Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why the GOP Remains a Threat to Democracy and World Peace

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I smell the sweat of a right wing focus group! Since when did the Heritage Foundation put its OK on the new meme: "...but the Democrats are just as bad as the GOP?" Oh yeah? If that's true, then rewind the time machine and vote for Sarah Palin! Or Dan Quayle! Would you support a doctor who advertises: I'm a quack and you may die of a heart attack -- but so is Dr Bob where you may die of cancer?

It's time to take an objective look at GOP psychopathy which is the source and origin of the recent Bush administration. The GOP must be held responsible for catastrophic economic failures and a panoply of capital war crimes so huge that they may never be investigated and prosecuted.

Democratic failures are failures of omission. GOP crimes are crimes of commission. The issue is not whether Dems are better but, certainly, they are different and different in ways that are identified by sociologists and psychologists. The new 'meme' is intended to blur the differences. If this meme is true, then the GOP has nothing else to recommend it; the electorate cannot even vote the lesser of two evils! In advertising, a leading product will distinguish itself from the wannabes. The wannabes on the other hand will try to blur the differences. Brand 'X' is just as good --or Brand 'A' is just as bad! The GOP message is merely: vote for us 'cause the Democrats are just as crooked!

It's fact check time.

The GOP are lying again. Democrats have never tried to rewrite the Constitution as did Bush, supported as he was by the GOP leadership and rank and file. Moreover, Democratic constituencies have never benefited from war as did the elite robber barons who make up the Military-Industrial Complex. The GOP is defined by its real and significant constituency i.e, the top one percent of the nation, owning some 90 percent or more of its total wealth. They are not now nor were they ever members of the Democratic party! Moreover, it was not Democratic policies nor Democratic regimes which brought out this result. It was --specifically --the regime of Ronald Reagan which enrich the rich by way of its infamous 'tax cut' of 1982.

This elite does not care which party it tries to own or corrupt so long as they rule. The ruling elite does not care who takes their payoff money so long as they get a return on the investment! That the ruling elite has succeeded in 'acquiring' and thus owning the GOP is perhaps the most significant difference between Democrats and Republicans. If the Democrats had literally auctioned their 'souls', we would have a right to expect ol' scratch to have lived up to his side of the bargain.

One is either a part of the solution or a part of the problem.

The GOP 'way' requires regimentation and obeisance. They have an agenda: world domination and thus continued profits for the merchants of death, their lobbyists on K-street, and the 'think tanks' and focus groups who are tasked with trying to make the whole scam plausible.

There is the problem of 'organization'. The GOP differs qualitatively from the Democratic party, a difference of structure which follows from the mindset. Numerous studies have identified several 'traits' that are statistically much higher among GOPs than Democrats. Those traits include psychopathy and authoritarianism. Will Rogers put it this way: 'I am not a member of any organized political party; I am a Democrat!"

Independent, creative, constructive thinkers are by definition and inclination anathema to the GOP and the GOP to them! Will Rogers was right. Had he been wrong the Democratic party might have opposed the GOP more effectively. But doing so would have redefined the party and blurred the differences with the GOP. But I don't want GOP-lite! Clinton supporters called it 'triangulation'. I don't think the measly gains have been worth the Faustian bargain required to get them.

John Dean's Conservatives Without Consciences, inspired by some very serious research, is must reading. Though he still claims to be Republican, Dean asserts that the conservative mind-set is characterized by the recurring qualities of 'the unbridled viciousness toward those daring to disagree with them' as well as by the big business favoritism that has cost taxpayers billions. Unless you are a member of the ruling 1 or 2 percent, those 'gains' have come out of your ass.

It was a dirty job but someone had to do it.

Even before Dean published, a Stanford University group had revealed its findings indicating that Republicans have more nightmares and night terrors than do Democrats. Nightmares are generally believed to be manifestations of deep-seated fears, insecurities and anxieties. We must put into that context remarks by Republicans at the GOP National Convention in Houston in 1992. "He made us feel good about ourselves!" They were quite right. Reagan, indeed, made them 'feel good' about being greedy, bigoted, selfish and self-centered, psychopaths.

