Saturday, February 28, 2009

Populism and the Peace Movement

Dana at Common Sense Political Thought has responded with a thoughtful essay to my earlier post, "Long Beach ANSWER Cell Mobilizes for March 21st Protest."

In "
American Power Versus Populism," Dana notes that, " Dr. Douglas tends to post a lot about the behavior of our enemies in the Islamic world ... [but in his comments on the antiwar movement] it seems to me that he may have overthought the problem ..."

I may have, depending how we look at it. But let's review a bit more of
Dana's essay, where he responds to my suggestion that the hardline leftist rallies and demonstrations against the "occupation" can't really be all about ending the wars abroad:

Why can’t it be all about “bringing the troops home now?” That President Obama has set a combat troops withdrawal date eighteen months into the future doesn’t mean that our friends on the left will somehow be satisfied with that; they want the troops home now!

Nor do I think that the anti-war movement has taken what he has called it’s “latest direction.” Rather, the anti-war movement, even in the 1960s, was very much a movement against the notions of power, very opposed to the idea that some people have more mower — and money — than others. From this came the simplistic notion that, in any conflict, the side perceived to have the most power is invariably the “bad guy” ....

Domestically, our friends on the left, and, unfortunately, too many people in the middle as well, see the wealthy and “corporations” as the enemy, as people and institutions which have to be brought to heel and made to pay more and more, this even though most Americans who have jobs are employed by, you guessed it, corporations!

It’s really as simple as the notions of populism, a discourse which supports “the people” versus “the elites.” Scholars have attempted all sorts of explanations concerning the origins, philosophy and strength of populism, but it seems to me to be less a philosophy than a catchall for simply envy and resentment; “He has more money than we do, so he must have cheated us somehow.”

The populist notion, which we can date back at least as far as the legends of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, has not always led to the best of results. Due to a constant e-mail group dispute with a lady whom I considered to be an out-and-out anti-Semite — Art and Yorkshire know to whom I refer — I decided to read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf last year. People expect the book to be filled with anti-Semitism and racism, and it is, but through much of the book der Führer uses a populist methodology: not only are the Germans the greatest people and greatest culture in the world, but they have been unfairly cheated of their birthright and oppressed by the undeserving elites, the democratic powers of England and France, and, of course, by the Jews. Even the supposedly Jewish notion of the equality of man is but a lie by people temporarily in advantage to keep down those who really ought to be the leaders of mankind.

The problem with populism is that it is a know-nothing philosophy, assuming it could be dignified with the name philosophy. It is an us-against-them demagoguery, and the kinds or rational and realistic arguments Dr Douglas brings to the table concerning the attitudes and behavior of, say, the Palestinians really mean little or nothing: the populist both supports and identifies with the oppressed little guy, the side with less power, because he is the little guy, the guy with less power, and that is a feeling which occurs on a simplistic and emotional level.

This is an excellent discussion, and the truth is Dana and I don't really disagree all that much about the ultimate agenda of today's hardline leftist coalition.

I'd only add a couple of points, especially on populism as it relates to ideology.

Populism in the United States has never really been revolutionary. Some of the greatest outbursts of populism have resulted from a breakdown of effective governmental performance and popular disgust at the absence of clear choices between the parties. Teddy Roosevelt's probably the most important populist in the sense of rousing enough voters to nearly shatter the two-party consensus in 1912. More recently, Ross Perot very well could have won the White House had he not badly miscalculated by withdrawing prematurely from the presidential race in 1992. Other populists, of course, have tapped into some of the more irrationalist or racist strains of American politics (
Ron Paul).

I'm pushing fifty, so I was still a kid during the Vietnam-era protest movement. But my understanding of it has primarily been one of antiwar activism within a period of social-cultural revolutionary change, for example, with the civil rights and women's liberation movements. To the extent that some groups at the time were genuinely radical, in the politics of the New Left and campus radicalism, much of this stuff literally died out by the time I was in high school. In the 1990s there was very little going for traditional "antiwar" groups, and in fact there was hardly any anti-government agitation during the Clinton years.

I was at UCSB throughout the period, and the idea of protests against things like the airwar over Kosovo was practically unheard of. People on the left were generally pleased with the Democrats in power, and to the extent that there were demands for a more "progressive" agenda, it was more of nuisance multiculturalism and political correctness. Indeed, today's radical left is pretty much a direct response to the Bush adminstration's policies and the ascent of conservative power in Washington. International ANSWER, the neo-Stalinist protest organization, formed just
three days after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

So, from my own perspective, while it's true that there's certainly much "anti-establishment" politics to the radicalism of the Vietnam generation, the changes in culture, environmentalism, academics, and "free-and-easy" lifestyles are a largely a function of the activism of the 1960s protest generation.

I've been on a college campus, as a student or a professor, continuously since 1986. With the exception of some anti-nuclear activity in the late-1980s (some of my friends were going to the nuclear ranges in New Mexico to protest, as well as the Gulf War demonstrations), my sense is that this past few years has seen the emergence of a critical mass of anarchist-revolutionary activity on the scale of world-historical importance. Perhaps the "Battle of Seattle" anti-globalization protest in 1999 was the harbinger, but today's protest generation is more than just "bring the troops home." This is
an anti-Semitic kill-the-Jews culture that seems unprecedented, and even unreal to me.

So, I'm not so much disagreeing with Dana than elaborating a bit more as to where I'm coming from and why I see a qualitative change to the type of radical-left activism at home and around the world today.

By the way, be sure to read John Tierney's essay along these lines, making the case for a new stage of the "peace" movement, "
The Politics of Peace: What’s Behind the Anti-War Movement?"

The irony of the modern “peace” movement is that it has very little to do with peace— either as a moral concept or as a political ideal. Peace is a tactical ideal for movement organizers: it serves as political leverage against U.S. policymakers, and it is an ideological response to the perceived failures of American society. The leaders of anti-war groups are modern-day Leninists.
This last notion of today's activists as neo-Lenists (or neo-Stalinists, as I refer to them, given their totalitarianism), is particularly troubling to me, since as a professor on a campus that boasts a local cell of the ANSWER network, I see the world communist movement up close and personal. Rather than educating students into the dominant traditions of Anglo-Protestantism and the American political culture of egalitarianism and individualism, today's leftist academics glorify tyrants and murderers while privileging an ideology of anti-Americanism. Students are shortchanged, and the political, cultural, and economic destruction of this nation continues apace.

