Posts Tagged ‘liberal’

AN OPEN LETTER TO RIGHT-WINGERS: RESTORING AMERICA

September 13, 2020

America can be healed. It won’t be easy or quick, but the disestablishment has not been quick, or disintegrationism, if you prefer Ben Shapiro’s term. And I suppose the latter term is easier off the tongue than antidisestablismentarianism. Easy in concept, difficult in implementation: Simply reverse the program of the far Left. If Trump loses, it’s questionable whether the values of the nation’s founding have sufficient prevalence to ever reconstruct. If he wins, we buy a little time. But if we haven’t learned the lessons that brought us to this point of existential instability, it won’t matter.

Other political minds have stated, correctly, that the Republican Party has focused almost solely on politics and policy to the exclusion of culture, falsely secure in the knowledge that the principles upon which the country was founded were so solid that their value was self-evident. The Left recognized the importance of winning minds and hearts. They invested their energy in commandeering the educational system and the mainstream media. The results are inarguable: The curriculum from grade school through college is dramatically Leftist, and almost all professors are on the far Left. It’s so bad, conservative professors routinely risk losing their jobs for expressing an alternative point of view. From the perch of a far-Left viewpoint, even moderately right-wing views are seen as far-right, or even alt-right. In the mainstream media, sources such as CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and NY Times and, to a large extent, any of the news networks other than Fox, the so-called journalists are 85-90% or more liberal and/or Leftist. Judging by the quality of the “journalism,” it seems most are Leftist. To varying extents, especially with CNN, MSNBC and the aforementioned newspapers, any attempt to preserve good journalistic ethics have succumbed to political/ideological activism (examples are legion, and include changing headlines and chyrons in real time). The Left will counter by citing bias on Fox News and other conservative sites such as OAN, and there is conservative bias, but this is like comparing a spring shower to a hurricane. I know this not only because I’m a convert, but because despite being a conservative it’s impossible to avoid left-wing sites. However, Leftists and, as I’m learning even many liberals, rarely if ever see unfiltered right-wing reporting and opinion in the left-dominated media.

So, it’s apparent that any hope for a return to a sane, color-blind and unified society governed by the high-minded principles that defined the birth of our nation and that, ironically, we’d come so close to fulfilling until five minutes ago, will require unpeeling the layers of toxic Leftist thought. We need to inject conservatives back into the educational system, expand the conservative influence in the online, social, and dwindling print media, and actively speak with minorities about issues for which we share a common goal, such as liberty, law and order. We cannot reach minds closed to facts and the truth that are clouded by a false narrative and ideology. As a fellow right-winger, or an open-minded liberal, you know that we are not, writ large, hateful or racist, and share a desire that everyone, regardless of race, creed, color, or sexual orientation have the same opportunities to succeed. Unfortunately, the Left has masterfully marketed the opposing viewpoint.

It’s a difficult but not an impossible task, and will require a sustained effort, assuming we can buy the time. Anything short of this cannot succeed.

Editor’s note: The original version erroneously attributed the term “deconstructionism” to Ben Shapiro.

WHEN RIGHT IS RIGHT, WHAT’S LEFT?

August 24, 2020

I’m the only conservative among the blood relatives in my family. For years I’d related a decade old telephone conversation with a relative as an example of parallel liberal-to-conservative sociopolitical evolution, (he’s stayed back East, I’ve migrated from NY to CA). So I thought it was time for my next 10-year call. He’s a smart and logical guy, and after the familial updates, we got around to discussing COVID and I expressed my view that eventually we’d overcome the pandemic, but I wasn’t as sure about the rent in our sociopolitical fabric. He responded, “Yeah, we need to get that guy out of office.” I’d erroneously assumed that if anyone would be immune to the “orange man bad” rhetoric, it would be him; and his casual response indicated that, like others on the left, he was certain I shared his beliefs. We avoided lengthy discussions of the issues, agreeing that we would be unlikely to change the other’s mind, but he did ask what seemed to me to be his litmus test of the depth of my eccentricity: my view on climate change (the implication being it is “settled science”). Both of us lacking the time for an in-depth discussion, I accepted that I’d likely be viewed a “flat-earther” and simply indicated that I’d researched the subject, listened to speakers on both sides of the issue (yes, there are two), and believed the climate is warming but don’t subscribe to the alarmist take that is being used for political purposes, or the validity of the proposed “solutions.”