Deans's book is based upon other studies identifying 'authoritarian' characteristics of the 'conservative mindset', specifically Robert D. Hare's now-standard text on psychopaths, Without Conscience of 1993. As I have charged, this 'type' is challenged to make valid inference from premises. Observations by professional psychologists and psychiatrists have repeatedly confirmed my allegations that 'psychopathic' Republicans often work backward from a conclusion to a premise. This mentality may be expected to deny science, evolution, or pragmatic approaches of any type. This mentality may be expected to support a war of aggression against Iraq and for all the wrong reasons. This group will never admit its failures and it will justify worse atrocities to cover up past mistakes. It is a moral and psychological black hole.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' description of antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders, for example, provides a diagnostic context for behaviors that Dean describes as belonging characteristic of "social dominants" and "double highs." Antisocials, for instance, "show little remorse for the consequences of their acts.... They may be indifferent to, or provide a superficial rationalization for, having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from someone (e.g., 'life's unfair,' 'losers deserve to lose,' or 'he had it coming anyway')... They may believe that everyone is out to 'help number one' and that one should stop at nothing to avoid being pushed around."

These people exist as a class! Statistically, they are more often found in the GOP. They are attracted to the GOP --a group of like-minded 'psychopaths'.

This ceased being guess work when Carl Jung --in his 'The Undiscovered Self' --wrote that about 30 percent of every population is certifiably psychopathic, utterly lacking empathy. 'Thirty percent' is about the size of the GOP 'base'. In Germany, Jung's 'thirty percent' became Nazis, in America --Republicans! Not coincidentally, the Republican Party rose to prominence in the US as the party of the so-called 'robber barons', almost all of whom were, arguably, authoritarians, believers in eugenics, white supremacy, and the 'White Man's Burden'.

How many 'robber barons' were Democratic? Was J.P. Morgan or Rockefeller Democratic? Was Henry Ford --whose portrait hang in Hitler's office --Democratic? I don't think so.

Evil is Banal; just ask a Republican

Dr. Gustav Gilbert, tasked with keeping Nazi war criminals alive until they could be hanged, wrote of the nature of evil itself. Evil, he said, was the utter lack of empathy. Hannah Arendt said something similar: evil is banal. I submit that there is no party more banal than the GOP unless it was Nazis who perpetrated genocide with milky-faced bureaucrats, accountants, and pencil pushers. Their infamous 'meeting' at Wannsee was just 'business as usual', bureaucrats and lawyers trying to the loophole that would make legal acts of mass murder and genocide. More recently --during the Iraq war --it was the Bush administration that work mightily to make legal the crimes that it had already committed.

The 'utter lack of empathy' is among the symptoms of psychosis and may be found in spades among those Republicans who cheered Bush's war of aggression against Iraq though Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 911. These 'psychopaths' --driving huge Humvees and SUVs --often said that a war against Iraq would result in the theft of Iraqi oil so that prices at the pump would decline.

American industrialists were not inclined to turn down a quick buck. While Americans were at war with Hitler, the American corporate establishment was ideologically sympathetic to Hitler --his cause, his war aims, his partnership with big corporations like I.G. Farben, Thyssen, Krupp and other big corporations, including American companies, who financed Adolph Hitler. [See: Who Financed Adolf Hitler?]
On December 20, 1922 the New York Times reported that automobile manufacturer Henry Ford was financing Adolph Hitler's nationalist and anti-Semitic movements in Munich. Simultaneously, the Berlin newspaper Berliner Tageblatt appealed to the American Ambassador in Berlin to investigate and halt Henry Ford's intervention into German domestic affairs. It was reported that Hitler's foreign backers had furnished a "spacious headquarters" with a "host of highly paid lieutenants and officials." Henry Ford's portrait was prominently displayed on the walls of Hitler's personal office:

--Henry Ford and the Nazis

Opposition to US involvement in World War II is most often linked to Charles Lindbergh.
However, most AFC supporters were neither liberal, nor Socialist. Many simply wanted to stay out of the war. Since many also came from the Midwest, an area never as sensitive to European problems as the east coast, isolationist arguments was soon buttressed by more traditional prejudices against eastern industrial and banking interests. (Almost two-thirds of the Committee’s 850,000 registered supporters would eventually come from the Midwest, mostly from a radius of three hundred miles around Chicago.)[13] Many AFC supporters were certain industry and the banks wanted war for their own profit.[14] Many other supporters were Republicans who flocked to the AFC for partisan political reasons. [or treasons?] Still others were covertly pro-German. Some were German-Americans whose sentimental attachments had not been diminished by the crimes of the Nazi regime. Others, whether of German origin or not, were attracted to Hitler’s racism and anti-Semitism.

--David Gordon, America First:the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941, History Department, Bronx Community College / CUNY Graduate Center

Ideologically, Bush and Lindbergh have much in common. It is no stretch to imagine this faction welcoming a Hitler victory in Europe, perhaps plotting a Nazi coup d'etat in the US had Hitler won in Europe. Certainly, Prescott Bush had planned a coup intended to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictatorship. It would appear that where Prescott Bush failed, his idiot grandson succeeded. [See BBC: US Businessman (Prescott Bush) Planned Fascist Coup in US ]
Lindbergh wanted Hitler to destroy the Soviet Union, and was willing to accept Nazi domination of Europe as the price.[118] His protests to the contrary are not convincing.[119] Long before most Committee members, he had come to believe the existence of the Soviet Union had made Hitler’s dictatorship necessary. The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 made the need to keep America out of the war greater than ever. As a result, the efforts of America Firsters to keep America neutral became more frenetic as German successes in Russia mounted, and Roosevelt’s efforts to enter the war increased.

--David Gordon, America First:the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941, History Department, Bronx Community College / CUNY Graduate Center

Lindbergh opposed US entry into WWII for the same reasons the Bush family continued to do business with Hitler and the Nazis' after war had begun. The Bush family were Hitler's trading partners. The Bush family were traitors.
The debate over Prescott Bush's behavior has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

...

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.

The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had also been seized. --

British Guardian: How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

By now it is common knowledge, verified in the public record, that in October of 1942, Prescott Bush was accused of "Running Nazi front groups in the United States". He was charged under the Trading With the Enemy Act as the US government shut down the operations at New York's Union Banking Corporation.

Bush's actions might have been considered high treason. They are interesting by virtue of the myriad connections about what is commonly referred to as the "Bush Crime Family" and partners --Avril Harriman, the Rockefellers, Allen Dulles, James Baker III, Gulf Oil, Pennzoil, and ominously, Osama bin Laden. The connections are labyrinthine, involving a host of corporate connections, high ranking Nazis, the CIA and Allen Dulles.

More recently, we have learned of yet more Bush family treasons: Prescott Bush, the "President's" grandfather, was involved in a fascist coup attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.
The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

--William Bowles, The Bush Family Saga

Now that the cat is out of the bag, Bush apologists would have you believe that the Bush/Nazi nexus is long over. Not so! Documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress confirm that the Bush family continued 'Nazi' dealings well into 1951. GWB's grandfather, Prescott Bush and his 'Nazi' colleagues --a 'secret web of Thyssen-controlled ventures' --routinely attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators.

This web including former New York Governor W. Averell Harriman and younger brother, E. Roland Harriman and the New York private banking firm of Brown Brothers Harriman, presided over a 'quarter-century [1924-1951] of Nazi financial transactions. These activities included a financial relationship with the German city of Hanover and several industrial concerns. They went undetected by investigators until after World War Two.

The sub-plot is equally interesting. Allen Dulles found a 'young Naval Officer' who was in charge of captured Nazi documents that would have revealed Dulles to have been a traitor to the United States. The 'young Naval officer' eagerly sold out, agreeing to bury the documents if Dulles would finance the young man’s first political campaign. The 'young Naval officer' was Richard Nixon.