Democratic-leftists love it, although they don't always admit what their real agenda is. Indeed, they often align themselves with the extremist anti-Israel factions of today's antiwar right.

If in that sense these folks are "populists," perhaps Dana's approach to all of this is pretty close to mine after all.

Generally Speaking, Do You Consider Yourself ...

... a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?

That's the question pollsters ask respondents to determine party identification. The New York Times has a big piece up on this, "
Ailing G.O.P. Risks Losing a Generation," and check the graphic for the numbers on party identification today: "The Party Identification Gap."

There's a lot of talk lately about
Republicans losing young voters (they're more liberal, etc., etc.). But this part from the Times on the importance of personality is telling:

Ronald Reagan’s presidency underscores the power of a popular incumbent to win over young voters. When he was elected in 1980, only 20 percent of young Americans identified as Republicans. By 1989, the number had grown to 37 percent, a significant factor in the expansion of the Republican Party during those years.
Geez, youth identification toward the GOP grew 17 percent in eight years. That's prettty phenomenal. Right now the Democrats have a 14 point lead among youth voters, but as we've had years of "BusHitler" demonization, it's frankly not unreasonable to suggest that President Obama's near his peak popularity with the younger cohort at the moment.

Certainly we'll know more about trends in party identification over the next couple of years, but a charismatic and popular field of Republican presidential hopefuls for 2012 may help tamp down youth enthusiasm for the Dems, especially as the necessary tax increases to pay for the "
generational" debt Obama's foisting off onto America's youth starts hitting youngsters in their pocketbooks. (But, hey, maybe it's all about being in on the "gay thing," so who knows?)


Having said all of this,
Meagan McCain recently argued that Republicans have a "crippling technology disconnect" between the party and young voters. Conservatives can get hip, right?

Rush Limbaugh at CPAC - UPDATED!

Here's the live stream of Rush Limbaugh at CPAC:

While listening to him on Fox, I checked around the net, and Digby's going crazy at these "wingnuts."

God, Rush is good, and man does he tell it like it is ... Whoo hoo!

See also, "Romney Picked as 2012 GOP Front-Runner," via Memeorandum.


UPDATE: Fox News has a report, "Limbaugh Rallies Conservatives to Fight Democrats, Find 'Right Candidate'."

Here's a brief video clip of Rush, from Think Progress (they think it's funny):

I'm looking for a copy of the complete speech and will update when it's available.


UPDATE II: Okay, here's part one of the full set of videos at Hot Air: "Limbaugh Brings Down the House at CPAC":

The full transcript is at Limbaugh's page, but see also, "Rush Rouses CPAC Faithful," via Memeorandum.

American Conservatism, R.I.P.?

One of the points I've stressed recently in debates over the GOP is that conservatism is mainly in the down-trough of the political cycle. Politics swings like a pendulum, and it could be some time before the current sense of popular support for the Democrats fades in favor of a return to the agenda and issues central to the Republican Party.

I don't by any means believe "
conservatism's dead," despite all the big debates on that in recent weeks (here, here, here, and here, for example).

In any case, Dan Riehl sends us to this powerful, if not a bit depressing, essay on all of this from Jonathan Kay, "
American conservatism, R.I.P.":

Conservatism as we know it is dead. Its last bastion of power, Washington, is being overrun as we speak, in a blitzkrieg operation fueled by popular panic and led by a charismatic field marshal. To the extent conservative ideology survives the onslaught, it will be as a guerilla force, making its presence felt on web sites and radio call-in shows but never in the corridors of real power.

Numbers tell much of the story. In fiscal 2008, U.S. federal outlays accounted for 21 cents of every GDP dollar. In fiscal 2009, Barack Obama's budget has that number jumping 33% — to 28 cents. The percentage of U.S. GDP represented by total public spending will shoot up from about 35%, when Barack Obama was elected, to well into the 40s . If you throw in the private share of U.S. health spending, which looks set to be swallowed by the public sector in coming years thanks to Obama's plans for a national health-insurance program, American governments will soon rule roughly half the economy — just like in socialist Europe and Canada.

In fact, from a conservative point of view, what Obama is doing is arguably worse than the well-entrenched redistributionist systems of government in Canada other OECD nations: Ottawa, at least, can pay (more or less) for the country's massive safety net. Obama, on the other hand, is building his net with money he doesn't have. The 2009 U.S. budget deficit — just the deficit, not the budget itself — will be 13% of GDP. In Canada, by contrast, the federal budget deficit is expected to be $13-billion, about 1% of GDP.

Beyond the numbers are U.S. policies that seemed unimaginable just a month ago: a massive, big-government plan to regulate greenhouse gases, huge tax hikes on the wealthy, the effective nationalization of much of Wall Street, a federal takeover of student lending, and — most important of all — the aforementioned plan for national health care. This is more than just a swing to the left — it is a complete repudiation of the political legacy left by Ronald Reagan, the most popular U.S. president in the living memory of most Americans. Obama even had the courage to say as much, declaring trickle-down economics to be "discredited once and for all."

As well as being a disastrous moment for American conservatives — and for their country more generally — this is also an epic turning point in the history of western ideas. Since World War II, the welfare state has made steady gains almost everywhere in the West, with the result that just about every form of risk known to mankind — from sickness, to unemployment, to poverty, to childbirth, to old age — has been socialized. Only in the United States had individuals been left reliant (if only to a certain extent) on their own values and wits. That lone exception to the global nanny state is now gone — the victim of a housing debacle that demonstrated that middle-class homeowners are too stupid to manage something as basic as a monthly household budget, just as Wall Street's brain trust is too dumb to operate an unregulated financial market. Condescension, after all, is the mother of socialism.

Who would have thunk it? From the 1980s onward, conservatism was supposed to be America's muscular ideology, as opposed to the soft liberalism peddled by the nation's elites. Instead, U.S. conservatism died with a whimper — a venerable creed knocked out for good in the space of just five recessionary months.
There's more at the link. I still don't think "conservatism died," but this is good food for thought anyway.

