Friday, 02 July 2010

The Right’s Posturing and the Left’s Illogic

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Broken down into its most simple explanation, cognitive dissonance is when one spouts diametrically opposite ideals with equal conviction — something akin to passionately and wholeheartedly exclaiming, “I hate cats!” right after yelling, “I love cats!” Since I read and write about politics as a way to make my living, I hear and read an exceptionally large number of political pundits — amateurs and professionals alike — who suffer from cognitive dissonance.

There is much cognitive dissonance on the political Right, such as an insistence on sending people to prison for exceedingly long terms for selling their “drug of choice” — say, marijuana — while allowing others to sell their drug of choice — alcohol — at church picnics. This is true though some of the drugs that are deemed “illegal” seem to have a less destructive influence on society than some legal ones and though many legal drugs are downright dangerous, causing liver damage, strokes, heart attacks, dementia, death, etc. Drug use is what is termed a “victimless crime”: The seller wants to sell, and the buyer wants to buy, so there is no victim. Of course, one might reply that a lot of the schmucks who buy drugs also have children whom they affect, but remember that porn stars often have children, as do drunks, Satanists, and just plain jerks; and we don’t outlaw their behaviors because of their negative effect on kids.

But though the political Right demonstrates cognitive dissonance in many areas, including free-markets, fiscal conservatism, and law and justice, amongst others, the ideologies of the Left make those of the Right seem, in comparison, downright profound. On the Left, for example, the dissonance regarding the protection of children is particularly galling. Democrats have pushed strongly for regulations throughout the states of the United States regarding the mandatory use of car seats to protect the lives of children, beginning when the children are infants only one day old, but leftists are adamantly opposed to instituting anti-abortion laws to save “fetuses” who, if they were born that day, would be viable children outside the womb.

Here too, of course, one could make a rejoinder to justify the behavior: Leftists could claim that seatbelt laws differ from abortion laws in that seatbelt laws are saving the lives of children whom parents wanted to be born — hence, society as a whole is responsible for caring for them because “it takes a village to raise a child” — and have some credibility. But shouldn’t this mean that leftists would also favor laws to prevent car accidents in the first place: laws against women wearing skimpy clothing within sight of a road (which has caused two accidents that I know of) and against bright, attention-getting signs on stores near roads (the reason a lady gave for rear-ending me), or against any type of gathering near roads (a roadside gathering to memorialize a car-crash victim near Appleton, Wisconsin, caused a driver to be distracted and pull out in front of a motorcyclist driving at highway speeds, killing him)?

But these other laws are impractical to enforce, liberals may say, and infringe on people’s civil liberties. Well, the same holds true for seatbelt laws in many cases: If a police officer pulls over a vehicle because children are not properly restrained in car seats owing to the fact that the car doesn’t have car seats, he and the car’s occupants are both inconvenienced because his state’s laws probably will not allow him to let the motorist drive on until the officer or driver can arrange for car seats to be brought to the scene, such as is the case in Chapter 347 of Wisconsin state law that says, “No person may transport a child under the age of 8 in a motor vehicle unless the child is restrained.” Additionally, a parent who has an insufficient number of car seats — because, say, he is watching a friend’s child, as well as his own — can’t even run the simplest of errands, such as driving a few miles to the grocery store to get food for the kids, because he certainly cannot legally leave young children home alone.

If one still believes there are practical differences between the cases here, consider why the Left isn’t working to force all new cars to come in one of only four colors: florescent orange, yellow, green, and red (maybe add a fifth color, florescent pink, for those so inclined) since one of the major causes of car crashes is that a driver didn’t notice the other vehicle — the reason some states ask drivers to keep their lights on during daylight on some roads. Such a law would be easy to enforce; it would save numerous children from injury and death; and it would likely save car companies money through cheaper production fees. According to liberal rationale, everyone wins here.

And if you’re still not convinced, remember that leftists insist on higher government-mandated fuel-mileage standards, standards that can only be achieved by making cars not only more costly, thereby hurting the poor, but more flimsy and thereby dangerous, causing thousands of deaths a year.

In a related venue, leftists claim that a mother has the sole right to determine whether or not she gets an abortion because she is the person who has to carry the baby — her choice to have sex with a man is not somehow deemed consent to carry a child — and fathers have no say in whether a woman has an abortion. Yet if the woman chooses to carry the child to term and raise it, the man must pay childcare to raise the child until the kid is 18 because the man’s choice to have sex is apparently consent to take on the responsibilities of being a father.

