of tracing the military-industrial complex, blaming Nixon, or otherwise speculating who had the power to move society, is completely off reality. Even the modified version, of multinational corporations, advertising, Big Oil, Microsoft, etc is wildly exagerrated. Because people feel powerless, they speculate that Someone Else must have the power to do things. There is no danger of American fascism, or theocracy, or empire. Even if there were a determined collection of the rich and powerful who somehow decided to act cooperatively for evil, it wouldn't change things much. The types of power are too varied, and overall power simply too diffuse, for them to have much effect. Worry about something else.Continue reading No One Is Minding The Store
One of the reasons why I care so little for preserving "the environment" according to some artificial standard that bobos have left over from their stays at summer camp, it's because I value the other legacy - the legacy of ideas - so much more.Continue reading The Survival of Western Culture
Wandering over to comment on some left-leaning blogs, I was puzzled yet again by the accusations of tyranny, of fascism, and of the new pet phrase Unitary Authority, referring to Bush, of course. This rhetoric is so common on the left, with frequent mentions of how the Republicans "control" all branches of government, worries of imposed theocracy, and fear of multinational corporations (or "corporate interests").Continue reading Diffuse Power
Randall Balmer has an essay in the most recent Chronicle of Higher Education entitled Jesus Is Not A Republican.Continue reading The Religious Left That Doesn’t Exist
Balmer is a professor of religious history at Barnard College. The Assistant Village Idiot puts his fingers to his temples and makes some guesses: (Full disclosure: I read the opening one-sentence blurb, so I did see the phrase “drunk on power.” Therefore I made no predictions about what would be written about that, figuring I had an unfair hint.)
A psychiatrist I have known for over twenty years sent me this email, his most recent Letter To The Editor. This is an extremely intelligent person, from whom I learned a great deal about psychiatry years ago. A man of wit and humor, he holds positions of responsibility and a respected reputation in forensic psychiatry. He has had a long-standing tendency to argue via sneer and condescension - which I imagine he would describe as being unwilling to suffer fools gladly - but he is not incapable of constructed arguemnt. And yet... And yet this is what he is currently reduced to under the influence of BDS (Krauthammer 2004).Continue reading Picking On An Old Friend
Why does this story distress us? It happened long ago, to a person we don’t know. A thirteen year old boy is found guilty of stealing a handkerchief and is sent to Virginia to provide servant labor. We know that worse things have happened before and since.Continue reading False Equivalence
We are angered because of the extreme lack of proportion. Yes, it is theft, and yes, he probably did do it, but good heavens, man. For a handkerchief? Sent at a tender age across an ocean, all alone? Yes, yes, I’m sure he was of an age where he should know better, but a single handkerchief?
We might even think the law was the greater criminal for imposing such a punishment.
It is still an idea current on liberal blogs, and apparently in the NCC, Episcopal, and Methodist Church hierarchies, that evangelicals in general, and especially fundamentalists, arrive at their “peculiar” social ideas because they hate women and/or gays and/or sex and/or change – or that they fear same.Continue reading Ned Flanders and Evangelical Pathology
I wonder if a certain specie of leftist confuses the passion with importance. The fact that Erin Brokovich and Silkwood made it to the list of most inspiring movies would suggest that. Also, people are impressed with Al Gore’s “passion” in An Inconvenient Truth, and this seems to be used as a proxy for accuracy.Continue reading The Managing of Impressions II
This morning, over on NPR's Car Talk, Ray (I think) had a Great Idea how to solve the energy crisis, at least as it relates to cars.Continue reading Tom and Ray on Car Talk
I love these guys, but I'm also from New Hampshire, so if you asked me to predict "Dave, what kind of a solution do you think two really smart guys from Massachusetts - Cambridge, no less - will come up with?" I would have a ready answer. Raise taxes.
They are willing to entertain any number of extremely unlikely possibilities rather than consider that their world-view is what's awry.
Continue reading Rush Is Wrong, Sort Of
A Gitmo prisoner's attorney is among the best we could hope for to be our eyes and ears in holding the military accountable.Continue reading The Managing of Impressions I
But a prisoner’s attorney is also the worst of sources. It is his job to manage the impression created, to tell only one side of the story, and to put his client’s actions in the best possible light.
Continue reading The Influence of Doonesbury
Conservatives wonder how the liberal interpretation of history is maintained in the face of the facts. The massacres by the VC and the Khmer Rouge; the fall of communism and the translation of the Venona Cables; the growth in the economy in close parallel to conservative predicitions; the behavior of nations seeming closer to the older interpretations of men and evil than to the newer, more hopeful foreign policies.
The myths are sustained by condescending humor, and Ivy-League liberals do it best.
Maybe. I’m more concerned about a half-dozen other types of wellness: cultural wellness, spiritual wellness, familial wellness. Intellect, citizenship - I think the list might go on for quite awhile before I got to body wellness. Time spent working on one is time taken from the others.Continue reading Wellness Fair
Continue reading Balloonjuice Complains
But I find over time that if you press people, they reveal themselves. To claim “We are not against surveillance, we just want it to be done lawfully,” after the program has been explained, is more suspect. (Still possible, though.) But more often, the writer reveals that the heart of her opposition to the war or the surveillance is that she doesn’t trust George Bush. When that is the case, I research or probe to discover if the writer just plain always disbelieves George Bush; nine times out of ten, that’s the case. They believe Joe Wilson, they believe Dan Rather, they believe the Thanksgiving turkey was plastic, they believe it’s a war for oil, they believe any crazy thing that people claim, no matter how plausible the administration’s response. When I see that, I feel comfortable disregarding their objections.
The decision tree reveals a superdominance that you make a wager at least once.Continue reading Pascal’s Wager