“We've now learned the devastation of the American middle class because of the World Trade Organization and China—how they game the system, we've lost millions of jobs. There's no doubt about it, that globalism of the Bush variety [that every recent President also supported] has been devastating to American workers. … The establishment has failed the people.”
— Conservative Laura Ingraham on Fox News (2-9-2016)
Comment: With Laura Ingraham being staunchly conservative, and Fox News being less “fair and balanced” than cheerleaders for establishment Republicans like the Bushes, that's really saying something. She brilliantly framed this issue not as Republican versus Democrat, but as the middle class versus those who seek to destroy it: the globalists who fed like parasites off the middle class, draining their money and dashing their dreams so the fat cats in the top 1% can get even richer—and they are, now controlling half the world's wealth with no end in sight to their plunder. The über-rich learned that by controlling politicians, they control the world so they can take more of it, leaving 99% of us to fight for the leftovers. Being smart, they control both Republicans and Democrats, so no matter who wins, they win, and the middle class loses.
Let's also not forget that Bush nominated John Roberts to be Chief Justice—a man who thinks freedom = control.
Americans are smart, but not when it comes to voting. If we chose as wisely as we think we do, after decades of voting for politicians who sound so wonderful, they would have gone to Washington and actually improved things instead of devastating the middle class. Here's video of this destruction in progress (Carrier moving 1,400 jobs to Mexico):
“This country wasn't built by men in suits, but it sure is being destroyed by them.”
“Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.”
“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
— Nelson Mandela
“… neoconservatives are still in the business of creating their own parallel reality and forcing ordinary Americans, Europeans and Middle-Easterners to inhabit the ruins.”
— Ilana Mercer in Donald vs. Fox News: A just war for liberty
“Republican politicians … took their voters for fools.”
— Ian Leslie in Donald Trump and the GOP's ‘Kodak error’
Why I'm less conservative
Some people gravitate to the Left or Right political pole because belonging to, and harmonizing with, a well-defined group gives them comfort and an ideological identity made easier by letting others think for them. If more people would think for themselves, as I do, they'd realize that Democrats and Republicans are both far from perfect. Too often, party affiliation means pulling the wool over your own eyes and ignoring what they do wrong—is anyone delusional enough to think either major party is perfect?
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
— Bill Gates
Another wise businessman once said that his best customers, and the ones he appreciated the most, were those who criticized his products because that gave him a chance to improve; his worst customers were the ones too apathetic to complain. Similarly, the best conservatives, Republicans, liberals, or Democrats are those who see what their group is doing wrong and complain about it.
After almost four years in office, President Obama has just about proven that he doesn't know how to fix our economy. He's done a surprisingly good job for some of his supporters, but they constitute too small a percentage of our population to explain why he now appears likely to beat Romney in the 2012 election, or come very close to it. (UPDATE: President Obama wisely signed the JOBS Act.) Considering our economic problems, Romney should be cleaning his clock. Republicans rode to victory in 2010 as voters, tired of what Obama and his party hadn't done right and did do wrong, predictably swung Right. Voters still have just as much reason to desperately hope for better results, but Romney seems to have the same gift as John McCain for blowing Presidential elections. These failures don't result solely from McCain and Romney; their supporters are partly responsible, too.
How so? Read on.
To fully understand what's wrong with many conservatives, you must be one, as I fervently was most of my life. I ideologically stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women who looked to sellouts like Rush Limbaugh for leadership.
The Declaration of Independence states that “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,” and at its signing, Ben Franklin added, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” but most modern conservatives aren't willing to give up cable TV, and craven Limbaugh isn't willing to give up the jet he uses to pollute the environment as he crosses the country to attend football games and woo women young enough to be his daughter. Limbaugh is so afraid of losing precious advertising dollars that he dares not offend rich and powerful people and corporations by telling Main Street conservatives and Tea Party fans how they could quickly achieve their objectives without pinning their hopes on elections that never reverse the expansion of government, no matter who wins. Or perhaps Limbaugh is just a silver-tongued idiot who can't figure out the obvious solution.
“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”
— Ben Franklin
This isn't rocket science, folks. Anyone with a room-temperature IQ should be able to quickly figure it out because research has shown that some animals (who presumably are less intelligent than humans) respond to unfairness in a way that penalizes it, thus creating an incentive for the more powerful ones to moderate their greed so there is more fairness, presto! However, with the rich getting richer and the poor—and now even the middle class—getting poorer, this obviously isn't happening with humans in the United States.
Besides Limbaugh, there is Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, Monica Crowley, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Mike Huckabee, George Will, Ann Coulter, Michael Medved, Sarah Palin, Michael Savage, Bill Kristol, Steve Forbes, Michelle Malkin, and assorted foxes on Fox News such as Andrea Tantaros, Mary Katharine Ham, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, Dana Perino, and Margaret Hoover. After millions of hours of bellyaching about what's wrong, not one of them can spare a minute to tell their listeners what they could do about it in a way that would rapidly right wrongs while ultimately giving not only them more than they ever imagined, but also liberals and everyone else, too.
The irony is that the ways to kickstart this change and achieve those seemingly pie-in-the-sky (but attainable) goals are consistent with conservative principles and the Golden Rule ethic of reciprocity. When even esteemed conservative leaders are so bereft of vision they can't figure out what animals can, conservatives should wonder if the pundits they adore are worthy of veneration or contempt for frittering away our time, and our hopes for an American recovery, with their eloquently worded commentaries that invariably dodge the clear solution to our problems. That perennial glaring omission manifests the exiguous intelligence of those pundits. Weary of siding with such stupidity, and tired of them seeking victories bound to be ephemeral because they violate Hoffer's principle (see below), I naturally distanced myself from second-rate ideas in favor of better ones.
Even my chickens are wise enough to consider Plan B when Plan A isn't working, but what do conservatives and the Tea Party folks do? Instead of flocking to better ideas, they look to the new generation of like-minded pundits who look fabulous. Their common denominator isn't brilliance or fresh perspectives, it is drop-dead-gorgeous bodies housing minds who feel entitled to pat themselves on the back for echoing the ideas of people like Ronald Reagan, who exhibited clear-cut signs of incipient Alzheimer's disease during his presidency.
Conservatives purportedly revere great ideas, but evidently not as much as they adore cute little cupcakes like Katie Kieffer, Katie Pavlich, Ashley Herzog, and S. E. (Size Extra?) Cupp. Anyone who understands the elementary statistics behind the attractive expert syndrome knows that when these up-and-coming pundits all just happen to be so gorgeous, the primary selection criterion isn't brains but beauty. Their degree of pulchritude is sufficiently rare that such an assemblage of it is statistically improbable unless conservative and Tea Party fans worship appearance in preference to brainpower.
For real-world proof of this, consider how female Nobel Prize winners and top physicians, scientists, inventors, writers, thinkers, and doers rarely look like top models. If you insisted on having a supremely attractive doctor, builder, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, you'd almost certainly not get the best because the best are rarely the best looking. One cannot select for the concomitant presence of two uncommon attributes (such as marked intelligence and beauty) without missing most of the brainiacs with great ideas.
Most conservative and Tea Party devotees don't get this inescapable consequence of statistics. Their scorecard puts a strike against anyone who isn't hot, and another strike against those lacking the connections that enable embryos just out of college to displace others with more life experience, wisdom, and things to say that are worth listening to.
I saw this repeatedly on Facebook when yummy young conservative women willing to show a liberal amount of their skin had thousands of followers and could receive a hundred comments in 30 minutes following a trivial posting (even something as quotidian as, “I'm tired”), while the smartest conservatives with the most compelling ideas to share were ignored by all but a handful of followers.
With the next generation of conservative stars being even more lackluster than the current ones, conservatives should recall what Einstein said about the definition of insanity—but instead of just repeating a mistake, conservatives are compounding it.
Some of my conservative friends are mystified by why I am now less conservative. To understand this, read the article explaining why I went from Fox News fan to fed-up foe, and my reaction to the Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare.
