Saturday, April 28, 2007

German newsmedia attack war-mongering Israelis

"Israel threaten[s] Iran" proclaimed the headline to a story on an interview with Israeli PM Olmert under the byline of Amir Taheri in the German magazine Focus published today. However, Mr. Taheri says it isn't so and apologizes to Olmert:
Taheri said that the material published was no what he had passed to the magazine, and that he had asked the editors to remove the story from the site. "I apologize to you," he told the spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.
Ynet reports that the magazine is backtracking, but only a little bit:
Focus officials have also admitted that "the impression that was created as if Olmert said that there was an operative plan to strike was exaggerated, and it is now clear that Olmert's statements were not aimed as a threat on Iran."

However, in a conversation with Ynet the editors stood by their initial reports and insisted that the text of the interview circulated in the media was correct and will be published tomorrow. [emphasis added]

Ynet has looked at the transcript and charitably attributes the problems to translation issues:
An examination of the transcript of Olmert's conversation with the reporter revealed that the PM's perceived aggressiveness in the interview resulted from the fact that fine nuances of his English statements were "lost in translation."

In the original version of the interview in English, Olmert did mention – albeit in passing - the option of striking Iran, claiming that "no one has ever ruled it out." However, he stressed that the international community should focus on sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The prime minister also referred to the dangers of an attack on Iran, and stated that he would not want to turn the whole Iranian people into Israel's enemy.

"Such an operation would turn other Muslim countries against us and cause even bigger problems," Olmert added and explained that Israel had no plans to attack.

It sounds like Focus got more than just the nuances wrong.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Another scientist disagrees with Al Gore

Dr. R. Tim Patterson, a Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University, Canada, studies past and present climate change by examination of sediments, microfossils and geochemistry. As reported, he doesn't think that global warming is primarily human induced:
Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said.

"I think the proof in the pudding, based on what (media and governments) are saying, (is) we're about three quarters of the way (to disaster) with the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere," said Patterson. "The world should be heating up like crazy by now, and it's not. The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles."

Powered by ScribeFire.

Ivy Leaque intellectualism as a primitive religion

James Taranto finds an explanation for Yale University's ban (later rescinded) on the use in plays of fake weapons that don't look fake enough:

The Yale Daily News reports that "in the wake of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions":

According to students involved in the production, Trachtenberg has banned the use of some stage weapons in all of the University's theatrical productions. While shows will be permitted to use obviously fake plastic weapons, students said, those that hoped to stage more realistic scenes of stage violence have had to make changes to their props.

"Fub," a commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy, has a perceptive analysis:

What makes these ritual bannings of depictions or imitations of real weapons politically effective (among those for whom they are effective) is a very primitive human thought process: belief in sympathetic magic.

The actual object, the weapon, is imbued with magical power. Its very presence magically causes harm. It causes people to behave in evil ways. The rationale commonly offered is that the mere presence of a weapon makes people more prone to violence.

Sympathetic magic is the belief that what one does with an imitation of the thing with magical power will affect the actual thing. For example, in a magical religious context we see the image of a deity addressed, or given gifts or sacrifices. The magical deity is affected through the treatment of its image, and so performs its magic for the one who gives the image a gift.

In the imitation weapon banning context we have first the belief that the object, the actual weapon, is magic and causes those in its presence to behave in an evil manner. The sympathetic magical belief is that by banning the image or the imitation weapon, the magical power of real weapons to cause people to be violent will be lessened, or the real weapons will stay away from the presence of the faithful.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Global warming update: EU targets food supply

From The Sun (UK):
[The] UN said livestock emissions were a bigger threat to the planet than transport.

The MEPs have asked the European Commission to “look again at the livestock question in direct connection with global warming”.

The official EU declaration demands changes to animals’ diets, to capture gas emissions and recycle manure.

They warned: “The livestock sector presents the greatest threat to the planet.” The proposal will be looked at by the 27 member states.

The UN says livestock farming generates 18 per cent of greenhouse gases while transport accounts for 14 per cent. [emphasis added.]

Normally the world-is-going-to-end environmental disaster scenarios, like acid rain, nuclear power, ozone hole, and, up til now, global warming, have all been focussed on power systems. It is not yet clear if taking action against the food supply will have as much emotional appeal.

