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Hell on Earth: An American Story

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Anyone who believes in Americanism, or at the very least the rule of law, has to be wondering exactly how our country got to be in the horrific shape it is in today.

Several weeks ago, I was listening to the Michael Savage Show. One does not need to agree with all of his opinions to value his deep insight and commentary on the issues of the day. He explains his views in a clear, concise manner and welcomes others to debate him — so long as they have the facts to support their respective arguments.

When the topic of illegal immigration was discussed, a lady named Jo from Boca Raton called in and declared Arizona's new law, which combats undocumented aliens, to be "absolutely racist" and said that the people whom the law targets can "do what they want to." This insanity was followed by a prolonged rant in which Jo advocated eliminating America's borders, limiting personal income, and she proudly stated that she was unemployed and making her living off  — you guessed it — welfare checks.

The most fascinating aspect of Jo's call came, though, when Savage asked her if she thought that it was fair that people who work for a living be obligated to support her financially. Her response was astounding in its ignorance. It was, "Obama pays my welfare check….(He gets the money from) his stash….Illegal aliens..work for a living and then they pass their money to the government." After she had finished, Savage summed up her call perfectly by saying, "A man once defined hell as a place where there is no reason. And you just dragged me into hell, Jo."

It is Jo and her fellow travelers' mindset that is the reason for the fast slide down the tubes that America is experiencing today. The belief that one is entitled to another's property is the quintessence of evil and a favorite of the left wing. Combating this school of thought is extremely difficult, as those who adhere to it either see nothing wrong with the way they think or could care less. Judging from my experiences with career second handers, I can say with certainty that logic and reason do not apply to them.

So what does?

I honestly have no idea. Hopefully, in time, an answer will be found. For all of our sakes, that time had better come soon.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • it has been …

  • Baronius,

    If you’re referring to my intended move to CA, then I definitely appreciate it and I thank you.

    There is a reason for my madness. Yes, I have been unusually testy on the net, not always but often enough, because for all intents and purposes, I has been my life. So yes, I do intend to remedy this shortly, and I thank you for your understanding.

  • Baronius

    Roger – Best of luck.

  • Baronius

    Zedd – It looks like your complaint about the research methods is that you don’t agree with the results. That’s a lot like your reaction to Jo from Boca Raton, where you said that someone must have made up the phone call (despite it being available online). You’re denying evidence based on feelings.

  • Thanks Roger. I like that Foucault Marxism one.

  • A heck of a quote from above-cited work:

    I would like to write the history of this prison, with all the political investments of the body that it gathers together in its closed architecture. Why? Simply because I am interested in the past? No, if one means by that writing a history of the past in terms of the present. Yes, if one means writing the history of the present. (Foucault)

    The important point is the following. Foucault’s own situation is one in which discourses, like the one she writes, are institutionalized as the human sciences and play a decisive role in the formation of practice (policy studies). In other words, Foucault has been able to develop the position that discourse and practice are intertwined in a world where domination takes the form of disciplines and discourse is organized into disciplines. In short, reason has become, in history, a form of power in a way that it perhaps was not before the eighteenth century. Foucault has come to terms with his situation, a world where the human sciences are organized and play a political role, by arguing for a position that looks at the human sciences only be de-ontologizing the concept of reason.

  • Another good find, Les, Cindy, and Mark:

    Foucault, Marxism & History, full and unabridged.

  • Some more stuff, Cindy.

  • Mark should like it too. Don’t know about Les, though.

  • Read especially the last section, section 6.

    I’ll comment when I’m done with it.

  • And this.

  • Dig this, Cindy.

  • BTW, good observations, Cindy (#192).

    Let’s think, though. You say, “Society is on balance unsound. And parenting is intricately interwoven with the social. There is no separation.”

    What do you mean by “there is no separation”? Well, perhaps there is one, in a sense that we’re talking here about a dynamic relationship, one feeding and reinforcing the other.

    Here is one picture. One could argue that the ills of a society result from the maladjusted individuals. For example, the desire for power, for money, the formation of a ruling class (and the exploited class), greed, lack of empathy, unconcern with others – all of these could be said to result from, and be manifestations of, human maladjustment. I’m not necessarily arguing that this is so, that other factors don’t intervene, only that such an argument is possible and a reasonable one as well. And I don’t see any problem of reduction here. Here we proceed from the individual to the social, not by way of concepts but by way of historical formation (To commit reduction would be to proceed from the social to the individual.)

    So on this account, individual maladjustment, especially if it attains critical mass, may be viewed as one of the major causes of societal ills. And on the societal level, the individual psychosis produces social structure.

    I’m just trying to think this through.

  • Thanks, Mark.

    The citation I have in mind relates to Marx’s (or Engels’s) transformation of the bourgeois notions of justice and fairness in a post-capitalistic societies – to the point that they are workable.

    It’s precisely on that score that Foucault expressed his reservations – thinking all such moral concepts as being historically-conditioned and reflecting the historical social relations, to include class ordering and class struggle.

  • No problem, Cindy. It’s just an extra complication, and I’m afraid of limited theoretical utility. Once you bring human psychology into the picture, you tend to excuse everyone. It’s a recommended POV from the standpoint of personal relations, understanding people, etc. But it’s different when you trying to import these considerations into theoretical framework.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to review some of Lacan’s work, Foucault contemporary, as regards the former’s contributions to the body of social theory.

  • Roger, In rereading your comments, I think I was being obtuse. I spent a good deal of my life trying to find those individual psychological traumas and use them as an explanation of what is wrong with the world–mainly regarding child-rearing and education, i.e. wherever adults and children interact. They never completely satisfied–maybe because if the rest of the world was sane, those individual injuries would be healed not reinforced by it. Society would, on balance, be sound–the ‘bad’ parent standing out in stark relief. But that is not the case. Society is on balance unsound. And parenting is intricately interwoven with the social. There is no separation. Parents help in the cultural process of socialization and subject their children to it.

    So, what then is a ‘bad’ parent? If the culture is sick and I socialize you to it, rather than help you to question it, am I a ‘bad’ parent? My love of my child does not prevent me from doing inadvertent harm. There is more to ‘badness’ than beating children. The word ‘bad’ becomes useless for me unless used casually or relegated to, say, actual abuse or neglect. Otherwise all parents are ‘bad’ parents (though unintentionally).

    So, I don’t reject what you are saying and I probably even fully agree with it, my own personal shortcoming in adventuring into new territory is to turn away from the old. So, it’s not that I don’t think that the individual psychological is just as impactful as the social, it is just that my small non-multi-tasking brain likes to focus along one direction at a time. Sorry for being resistant.)

  • Zedd

    Cindy, Irene… Long time

  • Mark


  • Mark

    Good morning, Johnboy.

    Go with god, Rog (to California).

    ps, re #76 — I’m not sure what quite you’re looking for. The only one that I posted recently — Engels’ remark on Darwinism — didn’t reference justice. In any case, take a look at Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program; he makes some comments there concerning the transformation of bourgeois justice toward ‘true’ justice (from each according to ability to each according to need) in two easy steps…

    …and imo crashes into a brick wall by calling for a period of dictatorship.

  • Irene Wagner

    Thus the article called “Hell on Earth” has been brought full circle, through the miracle of social constructivism. I could add nothing more.

  • Irene Wagner

    And we all know how THAT turned out, Roger.

    “Choeur d’anges: “Sauvée! Christ est ressucscité! Christ vient de renaître! Paix de félicité Aux disciples du Maître! Christ vient de renaître! Christ est ressucscité!” Les murs de la prison se sont ouverts. L’âme de MARGEURITE s’élève dans les cieux. FAUST la suit des yeux avec dèsespoir; il tombe á genoux et prie.” Charles Gounod

    So, watch it!

  • Faust was my name, and Margarite was my game.

  • #183

    If that was the import of your comment, Irene, I have no problem with it. Still, I’d rather shy from gender-based explanations on the physicalist level.

    I’d rather subscribe to a view of men and women as androgynous beings, even if I happen to be wrong from the standpoint of human biology.

    In short, I’m opting for a religious/moral view of the matter. And I’m certain you understand.

    On that note, let me close for good.

    Happy dreams everyone.

  • Irene Wagner

    Goodnight Cindy, and Zedd and Silas.

  • Irene Wagner

    I hereby bestow upon Roger the honorary decree “Divinitatis Doctor, Paene” to make up for the slight of calling him a Bible school drop-out.

    Yes, Roger, it is a surreal world, here. 😉

  • lol Irene. btw You probably realized I meant 172 to you when I typed 173. Well, I have seen this next House before. So, I shall follow my sweetheart off to bed. Nitey nite, Irene, et al. 🙂

  • Irene Wagner

    Goodnight, Roger, who mystifies me with his assumption that I am casting about for scientific validation for faith. I merely suggested that the Geschwind-Galubra hypothesis MIGHT explain PARTLY why there are such things as male and female ways of problem-solving. I wasn’t excluding the possibility that society and individual history might also have significant roles to play.