While I still agree with certain conservative principles (and liberal ones, too), the leaders of the conservative movement and its primary cheerleaders (such as Fox News) are woefully bereft of ideas that would appeal to conservatives, independents, and liberals, producing immediate and sustainable benefits without violating conservative principles. Doing things the old way—the way favored by conservative leaders—at best leads to temporary political victories that end, often at the next election, when voters disappointed by the results toss 'em out to give Democrats another shot at destroying the United States and what it once stood for: freedom.
This cyclic transfer of power election after election obviously isn't working. Our national problems are growing in number and severity. The United States has spent many times the value of the gold in Fort Knox on problems that are never solved. If you understand economics, you realize that our leaders have effectively declared war on Main Street prosperity by enacting policies and laws that bleed us dry in a last-ditch attempt for politicians and the fat cats they work for to remain in power and augment their wealth. Slowly but surely, they are sucking the value of our assets, transferring it from us—the ones who earned it—to them, the leeches who think they have a God-given right to steal in ways that average people don't understand.
“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
— Henry Ford
Ford was correct. People would be boiling mad if they knew what was being done to them by a system cleverly but diabolically crafted to screw them every day of every year, from birth to death. We're robbed of our money and robbed of our freedom by a government that only wants the freedom to make us get on our knees and stay there. They take our money in the form of taxes and return a fraction of it, with more going as the spoils of victory to those who supported the elected politicians. One of my relatives, President Chester Alan Arthur, did more than anyone else to curb this abuse, but since he left office in 1885, crony capitalism has flourished.
Shattering the myths that Republicans are committed to fair taxation, and conservatives are committed to fairness
If the inflation rate is 5% and you receive 1% interest from your bank, the government charges you as if you made 1% even though you really lost 4%. To keep people from realizing how badly they are being screwed, the government bases its official inflation index using a method that doesn't conform well to the real world. You get an inkling of this when you purchase goods and services and see their prices skyrocket at a rate vastly exceeding the make-believe inflation rate the federal government uses to pull the wool over the eyes of sheeple.
However, it isn't only money in the bank that is diluted in value but subject to taxation as if it were a true gain. Consider home ownership, for example. I once was one of the suckers who bought into the myth that appreciating home prices are a great way to make money—or so the myth went when home prices increased, instead of falling, as they are now. I sold my first home for much more than I paid, but when I analyzed what I really paid, I was shocked by how much I truly lost: a small fortune. However, the government taxed me as if I'd made tens of thousands of dollars even though I actually lost much more. Much of the apparent profit from real estate results from inflation eroding the value of money, but the U.S. tax code isn't fair enough to factor in the depreciating value of money. Taxing people on illusory gains is one of the government's ways to cheat people. Their whole system of dealing with us is based on fraud and deceit. It has to be, because as Ford suggested, if we knew how we were being shafted, we'd be hopping mad.
I made a lot of money as a doctor but never felt rich because the banking and monetary system was doing exactly what the government designed it to do: steal from people like me and give it to the fat cats who live like kings even if they never lift a finger.
“Physicians, like most other Americans, are also subservient to a financial system that methodically bleeds off their incomes so that "wealth" is not created for the earner. Instead, the fruits of their labor are transferred through "the system" to those who control the system.”
— Greg Hood, MD in Physician and Patient, "Slaves" Alike
Republicans and their cheerleaders such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh inculcate the myth that Republicans are so concerned with treating us fairly by taxing us less. If that were true, when they're in power, why don't they correct the iniquities in the shaft-the-Main-Street-folks system? Why don't they give avuncular advice on how the system is designed to screw us, and how we could minimize the pillage? Why? Because despite their empty talk about helping us, Republicans are thrilled to rob us. They sold us false dreams that inflating bubbles created true wealth, and then taxed us as if it were true wealth. We receive no discount for bubble taxes, nor do we get rebates on them even when it is glaringly obvious the gains were nothing more than a sham.
If you cheated your neighbor as thoroughly and relentlessly as the government is screwing you, your neighbor would sue you and easily win, and the government would call you a crook and put you in prison. Yet the government insists that you always treat it fairly. You can't cheat on your taxes and get away with it (unless you're Tim “TurboTax” Geithner or Charles “Tax Cheat” Rangel, of course), nor can you safely lie to a federal agent: that's a federal offense. However, the government can—and does—lie through its teeth to us and treat us unfairly. The government thinks that is OK because all thugs know that might makes right.
Full disclosure is one of the fundamentals of fairness. If you know about a defect in your home but don't disclose it to its purchaser, he or she can sue your pants off. If the federal government were fair, it would educate people not only so they could make a living, but also understand that much of the work they do goes ultimately to fat cats and other lazy people so they don't need to sweat. The government would also tell young people:
The Social Security Ponzi scheme is bound to collapse before you can collect, so keep on paying, suckers, but don't expect to receive a penny of it! By the way, if you don't pay, or if you run your own Ponzi scheme, we'll put you in jail. Your Uncle Sam is committed to leeching as much money from you as we can. Even when the fraud is revealed, as in this case, we'll keep scamming you because we're the government, and because we can. Your Uncle Sam also believes in perpetuating a double standard of behavior where we can behave like wanton criminals and get away with it, but you can behave like an angel and we'll still find a reason to get you if we want to. (Don't believe us? Have a garage sale and then pray we don't find out about it!) Get used to it, sucker, because might makes right.
Oh, before we go, here's a special message for conservatives: Guess who signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 into law? That's the one that makes it likely you'll violate federal law by having a garage sale. That's right, it was conservative George Bush.
We don't hammer the manufacturers who made that junk, nor we will go after big retailers like Wal-Mart who sold it to you. That would make too much sense. Instead, we go after you, the little guy, because might makes right.
It was also Bush who “… signed specific language into law exempting teaching hospitals from antitrust litigation,” thus enabling them to take advantage of resident physicians. As Dr. Jacob Sunshine wrote, “Organized medicine is hard-wired to artificially (and profoundly) depress wages of physicians in training.”
Odd, isn't it? Aren't conservatives supposed to embrace competition and the free market instead of using government power to crush it? Yes, but Bush and other real-world (as opposed to Disney fantasy) examples of conservatism illustrate they give only lip service to the principles they profess to revere, using hot air to dupe people who listen to politicians instead of watching what they do—like men who profess to respect women and then rape them.
What conservative Bush did to you, the little guy, is about as fair as his wife killing her ex-boyfriend and getting away with it, scot-free. I discussed that in an article about Fox News, which does a great job of hammering the Obamas for their humanity while giving a pass to the inhumanity of Laura Bush, who evidently thinks that because she is a conservative and because she deems herself to be a good person, she shouldn't have to pay for what she did wrong. And there's “fair and balanced” Fox News happy to help her get away with that. Lemme tell ya, if Mrs. Obama killed anyone, everyone would know about it.
For most of my life, I thought the United States government was the best thing since sliced bread. If someone criticized our government, I would vigorously defend it. I used to argue with dear friends who insisted our government was rotten, but when I dug deep to prove them wrong, I uncovered evidence they were correct.
That reminds me of how when I sought evidence to prove liberals wrong, I realized they were correct about some things. I went on Facebook to preach to the conservative choir, and ended up changing my mind when I saw that Republicanism and conservatism helps deceive Main Street people into thinking they are better off supporting a system that screws them to benefit the über-rich. Conservative and Mr. Texas Macho George Bush is too afraid to go after Wal-Mart for selling you toxic made-in-China junk, but if you sell it at a garage sale, Bush gave the federal government the power to make you pay for what Wal-Mart and their Chinese suppliers did wrong. Is it any wonder why people call him an idiot?
“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
— H. L. Mencken in the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26,1920 (emphasis added)
Comment: I once thought that quote applied to then-Senator Obama when he said during the 2008 campaign, “I've now been in 57 states, I think one left to go.” However, as President, Obama repeatedly manifested his brilliance by outfoxing Republicans. True intelligence is best gauged not by IQ tests or knowledge (or gaps thereof), but by performance in the real world. Love him or hate him, fair people must admit that Obama run rings around Republicans.
But George Bush? He made it a federal offense for Main Street Americans to sell some items legally purchased at big stores, so he is “a downright moron” and an enemy of freedom. Remember what he said? “You're either with us, or against us.” He's clearly against us. I once was a Bush fan and enjoyed defending him, but anyone who gives lip service to freedom while eroding it deserves contempt, not respect.