By contrast, people attracted to the Democratic party are not attracted to the GOP for these very reasons. As a rule, 'authoritarian' types are not interested in joining the Democratic party, attracted as they are to a party that more nearly embraces 'German discipline'.

The 'mentality' which became Nazi in Germany became Republican in America

Psychopaths prefer to be told what to think. I am telling them to shut the fuck up. In both the Nazi party and now, in the GOP, they are told from the top what to think, how to think and how to 'spin' it.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it's a duck. Bush's criminal and unconstitutional assault on the Bill of Rights as much as the well-planned campaign of frauds intended to justify the attack and invasion of Iraq 'swims like a duck'. It is traced to identifiable 'conservative mindsets' as they have been identified by eminent psychologists. Psychologist Bob Altermeyer calls these people RWA, or Right Wing Authoritarians.

Dean's 'Conservatives Without Consciences', cites the work of Bob Altemeyer who sums up his own work accurately and wittily in The Authoritarians.

'Authoritarians' are submissive to authority as were Hitler's Nazi minions but they are, like Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush, tyrannical when they are themselves in power or positions of 'authority'. This mentality is most surely the origin of the Nazi war criminal defense: "But ve vere only folloving orters!"
With eagerly subservient Republican majorities controlling both houses of Congress, Bush and his vice-president could do anything they wanted. And so they did. Greed ruled, the rich got big, big tax cuts, the environment took one body blow [190] after another, religious opinions decided scientific issues, the country went to war, and so on. Bush and his allies had the political and military power to impose their will at home and abroad, it seemed, and they most decidedly used it.

A stunning, and widely overlooked example of the arrogance that followed streaked across the sky in 2002 when the administration refused to sign onto the International Criminal Court. This court was established by over a hundred nations, including virtually all of the United States’ allies, to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and so on when the country for whom they acted would not or could not do the prosecuting itself. It is a 'court of last resort” in the human race’s defense against brutality.

Why on earth would the United States, as one of the conveners of the Nuremberg Trials and conceivers of the charge, 'crimes against humanity,” want nothing to do with this agreement? The motivation did not become clear until later. But not only did America refuse to ratify the treaty, in 2002 Congress passed an act that allowed the United States to punish nations that did join in the international effort to prosecute the worst crimes anyone could commit! Talk about throwing your weight around, and in a way that insulted almost every friend you had on the planet.

But the social dominators classically overreached. Using military power in Iraq to 'get Saddam” produced, not a shining democracy, but a lot of dead Americans, at least fifty times as many dead Iraqis, and the predicted civil war. The 'war on terrorism” backfired considerably, as enraged Muslims around the world, with little or no connection to al Qaeda, formed their own 'home-grown” terrorist cells bent on suicide attacks--especially after news of American atrocities in Iraq raced around the globe. Occupying Iraq tied down most of America’s mobile ground forces, preventing their use against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan which had supported the 9/11 attacks, and making American troops easy targets in the kind of guerilla warfare that produces revenge-driven massacres within even elite units.

--Bob Altemyer, The Authoritarians
Both Altemeyer and Dean are confirmed in their opinions of the state of the American conservative movement by 'conservative' criticism leveled at them. It is characterized by fallacious appeals to authority and orthodoxy --tactics that are observed to be rampant throughout 'conservative' politics.
Their [Altermeyer, Dean] work does not appear to have earned widespread acceptance among academic psychologists. No matter: in Dean’s mind, as he spends the bulk of Conservatives Without Conscience arguing, the theory of the authoritarian personality establishes the malevolence of conservatives as scientific fact.
Dean, of course, speaks from the 'experience' of having been a 'Goldwater Conservative'. I speak from the experience of having interviewed numerous 'conservatives' and, in the process collecting a series of 'self-reinforcing' rationalizations.
Is it true, for example, that 'Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us”? Maybe Altemeyer thinks that anyone who answers 'yes” pines for a charismatic nationalist leader a la—who else? Adolf Hitler. But, in fact, any effective political leader could fit the description. In the civil-rights era, for example, did not our country 'desperately need' (to rectify injustice) a 'mighty leader” (he certainly had a large following) such as the sainted Martin Luther King Jr. who was willing to 'do what it takes” (organize marches and boycotts) to 'stamp out” (end) 'sinfulness” (segregation) and 'radical new ways” (racist backlash)? Logical consistency would compel nearly everyone to agree with the statement, no matter how provocatively phrased. If it turns out that only conservatives say that they agree, this shows only that conservatives understand the meaning of words.

