Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Liberal Anger

I have written about liberal anger before, but this seems like a good time to reexamine the subject.  It has been more than half a year since Donald Trump was elected president, but his detractors remain in high dudgeon.  They can’t seem to get their hatred of him out of their craw.
Ever since Congressman Steve Scalise was shot, we have had multiple analyses of the foul state of political affairs.  Almost everyone agrees that the level of civility is at an all-time low.  The best that the experts have to offer, however, are pious platitudes about our need to come together.
Nevertheless, once the raw memories of the assassination attempt and of Kathy Griffin’s severed head stunt subside, we will probably be back at the same old stand.  The press will be as mean spirited and the non-stop finger pointing will resume.
But why is this so?  Why do polls show that a majority of Democrats believe they could never have respectful relationships with conservatives because those on the right are evil?  How did they come to this conclusion?
The answer is that Liberalism is dying.  As a political philosophy, it is in its death throes.  Having demonstrated that it is ideologically bankrupt, those who dedicated their lives to it are in a state of crisis.  They are not sure what to do, so they lash out.
First it is necessary to understand how anger works.  We become angry when we are frustrated.  When we want something badly but do not get it, we become furious.  What is more, the more we want it and the more categorically we are thwarted, the angrier we become.
Indeed, if we become angry enough, the emotion turns into rage.  At this point, it becomes primitive.  Instead of thinking through what we want or the best way to get it, we let fly.  We act like small children who impotently strike at those who get in their way.
Under the best of circumstances, anger helps us get what we desire.  It motivates those blocking our path either to give us what we ask or to step out of the way.  When we are enraged, however, we become ineffective.  We do not intimidate others into compliance, but stimulate them to fight back.
This is particularly so when anger is displaced.  If it is directed at those who are not the source of our frustration, they may have little choice but to resist.  Although liberals believe conservatives are the cause of their distress, the real problem is that their objectives are unreachable.  Their programs failed because they were destined to fail.
Barak Obama did not bring us hope and change.  He did not reform health care in a way that improved the national wellbeing.  Nor did the economy revive under his tutelage.  Nor did crime go down.  Nor did educational achievement go up.  Nor did peace break out on the international front. 
Liberals know this.  They may not admit it out loud.  They may not acknowledge it under their breath.  But in their heart of hearts they know.  They realize that people neither are nor ever will be completely equal.  They understand that universal love is a pipe dream.
Why then can’t the fess up?  It is because they have no alternative.  If they could detect another path toward their goals, they might change direction.  But they can’t.  And so what do they do?  They double down.  They demand more of what has not worked.
We saw this in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  She was fresh out of ideas.  All she could mange was to recycle Obama’s worn out policies.  We now see it in the Democrat’s congressional response to Trump.  Their leaders do not offer coherent substitutes.  By their own admission, they are merely organizing a resistance.
The trouble is that this will not help achieve their underlying goals and consequently they will remain frustrated.  But if they remain frustrated, they will also remain angry.  Furthermore, if their anger continues to be primitive and violent, it will not promote their ends; hence they are apt to become cruder and more aggressive.
The answer?  We must give Liberalism a decent burial.  This zombie must not be allowed to disturb the peace of the living.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology

Kennesaw State University

The Climate Change Hoax

When I assert that climate change is a hoax, I am not saying that those who deny climate change are hoaxers, but that those who promote it are.  The global warming partisans, who scoff at those who question their Chicken Little attitude, are the real deceivers.
The political hacks who told us that we would all die because Donald Trump rejected the Paris climate accords are more than alarmists.  They are grossly dishonest alarmists.  They have spread a miasma of disinformation in order to confuse and manipulate the public.
Those who tell us that the oceans are rising at a distressing rate and that droughts and hurricanes threaten to destroy our planet portray themselves as intellectuals.  They are nothing of the sort.  These are pseudo scholars who know next to nothing about the subjects on which they claim expertise.
Take the allegation that ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is dire and therefore that we must immediately prevent carbon dioxide from creating a runaway green house effect.  This may sound rousing, but it is bunkum.
Rest assured that those politicians who chant this mantra have never studied the scientific literature.  The Nancy Pelosi’s and Jon Ossoff’s of this world are like magpies on a fence.  They keep repeating what others of their ilk say.  It is doubtful that they even understand the source of these canards.
Politicians and social activists make a living out of slogans and false statistics.  The radical feminists, for instance, keep telling us that women earn seventy cents on the dollar for the same jobs as men.  The reality is that this is for different jobs.  When positions are equalized, there is only a two percent difference.
So why did Hillary Clinton wholesale this myth?  Because it sells.  Because it frightens people who look no further than the exaggerated assertion.  It is the same with global warming.   No one would care if told that some scientists predict extensive climate changes, but when most of them do, how could they be wrong?
Only it is not all.  It is not close to all.  The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has put out a pamphlet called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.  It begins by examining and discrediting the papers from which the ninety-seven percent figure was derived.
For a conclusion to be valid, its methodology has to be valid.  The NIPCC author’s, who are respectively a climatologist, an environmental scientist and a physicist, make it clear that the most widely cited studies are badly flawed.  They are poorly sampled and defectively interpreted.
What is more, the writers were not climate scientists.  In one case, she was a socialist historian.  In two others, the authors were students.   All too often, upon closer examination, the so-called experts, like Vice President Al Gore, have no scientific credentials whatsoever.
But I knew this before I read the NIPCC pamphlet.  Why?  Because I read climate studies.  One was Bjorn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist.  I also keep up with emails from Dr. James Rust, who taught climatology as the Georgia Institute of Technology.
I learned from these authorities that many reputable environmental scientists vociferously criticize the climate models used by the United Nations and NASA.  I also discovered that the computer models, which predict ecological disaster, have time and again been disconfirmed by empirical observations.
There has been some global warming, but it was modest.  The oceans have likewise been rising, but slowly over the course of centuries.  It has even been the case that during warm periods, such as the early Middle Ages, temperatures were higher than now without precipitating a natural catastrophe.
Mind you, the earth may be warming.  Man-made contributions to the atmosphere might even have something to do with this.  Nevertheless, we do not know the extent or likely outcome.  To date, we only have projections based on incomplete data.
Skepticism is therefore warranted.  So is scientific vigilance.  Political fear mongering, on the other hand, is not helpful.  It is not honest.  It is not scientific.  Accordingly, let us turn down the heat.   We do not need hoaxes when dealing with so potentially important an issue.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology

Kennesaw State University

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kill the King!

During the Middle Ages, a widely recognized truism had it that if you intend to kill the king, you had better kill the king.  Because if you didn’t, the king was unlikely be happy and would probably kill you.
Nowadays, liberal politicians and mainstream media want to destroy president Trump.  They openly declare that he is unworthy of office and should be impeached.  Nonetheless, if they do not succeed in unseating him, they are apt to be in jeopardy.
The major line of attack in recent months has been that Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the election from Clinton.  What is more, he has been accused of trying to cover up his misdeeds by engaging in obstruction of justice.
The would-be regicides had pinned their hopes on the ousted Director of the FBI, James Comey.  His investigations would, they assumed, reveal the alleged connections.  Afterwards, even terrified Republicans would pile on a disgraced chief executive.
Except that this did not happen.  There does not seem to be any there, there.  Even the smoke began to dissipate once Comey testified before a Senate committee.  Although this was a Rorschach test in which each side saw what it wanted, there was plainly no smoking gun.
But if none is found—if, for example, Mueller’s independent investigation finds nothing—the Democratic attack dogs will be in serious trouble.  Their credibility will be ruined and their political support may evaporate.
If the reactions pollsters found to Comey’s congressional appearance are to be believed, his cowardly statements horrified Republican and Independent voters.  Whether he lied regarding his meetings with the president, he had clearly not stood firm for justice.
Democratic observers, on the other hand, were more charitable.  While they did not get the damning evidence they desired, they were more inclined to believe Comey than Trump.
The trouble is that there are not enough Democratic voters to save Democratic candidates.  Elected officials, who assumed that taking down Trump would ensure reelection, should be quaking in their boots.  Especially if the President passes his signature legislation, they are apt to be perceived as feckless.
As for the mainstream media, they covered themselves in no glory.  Instead, they were exposed as dishonest scandalmongers.  When Comey categorized many of their stories as blatantly false, there was little place to hide.  Yet hide some did by doubling-down on unsubstantiated reports.
Hence the New York Times would not admit that the unnamed informants for a story about collusion between Trump advisors and Russian intelligence agents were wrong.  Instead, the editors lamely explained that they were not able to get in touch with these sources.  We may wonder why.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post put together a piece explaining why Trump was still guilty of obstruction of justice.  Eminent lawyers such as Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley opined otherwise, but these journalists knew better.
Given the gales of disinformation raging forth from the media, their reputation has been blown asunder.  Their joint standing is now lower than a snake’s belly.  It has actually gone subterranean in that they are struggling to escape a coffin of their own making.
No doubt Trump too has his troubles.  He is painfully inarticulate and frequently inconsistent.  He has also had difficulty passing a complex legislative agenda.  Thus, Republican legislators are divided about how to proceed, while some still have not forgiven him for his repellent behavior during the campaign.
That aside, he is not dead.  The man seems to be resilient despite the incessant assaults he has endured.  We may nevertheless suspect that he has become irritated with the ambushes.  What then if he counterattacks?
Politicians and journalists alike had better gird their loins.  If the king does not perish, they may find that he has sufficient ammunition to take them down.  They, in fact, are more vulnerable than he is.  To begin with Comey may have committed crimes.  His leaking might have been illegal.
But it is Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their minions who are in real hot water.  Because they are no longer in office, but also because a discredited media is less able to protect them, their earlier transgressions could land them before a grand jury.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology

Kennesaw State University

Drug Addiction: The Canary in the Mine

You’ve heard that drug addiction is up.  You’ve seen the news stories about how the death rate from addiction has accelerated.  You’ve also been told that addiction is a disease like any other.  What you haven’t been told, however, is that there is a connection between these events; one which bodes ill for our society.
As someone who worked for years as an addiction counselor, I grappled with several nasty facts.  First, many addicts get started voluntarily.  They want to see what it feels like to be high and to escape from the unpleasant demands of everyday life.
Second, although the number of addicts introduced to drugs by physicians has increased, in most cases people can shake chemical dependency if they try hard enough.  But they have to try.  It is not enough to get into a program.
Third, more Americans than ever believe they have a right never to experience pain.  They are prepared to take medications to ease their discomfort because they refuse to endure any distress.  For them, drugs are an easy way out.
Fourth, physicians often prescribe drugs because this is what their patients want and what the pharmaceutical companies have convinced them is harmless.  They too take the easy way out rather than confront unhappy patients.
Fifth, these trends feed off the belief that people should never feel guilty for their mistakes.  We are repeatedly told to be nonjudgmental.  We must not condemn others for being immoral.  That they get hooked on drugs or fail to get off is not their fault.
Diseases, most people would agree, are not a personal flaw.  They are something that happen to us over which we have little control.  Yet this is why people conflate addictions with illnesses.  The maneuver relieves them of the pain they might have to endure if they felt guilty.
Nevertheless people should feel guilty if they voluntarily become addicted.  And they should feel guilty if they do not take measures to get drug free.  Perhaps the pain of a guilty conscience will motivate them to behave in ways that are not injurious to themselves or others.
Our attitude to drug addiction is like the canary in the coal mine in that it too is an indicator of a larger problem.  Coal miners once brought these birds into their workplace to warn of lethal accumulations of gas.  Thus, if the birds died, it was time to evacuate as soon as possible.
The de-moralization of drug addiction is a similar warning sign.  It is a precursor to the de-moralization of society as a whole.  Few Americans want to feel guilty about anything.  Having become exceedingly pain averse, they do not wish to experience moral distress.
As a result, we have witnessed levels of dishonesty shoot up to unparalleled heights.  People now tell untruths without a twinge of regret.  They likewise accept rank duplicity from their political allies.  Not only do they not recognize deceit as such; they applaud it.
The same goes for the explosion in crass behavior.  Vulgarity seems to be everywhere.  Casual insults have similarly proliferated.  People claim to be compassionate, but they have no compunctions about defaming others or ruining their reputations.
Nor do many people feel a need to be responsible.  When the policies that they advocate hurt others, they shrug their shoulders and move on.  They care not a whit about the consequences of their conduct.
Like the New York Times, people do not acknowledge when they have been caught in lies.  Like the sponsors of Obamacare, they will not admit that premiums have gone up and millions of people can no longer afford their deductibles.  What matters is not the truth, but that they win their political battles.
If we, as a nation, do not heed the antecedents we see every day on our television screens and the Internet, we will become as decadent as the ancient Romans.  If we do not have the courage to identify immorality and condemn it out loud, we will soon drown in it.
Admitting our faults and criticizing others for theirs is not easy.  Nor is this always free of miscalculations.  Nonetheless, being genuinely moral is something to which we should aspire.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology

Kennesaw State University