Loving your country and the people in it is not the same as loving its government. Anyone who loves this government must be either part of it, paid to support it, ignorant (as I once was), stupid, or dependent upon it. The government basically pays many people for breathing, knowing folks fond of being paid to breathe will vote as a quid pro quo for the politicians supporting this system.
“You can't leave a footprint that lasts if you're always walking on tiptoe.”
— Marion Blakey
“Most people tiptoe through life to make it safely to death.”
— John Paul DeJoria, American billionaire businessman and philanthropist
As part of their tiptoe-through-life strategy, most people gravitate to groups and often identify so strongly with them that they don't question their tenets and practices. I've yet to hear of any person, corporation, or organization that was too perfect to benefit from introspection geared toward self-improvement. Political parties and their aficionados should do this, too, but the glacial pace at which they change suggests their affinity for their tenets is more reflexive than analytic.
That's not me. I question everything, including myself and my opinions, some of which were dead wrong. One of my conservative Facebook friends wrote:
“I love Kevin's intellect ethic. There seems to be no school of thought that is "not his job," whereas most of the self-absorbed elite intellectuals have taken the intellectually lazy attitude that critiquing the systems is "not their job." It is amazing how many who think themselves intelligent are just mindless followers and false witnesses to broken systems.”
By saying that, he brilliantly capsulized the etiology of America's decline. Regardless of whether you side with conservatives or liberals, you should be sufficiently incisive to acknowledge that our nation is beset by flaws in our system that cannot be solved by partisan finger-pointing or neglecting to reevaluate them because that's the way we've always done them; historical precedent doesn't justify antiquated practices.
Example: The Industrial Revolution profoundly influenced lives. It dramatically boosted incomes, efficiency, and hence the standard of living. Thanks to the Internet, we could have an Educational Revolution that slashes the cost of education while accelerating the process and expanded its availability, but the hidebound educational establishment—more concerned with itself than the students they profess to care so much about—resolutely resists this change or acquiesces to it but still finds excuses to charge an arm and a leg.
A college class broadcast via cable TV (something I participated in during the 1970s) to hundreds of students can now be just as easily transmitted via the Internet to billions of them. The cost per class could be a penny instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many of today's college students have their lives ruined by acquiring educational debt they cannot feasibly repay. For a chance to obtain the freedom that education can give, they become slaves to the system, incurring debt that cannot be discharged by bankruptcy.
I don't pledge allegiance to the flag, nor the government, nor any political party; I pledge allegiance to doing the right thing and helping people, which means criticizing the government that is screwing them. If Republicans, and the supposedly principled conservatives amongst them, were as devoted to freedom and fairness as they profess to be, they would correct the many tricks the government uses to unfairly take our money, but they don't because they're all too happy to keep robbing us. They—not just the Democrats—have made the tax system so convoluted and layered that virtually no one can correctly answer the following apparently simple question:
You purchase a $100 item in a state with a 6% sales tax. How much tax do you pay?
Almost everyone would answer $6, and almost everyone would be wrong. $6 is just the sales tax, but the base price of the item includes so many taxes (such as the corporate tax) and fees that you could spend a year trying to calculate your true tax and regulatory burden and still miss many of the ways our government layers taxes and fees to hide them, and to make you pay taxes on taxes, and taxes on fees.
The most basic principle of civilization can be boiled down to two words: be fair. Virtually all laws could be replaced with one mandating fairness. “Be fair” means no raping, killing, or stealing. No reckless driving or letting your pit bull snack on neighborhood children. All ethically valid laws are founded on the principle of fairness.
Sean Hannity undoubtedly thinks he is fair, but I think he is deluded. Fair people tell both sides of the story, not twist facts and omit evidence to paint the distorted pictures they prefer. I've never heard Hannity say a single nice thing about President Obama. I've hammered Obama when I thought he deserved bashing and praised him for what he's done right, such as sign the JOBS Act.
By doing that, Obama gave Americans a powerful tool to catalyze our economy collectively and succeed individually, yet I've never heard Hannity or any other conservative talk show host discuss that. Instead, they hyper-focus on the negatives and ignore a positive solution that is fully consistent with conservative principles.
Immediately after writing the paragraph above, I turned the radio on and heard Hannity complaining about how President Obama is hyper-partisan. The pot calling the kettle black. (Note to intellectual lightweights: This has nothing to do with race. If you don't know the meaning of that idiom, hover your mouse cursor over it.)
According to Time magazine, “The U.S. has added more net manufacturing jobs since the start of 2010 than the rest of the G7 nations put together.” Had a Republican been in the White House, during the last election they would have touted that as proof of their leadership ability. Granted, Presidents have a limited ability to control the economy, but if it's fair to knock Obama for economic problems then he deserves some credit for successes. But Republicans won't give it; their microscope sees everything he does wrong and nothing he does right. Fair? Balanced?
Conservatives turn a blind eye to unfairness
Conservatives often condemn the flaws in the welfare system that reward behavior we should discourage, but one can make a great moral and practical case for welfare in general (in fact, I'd like to expand it in a way that lessens the burdens on taxpayers). However, no sane person with a good heart can possibly justify our banking and monetary system or various laws that favor the über-rich even if they are über-lazy and über-stupid.
For those born into wealth, sliding down the right birth canal is often all they need to do to rocket so far ahead of others that common folks can't catch up even if the silver-spoon recipients do boneheaded things (example). For every rags-to-riches story that supposedly proves our system fairly rewards hard work with upward mobility, I could cite a hundred cases of intelligent people who worked their butts off but had little or nothing to show for it. Want proof? Read Exceptional Upward Mobility in the US Is a Myth, International Studies Show based on Mobility Regimes and Parental Wealth: The United States, Germany, and Sweden in Comparison.
Our Founding Fathers expressly prohibited noble titles in the Constitution:
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States” and “No State shall … grant any Title of Nobility.”
However, by doing that, the men who wrote the Constitution and later laws simply made it more difficult to identify individuals given an unfair helping hand into the upper class. Conservative media in general and Fox News in particular often go on and on—and on—about what's wrong with the welfare system but say little or nothing about the wickedly unfair ways our system is engineered as a reverse-Robin Hood scheme to rob from the poor and middle class to give to the über-rich so they can live like kings even though some of them haven't done an honest day of work in their lives. With or without a fancy-schmancy title, they are the elite and they know it, and they intend to stay on top, no matter what it takes. They are so fond of getting gold for what little they do that they use some of that gold to bribe conservative media like Fox News into hoodwinking the rest of us into thinking we're somehow better off when the fat cats have their hands in our pockets and perpetually tighten the nooses around our necks.
If Fox News were truly fair and balanced as they claim, they'd point out how the cleverness of Mr. Conservative Visionary Paul Ryan is limited to concocting clever ways to screw people without them realizing it, until it is too late. I discussed that in another article and Alan S. Blinder, a professor of economics at Princeton University, later agreed with me in a Wall Street Journal article.
Ryan thinks that market forces will control healthcare costs. Sure, we'll all just shop for best price and get it, but only in the dream world in which Ryan lives. In the real world, healthcare prices are primarily affected by factors beyond the control of consumers. I spent days trying to discover and negotiate prices but was thwarted by a system that abhors price transparency and prefers to spring nasty surprises on patients after they've signed on the dotted line. That experience motivated me to give patients a way to put the fine-print advantage on their side so they can save money on hospitalizations whether or not they are insured.
In Why markets can't cure healthcare, the Nobel Prize-winning columnist Paul Krugman wrote, “There are … no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn't work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.”
Bill O'Reilly frequently says that he is “looking out for you,” but after countless hours spent listening to him, I've yet to hear him point out some of the fundamentally unfair ways the government, in partnership with big corporations, screws Main Street folks. As one of many examples, why can big businesses receive cheap loans from the Federal Reserve and make consumers pay 25% interest rates on their credit cards? Why can't you or I get virtually interest-free money from the Fed and loan it to businesses, charging them a 25% interest rate? If you understand this, it is easy to see how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer or barely get ahead if they really struggle.
