Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Posts tagged “U.S. Politics

On her last day as First Lady, Betty Ford jumped on the Cabinet Room table in the White House and started dancing; ca. 1977

This was when she was still on drugs. Afterwards ... BOR ... ING !

An ashtray at every seat. You sure won’t see that anymore.

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Conservative Christianity and the Republican Party:

I read a really good history of the Southern Baptist Convention, a couple of years ago (sadly, I forget both author and title) that documented the conscious decision by which the national leadership of the SBC, during the Reconstruction, made a conscious decision to be the voice of moral authority on the Confederate revisionist side, to embrace and defend the religious and social complaints of the former slave-holding class in the old Confederacy. So by the time of the rise of the Religious Right as we know it, the Southern Baptist Church had already invested nearly 100 years in raising, training, and providing volunteers for pro-segregation candidates in both political parties. After Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, that put the Southern Baptist Church firmly on the Republican side.

Also in 1964, at the presidential nominating convention (per the speeches and writings of Goldwater delegate and best-sellling conspiracy theory author John Stormer), was the meeting of the Republican Anti-Communist Caucus at which the leader of the top fundamentalist seminary in America, Dallas Theological Seminary, committed to revising the curriculum to persuade all future fundamentalist ministers that fighting Communism was Christian cause number one, and to teach that it was therefore a religious duty of all Christians to support politicians from what they saw as the only reliable anti-socialist, anti-communist party, the Republicans.

In 1968, the Pope of the Catholic Church issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which, among other things, banned the practice of contraception or abortion. By 1968, feminism was already seen as a left-wing political cause for long enough that it was being paid lip-service by even center-left politicians in the Democratic Party, which fairly rapidly coalesced into the current situation where observant Catholics feel forced into supporting the only anti-feminist political party, the Republicans.

In the second volume of his auto-biography, Francis Schaeffer, Jr., the son of the famous evangelist (and founder of the modern fundamentalist movement) Francis Schaeffer, documents that it was his personal revulsion to the idea of legal abortion, after 1973 Roe v Wade, that persuaded him to argue his father into telling wealthy Protestant fundamentalists that opposition to abortion was the most important Christian cause, and that they needed to donate money that funded the founding of Moral Majority. Schaeffer Junior says that he approached politicians in both parties, offering them the support of Moral Majority if they would denounce legal abortion, making the argument to Democrats that the traditional Catholic origins of organized labor and their traditional embrace of government regulation made anti-abortion a Democratic cause, only to find himself out-maneuvered by feminists on the platform committees and organizing committees. So, he says, he had no choice but, as their lead fund-raiser, to encourage early Moral Majority leaders to embrace Republicans, and their embrace of traditional rural values (see neo-Confederacy, above), as the only hope of seeing legal abortion overturned. (A decision he now says he regrets, but feels that the feminists left him with no alternative.)

(*Post-1964, the Southern Baptist Church embraced the Republican Party for segregationist reasons; post-1973, Moral Majority and the Catholic bishops both embraced the Republican Party for anti-feminism reasons.)


It’s simple. Fear trumps Reason.

There are solid scientific reasons for why fear is such a motivator in politics. The parts of our brain that control fear and reason evolved in different ways and are connected in different ways that give fear the upper hand.

The human brain’s fear center is the amygdala, an almond-shaped bundle of neurons near the brain’s center. In the course of evolution, the amygdala’s fear circuitry got a head start on the neocortex, the seat of conscious awareness. The amygdala is simply more evolved.

It’s tough to overcome our fears because of the way the two sites are connected to the rest of the brain. The amygdala has a one-way pipeline to the neocortex, but there’s no return feed, meaning that the logical, thoughtful cortex can be overrun by the brain’s fear machine. It takes a lot of persistence and concentration to make things work the other way around, but it’s doable.

What makes fearing socialism a potent political tactic is the possibility that for some people the amygdala and the neocortex might actually be in sync on this topic.

If you truly believe that Democrats are moving toward socialism — and if you genuinely fear whatever you think socialism is — your logical neocortex has no reason to control the fear impulse. The amygdala goes wild, especially at Tea Parties.

The trouble for Democrats is that appealing to reason to assuage the fearful just won’t work in this case. Unless they want to try acknowledging that they are drifting toward socialism, and that it’s not really so scary.


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More Awesome from Harry Reid:

Pete Sessions is the Republican who told Obama he can’t stand to look at him, according to … Harry Reid

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Harry Reid is spreading gossip and I could not love him more. He’s been ratted out as the gossip starter behind the rumor that Rep. Pete Sessions told Barack Obama, to his face, in the White House, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

But why do I believe Harry Reid? Besides because “I want to”?

ReidRomneyRemember back in the campaign when Harry Reid was all like : “A little bird told me Mitt Romney never paid a tax in his life, why doesn’t Mitt release his tax returns and prove me wrong?” and everyone was all like YOU ARE A LIAR HARRY REID until the day the RNC accidentally confirmed he’d been right all along? Good times.

So Harry Reid says he was told about Sessions’ Southern Gentleman act by a White House aide who was at the meeting with the GOP leadership and the President. And then Harry Reid got on a threeway call with his whole Democratic caucus about it. And then they told two friends, and they told two friends, and Dick Durbin put it on his facebook and the rest is history. The history of Harry Reid being an awesome gossip with excellent sources, the end.

Harry-Reid-Scott-J.-Ferrell-Congressional-Quarterly-Getty-Images(I hope Barry Obama writes one scortcher of a book when he’s out of office, when he doesn’t have to take this crap anymore, and tells the truth about these CRAZY ASSHOLES that he has been dealing with him for the past 8 years. But instead, he’ll probably take the high road, which he has done all his life. Ugh! Maybe he can get Biden to ghost-write it, in which case it’ll just be the word “FUCK” repeated for 400 pages.)

Joe Biden