Hope & Fear

I spent much of last week listening to call in shows on Wisconsin Public radio. Suffice to say, conservatives are not prominent either among the guests or the callers. Big themes were hope and fear. The guests and the commentators thought that conservatives use a combination of hope and fear to trick the common folk. Of course, left leaning experts see right through this.

One woman featured on several shows has written a book called the Paranoia Switch. She was my favorite, the best natterer. But evidently liberal establishment psychologists in general are stepping up to explain why supporting a strong national defense is just plain nuts. I guess, it makes liberals feel good to have the support of such as successful profession. These are the guys who cured Woody Alan, after all. Besides, all those electric shock therapy sessions and lobotomies were so successful in the past that they figure they can apply the same sorts of techniques to treat millions of people they have never met and do not understand.

But the biggest flaw in the psychoanalysis of America is that these guys just do not know what they are talking about. I have no doubt they are successful psychologists (although I doubt that bar is set very high). I can even believe that their psychological methods are as valid as anything in the social science can be (ditto re the bar). But when they extrapolate into politics and international affairs, their experience is simply inappropriate.

Socrates talked about this phenomenon more than two millennia ago. He observed that people who were expert at one thing automatically assumed they knew about other things. Modern pundit call this the halo effect.

What does a top-rank psychologist know about American politics that you do not? It depends on how much he follows politics. You should not think that he knows anything special because of his profession. To paraphrase Socrates expertise in one field does not give them special abilities to extrapolate into others.

But let's return to this hope and fear idea. Many of the commentators seemed offended that conservatives would bring up risk at all. The people might be frightened. One "expert" complained that Ronald Reagan was full of hope and yet warned of dangers. So what? Life is a balance of hopes & fears, carrots & sticks, prizes & penalties, risks & rewards. How stupid would it be to not recognize this? I guess only an expert who spends his time studying people long distance would fall into that trap.

Posted by Jack at September 12, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #232681

“I guess only an expert who spends his time studying people long distance would fall into that trap.”
Jack do you mean like uber conservative Dr. Frist diagnosing the Schiavo women in Florida from the Senate floor? Seems this article could apply to Cconservative doctors and well as liberal psychologists.

Posted by: j2t2 at September 13, 2007 12:45 AM
Comment #232695


What makes a Psychologist an expert?
Do they have to study a 100 people, 1,000, 10,000?
Or do they merely study what they see as trends?

Why to they call what they do “practice”?

Posted by: Rocky at September 13, 2007 4:20 AM
Comment #232696

For crying out loud Jack. This may be the worst article you’ve ever written.

There have been many on the far right or the the far left throughout history that are just embarrassing and sometimes downright dangerous, but to suggest that all Democrats heed every word of those you linked to is like me saying that all Republicans follow in the footsteps of self-proclaimed conservative Timothy McVeigh.

You generally do much better than this. You must be busy thinning and/or replanting. Of course I have no idea what the challenges are with your stand of trees or the seasons in your area, but you’re obviously “off your game”.

Go for the jugular.

Posted by: KansasDem at September 13, 2007 4:22 AM
Comment #232698
Life is a balance of hopes & fears, carrots & sticks, prizes & penalties, risks & rewards.

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up when I hear a conservative talk about “penalties.” You mean like the “penalties” Scooter Libby didn’t get? Is giving Tenet the Freedom medal a “penalty” for doing a lousy job?

The new conservative ideology holds that accountability is for suckers. People understand this. That’s why your party is circling the drain.


Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at September 13, 2007 6:08 AM
Comment #232701

My experience, Jack, of the Republican Party, is not hope and fear. It’s fear and necessity: no hope but the Republican Party. Don’t vote for us, and the Corrupt Democrats will take over Washington, overspend, overtax, overregulate, and take American society and the economy into the dumpster. Oh, and yes, they would sell us out to whatever current enemy there was.

This was good for the Republicans when Democrats had just made so many mistakes that they justified some of this. That’s what brought the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. by 2006, though, the Republicans had shown that they too could massively screw things up, and that their platitudes about fiscal responsibility and spending discipline were merely that.

The Problem of Republican Politics is that it’s mostly become based on opposition, to enemies on the outside, and rivals on the inside. As such, The Republican define themselves not by what they do, but by the strength and zeal of their opposition to whatever force they’ve dedicated themselves to opposing. They justify an awful lot for themselves, expedient measures to win the fights they want to win.