If O'Reilly were truly looking out for us Main Street folks, he would educate Americans on how we're being screwed in unconscionable ways and how we could quickly end this highway robbery and loss of liberty without breaking any laws or principles of ethics. In fact, we could give the Golden Rule ethic of reciprocity a new luster while putting more gold into the pockets of people who earned it, as well as the people the system has made dependent, while making businesses earn money the old-fashioned way: by giving us quality services and products instead of the made-in-China junk that gives us headaches, wastes our money and time, and fills our landfills with stuff that ought to last for decades instead of weeks.
Americans increasingly unable to think for themselves are unable to think of the obvious way to quickly restore the proper balance of power between us and the government. The conservative and Tea Party leaders who profess to have the answers don't. If the politicians they endorse ever succeed long enough to implement even half of what they promise (which is unlikely), the large fraction of the population made wholly or partially dependent by the government will vote them out of office.
The survival of Tea Party politicians depends on them doing much less that what they dupe Tea Party voters into believing. We've seen variations of this before, such as when Republicanism once stood for smaller government but when Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, government grew just as much or more as when Democrats ruled the roost. After years of getting promises that turned into broken promises, America turned into a broken country filled with shattered dreams. No surprise there. What is surprising is how a bit of rebranding—from “I'm for smaller government” Republicans to Tea Party politicians with the same empty promise—can dupe voters with short memories.
A Tea Party Republican is supposed to mean, “OK, now I'm really serious about smaller government,” but they surprised me not with what they've accomplished, but with how little they've done that doesn't amount to a hill of beans. If they ran a fat farm, it'd be difficult to tell the graduates from the ones just entering. Things will be different, they want us to believe, if Romney is elected in 2012, but many of his successes as governor don't translate into possibilities for Presidents. Perhaps he has some magic up his sleeve, but like most politicians, the promises and the hopes usually fall far short of reality, as they have for years when Republicans went to Washington promising one thing and doing another.
The federal government adds “over 70,000 pages of new regulations each year.” You couldn't possibly learn old laws and regulations, in addition to keeping up with new ones, even if you quit your job and devoted your life to that. Keeping up is an impossible task that is hurting us and the economy.
Fear that I may break some obscure law has kept me from starting businesses that any commonsensical person would agree were perfectly legal and ethical, but in a nation ruled by control freaks so obsessed with screwing little guys who, for example, sell items at a garage sale (many of which now violate federal law), if you do anything more than breathe and tremble in fear in the once-free USA, there's a good chance you're effectively playing legal Russian roulette. The safest course of action? Do nothing. That produces paralysis, which is exactly what our government wants. If they don't want it, they must have rocks in their heads if they think circumspect people aren't cowered by the mountain of existing laws/regulations and the perpetual shower of new ones creating endless uncertainty and thus fear of running afoul of some law or regulation.
News flash: it wasn't only Democrats writing all of those laws and regulations! Republicans are just as busy as Democrats writing new laws and regulations. Every day those busy little beavers go to work, they reduce our freedom. Virtually every commonsensical law (prohibiting rape, robbery, murder, etc.) was written hundreds of years ago. We don't need millions of pages of laws and regulations to micromanage our lives to the point that even perfectly good people are almost bound to violate federal law by having a garage sale!
One of the most preposterous myths of all time is that Republicans want smaller government, more freedom, and less taxes. Sure, they give us that rhetoric, but not that reality. Besides the obvious taxes they pass with an immediate impact, their warmongering ways make higher taxes inevitable. The cost of our almost endless wars has created a national debt that will likely lead to the collapse of our nation and hence the security we expect and the (few remaining) freedoms we deserve. Thus, for Republicans to suggest that they stand for freedom and security is absurd. Even wacky laws are rarely repealed. Instead, we get control, control, and more control, even when Republicans control the government.
Is Romney really going to be one of the first Republicans to do what they should have done long ago? I'm extremely skeptical, with good reason. Look at his track record. Look at the track record of Republicans in general. Lots of grand promises. Few kept. I'm not a Pollyanna, so I don't believe them. How could I? How could anyone?
Conservatives can't beat their opponents long enough to make a real difference. If conservative and Tea Party leaders were smart, they'd implement ways (such as this one) to broaden their appeal while achieving their objectives and helping liberals get more of what they want, too. However, conservative and Tea Party followers flock around silver-tongued idiots who've filled the airwaves with their ideas for years without producing any net gain in overcoming our problems, which are mushrooming out of control. The only ones the hyperverbal motormouths are helping are themselves, not us.
This should be utterly obvious by now, but people still look to first-rate big mouths with second-rate brains and third-rate ideas for advice on what we should do. The talkers don't know because all they can do is whine about what's wrong while rehashing freeze-dried ideas from bygone American politicians. To the limited extent their ideas are meritorious, they can at best give us hope for a slightly less miserable future paid for by making the futures of others even more miserable.
This seems to be a conservative pattern: trading incremental and often questionable current benefits for almost certain future misery, even though we and the ones we love will run smack-dab into that future and its problems created by politicians who compound them by sweeping them under the rug, not solving them. Democrats do this, too, but it is a myth that Republicans are the financially prudent ones.
The common denominator of conservative and Tea Party leaders and pundits is that they are great talkers, but as Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, said at a TED Conference, “There is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
No matter how eloquently third-rate ideas are expressed, they are still as pathetic as the ones who generate them. I've often been wrong but I learn from my mistakes, so I don't pay homage to third-rate ideas for long. Thus, you won't find me thinking that the latest conservative or Tea Party darling is going to give the folks who favor limited government what they wish for. The chance of the U.S. federal government ever substantially shrinking and shedding the many responsibilities it has acquired is so unlikely that anyone who sincerely believes in that fantasy is either a child, clinically insane, or duped by hucksters such as Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who shamelessly sell false dreams. Ultimately, Limbaugh is an entertainer whose primary motivation is to help himself by selling more commercials, not help his listeners.
Let's face it: we're stuck with Big Government. Conservative voters have been fighting it since before I was born, and they're striking out so often one must wonder why they continue to play an unwinnable game. Unethical big mouths sell their snake oil remedies to our problems yet conveniently overlook solutions that could quickly give everyone more of what they wanted.
As genius Eric Hoffer wisely noted, “A war is not won if the defeated enemy has not been turned into a friend.” By that measure, conservative and Tea Party fans of smaller government can never achieve victory using their past and current methods because a significant proportion of the voting population favors Big Government or what it can do for them and others. Helping both sides get more of what they want is the only long-term workable solution because it would help both sides win. If Bill O'Reilly were truly looking out for us, he'd come to grips with this reality and spend less time looking at the hot babes who frequently appear on his show even though I've yet to find one with a hot idea. As I pointed out in another article, Fox News crassly favors a T&A show of pulchritude over a show of good ideas. If you're physically attractive, possess a silver tongue (genuine intelligence is optional), and give unquestioning allegiance to the screw-the-little-guy system that allows the über-rich to prosper at the expense of others, then you have The Right Stuff to appear on Fox News.
Most conservative and Tea Party fans would bristle at the suggestion that Fox News is more about foxes than news and analysis that fairly depicts the world, but their objections are just a symptom of the ignorance that allows them to believe what they do. I should know, because I used to be an über-war hawk, über-Republican, über-conservative, and über-fan of FNC, but I slowly but surely realized that following the paths they favor are leading us down the wrong road because they are fundamentally unfair and because there is a better way (example). There is no way to sugar-coat unfairness, but Fox News uses eye candy to hook Americans obsessed with appearance into thinking that the system screwing most of them is so worthy of veneration that there's no need to question it.
Conservatives by definition don't look for new ideas, yet Fox News and other conservative media tacitly suggest that conservatives are the thinkers. If they'd think for themselves, they'd realize—as I did—that our nation desperately needs good new ideas, not a rehash of old ones that produced a system favoring the über-rich.
Research has shown that even some animals possess an inborn sense of fair play, and react negatively when they are treated unfairly, typically exhibiting a “if the game isn't fair, I won't play it” response that manifests as withdrawal but often signals a gloomy “what's the point?” resignation that may appear to be laziness in humans.
