Monthly Archives: April 2015

Hate Groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center is our nation’s leading source for reliable analysis of Hate Groups. Antigovernment Extremist Groups have experienced explosive growth since Obama was elected.

Under George W., Hate Groups numbered about 130. In 2009, 500. In 2010, 800. In 2011, 1200. In 2012, 1400.In 2013, 1100. In 2014, 900.

Active Hate Groups: Neo-Nazi, 142
Racist Skinhead, 119
White Nationalist, 115
Black Separatist, 113
Ku Klux Klan, 72
Neo-Confederate, 37
Christian Identity, 21
Anti-LGBT/Other, 165

All Hate Groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

The Steed of Madness

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse thunders through history more terrible in fury and devastation than the Steeds of Famine, War, Plague and Death. The Steed of Madness brings horror worthy of hell but is only stabled by man.

Look at ancient Egypt, at Mesopotamia, peer into the stables of farthest Asia. See! See! There He rides. Hear the thundering hooves and the muffled screams, the terrifying whip, the cries of uncounted millions booming like a thousand kettle drums. Follow! Follow! through the Dark Ages of Greece, the long sceptered sway of Imperial Rome, across every kingdom of the earth, He comes riding, riding, the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse – The Steed of MADNESS.

He’s a claimer, a thoroughbred. Only Man can claim him. And ten thousand have.

Only Man can mount him. And ten thousand have.

From ten thousand stables, for ten thousand years, galloped The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse.

No one took notice, the Steed of Madness concealed by the global dust of Plagues and Famines, Wars and Death. Through the piled up centuries, the terrible beast led ignorant armies in unending senseless wars, decked in the purple colors of royalty, attended by the finest grooms. Two thousand years ago, he rode into Imperial Rome, at the height of the great empire, bearing an Epistle from St. Paul to the Romans:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject.”

Fifteen hundred years passed as yesterday. His magnificent mane held high, great chest blazing in the sun, The Steed of Madness pranced proudly at the English court, bearing tidings from Almighty God that the King now ruled by Divine Authority. God’s Anointed hanged 72,000 thieves, married six wives and chopped off the heads of two of them, re-marrying a day after the execution of his second. He destroyed 800 monasteries and wasted their vast substance in senseless wars. He appointed great men to do the work of governing, sending each one, by and by, to the chopping block.

And every subject in the land, Helpless before the Omnipotent King, bowed on bended knee.

Madness Maddened

Since Galileo and Sir Francis, through the Western world gallops not the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War and Famine and Plague and Death – but Science. Our present wars kill on a scale of thousands; a hundred years ago, tens of millions. Transportation, communication, refrigeration, improved farming, fenced off our lands from famine. Ebola and flu are not attacked in sackcloth and ashes but by molecular biologists wearing white coats. Life expectancy has doubled.

Except…except for One Rider, thundering across the planet, the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse bringing madness, “madness maddened!”

“Then send in the military!”

– Where! Where! Show me a map. Where??? No! No! Not an Atlas. You think like a Republican. That Fifth Horseman is but a Shadow. Have you forgotten Plato, who entered the world of the mind and found man sitting in darkness, peering dimly at Shadows, confused, unaware of his ignorance, prone to madness? As surely as the “to and fro conflicting wind and rain,” that Fifth Horseman gallops across the world, threatening Apocalypse as we speak by darkening man’s mind through unacknowledged Climate Change. In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman observed that Republicans “live in an age of unacknowledged error.” Fallibility is Mind at work.

But I come to bring glad tidings.

“We don’t have a quorum.”

– Of Republicans! Of course not! Not where mind’s at work. For nine glorious centuries, the better angel of our nature has driven us towards the light. The journey began by glimpsing this great lie:

The Led are HELPLESS, Leaders OMNIPOTENT.

And so it came to pass, in 1215 A.D., at Runnymede, a patch of English meadow, we signed The Magna Carta, “the greatest constitutional document of all time – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

By the 17th century, we had the courage and soldiery to fight a civil war against a king who claimed Omnipotence. We chopped off his head. It was glorious.

By the 18th century, the hard work of political thinkers through the centuries illuminated the mind of James Madison. (Madison knew that Mind, like Consciousness, exists only in the singular.) At Philadelphia, in 1789, he created a New Order in the World, announcing this fact on the back of every American dollar bill – Novus Ordo Seclorum. For the first time in history, a Constitution was based entirely on Conflict! Never before!

Conflict? Yes! Takes one’s breath away. A wrestling match for the ages. A Tag Match, only four contestants allowed in the ring: The Executive, The Legislative, The Judiciary, We the People.