But like any culture of rationalization, at some point, anything goes. This has caused divides and defections in the party as the national party pushes extreme gimmees for the other parts that alienate other factions. The Theocons push for intervention in state affairs that alarms not only social moderates and liberals in the party, but also old guard conservatives who consider such things anathema. The Neocons push for foreign policy that similarly alienates those political conservatives. Meanwhile Wall Street Republican push for pro business policies that often include favorable regulations for things the Theocons despise, not to mention subsidies, tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare that strike Fiscal and government conservatives in the party as counter to small government, not interventionalist economic policies. These are just a few of the conflicts arising in the party.

Now, tensions are normal for any party, but the Republican way of going about things makes things more difficult for them. The Party’s general politics of opposition, of essentially making war against their rivals, is now being turned against itself. Normally, within a party, the Moderates would cushion the exchange, but unfortunately, the Republican party’s political constituency is lead by it’s most committed zealots, folks who see little compromise as possible or desireable on their favorite issues.

It was the Republican’s political strength going in that they had the people in the ranks willing to hammer other people over disagreements. The Republicans were nothing if not committed to win. Now, though, that fanaticism of special interest is making it impossible for the party to effectively unify in the face of a revived Democratic party, as well as impossible to leave behind exactly the kinds of nonsensical policies that have destroyed Republican credibility and put them at odds with most of the country.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2007 7:44 AM
Comment #232703

Jack, your reference to liberal establishment psychologists demonstrates that you neither comprehend nor wish to comprehend what the research and real data demonstrate.

Our nation has spent nearly a half trillion dollars and almost 4000 additional soldier’s lives, and cost the health and limbs of many times that number of soldiers, ALL in response to one event that killed slightly less than 3000 Americans and destroyed some expensive properties.

Had those same resources been spent on health care delivery, or crackdown on unsafe driving habits, or smoking cessation clinics across America, our government could have saved 10’s of thousands of American lives in the same time it spent killing 3800 more in Iraq.

These psychologists are pointing out real data and evidence that the effect of the 9/11 attacks in terms of fear created, so distorted the danger as to balloon it out of all proportion to the many other dangers and risks that impose far greater deaths and inhumanity on Americans than terrorists have or ever could.

Here’s another example. More than 80,000 Americans die or are maimed EACH YEAR in America by medical malpractice. In the 6 years since 9/11, that is nearly a half million Americans unjustly and inhumanely treated by a for profit medical community whose mistakes deadly mistakes go unaddressed. Our government could have saved perhaps 30 to 40% of that half million Americans had the same resources poured into Iraq been spent on our Medical Care delivery systems.

Americans face far, far greater risks and threats in America from fellow Americans than they do from terrorists. Which highlights potency of the psychology of fear, especially when it is enhanced and promulgated by our own government and media.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 8:09 AM
Comment #232709


It is not difficult to see that the republican party has been using the promulgation of fear to serve their agenda for years now. It is just another part of the sleaze package of political brain washing that many of us have come to expect from them. We have not reached these expectations by way of being told so. But rather that the party has simply used this ploy and cried wolf so many times that generally they no longer carry much credibility. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe us common people are simply intelligent enough to see through this ploy? And if so why shouldn’t psychologists who are trained in deciphering character anomalies be even more capable of recognizing such traits?

It would do the republican party well to ask themselves why us common folks carry this view. Perhaps a bit of deep party introspection is in order. It is my contention that this problem is the result of old tired and worn out political practices. A few years of truth, honesty, accountability and humility would go a long ways towards repairing what is widely seen as flawed political character and restoring a bit of integrity to the party.

Posted by: RickIL at September 13, 2007 9:49 AM
Comment #232711

What? You listened to Wisconsin Public Radio? Why weren’t you listening to Charlie Sykes’ rants on WTMJ or to the guy who follows Charlie??? I’m sure you’d be resting easy knowing Charlie and the other guy are keeping the world safe for democracy…

Posted by: Rachel at September 13, 2007 10:19 AM
Comment #232717

Abort,Is this the Liberal Democrats Favorite word?Abort a Child,Abort a War,Abort the Commanderin Chief?

Posted by: justwondering at September 13, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #232720

If the Liberal Democrats look at Family the way they look at Patriotism could this explain why there is so many Abortions in America?

Posted by: jaycee at September 13, 2007 1:01 PM
Comment #232723

No, it seems to be yours. It lets you feel like you’re better than most Americans out there, without having to actually argue to them the worth of the CINC or the war from real principles.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #232729

Republicans are the cheerleaders of patriotism. They focus their attention on the scoreboard and the crowd. They pay very little attention to the trials and tribulations that the team is enduring. They demand victory even when they have given the team a nearly impossible task while at the same time allowing less than half the team to suit up for the game.