    I can tells ya, Cindy, tryin’ to be a medic means ya gits in fights with EVERYBODY. 😉

  • No hard feelings, Cindy.

    I’ll always love you.

  • Nite nite Roger. Hello Zedd and Chopped…er Silas.

  • I’m retiring for tonight, Silas. And thanks for the plug.

    BTW, I “hate” Barbra, but that’s the one and only movie where she comes close enough to being attractive.

    Perhaps her best.

    Nite everyone. Tomorrow.

  • I’m bringing up religion, Irene – actually not religion but faith, which is an entirely different thing – simply because it’s relevant to the discussion.

    Relevant, to say the least, with respect to your positing scientific theories in support of your personal beliefs. It’s not to argue against your personal beliefs, only to say that your search for “evidence” is misguided.

    In a nutshell, Irene, I may or may not have gone to a “Bible School” as you had called it – actually it was a theological seminary aiming at a Doctor of Theology program – but that’s neither here or there.

    Speak responsibly and I will respond in kind – I guarantee it. (George Zimmer)

  • 173 Okay, if you say so. (Scratches head…and swears she was trying to understand.)

    Sorry Irene, lol I don’t know about 173. I think I must be too angry to think straight. 😉

  • Zedd


    That is absurd! Go to any trailer park in the south. I’m sure you will find a lot of conservatives. Betcha you wouldn’t find too many geniuses in the area of economics.

    You are obviously not familiar with research methods. I supposes that is a liberal stregnth…. Sigh

  • Geesh. I feel like chopped liver. And Roger never ceases to amaze me as he draws quotes from Streisand movies. That’s so pre-Stonewall. You rule, Roger, sto lat!

  • Roger, barefoot and pregnant? lol silly. It doesn’t benefit me if you are. Of curse I am thrilled for your choice. But I try not to meddle, too much, in people’s personal decisions. One can inadvertently influence someone in ways that are not beneficial.

    So, if you feel good about your move that is great. Congratulations.

  • Yes you are, Cindy, because you can’t see past capitalism.

    As I said, we are at a peak. But even so, the maladies of human societies is a historical fact. It’s precisely your unwillingness to consider this which makes you myopic. And, consequently, your focus on capitalism, however justifiable, evidences your anger.

  • Irene Wagner

    Sorry for making you guys wait. I was trying to word this carefully.

    Well, Cindy…I guess this was for Roger, but maybe you have some insights on it, too.

    I was going to ask why Roger often brings up religion (as he did in #155) when I’m not talking about religion at all. I’ve often seen him do the same thing with Baronius.

    It’s as if…you’d bring up zing’s atheism to disagree with him about which soccer team to root for. You know?

    It feels like I’m the object of an intentional campaign to promote the idea that belief in any sort of conclusion arrived at rationally is inconsistent with any other belief that was arrived at supernaturally.

    But maybe I make you guys feel…uncomfortable…in ways of my own.

  • I am not even in the least frustrated or even thinking we are having any argument. And I have a weather-eye on House, whilst being fanned by my doting husband as this laptop heat keeps resulting in hot flashes.

  • No, not tomorrow but shortly.

    I’m surprised though you haven’t congratulated me on the right decision. It’d seem you’d rather see me stuck, “barefoot and pregnant.”

    I should hope for greater encouragement from a friend.

  • Roger?

    That is absurd. I am not experiencing anger. Why are you thinking that?

  • Irene,

    My communication line will be open to you always. And so will Cindy’s, I have no doubt.

  • I don’t think Roger is leaving tomorrow. lol And I will, of course, be around.

    may I ask you a question?

    Did you mean me or Roger? If me, well, sure.

  • You’re speaking from anger, Cindy.

  • Irene Wagner

    heh. Fine for you and Cindy, but emails take too much time away from my other online commitments. LOL! so yeah, if I was included in the “you guys” of the “you guys will be sorry ” then I guess I’ll be a little sorry to see you leave the site, Roger.

    I don’t converse with people online whom I don’t enjoy conversing with. There aren’t many I exclude, and not because I’m not choosy enough either, I don’t think.

    By the way Roger, since you and Cindy can always converse via email–will I never see YOU again Cindy, after Roger leaves? 🙁 and since this may be the last time I talk to you online, if I am indeed one of the few whom you enjoy talking to online, may I ask you a question?

  • 154 answers the question you posed in 151, namely you say, “Do I make any sense?”

    I say, you probably do, but I still don’t ‘get’ you.


    How about by using the idea of alienation? Alienation is a psychological condition as well as an actual one.

    In any case, I don’t think making psychological explanations are of absolute necessity. Understanding of capitalism/domination is much more necessary, I think.

  • Roger will be happy to maintain email correspondence, in case this was the least of your worries.

    Narrowing it down refers to your #154. What exactly do you mean?

  • Well, Cindy, a Marxist doesn’t get into psychological explanations.

  • Of course I’d be sorry, Roger. But I would just call you or email you. 😉

    Well, Cindy, then why don’t you try to narrow it down.

    Narrow what down?

    (Decides Roger is not going to be as sorry not to see me as I am not to see him. )

  • “But at least I’ve been given opportunity to get a word in edgewise, and to an audience that my voice alone would never reach.”

    Well, I understand it, Irene. It’s one way of sewing the seed. And believe you me, I’m not stranger to this way of thinking. Only a few on this site give me a real pleasure at conversing. As to the rest, I believe I’m doing my duty.

  • Well why wouldn’t a Marxist give feedback on the subject? I would think a Marxist would understand exactly how capitalism manipulates people for the purpose of creating a market. Prof Richard Wolff did.

  • You guys will be sorry once I leave this site. Come on, why don’t you admit it?

  • Well, Cindy, then why don’t you try to narrow it down.

  • I don’t want to get into physiological states, Irene. I think you’re placing too much credence in science. At the very least, the causal explanation of personality(ies) by reference to neural events is suspect – especially for one who would tend to subscribe to a humanistic psychology or the religious viewpoint (which I take you to be). And if you’re looking for scientific validation of your faith, I think you’re on a wrong track. Faith needs no justification. If if does, it’s no faith.

    I’m in total agreement here with Thomas Szasz. Most “human” problems are problems of living.

  • Roger,

    I am sure you do. But I don’t really ‘get’ you. I am trying to but I just don’t quite.

  • Interestingly, Cindy, you won’t get any feedback from Les – representing the run of the mill Marxism.

    As to Mark? Who really knows? Mark marches his own music and drum.

  • Irene Wagner

    The Freudian psychiatrist caller in the Savage link you gave makes a good case for compassionate consideration of Obama’s childhood before one lights into him as an Evil Entity. What bothers me is the dismissal by both Savage and by this caller, of the idea that there can be biological/chemical causes for behavioral pathology. The brain is an organ, an organ which, true, unlike any other organ, is deeply affected by words, and sights. To ignore its organic nature is to miss out on a lot of angles when discussing pathology, or on the other end of the spectrum, non-pathological differences between men and women.

    Roger, I think I understand why you assume I am unable to engage my significant others in meaningful conversation. I understand that it is very frustrating for you that I flit in and out of online conversations. But I do try to make comments that relate to the other comments on the thread, and occasionally, even to the article to which the thread is attached! It is precisely because of the meaningful connections I have with the people I live with and among that I CANNOT do more than pop in and out of online conversations.
    There may be less of a difference in the way you and I communicate on these threads once you’re among friends in California.

    I will say this about the internet. There is something about a blank piece of paper, or a blank comment box, welcoming me to “Add your comment, speak your mind.” People may not get around to noticing I’ve said anything…for days, or forever. But at least I’ve been given opportunity to get a word in edgewise, and to an audience that my voice alone would never reach. Similarly, I can “hear” the words they speak that my ears never could. That appeal is not specific to internet communication alone. It is, and has throughout history been, the appeal of communication via the written word.

  • To bring #149 to a peak:

    If you insist that “poor parenting” is inevitably one of the consequences of human culture, any human culture, then you’ll have effectively reduced the two problems into one (obviously, I disagree with this reductionist position).

    But if you don’t, then you’re bound to consider them as separate (although contextually-related).

    Do I make any sense?

  • And one feeds the other.

  • I’m not trying to defeat your view, only to expand it. Personally, I’m trying to think outside the box.

    To wit, I’m not that sure anymore that a thoroughgoing sociological/cultural analysis is enough. We can’t discount psychology.

    How does it play into our discussion? OK, let’s say that poor parenting is detrimental. The extreme case here would be a feeling of parental rejection, whether real or imagined. The cultural environment provides the context for feelings of inadequacy – and we’ve agreed, haven’t we? that those feelings may very from culture to culture, or express themselves differently according to the prevailing cultural values and norms. So this is the background.

    Now, the point I’m pressing is that there are two distinct problems to deal with, not just one: raising “flawed” humans, and the prevailing cultural norms they try to live up to (but with respect to which they regard themselves as having failed.)