The conservative media often throws a conniption fit over the lazy, good for nothing welfare bums, but my Mom was temporarily on welfare even though she was practically the Energizer Bunny and was financially savvy enough that she eventually amassed a small fortune even though the best paying job she had was working as a grocery store cashier. Her earlier descent from struggling single mother to welfare was a consequence not of something she did wrong, but happened when her attorney boss and his wife were shotgunned to death by their son. No more boss, no more paycheck. It's as simple as that.
Conservatives like to get on their high horse and suggest that welfare is practically a synonym for laziness, but as I found out as a young child, being on welfare is sufficiently noxious that I didn't need a pompous silver tongue like Rush Limbaugh to motivate me to work hard.
Limbaugh really isn't opposed to all welfare because he instituted his own system in which beautiful young women can pretend to be his wives who love him. With his personal life founded on a fantasy and with the drugs he railed against reportedly floating in his veins, it's difficult to take him seriously as anything other than a master of make-believe and an icon of hypocrisy. However, Limbaugh's intelligence and fluency enable him to mislead people into thinking that his way is best.
That's just like another conservative star, the über-dogmatic “Dr.” Laura, who preached about the importance of closeness with parents but was so estranged from her mother that she was reportedly “found on the floor of her condo after quietly decomposing into her carpeting for several months, not far from her famous daughter's radio studio.” People magazine reported that “the controversial radio show host had not seen or spoken with Yolanda Schlessinger, 77, in nearly two decades.” That's closer to hypocrisy than closeness.
“Dr.” Laura struck me as someone pretending to be a goody two-shoes, but “Schlessinger's early radio mentor, Bill Ballance, sold nude photos that he had taken of Schlessinger in the mid-1970s to a company specializing in internet porn. The photos were taken while Schlessinger was involved in a brief affair with then-married Bill Ballance.”
Do as I say, not as I do—or did. Wait until the hormones wane and then shake her bony little finger at those who still have them.
“What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.”
“Dr.” Laura's doctorate is reportedly in physiology, and “her doctoral thesis was on insulin's effects on laboratory rats.” Does that qualify her to portray herself as a doctor delivering hypocritical advice? And does that make us lab rats for listening to her?
Back to Limbaugh (see a pattern developing here?), who anointed himself the Doctor of Democracy even though we live in a republic, not a democracy, thus giving me one more reason to wonder if Limbaugh deserves the adulation of his acolytes. I'd been one, but saw that when this doctor added 2 plus 2, the result didn't always harmonize with reality.
During the 2012 campaign, the Doctor of Democracy repeatedly committed malpractice by reassuring callers and listeners who were, to put it colloquially, freaking out that Romney and Ryan were running a pathetically ineffectual campaign, doing what Republican presidential candidates do best: fight with one hand behind their backs. Romney seemed to need a stat brain transplant, an infusion of common sense, a closer connection to reality, or more ballsy courage. Ryan did, too. The need was obvious to anyone living in the real world, but Limbaugh — who delivers daily doses of delusion — took too much of his own medicine. Again.
POST-ELECTION UPDATE: Romney's son Tagg said that his father “wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life. He had no desire to … run.”
It's a stretch to say he did not want to run (he ran twice, after all), but his comment helps solve the mystery of why Romney gave such a halfhearted effort: because while he likely did want to be President, he didn't want it very much; he had no burning passion for it.
I wouldn't want to be President (unless I can invent all day long and relax by driving a tractor and playing with my chickens), but if I were put in that position, I would be a tiger, not a pussycat, as Romney was. Without any debate preparation, I could have done better than he did. So could many schoolchildren.
If Romney had a brain, a spine, and a desire to be President, he could have easily thought of a way to force the mainstream media to turn on Obama.
Much of Obama's greatness will be forever latent because opponents acquiesce too easily to him. The best way to see what someone's got is to challenge the hell out of him. If Romney thought he did that with Obama, he is living in a dream world, and so is Limbaugh. This was utterly obvious to anyone with a brain well before the election, but Limbaugh's twisted view of reality kept him from seeing straight—again.
Just as Romney really didn't want to be President, Limbaugh doesn't really want Republicans to win because Democrat victories translate into more listeners and more money.
Think about it: If Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News succeeded in molding America into the kind of nation they think it should be, they must believe that people would be very pleased by how things are—so pleased they would find 1001 other things to do than tune into them and their daily bitch sessions, the fodder for which would evaporate once they got their way. However, Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Fox News hosts have made a mint selling unwinnable solutions that pull the wool over the eyes of their fans. It's a very profitable business.
UPDATE: This was confirmed on March 22, 2013 when Mark Levin interviewed Zev Chafets. author of Roger Ailes: Off Camera (Ailes is the head of Fox News). According to Chafets, when it became clear that Obama would win the presidential election, Ailes said “This is going to be bad for the taxpayers but good for our ratings.” Better ratings means more money for Hannity, O'Reilly, and other Fox hosts; they thrive when Americans are mired in problems. With such an incentive to perpetuate them, do you really think they want to solve them?
Obviously not. I've yet to see a rocket scientist on Fox News, but they're presumably smarter than animals who instinctively know how to combat unfairness. Thus we're faced with an unpleasant reality: those Fox News hosts who profess to care so much about us deliberately screw us to benefit themselves. It took years for me to understand why my most conservative friend possesses an incandescent hatred of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Now I know why. Do you?
Fox News excels in bellyaching, but not in discussing solutions that even animals can figure out. Sheesh!
With conservative blabbers more focused on ratings and their paychecks than ours, it's no wonder why they ignore topics that could help us, such as the JOBS Act, and jabber on and on about doom and gloom. They find plenty of time to talk about themselves, their spouses, hobbies, and possessions, yet they never seem to find the time to help the ones they profess to care about: us. Why? Because they are too busy helping themselves.
“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”
— Brian Tracy
As a physician, I am struck by how the strangely cold and detached Limbaugh regularly fails to appreciate that emotions exist for a very adaptive reason: TO MOTIVATE PEOPLE INTO DOING WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING. As Limbaugh does, Romney and Ryan erected a wall between themselves and people in the real world who were having meltdowns because they knew Romney was on the path to losing.
Hoping to emulate the Limbaugh formula for success, many conservative pundits suggest that if we could just reincarnate Reagan and put him in the White House, our problems would be solved. They esteem Reagan as if he were a paragon of perfection, but what Reagan did—as opposed to what he said—would compound our problems, not solve them.
Many conservatives believe the path to peace is paved with millions of bombs and bullets. They often profess to love God, yet they rabidly support the War on Terror even though it has killed and injured many more civilians, including children (1, 2, 3), than were harmed by 9-11 and all other instances of domestic terrorism in the United States—ever.
Underlying this moral blindness is an arrogant assumption that Americans are more valuable than others. Former President Jimmy Carter said the United States is guilty of “widespread abuse of human rights” because “our government's counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the … 30 articles” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet the conservative media paints Carter as a kook. Caring about others isn't kooky, but conservatives too often care only about those who won the genetic lottery or were born with silver spoons. If you look different, act different, or — God forbid! — think different, you won't get an invitation to their country club. You march in lockstep with all of their ideas or you're shunned. Hence the predictable lack of moderate voices on Fox News who look for better solutions that those offered by conservatives or liberals.
FNC helps perpetuate the myth that the extremes are the only valid options, with the namby-pamby independents forced to choose between them. In a nation that supposedly champions creative thought, there is precious little of it in the political world that increasingly shapes our economy and personal lives. Necessity is the Mother of Invention, but the necessity of innovating a better way to run our country is rarely perceived.
There's a better way to run it that would be welcomed by every Democrat, Republican, and independent with common sense, but most people are so incapable of thinking for themselves they cannot appreciate good new ideas; they just want to fight over which old ideas to dust off and implement even though none of them could offer as much as my idea. Republicans using it could become the Santa Claus party and win elections without violating conservative principles; Democrats using it could deliver the coup de grâce to Republicans. The real winner would be the American people, so I don't care which party wins by using it. Our nation is failing because we're not using it, and hence not availing ourselves of opportunities to help everyone from poor to rich without hurting anyone.