Representative Boehner, (Republican,OH) summed up the Republican attitude when he said that the sacrifice of our soldiers and the $trillions in treasure are a small price to pay. A small price to pay for what, Republican pride?

Jack: Did you see the glee in the speculators eyes yesterday when oil hit $80 a barrel?

When the Surgekreig was begining to ramp up, the Republicans were issueing dire warnings about the consequences of pulling out of Iraq. They were saying things like chaos and $9 per gallon for gas. Is this an example of a Republican scare tactic that isn’t really a scare tactic because it is the truth?

Posted by: jlw at September 13, 2007 2:00 PM
Comment #232731

coming in to work, hearing about the latest casualties in Iraq and it suddenly struck me.

A handful of rich white nut jobs (the Bush Administration) are single-handedly responsible for the ruining the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqi’s (and decimation of its entire structure), and ruining the lives of tens of thousands of US Military families. (dead and maimed loved ones, soldiers who return home psychologically scarred for life, multiple, extended tours that rip families apart among other disruptions)
for what?
Because this cabal of idiots decided to play God?
How did we let this happen?
They were so arrogant, any questioning of their actions or planning were met with derision and distain “How dare you question us, we KNOW what we are doing.”
No matter if you feel this invasion was called for or not, in going in, we had the responsibility to follow thru CORRECTLY — I.E. DO IT RIGHT OR DON’T DO IT AT ALL.
Well, they did it, and they screwed it totally up and what price are THEY paying???
The Innocent Iraqi’s caught in the x-fire are paying.
Our soldiers are paying
Their families are paying
American Citizens are paying (actually our grandkids and their grandkids will get to pay)
Haliburton skims Billions and gets away with it
Rummy is retired and sunning himself somewhere
Rove, Cheney, all of those criminals are not paying for what they have done.
I love it when They say “we broke it, we bought it”
THEY BROKE IT, but it is all the others Buying it”
and then Jack comes along and has the hutzpah to spout this garbage?????

Posted by: russ at September 13, 2007 2:34 PM
Comment #232758

Hope and fear:

I “hope” we NEVER see another George Bush or Dick Cheney in office.

I “fear” we will.

Posted by: Tom L at September 13, 2007 6:13 PM
Comment #232784

I thought we got plenty of that when the man from Hope, Arlansas was crying that the Republicans were throwing America’s babies out with the bathwater. How fearful!

Or maybe when the “great white hope” was telling the American people that the NRA and militias were responsible for Oklahoma City a year after his Administration torched Waco.


Posted by: JD at September 13, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #232788

Tom L:

You made me laugh. That was poetic. Thanks.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 13, 2007 11:52 PM
Comment #232811

I would have to agree that it comes both ways, Dems and Reps use hope and fear equally.

Otherwise I would not be afraid everytime I think of Global Warming.

Difference is that we tend to have a debate on what the Dems think is fear mongering in terrorism. And no dialog or debate with Global Warming. We should just learn to be affraid and do something about it.

I don’t understand why with terrorism it is any different.

Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #232836

Edge No dialog or debate on global warming? On this site there has been a lot of dialog on global warming. Look through the archieves if you really want dialog on global warming.

Posted by: j2t2 at September 14, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #232837

Egads. What a Jack bash fest. All you were saying is that being an expert in one field doesn’t make you an expert in others. SO listening to Socialis Psychologists is far from a guarantee of accuracy.

Look at the flamers you get in response to your article. It’s classic liberalism. Attack the messsenger. Jack is off his game, Worst article ever, etc.

It’s the same liberals who say, I support the troops, but the general on the ground over there(who btw accomplishes more in one day that ANY blogger on here does in a year) is a liar and a croney and couldn’t possibly tell the truth. We support the troops, but love to compare them to nazis. We support the troops, but think they love to terrorize women and children for fun.

(Incidentally, to David and Stephen: Both of you know better than to compare money spent on defense to money spent on social services. It’s not one big account that you save a few billion here so you can spend it over there - do your homework.)

It ulitmately boils down to Liberals being invested in defeat/early withdrawal in Iraq - and Conservatives being invested in staying. For liberals, it’s not because you actually give a rat crap about our boys dying over there, that just works as your impenetrable shield behind which, you can throw spears at the dark lord GWB. This is all about you hating his guts, hating everything he does and doesn’t do, just plain hating his guts.

Libs win, we bring the boys home, socialize medicine, destroy the classic family and then when we get attacked for this kind of lifestlye/culture - altogether bluebloods say “It’s Bush’s fault for creating more terrorists with the war. If he hadn’t went into Iraq, they’d have been happy to leave us alone. Stupid Americans, if you had just elected a Liberal, we would have paid them billions in foreign aid, left them alone, and they would like us. They wouldn’t be one side of all 14 major conflicts happining in the world. They would call us the Great Saint and not the Great Satan.”