    Which is to say, it’s to say the least a dual problem.

  • 146 – Possible, that we are flawed…if so we will adapt or kill ourselves off.

    I personally prefer to listen to the stories told by less apparently flawed cultures for what strikes me as a better answer. Cultures that, when they do see us, often see us as insane, and with good cause.

    As far as present day parents and parents of old…I am not really sure what this means.

    147 – I will agree minimally that it will wound, yes. But this does not contradict me. In fact, your entire view seems, to me, perfectly compatible with my conceptualization.

  • #145

    True, a rejection in any given culture has very specific manifestations, and those manifestations vary from culture to culture.

    And yet, a sense of rejection experienced in childhood is going to leave permanent scars. And that’s a rock-bottom fact.

  • To continue with #144:

    But having said that, Cindy, who is to say about the extent to which social structures and social injustices through the years, the modes of domination and exploitation, etc., are partly at least a by-product of inadequate human development? Greed and desire for power are, given this paradigm, surface explanations, the deeper reasons may well be psychological – perhaps even, as some might argue, something having to do with the defect of the species. (I’m not going that route, only suggesting).

    And who is to say, besides, that present day parents should be less adequate at the skills of parenting and providing love than the parents of old. Surely, one could argue both ways. On the one hand, we may be more distracted, on the other, we have more time on our hands to see to the welfare and well-being of our kids. Has the maternal instinct diminished over the years? I doubt it.

    So yes, this is the personal touch I’m talking about, the hidden background behind the sociological story.

    And that’s where compassion comes in, as Michael Savage’s video makes clear with respect to Obama, not the president but the person.

  • Roger,

    Nothing I say would even work if we were not subject to the sort of personal history and personal dilemmas and problems you suggest. My whole premise relies on that. If not we could remain aloof.

    How could dominating culture effect us unless it worked at this very personal level? I am sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Here is an example: To a boy who is rejected by a father the culture says something. He does not experience that rejection only in isolation but in what it means about him in the world. It is the social context that gives him the means to make sense of that. It is the social context within which he will form his meaning. There is no single meaning. But many of the meanings we make will be a reflection of domination and subjugation.

    How do you imagine an imperative to ‘not be a sissy’, ‘not be a girl’ works?–other than to give the male some personal fear he will be seen as a woman is seen–as the subjugated.

  • “That is why I said capitalism is like gonzo domination. In only 200 or so years it has brought the human race to the point of facing its potential extinction.”

    I never argued against that. Of course things have come to a peak.

  • 141 – Let me look at both videos.

  • But such things as providing affection or withdrawing it is a separate matter.

    I agree. Those influence what people are individually. But they occur within the context of a society driven by domination.

    And yes humans have always had problems. But never before the history of capitalism did they have the ability to make them everyone in the world’s problem. That is why I said capitalism is like gonzo domination. In only 200 or so years it has brought the human race to the point of facing its potential extinction.

    200 years. I was just at the forest the other day and I looked at a display in the information building that showed some pottery created by Indians who lived between 10000 BC and 150 AD (something like that). Can you imagine that? It really made it stand out in stark relief for me that, at this rate, if we don’t change, we won’t last anther 100.

  • And the very fact you question the link I’m referring you to smacks of close-mindedness.

  • Obviously you haven’t listened to part two, which ventures on Obama’s psychological profile.

  • Life is more complex than this.

    Nothing I said discounts life’s complexity. If you think it does you aren’t seeing the same thing I am. We don’t agree what the meaning of this is. Life is complex.

    136 – Michael Savage is an example of what? He is speaking to an audience of true believers, I think. He’s not an original. What are you thinking I will automatically see when I watch this?

    (Try not to get frustrated because I don’t see it automatically I am sure it is crystal clear to you. I know that feeling.)

  • But such things as providing affection or withdrawing it is a separate matter.

    Humans have always had their share of problems, before, during, or after capitalism.

  • 126 – There is not a square inch of development that is not influenced by capitalism. Capitalism is like gonzo domination. It exploits every aspect of human culture and turns it into a market. It also does this while leaving people thinking they are free.

    In capitalism, freedom is freedom to consume. Consume things, consume entertainment, and consume people (who must be turned into images to facilitate consumption).

  • Cindy,

    I’m aware of the fact that you’re anti-Freudian, but I think you should look at the following segment. It’s part one, but it’s an important preamble to part two (link available at the site).

    If there is one thing it shows, it’s the human touch and the human story behind each and everyone of us.

    It’s in light of analysis such as this why I’d argue that the strict “domination culture” explanation misses the mark somewhat, is less than fully satisfying.

    Life is more complex than this.

  • 133 – LOL!

  • And Irene. If your social life isn’t lacking, then I’d have to say it’s your personal failure not to engage your significant others in a meaningful dialogue.

  • Well yes, Cindy. I know you do.

    BTW, you should re-watch an old movie, The Way We Were. I can provide the link.

    There’s a memorable line when Robert Redford says to Barbra Streisand. “People are more important than principles.”

    Her reply, “people are their principles.”

    Good old Robert punches a wall, or something to that effect, in disgust.

  • 129 – I know, Irene! I am trapped here today like a bug in amber. Good luck with your escape!

  • #1 commenter? You can’t be possibly referring to me, Irene.

    “And if part of this up-messing is physiological, then, if people can retrain their brains after a stroke, I don’t see why people can’t work on developing the positive attributes of the opposite sex.”

    Sure they can’t but it ain’t that easy. Brain repairs on its own – a physiological function. On the other hand, overcoming psychological traumas presents a different level of difficulty.

  • Roger,

    Yes, indeed we are all messed up–men and women. And we all deserve love.

    I just wanted to affirm that I agree with both those things.

  • Irene Wagner

    And now I must bow out for a LONG time because I have a major project and arguing here is too dang fun and engaging.

  • I ain’t arguing about uniqueness, Cindy, only about the scars many of us bear because of our personal histories – males and females alike.

    And that’s aside from all the negative influences of the dominant culture and what else have you.

    Definitely, a factor to consider to bolster a strictly sociological or cultural analysis.

    Adding a human touch, as it were.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, I see your reluctance to accept the G-G hypothesis a priori. Just was throwing it ibecause I’m a FEMININE DANCING QUEEN MEDIC, who tries to make sure all points of view are offered for the warriors to battle out for me.

    “We ARE all messed up men and women equally.” Right you are, Roger. And if part of this up-messing is physiological, then, if people can retrain their brains after a stroke, I don’t see why people can’t work on developing the positive attributes of the opposite sex.

    Roger, I myself can get locked into the internet world and forget about friends and relatives who can…like..COOK for me. Internet life gives an opportunity to argue things, even if civilly, for HOURS and DAYS on end, and that would never be considered appropriate in real-life settings. Plus its a very “real” connection to the world for those who are isolated for very legitimate reasons.
    But yes indeed, it does have its limitations.

    All the best reconnecting in California.

    Hmmmm. Whose gonna cop the #1 commenter spot now…

  • 121 – I know you do, Roger. And yet this is what I see and how I see it. And I see it because it most eloquently explains all that I have looked at.

    Now, if you want to look at what I have and see if you can explain it for me in a better way, I am game.

  • Yes, I understand that other business calls. Even so, with few notable exceptions, I would be lying if I said that internet communications left me satisfied.

    There is something surreal or unreal about them.

  • Roger,

    Whether it’s created, Cindy or not – surely, part of it is biological, you can’t deny that – that’s not the point.

    Not sure what this means. I don’t think I deny that we are biological.

    You can’t ignore personal histories when it comes to personality formation.

    No, I hope I don’t sound like I do. We are each unique. But so is each individual snowflake a unique expression–but made of the same matter. Personal experience, in regard to the social, is mediated through the social context.

    (Are we arguing about something? I only wanted an example of what you mean because abstractions mean different things to different people.)

  • Irene Wagner

    Let me catch up on what was said here before commenting.

  • Irene Wagner

    Ideas are sometimes considered and challenged on the basis of their lack of merit, rather than being dismissed out of hand in continuance of a personal vendetta against the one who presented them.

    Sometimes people will bow out of a conversation when offline commitments call.

    In neither case does that prevent any other person from picking up the ideas presented, nor does it prevent the commenter from coming back when he has more time or has recovered from the back-of-the-hand swipe.

  • Cindy,

    The correct kind of love is directed at all – men and women – not to mention all living and inanimate things.

    I’ll still say you’re too hung up on the sociological/cultural explanation to the exclusion of the history of the person.

    We’re all messed up, men and women equally. And each and everyone of us deserve understanding and lovingkindness.

  • I’m sorry I’ve been kind of testy lately. I think you’ve been fudging too much.

    I understand your concern, BTW., trying to keep both sides at the table, hoping for civil discussion and a resolution. Too much of a medic syndrome.