Of course, a woman’s “right” to abortion, as espoused by proponents in their oft-heard chant “my body, my choice,” is predicated on the fact that no person or institution, especially government, has the right to invade a woman’s “privacy” and make medical-care and family-planning decisions for that woman. Yet the same people who scream, march, and rant about their rights in such a circumstance both ignore the right to life of their unborn children and hypocritically insist that government pass healthcare laws whereby the government not only controls medical decisions for women and men (by choosing which therapies are appropriate and worth paying for — as in ObamaCare) and invades their “privacy” (by requiring that the new healthcare laws include, as writer Thomas R. Eddlem states, “billions of dollars [to] fund new programs for ‘home visitation’ and other grant-created agencies designed to manage your and your children’s ... lifestyle habits”).

By the way, where is the chant “my body, my choice” when it comes to liberals’ efforts to control what people consume — which is nearly the most personal decision a person can make? In one case, the intrusion into what we eat by leftist food-control fanatics who were trying to control saturated fats, which are found in beef tallow and butter, led to American restaurants being basically forced to use trans fats, and now the same leftists are vociferously adamant that we desperately need laws to remove trans fats from food. Of course, all this is for our own good, as are the attempts to regulate the beverages we drink. By the same token, government-mandated exercise should be next on the agenda.

About somewhat older children, leftists argue vehemently that American high schools must coddle kids to the point of requiring a parent’s signature to allow a student to take ibuprofen in school, but also argue equally — or more — vociferously that young girls, very young girls, should be allowed to obtain birth-control pills — which can cause strokes — without notifying their parents and also be allowed to check themselves into an abortion clinic and get anesthesia and surgery.

And for some reason, it’s okay to remove children from a home because a parent has strict religious beliefs, such as when the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) snatched 468 children on April 3-4, 2008, most them five and under, from their parents at gunpoint without a warrant, to the approval and almost palpable cheers of leftists, because, as the DFPS argued, “There is a mindset [at the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a group belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints religion] that even the young girls report that they will marry at whatever age, and that it’s the highest blessing they can have to have children,” but it’s not OK to take children from parents when parents allow children to watch porn or give them access to birth control.

Back at school, leftists demand that government take more and more money from taxpayers to give to schools to educate children, yet at the same time they take all responsibility for learning off students — insisting on social promotions and “group learning,” wherein a few of the kids in a class do most of the work yet all of the kids in their groups get the same grades so that some kids can pass without doing any work, a fact verified through my own experiences as a teacher, as well as a myriad of teacher articles about unengaged students, including the work of former-teacher-turned-public-school-critic R.C. Murray. Murray has learned the hard way that administrations will enforce low standards and then “harass teachers about failing rates and class averages.” In his book Legally Stupid: Why Johnny Doesn’t Have to Read, Murray amply illustrates the harassment he faced because he insisted upon high standards.

When the Left isn’t promoting the idea that girls (and now boys, as well) should “explore their sexuality,” making it okay for girls to risk getting “knocked up” or getting venereal diseases, or propagandizing girls to believe it’s their “right” to make a decision about an abortion and that abortion is “right,” it’s a fairly common plea (though thankfully they haven’t tried to make this a law yet) of the Left for parents to eat dinners with their children because the children then learn to behave as they should: Family meals are strongly believed to lower drug use, help youth learn social skills and manners, ward off depression, and lower chances of criminal behavior — problems that, once initiated, often continue into adulthood.

Maria Shriver, former TV anchor and wife of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a campaign on this topic last year. Yet, though it’s evident from countless studies that having both a mother and a father for proper role models aids in avoiding some of these same problems — 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, as are 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, and 80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger — leftists extoll the greatness of same-sex parenthood and single motherhood. This despite the fact that gays are notoriously non-monogamous, that domestic violence is estimated to be significantly greater in homosexual relationships than heterosexual ones, that gays in the military were three times as likely to commit sexual assaults, and that even “committed homosexual relationships” tend to be short-lived. As for single motherhood, according to studies, including several analyzed in the book Growing Up With Single Parents: What Hurts, What Helps, that social designation results more often in depressed mothers, a lower likelihood of graduating from high school for kids, and a much greater likelihood of being in poverty, yet leftists insist that they have as goals helping children, uplifting women, and “fighting poverty.” Go figure.

Then in a show of illogic reminiscent of a petulant two-year-old, Democrats are adamant that making adults show a form of identification when voting or getting a license to drive is an onerous, overburdening task, while at the same time requiring that people show an ID to be able to buy liquor or buy certain types of over-the-counter cold medicines — the over-the-counter medicine thing is so that druggies won’t try to use the medicines as hallucinogens.