Interactions like this with people I respect that have a divergent world view are profound and frequently cause me to pause and reevaluate my current beliefs. However, the opposing viewpoints and reportage, rather than becoming more coherent, are diverging more and more from the overt reality, sometimes expressed through hyperbole, and often via omission or outright lies. These tactics are not limited to the Left, only extraordinarily more extreme and frequent to an extent that continues to amaze me. There is little question the apparent success the radical Left has achieved would not have been possible in the absence of control of the mainstream media, an educational system with preconditioned minds, and the ability to disproportionately filter major social media sites such as Twitter, Google, and to a lesser extent, Facebook. For normally intelligent, logical and discerning people to look at all the information and boil it down to “Trump” seems to me to be impossible. There are bad people who are willfully using misinformation to accrue power, but the people I’m referring to are honest, well-intentioned, and bright. So only two possibilities remain: I’m wrong or they are misinformed. My having acquired a conservative state of mind via a liberal upbringing and a difficult evolution, I’ve excluded delusion through nurture. And there are countless historical and contemporary examples of the end result of what is happening now in the US, if one is willing to critically examine them. In addition, my perception spans a couple of decades, long before COVID, Black Lives Matter, Inc., or Trump. So my only conclusion is that good people on the left are being pounded again and again with the same inaccurate or incomplete information; they are far less likely to seriously listen to conservative sources than I am to visit liberal/Leftist ones—I can hardly avoid them. My occasional visits to some right-wing opinion sites I normally avoid due to excessive pro-Trump bias confirm that even they cite facts more frequently and completely than the Leftist equivalent.

I recognize that it’s difficult to go to places at odds with our deeply ingrained ideology, and the instinct is to dismiss views that make us uncomfortable. Simply put, no one wants to be “wrong.” Withdrawing into the protective cocoon of “it’s Trump’s fault, and things will be better if only he’s gone” can be comforting, but also simplistic and lead to wrong conclusions. I could rehash details ad nauseum to support this, but it’s already been done, by me and others. Instead, I choose to hope that many of these bright, busy people just haven’t started paying enough attention yet, but will be investigating more thoroughly in the time remaining before the election. And, perhaps, there are a lot already out there that see, but are afraid to speak before going to the ballot box. In any case, the result will demonstrate the net value system of our great but beleaguered nation.

IF YOU CAN’T VOTE TRUMP—LISTEN TO A LIBERAL

July 20, 2020

I had a discussion with a conservative friend recently. Both his daughter and her husband are liberal; I don’t know if they are Leftist or SJWs, but the fact that the son-in-law labeled my friend racist on the basis of his conservative beliefs alone, gives me a clue which way he’s heading. To maintain the peace (and retain the right to visit with his grandchild) his objections to the characterization were restrained.

My friend is only one of several I know that can no longer discuss politics with their offspring. To foster productive debate, the other person has to have a willingness to engage and the time to defend his or her beliefs with facts on issues that are often nuanced. This is becoming less tenable in the current political climate. I fear I’ve lost at least two childhood friends simply by expressing my views, and I’m not alone in this.

Hence, I discuss politics little at this time with my daughters. While they are intelligent, and certainly well-loved, we agree on little politically. Discussions became cantankerous, so we avoid them. I accept part of the responsibility; I’ve a tendency to become irritated (yeah, I’m working on it) which causes me to appear to them as judgmental. Hence, I’m uncertain how far into woke SJW territory they’ve wandered. I know they support the BLM group-sponsored protests and they regard them as generally peaceful with the violence viewed as an aberrancy and distinct from the protests. They have never overtly called me racist, and I doubt they will, as racism is a sin and they are honorable people. But I’m not sure that they don’t think it. And this uncertainty irks me. I fantasize that if they were coming from a position of believing I’m not racist, but a thoughtful, informed individual who started where they were, my current conservative beliefs would spark introspection and exploration of how I’ve come to this place. Instead, I imagine they regard me as consciously or subconsciously racist, a product of an unenlightened generation. If true, I suppose this was inevitable. They were schooled in a system that increasingly defined the country by its flaws rather than its foundational values and its remarkable progress in living up to them. This has been reinforced by the mainstream media and peers. Such indoctrination beginning at a young age would be hard to overcome.

I recently came across this important video. It should have more credibility than I for people on the other side of the aisle, coming from a former SJW, Keri Smith, who professes to still be a liberal. It is well worth the time to watch. She eloquently validates my fears for the country if the current ascendance of Leftist wokeness is allowed to take its course unimpeded.