    Sometimes, you’ve got to be a warrior. Even if it hurts other people’s feelings.

    Don’t forget, it’s the motivation that informs the act – what you aim to accomplish – not the consequences.

  • Irene,

    I see an ongoing problem of domination in the world. I am skeptical that were there actual cognitive differences, based on gender, that they would be sufficient to account for the ongoing problem of domination.

    I don’t think of cognitive qualities as being inherently male or female. In other words, I, at least for now, dispute the conclusion that there are real and actual gender differences. Therefore, it does not surprise me that some of what is considered ‘female’ would be found in some males and vice versa. I’m not sure how one could ascertain what biological effect there is on people apart from what environmental effect is already present. In other words, we are studying people who are already formed. The results are as easily explained as being effects not causes.

    I find that the narrative explaining gender traits as being ‘natural’ is a construction that serves to keep things the same. In other words, it keeps domination the norm.

    This is all said only to explain to you that I am not taking a fierce position out of ‘nowhere’ or out of anger or revenge.

    In fact, the ways I, as a woman, have been harmed by domination throughout my life never led me to the conclusions I am making now. Nor did the ways my niece is harmed lead me to look at things I am looking at now. The exploration I have been embarking on over the past month has come about because of the harm I have perceived being done to my nephew.

    It is love of the male that leads me in the direction I am going.

  • I don’t plan to be coming back, Irene. California is my home. Lived there for over thirty years.

    I never realized how dependent I was on human/social contact. Always took it for granted because it was always part of my life. Not just friends – even acquaintances, people I cared nothing about.

    Well, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m a social animal and it’s just as important to me as breath itself.

  • Irene Wagner

    What day will you be leaving, and when do you expect to come back?

  • Irene Wagner

    Have a great time in California, Roger.

  • Whether it’s created, Cindy or not – surely, part of it is biological, you can’t deny that – that’s not the point.

    You can’t ignore personal histories when it comes to personality formation.

  • What I hate about internet communications – find it most frustrating in fact – is people starting a rash of shit and then check out. I don’t know whether this is due to their limited staying powers or powers of concentration, or simply because they don’t feel obligated to finish what they had started (as they would in any face-to-face contact). I don’t care what the excuse is. If you can’t shit, get off the pot. But don’t pretend you’re truly engaged when in fact your only interest is to hear your own voice heard.

    I could shake the truth out of you, or falsehood, no matter, face-to-face, but there’s no way I can do it online.

    Which leaves me with inevitable conclusion: for too many of us, internet is the refuge of a scoundrel, if not the pathology of our times.

    Fortunately, I’ll be leaving for California shortly, to reconnect with real people and real life – none of this hyperreality and farce for what passes for communication. And when I do, I’ll send you all a postcard.

  • Irene Wagner

    Just to clarify, the Geschwind-Galaburda hypothesis reference was an attempt to introduce another perspective alongside the dueling contentions that men become men when they: 1)become Conservatives or 2)lose part of their essence as human beings.

    The G-G hypothesis is consistent with the belief that a large part of how a person looks at ANY problem in life, including a thorny political issue, is hormonally determined during fetal development when an individual’s left-brain (intuitive) vs. right-brain orientation (analytical) occurs.

    One could contend that both orientations, which in general* fall along gender lines, have significant contributions to make to the political process. Intuitive right-brain people may be able–much more able than left-brainers– to bounce between and give consideration to many sides of an issue, but may make their decision based on less than thorough analyses of any of them. Left-brain people may do very thorough analysis of the consequences of a few options, but often need the help of the right-handers ability to “dream up” quite workable options that the left-brainers hadn’t even considered for analysis.

    *Some research suggests that left-handed males, for example, tend to have more right-brain, “feminine” cognitive qualities than do most other males. The left-brainers may be able to intuit and suggest other options for the right-brainers to analyze.

  • 109 – An example might be helpful.

    (The gender divide is created I think, Roger, not absolute. maybe why I am having trouble understanding the female serial killer point?)

  • #108 – yes, that’s why I spoke of inertia, or taking the path of least resistance.

  • 104 That is an interesting thing to know about you, Silas.

  • Cindy, your #107 is no response to my #106 (not that I suggest you meant it to be).

    But to try to amplify, I think you’re putting too much emphasis on the “dominant culture” as it affects both males and females equally and the respective psyches. Not to say that it doesn’t, but a person’s upbringing, their personal history, etc., have a way of exerting themselves independently and on top of that – and irrespective of gender (to booth).

    I’m becoming more and more convinced of late that social/cultural analysis, while invaluable, falls short of providing the total explanation; that that explanation must be supplemented by psychological insights.

    For example, “evil” or human pathologies cut across the gender divide, although the distribution tends to be more skewed on the male side. Which is to say, women, too, can be serial killers.

    Consequently, gender roles, however socially or culturally defined, fail to provide a thoroughgoing account. Something else is needed.

  • We are all trained in keeping things the same–trained in ‘the way things are’.

  • I think what is perceived of as feminine is rejected from the male psyche as it does not serve the domination model of being.

    I think men are alienated, by the dominating culture, from part of their being.

    I am not sure that I can follow this thinking into a division between conservative/liberal–as if one side owns this and the other does not. I think this divide is a gender issue, but that maybe it manifests differently in political views. I think that some of the liberal’s political views are just as effective in maintaining the status quo.

  • We may be hitting upon something. Psychological factors may well be quite determinative of the mature person’s socio-political views (more so than Irene’s appeal to the structure of the brain).

    So are we suggesting here that some people perhaps haven’t been sufficiently weaned?

  • 103 was to 100.

  • Indeed, Cindy. Perhaps that’s one of my motivations for meditating on Mother Azna. I find that belief systems which focus upon the feminine Deities to be far more humane than their masculine-driven counterparts which have evolved into syndicates of terror.

  • But the examples chosen are what make the analogy meaningful. You are using gender hierarchy (and its teaching–mom is comfort, dad is toughness) to explain what is wrong with the left’s views.

    What is wrong with them, in essence, is that they are feminine. Which may have its place in being comforting, but real men need to be something else.

    This is precisely what I find to be at the root of much of society’s problems. The subjugation of the qualities which are perceived to be feminine and their rejection from what is presumed to be the ‘legitimate’ male psyche.

  • #100 – in what particular respect?

  • And to add to this profile, the psychological factors, due to upbringing, family history, etc., only reinforce the idea of emotion as a weakness.

    Which was your point of focus.

  • Baronius

    This might help.

  • Let me proceed with the profile. It’s precisely this kind of worldview which makes the person become “their views,” with the result that you’re not seeing the person behind their view.

    Whatever kind of a human figure they cut is one of an isolated, atomistic individual, apart from their community, all rational and not emotional (because allowing the latter to influence the former is a sign of weakness).

    Not only do I find such a picture unrealistic or, to say the least, one I can’t identify with. What’s deplorable, there actually are people like that; they’re but the mouthpieces of their political and social philosophy; they wear it on their sleeves, as it were; in fact, they are those sleeves.

  • 87 – lol, zing

  • 95 – Yes, that is the admonishment of the ‘left’. In not learning to be such ‘tough men’ (who are not like women–implied here by mom’s inherent inferiority or maybe her ‘appreciated and beloved weakness’) they are not taking responsibility.

    And yes, it is all tied up together, I agree.

  • Yes, that too – “take it like a man.” Stop whining. So there are at least two dimensions.

    It’s all tied up together, though, in a “comprehensive” worldview.

  • Well, Cindy, don’t you think the notions of responsibility and taking responsibility are implied in “teaching someone how to become a man”?

  • Roger,

    He didn’t say that conservatism teaches you responsibility for your own actions. The implied message is not to be responsible for your actions, it is to ‘stop crying, and go back in the game and ‘take it like a man’. Being a man becomes not showing weakness, it is pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps (not asking mom for bandaids), it is being tough. This necessitates cutting off of part of the male being–narrowing his experience and channeling his self-image into one sort of distorted idea of what being a man must look like. Men are capable of a wide experience. The culture reduces them down. Baromius’ father is teaching his son how that looks.

    It is also possible to see in his comment, his view of women as inferior. Baronius’ mom is associated with the ‘left’ which Baronius holds as inferior.

  • #87

    Clever, zing, but your explanation deals with physical bodies.

    In human universe, inertia is the operational principle.

  • Nice, trying to trace differences in political philosophy and sets of values to neurological events and structure.

    Very enlightening.

  • Irene Wagner

    Left-brainers are the logical, mostly but not all males, right-brainers are the intuites, mostly but not all females. Got that twisted in the 2nd paragraph. But the idea is the same.

    Sorry I can’t be part of this conversation any more, but I wanted to add that perspective.

  • Irene,

    You’re muddling the issue. You’ve been on that tack for quite some time now. Quite a departure from your postings while back.

    It only makes one wonder.

  • “Something keeps the world stuck in place. Baronius’ analysis is worth looking at to see one way that is done.”