Too, leftists say it’s horrible that Catholic priests abused boys and it’s rotten that the present pope didn’t manage to put a stop to abuse in his diocese when he was a cardinal, yet to them homosexuality is wonderful and normal, as are all sexual behaviors, except religious polygamy of course — the people were supposedly born that way, after all — including, by their reasoning, pedophilia. (Note: The “they’re born that way” argument fails on almost all grounds. Of identical twins, some self-identify as homosexual while their twins self-identify as heterosexual; Iceland and other countries have been studying the DNA of large populations yet have found no genetic marker for homosexuality; many practicing homosexuals become happy heterosexuals; and evolution dictates that gays would have died out eons ago if it was caused by genetics — they wouldn’t have been having kids to pass their genes to. Any propensity toward homosexuality is thereby either personal choice or caused by an environmental factor — such as a history of being sexually abused, drug use, or “something in the water.” There is no reason not to consider homosexuality an abnormality or an ailment to be “cured.”) Moreover, even as the Left shouts about how wonderful it is to have recreational, no-strings-attached sex, which is supposed to make individuals feel empowered and happy, as far as I can ascertain, no one has yet tried to make the claim that prostitutes are the most empowered and happy people on Earth, while studies have shown that moral, religious people are generally happy. And many leftists still get separated and divorced when their spouses are unfaithful. I wonder why?

Also, in their transparent bid to forward their message of sexual promiscuity, liberals are always screaming that a “separation of church and state” is a necessary constitutional protection — begetting the rationale for federal edicts against prayers at public-school functions. But not only is this not in the Constitution (the opposite is true: The First Amendment says, in part, “Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise of [religion],”) they demand that secular humanism, which is in itself a religion, be taught in schools.

Disagree? What is religion? It is any system of beliefs, practices, and ethical values underlying a code of behavior and a philosophy. (No, religion is not the “worship” of a supreme God; otherwise, Shintoism and Buddhism would not qualify as religions.) As part of “secular” religious education, public schools teach that no family situation is inherently better than another and that morals are relative and should be reevaluated for each situation — essentially saying there is no right or wrong (teaching ethics, of a sort). Schools inculcate that evolution is how all species came about, and eject God from the picture, even though, of the hundreds of thousands of fossils that have been found worldwide, there is as yet no proof showing one species of animal morphing into another (teaching a belief system), and schools preach a creed of “social justice” that espouses a reverence for Mother Earth, fairness through redistribution, and a victim-group mentality that leads one to believe that individuality and hard work are not key components to success and that supplicating oneself to an all-powerful government entity or joining in the governing is the path to productivity and prosperity (teaching beliefs and instituting personal practices).

In agreement with this contention, U.S. courts have ruled that secular humanism is a religion; they just somehow couldn’t find it in the schools, though one would almost have to be blind in one eye and not be able to see out of the other to miss it.

As part of the aforementioned liberal “victim-group mentality,” leftists both condemn racism and cheer equality under the law with veritable bullhorns, yet preach a creed of “civil rights” where some ethnic groups, such as blacks and hispanics, are given special advantages over other ethnic groups, such as Asians and whites: In college admissions, some lackadaisical minority students gain admission to college over other higher-achieving students. And it’s apparently OK to have blatantly racist leftist organizations, including the Hispanic group La Raza (meaning “the race”), which forward such racist ideas as claiming a part of America for a new Hispanic homeland, and the mainly black organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but it’s not OK to have white groups having the same goals. Similarly, Latino-only award shows, in the eyes of leftists, are cause for celebration, not revulsion. Where is Rachel Maddow and her practically holy Civil Rights Act when you need her?

Claims of sexism follow the same path: It has been a frequent cause célèbre of the Left to disparage people and institutions who wish to cater to a particular clientele (again, see Rachel Maddow), such as golf courses that are male-only, yet overlook completely the thousands of ladies-only businesses, such as all-female exercise clubs. And where is the American Civil Liberties Union in the fight against age discrimination as the TV show American Idol publicly announces that it has a maximum-age restriction for contestants who are competing to get a job: a contract with a recording company?

It’s the same old song in the area of free speech, which is supposedly such an ironclad right as far as Democrats and other liberals are concerned that even pornography and other “freedoms of expression” are protected under the law — though how pictures of naked women, and men agog with their mouths hanging open drooling, qualify as “freedom of speech” is anybody’s guess — yet Democrats have practically been gospel shouters for speech restrictions: the “Fairness Doctrine,” which would limit conservative opinions on the radio; so-called hate crime and hate-speech laws, which, along with being arguably overkill for the scope of the problem, have previously been used in other countries to squelch religious opinions; McCain/Feingold legislation, which limits groups allowed to lobby during elections; the Disclose Act, which would reinvent parts of McCain-Feingold that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional; and new FCC and FTC rules limiting free speech.