Acid rain was supposedly caused by coal power plants used for generating electricity. (Later studies showed that rain has historically always been acidic.) Similarly, nuclear power fears were focussed on doomsday accident scenarios that might happen during electrical power generation. The ozone hole was associated with gases used during electrically-powered air conditioning. Global warming covers a wider variety of power systems: everthing that uses fossil fuels. Whether demonizing seemingly "natural" farm animals would have similar appeal remains to be seen.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reuters thinks that terrorists are opposed to violence

From today's BotW:

Violently Opposed to Violence

Reuters has a couple of amusing photos from a mass gathering in the Palestinian territories. This one shows a guy brandishing a rifle in his right hand and shaking his left fist. At least one more rifle is visible among the crowd walking behind him. This one shows another guy, holding a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. Both photos have the same caption:

Palestinians attend a demonstration against violence in Gaza April 23, 2007.

We've often noted that many so-called pacifists seem to have a taste for tumult, but only in Palestinistan would a peace protester carry an RPG launcher. Or should we say only in Reuterville?

Previously, this blog noted the ease with which Islamist propaganda enters the "unbiased" MSM here and here. Also, on a related subject: Peace activists turn violent

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Psychological Projection, Hollywood Style

Actor and liberal activist Alec Baldwin a describes Vice President Cheney as "crypto-fascist" and "hate-filled." Today, the tape of a phone message that Mr. Baldwin left for his daughter was made public:

"I'm tired of playing this game with you. I'm leaving this message with you to tell you you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me. You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone.

And when I come out there next week, I'm going to fly out there for the day just to straighten you out on this issue. I'm going to let you know just how disappointed in you I am and how angry I am with you that you've done this to me again. You've made me feel like s --- and you've made me feel like a fool over and over and over again. And this crap you pull on me with this expletive phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly and over and over again. I am going to get on a plane and I am going to come out there for the day and I am going to straighten your ass out when I see you.

"Do you understand me? I'm going to really make sure you get it. Then I'm going to get on a plane and I'm going to turn around and come home. So you'd better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. So I'm going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, OK?"

So, when Alec Baldwin describes someone else as "hate-filled," it would seem to be an example of what psychologists call "projection," a defense mechanism that is considered normal for a child.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

University upset at free speech

"Nowhere at that time was there any mention of it being political satire," said Matt Yates, chairperson of the University of Rhode Island's Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee. Yates was referring to a satirical "scholarship":
The College Republicans student organization first advertised the satirical “White, Heterosexual, American Male” “scholarship” in November, 2006. The scholarship consisted of a nominal $100 to be awarded to someone fitting those criteria who submitted an application and an essay on the adversities he has faced.
Apparently because Yates among others didn't get the satire, "a committee of the University of Rhode Island (URI) Student Senate voted on Monday to derecognize the College Republicans student group.... [The committee] decided that even advertising the satirical 'scholarship' violated URI’s anti-discrimination bylaws and demanded that the group publish an apology in the campus newspaper. Unwilling to apologize, [College Republicans President Ryan] Bilodeau appealed [the committee’s] decision. The Senate denied that appeal."

Based on election results from several recent state referendums on affirmative action, it would appear that a sizable majority of Americans, like the URI College Republicans, see "affirmative action" as racism. That the URI senate doesn't get the satire seems to indicate that their intellectual life is quite sheltered.

Previously in the series on liberal opposition to free speech:

The selective right of free speech

The Right of Free Speech, Selectively Applied

Tolerating free speech, IV

Tolerating free speech, III

More on tolerating free speech

Those who cannot tolerate free speech

RELATED: Five claimed examples of the left attempting to suppress free speech are collected here.

RELATED: A sometime ACLU lawyers writes about the ACLU's interprets the right of free speech selectively.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A liberal's inner turmoil

New York Magazine profiles MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann and, possibly not so surprisingly, the story's focus settles on Olbermann's admitted inner psychological conflicts.
Keith Olbermann is pissed off. That’s nothing new. Keith Olbermann has been pissed off since he could lift the toilet seat.