I'll have more later ...

Full Metal for Megan Fox

Well, Robert Stacy McCain's put out the call again for some "Rule 5" blogging, "Full Metal Jacket Saturday." So, in keeping with the spirit, I give you Megan Fox:

Megan Fox

I've watched Transformers with my kids many times, and as "foxy" as Megan Fox is, it's Shia LaBeouf who steals the show for his own get-the-girl heroism.

Bonus shot of nearly-nude Megan is here.

Democratic Denials of Class Warfare

For some reason Dr. Hussein Biobrain has developed an irrational obssession with trying to repudiate the widespread and fundamental understanding of the Democrats as the party of class warfare and economic redistribution.

Of course, even small children learn that leftists glorify the Robin Hood myth that the wealthy are evil and that it's righteous for redistributionist crusaders to transfer wealth from society's most dynamic and innovative to those who are slovenly and less productive. Indeed, by college most students in the liberal arts become familiar with the ideological underpinnings of leftist class warfare through the readings of thinkers from
Karl Marks to John Rawls.

In other words, it's a no brainer that Democats can't stand the concentration of wealth and that, IN PARTICULAR, they demonize those who have more at the expense of those who have less. Not only that, the Democratic Party itself has gone through at least three decades of electoral frustration at the presidential level as the party of the poor, the party of class grievance and big government redistributionism. The Bill Clinton administration was universally understood to have advanced a new vision of "neoliberal" Democratic governance that EXPLICITLY repudiated the hard-left Democratic Party constituencies that sought to expand the welfare state and raise taxes on the rich. When President Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform act into law, top Democratic Party insiders excoriated the administration's "
war on the poor."

In 2004, as the Democrats were hoping to recapture the White House,
Rick Perlstein cited pollster Mark Penn to argue that the party was hobbled by outdated "appeals to class grievances and attacks upon corporate perfidy" that were becoming "increasingly hollow" amid an economy in which young "wired-workers" saw themselves as the new leaders of a more socially progressive left-wing coalition.

So it's extremely quixotic that Dr. Hussein has written a new post trying to refute this fundamental truth about American politics, in a post entitled, "
Assumptions of Class Warfare." Dr. Hussein takes a stab at my postulation of the class warfare assumption:

As Donald explained in a comment to me, he felt no need to explain why Obama's tax plan is class warfare because it's already assumed to be the case. But of course, that's not how arguments work. If I explain why Position A is wrong and someone wants to refute my argument, they don't just get to say "Position A is correct because I assume that Position A is correct." That's just lame and a complete embarrassment to online debates.

Not that we can't have assumptions in arguments, but this is the KEY assumption. This is the primary assumption that I was attacking in my original post. Yet Donald has now used it twice as the basis for his entire argument.
All of this is true. But what's interesting is Dr. Hussein's attempt to berate and belittle on the use of THIS analytical assumptions. The truth is that assumptions are basic to theory building and poltical analysis. It's not just that we can have them "in arguments," but that it's totally and embarassingly stupid to repudiate them so openly, especially one like Democratic class warfare which is irrevocably ingrained in the American consciousness. Indeed, Dr. Hussein's whole program to destroy a cental assumption like this one violates basic principles of clear thinking and rigorous deduction:

This is a view shared by Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov. In Understanding Physics, Asimov spoke of theories as "arguments" where one deduces a "scheme" or model. Arguments or theories always begin with some premises—"arbitrary elements" as Hawking calls them (see above)—which are here described as "assumptions". An assumption according to Asimov is

something accepted without proof, and it is incorrect to speak of an assumption as either true or false, since there is no way of proving it to be either (If there were, it would no longer be an assumption). It is better to consider assumptions as either useful or useless, depending on whether deductions made from them corresponded to reality ...
So note here, an assumption really is something that is neither positively true nor positively false.

In Dr. Hussein's case, it's demonstrably hare-brained, frankly, to work so feverishly to rebut something that top personalities in his own party long-ago accepted - from President Bill Clinton on down - as a fundamental failure of Democratic ideology.

Now, if Dr. Hussein's trying to prove that President Barack Obama's never used EXPLICITY USED the words "class warfare," that would be another matter. But that's not all he's doing. Dr. Hussein's arguing that the notion of class warfare itself is a strawman "that conservatives invented years ago." In other words, Dr. Hussein rejects the notion that today's Democratic Party is in fact ENGAGING IN class warfare. In response my earlier post showing how President Obama's own statements have deliberately and shamelessly mined the vein of class warfare,
Dr. Hussein writes:

I can see how these could be interpreted as remarks against the upper-class, they sound much more like attacks on Republicans and their policies. Obama's not saying that the rich were evil for receiving tax cuts.
So as you can see, Dr. Hussein can only focus on what the president actually said. He can't disprove the assumption of Democratic class warfare, because assumptions are not subject to falsification. All he can do is show that the president didn't call anyone evil. Of course, Obama can let his proxies do that, since when the president attacks the rich for seeking to "transfer wealth" and for refusing "to invest" in the American future, that's the explicit dog-whistle code language that sends the radical leftists to the barricades.

What this whole exchange demonstrates is the larger truth abouth the Democratic Party and the radical left.

The party and its key constituencies are divided existentially on questions of basic identity. Their political program is not in doubt, which is of course the current move in fiscal policy that marks the
largest budgetary expansion in American history.

President Obama, the Liar-in-Chief, is himself embarking on a campaign to fight his political opponents using rhetoric that is "carefully calibrated to blur such big government activism." On the other hand, some of the party's constituencies include neo-progressive Marxists who outwardly and proudly advocate a return to Kennedy-era top marginal tax rates of 91 percent on the wealthy.

Now THAT'S class warfare!

However, very few Democratic partisans are willing to come right out and admit they are class warriors, which is why Dr. Hussein's working endlessly but hopelessly to tamp down what is clearly an objective truth, in other words, a basic assumption of American life. The Democrats are now fighting a class war. They are proposing the biggest budget in American history, raising taxes on the affluent, and attempting to sell this fiscal extremism as "fairness."