I understand that many liberals cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. If I had a reasonable alternative, I wouldn’t either. While I like many of his policy decisions, his tweets have served to accelerate the alarming social rift (the political malpractice I’ve previously discussed). I don’t see the current Democrat Party as an alternative, not just because I oppose its policies, but because it, and its politicians, have allowed themselves to be commandeered by Leftist woke dogma. I know a lot of informed liberals out there are not fans of this. The recent letter defending free speech, signed by J. K. Rowling and many other prominent liberals, is one indication of this. I believe this ideology to be so toxic to the continued success and unity of our country that a Democrat power shift at this time is untenable, and yes, worse than four more years of Trump. While radical change under Democrat rule will inevitably be opposed, it will continue to accelerate the social/cultural destruction we are now witnessing in this climate of strident mob mentality and appeasement born out of a fear of being labeled and ostracized. I would ask that traditional Trump-hating liberals that are uncomfortable with the effects of the woke transition, dig deep, get some more information, hear out Keri Smith, and then, if you become as alarmed as I am, consider the impact of a Leftist-infused government with fewer checks. I believe that wokeness and informed knowledge of the facts cannot comfortably coexist.

TEACH THE CHILDREN, SAVE A NATION

June 25, 2020

If the current sociopolitical divide doesn’t succeed in destroying the nation politically, or changing it into an unrecognizable shadow of itself, without a conscious course correction we can anticipate it happening within a generation.

Probably everyone has heard the saying, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” There’s a kernel of truth to that, especially the first part. Certainly there are young people raised in conservative families that, by upbringing, share those beliefs from the outset. But many of us, myself included, having grown up typically in liberal large cities, have been overwhelmingly indoctrinated in left-of-center ideology. Despite this, back in the day, far Leftism, now termed progressivism or “wokeness” (metastasizing ever more quickly into the moderate liberal ranks) was either a fringe ideology or nonexistent. “Back in the day” we all pledged allegiance to the flag (although, even then, the phrase “under God” had a brief period of controversy, with God winning) and flag-burning went from illegal to legal (don’t like it, but personally view it as free speech, just like hate speech, as long as you own the flag and don’t break any fire laws). It wasn’t that we weren’t taught about our checkered past, including slavery, the white man’s devastation of the indigenous societies (back then “Indians,” now Native Americans), women’s suffrage, and Jim Crow, but we simultaneously ingested (and took for granted) the extraordinary principles upon which the nation was based. We were taught to respect the flag, the Constitution and the nation and regard it as exceptional. Because wiser minds understood the distinction between good principles and bad behavior that didn’t live up to them, we were taught to recognize this distinction even through the era of Jim Crow (although I was still in grade school at the time). What was true then, and remains so now, is that the principles upon which the nation was founded are unique, extraordinary, and moral. What is also true, and being buried under an avalanche of misinformation, is that there has been a progressive, accelerating, and exponential change in our society toward racial (and sexual) equality. Not only do the statistics, cited in prior rants, support this, but I’ve lived long enough to personally witness the more recent expressions of the trend. Young people, by definition, have not, so the mind diet they’re being fed is not only misleading, it’s pernicious. And it’s turning them from the most color-blind generations in our history to the most race-conscious. Nothing good can come from this.