--Conformity Without Conscience, The American Conservative
The 'refutation' misses the point that 'conservatives' --statistically --will never recognize any other condition. In other words, any status quo --especially those caused by the conservative mindset itself--will always be seen by the RWA as requiring a strong leader. Nothing is proven. The 'conservative' mindset just repeats a faulty premise or, worse, mistakes a pre-conceived notion for one. The conservative mindset may never notice or grasp the significance of evidence that the 'mindset' itself and policies issuing it from it are the cause of the status quo cited to justify war, torture, or even atrocities. This is most certainly the case with 'terrorism' cited to justify wars of aggression and torture which are themselves the root cause of 'terrorism'. You have thus entered the circular, self-reinforced world of GOP delusion! [See: Terrorism is worse under GOP regimes]

Typically, as predicted by Altemeyer, his studies are dismissed not because they are objectively flawed but because they do not conform to pre-conceived, conservative models of the world.

It does not follow that because Martin Luther King Jr may have been a 'great leader' that he was, therefore, 'authoritarian'. It is interesting that the example of Ghandi was not cited by the conservative authors whose assumptions are predictable and self-reinforcing: that no one but 'authoritarian conservatives' may be great leaders. Conservative logic argues as follows: Martin Luther King was a great leader. Therefore, he must have been an 'authoritarian conservative'. In the GOP/conservative bizarro world, houses precede their foundations, conclusions precede their premises. Welcome to Alice in Wonderland!

That, of course, brings me to yet another symptom to be found in abundance among members of the Bush regime and his many supporters throughout the GOP: delusions! Delusions are typically associated with 'psychoses' --schizophrenia, global psychopathology. I am inclined to assign Bush and his supporters into one of two camps: those who are truly 'delusional' and those who exploit delusions for political gain, i.e, those who know better but tell the lies anyway knowing that they will be eagerly lapped up by those whose belief in them is irrational and symptomatic. The GOP thus feeds upon its own insanity.

Yet another category are those 'Republicans' who may know better but for emotional reasons chose to support Bush. It was Republicans of this sort who supported the disastrous economic policies of Ronald Reagan, 'trickle down' theory, in particular, because it made them 'feel good about themselves'. The tax cuts, they willfully believed, would not merely make them even richer but monies not paid in taxes would somehow 'trickle down' and assuage them of the guilt they might have felt about being petty, greedy, intellectually dishonest members of a self-absorbed and 'psychopathic' elite of 'Right Wing Authoritarians'.
The last string of studies I want to lay before you ... concerns authoritarians’ willingness to hold officials accountable for their misdeeds. Or rather, their lack of willingness--which catches your eye because high RWAs generally favor punishing the bejabbers out of misdoers. But they proved less likely than most people to punish a police officer who beat up a handcuffed demonstrator, or a chief of detectives who assaulted an accused child molester being held in jail, or--paralleling the trial of US Army Lt. William Calley--an Air Force officer convicted of murder after leading unauthorized raids on Vietnamese villages.

...

If some day George W. Bush is indicted for authorizing torture, you can bet your bottom dollar the high RWAs will howl to the heavens in protest. It won’t matter how extensive the torture was, how cruel and sickening it was, how many years it went on, how many prisoners died, how devious Bush was in trying to evade America’s laws and traditional stand against torture, or how many treaties the US
broke. Such an indictment would grind right up against the core of authoritarian followers, and they won’t have it. Maybe they’ll even say, 'The president was busy running the war. He didn’t really know. It was all done by Rumsfeld and others.”