Of course, this is fundamentally dishonest.

That shouldn't be surprising in Dr. Hussein's case. The man's truly a deviant liar and a despicable partisan malcontent. Excoriating conservatives and Republicans as the scum of the earth makes his world go 'round, and if he has to lie, cheat, steal, and distort to advocate his program of godless postmodern nihilism, that's what he'll do.

As always, don't listen to a word of it. These people have no virtue whatsoever.

See also, Larry Kudlow, "Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, and More."

Leftist Denialism on Islamic Beheadings

Phyllis Chesler updates her coverage of the Aasiya Hassan honor killing, "What’s Behind The Enormous Denial That Beheadings Are Related To Islam?"

The conclusion pretty much lays it out:

I wonder if the extraordinary rush to proclaim the beheading of Aasiya Z. Hassan as having nothing to do with an honor killing or with Islam might be due to one other factor. Dr. Nancy H. Kobrin suggests that:

“The Muslim who engages in an honor killing clearly reveals that he has not integrated into the West. We know that there are immigrant Muslim communities in Europe who have not integrated, they exist as ‘parallel’ communities. We also know that, according to the study released by The Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion in the UK, that there is an overlay with where you find terrorist behavior.”

In other words: Wherever there are parallel Islamic communities you will probably find terrorists breeding plots against the West–look for them wherever women are being harshly treated, rendered subordinate, in a fundamentalist kind of way.

Parallel communities, parallel mentalities. The Muslim communities in Europe no longer pretend to be part of Europe. It is overwhelmingly clear that they are “parallel” communities. The much smaller Muslim population in America also exists in parallel communities in certain sections of certain cities in the America. But their many spokespeople pretend that Dallas, Dearborn, Jersey City, St. Paul-Minneapolis and areas in California are really, truly, Americanized populations.

Many Muslim and ex-Muslim individuals are truly assimilated westerners; many have fled Islamist ways and have taken shelter with and assumed sophisticated, transnational, urban identities. And yet: When an apparently Islamic barbarity, like the beheading of a wife, takes place in America, there is an immediate fear that America, like Europe, might also be harboring “parallel communities.”

Hence there is a rush to deny that this might be so.

I understand. Americans do not want to behave in “racist” ways, nor do they want to “profile” anyone, especially a Muslim, especially because so many Muslims have been funding terrorism against America, Israel, and Europe. We are better than that. We believe that a person must be considered innocent until proven guilty; that each person must be judged on a case-by-case basis and never judged in terms of their cultural, political, or religious beliefs. To our credit, we believe in the right to a fair trial.

This approach is indeed commendable, but perhaps dangerous, in times of war, and when terrorists are plotting to destroy us.

See also, Dawn Permutter, "Mujahideen Desecration: Beheadings, Mutilation & Muslim Iconoclasm."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Violent Patriarchy in International Security

The new International Security features an extremely interesting research article on the possible impact of domestic gendered structural/cultural hierarchies (of violence) on the incidence of interstate conflict.

Entitled "
The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women and the Security of States," the piece is a collaborative effort that draws on insights from gender-feminist theory to offer a new paradigm for understanding the domestic and systemic causal bases of interstate wars. That is, the authors are hoping to establish the notion that traditional scholarly paradigms focusing on the world distribution of power, as well as domestic-level theories of regime type and international outcomes, need to be augmented with a gendered analytical lense, if not supplanted by the feminist perspective ultimately altogether.

Folks can read the whole thing,
here. I simply want to quote a long passage for flavor and context, and then make a couple of observations on some contradictions in the article.

The initial review of the literature discusses the impact of evolutionary biology on the formation of violent gendered hierarchies (as well as the social-psychological diffusion of female subordination within the social system). Especially fascinating is the historical discussion of patriarchical human development hundreds of thousands of years ago:

Human groups formed because of the increased protection they provided against predators. Although we imagine the first predators of concern were large carnivorous animals, the most important threat to males in terms of reproductive fitness were not only out-group males but also in-group males. Evolutionary theorists posit that male dominance hierarchies were naturally selected among humans to maximize protection against out-group males and minimize conflict between in-group males. Dominance hierarchies are a system wherein a subgroup of superordinate (or “alpha”) males dominates subordinate males, and alpha males generally control sexual access to females. In contemporary terms, male dominance hierarchies are the foundation of patriarchy. Wrangham and Peterson write, “Patriarchy is worldwide and historywide, and its origins are detectable in the social lives of chimpanzees. It serves the reproductive purposes of the men who maintain the system. Patriarchy comes from biology in the sense that it emerges from men’s temperaments, out of their evolutionarily derived efforts to control women and at the same time have solidarity with fellow men in competition against outsiders . . . . Patriarchy has its ultimate origins in male violence.”

In the first place, this violence is directed against women. Unfortunately, given sexual dimorphism in humans, coercion is an effective male mating strategy. Women accede to dominance hierarchies because of “the one terrible threat that never goes away”—the need of females to have protection from killer males, who will injure or kill not only females but also the children that females guard. The battering that women suffer from the males they live with is the price paid for such protection and occurs “in species where females have few allies, or where males have bonds with each other.” Indeed, among humans, sex differences trump the blood ties associated with natural selection for inclusive ªtness. As anthropologist Barbara Miller notes, “Human gender hierarchies are one of the most persistent, pervasive, and pernicious forms of inequality in the world. Gender is used as the basis for systems of discrimination which can, even within the same household, provide that those designated ‘male’ receive more food and live longer, while those designated ‘female’ receive less food to the point that their survival is drastically impaired.” Those with physical power also dominate political power, so that when law developed in human societies, men created legal systems that, generally speaking, favored male reproductive success and interests—with adultery as a crime for women but not for men; with female infanticide, male-on-female domestic violence, and marital rape not recognized as crimes; with polygamy legal but polyandry proscribed; with divorce easy for men and almost impossible for women.