Some of the those on the left engaged in this re-indoctrination campaign come from a good place. Troubled by the egregious sins of the past, however, they are unable to get beyond this to see the progressive (and I use the word ironically) and remarkable redress of these sins and inequities that has occurred. In fact, the faster and closer we have come as a society to approaching the principles upon which the nation was founded, the more they are convinced that nothing has changed. How is it that otherwise rational, intelligent people can be blind to demonstrable reality? I believe it is due to the same indoctrination techniques that have led to the rise of fascistic socialism before. It’s remarkable how powerful these techniques are, blinding so many people to its sinister recurrence despite the numerous past and current examples, the most recent being Venezuela. It’s becoming so extreme and infiltrating the mainstream so quickly, that it’s now difficult to distinguish those that are simply misguided and misinformed from those that are manipulating cynically in the name of power and fundamental socialist change. And the preparation for its resurgence has been careful and well-planned. Leaders of the movement knew that starting with the young and impressionable would have an inevitable cumulative effect, so they co-opted the educational system and the media. From kindergarten through university, the curriculum was slowly inched more and more to the left, emphasizing the sins of Western civilization and minimizing its unique blessings by removing the context of our country’s evolution from history and the rest of the world, past and present. Vigorous efforts were undertaken to define our country as a nation founded on slavery culminating in the presentation by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times of the 1619 Project, referring to the year the first black slaves arrived on American soil. Despite credible sources criticizing the opinions and questioning the historical facts behind this interpretation, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (another indication of the success of the Left’s program) and it is still widely accepted as fact by many on the left. If you ask for proof of the systemically racist state of the country, you will invariably be directed to historical evidence decades or more old (undisputed), or isolated, recurrent events by bad people, amounting to anecdotal evidence, since the data supporting a systemic problem don’t exist. The concept of “white privilege” was invented to further the narrative of a racist nation and to sow the seeds of white guilt. Racism was redefined; now you need only to have been born white, and if you haven’t regarded yourself as or engaged in anything racist, then it’s “subconscious.” Color-blindness and consideration of character, the goal of Martin Luther King, Jr, is now racist; it demonstrates an unwillingness to see the racist nation as it is, and to acknowledge your white privilege. And countering the narrative becomes as difficult as pushing a boulder uphill, with an inarguably long history of slavery and systemic racism and an endless stream of negative white-on-black interactions, often ending in the death of the black party, used to bolster it, frequently without regard to circumstance, context, or countervailing data demonstrating its rarity relative to our nation’s size. Vigorous efforts to demonstrate the manifest hatred of racism by the vast majority of white people are ironically used as further ammunition to demonstrate the systemically racist state of affairs. The more the guilt and anger can be inflamed, the less the facts matter. The success of this approach is evident. One need only watch the videos of the “guilty,” citizens and police alike, kneeling, the renewed interest in reparations (passed in the California State House), the constant emails from every large corporation decrying systemic racism with pleas to look elsewhere for transgressions, and the adoption of the Leftist narrative by professional scientific association associations (in my case, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology). The desperation to bolster this straw-man narrative has gotten so bad, that even fake racial incidents, like the recent, debunked noose incident in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage, are being used to support it, even after the debunking! (And this despite the fact that the other drivers, all white, escorted Wallace’s care to the front position in protest of the soon-to-be discovered faux-racist non-event.) And if you still think this ideology is limited to the fringe, you need only look to sales of Robin Deangelo’s book, White Fragility. The basic premise of the book is that if you are white, you are racist. It’s so extreme, many on the left (likely members of the dwindling group of brave liberals) have even criticized it. Here are some of the contentions expressed in the book: the history of America has not changed; individualism is bad because it causes you to not think of yourself as a member of a race; attributing causes of inequality between whites and people of color to other than racism, is racism; backing meritocracy and objectivity is racism; claiming you are color-blind or having celebrated color takes race off the table and if black and white friends don’t discuss race it indicates a lack of cross-racial trust, but if you ask a black person about racism, then you are tokenizing the black person. Why does this matter? Because sales have driven this to the status of a perpetual best-seller since its publication in 2018. So, clearly and disturbingly, the message of racial disunity is being effectively promulgated, and accepted. Conveniently forgotten in all this are the recent election of a black president who, because of ingrained belief of a systemically racist nation, rather than using his bully pulpit to united the races, chose to further the narrative and the racial divide. One example reported, among others, was Obama’s remark, “African-American parents are right to fear that their children may be killed by police officers whenever they go outside,” after five Dallas police officers were ambushed and murdered in 2016. It is more convenient to blame the current widening racial divide on Trump, ignoring that a better case can be made for his having implemented policies that benefited the black community (such as, pre-COVID, the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years and prison reform). For those who still believe, despite what is unfolding in real time, the current analysis is conspiratorial or delusional, consider this: It is now considered sacrilegious in many quarters to come down against the group Black Lives Matter, and people fear speaking out due to digital tar-and-feathering and even job loss. Some mainstream politicians have publicly minimized the heinousness of rioting and destruction, fearing it would be interpreted as decrying peaceful demonstrators against police brutality. Anarchists have been allowed to occupy a portion of a city, a blind eye is turned to destruction of statues and other public property, and the police writ large have been thrown under the bus by government leaders for the same reason, based on the heinous action of a few rotten apples and fabricated crimes of a few others. But believing that black lives matter and supporting the group that has co-opted the name aren’t remotely related. In fact, there’s proof that the group, using police brutality and the infrequent but real instances of true racism as fuel, are bolstering a Marxist agenda, to complement the indoctrination of the youth and conversion of the rest by means of the white privilege/white guilt meme. One of the founders of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, admitted that the group is ideological and lead by trained Marxists.