No Jacob wrestling with an angel. No Jesus wrestling in the wilderness. No devils. No gods. No kings divinely anointed.

Just humans. Willing to wrestle.

Planet Threatening Thinking-Disorder

A few blogs back, I reported that Freud “recognized our Mind exercises one of two options when confronted by the problem of Pain. Half of us come into the world accepting the reality of Pain and suffer the Unpleasure as a fact of life. Half of us hallucinate an internal perception, a fantasy, thereby avoiding the Unpleasure Pain gives rise to.” In the same blog I reported Krugman’s succinct observation, “The Right never feels obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts.”

Freud and Krugman are on the same page. They are drawing attention to the malignant coupling that has cursed the human race throughout history and does so as we speak. The deep structure of this coupling:

HELPLESS/OMNIPOTENT

HELPLESS: If asked about Climate Change, to provide a clinical example, Helpless/Omnipotent knows nothing about the problem and can’t ask scientists who do. Learning is not an option.

OMNIPOTENT: Helpless/Omnipotent, in full gallop, rages against the reality of Climate Change like a Horsemen of the Apocalypse. No facts can be heard above the sound and fury. It knows!

Consider: Slowly but inexorably, Climate Change threatens the health of our planet. If not a “sickness unto death,” it’s certainly BAD! And rapidly getting BADDER! Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as predicted just a few years ago. Ten thousand studies report similar data.

The eight planets of our solar system are tucked in a space extending approximately six billion kilometers. In all that vastness, only 20 kilometers – 12 miles – can support life, the width of earth’s atmosphere, a sliver, a tiny, tiny envelope of gas, 20% of which is oxygen. Some 300 hundred years ago, the Industrial Revolution took off, energized initially by wood and coal; around 1860, it added oil and gas. These fuels produce “ashes” of carbon dioxide in quantities beyond belief. Where does this waste product go? It gets pumped into that 20 kilometer sliver, our oxygen tent! 12 miles thin!

The human race is staggeringly, shockingly, dangerously brilliant. In the entire cosmos, no structure, to our knowledge, approaches in complexity our three pound brain, with its 100 billion neurons and ten trillion synapses. These days, if I’m driving to an unfamiliar address, and that all-seeing GPS goddess in the sky tells me – Ah yes, I remember a half century ago, driving a taxicab in Indianapolis piled high with city maps and more often than not, a broken map light – I digress! When She directs me to turn right at the next corner and, voila! 300 feet more is my destination, I know She dwells on Mt. Olympus. Wrong! That goddess is us! We giant-brained hominids, just in the last few hundred years, stormed the planet and now we bestride the earth like gods. Wrong again! Schemes of gods don’t have unintended consequences….

Like that coal and oil belching into our atmosphere for 300 years. How much room is there in our 12 mile sliver?

Or like those nuclear weapons. “What are the odds….” Please, one problem at a time.

Our giant brains got us into these mortal dangers. Only our smarts will get us out.

But like a Horseman of the Apocalypse, Helpless/Omnipotent rides in the saddle, a Thinking Disorder as terrible as Famine and War and Plague and Death.

(At the Correspondents’ Dinner tonight in Washington, President Obama, through the device of a Doppelgaenger, gave full utterance to his horror of and rage at Climate Denyers.)

“Zombie Ideas Eat The Brain”

In today’s New York TIMES, Paul Krugman defines a Zombie Idea as “an idea that should have died long ago in the face of evidence that undermines its basic premise, but somehow just keeps shambling along.” Zombie Ideas keep company with The Walking Dead. Republicans walk alongside.

By contrast, Senator Daniel Moynihan championed ideas “in the liberal tradition of respect for facts.” He pointed out, “Doctrines of liberalism are derived from experience, rather than right reason.” Case in point: Social Security, which the Republicans want to privitize. Why? They claim government can never solve problems as efficiently as the private sector, except for matters military. How do they know this? They learned it from “right reason,” that is, ideologically, or, as the philosophers say, a priori.

At the turn of the 19th century, only 28% of Americans lived in cities; by 1934, over half. Industrialization had arrived, and with it urbanization. Folks left the farms and moved to cities. They worked for small companies and large corporations, becoming hostage to their bottom line. If laid off, they found themselves twisting in the wind, buffeted by forces over which they had no control. On a farm, they could always scrape together a livelihood, even in old age. Now, these newly christened “City Mice,” isolated in crowded tenements and eye-sore ghettoes, whipsawed by the pitiless elements, discovered the extended family had gone the way of the Dodo Bird. Once it had buffered the elderly and unhesitatingly stayed up nights, looking after the sick. Unfailingly, it pitched in whatever the disaster. At the same time of industrialization, urbanization, loss of the extended family, longevity increased.