The development of male dominance hierarchies may also alter female evolution, and females apparently began to make adaptive choices that serve to perpetuate this system. Primary among these female choices that entrench violent patriarchy are a general preference for the most dominant men (who are able to provide superior protection, though may also offer increased domestic violence and control), and female-female competition for these males, which reduces the opportunity to form countervailing female alliances to offset male violence against women. Male dominance hierarchies also appear to change women emotionally, and as a result, change them endocrinologically. The experience of chronic, intimate oppression, exploitation, and violence shapes women hormonally, molding them into creatures more easily persuaded by coercion to yield and submit—predispositions that Kemper asserts may be inherited by their daughters through placental transfer of specific ratios of hormones in utero.
The essay continues by noting that these same processes of patriarchy lead to violence against outside groups, and hence the logic that gender subordination in a physical-violence regime contributes to a permissive sociocultural and political environment leading to hypothesized extra-community conflict.

Note first that the authors offer a huge caveat here:

Contemporary human societies do not inhabit the evolutionary landscape of hundreds of thousands of years ago. We would be remiss, however, if we did not note how primal male coalitionary violence and resulting patriarchy are, and what influence these forces still have today ... humans are only about 400 generations removed from that landscape, and only eight generations have passed since the industrial revolution: the past still bears heavily on our behavioral proclivities.
Well, it would have to if this history of violent patriarchy is to have any explanatory power to contemporary gender politics and international relations (which many doubt, here, for example).

Additionally, there are a couple of other inconsistencies I found in the article.

One disconcerting, if not disconfirming, issue is found the paper's initial empirical investigation, which posits one hypothesis in part suggesting that the physical security of women will be a better predictor of state security than is the "prevalence of Islamic civilization" (the "civilizational hypothesis").

In the footnote to that hypothesis (p. 33), however, the authors suggest:

To test the civilizational explanation for state peacefulness, we must first identify a particular identity associated with greater levels of conflict or a lack of state peacefulness. In the early years of the twenty-first century, Islamic civilization—rightly or wrongly—has been singled out for this dubious distinction. See, for example, Lee Harris, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History (New York: Free Press, 2004); Norman Podhoretz, World War IV: The Long Struggle against Islamofascism (New York: Doubleday, 2007); and Oriana Fallaci, The Force of Reason (London: Rizzoli, 2006). Huntington makes particular reference to Islam’s “bloody borders” in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
Note how the authors disount in advance the notion that an Islamic identity is more prone to interstate conflict.

Well, I mention this as a troubling point, not just because of the American foreign policy focus on radical Islam in the war on terror (driven in large part by neoconservtive foreign policy foundations), but also because the authors cite, earlier in the paper (p. 29), the research of M. Stephen Fish, "
Islam and Authoritarianism," where he finds that while Muslim societies are not necessarily less conducive to the development of democracy, there does seem "to be an unusual degree of subordination of women in Muslim societies."

Noticing these conflicting citations, we might ask why the authors would suggest that Islamic societies have the "dubious" distinction as being singled out as conflict-prone, while at the same time rigorous peer-reviewed research finds that these very societies practice the precise social regimes of patriarchical gender dominance as that hypothesized by the authors as contributing to domestic and international violence? This seems like a significant problem, and as that authors do not find a robust correlation between Islamic culture and state violence outcomes, these researchers seem to have a lot of explanatory reconciliation to do. Simply, the authors need to carefully and fully untangle the notion of "physical security of women" in general with the notion that female subordination in Islamic regimes is high amid a counterintuitive finding that the "civilization hypothesis" does not explain state peacefulness.

Relatedly, this discrepancy suggests that a possible explicit and understandable postmodern epistemology (or ideology) systematically blinds the authors to the possibilty that Islamic nations are of a particular propensity toward gendered violence and social barbarity than are Western nations. Keep in mind the stakes here: If Western nations are not (deeply) prone to the kind of structural-cultural hiearchies of male dominance as suggested in the literature review and the correlational model, then it's not likely that domestic gendered violence will serve as a robust cause of interstate conflict, and thus the theory of women's security as state security will fall flat.

Furthermore, on that point, this larger question of a (radical) gender-feminist ontological, theoretical foundation is problematic in and of itself.

While the authors indeed note that gendered paradigms in world politics are indeed marginalized within the dominant discourses and scholarly practices of the field (article rankings in peer-reviewed journals, assignment of key feminist works in graduate student comprehensive curricula, etc.), the paper exlicity sets this research as a model of conventional methodologies, empirical-statistical hypothesis testing, and theory development. As such, the notion that this research may very well be driven inordinately by radical feminist scholarship in rape, marriage, and domestic violence (Susan Brownmiller's, Against Our Will: Men, Rape, and Women, for example), would certainly raise red flags as to the objectivity of this research program.

That is to say, if the researchers of this piece are fundamentally (if perhaps unconsciously) post-positivist in their ideological orientations, if they see society as irredeemably sexist, racist, and homophobic, which would be mostly true of the late-second wave gender feminists of the contempory culture wars, then it would be difficult for scholars to take this work seriously outside of the circles of hip multiculturalism and political correctness.

Of course, since much of the academy today is besmirched by postmodern politics and leftist cultural radicalism, perhaps this program may be highly received after all. Alternatively, if gendered hierarchies are as bad as the paper would suggest, then the aspirations of these scholars for mainstream acceptance may not get high off the ground no matter what.

Barack Obama's Economic Class Warfare

Readers may have noticed Dr. Hussein Biobrain's response to my earlier essay, "Class Warfare Denialism." But let's elaborate a bit more on this morning's entry.

It goes without saying that Barack Obama's got a problem with wealth and wealth creation.
The administration's new budget represents the biggest wealth transfer in American history, a radically-pure spending blowout that must be justified by excoriating the corporate sector and the nation's affluent for reaping "selfish gains" while refusing to "invest" in America's future. That kind of talk is leftist code language for big government advocacy.

Democratic-leftists will of course argue that this is not class warfare. President Obama is not "demonizing the upper-class in order to make people in the lower classes angry at them." Today's nihilist lefties will argue that the party's money grab is simply a matter of "raising taxes on people who can afford it, while allowing less fortunate people to keep their money."

Don't believe it for a minute - this is pure Democratic baloney. The New American examines President Obama's address to the nation for trick wording and dishonest blame-shifting:

Statement: “A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.”

