Sedition on the Left and Right

In listening to Carter’s improbable nostrums for bringing peace to the Middle East, or Clinton’s latest attempts to breathe new life into the Alien and Sedition Acts, one can only admire the wisdom of the American people in limiting Presidents to eight years in office.  Do you wonder why the existence of Foxnews, talk radio, and freedom of speech in the blogosphere is a good thing?  Here’s a data point for you.  If it weren’t for them, there would be no counter to the Left’s latest attempts to limit the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances to those who agree with them.  These people need to revise the bumper stickers on their Volvos to “Question the Questioning of Authority.”  As for the Administration’s legacy media poodles, I can only suggest that they go to the next big “peace” demonstration and look around.  If they’re really worried about demonstrators who promote acts of violence, it might occur to them to consider what all those people in black hoods are there for.

The Tea Parties and Human Nature

Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People
The Amity/Enmity Complex is real. The term refers to the dual nature of human morality. Search the listings of any of the major book sellers, and you’ll see that the long and bitter resistance of the Marxists and other ideologues to the notion of innate human behavior, including moral behavior, has effectively ended.

The ideologues have been overwhelmed by a deluge of facts from the emerging fields of neuroscience and brain imaging. They have been forced to accept the vindication of Ardrey, Konrad Lorenz, E.O. Wilson, and all the other old ethologists and sociobiologists, although they seldom have the grace to mention their names. A sea change has occurred in acceptance of the influence of innate predispositions on human behavior in the last two decades, but the old “nurture is everything” behaviorists still cling stubbornly to a few intellectual redoubts. Among these is the notion that morality, while it may be hard wired in the brain, is actually evolving towards the “real good,” which commonly includes such things as universal human brotherhood and abhorrence of anything which might injure the “rights” of any life form, whether bird, beast or “other.” Unfortunately, it ain’t so.

Human brains are wired for a dual system of morality, one that applies to those perceived as the “in-group” and a sharply different one for those in the “out-group.” All sorts of negative characteristics are reserved for the latter. They are unclean, harmful, unjust, “immoral,” and generally evil. Eventually, some bright young neuroscientist will ignore the tabus of her elders and start systematically searching for the traces of the Complex among her fMRI and CEEG scans, and she will find them, because they are there. The Amity/Enmity Complex has always been as obvious as the noses at the end of our faces, just as the influence of innate predispositions on human behavior has been obvious to anyone with reasonable intelligence and an open mind since the days of Darwin. Human history is one, long testimony to its existence. The emergence of the Tea Party movement has provided us with some particularly striking examples of the Complex in action.

Consider, for example, the reaction on the left of the political divide among the “progressives” and liberals, those great champions of the will of the “people.” We’ve just seen exactly what limitations apply to their definition of the “people.” Anyone who disagrees with them is not included.

The Tea Party phenomenon is the only instance of the emergence of genuine mass popular movement most of them have ever witnessed. According to the latest Rasmussen survey, 24% of American voters now say they are part of the movement. Unfortunately, their views do not coincide with those of their leftist opponents. The response of the “progressives” has been to excise this particular bloc of the people with a meat cleaver.

The psychological gymnastics used to accomplish the job are classic examples of out-group identification. See, for example, the “astroturfing” meme at Daily Kos, some of the many attempts to associate the movement with violent extremists here, here, here and here, the Tea Partiers as “frauds” at Huffpo, and a particularly amusing example of the many attempts to associate the movement with racism by erstwhile warmonger Jonathan Chaitt, which includes the rather striking non sequitur,

The Tea Party is not racist. But it is an almost entirely white movement, largely driven by a sense that the government is taking money away from people like them and giving it to people unlike them, with ‘them’ understood in a racial context.

Heap the numerous attempts by these professionally pious and virtuous lovers of the “people” to discredit the movement with deceptions and smears on top of the rest, and you have a textbook case of the Enmity half of the Amity/Enmity Complex.

Far be it from me to claim that the leftists’ ideological clones on the right are any different. I merely use the Tea Party movement as a particularly striking, and therefore educational, example of an aspect of human moral behavior that the recent spate of books on the subject continue to leave out. One must hope that continuing advances in neuroscience will force them to pull their heads from the sand in the not too distant future. True, the Amity/Enmity Complex is an embarrassing aspect of our behavior, but it is also a particularly dangerous one to ignore.

The Heroic Martyrs of Health Care Reform

The allergic response of the “progressive” left, those great self-proclaimed vindicators of “the people,” to the only genuine popular movement most of them have ever seen has been a remarkable spectacle. If their blogs are any indication, every tea partier with a homemade sign is a racist, Nazi,and  potential assassin with overactive saliva glands. They’ve been waving the bloody shirt non-stop since the health care bill passed, regaling us with hair raising tales of gratuitous vandalism and murderous threats. Instapundit was all over the story last week, with lots of good links to related stories. Examples of the usual ostentatious pious posing on the left can be found here, here, here and here, and reactions on the right here, here, here and here. The “violent mobs” meme was ubiquitous in the MSM and, of course, on NPR, where I noticed they were flogging it relentlessly every half hour or so as I drove to work. (I often wonder whether these people actually believe their own cant and think they’re just reporting the news. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?) Greg Gutfeld has a post about the selective outrage on the left today that hits the nail on the head. His take:

It goes like this: for the media, anger is only okay if its targets meet their stereotypical, romanticized criteria. Meaning: the corporation, the conservative, the daddy who never loved them.