Still, there may be hope. In a recent op-ed, speaking about potential Gen Z voters, Madison Moore wrote, I’ve sat in a room of Bernie supporters who listened attentively to my eager, if simplistic, explanation of the tenets and moral defense of capitalism and limited government. They responded in a manner surprisingly engaged and open, despite my many requests that they stop me if they preferred we change the subject. ‘Wow, I never knew that’ was perhaps the most frequent response I received.” This suggests that despite attempts at indoctrination, many young people may still be reachable with facts. Although my own indoctrination when young was less over-the-top than in today’s classrooms, it’s still notable that upon transitioning my worldview and political leanings in my 30s when exposed to facts and opinions I’d not previously heard, this relatively apolitical (at the time) person had a difficult adjustment, revealing the insidious and unconscious nature of the process. So it appears that the road back, while boulder-strewn, may not be entirely obliterated. However, nothing is possible without a concerted effort on the part of conservatives to expose more politically/informationally-isolated citizens of all ages to the truth. And it will take some courage. The longer we wait, the more daunting the task and dangerous to our online and potentially physical health; it already takes courage to even hint of a conservative viewpoint in many quarters. Many out there will not be interested, something to which all of us in the conservative camp who have tried can attest. But those that are still open, and they are identified by being willing to listen and debate rather than withdraw passively or angrily, need to be approached. This should be done respectfully; name-calling does not influence anyone. Along with this, if we do nothing to reverse the insidious trend in our schools and universities, the culture battle cannot be won. I hope it’s not already lost.

ARE WE GOING DOWN?

October 1, 2019

The upcoming presidential election is the most consequential for our country since Lincoln, or possibly in its history. It will determine its ability to survive.

Many on the left (note the small “L,” as a friend who I consider a liberal and not a Leftist subscribes to this view) have bought the persistent drum-beat of the mainstream “news” and social media sources they believe the country cannot survive four more years of a Trump presidency. They may be right, but it will have little to do with Trump’s proficiency as a leader; it will likely be due to violence in the wake of his reelection, possibly on a national scale, (hang on to your guns and bibles), or economic downturn that is the spawu of both parties from decades of fiscal neglect.

The Left has highjacked the Democrat party. Never have I seen, nor would I have predicted, a show of bonafied presidential candidates from a non-fringe American party standing on a national debate stage and promoting such foolish, uninformed policies in lock-step. It be renamed the Presidential Pandering Forum. The tenets of the “debates” can simply be boiled down to “free” tuition and healthcare for all (citizen or no) and open borders. Of course, the underlying engine for this is to soak the very rich (who are not paying “their fair share”). If you’ve taped the debates, I’ve just given you back several precious hours of your life, although you might still choose to be entertained by the occasional sniping. {For full disclosure, I only exposed myself to snippets of the purported debates on orders from my personal physician … me.)

So, in view of the new radicalism at the top of the Democrat food chain, is there a silent majority out there waiting to bare its fangs? Some say yes, but let’s examine the evidence for and against.

For:

Powerful conservative voices like Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Dennis Prager, the venerable Rush Limbaugh, and Jordan Peterson (actually, only interpreted by some as political), to name a few, are growing a following. There are untold numbers of people actively “walking away” from the Democrat party. However, we don’t really know how large a defection this represents, especially in view of the strong, persistent anti-Trump rhetoric.

Trump’s rallies attract large followings, uncontained even by the big venues he employs. The other candidates get dregs, by comparison. However, it must be recognized that their turn-out is diluted by the large number of presidential hopefuls.

Polls show that the majority of Americans do not favor radical ideas such as open borders. However, the power of rational policy-driven thought against the strident and hyperbolic anti-Trump movement remains unclear.

Against:

The mainstream media (with the exception of Fox, if you consider it mainstream, and a few small outlets), are virtually all on the Left, or at best left-leaning. There are data (see here and here for examples} supporting this. One need only to watch a previously somewhat left-of-center network such as CNN for five minutes to see how far left they now tack. Social media sites that are supposed to be neutral platforms, among them Google, Facebook and Twitter, and are granted libel immunities on that basis, are universally commandeered by left-leaning hierachies and populated by left-leaning and often Leftist employees. The number of instances of tweaking algorithms to steer viewers away from right-leaning sites and demonetizing conservative speech as “hate speech” are legion, relative to more egregious “violations” on the left (see here and here for just a couple of examples). That being said, there is still a wealth of conservative thought out there for those foraging for it, as the working links in this rant illustrate.

The Left has commandeered the education system from grade school on up, to assure a steady supply of liberal and Leftist voters in the future. Now, you can even expect drag queens to engage children in libraries in various places throughout the nation. Many campuses now have “safe spaces” and conservative speakers such as Ben Shapiro need tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of security to speak there.

The Left has converted many of the leaders of the Democrat party to overt open border supporters. The unwillingness to spend relatively small amounts of money for a border barrier, provide humanitarian aid money (eventually grudgingly dispensed) to perpetuate the narrative of “Nazis” in power, or to support our existing immigration laws, as well as the constant conflation of legal and illegal immigration, is a transparent power grab. With escalating promises of “free” services, including healthcare and tuition, they encourage illegal entry with the assurance that these future voters will support the Democrat party. The resistance to even simple voter vetting (“it’s racist”) while supplying driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants supports voter fraud (while claiming those that want reasonable identity checks are attempting to “suppress the vote”).