Correction: This is a clear reference to the Bush-era tax cuts that allowed the American people to keep more of their own money. It’s also an equally clear indication of where Obama is coming from in his worldview. He speaks of a “transfer” of “wealth to the wealthy” as if the people’s money was government’s to dole out as it wills. Your wealth is not your own, Obama says. Everything belongs to government, and whatever scraps government allows you to keep is a privilege and a “transfer” from the common wealth bank that is government. "Investment" is simply a rhetorical device to refer to "government spending" for Obama.

Obama blaming bankers for the banking crisis is a bit like saying that wet streets cause rain.
Kimberley Strassel also examines Obama's doublespeak, for example this whopper from the president's meeting with Democratic congressional members in Williamsburg, Va., early this month:

"We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin."

Translation: Blame Republicans, and tax cuts.

Mr. Obama inherited a deficit, though it wasn't caused by letting Americans keep more of their paychecks. It was caused by a need to rebuild the military to fight two wars (at least one of which he supported), and by that worn-out old idea known as spending, which lost the GOP its majority, and which Mr. Obama is now touting as economic elixir.

He also inherited a recession, though no economist with an IQ above 60 would suggest tax cuts caused the housing bubble. That came courtesy of easy money and loose lending standards, the latter of which Congress encouraged. Presumably, if tax cuts were responsible for the deficit and the recession, Mr. Obama wouldn't be constantly boasting that he wants tax cuts for 95% of Americans.

The wider goal is to vaguely link everything conservative with everything gone wrong, the better to present liberal ideas as a cure. Besides, it's useful to have a GOP to keep blaming, if the cure doesn't work.

In other words, attack Republicans and "demonize the upper-class" as a way to build support for a gargantuan and potentially permanent expansion of government that would make LBJ blanch.

So don't listen the Democratic-left's bogus disavowals. These people are not only
stupendously abject liars, but are predatory wolves as well.

From Bloggers' Row at CPAC

Well, not me actually, but ...

Fausta's got pictures from the convention.

Robert Stacy McCain's finally
back online after partying all night.

Andrea Shea King's got a photo, with Rick Moran at right.

Ed Morrissey's got
an interview with the beautiful Megan Ortagus of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (and man I'm going to start planning for next year!). The Captain's also got an interview with Paul Jacob, a grassroots conservative, columnist at Townhall and founder of Citizens in Charge.

Jimmy at Sundries Shack
hung out with Newt Gingrich, who reportedly spoke about his "12 American Solutions for Jobs and Prosperity."

RightwingSparkle is there and she's having
a great time!

Pamela Geller's got it going with Jerome Corsi and Robert Spencer, "
tonight at 6 pm, The Blue Room at the OMNI!" (Video here.)

Tigerhawk offers some perspective on the event:

On the one hand, I can see how attending the Conservative Political Action Committee annual meeting would be a lot of fun. It is stressful being conservative in a college town in the northeast, and always relaxing to spend a little time with like minds. You can let your hair down. Or you could if it were long, which of course it would not be. But you see what I mean.

On the other hand, CPAC always seems to generate bad press for conservatives ...

Patterico's got more on that.

For a big-picture political analysis of all of this, see David Weigel, "Conservatives Confident Their Day Is Coming," via Mememorandum. See also, the Politico on Joe Wurzelbacher, "Plumber is King for a Day at CPAC."

Obama's Revolution: "A Very Different Country"

Here's an update to my post from the other day, "Obama Echoes Reagan in '81: Came the Revolution?"

It turns out the Wall Street Journal makes a similarly interesting observations, "
The Obama Revolution:"

In the closing weeks of last year's election campaign, we wrote that Democrats had in mind the most sweeping expansion of government in decades. Liberals clucked, but it turns out even we've been outbid. With yesterday's fiscal 2010 budget proposal, President Obama is attempting not merely to expand the role of the federal government but to put it in such a dominant position that its power can never be rolled back.
Read the whole thing, here. The Democrats are moving very fast: Right now they can still blame the recession on George W. Bush while ferverishly hastening the shift to "a very different country."

Hat Tip:

Class Warfare Denialism

As is often the case, Dr. Hussein Biobrain's gone off the deep end with a snarky misfire seeking to rebut GOP claims of Democratic class warfare:

Having just read the AP analysis piece: Obama Plan Brings Cries of Class Warfare, it seems to me that author Tom Raum and Congressional Republicans don't actually know what the phrase "class warfare" means.

No, just becuase Obama is going to make rich people pay more does not mean it's "warfare." Nor is Obama "pitting the haves against the have nots." He's doing nothing of the kind. He's not saying "Rich people are screwing you over, so we need to take their money." He's just making people who can afford to pay more, pay more. That's not warfare. That's a sensible proposition. It's not about soaking the rich. It's about paying for what we have, without hurting people who can't afford the bite.
All of this misses a key point, which is of course the fact that higher income-earners and the wealthy already pay the overwhelming bulk of federal taxes, and that's even after factoring for Social Security.

And it's not just Republicans:
Rasmussen reports that "59% of U.S. voters agreed with Ronald Reagan that 'government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.'"

Indeed, even the
New York Times gets it: "President Obama will propose further tax increases on the affluent to help pay for his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable ..."

Notice that? Obama wants "further" tax increases. As Charles Krauthammer notes this morning:

Obama sees the current economic crisis as an opportunity. He has said so openly. And now we know what opportunity he wants to seize. Just as the Depression created the political and psychological conditions for Franklin Roosevelt's transformation of America from laissez-faireism to the beginnings of the welfare state, the current crisis gives Obama the political space to move the still (relatively) modest American welfare state toward European-style social democracy.

Leftists want a redistribution of society's wealth from the most productive to the least. We don't have to call it "soaking the rich" to know that government confiscation of personal product violates liberty in the name of "equality." But given the level of unprecedented dishonesty so far in the first few weeks of the Obama administration, it should be no surprise to see such class warfare denialism across the left-wing netroots fever swamps.

Anti-Rule 5 Blogging

Well, "Rule 5" blogging has been picking up some steam around the blogosophere (including Fausta Wertz!). But there's a counter-trend afoot in "anti-Rule 5 blogging."