Cognitive dissonance also abounds on the Left as regards environmental issues, media matters, its campaign for unfettered democracy (as opposed to the United States' republican form of government), its anti-government corruption policies, its claims of safeguarding the aged and infirm with government programs, and with virtually every area that comes under provenance of the Left. Ignoring the fact that taxes advocated by leftists take money out of the economy and cause there to be less jobs, the closest thing that leftists get to a principled, logical argument is when they advocate empowering the poor through tax breaks, food stamps, and housing — if only the rhetoric had any relation to reality.

In economic theory, there is a general rule that says, “When an activity is subsidized, you get more of it.” The same holds true for subsidizing poverty. During the worst part of the Great Depression, about one in four men (often sole breadwinners for families) were unemployed — the Great Depression itself was caused and exacerbated by government policies — and they and their families were in poverty and relied on soup kitchens and temporary labor to live. Many more people joined them in poverty, living via subsistence farming. In the aftermath of WWII, without government intervention, poverty was declining steadily: In 1963, poverty was officially at 15.9 percent and was still falling. Then President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “War on Poverty” began in 1964, and ushered in the age of welfare. Poverty rates soon leveled out, and poverty became a way of life for many Americans. The poverty rate has fluctuated between 8.7 percent and 12.3 percent ever since. “Today,” as recounted by Kiki Bradley, the former Deputy Director of the Office of Family Assistance, “spending on welfare programs (adjusted for inflation) is 13 times greater than it was in 1964.” She adds: “Only one of the 70 federal welfare programs, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, has work requirements for its recipients. The 69 others merely provide a basic need and allow families to stay on the welfare rolls indefinitely.” And stay they do.

Almost unbelievably, country-to-country foreign assistance to alleviate worldwide poverty has an even worse track record. In the 1970s, about 10 percent of Africans were in poverty. Now that figure is above 70 percent and climbing despite over a trillion dollars in foreign-aid spending. Of course, when one understands that foreign aid actually fuels corruption and poverty, these results aren’t so difficult to understand.

Most leftist political arguments are, in the end, based on a cognitively dissonant, odd perception of “rights,” especially the arguments for the right to healthcare, education, housing, and welfare. According to leftists, a “right” is the same as an entitlement that all people hold claim to — such as a “right to healthcare” that must be paid for by taxpayers — though they flip-flop on this ideal when it comes to guns and the right to self-defense, and actually try to restrict access instead of demanding that government arm everyone with public funds, based on the Second Amendment.

As I noted in a recent article, “The Evolution of Rights,” these leftist “rights” actually take rights away from some people, with the help of government. Under the version of rights being touted nowadays, rights for some are even allowed to lead to others’ deaths, if only indirectly: Illegal immigrants’ right to healthcare, which is often obtained by going to emergency rooms that are required under U.S. law to treat them and then skipping out on the bill by lying about their names and addresses, means that hospitals and hospital emergency rooms have gone out of business from unreimbursed care, leading to delayed care and even death for Americans. And if government can demand of a citizen that he give his goods, services, or talents to other person, government is making the first person a slave to the second and taking away his right to pursue his happiness. And then no one has any real rights; you simply have what you can cajole government cronies to allow you to have.

Liberality in the modern, leftist sense is at best a jumble of opposing philosophical beliefs — “cognitive dissonance” — with the aim of either doing away with traditional morals so that people can actively partake in aberrant sexual practices without any reminders of their deviancy or it’s the goal of installing a centralized, all-powerful government in the name of fairness to redistribute wealth (though throughout history such a type of government has unfailingly led to the impoverishment and suffering of the majority of people and the benefit of the few).

Liberality is, at its worst, a lie promoted to willing dupes by people who plan to install centralized government so that they can benefit at the expense of the masses, with the free-sex message merely intended to remake social constructs to indoctrinate people with secular humanism and make them pliable and amenable to such a type of government — just like liberal activists such as Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci have been coaching for nearly a century: “In the first phase the aim is to discipline, hence also to level out — to obtain a certain kind of ‘conformism’ which may be called ‘dynamic.’ In the creative phase, on the basis that has been achieved of ‘collectivisation’ of the social type, the aim is to expand the personality — by now autonomous and responsible, but with a solid and homogeneous moral and social conscience.”

Either way, for most people, it should make no sense.

Photo of Rachel Maddow: AP Images

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