God save us from a Weenie in the White house.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at September 14, 2007 2:47 PM
Comment #232841

Boy Yukon Jake, is your post off the mark!

Posted by: womanmarine at September 14, 2007 3:18 PM
Comment #232843
Libs win, we bring the boys home, socialize medicine, destroy the classic family

How many times have Giuliani, Thompson, Reagan, Gingrich been married? Do they represent the “classic” family????

Posted by: Rachel at September 14, 2007 3:51 PM
Comment #232845

True. Phychology is not the profession which allows the most insight into modern American politics.

Today the most insight would be held by the officers of multinational corporations, and equally, the upper eschelons of organized religion.

“Politics” is about “Power relationshipts”, wheras psychology only deals with “Ordinary relationships”. So if you find yourself depressed or afraid due to the political environment, do yourself a favor and talk to a priest, or your boss. I’m sure that they will be able to help better than a psychologist.

Posted by: DOC at September 14, 2007 4:31 PM
Comment #232850

“Politics” is about “Power relationshipts”, wheras psychology only deals with “Ordinary relationships”.

The ignorance in this comment is extraordinary, as if power relationships did not make up the basis for a huge portion of child abuse, spousal abuse, and divorce cases in this country. Doc, I won’t bother to ask where the DOC handle came from. It certainly wasn’t from a BA in psychology, let alone a Ph.D.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #232851

Yukon said: “(Incidentally, to David and Stephen: Both of you know better than to compare money spent on defense to money spent on social services. It’s not one big account that you save a few billion here so you can spend it over there - do your homework.”

Man, the ignorance of the budgetary process for the federal government is pregnant in the comment quoted above. Of course the Congress and President have the authority to cut spending in defense and raise spending on social services. What law or provision of the Constitution prevents it? Never mind. Sorry I asked. There isn’t one.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 5:20 PM
Comment #232852

J2J2, you are right. I should have qualified that I think the national debate through the media has been more one sided.

While this web page reads left and green, with a some right THIS web page has encouraged dialog and debate. That is why I don’t mind posting.

That said, I still believe that national debate on global warming is based on fear (Gore’s movie et al). Movies like “Obsession” and “Path To 9/11” just don’t get the press and release to add to the terrorism debate.

I won’t argue that fear is used as a part of the debate on the right. I tend to agree with it, I am very affraid we will be attacked again, but I not need the media or right to tell me that.

Posted by: Edge at September 14, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #232877

David - LOL - I’m sorry that my sarcasm was lost on you. It was only used to illustrate a very dangerous reality, being that the more we avoid science, fact and reasoning in our political efforts, in leiu of mysticism and the almighty dollor, the more we will feel the fear and anger that these psychologists were discussing.

I agree that it would have been ignorant, if I had beleived any word of it. Perhaps I overreached my sarcastic limit on this one.

My personal beleif is that Jack is 180 degrees off on his assesment of this, and that psychology may be one of the only ways in which the political world makes any rational sense.

A large part of the human need for politics at all is based on differences in beleifs, motivations, culture, etc. and how to effectively manage those differences to a peaceful resolution. That’s why many policians historically have used the study of “Law” as a means to understand the political world. Unfortunatly, Law does not protect itself from beleifs, motivations, and culture, etc.

Equally unfortunate, is that there is no way to prevent a psychologist from bending the tools of science to defend a less than solid personal theory. I beleive that if a psychologist who professionally suggests that there is something wrong in beleiving in a strong national defense has blatantly misused his/her authority.

Once again. I apologize to those who took my sarcasm seriously.

Posted by: DOC at September 14, 2007 9:47 PM
Comment #232946

An interesting piece of info:

Greenspan criticizes Bush policies in memoir

Posted by: womanmarine at September 15, 2007 10:12 AM
Comment #232947


Arctic sea route opens

The Arctic’s Northwest Passage has opened up fully because of melting sea ice, clearing a long-sought but historically impassable route between Europe and Asia, the European Space Agency said.

Sea ice has shrunk in the Arctic to its lowest level since satellite measurements began 30 years ago, ESA said, showing images of the now “fully navigable” route between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 15, 2007 10:17 AM
Comment #233216

All these comments and no reply from Jack. He really is off his game.

Posted by: ray at September 17, 2007 3:31 PM
Comment #233304

ray…he has said he’s a busy guy these days. He’s not off his game, just involved in life.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 18, 2007 12:35 PM
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