The Left has demonized the president in a manner that’s unprecedented. When you promote progressive policies that are difficult to support, ad hominem attacks are the typical fallback weapon. The more untenable the policies, the more vicious these attacks become. While Trump in many ways is an easy target (and not the most moral man, but sadly a paragon of virtue compared with the likes of John Kennedy, his brother Ted, and Bill Clinton, to name a very few) with his brazen and often childish tweets. Every success is either vilified, ignored or ascribed to some other unlikely source (examples: the economy, attempts at righting the trade disparities and China’s malfeasance, and opposing Iran and Russia), while manufactured transgressions such as “Russian collusion” and “obstruction” are promulgated ad nauseum and elevated to the level of impeachable offenses. It’s becoming increasingly apparent the latest ploy, impeachment, is woven from the same moth-ridden cloth. This, in spite of the increasing evidence that the true transgressions occurred in the Democrat camp, but that’s beyond the scope of this rant.

Corporations, many headed by Leftists, respond to the siren call of the Left (the more recent of many examples being Nike’s recall of its shoe with the Betsy Ross American flag at the behest of Colin Kaepernick). In several cases, after an initial drop in stock price, the companies saw a net rise. This could be a disturbing barometer of the net ideological vector of the country.

How these opposing factors will shake out is anyone’s guess, and polls have proven particularly unreliable in the Trump era. Further confounding the issue in my mind is a remark by a left-of-center friend: He described the country as “right-leaning,” implying that the loud megaphone of the Left and the clear social change this has implemented (I don’t think many of us would have envisioned “gender-neutral” bathrooms with half-man/half-women icons ten years ago) is illusory, in his view.

For better or worse, the answer is coming in November 2020.

THE UNINFORMED AND MISINFORMED AND THE BATTLE FOR THE HEART OF AMERICA

June 10, 2019

This post began as a catharsis against the raging foolishness in our country right now. Whether you choose to read it or not is irrelevant: I still feel better ;-).

***

About 3 decades ago I began the not painless transition from liberal to conservative. Leftists would say I became evil, racist, and misogynistic. But a smoke-screen of ad hominem attacks does not establish truth. It’s the last refuge of the foolish, uninformed…or evil.

I grew up in New York City. The Awakening in the ‘60s (often euphemistically termed the Sexual Revolution but encompassing a much more profound societal change) occurred during my childhood, and the Vietnam War was the pivotal event of my young adulthood. I was protected from the draft by my college attendance and a high draft number, so I had only vaguely formed opinions about the war and was relatively apolitical, with most of my energy directed toward study, getting good grades, and my medical school ambitions. Still, (and I only recognized this later in life), my sole exposure was to liberal social and political views. I remember Barry Goldwater being defined as a racist and wondered how he’d managed to become a viable national political candidate. I thought little about the Constitution and I took our form of government for granted. Back then, there were no controversies about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (except for the brief period when the phrase “under God” was stricken), and no one took the knee. The historical view of the United States as taught in grades 1 through high school was net positive. This, despite the headlines proclaiming institutionalized racism in the South almost daily during my grade school years. Though women had come a long way sociopolitically, there were still obvious barriers in the workplace at a time when a preponderance of male breadwinners, stay-at-home moms, and intact families with married couples were much more the norm.

Ironically, I heard my first conservative views after moving to another of the bluest states in the land, California. Channel flipping, I came across a relatively new (at the time) conservative radio talk show pundit by the name of Rush Limbaugh. For the first time, I heard views and political/cultural analyses that were foreign to me. The more I listened, the more a great deal of what he was saying rang true. My reaction? A combination of anxiety and fear. At the time, I was a busy, relatively apolitical physician with a young family, just trying to get through each busy day. I’d come to California with vaguely negative feelings about President Ronald Reagan, but I suspect I’d have been hard-pressed at the time to factually support them. Now, I thought, am I becoming a … Republican? It took a while to get comfortable with my new ideas, and longer to switch political parties.

It took even longer to recognize that neither political party represents me. Oh, the Republicans talk a good conservative game but their actions belie their words. Out-of-control spending, a disastrous and growing deficit, an unwillingness to fix our seriously broken immigration system, and crony capitalism speak to serious dysfunction. These failures spawned the Tea Party movement, which appears to be as effective as a garden hose on a wildfire. The Democrats are worse, supporting policies they don’t even know are disastrous (or don’t care), but at least they tow their party line. The calls for ever-increasing spending and taxation and growing government to solve all our ills, (many or most of which were spawned or nurtured by the beast they wanted to nourish) inevitably morphed into a Leftist ideology of overt support for “democratic” socialism, despite alienating swaths of their liberal supporters (at least one of which tells me no party represents him, either).