    How do you mean it, Cindy?

    The view of course is that conservatism teaches you responsibility for your own actions – “that’s how it makes a man out of you” – and that the contrary political philosophy teaches you how to be dependent. Pure and simple.

    Of course, underlying this view is the presupposition that humans are by their very nature lazy and irresponsible (if left to their own devices). Hence the need for “tough love” and the lessons of life. And conservative philosophy, when implemented, creates the necessary conditions to correct this natural human defect.

    Of course, in Baronius’s case, the doctrine of the original sin lends support to his view of humanity.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, part of the answer seems to come from neurobiological research of the “hormonal bath” of testosterone that males receive during fetal development. This led to the Geschwind-Galabubrda hypothesis: exposure to varying levels of sex hormones during fetal development is largely responsible for cognitive differences, particularly cerebral hemisphere sex differences in an orientation toward the “left brain” (rational, thorough analysis of one part at a time, male) and “right brain” (intuitive, subjective, synthesis of many parts into a whole).

    Maybe the left-brainers (most but not all of them female) of an ideal society would appreciate the thorough analysis of parts done by the right-brainers (most but not all of them male) would appreciate the left-brainers ability to see all of these thouroughly analyzed options to help make holistic decisions. Could happen through a matriarchal society…or it could happen through “pillow talk”…or it could happen through more cooperation between the natural-born analytical Conservatives of either sex, and the natural-born intuitive Progressives of either sex.

    I’m not a big fan of the Conservative vs. Liberal, Religious vs. Atheist, Male vs. Female vibe. I wish there could be more honest assessment of different points of view, and a spirit of working toward a fair consensus, rather than bitter renunciations of people based on their sex or religion or political views.

  • zingzing

    “Something keeps the world stuck in place.”


  • Indeed it is, Cindy.

  • A link from Bill B’s article in #57 goes to this well-written piece, I found worth reading: The Great American Bubble Machine.

  • (1) Your objective on this site may be getting to know people.

    Wrong, only people worth knowing. But to communicate with them – yes. And by communicating I don’t mean just exchanging ideas for the sake of exchanging ideas (I’m very selective as regards who is a worthy discussant) but for the sake of reaching a common ground. And once you do that then yes – you do get to know people, indirectly, and can move on. But this is a consequent although ultimately, the end of all communications: reaching agreement. So perhaps you’ll have better understanding now for what you characterized as my “personalizing everything.”

    (2) “I think that empathy has a value in politics. Empathy can’t be an excuse for short-term ameliorations that cause long-term damage, though. Empathy doesn’t excuse bad policy.”

    I’m glad you’re modifying your view. Good.
    However true that empathy doesn’t excuse bad policy, I would argue that it ought to guide all policy. Of course, you may disagree, but here we’re coming from two different worldviews and possibly value system.

    (3) “Liberals are preoccupied with short-term protective acts of compassion. Conservatives will teach you how to be a man. Liberalism is an overprotective mom . . .”

    That’s a caricature, Baronius, and even if it were true of some, it certainly doesn’t reflect my views.

    My view: a sense of fairness and justice in a human society – stemming not necessarily from the realization of gross injustices and inequalities but more so, from a conception that all are equally worthy as humans – in the moral sense of the world – and that we all have responsibility to other members of our human community; and that to be blind to that responsibility is a moral defect, and so it goes for our policies which do not proceed from that sense of responsibility.

    That’s where empathy comes in. And if you want to call it “position of moral superiority,” so be it.

  • Catholic priests have made a lot of men. Let’s not forget that it was not so long ago when the Church relished the choir of castrati for the Glory of God. And they say Muslims are the only barbarians. In some ways, today’s American Fundamentalist Conservative is an emotional castrato. No wonder you can find so many in airport bathrooms or in the hair care aisle of the local Duane Reed.

  • Conservatives will teach you how to be a man.

    And if your idea of manhood is to be alienated from part of your humanity, then you will appreciate the lesson.

  • In order to be a man, it is imperative to eradicate part of what you actually are.

    Without that social eradication, men wouldn’t need to become such ‘men’.

    Something keeps the world stuck in place. Baronius’ analysis is worth looking at to see one way that is done.

  • Bill, #57

    Excellent link to an excellent article. Too bad it’s hardly consumable given the average attention span.

    Don’t you see, Bill, that capitalism is the monster that’s got to go if democracy is to have a chance?

    Let me cite from the conclusion:

    “The Senate is designed to function as a kind of ongoing negotiation between public sentiment and large financial interests, an endless tug of war in which senators maneuver to strike a delicate mathematical balance between votes and access to campaign cash. The problem is that sometimes, when things get really broken, the very concept of a middle ground between real people and corrupt special interests becomes a grotesque fallacy. In times like this, we need our politicians not to bridge a gap but to choose sides and fight. In this historic battle over finance reform, when we had a once-in-a-generation chance to halt the worst abuses on Wall Street, many senators made the right choice. In the end, however, the ones who mattered most picked wrong – and a war that once looked winnable will continue to drag on for years, creating more havoc and destroying more lives before it is over.”

  • Baronius, with all due respect, the Conservative version of “being a man” is in concert with the Fundamentalist Muslim view. Now, I’m not implying that you are that type of Conservative. The problem is that Conservatism’s definition has become warped. What we are experiencing isn’t Conservatism, it’s ideological purification with a Stalinist playbook. If “being a man” means mirroring the behavior of Jerry Falwell, Larry Craig, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Eric Cantor — then take my penis — please!

  • Baronius

    No, Roger, no.

    First of all, you personalize everything. Your objective on this site may be getting to know people, but for some of us the primary goal is the discussion of politics. Don’t condemn us for failing to meet your standard.

    Secondly, I think that empathy has a value in politics. Empathy can’t be an excuse for short-term ameliorations that cause long-term damage, though. Empathy doesn’t excuse bad policy.

    Mom displayed empathy when she’d put a band-aid on my scraped knee. Pop displayed it when he told me to get back on the field. Liberals are preoccupied with short-term protective acts of compassion. Conservatives will teach you how to be a man. Liberalism is an overprotective mom, who not only smothers her child and prevents him from maturing, but thinks that her husband is a bad and unloving parent. That intense moral superiority from people doing harm in the name of doing good – that’s what conservatives find so annoying.

  • Mexicans. The Palestinians of the Western Hemisphere. That’s what it all boils down to. We stomped on their agricultural economy. Corn became the crop of choice for the conglomerates and once they figured out how to poison the population with corn syrup solids, Mexico’s fate was sealed. Those farmers who are trying to make a living in these United States rely on the cheap migrant labor from Mexico. Mexicans aren’t stealing our jobs, folks, they’re trying to survive and are willing to work for a pittance to put food on their tables. Why is that?

    Before you get your collective knickers in a knot, perhaps we should take a cold, logical look at the history of the nations on this continent. Mexico’s problems are our problems. This border war doesn’t need to be, folks. There are solutions but it requires political resolve and a commitment to ferret out the crime syndicates on both sides of the border – forcefully. On my show this week I chatted with Mike Archer about a program in British Columbia which uses Kenyan farm workers. Take some time to see what our friends in the North are doing. The program makes complete sense to me. The reason why it wouldn’t do well in the States is simple — it would interfere with the cash flow in Washington.

    We here in the United States tend to make things more complicated than needed. Our levels of bureaucracy are like Amway’s multi-level marketing program. We’ve got so many levels taking a piece of the pie that by the time they get to the wee folk, all that remains are crust crumbs without the sweet filling. We need efficiency. We need commitment. We need to throw out every damn incumbent so that our message to the Federal government is clear.

  • Mark,

    Have you been able to locate the citation from Marx or Engels I asked you about?

  • Besides, positing “Jo” as representing any kind of understanding of economics, whether by liberals or conservatives, is building a strawman to the extreme.

    Anyways, here is my recent take on “the conservative mind.” There are different gradations.

    (1) Baronius represents the extreme. You don’t see the person behind his or her views: they are those views.

    (2) Cannonball fits in pretty much the same category – although occasionally glimpses of the real person come through.

    (3) Doug Hunter – you definitely see the person behind his views, and the conflict he’s trying to resolve.

    And then, there are people like Dave Nalle. Humanity is part and parcel of his libertarian views. One can’t get really angry at Dave. I have to decide how to place Dave along the spectrum.

    The above “analysis” was prompted by Baronius’s recent comment, that one’s politics and empathy quotient are necessarily two different things, or that they ought to be – because one proceeds from the mind and the other from the heart.

    Ergo – if you’re bringing in empathy to your politics, you’re being illogical.

  • You can’t resolve this argument with Baronius, Mark & Cindy. He operates with a different conception.

    As to moral sense of “exploitation,” free market provides him with justification. And when it comes to the economic sense, well, you’d have to groom him in Marx’s theory of (surplus) value.

  • Baronius,

    Your test is amusing. You expect someone to take that seriously? Not biased much, is it?