Politicians are killing the USA, but almost everyone wants to keep playing the same dysfunctional game that will inevitably end in the dissolution of our nation or its tenuous survival made possible by its government stealing from us, but with Americans transfixed on sports, Dancing With The Stars, or the foxes on Fox, most voters don't even perceive how they're being robbed or even that they are being robbed; more than a few actually think their tax refunds mean the government is paying them! Fox News doesn't want to talk about the damage resulting from conservative politicians when there are silver-tongued gorgeous chicks happy to give O'Reilly or Hannity a thrill. Their priority is hot bodies, not hot ideas. Admiral Rickover would surely loathe them.
Strangely, in spite of their fascination with gorgeous faces, blonde hair, cleavage, and perfect long legs purposely framed in needlessly short skirts, Fox News is oozing with sexuality yet seemingly allergic to it, so they treat this subject and anything related to it not as mature adults, but as immature adolescents.
Like many conservatives, they like to project (whether they truly believe it or not) a sexual intolerance that tacitly suggests that pusillanimous men lacking testosterone are somehow more qualified for political office. Many conservative voters fall for this puritanical litmus test of acceptability in spite of scientific evidence of a link between giftedness and prenatal exposure to higher levels of testosterone that can make men behave like, well, men. In other words, not as angels. Abraham Lincoln understood this when he said, “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
“In heaven all the interesting people are missing.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
“The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man—that is, virtuous in the YMCA sense—has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.”
— H. L. Mencken
(some interesting science suggests why that is true)
The inverse association between puritanical goodness and great achievements is a consequence of biology (created by God or Mother Nature, not men). We can choose to deal with this fact of nature as mature adults, or we can bury our heads in the sand, as Fox News does. The upshot is that if you want a great book or invention, a major scientific breakthrough, a general like Patton who knows how to kick ass, or a politician who can solve our problems instead of whining about them, then you want a man or woman with more testosterone (yes, women make it, too).
Einstein and other eminent scientists, including Richard Feynman, Erwin Schrödinger, Marie Curie, and Robert Oppenheimer had love lives that screamed lots of testosterone. Along with that testosterone went great ideas that advanced the world. People who don't raise eyebrows in church generally don't do anything great. There's nothing wrong with that, except when you want great things done. Right now everyone with an ounce of common sense is hungering for a genius to come along and tell us how to reverse the American slide from greatness to being a pathetic has-been country.
I've met a few geniuses with great ideas and encouraged them to write, but they wanted nothing to do with fame and the attention it brings from people who often behave like crabs in a bucket, tearing others down, searching for the slightest imperfection to skewer to provide merriment for the small-minded folks who have so little to offer they can only feel good about themselves by cutting others down to size: to their low level. This marked intolerance gives insight into a personality flaw in the nitpickers who use pitiful methods to elevate their self-esteem without helping others or the nation.
“Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting.”
— Sydney J. Harris
Conservatives need to decide what they value most: a pristine PC pussyfoot veneer or greatness; people with testosterone who could save us, or politically correct wimps who can make us feel better about being the angels we aren't as we circle the drain and head for national bankruptcy. If we can't tolerate those with great ideas but a few rough edges, we're bound to have an even rougher time in the future than we're having now. Fox News and other conservative media seem not to care as they dig their heels in and pretend that being a goody two-shoes is more important than generating great ideas that often come from minds shaped by more testosterone.
Conservatism by definition champions conformity to old ideas and old ways even if they're antiquated and the root cause of current misery. Look around you, see what's wrong, and ask if it isn't wise to at least question if doing things the old way is the right way.
Thomas Edison said, “There's a way to do it better — find it,” but Fox News and other conservative media see little or no need for governmental innovation when politicians can play broken records that play old tunes over and over again. Those tunes add up to one sad song. If we want to survive as a prosperous nation, we'd better start singing Give Me Testosterone, Or Give Me Death. Screw the phony goody two-shoes act, we need great ideas, and we need them now.
Eric Hoffer (who was an “intellectual giant” according to Thomas Sowell and one of my professors, who raved about his intellect) said, “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
America is beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. We need to get in overdrive stat, but we cling to Plan A politicians with their Plan A ideas. The conservative affinity for Plan A is a recipe for disaster.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
— George Bernard Shaw, playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics
Without Franklin, there would be no USA
Imagine if the colonists who formed America were as dysfunctional as today's conservatives. They would put hot babes in short skirts into the limelight while marginalizing Ben Franklin who, although an indisputably brilliant polymath, had enough testosterone to love sex and women. Franklin unabashedly discussed sex because he viewed it as part of human nature worth discussing. He wrote about the sensate characteristics of vaginas as women aged, which would have led to him being permanently shunned by conservatives who possess a bizarre dichotomy about sexual attitudes. They believe it is fine to have risqué T&A oozing out of every Fox News broadcast and conservative pundit report, but to discuss something pertaining to the science of sex (as scientist Franklin did) is somehow so shameful that it shouldn't be mentioned.
Scientists cannot safely mention a facet of science that pertains to sex, which is part of the field of medicine—what a freakish foundation for a country that claims to revere freedom, yet abhors it so much that the ones who shout freedom the loudest are often the least tolerant of freedom for others.
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”
Isn't this a strange inversion of acceptability? Cheap, inescapable, in-your-face sexuality is routinely used as bait by conservative/Tea Party hotties who use their flesh as lures to hook viewers into swallowing their rehashes of, and adulation for, third-rate ideas, but real sex—the kind that makes babies, bonds men and women together, and makes life more enjoyable—eewww! Better talk about it in hushed tones behind closed doors, like the Communists used to do when discussing freedom in the USSR before it disintegrated, or skip that topic altogether, and discuss something more palatable, such as the latest chapter in the bizarre love life of Limbaugh. Nuts.
Conservative and Tea Party hypocrisy, part one
Conservatives often say they abhor Big Government, yet many of them love Big Military that comes only from Big Government. My plan to make Big Government more tolerable stems not from a love of it but from a pragmatic realization that we're stuck with it, so we should do everything possible to mitigate its impact—and hey, I like helping people. If I can do that and still help others keep more of their money and freedom, what's the harm in that?
Conservative and Tea Party hypocrisy, part two
Conservative and Tea Party supporters often allege that much of the enthusiasm for President Obama stems from simple people going gaga over his Hollywood hunk appearance and golden baritone voice. Even in my most rabidly conservative days, I couldn't help but feel a warm glow inside by looking at him and hearing his deliciously resonant voice with its mesmerizing tone. Obama is undeniably attractive, and I could appreciate his gifts without being spellbound by them.
Obama's most vocal opponents are less able to keep feelings of enrapturement from affecting their approach to politics. Conservative and Tea Party proponents often fume about others who permit superficial concerns of appearance to influence anything to do with politics, which is obviously a dead-serious matter.
However, Obama foes manifest hypocrisy by going crazy over hot young pundit babes whose supreme attribute is their appearance, not their minds or great ideas generated from them. Then they tune into the foxes on Fox, one of whom was loony enough to suggest that coastal people are automatically more credible than those in the heartland. They they flock around the foxes on Facebook even if they have nothing to say that hasn't been said better by others who, because they aren't hot, are ignored by all but a handful of people who appreciate ideas that emanate from bright minds.
With the United States circling the drain, one might think that conservative and Tea Party partisans could suspend their fascination with foxes long enough to focus on the best ideas that usually don't come from the best-looking people. That is a simple consequence of statistics that should be intuitively obvious. In case it isn't, look at the bell curve below:
The foxes use their beauty to bamboozle people into thinking they should focus on them because they're so attractive, but 99% of the geniuses with great ideas are not in the top 1% of appearance.
Besides the fact that great ideas are much more likely to come from people who aren't supremely attractive because there are so many more of them, another factor makes it even less likely that the best looking have the best ideas: because gorgeous people are more often given smiles, compliments, breaks, jobs, and other opportunities, they are more likely to coast through life relying on their looks to get ahead of others with more to offer.