So now we’re left to see how it all plays out. A major paradigm shift is due, as foretold by prior historical cycles, and soon. We are Rome, and even those that see it are powerless to stop it. When the historical tsunami strikes, my prayers are that that high ground is not far off, and that God provides us with enough lifeboats and a safe landing zone.

DERANGED

August 4, 2014

You’re a radical.

I’m a radical.

We used to be normal, but we’ve been labeled. There are only two sides: violent, bigoted, militaristic conservatives, friend of CEOs and Big Business, and liberal/progressive unwashed, tie-died communist progressive liberals who want no borders and more taxes from the rich.

The Bush Derangement Syndrome has become the Obama Derangement Syndrome. Bush was a dumb cowboy who dragged us into a war for oil on a specious pretext to benefit his wealthy friends. Obama wants to destroy the country, erase the borders, and make us the Europe of the West.

It’s time we put a stop to it. When we talk in hyperbole, we can’t talk at all. We’ve allowed the far right and the far left to distract us for too long.

No, I’m not going to become progressive. The ideology has become foreign to me. But I don’t believe Barack Obama is itching to destroy America. I believe he’s walking down a road that he believes is best for our country (or perhaps the world), that will ultimately hasten America’s downfall if we don’t reverse course. I believe he’s obsessively political due to his Chicago machine roots and has a narcissistic, arrogant streak. But he’s not Satan. He loves his wife and family and succumbs easily to a misguided charity for the “downtrodden.”

George Bush the younger was not Satan, either. I believe he is best characterized as a naïve idealist. He used the pretext of WMDs in Iraq (which he and the left at the time believed to be a real threat) as an excuse to nation build, with the ingenuous belief that everyone, given the chance, would risk their lives in the name of freedom, as our ancestors did and our brave warriors continue to do today. He believed another democracy besides Israel the in the cauldron that is the Middle East would be a game changer and establish his legacy. Events appear to have proven him very wrong.

We need to move away from stereotypes, see the true radicals for who they are, and start talking. There is a common ground. For instance, many on the left are economically conservative and socially liberal (yes, there is a Tea Party side to many mainstream liberals). We need to reexamine the principles upon which the country was founded and start strengthening them. We need to quarantine the race-mongers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. We need to take hotbed issues that divide us and keep us from solving problems, like abortion and gay marriage, off the national agenda and return them to the states. And we need to stop overspending and leaving trillions of dollars in debt for our children and generations to come.

Radical thoughts, I know.

WHEN THE MASTER IS THE SLAVE

October 15, 2012

With the ruling class calling so many of the shots, it’s easy to forget that the dynamic is more complex. The government is both slave and master. Because its lifeblood is votes, it needs voters. There are a lot more poor and middle class voters than rich ones, so the quickest way to maintain power is to open the wallet and “spread the wealth” (read: taxes). This constitutes the progressive or socialist face of the government, the redistribution President Obama refers to to give everyone “a fair shot.” But the money has to come from somewhere, so the politicos also cater to wealthy segments of the private sector through grants and tax breaks. This is the crony capitalism face of the government. The left is associated with the former, the right with the latter. Both faces are dysmorphic caricatures of the true face of the government our forefathers envisioned.

The original intent was for individual responsibility and charity at the level of the community and church. Government’s job was straightforward—to protect its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. By abdicating the latter responsibility and picking winners and losers in the private sector on the one hand and encouraging dependency on welfare on the other, we are losing our identity.

No one, right or left, argues with a safety net for those who need a helping hand or are disabled. We disagree on how low that bar should be set and how long that helping hand should lift those of sound body and mind. No one, right or left, feels Wall Street or corporate America should be given an unfair transfusion of taxpayer money or be excused from paying their “fair share.” We disagree on what that fair share is and what constitutes a business incentive to make us competitive in the world economy.

Both sides pander and both overspend. The choice this election, as I see it, is between a candidate that openly condones it and one that purports to condemn it. Half the country disagrees with me. If the half that shares my view prevails, I think we can begin to climb that long, arduous hill to recovery.

Unless bad behavior, on either side of the political aisle, intervenes.

ON FISH AND COMPASSION

June 18, 2012

Liberals like to think of themselves as compassionate. It might surprise them to know that conservatives do too. The divide comes in the areas of how we think it should be defined and implemented. Having been on both sides of the divide, I understand it well.

Liberals want to help the underdog by smoothing out real and perceived inequalities in material possession. The more needy the downtrodden and the more insanely wealthy the privileged, the more it fuels their angst. The inescapable truth that a percentage of the most wealthy have acquired it through nefarious means only fuels the sense of being on a righteous crusade. They see government as the means of righting this intolerable inequity. The attendant corruption and crony capitalism are an unfortunate byproduct.