For 50 years, before Social Security, private institutions, world-wide, had come and gone, desperately trying to adapt folks to this changing world, both in Europe and America. In our country, at least 50% of the elderly were destitute. Suffering was immense. Of course, as surely as night follows day, a major concern was that instruments of help and organizations to provide free help would corrupt the poor, exactly as zombie Paul Ryan, architect of the Republican Platform, warns us, a hundred years later.

So in 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Democrat, that is, a liberal who had respect for facts, signed into law Social Security.

Americans have tweaked it and enlarged it and improved it and PROTECTED it, because they learned from 80 years experience it WORKED. They also learned, after 80 years of protection, Social Security is financially sound for at least 20 more years. Falsification of that truth hammers out “boiler-plate” for every Republican zombie. A simple tweak – make richer folks continue their contribution to Social Security after the $55,000.00 limit currently – and it remains financially sound forever.

A postscript on Paul Krugman. His two weekly columns are a national treasure. His analysis of zombie ideas in today’s Times is a masterpiece. It is currently believed that 21 men and one woman will seek the Republican nomination for President of our beloved country. Never have we needed Krugman more.

The Malignant Couple

“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom,” a passage from Isaiah set to music by George Frideric Handel.

I was one of those Jesus lambs. We were close. Disguised as a lowly shepherd, Jesus/God was tuned in to my every thought, expected thanks before and after every meal, waited for my prayers at bedtime. On Sundays, I attended divine services and worshipped Him…after Sunday School. A double-header, but little enough, I thought gratefully, for the Giver of my life and the redemptive sacrifice He made to save my soul.

But, astonishingly, that gentle shepherd was also (my God!) my God on a vastly different scale. Every year I looked forward to George Frideric Handel shout out to the world,

“The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.”

My grandfather was president of the Missouri Synod for 25 years, an organization of two million Lutherans. He believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. He also believed God had directly inspired Handel’s Messiah.

“And He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords.”

The crescendoing chorus sings out again and again…

“King of kings, and Lord of lords”

And finally, everyone up! up! on their feet,

“The Hallelujah Chorus.”

I believed!

Magnificent music. Beethoven thought Handel the greatest of all composers. As for the text, not a word of it is true.

When Freud discovered The Unpleasure Principle, he recognized that fantasy is responsible for the malignant pairing of Helpless/Omnipotent, arguably mankind’s gravest vulnerability. That couple, Helpless/Omnipotent, brings endless misery to the race. It has throughout history.

Consider: What can the mind do with Pain if, in fact, it is helpless? A baby, suffering pangs of hunger, can’t suck a feeding from its thumb. That’s a fact. But so great is the power of imagination that humans can create their own world that they in fact do believe in, one without the Pain.

My grandfather began as a traveling missionary in the Dakotas, back in the late 1800’s. On horseback. Weeks at a time. Even in the depth of winter. The hell with blizzards. Had to save his Lutheran flock from the “Methodist wolves.” When he got back home to his wife and many children, after weeks on the trail, he was too tired to talk.

He believed.

Paul Krugman wrote, “We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong.” The great economist recognizes Freud’s Unpleasure Principle at work in American politics. A dreadful marriage has been consummated. No, not Same-Sex Marriage, which is harmless. It’s that malignant couple, Helpless/Omnipotent, that threatens our democracy.

Some weeks back, in early spring, Republican Senator, Jim Inhofe, brought a snowball to the Senate. Wintry weather is unusual for that time of year in Washington. That snowball disproved Climate Warming. Inhofe held the whole work of thousands of scientists and tens of thousands of Climate Studies accumulatd over decades “in his hands,” and threw it, laughing, across the Senate floor. “Climate has always been unpredictable,” Inhofe implied. “Man is helpless to do anything about it.”

Krugman Explicated

I began a series of blogs some months ago, examining why our political institutions are failing. I agree with Paul Krugman’s observation, “The modern American Right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there.” Yes, a reality terrifyingly indifferent to our wishes, too big a lift for our understanding. When scholastic philosophers refused to look through his telescope, terrified by the prospect of seeing new worlds, Galileo asked, “Should we laugh or cry?” We have another option, Freud discovered.