Private Pigg's got
the goods:

There is not, and never will be, any pictures of Rosie O’Donnell nude (or in anything revealing, for that matter) on this blog.
Hat Tip: Common Sense Political Thought.

Long Beach ANSWER Cell Mobilizes for March 21st Protest

A former student of mine dropped off one of these International ANSWER flyers announcing a March 21 protest rally in Los Angeles, "Bring the Troops Home NOW!"

Answer L.A.

I'm really intrigued with the latest direction of the antiwar movement.

It can't really be all about "bringing the troops home now." The Obama administration's
now committed to winding down the war in Iraq (and many Republicans are on board), and Afghanistan was considered a just war everywhere except the most extreme bastions of hardline anti-Americanism (and the American footprint there has hardly been "hegemonic" for that matter). No, the fact is that ANSWER's committed to the violent overthrow of the world capitalist, imperialist classes and the establishment of a new-age utopian state of multi-culti statism and post-hierarchical ontology. Even more interesting is how far the administration's obliging this agenda. What's to protest?

What's really interesting to me is that not only are these flyers routinely plastered all over my campus, but little green pocket-size leaflets are posted outside the offices of the history faculty in the hallway in my department. My college frankly hosts an
ANSWER cell that is the local community contact-point for the international socialist movement. At least two of my colleagues are faculty sponsors of the group (one of whom I've debated). They have a bulletin board on my floor with photographs of previous bus-trips to downtown pro-terror rallies. These are the uncollegial folks who nihilist Dave Noon defended as regular-old professors, people who couldn't possibly ostractize conservative faculy members on the grounds of alleged neo-fascist androcentric patriarchy. Nope, it's a figment of the conservative imagination.

It's an upside-down world out there folks (and there's more along these lines at "The Ayers-Dohrn Paradox").

The Ayers-Dohrn Paradox

Once again Zombie, with his photo-essay on William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, demonstrates the future of journalism. I particularly like the explanation of the the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox:

It was quite clear that every single person there (except me) idolized these two unapologetic violent revolutionaries. The entire store was packed full of people.

But we ran smack dab into what I call the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox, which is:

Ayers and Dohrn gained fame as violent revolutionaries willing to commit murder and other terrorist acts in order to overthrow the United States. For that, they were greatly worshipped by the far left. Now, in their sunset years, they’re trying to re-cast themselves as “respectable” left-wing professors with “reasonable” opinions, who have long ago sworn off violence. And so, at these events, neither of them ever mentions their violent heyday, except rarely in passing. Instead, they focus exclusively on their current obsessions: Introducing Marxist thought into schools, and closing down the prison system. However, almost no one who goes to see Ayers and Dohrn gives a damn about hearing monotonous lectures on these particular topics: instead, their fans idolize them because of their violent revolutionary past. So at these events, the audience (as in this case) is full of far-far-far-left radicals who came in order to hear overheated revolutionary rhetoric. But instead, what they get is a boring professorial monologue. If Ayers and Dohrn were nothing more than your run-of-the-mill leftist professors, no one would go to their appearances. They’re coasting on their violent reputation, while at the same time trying to distance themselves from it. And that is the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox.

Another paradox is how leftists think people like Ayers and Dohrn are "great" instructors. One of the most common attacks I get is how leftists are horrified that I might actually be teaching students from a traditional perspective, abjuring indoctrination, and demanding clarity of thought and excellence in work product.

One of my students, who transferred to Berkeley some time back, noted in an e-mail how professors there caved to students' culture of entitlement, essentially dumbing-down the curriculum:
It's funny that you write to me now ... [I was] just reflecting today on how your classes provided such an excellent foundation for the political science courses ... taken so far. I'm actually in my second semester in Berkeley so I still have about a year and a half left until I graduate and go to law school ... Academically I think Berkeley is overrated; they hardly require critical thinking or analysis and make us rely heavily on readings and honing the skill of regurgitating them. I wish the grading was more difficult and we weren't babied so much here but I guess the demographics of these students give them more of a sense of entitlement to an A grade than the students in Long Beach.
Wouldn't want too much "critical thinking," you know ... students might figure out that folks like William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn - and many of their ideological comrades at "elite" campuses around the country - are intellectual frauds indoctrinating students into a morally bankrupt ideology of moral relativist death and destruction.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moderating Comments

One of the hallmarks of this blog has been the free and open discussions in the comments section. Unfortunately, due to a number of generally abusive people who have been commenting here - and in particular, one fruity yet obssessed moral relativist who's got an unhealthy addiction to trolling for "gotchas" - I've had to enable comment moderation for the first time at American Power.

I know folks don't like comment moderation, because
they've told me. This is just a temporary thing, however, and I'll be returning to regular commenting tomorrow or the next day. Respectable exchange of ideas and links is how bloggers create a virtual community, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I even appreciate interacting occasionally with some of whom I don't agree, as long as they stay within the bounds of decency.

This week, though, I will say that it's gotten to the point where my patience and tolerance were stretched thin - it's been quite an experience.

I remember reading Ann Althouse's page some time back, and she had
gone to moderation. That's generally not like her, as Althouse has a reputation as having some the most vigorous comment threads in the blogosphere. One of the commenters at the thread pretty much summed up what it's like to have a tsumami of idiots flooding your blog:

Unfortunately, when moderation is off during a siege like this, some of us have seen how it is possible for one person to create havoc by posting dozens of irrelevant, highly personal, and often harrassing posts to various threads within the space of minutes.

I guess it is the blogger equivalent of a sustained denial of service attack.
Denial of service. That's really what it's all about. Folks should read over the Pam Spaulding's thread, as well as at Pandagon, where a lot of these crazed trolls originated.

I don't need to go on too much about these depraved vermin.

One of the most interesting things about all of this was not just Pam Spaulding's unhinged lies, but how the meme went from my alleged deceit and ignorance of conservative allegations of gay bestiality, to implicit allegations that conservatives engage in bestiality (
here). That was followed, I kid you not, by an essay on "Donald the buffalo-humping moose," and then by a concavus chest-thumping victory dance for "for the nihilist, troll forces."