Conservatives want to help the underdog by improving processes. They believe in equality of opportunity, not outcomes. They have seen billions after billions poured into the war on poverty, education, and thousands of often untested government programs with often demonstrably worse outcomes. They subscribe to the maxim, “a rising tide raises all boats,” and believe that the marketplace is smarter than government and must be protected from (sometimes) well-intentioned meddling that not infrequently results in unintended consequences. Conservatives are perceived as favoring the wealthy at the expense of the downtrodden and ignoring corruption when its origin is Wall Street.

When liberal thinking is applied to something such as the illegal (aka “undocumented”) immigration issue, it plays out as concern for a poor, third world nation abutting an economic (hopefully, not soon-to-be erstwhile) giant. It’s easy to make a case for the poor. It’s much harder to make the case that compassion has a cost, and we no more have the ability to single-handedly lift Mexico with its ponderously corrupt government out of poverty than we have the ability to force other nations to adopt the ideology of liberty and democracy through coercion.

Compassion must look beyond individual suffering to the processes that abet it, if there is to be any hope of finding a lasting solution. The old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” is as true today as the day it was penned.

It’s time we shuttered the fish store and gassed up the trawler.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

January 16, 2011

One of the stated goals in the preamble to the Constitution is “to promote the general welfare.” Proponents of social justice will maintain that the burgeoning infrastructure of the federal government is crafted to do just that. It should be remembered, however, that the spirit behind the secession movement that birthed our nation is, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the inalienable right of  “the pursuit of happiness.” The sister rights, as I’m sure you recall, are life and liberty. Our forefathers were smart. Nowhere is equality of wealth, power, or even the elusive-to-define happiness addressed—and for good reason: it is unattainable and, I contend, not desirable.

People are diverse. They have different personalities, aspirations, work ethics, intellects—the list goes on and on. While every right-thinking citizen would wish no one to suffer the misfortunes of ill health, poverty or starvation, and would agree that a safety net or hand up is a hallmark of a compassionate society for those that fall on hard times through no fault of their own, I see the liberal and conservative elements of our society differing significantly on matters of degree. Liberals, by dint of a philosophical viewpoint that appears to feel that the financial inequities in the world, and our country in particular, are so great (and much of it “ill-gotten”), desire a large redistribution of this wealth through an aggressive implementation of taxation and social programs. I’ve addressed in part the outcome of such a paradigm in my prior rant. Conservatives largely feel government has grown too large and intrusive and is interfering with the economy and accumulation of wealth, also known as productivity, and encouraging a climate of dependency and entitlement.

As with most dichotomies, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, although that middle can be vast, and the means of reaching the “truth,” nebulous. So I can only address the issue by exposing the values that turned me from young, idealistic liberal to pragmatic conservative. In the transition, however, I haven’t lost my idealism; far from it, I feel it is strengthened. It’s just assumed a different form. It has morphed from a concern for the individual to a concern for his or her values.

The founders built a wildly successful nation on an experiment in meritocracy that has had no equal in the history of mankind. Its ascent has been astoundingly fast, and, I’m afraid, its descent may be as rapid. It was based on values of liberty, a belief in a higher power, and a philosophy of hard work and self-sufficiency. It was sustained by a desire to help one’s neighbor, also known as charity, and an equally strong aversion to receiving it which was seen as failure. Look around the world now. In Greece, the government said it’s running out of money and must reduce salaries. Did the people say, “Oh, I guess we’ve taken too much from the till; we must work harder”? No, riots occurred. In France, the government said the workers could no longer retire at 60—the age was raised to 62. Did the people say, “Oh, perhaps a guarantee of such early retirement was too exorbitant a gift to expect relative to our productivity”? No, they rioted. Here in California, as the state teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, the voters have re-elected the same people whose policies have brought us to the edge. It is noteworthy that large segments of the population are on the government payroll or dole, and unions remain a powerful lobby. One may argue that a substantial part of the failure of this system is due to government waste and corruption but, if anything, it only reinforces my argument.

Granted, there have been some dramatic and welcome social gains in the centuries since out forefathers’ time. I’m not recommending a return to the evils of slavery, institutionalized racism, and second-class citizenship for our women. But “throwing the baby out with the bath water” isn’t the way to perpetuate the success of the greatest social experiment the world has known. To do this, we have to re-examine our values, and our family structure. I believe that, fundamentally, we have to “down-size.”

I’m not sure if we have it in us. I hope and pray that we do.

Next: On family and “down-sizing”