We can fantasize, replacing objective reality with our wishes, “which make it so.” I am familiar with this thought-disorder. I was raised a Lutheran. Well into my teens, when I stopped listening, I was told all that matters is that we get to heaven – all Lutherans, at least. This, despite the fact no one has ever seen the place. Now, 70 years later, the Global Positioning Satellite of no help, heaven remains an undiscovered country. Lutherans – and Catholics and Muslims and Evangelicals and on and on – still insist heaven is our home, eclipsing the riotous glories of this world pouring in through our five senses.

Lutherans et al “think” very different from Mrs. Alfred North Whitehead. Alfred’s good wife drew attention to the fact heaven must be dreadfully boring, what with nothing to do. Her husband, by contrast, was up to his ears in work, writing his three volume, Principia Mathematica, with Bertrand Russell. They whaled away for years.

Freud discovered that, unlike mathematics, a slogging, exhausting, humiliating discipline, one can avoid reality altogether by the power of imagination. You don’t have to be a world-class mathematician. Or even an ordinary one. Just a fantasy will do. Effortless. Anyone can do it.

FANTASIES TAKE NO WORK, WHEREAS THINKING IS HARD.

Does that help us understand the Krugman Problem? Yes indeed!
For half the race, the priority is to FEEL better, not think better. No work is done in heaven. Mrs. Whitehead has that right. Feelings are the sole currency. The pay-off is immediate. You avoid Unpleasure. You avoid Pain.

As for Whitehead and Russell, those bozos, they had hardly finished their monumental effort, in fact, a second edition, which they asserted gave satisfactory answers, when four years later Kurt Goedel proved that they were barking up the wrong tree. They looked through Goedel’s telescope, as it were, and saw a new world. Damn!

The five senses confine us to a closed world, however splendid its inexhaustible variety. Imagination sends us roaming an infinite universe. Our glory, and….

Our vulnerability to madness! More precisely, our vulnerability to fantasies of omnipotence, that deadly Bane of the race. As we’ll investigate next time. (Bane was the only villain in Batman who proved too evil for The Bat.)

Plato vs. Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle bestride Western thought, each a colossus, and have for the last 2400 years. Each elaborates a metaphysics the polar opposite of the other.

Every student in Philosophy 101 knows Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, as related by his Doppelgaenger, Socrates. When we search for truth, says Socrates, we must begin by recognizing we live chained in a Cave, facing a blank wall. We watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind us. We designate names for these shadows, which are as close as we get to reality. The philosopher frees us from the Cave and leads us to understand the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all.

WHAT REGISTERS ON OUR SENSES IS BUT A SHADOW! THE IDEA OR FORM IS THE REAL DEAL, NOT ITS REALIZATION IN THE THREE-DIMENSIONAL WORLD.

Here now is Aristotle, Plato’s polar opposite. Aristotle accredits experience as the only pathway to Knowledge, the five senses informing us as to the nature of reality. Science is Aristotelian. When Sir Francis Bacon blew his great trumpet, Scientific Empiricism, the Western world became Aristotelian. Well, at least the Democrats.

It is important to appreciate that The Republicans, best exemplified by The Tea Party, have deteriorated into a caricature of a political party. When exercised in its full powers, The Right speaks with the relevance and glory of an Edmund Burke, not a Ted Cruz, who is simply standing on a soapbox in hell, breathing out contagion to the world.

If one listens to Republicans these days, low down or high up on the food chain, without exception their political agenda amounts to three Ideas: 1, cut spending; 2, cut taxes; 3, cut regulations. Pile up factual data as you will, as Krugman has forever, none of it registers. Either by omission of the sensory evidence staring us in the face, or by commission falsifying the data, the reality experienced by the five senses is nowhere to be found.

Consider what doesn’t register on Republicans: minimum wage, equal pay for women, climate change announced by fires and floods and tornadoes, share of the tax burden by the wealthy, student loans eased or abolished, health care for women, Wall Street bringing our economy to its knees for lack of regulation, on and on and on. As Groucho put it, Who you gonna’ believe, your eyes or the Republican platform?

The first task, now, is to find evidence that Freud’s discovery of the Unpleasure Principle holds true throughout life, half the population turning to fantasy, half accepting the facts of life, Republicans siding with Plato, Democrats with Aristotle. For historical balance, we’ll grant that Republicans under Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader are a deleterious subspecies of Republicans under Edmund Burke as Majority Leader.

Our second task is to show in depth the relevance of Freud’s work in solving The Krugman Problem.