As an employee, Olbermann was his own kind of Worst Person in the World. His sense of superiority and caustic vibe eventually cost him gigs and friends at three networks. How naughty was he? Olbermann was the only former ESPN star not invited back for the sports network’s 25th anniversary (he’s allowed to participate on Patrick’s radio show only because Patrick promised that Olbermann would never set foot on the network’s Bristol, Connecticut, campus). He was fired from his first stint at MSNBC after he denounced his own show in a commencement address at his alma mater. Fox hired him to host its major-league baseball Game of the Week and then sent him home with a year left on his contract simply for being a malcontent. [emphasis added]

"His sense of superiority" is a mask, as the article later explains:
By 2002, Olbermann was in full rebuild mode, penning a 3,000-word Salon piece, titled “Mea Culpa,” apologizing to ESPN for his years of churlish behavior. Olbermann wrote, “I have lived much of my life assuming much of the responsibility around me and developing a dread of being blamed for things going wrong. Moreover, deep down inside I’ve always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn’t, and that some day I’d be found out.” [emphasis added]
His problems with life began early:
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that when Keith Olbermann was a kid, he got the tar kicked out of him on a regular basis. And not by the football team. “I got beat up by girls all the time,” says Olbermann. [emphasis added]
Via BotW.

Why is Alger Hiss' guilt such a threat to the liberal vision?

Mark Gauvreau points to this strange passage in last week's Washington Post:
The House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Hiss, launching the career of Richard M. Nixon, a committee member who pressed hard for Hiss's indictment, records would later show. The case was fodder for conservatives bent on portraying liberals as soft on Communism and therefore unpatriotic -- not an unfamiliar template for political combat in the modern era.

It also opened a deep fissure within American liberalism that reverberates to this day.

"Was it going to be the liberalism of the Franklin Roosevelt stripe, the New Deal vision of a communitarian society that takes care of its own and the poor, or was it going to be sort of a neo-liberalism that stood up to the Communists and turned its back on the New Deal vision?" says Kai Bird, who, with Martin J. Sherwin, authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer."

Why do they see that as their choice, asks Mr. Gavreau? Why cannot they be liberals who are also opposed to Stalinist totalitarianism? Why do they think that opposing Stalinism would betray the "New Deal vision"?

As the Washington Post unwittingly points out, these questions reverberate today: why do liberals think that opposing Baathism and Islamism would be a betrayal of their principles? The answer, I speculate, is that their vision requires them to imagine a unified world in which there is no enemy but Republicans. Thus, if Assad in Syria opposes Republicans, that, in Speaker Pelosi's eyes, is sufficient to make him one of the good guys who has a commitment to "peace." For the liberal "idealists," imagining a world with more than two factions, being liberal good guys and evil Republicans, would require a painful re-thinking.

Because the statute of limitations had run out, Alger Hiss was never tried for espionage. He was, however, convicted of perjury. His guilt was established beyond the slightest doubt by the exhaustively researched book, Perjury, by Allen Weinstein.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Edwards' hypocrisy on the poor

From a June 22, 2006, speech by Sen. John Edwards delivered at the National Press Club:
It's wrong we have 37 million Americans living in poverty — separated from the opportunities of this country by their income, their housing, their access to education and jobs and health care — just as it was wrong we once lived in a country legally segregated by race. Too many places today are segregated by class.
The Edwards apparently do not apply the concern about the poor being "separated" from the rich to their own neighborhood. As the AP reports:
[Mrs.] Edwards views [neighbor Monty] Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres.

Johnson, 55, acknowledges his Republican roots. But he takes offense to the suggestion he has purposefully left his property, including an old garage he leases for use as a car shop, in dilapidated condition.

Johnson said he has lived his entire life on the property, which he said his family purchased before the Great Depression. He said he's spent a lot of money to try and fix up the 42-acre tract.

So, Mrs. Edwards believes that Monty Johnson is poor just to "spite" her?