    I like green.

    Choose the best answer to this question: What is the best color?

    (pink, unenlightened answer)

  • 33 – John Wilson makes the best point, imo.

  • Baronius

    Mark, third-world workers aren’t being exploited. People seek these jobs because they’re better, safer, and better-paid than anything else available. You could argue the opposite, I guess, even though you’d be wrong. But there’s no room for debate about something like the definition of monopoly. The fact that liberals get that wrong more often than conservatives demonstrates the tendency of liberals toward fiat thinking.

  • Mark

    Baronius, the survey measured conservative economic ‘enlightenment’. Are the results surprising?

    Note the ringer questions that would skew any results, eg:

    5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree).

  • Mark


  • Baronius

    Here is a link to the WSJ article about the study.

  • STM

    Is this about tea parties?

    I love a nice cup of tea.

  • Mark

    This one I gotta look at. Link please, Baronius. This wouldn’t be the survey of 1001 corporate employees, would it?

  • Baronius

    Zedd, a recent study of economic literacy found a substantially higher understanding of economics among conservatives over liberals. I think that Jo reflects that difference.

  • Zedd


    Do you think that Jo is worth quoting on a national forum?

    My point was that if you really believe that the debate between left and right is that shallow, maybe you are part of the problem.

    So is Jo’s “point” relavant for a national debate.

  • Yes it does, and it’s a keeper.

    Let me reciprocate then. A two-part segment from Savage Show, kind of adds a human touch (the second part accessible at the site).

    I think you’ll like it.

  • Baronius
  • The link no longer works.

  • Bill B

    I know no one who thinks like jo – guess I’m living a sheltered life…just outside NYC.

    Though I did know someone who railed about his tax dollars going to people feeding at the public trough, who once he got injured on the job seemed to have no problem continuing to collect disability/workmans comp even after he went back to work.

  • Baronius

    Zedd, Dan(Miller) provided a link to the call. Listen to it. Cotto explained it quite well in his article; if anything, he went easy on Jo.

  • Bill B

    Thanks Zedd

  • Bill B

    Thanks for the link Roger – saw that earlier in my daily huff post email but hadn’t read it yet – just did. Kinda makes you want to slit your wrists and jump off a building. I recently read an article from Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone. He says roughly the same thing in his more layman language and never fails to entertain. Here’s the links for his article.

    I agree the pendulum has swung – it’s time to go the other way. I just hope it does so in a relatively peaceful manner. Obviously the far right wing has already declared war. Just look at the shootings and the thinking behind them.

  • Good article. I don’t listen to Michael Savage, so I know not of what you speak. However, I have listened to plenty of people who believe as Jo the Caller does — that our government (Mr. Obama) pays for them out of his stash. Many of the comments here indicate that she is a nut-job, out of the ordinary loon, but I can tell you I know plenty of people who believe that with their heart and soul.

    It might not make America hell, but it does make it one damn scary place.

  • Bill,

    The following article substantiates my main points, however indirectly.

    But even if you don’t think so, it’s still a no-nonsense analysis of our predicament.

  • #49,

    Good response, Bill, but as you can gather, I was addressing structural problems. Nor was I suggesting there isn’t a substantial difference when it comes to policies and the emotive quotient (empathy) between the representatives of either party and the effects of the different policies. No doubt, a great many Dems honestly believe in the liberal/progressive ideology. One would have to be a fool to deny that.

    And yet, one wonders about the continuous stronghold which is exercised on American politics by Big Business – across generations and administrations. For all his message of “hope and change,” it’s still business as usual, along with the usual political posturing.

    These are the structural problems I’m talking about. Good intentions notwithstanding, it is still the case that our “welfare society,” especially in these times” does serve as a safety valve. Again, can you imagine a contrary policy? We may well come to see it come 2010 and 2012 if the Reps regain power and be tempted to administer drastic welfare cuts in “entitlements,” and benefits. All hell will break loose. In a way, I’m kind of looking forward to these developments. Nothing short of that will shake up our growing underclass.. See, I don’t believe in “reforms” any longer, not with the present economic and political system in place.

    So yes, while I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theory, postulating any horrendous master plan, the “system” exerts its forces by a kind of invisible hand; and our politicians’ actions are merely a reflection.

    The bottom line – we can’t imagine the future without a capitalist mode of production (as has been practiced of late); and politicians act accordingly.

  • Zedd

    Baritone #4 Roger #5,

    We would have to wonder
    1. If such a woman exists – if so why would the author feel as if her commentary deserved any consideration. Sounds like gibberish… clearly someone who doesn’t have all of her faculties. In that case we would have to be concerned about the author. Is he capable of evaluating madness from what is relevant? Is he fit to comment on social phenomenon

    2. The woman is fictitious. – If so we would then have to wonder about the authors creativity and perhaps limited ability to communicate effectively to a relatively astute audience…. At least consisting of individuals above 16yrs old. Why could he have not created a less lame caricature? One would conclude that he (perhaps) doesn’t really understand the position that he is apposing. It certainly doesn’t resemble the sentiments of this woman.

    3. He did a poor job of conveying what the woman said. – In that case we’d have to wonder how he could have picked up that jumbled up mess out of any mildly lucid statement. We would then have to wonder if he understands much of what he’s built is position on.

    Either way, the posting of this woman’s comments says more about the author than the woman. The thought that there are multitudes of people (voting people) who’s opinions are formed simularly – who feel extremely confident about their stance, leads me to thoughts of our society turning into hell (not really but it is concerning).

  • Zedd

    Bill B

    @#41 – Brilliant

  • Zedd

    This article made absolutely no sense.

    Were you saying that America is turning into HELL because of ONE call from ONE inarticulate woman (cause I didn’t understand what her point was or what point you understood her to be making) on a TALK SHOW? Or Because Micheal Savage said so??? No comprende.

    If America is turning into hell (it’s not) it may be because of people who spout really really badly defined problems/ and none issues, based on really really lazily gathered information that is discussed and written about on talk shows and blogs, that are taken on by bandwagoners who would rather not take the time to think things through themselves.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Pretty sure it’s the third he’s going after too, zinger. To be honest, I guess you could say I’m on a fishing trip but the Cottos aren’t biting.

  • Bill B

    What are those, the real compassionate solutions, that’s the first thing I’d like to know.

    Off the top of my head I can only think of one that was even in the ballpark, co-opted by Clinton and hardly perfect – workfare. I suppose I’d like to think that the more, and ever dwindling, moderate republicans have a good idea or two – I can hope. Job training programs come to mind – not necessarily a conservative idea per se.

    And secondly, Bill, to dig a bit deeper. Don’t you suspect that so-called “welfare state,” especially in these times of economic hardship,” serves as a safety valve, to keep people on an even keel and relatively speaking, content. Can you imagine a contrary policy?

    Yes I do and no I can’t. My line about the antithesis of the cadillac driving welfare mom was meant to convey this. That being said it’s a fine line to the state being the sole provider for those who may have no interest in doing for themselves. That’s a problem as well. There’s a ton more on this front, from ability to work to mental illness etc. so as always the devil is in the details.

    As for the rest I tend to agree with you – As Ron Kuby says the dems and repubs are the left and right wings of the Capitalist party.

    But, and while it indeed may be crumbs, there is some difference when one party ( or elements within) time and time again threatens to not go along with unemployment insurance benefit extentions. I’d say there’s some difference if you’re on the receiving end of that equation.

    But for the most part you’re right. Nothing of real substance in this country will change until big money can no longer buy politicians. Publicly funded campaign financing is the only hope it seems.

    As far as empathy and compassion go I think it’s pretty obvious the dems have considerably more than the repubs – mostly in areas of social impact i.e. abortion, gay rights, right to die, etc. Economically, social security and medicare come to mind – 2 programs that benefit many that “real” conservatives would dismantle if they had the balls.

    But in terms of the larger structure and priorities of our society you are right. More and more it just seems like an excercise in who can say the right things to get elected and then spend most of their time avoiding doing the right things as the monied interests rule the roost.

  • zing,

    it behooves you to become less ethnocentric. You have the intelligence and the wherewithal, so stop being so god damned apologetic.

  • Baronius,

    I haven’t got ticked off in many a years, how far back I can’t even remember. It’s the self-confidence thing, I guess, or more correctly perhaps, knowing one’s own mind.

    I’d seem to me, however, that you’re far less mature than you present yourself to be. I apologize for having overestimated you – I do that all too often especially with people I haven’t met face to face. It’s the right kind of policy online, but I do realize it carries a great deal of risk. And in this particular case, I’m sorry to say that I erred on the side of the good.

    Peace, brother.

  • zingzing

    jordan, it is as follows:

    Main Entry: Amer·i·can·ist
    Pronunciation: \-k?-nist\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1881
    1 : a specialist in American culture or history
    2 : a specialist in the languages or cultures of the aboriginal inhabitants of America

    alternately, it is also, sometimes:

    3 : One that is sympathetic to the United States and its policies.

    i think it’s the third he’s going after, but who knows…

  • Baronius

    I don’t set out to tick you off, Roger, but it kind of amuses me sometimes when it happens.