--Altermeyer, op cit
Applying standards inequitably must surely stem from the observed inability of 'conservatives' to think logically. 'Conservatives' work backward from conclusions, in a biased search for supporting premises. Dick Cheney is a text-book example! He recently quashed facts not liked by the conservative 'authoritarian' in power; he moved to quash a report that supports the critics of the Bush administration with regard to the greenhouse effect.
"This is the story of a White House and vice president's office that work together to squelch information, to squash it, to stop it from getting to the public so that there would be no information out there, so that there wouldn't be a push for them to act," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who appeared with Burnett at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Boxer accused White House Press Secretary Dana Perino of lying about the redaction of Gerberding's testimony and engaging in a cover-up.

--Cheney Wanted Cuts in Climate Change Testimony, Boxer Claims Cover-Up, ABC News
It is in this mindset that we find the origins of the GOP attack on the Bill of Rights.

Altermeyer believes that conservatives have a problem with 'evidence' in general. This is an issue that seems especially relevant to the debate about 'torture', a debate in which the 'conservative' defense of Bush is flatly indefensible.
Authoritarian followers aren’t going to question, they’re going to parrot. After all, in the ethnocentric mind 'We are the Good Guys and our opponents are abominations”--which is precisely the thinking of the Islamic authoritarian followers who become suicide bombers in Iraq. And if we turn out not to be such good guys, as news of massacres and the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, by the CIA, and by the arms-length 'companies” set up to torture prisoners becomes known, authoritarian followers simply don’t want to know. It was just a few, lower level 'bad apples.” Didn’t the president say he was sickened by the revelations of torture, and all American wrong-doers would be punished?

...

Sitting in the jury room of the Port Angeles, Washington court house in 1989, Mary Wegmann might have felt she had suddenly been transferred to a parallel 76 universe in some Twilight Zone story. For certain fellow-jury members seemed to have attended a different trial than the one she had just witnessed. They could not remember some pieces of evidence, they invented evidence that did not exist, and they steadily made erroneous inferences from the material that everyone could agree on. Encountering my research as she was later developing her Ph.D. dissertation project, she suspected the people who 'got it wrong” had been mainly high RWAs. So she recruited a sample of adults from the Clallam County jury list, and a group of students from Peninsula College and gave them various memory and inference tests. For example, they listened to a tape of two lawyers debating a school segregation case on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour program. Wegmann found High RWAs indeed had more trouble remembering details of the material they’d encountered, and they made more incorrect inferences on a reasoning test than others usually did. Overall, the authoritarians had lots of trouble simply thinking straight.

Intrigued, I gave the inferences test that Mary Wegmann had used to two large samples of students at my university. In both studies high RWAs went down in flames more than others did. They particularly had trouble figuring out that an inference or deduction was wrong. To illustrate, suppose they had gotten the following syllogism:
All fish live in the sea.
Sharks live in the sea..
Therefore, sharks are fish.
The conclusion does not follow, but high RWAs would be more likely to say the reasoning is correct than most people would. If you ask them why it seems right, they would likely tell you, 'Because sharks are fish.” In other words, they thought the reasoning was sound because they agreed with the last statement. If the conclusion is right, they figure, then the reasoning must have been right. Or to put it another way, they don’t 'get it” that the reasoning matters--especially on a reasoning test.

Authoritarians do not 'infer' well; in other words, as a class, they lack critical thinking skills, logic! They are often fail to execute simple syllogisms.
A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity".

As if that was not enough to get Republican blood boiling, the report's four authors linked Hitler, Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and the rightwing talkshow host, Rush Limbaugh, arguing they all suffered from the same affliction.

All of them "preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality".

Republicans are demanding to know why the psychologists behind the report, Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, received $1.2m in public funds for their research from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The authors also peer into the psyche of President George Bush, who turns out to be a textbook case. The telltale signs are his preference for moral certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance.

"This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes," the authors argue in the Psychological Bulletin.