Mrs. Edwards also objects Mr. Edwards ordinary American means of self-protection. While the Edwards are likely used to having armed guards protect them, such as during the 2004 campaign when the Secret Service was at their beck and call, such as reported in this 2004 Knight-Ridder story:

Monday marked Edwards' first day with Secret Service protection. Agents were visible throughout the union hall and stopped traffic on 19th Street when he left the building.
Mr. Johnson has no such resources so, that once ,when he found trespassers on his property, he chased them off with a gun. Mrs. Edwards warps this story into:
The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person. "I wouldn't be nice to him, anyway," Edwards said in an interview. "I don't want my kids anywhere near some guy who, when he doesn't like somebody, the first thing he does is pull a gun out. It scares the business out of me."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

For the Love of Disaster, II

Alexander Hamilton's biographer, Ron Chernow, wrote of him [p.473]:
As always [Hamilton's] easily alarmed mind dwelled on dire outcomes.
His political descendants today continue to develop evil conspiracy hypotheses and disaster scenarios. It is curious that they don't fear that their fears are true: they demand they are true. For example, Dr. William M. Gray is is one of America's most distinguished climatologists. He is Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU), and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences and a pioneer in the science of forecasting hurricanes. He is a skeptic of Gore-style global warming and some might find that reassuring. Not the AP, however. They wrote an article yesterday smearing him as "railing" against the "mainstream." The reporter, Cain Burdeau, couldn't even be bothered to get his facts straight about Dr. Gray's statements on the subject.

Separately, the disaster/conspiracy advocates on the left-blogosphere fell for a fake photograph, created as an April Fool's joke/company promo, and spun elaborate theories over alleged misdeeds of Karl Rove.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Making Murderers feel better about the US

MSNBC reports:
Pelosi said Assad assured her of his willingness to engage in peace talks with Israel ....

“We were very pleased with the assurances we received from the president that he was ready to resume the peace process. He’s ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel,” Pelosi said.

It would be nice if Speaker Pelosi's staff looked into the meaning the phrase "useful idiot."

Syria's ruling party is Baathist, a Nazi-Stalinist fusion party. This makes Assad the last dictator in the world to claim fealty to Nazi ideas. Syria has long been considered a state-sponsor of terror and responsible for funding Hamas and ordering the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri . Rep. Lantos (D-Ca) traveled with Rep. Pelosi to Syria. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on his opinion of this trip:

Rep. Tom Lantos, a San Mateo Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee who is accompanying Pelosi and several other Democrats and one Republican lawmaker, said during the group's visit to Israel on Sunday, "We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy. I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States." [emphasis added]
Assad heads a murderous Nazi-inspired regime but what concerns Rep. Lantos is reassuring Assad that the US will return to "credibility and respect" under a "Democratic foreign policy."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Today's liberal

Senator and Ms. Edwards spoke at a town hall meeting at the University of New Hampshire on Monday. A student steps to the microphone and starts her question:
Hi. My name is Jenny Ballantine and I'm a senior here. I've kind of been all over the place. I'm going to throw you a little zinger, so it's not so much a question. It's more words of encouragement and inspiration on my behalf. I've been on my own since 14. I am one of those people that you're talking about that is poverty stricken. I made less than 8,000 this past year. Instead of going to school, I could have gone the dirty place, the bad place.
Having been on her own since age 14, it is clear that she has had an exceptionally difficult childhood. This gives her something in common with American liberals from Alexander Hamilton to Barack Obama. She continues:
I need help. I need severe help. I need to be able to look to my leader and see words of encouragement, words of hope. I need to be able to trust that person.
For liberals, the country's president is much more than its politician-in-chief. Liberals expect that person to fill a much broader role, providing "trust," "hope," and "encouragement," as if liberals want a leader to be more of parent than a politician. This sounds like the famous "ponytail guy" of 1992. Ms. Ballentine continues:
I need to be able to know that I'm going to grow in a world that's not going to be full of hate and prejudice and racism and to know that I matter, that I wasn't just dumped in this world for no particular reason whatsoever.
Again, she is looking for more than a president: She wants the chief politician to provide her with a reason to live, to explain why she wasn't "just dumped in this world." Others might pose this question to a pastor or a philospher. Liberals expect the president (chief politician) to fulfill that role. She also seems to expect that, if Sen. Edwards were to become president, he could end "hate and prejudice and racism."