  • “…those on the conservative side who espouse real compassionate solutions . . .”

    What are those, the real compassionate solutions, that’s the first thing I’d like to know.

    And secondly, Bill, to dig a bit deeper. Don’t you suspect that so-called “welfare state,” especially in these times of economic hardship,” serves as a safety valve, to keep people on an even keel and relatively speaking, content. Can you imagine a contrary policy?

    Which brings me to my point. Isn’t our political, two-party system complicit in this entire affair – perpetuating, if I may be so bold to say, the military-industrial complex? Heck, forget the two parties and focus instead on thrust of American politics, foreign and domestic. Do you really see a significant change of course other than a few scraps thrown here and there for the mere purpose of quieting discontent and producing appeasement? I surely don’t.

    Consequently, this whole discussion concerning compassion, especially in the context of American political landscape, comes across as not only naive but in fact as being one big subterfuge, trying to create a difference when there is none in fact, a distinction without a difference.

    You tell me.

  • the cliff notes version, that’s a good one.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what an “Americanist” is.

  • Bill B

    Bill B – The comment about conservatives’ lack of empathy just seems lazy to me. It’s possible to have compassion for people, but reach different conclusions on how to help them.

    There’s a running debate in American politics about which ideology is smarter. For whatever reason, there’s no comparable debate about compassion. There should be.

    Yes you are right. It was the cliff notes version.

    Here’s my problem; As noted the ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality is both simplistic and the general thrust of the conservative position. Those who look to creative solutions seem few and far between.

    It seems that all too often the abuses – perceived or real – welfare mom driving a Cadillac and selling her foodstamps to by crack – are used to throw out the baby with the bath water. There are real people really trying to better themselves who but for these types of programs would be out on the street.

    I subscribe to the *gasp* biblical theory that you feed a person fish today and they eat today – you teach a person how to fish and they eat the rest of their lives – if there isn’t oil all over their fish.

    Which leads to so many other issues, not the least of which is how our job market, for mostly greedy and yes global economic reasons, has squeezed the spectrum of jobs available to the point that those not fortunate enough to have the education/opportunity to secure employment in the more skilled realm are relegated to low paying service level jobs where better paying manufacturing jobs used to exist.

    It opens up so many issues – from wingnuts who don’t support childcare because women’s place is at home to those who simply don’t want their tax dollars going to help those who should be able to help themselves.

    Bottom line is those on the conservative side who espouse real compassionate solutions are usually drowned out by those who pander to the more base, reactionary positions that attract the bubba republican primary votes. Thus they seldom see the light of day as they, especially these days, can’t be seen as conspiring with the enemy.

    But your point is well taken – there is a middle ground between the nanny state handout realm and the screw you, fend for yourself mentality. Staking it out through agreement and implementing it seem less and less likely in the polarized climate we find ourselves in.

  • Charity with other people’s money is an oxymoron. Why even bring it up unless the purpose is to muddle the issue?

    Has Dreadful done it? I very much doubt it. I’d say it was your clumsy, yes, clumsy attempt to try to justify your unjustifiable position rather than trying to come to terms with objections or at least give them a shot.

    Sorry for being biting, but your feigning of ignorance is getting the better of me. It’s either disingenious or plain ignorant. And the worst part is, you’re doing it all the time. I could overlook an occasional offense.

    If you’re truly as ignorant as you present yourself, then get off the pot. If not, be a man and argue like a man.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I think you misunderstood me, or I’m misunderstanding you now. The “conservatives are mean” cliche is usually accompanied by the “conservatives don’t want to help the poor” cliche. If not, what’s the argument for the first one? Anyway, that’s where I thought we were going, which is why I made the distinction between charity with one’s own money and charity with others’. If I’m wrong about the subject matter, please let me know.

  • Correct, Dreadful. That’s the typical mindset. If I have done it, my friends, relatives and acquaintances have done it, so can everyone else. And if they don’t, it’s their own bloody fault.

    Besides, Baronius suffers from oversimplistic philosophy of mind whereby the faculties of sentiment and reason are completely apart and ought to be kept so – no possible interaction between the two spheres allowed.

    To Baronius, that would be a sign of an illogical mind.

  • why do you think that their empathy “stops there”?

    Because the aforementioned pearl of wisdom is offered and then left dangling.

    This is the Politics section, not the Talk About Your Charitable Acts section.

    First of all, who said anything about charitable acts and second, you’re the one objecting to the accusation of lack of empathy.

    I’m talking about the “I grew up in a single parent household eating mud for breakfast, but we never took a dime from the government and by pure hard graft and sacrifice I became a multi-millionaire and now I collect Fortune 500 companies as a hobby” stories which are then smugly held up as if to demonstrate that nobody should need public assistance because they too can do the same if only they put their mind to it.

    Josiah Bounderby in Hard Times is the ultimate caricature of this type. (He turned out to be a fraud, but that’s somewhat beside the point.)

    Never mind that our Bounderby has, like every other human, a unique set of aptitudes and abilities which in his particular case enabled him to become rich.

    Meanwhile, Ms Pennyscraper may be hearing the message loud and clear as she stands in the welfare line with the three young Pennyscrapers, but unfortunately her particular unique ability involves working out the value of Pi to 36000 decimal places in her head, which is extremely clever but isn’t going to make her a fortune any time soon.

    Not everyone has the sort of skill set that enables them to escape the poverty trap, and that’s what a lot of conservatives don’t seem to grasp.

  • A cool retort, Baronius. However, I’m not quite convinced about your main thesis: “neither our politics nor our charitable acts tell you anything about our feelings.”

    When push comes to shove, they do, Baronius, they do.

  • Baronius

    They may make such a declaration, but why do you think that their empathy “stops there”? This is the Politics section, not the Talk About Your Charitable Acts section. My politics may seem miserly, but that’s your money we’re talking about spending. What I do with *my* money isn’t Politics.

    On top of that, neither our politics nor our charitable acts tell you anything about our feelings. To accuse someone of being cold-hearted is unwarranted and cliched. And if it warms your heart to spend someone else’s money, it’s not your heart we should be talking about, it’s your head.

  • Steady on, Herr Baron, and don’t take it personally. I did qualify my statement with “all too often”.

    You’ve got to admit that you very often see a right-winger getting up on his or her soapbox and making such a declaration, in one form or another.

    Not least right here on BC.

  • John Wilson

    The Right is also fond of grabbing someone elses property, a fact that they seldom mention except in closed rooms.

    “The belief that one is entitled to another’s property is the quintessence of evil and a favorite of the left wing.”

    Most workers now must sign contracts handing over all rights to anything they devise or invent during a period of employment as a condition of securing a job. This is never mentioned until the last minute. The courts are quite happy to support businesses in this thievery of Intellectual Property from people.

    I see some very rich men around here driving a new Jaguar automobile, although not a one of them has so much as turned a bolt on a nut to contribute to the making of that auto. Ah, but what wonderfully complex and arcane justifications they have made for ‘owning’ the products of other mens efforts!

  • Baronius

    Way to see past the stereotypes, Doc. Let me guess, you also think that professors always forget what they’re doing, and Southern women wear ball gowns and faint a lot?

  • Baronius, the problem with conservative empathy is that all too often it takes the form of “If I (or this guy I know, or the CEO of such-and-such company) can do it, so can you” and stops there.

  • Now, the only problem is – how to keep him out of our own country as well.

  • Baronius

    Bill B – The comment about conservatives’ lack of empathy just seems lazy to me. It’s possible to have compassion for people, but reach different conclusions on how to help them.

    There’s a running debate in American politics about which ideology is smarter. For whatever reason, there’s no comparable debate about compassion. There should be.

  • Baronius

    Exactly, STM. Sovereignty includes the right to keep Michael Savage out of your country.

  • zing, I like though the idea of an asylum being run without supervision.

    It’s like a page from Marquis de Sade’s playbook.

  • STM

    Is inciting hatred really what the founding fathers meant by free speech???

    I honestly wonder what they’d think.

    The law in the US, luckily, does not make free speech absolute – it’s close, but no cigar – and plenty of people have been stung by those laws when they’ve crossed the line.

    On immigration issues, though, I do believe that the government of any country has the right to choose who will or won’t enter that country.

    That goes for the illegal entry of immigrants (those who aren’t genuine refugees) going to, say, the US or Australia … or equally, the Poms banning people with views like those of Mr Savage from entering their country.

    My understanding is that they send out a letter saying something like “you’re not welcome, so if you were ever planning to come, don’t bother applying for a visa because you’re undesireable and we won’t give you one”.