One of the network investigative journalism shows illustrated this bias favoring the babes by showing hidden camera footage of a man interviewing job applicants: a well-qualified and well-spoken woman of average appearance, and a hottie with fewer qualifications and brain cells. In spite of her shortcomings, the man was eager to hire the gorgeous woman; in fact, he spoke of giving her a raise and being overly flexible with the rules, such as work hours. What he really meant was, “Get here whenever you want because I'm so infatuated with your appearance and eager to have you work here [so I can gawk at you] that I'm willing to go the extra mile for you and give you breaks I'd never give to women who aren't so hot.”
Compliments, breaks, and other opportunities that preferentially flow to the foxes truncate their willingness to give 100%. I have some very attractive female friends who undoubtedly had much higher innate intelligence than me (my sixth-grade teacher said I was “slow” and I struggled so much with basic subjects in high school that my big dream was to drop out and work on an auto assembly line), but even they would agree that I've accomplished more than them.
I worked so hard to get ahead that I found a way to amplify intelligence and creativity so much that I excelled in college enough to get into medical school without an undergraduate degree (something my med school offered to the applicant with the best grades and MCAT scores). I was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (the med school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa) and graduated in the top 1% of my class. The director of my residency program said I was the smartest resident they ever had, and one of my former bosses told me that I was the smartest doctor he ever met. A surgeon I know wrote to me, “I deal with doctors every day of my life and let me tell you with no hesitation, you are frigging brilliant.” I'm now paid by some of the brightest and most successful people in the world to sit and think, generating ideas.
NOTE: I didn't mention those accolades to brag; I used them to highlight the difference between where I began (idiocy so marked that my teacher couldn't resist calling me “slow” in front of the class) and where I ended up (in mid-life with an ascending trajectory of accomplishments, not plateauing as most doctors do after residency). If others followed my formula for going from dunce to doctor, they could do even more than me because most would begin from a higher baseline.
The collective greatness of a nation stems from its people. By making Americans more intelligent, creative, and productive, we as a nation could enjoy the upsurge in ability that led me to do things my sixth-grade teacher (and my 10th grade teachers!) would have sworn were impossible for someone like me, who seemed headed toward a miserable future—just like the United States.
In addition to augmenting our brainpower to reap achievements stemming from it, we could also improve spiritually, morally, and ethically. I was admittedly a curmudgeon in my cranky conservative days, but I serendipitously stumbled upon a way to feel so much better inside that it spilled out, creating a burning desire to help others, including liberals, who'd once been my archenemy. Instead of opining they were so dead wrong about everything they must be stupid or crazy, I realized they raised some good points with intelligent and ethical reasons for them that bolstered their validity.
I became so committed to doing the right thing that I turned down the opportunity to have a relationship with a gorgeous young genius because she was too young for me, I paid a programmer in India twice as much as my contractual obligation at a time I desperately needed the money for myself, and I am selling my Sea-doo, Ski-doo, and shed to help a deported person reenter the United States even though I previously was adamantly opposed to “illegal” immigration. I also offer to give away free meals, firewood, and microhomes. I've devoted years of my life helping students succeed (thus I know my dunce to doctor tips can produce miracles). All of this is quite a change from how I once was: focused on what was best for me.
Ultimately, my metamorphosis from dunce to doctor was fueled by the painful realization that I was a hideously ugly idiot. Contrary to what today's teachers think with their unearned praise and grades lavished on students who don't deserve it, the best way to incentivize the desire to succeed is to boost self-esteem only when it is earned by a commensurate achievement.
The old Avis slogan about them working harder because they're #2 is also applicable to people. People who think they're #1 are less likely to try as hard as those like me who know they must give a superhuman effort to achieve their dreams. I had disabilities, health problems, and so many life challenges that many people with similar impediments to success would just give up and go on disability or turn to drugs or booze, but I persevered and eventually prevailed in addition to helping many others achieve their dreams, including some doctors and medical school professors.
Commenting on The 20 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media, one of them—Mary Katharine Ham—said, “In the end, it's an affectionate appreciation of the fact that brains and beauty are not mutually exclusive.” While that is true, she seems oblivious to the fact that the general phenomenon of focusing on beautiful women diverts attention away from the 99% of the population with less pulchritude but better ideas. By missing such a crucial concept, she becomes part of the problem in which Americans are willing to let themselves be ideologically led by people whose supreme attribute is their appearance.
Conservative and Tea Party disciples excoriate Obama fans for idolizing a man (they allege is) not worthy of such veneration, but they put their pretty pundits on a pedestal even though they have considerably fewer attributes to laud.
Whether you like him or not, Obama has done more for his supporters than Bush did for his (see my article, Understanding the appeal of Obama). To the extent that conservatism still lingers in my body, I'll never forgive Bush for doing what he did. Ditto for his father. Ditto for Republicans whose aversion to new ideas makes them refuse to even consider solutions that could restore our prosperity while achieving a Hoffer victory of turning enemies into friends.
Conservative Republicans claim they can do more than change how the pie is divided; they say they can expand it, but the best way to do that is something they'll never even consider. Given the definition of conservative, that's predictable but still abominable. If another nation were to stand so firmly in the way of our recovery, we'd bomb them into submission.
Thus I'm mystified: why all of the enthusiastic and largely unquestioning support for the current crop of Republican candidates? They will almost certainly do what Republicans have historically excelled at: giving people great but meaningless promises. They say they will reduce the size of the federal government, but when has that ever happened? There is more reality in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny than their pledges. Who believes them? Not me. You?
I am more conservative than many conservatives and more liberal than many liberals. That makes me an impenetrable enigma to people who think inside the box—folks whose black-and-white minds cannot wrap themselves around an eclectic amalgamation of ideas that don't neatly mesh with the pre-boxed beliefs they swallowed hook, line, and sinker from the powerful people who told them what to think and how to think so those fat cats could put nooses around their necks and chains around their ankles.
I once was one of the sheeple who believed what I was told, eagerly assimilating it as part of being a good citizen in a great country. Then, slowly but surely, I realized that some of the most fundamental beliefs I accepted implicitly had a luster made possible only by omitting crucial facts. For example, our Founding Fathers are often revered as saints or demigods, but the United States was founded on (and continues to act on) the principle of might makes right.
Then there's the not-so-little matter of why we fought World War II. We fought for freedom and to stop evil men from doing more evil things, right? That's what I once wholeheartedly believed, but as I proved in another article, that Disney-like fiction is so full of holes it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
Conservative Republicans characteristically revere freedom yet most of them are eager to deny it to other Americans. When the GOP “emphatically approved a toughly worded party platform at their national convention Tuesday that would ban all … gay marriages,” they offered proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they have cold hearts bereft of empathy and think freedom applies only to themselves, not others. I presented scientific and moral reasons to loathe such a ban in an article, Why homosexuals should not be blamed for their sexual orientation.
Remember “Dr.” Laura? With her doctorate in physiology, she should understand the etiology of homosexuality well enough to know that blaming someone for their sexual orientation makes as little sense as blaming someone for having blue eyes instead of green or brown. It is utterly ignorant, stupid, or unconscionably callous. She and other conservatives don't treat this sensitive issue with the sensitivity and understanding it deserves as one directly pertaining to freedom.
You don't need to be a psychiatrist to know what's wrong with “Dr.” Laura: she is so brimming with hate and rage that she is eager to spew her venom—a practice she evidently enjoys so much it is practically her trademark. If the erstwhile Wicked Witch of the Airwaves were as brilliant as she presupposes herself to be, she would use some of her vast knowledge of physiology to educate others on how the incidence (and eventually prevalence) of homosexuality could be reduced by addressing its nongenetic etiological factors.
Our DNA code hasn't changed appreciably since I was a kid in the 1960s, but our environment has. Through food, water, and other sources (IV bags are one of many), our bodies are constantly exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals, a.k.a., gender benders, that feminize males and masculinize females, blurring the distinctions between the sexes.
In the 1960s, in a split-second I could easily determine if someone I met was a man or woman, but now I—with years of medical training—often meet people whose gender is ambiguous. I've spoken to some, as store employees, for years without knowing their gender or gender preference, and a similarly educated friend who often accompanies me is similarly stumped. I frequently see 20-ish males who look, sound, and act noticeably different than men in the 1960s.