She explains that she is working hard in school and then says:

Oh, Jesus -- and I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. I don't know what I want to be when I'm an adult. But I'm 22 right now. So people are like, "Honey, you are an adult."
Like ponytail guy, she sees herself as a child wants her president to take care of her. She then concludes her statement:
So (mic feedback) sorry. So I know this isn't a question, but, you know, it's about me. It's about me voting for you or supporting somebody who's going to be the next president. So it's all about me right now. .... So just words of encouragement, something, just give me something. It's been really rough.
The Edwards asked the audience to give her a round of applause and, for a moment, she had her wish: it was all about her.

Our "moderate" enemies

Iran captures 15 British sailors from Iraqi waters and held them hostage for two weeks. So, how does the Associated Press interpret this act of war? AP interprets this as a sign that the "pragmatists" are in charge of Iran and that there is "[h]ope for more Iran compromises."

Before their release, British PM Tony Blair had said that the next 48 hours of negotiation would be "critical." This hints that he had privately threatened Iran with military action if they didn't release the hostages. However, the AP gives Blair no credit for the release. Instead, they credit Iran's top foreign policy negotiator Ali Larijani who "[w]hile a religious conservative, Larijani is seen as a pragmatist with close ties to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

The AP sees this development as a warning that the West should go easy on Iran in the future so as not to enrage the "hardliners":

As Iran headed back into talks with Europe on its nuclear program Thursday, it already was warning of retaliation if the West pushed too hard.

This analysis would be more plausible if it wasn't the one that liberals always use. In a typical example, the 1933 New York Times fretted that Germany had "extreme" Nazis and that Hitler was trying to moderate.

UPDATE: Former Sen. Fred Thompson comments on the favorable treatment that Iran's Islamists have received after the hostage release:

Some in the West seem part of Iran's propaganda war; claiming that the release of the hostages was a victory that proves the Iranian dictatorship can be reasoned with. To misrepresent unpunished piracy as a victory is as Orwellian as the congressional mandate banning use of the term "the global war on terror." What are we — Reuters?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yes, global warming enthusiasts can be ridiculous

From James Taranto's Best of the Web:

Grill Scouts

From Novosti, a Russian news service:

The government of Belgium's French-speaking region of Wallonia, which has a population of about 4 million, has approved a tax on barbequing, local media reported.

Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros for a grilling session.

The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.

Good thing helicopters don't emit any CO2!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Liberals are racists

For some reason, Michelle Malkin brings out the left's most overt and ugly racism, such as what she quotes from the Huffington Post and Wonkette.

Liberal attacks on Miguel Estrada and Alberto R. Gonzales also seem to involve racism but they, at least, try to disguise it. Their attacks on Ms. Malkin leave no doubt.

Sayet's theory of liberalism

As a former writer for Bob Maher, Even Sayet knows Hollywood and knows modern liberals. After 9/11, he supported America and this put him at odds with Hollywood liberals. He has evidently put a lot of thought into how liberals think. He spoke on this for 48 minutes this video. I cannot do full justice to his ideas in this brief post, but I will attempt to summarize his theory, which is not mine, of how liberals think as follows:
  1. Liberals believe that, since wars and injustice still exist, therefore Western thought, tradition, religion, and civilization have failed. Therefore Western thought, tradition, religion, and civilization should be rejected. The idea that anything about the West is right should be rejected. So, the opposite should be endorsed. Given a choice between Arafat and Israel, reject Israel and elevate Arafat. Given a choice between advocating teenage abstinence and teenage promiscuity, advocate teenage promiscuity. Consequences, whether pregnancy or AIDs or simply time not spent studying, are not to be considered.
  2. All journalism, according to liberals, should to be devoted to de-valuing America. Thus, while the misbehavior of a handful guards one night in an obscure prison in Iraq would normally be a non-story except that it makes America look bad. Therefore the New York Times made it a front page story for 44 days in a row.
  3. Standards for aesthetics, according to liberals, should be rejected. There is no way in a rational world that a jar of urine with a cross in it is beautiful. But, if that jar attacks Western religion, then, to a liberal, it is worthy of being shown in our best museums.
  4. America is not fighting for democracy in Iraq because, according to liberals, America cannot be doing "good." Therefore, it is a "war for oil." For a liberal, no further proof is necessary.
  5. Liberals believe that all rational thought is bigotry. Whatever your reasons, your conclusion must be the result of your bigotry. Therefore rational thought is discrimination and must be rejected. Thus, at airports, we must not discriminate: we must pretend that the next terrorist is as likely to be an 87-year old Swedish grandmother as a Syrian shouting Allah Aqbar at the boarding gate. Anything else is seen as evil discrimination.
  6. Liberals hold dear the lessons that they learned in kindergarten. In kindergarten, they said "Don't hit." Therefore, war is bad. They taught that cooperation is good. Therefore, as every kindergartener who raises money for Unicef knows, the UN is good. Others have since learned about the failures of the UN. Liberals have also learned much since kindergarten but it doesn't affect their conclusions. They simply choose not to use that information.
  7. If discrimination is bad, any opinion different from a liberal's involves discrimination and is evil. Therefore Bush is Hitler. They don't think about a conservative's positions and stances. They don't need to. They know that conservatives "discriminate" and that is all they need to know.
  8. If something is a failure, it must have failed only because it was discriminated against. Therefore the failure is good and the good is evil.
Watch the whole thing.