    Something along those lines, anyway. Good for them.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “Nobody is, Baritone.”

    that you, ruvy? runs kinda contrary to your “fascist america” ideas.

    roger and baronius, you two make me like the idea of porn that much more. it would be something to see the two of you really going at it. biting and scratching and howling kinda porn. like cats. not that i’m advocating cat porn or anything. i like cats. they’re so awesome.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Multi-national corporate interests and the military state are running things as always, with the same old farts filling the same old chairs in the White House.

  • Ruvy

    Nobody is, Baritone.

  • Libertarianism is just one step away from anarchy. If libertarians had their way, NO ONE would be running the asylum.


  • And now that I’ve read both of Bill’s comments, Baronius, I don’t see where’s the insult. It’s a pretty fair description as far as I can tell, and not offensive in the least. Of course, since I’m not a conservative I’m probably missing something.

  • Bill B

    The lack of empathy perception is primarily anecdotal – and is kinder than the the other alternative – heartless.

    The insane reference was reserved for the extreme libertarians that don’t believe in government at all. I thought I was pretty clear – apparently not. If you’re in this camp then I guess I am talking to you.

    If ‘not worth listening to’ is a reference to my first point – guilty as charged. Tho I did address the larger point and acknowledged it as worthy.

    Can’t or won’t – take your pick.

  • Don’t flatter yourself, Baronius. I only respond to what I consider oddities on your part – to a text rather than the person.

    And I don’t understand why you’re bringing Bill whatever into the picture? I haven’t read his comment, nor does he have anything to do with me.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I wish I could believe that. But to hear you go on and on about me, I’m left believing that you do lose sleep thinking about me. And considering you’ve described my thinking as “alien”, “demonic”, and “incomprehensible”, I don’t have a lot of confidence that you’ve figured me out.

    On a related note, Bill makes a fairly common accusation, that conservatives lack empathy. I think that’s pretty funny. He describes us as insane and not worth listening to, as if to write us off. Where’s the empathy? It’s all stereotypes. Yet, apparently, he assumes that we’re the ones who can’t understand other people.

  • Baronius – I haven’t lost any sleep yet trying to figure you out.

  • zingzing

    aww, baronius. take the damn compliment. or figure out that that’s what he was trying to say. sheeeesh.

  • Baronius

    “Surprisingly”, Roger? There’s a whole interesting world going on outside your preconceptions.

  • Bill B

    I could have very easily stopped after the first couple of sentences when the author attempted to laud the rule of law while simultaneously speaking from a conservative perspective. Evidently Rip Van Cotto slept through the Shrub years.

    But the debate, no matter how suspect the example, is one worth having. Surely no one but the most pure(ly insane) Libertarian wouldn’t acknowledge that there is a need for government, to collect taxes and direct to areas that serve the public good. The issue is where is the line?

    As I see it giving back for the good of all is a small price for the privilege of living and thriving in a country that provides the opportunity for such success.

    Conservatives have never done the empathy thing well – not very good at seeing things from perspectives foreign to their experience.

    There’s a saying that liberals are conservatives that haven’t been mugged yet.

    I think conservatives are liberals who haven’t gone to bed jobless and hungry.

  • Sorry, Baronius. I thought it was Baritone who posted that comment. Surprisingly, though, the criticism had come from you.

  • I’ve had my fill of ’em, Baritone. SF’s KSFO prides itself on being a bastion of conservatism in the sea of liberal filth.

  • Baronius

    You guys haven’t listened to much talk radio, apparently. You come to expect comments just as stupid as those of both the caller and the host.

  • #8 – or a plant, hardly an impossible proposition since the object is entertainment.

  • I had never heard of Michael Savage, but here is a link to the radio call in from “Jo.”

    It’s only June, but with all the fruitcakes around it’s beginning to seem a lot like Christmas. And I don’t refer only to Mr. Savage.


  • I suspect that callers to most political talk shows are thoroughly screened and that only those who agree with the host or who can easily be taken apart by him/her actually get on the air.

    This lady was either one of the latter, or a stooge.

  • Indeed, the author of this article is somewhat of a nut job for thinking we’re going to fall for this ploy.

  • You beat me to the punch, Baritone. We are on the same wavelength here.

  • Cotto’s clever work of disguise consists of positing the anonymous caller, Jo – surely a caricature, because in the author’s mind she represents the majority of misguided Americans – in order to establish the infinite wisdom of Michael Savage.

    How clever!

  • Upon reading Mr. Cotto’s article, I wanted to jump into the computer screen and strangle somebody. To cite Savage as a reasoned source for opinions is ludicrous in the extreme.

    Both Jordan and Glenn pretty much nailed my feelings. If the woman caller is accurately depicted, it is apparent that she is a nut job. It is not even remotely fair to extrapolate that she is representative of the left.

    On the other hand, the right has any # of nut jobs in Congress, in governor’s mansions and/or are currently or have been candidates for national and state public offices: Rand Paul, Orly Tate, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Sue Lowden… The list goes on and on.

    So, who is it that has been most responsible for making this country “Hell on earth?”


  • Glen, re comment #2 — completely off thread but your mention of autism makes me comment.

    Temple Grandin, who has high-functioning autism, earned her Ph.D. degree in animal science at the University of Illinois. She is now a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. One of her books, Animals in Transition, relates her experiences as an autistic person to her experiences with animals. Her thesis, and it seems to be viable, is that cows, dogs, horses and most all non-human animals are autistic in that they perceive things in hyper-detail rather than with a broad brush as most of us do. In 2004, she won PETA’s “Proggy” award, in the “visionary” category. Her improvements to animal-handling systems found in slaughterhouses have decreased the amount of fear and pain that animals experience in their final hours, and she is widely considered the world’s leading expert on the welfare of cattle and pigs. She was able to do this because of her autistic ability to see the sorts of detail which cattle find terrifying and, most importantly, to figure out how to minimize the impact.

    Well worth reading, even if one doesn’t much care for animals. It provides fascinating insights into her youth and the ways in which she was very different from “normal” kids.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Mr. Cotto –

    “I am determined to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred, and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”

    Sounds like something a good politician would say, right? Actually, that was British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith talking about America…and extremists like Michael Savage.

    Why? He supports biological warfare: “Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I’d like to see done to [the Arabs],”

    He thinks that we never hear about crimes by minorities: “It’s very much like the American minorities here in this country. You can never hear about the bad things they do.”

    He thinks the “largest percentage” of Americans want to launch a nuclear strike against the Arabs: “The most — I tell you right now — the largest percentage of Americans would like to see a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital. They don’t even care which one.”

    He thinks that autism isn’t real: ” On autism: “A fraud, a racket. … I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ”

    I should mention that I have an autistic Foster child – at 17, he has the mental maturity of about a 1 year-old child. I wish Mr. Savage would spend a day with Sammy.

    He has some serious misunderstandings about Islam: ““Don’t give me this crap that they’re doing it out of a sacred ritual or rite. It’s not required by the Quran that a woman walk around in a seventh-century drape. She’s doing it to spit in your face. She’s saying, ‘You White moron, you, I’m going to kill you if I can.’ That’s how I see it! What do you want me to do, mince words with you?””

    He said of the Abu Ghraib prisoners: “And I think there should be no mercy shown to these sub-humans. I believe that a thousand of them should be killed tomorrow. I think a thousand of them held in the Iraqi prison should be given 24 hour – a trial and executed.”

    Never mind that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill – and the U.S. Army’s WWII interrogators en masse – ALL eschewed torture and inhuman treatment of enemies. I guess your guy Michael Savage knows better than any of them

    He said that female students who come from a Marin County private school to feed and provide services to the homeless “can go in and get raped by them because they seem to like the excitement of it…”‘

    Of Elizabeth Smart, he said: “She’s saying we killed tens of thousands of innocent people? Is that what’s she’s saying? What does this idiot know? Everyone knows she’s a communist. She’s a prostitute – she should be raped.

    He thinks that racism doesn’t exist anymore in America: “[W]hat, racism still exists? Well okay, where does it still exist? Can you tell me of some minority here who can’t get ahead in this country if he’s smart, or she’s smart, and she pushes, as much as a white person? … In fact they’re given priority treatment everywhere, you know that.”


    It’s your friendly neighborhood racists and neo-nazis over on stormfront.org. (despite the fact that they think he’s a Jew (which he may or may not be – I personally don’t know and don’t care))

    Mr. Cotto, by your quote above: “He explains his views in a clear, concise manner and welcomes others to debate him – so long as they have the facts to support their respective arguments,” it’s obvious that you take his argument seriously.

    I think I can safely say that most of us will not take you seriously as a result.

  • Jordan Richardson

    What is “Americanism?”

    Judging from your writer’s profile, Mr. Cotto, an “Americanist” is someone whose views on fiscal, security and “cultural” (?) matters are “conservative.” Is this really accurate in the sense of what the word is defined as generally (“a custom, linguistic usage, or other feature peculiar to or characteristic of the United States, its people, or their culture”) or are you misappropriating it to mean that to be truly “American” you must be fiscally and “culturally” conservative?