One of the psychologists behind the study, Jack Glaser, said the aversion to shades of grey and the need for "closure" could explain the fact that the Bush administration ignored intelligence that contradicted its beliefs about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The authors, presumably aware of the outrage they were likely to trigger, added a disclaimer that their study "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false".

Another author, Arie Kruglanski, of the University of Maryland, said he had received hate mail since the article was published, but he insisted that the study "is not critical of conservatives at all". "The variables we talk about are general human dimensions," he said. "These are the same dimensions that contribute to loyalty and commitment to the group. Liberals might be less intolerant of ambiguity, but they may be less decisive, less committed, less loyal."

--Study of Bush's psyche touches a nerve
We should teach people while they are still in school real critical thinking skills! Now --that would shake up the political landscape and blast holes in the 'conventional wisdom'. It would also put more than a few loudmouths, pundits, and poll-impaired consultants out of a job! Somehow --the message must be made clear even to conservatives, in language that even they must understand: torture is not OK! EVER! It is immoral and it is a war crime! Bush is culpable and should be prosecuted.

A new poll of citizens’ attitudes about torture in 19 nations finds Americans among the most accepting of the practice. Although a slight majority say torture should be universally prohibited, 44 percent think torture of terrorist suspects should be allowed, and more than one in 10 think torture should generally be allowed.

The findings of the WorldPublicOpinion.org poll put the United States alongside countries like Russia, Egypt and the Ukraine and lagging far behind allies like Great Britain, Spain and France in how its citizens view torture.

The poll found 53 percent of Americans believed all torture should be prohibited; the average in all 19 countries polled was 57 percent. Poll: 44% of Americans favor torture for terrorist suspects

--Nick Juliano, Tuesday, 24 June 2008, Majority disapprove of torture, 1 in 10 favor in any instance

Ronald Reagan must be forever remembered as a feeble minded 'psychopath' who made an entire 'party' of psychopaths feel good about themselves thus relieving them of something that both the GOP rank and file and 'psychopaths' in general find oppressing: responsibility. The GOP raison d'etre is that of escaping responsibility, though it is only through the acceptance of responsibility for one's own actions that one is free. In this context, it is easy to understand the GOPs fascination with authoritarian and fascist-leaning regimes. When a dictator is in charge, the individual is relieved of all responsibility for his life and others. But neither is he free!
PRINCETON, NJ -- There is a significant political divide in beliefs about the origin of human beings, with 60% of Republicans saying humans were created in their present form by God 10,000 years ago, a belief shared by only 40% of independents and 38% of Democrats.

Gallup has been asking this three-part question about the origin of humans since 1982. Perhaps surprisingly to some, the results for the broad sample of adult Americans show very little change over the years.

Between 43% and 47% of Americans have agreed during this 26-year time period with the creationist view that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. Between 35% and 40% have agreed with the alternative explanation that humans evolved, but with God guiding the process, while 9% to 14% have chosen a pure secularist evolution perspective that humans evolved with no guidance by God.

The significantly higher percentage of Republicans who select the creationist view reflects in part the strong relationship between religion and views on the origin of humans. Republicans are significantly more likely to attend church weekly than are others, and Americans who attend church weekly are highly likely to select the creationist alternative for the origin of humans.

Implications

Although it is not a front-burner issue (particularly in light of the economy and the price of gasoline) the issue of teaching evolution in schools came up on the campaign trail last year, and could resurface in one way or the other between now and the November election.

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is facing the challenge of gaining the confidence and enthusiasm of conservative Republicans. Turnout among this group could be an important factor in determining the final vote outcome in a number of key swing states. As seen here, Republicans are in general sympathetic to the creationist explanation of the origin of humans, and if the issue of what is taught in schools relating to evolution and creationism surfaces as a campaign issue, McCain's response could turn out to be quite important.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,017 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 8-11, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
I prefer facts to frames, verifiable data to punditry, reality to myth making and slick, focus group approved propaganda. Jacob Bronowski summed it all up very well in a single sentence: behave in such a way that what is true may be verified to be so!



Mel Brooks - The Hitler Rap

Additional resources


Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009

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