Reversing cause and effect

Given a particular set of facts, it is not unusual for Republicans and Democrats to reach opposite conclusions about which is the cause and which is the effect. Consider Sen. Obama who concluded that we need to fight cynicism:
... the campaigns shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours.

That's our mission.

And in this mission, our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against.

Where does this "cynicism" come from? Sen Obama explains:
It's the cynicism that's borne from decades of disappointment, amplified by talk radio and 24-hour news cycle, reinforced by the relentless pounding of negative ads that have become the staple of modern politics.

Too often, this cynicism makes us afraid to say what we believe. It makes us fearful. We don't trust the truth.

It's caused our politics to become small and timid, calculating and cautious. We spend all our time thinking about tactics and maneuvers, knowing that if we spoke the truth, we address the issues with boldness, that we might be labeled -- it might lead to our defeat.

So, are politicians "afraid to say what [they] believe" because of "cynicism"? Or is it because "if [they] spoke the truth, ... it might lead to [their] defeat"? The latter fits history. For decades any presidential candidate who ran as a liberal, from McGovern to Dukakis to Gore, lost. Bill Clinton won but, at least during the election cycles, he positioned himself as a "new Democrat," a moderate, and "triangulated" away from from the rest of the party. The problem is not "cynicism." The problem is that the Democrats have not found anyone in recent decades who could do for liberalism what Reagan could do for conservatism: explain the ideas in a way that Americans understand and identify with. The reason that liberals have been "small and timid, calculating and cautious" is not cynicism. It is the accurate realization that, in recent decades, their ideas, when clearly expressed, have not been popular. Lack of popular ideas, or at least the inability to explain them in a way that makes them popular, is the cause. "Cynicism" is merely the effect.

PREVIOUSLY: Matthew Yglesias expressed a similar we-liberals-can't-say-what-we-really-think idea as discussed here, although he attributed the problem to realism, not cynicism.

Self Esteem and Education

There has been a vocal group in the US proposing that the solution to education problems is to raise the "self-esteem" of students. According to Ralph R. Reiland, this might be backfiring:
Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students.

Hat tip: Rush.

Politics of Happiness

Why has the US always had a big political divide? One reason might be that people have fundamentally different psychological outlooks on life. From working with juries, trial lawyer John Hinderaker has noted that "conservatives (Republicans) are happier than liberals (Democrats)." Polls consistently show that Republicans are happier than Democrats. Some say that "[t]his could be explained by the fact that our current rulers are Republican" and that makes Republicans happier. However, the poll results say that Republicans have been consistently happier than Democrats over decades regardless of which party is control. Another proposed explanation is that Republicans are happier only because they have more income. Pew research, however, says their poll results disagree:
But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.
Pew research used multiple regression analysis to control for all the available factors and found that, other things being equal (i.e. controlled for), such as health, income, faith, and marital status, Republicans are still happier than Democrats.

Polls, of course, cannot address causality. So, they cannot answer whether being happy make a person more likely to be a Republican, or whether being a Republican make one more likely to be happy.

One can speculate on other affects. For example, it seems reasonable to me that depressed people are more likely to be believe in the truth of disaster scenarios than happy people. This may explain why depressed Democrats have much stronger convictions that, for example, Iraq, Afghanistan, and global warming are all disasters.

Clicky Web Analytics