Gender bending chemicals are clearly influencing people, none of whom should be blamed for what was done to them by food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and other companies. Truly compassionate conservatives shouldn't need prompting to deal with this issue compassionately, and truly smart conservatives would immediately recognize the political implications of not addressing its etiology, since gay and lesbian people are more likely to vote for Democrats. Limbaugh isn't leading on this issue; he is out to lunch, blinded by his hidebound egotism that dupes him into thinking that if he isn't discussing something, it isn't important. Dream on, Rush.
To obtain the freedom that conservatives and liberals want, we must all begin thinking and feeling for ourselves. Conservatives too often follow leaders who do too little thinking, and seem constitutionally incapable of feeling.
- Some free advice: Smart conservatives could figure out how to use the pulchritude in their ranks to win most elections instead of preaching to the conservative choir, which is a waste of time. If they were creative, they could think of countless ways to leave Democrats in the dust. This must be grassroots creativity because recent Republican presidential candidates are shockingly bereft of creativity. McCain repeatedly blew golden opportunities to hammer Obama with facts in 2008, and Romney is doing the same in 2012.
- On September 25, 2012, a time when Romney desperately needed every vote he could get, Rush Limbaugh wasted several minutes speaking with a caller who told him about the wonderful tea and customer service he received from Limbaugh's Two If By Tea® company. On Limbaugh's program, a$$ kissers are one of the primary groups selected by his call screeners, but sycophantically currying favor with him won't help anyone but himself. But isn't that what his show is all about? Boosting Limbaugh's overly inflated ego and bank account. In fact, Limbaugh admitted that the purpose of callers is to make him look good. It's called narcissism. And more.
- Revealing part of the playbook conservative politicians use to dupe folks into thinking our system is fair: A Pinch of Opportunity Makes Deep Inequality More Palatable
- The ‘American Dream’ Is a Myth: Joseph Stiglitz on ‘The Price of Inequality’
- In her Democratic National Convention speech, Elizabeth Warren said “the American system of government is "rigged" against the middle class.” She is correct.
- Book: The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
- Forbes magazine: GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher On A Mission From God-Starve The Poor While Personally Pocketing Millions In Farm Subsidies
- Iowa fires agent who pursued [Republican] gov's speeding SUV
Excerpt: “State officials denied retaliation.”
Comment: Suuurrrrre …
- How Your Moral Decisions are Shaped by a Bad Mood
- An Ideological Battle That Voters Don't Want
Bottom line? Both major parties are better at pulling the wool over the eyes of voters than they are at solving the problems voters care about. O'Reilly evidently believes that demonizing the opposition is the best way to help “the folks” (his professed beneficiary), but first-rate minds can do more than bash people and problems; they offer novel solutions. The old ones aren't working very well, are they?
- I discovered what some pretty pundits are really like when I sent a private message to one on Facebook offering to point out a few typos she made in the blog that made her famous. We'd been friends long enough on that site and had no prior tiffs (instead, we had several pleasant private messaging threads, including one in which she helped me), so I was stunned when she immediately blocked me and evidently encouraged her blogging partner to also block me. This illustrates their thin-skinned hypersensitivity. They are so used to hearing nothing but praise from sycophantic fans that even a very gently worded private message was enough to make them blow a fuse. I genuinely appreciate it when people notify me of typos or grammatical errors I made; in fact, on some of my pages I ask them to report the mistakes that I'm bound to make.
I sent another private message to a different Facebook friend (who I suspected might be an alcoholic) asking if she were OK because she'd mentioned that she was thinking of drinking booze early in the day. Thinking that she might be pregnant and knowing about the fetal alcohol syndrome, I thought I was doing the right thing by expressing genuine but gentle concern. She went nuts and spent days going into a rage attacking me.
Curious about what kind of lunatic would go on and on and on as she did, I read some of her prior postings (Facebook filtered most of them so I'd not seen them in my feed) and discovered that she wasn't just a loon, but a dangerous one who spoke of shooting people, including a member of Congress. I saw that she had eerily similar prior encounters with people on Facebook: something minor to set her off, and then a prolonged profane reaction that screamed MENTAL CASE. Although she was married, she was sufficiently attractive that only one of her conservative friends announced why she would unfriend her: because she was fed up with the profane rants that were seemingly spontaneously triggered or arose in reaction to things that normal folks would take in stride.
The fact that some conservatives are mentally ill isn't surprising. What's alarming is how more than a few normal conservatives are so tolerant of conservative nuts (at least the beautiful ones) that they won't report them or even unfriend them; in her case, her large following gave her plenty of attention and even praise. Since her spat with me occurred shortly after Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was shot by Jared Loughner—a time when every sane American was sickened by violence—I was surprised that her conservative flock didn't take her to task or report her; instead, they kept fawning over her. Nuts.
- Being vetted for VP? Prepare to talk about sex based on Wanna Be Veep? Okay, but This Is Going to Hurt
- GOP Senate candidate says he ‘misspoke’ with ‘legitimate rape’ comment
- Endocrine disruptors as a threat to neurological function (full paper is here)
Abstract excerpt: “Gonadal hormones are crucial to optimal brain function during maturity and even senescence. They are pivotal to the processes of neurogenesis. They exert protective actions against neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and support smoothly functioning cognitive activities. The limited research conducted so far on endocrine disruptors, aging, and neurogenesis argues that they should be overlooked no longer.”
Comment: Endocrine disruptors are also a threat to our national prosperity. As I wrote in Why geniuses are often so fond of sex, “Researchers discovered a link between giftedness (especially the eminently gifted) and prenatal exposure to higher levels of testosterone.”
The United States became an economic superpower by producing many inventions that fundamentally transformed human lives. The last great American invention was the Internet, conceived decades ago! In the interim, we've had millions of inventions but no epochal ones that significantly improved our lives. Some are coming (I'm now working on a few of them), but our collective track record has lately been pathetic.
Since 1976, the United States issued 6473 toothbrush-related patents, but a 1975 toothbrush could clean your teeth just as well. We can record data on new media—big deal. Apple gets a patent on a rectangular phone—something a child could “invent” after a split-second of thought. And on and on with “inventions” that don't amount to a hill of beans. Trust me, none of that innovation (ahem!) profoundly affects our lives. Even computers and related devices, which seem like a big deal, have helped us in some ways but hurt us in many others as people became transfixed by gizmos that insidiously dominated their lives and thoughts.
As our pace of momentous innovation has dwindled, our prosperity has sputtered. Conservative leaders—supposedly the ones with brains that others look to for leadership—are not sufficiently educated or intelligent enough to appreciate the likely nexus between endocrine disrupting chemicals and impaired brain function leading to fewer geniuses with really big ideas. Charles Krauthammer, widely regarded as one of the conservative Einsteins, is a physician (psychiatrist), so he should be leading on this issue. Instead, he's yapping about taxes and other matters with much less potential benefit.
- Genetic and Epigenetic Effects on Sexual Brain Organization Mediated by Sex Hormones
- Endocrine disrupters and female reproductive health
Abstract excerpt: “There is growing evidence of the impact of estrogenic contaminants in the environment. … Endocrine-disrupting chemicals … mostly exhibit estrogenic effects, but a few are anti-estrogenic or anti-androgenic. … human development can … be feminized by exposure to estrogenic chemicals. … New studies provide a mechanism of action for estrogenic chemicals and other endocrine disrupters at the molecular level (called epigenetics) that may help explain the long-term effects of endocrine disruption.”
- Articles for non-scientists: Research Proves 'Gender-Bending' Chemicals Affect Reproduction and Gender-Bender Chemicals are Turning Boys Into Girls
- Hormone Disruptors Linked To Genital Changes and Sexual Preference
- Endocrine Disruptors and the Transgendered
- Moderate Voices Muted in Political News
Excerpt: “A new study finds that moderate political groups are not as well covered in newspaper articles as more radical right and left-wing groups.”
- Supersize My Wage
Comment: What happened in the real world would surprise most conservatives.
- Damon Linker: Why I am no longer a Republican
- Is George W. Bush smart?