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Missionarizing

When Micky Mantle was bursting on the baseball scene, I was attending the largest Protestant seminary in the country. You can look it up: The Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis.
I was studying Homiletics and Hermeneutics and Isagogics and Hebrew. Oh yeah, I forgot – Psychology. If it wern’t for “The Mick,” I would have evaporated, so dry the air. Well, in April of 1949, I got word from the Mission Board that I was to spend the summer as missionary-at-large in Greater St. Louis.

Good-by, Seminary. Missionary! Is there any worse employment on the planet? So guess who comes knocking today? Me, a missionary. You’ve been warned.

David Axelrod is a believer. He even wrote a book titled BELIEVER. I’m reading it for the second time. If ever there’s been a marriage made in heaven, it’s Obama/Axelrod. After some 20 years, up close and personal, Axelrod remains in awe of The President. Everything I thought about Obama is true. Axelrod’s no dummy. And he’s been thru the fires. Lordie! Lordie! His mother was a driven, ruthless business woman. Impenetrable. Inaccessible. Axelrod adored his father. They talked constantly. Good ‘ol dad. One day he called David, told his boy how much he loved him. And then, a day or two later, David’s loving father hung himself.

I suggest if you have any plans for summer fun, read Axelrod, and you’ll become a Believer in our 44th President. In fact, I wrote the above and then rushed to turn on Uncle Ed Schultz on MSNBC. Obama was speaking in the Rose Garden, announcing a framework was agreed on between Iran and the five Powers.

I am awash in tears. Obama is our President. Louie Gohmer, today, said we should bomb Iran.

It’s a new world. “The voice of reason is soft, but persistent.”

Cutting to the Chase

In a recent New York Times op-ed column, Paul Krugman observes, “Although they {conservatives} would never admit it, events have proved their most cherished beliefs wrong.
At a deeper level, however, what we’re looking at here is the impact of post-truth politics. We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong.”

The reason for this impasse is not trivial:

REPUBLICANS THINK LIKE PLATO, DEMOCRATS LIKE ARISTOTLE

That is,

THE RIGHT EMPHASIZES IDEOLOGY, THE LEFT FACTUALITY.

In his first major investigation as a psychoanalyst, Freud discovered “the deeper level” to which Krugman is drawing attention. We don’t come into the world trailing clouds of glory, but whether we end up politically on The Left or on The Right is adumbrated at our birth. Whenever political life is allowed free expression, roughly half of any population will vote Republican and half will vote Democratic. Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist, puts the figure at 47% for each Party. As a consequence, the 6% determines the outcome of an election. If your Party wins 53% of the vote, it’s a landslide, 55%, an avalanche.

The nearly 50-50 split in most elections has long puzzled me. Why are elections so close? I’m beginning to get it. Winners and losers are determined on the basis of how they fare with the 6%. The 94% splits its ballots before entering the voting booth. Their Party affiliation has a genetic component, which we’ll examine later.

I am not exaggerating the immutable workings of political predestination. All you need do is google Bruce Bartlett, a Republican economist who played a major role in Reagan’s administration and served as an official in Treasury under G.H.W.Bush. Read his story. When Bartlett abandoned supply-side economics, he became a pariah to his fellow Republicans. They would cross to the other side of the street if they saw him coming. Bartlett himself found keeping intellectual company with Krugman, his arch enemy heretofore, almost unbearable.

President Bush ordered Colin Powell, his Secretary of State, to testify before the UN Assembly about the weapons of mass destruction supposedly possessed by Iraq. Powell obeyed, against his better judgment. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, deplored the fact Powell knuckled under to the president. Wilkerson also said the Republican Party was “full of racists.”

Now consider. Bush made the gravest error imaginable in ordering the invasion of Iraq. He also brought the economy to its knees. At the end of the Clinton Presidency, the country was running in the black, and there was talk of retiring the national debt. During Clinton’s two terms, 22 million jobs were added. During Bush’s eight years, one million jobs. Was there ever talk of Powell or Wilkerson leaving the Republican Party? Of course not. Unthinkable. Steve Schmidt appears regularly on MSNBC. Do the facts poured out by Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rev. Al Sharpton ever remotely raise the question, “Why are you a Republican, especially these days when The Right has run off the rails?” Of course not.

Freud did not discover these political realities as such, but he did recognize that The Mind exercises one of two options when confronted by the problem of Pain. Half of us come into the world accepting the reality of Pain and suffer the Unpleasure as a fact of life. Half of us hallucinate an internal perception, a fantasy, that we’ve been fed and thereby avoid the Unpleasure Pain gives rise to. We “never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts.”

Putting it otherwise, what does someone unhappily sane – a Democrat – have to offer someone happily insane – a Republican?