In any case, that's enough troll-feeding. As noted, comment moderation will be disabled soon, but I'll be deleting abusive comments and obssessive "gotchas" as they come in. If folks have a problem with American Power, they should start a blog and have a blast proving their godlessness to the world.

More later, dear readers ...

Obama Looks to Soak the Rich

What better indicator of President Barack Obama's true ideological agenda than his announcement today that his administration will seek more taxes on the wealthy to pay for his redistributionist agenda:

President Obama will propose further tax increases on the affluent to help pay for his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable, calling for stricter limits on the benefits of itemized deductions taken by the wealthiest households, administration officials said Wednesday.

The tax proposal, coming after recent years in which wealth has become more concentrated at the top of the income scale, introduces a politically volatile edge to the Congressional debate over Mr. Obama’s domestic priorities.

The president will also propose, in the 10-year budget he is to release Thursday, to use revenues from the centerpiece of his environmental policy — a plan under which companies must buy permits to exceed pollution emission caps — to pay for an extension of a two-year tax credit that benefits low-wage and middle-income people.

The combined effect of the two revenue-raising proposals, on top of Mr. Obama’s existing plan to roll back the Bush-era income tax reductions on households with income exceeding $250,000 a year, would be a pronounced move to redistribute wealth by reimposing a larger share of the tax burden on corporations and the most affluent taxpayers.
Remember all those right-wing attacks from last year on Obama as being the most liberal presidential nominee ever? Well, conservatives were right all along, and it shouldn't be any surprise.

See also
John at Powerline:

Barack Obama ran for President on a "spread the wealth around" platform, and we're now seeing that this was no empty campaign promise. The Obama administration proposes to expand the wealth and power of the federal government beyond anything heretofore imagined. When he asked how he will finance his grandiose plans, Obama's only non-magical answer is that he will increase taxes on "the rich."

This is a common Democratic Party mantra, of course. In truth, however, there are very few people who are actually rich, and those who are prosperous (what the Democrats mean by "rich") are already overtaxed. In today's
Wall Street Journal, the editors do the math: even if Obama were to steal every penny, the people he calls "rich" don't make enough money to finance the federal government ...
See also Mike at Flopping Aces, "The week before the 2008 election I asked what happens when you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? We may be about to find out."

More later ...

Conservative Introspection

I'm not sure why Think Progress is attending and reporting on CPAC, other than to denounce and destroy conservatives, although they certainly have found some ammunition in the comments of Cliff Kincaid of the conservative Accuracy in Media:

Back during the 1980's, we had a president who was anti-Communist," Kincaid said. "Back during hate 1980's, at least we knew that our president was born in the United States.
CPAC attendees apparently got a kick out of that, although suggesting that Barack Obama is foreign born is less a good punch line than a feverish right-wing conspiracy meme.

In any case,
Rick Moran reports from the convention:

The speakers and panels so far have been making all the right noises about having learned their lessons from the 2006 and 2008 electoral debacles. Political defeat, like the prospect of being hung, concentrates the mind wonderfully. And there seems to be a grim determination underpinning the talk of reform and change — as if the movement has taken the defeats to heart and is truly chastened by the experience.

Of this I have no doubt. But talking about reform while failing to address some fundamental problems with the conservative movement itself may see any real effort at change an exercise in wishful thinking.

Classic conservative principles are timeless; immutable tenets that have inspired great changes in government over the last 400 years and spoken passionately and plainly to the needs and hopes of ordinary people. Since the end of World War II, those classical principles have informed a devastating critique of the welfare state, presenting a reasoned and logical alternative to statism and dependency. Conservatism has stood for human liberty based on the fundamental idea of natural law; that from his first breath, man is born free.

But conservatism has gone off the rails, becoming in some respects a parody of itself. A philosophy that is all about honoring and conserving tradition while allowing for change that buttresses and supports important aspects of the past, has been hijacked by ideologues who brook no deviation from a dogma that limits rather than expands human freedom. Conservatism has become loud, obnoxious, closed minded, and puerile while its classical tradition of tolerance and hard-headed rationalism has been abandoned in favor of emotional jags and a vicious parochialism that eschews debate for “litmus tests” on ideological purity.
Read the whole thing, here.

Moran suggests that the party's facing a struggle between (what some might call) stale ideology versus the need for more diversity, inclusion, and tolernance.

As readers know, I'm not inclined to compromise on the conservative forte of strong cultural traditionalism, but slurring Barack Obama as a foreigner is no way to move in the direction Moran would like.

See also, Right Wing Nut House, "Reflections on God, Man, and CPAC."

Michelle Lee Muccio

Please enjoy Ed Morrissey's interview with Michelle Lee Muccio at Hot Air TV.

Courtesy of Robert Stacy McCain: " Rule 5: Works in Real Life, Too."

Check out Jimmie at
Sundries Shack as well, who adds a photo of super-cool blogger, Skye at MidnightBlue Says.

What Happened to Memeorandum's "Featured Posts"?

As readers know, I frequently rely on Memeorandum to help advertise this blog and get my essays out to allies and adversaries in the blogosphere. Especially cool are Memeorandum's "Featured Posts" links, which normally appear about halfway down at the right of the aggregator.

But "Featured Posts" has disappeared. A quick
Google search turns up nothing on the change. I don't see anything about "Featured Posts" at Techmeme News, the blog of Techmeme. I also don't see any reports on changes to Memeorandum's formatting at TechCrunch or Wikipedia. There's also nothing yet at Real Clear Politic's "Best of the Blogs."

Given the financial losses through the news industry, with the potential collapse of the San Francisco Chronicle and today's announcement of the demise of the
Rocky Mountain News, my best guess is that Memeorandum's going to a more lucrative revenue-generating model with its aggregator. Notice how the "Sponsor memeorandum" section has replaced "Featured Posts" on the sidebar. The going rate looks to be $6000 monthly, and while there's just one link up right now, Techmeme's got six advertisers listed.

In any case, I'll update when I find more information, but if the change is permanent,
Memeorandum's impact on the blogosphere's going to be substantially less democratic, as the lowest of the 9th-tier bloggers will lose one of most inclusive opportunities for aggregation at a major portal for web publishing.