Here’s a list of people doing angry things the media is okay with:

-People calling Bush a Nazi
-Students and non students rioting on college campuses
-Animal rights freaks dousing rich folks with paint
-Actors wishing average folks would get rectal cancer
-Bureaucrats labeling military vets as potential violent right wing extremists
-Radical environmentalists advocating violence against loggers
-Pranksters throwing pies at conservative commentators (you know, somehow they never pie Michael Moore, which makes him sad; he likes pie)

But this health care bill anger is different from all that – not just because it’s right, but because it involves Obama. And being angry at Obama is like being mad at Santa Claus. How can you be mad at Santa, when he brings us so many gifts?

And so, this anger is scary! It’s a mark of incivility! It’s deadly!

In case you’re an NPR reporter and therefore have no clue what Greg is talking about, I suggest you follow some of Instapundit’s links to accounts of threats and violence directed against people you don’t happen to agree with.  You can find examples here, here, here and here.  Now check your archives and find out how obsessive you were about reporting on those stories.  Any questions?  If you want to see what real political intimidation looks like, take a gander at what your pals in Canada have been up to.

Of course, when it comes to the health care bill, the ranting on the right has been at least as loud as that on the left.  Sean Hannity has been making Nathan Hale speeches for months about how the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Cornhusker Kickback,” and all the related traditional wheeling and dealing in Congress make the health care bill the “most corrupt” ever.  I can only suggest that Sean get a grip and Google Teapot Dome and Credit Mobilier, or perhaps read a little about the history of the big railroads and their penchant for political manipulation in their heyday. 

Indeed, when it comes to pious posing from the moral high ground, the right seems to have achieved parity with the left.  We’ve become a mutual demonization society.  In some sense that’s a good thing, because it demonstrates that in the US, unlike, for example, in Europe, the right has regained a public voice in the form of talk radio, influential bloggers, and Foxnews.  The days when the left had such a monopoly over the public media that they could simply destroy people who criticized them the way they did Richard Nixon are long gone.  Now the right can answer tit for tat, and they are in no mood to be intimidated with the “violent demonstrators” gambit.  Who knows, perhaps cooler heads on both sides will eventually become bored with mutual villification and we will see a gradual easing of the current polarization between left and right.  I’m not holding my breath, though.

Meanwhile, we must grin and bear the burden of another massive government entitlement program.  Obama assures us that it will “cut the deficit.”  If it does, it will certainly be a historical first.  I’m not holding my breath for that, either.  On the other hand, it’s unlikely to cause the collapse of the economy the right seems so worried about any time soon.  Other countries have dealt with and continue to deal with much heavier public debts than ours, although we certainly appear to be catching up with them.  A more likely outcome than the “train wreck” expected on the right is economic malaise similar to that in Japan accompanied by gradually increasing taxation in one form or another and an increasingly discouraging outlook for anyone contemplating any kind of private economic venture.  I can’t rule out one of Nassim Taleb’s “black swans,” but I suspect that the American people will simply accept the continuing metastasization of big government and adapt to the resultant loss of liberty as best they can, just as they have accepted the gradual and continued morphing of our so-called “system of justice” into an abomination in which the only “winners” of legal battles in the courts can be the lawyers.  The train wreck may be coming, but it’s still a long way off.

Of Tea Parties and Media Bias

The Slant; it’s as obvious from the stories they don’t cover as from the ones they do. For example, for the legacy media, political demonstrations exist in what quantum physicists would call a “virtual state.” They don’t become “real” until, like Schrödinger’s famous cat, they are “measured” by the media. Once they are measured, they become “real.” If they are not measured, they never happened.

Protest 03-20-10

Byron York on Health Care, the IRS, and State Power

Byron York points out the elephant in the closet in the debate over health care reform (hat tip Instapundit for the link):

Should the IRS be involved in health care enforcement in the first place? As seen in the town halls across the country in August, many Americans are concerned about the coercive nature of the proposed national health care system. Handing the IRS the power to monitor every American’s place in the system worries them even more.

Backers of the Democratic bills are betting that the handouts involved — giving people money to buy health insurance — will outweigh concerns about privacy and coercive government. Perhaps. But before Congress makes any decision on national health care, voters should know just what it will involve.

Each new government entitlement program is easy to justify. Noble causes are being served. In the case of health care, for example, who could possibly be mean spirited enough to limit the access of poor people to health care? Obviously, people like that just “don’t understand” the details of the program. They’re being “misinformed” by right wing conservatives.

I rather suspect that most of the opposition to more government involvement in health care is not the result of misinformation on the minutiae of the latest iteration of the plans before Congress. Rather, people are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that such programs actually cost money, and that the money will not be forthcoming unless state power is used to collect it by force.

Whole Foods Joins the Dark Side

Say it ain’t so, ABC! Could a chain as impeccably politically correct as Whole Foods really have succumbed to the blandishments of the forces of evil? My impressions of the clientele, not to mention the cars in the parking lot, are in substantial agreement with those of Babalu. Will they now be replaced by the likes of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy in their Hummers?

Well, if the “progressive” left wants to once again wear its allergy to any opinions not in accord with its ideological dogmas on its sleeve, that is certainly its perfect right. However, they might discover a denizen of the blogosphere here and there who finds their persistent attempts to bully anyone who disagrees with them tiresome. After all, it’s in poor form for the pot to call the kettle black.

As for the boycott, I can assure you I will be spending many more of my grocery dollars at Whole Foods from now on.

Aha! Oho! Astroturf!!

Josh Marshall reels in a genuwine GOP staffer, thereby proving beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that every single one of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve shown up at the thousands of tea parties across the nation has been a mindless zombie under the control of a vast right wing astroturfing conspiracy.

…lean closer and I’ll tell you something else about these “teabaggers.” Closer… sshhhhhh… Most of them are white!