Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ryan's Post-Truthiness, Plus Insight from George Lakoff

The Todd Akin kerfuffle has Paul Ryan having to lie through his teeth about previously held beliefs. Daily Kos has a good breakdown:
Poor Paul Ryan. As one of the most fervent anti-woman Republicans in the House, he must be aching to come to the defense of his bestest bud Todd Akin. After all, they've voted together 93 percent of the time, so they see eye-to-eye on pretty much everything—including whether there are different types of rape that are not as bad as real rape and whether it's ever okay for women to have abortions. (Spoiler alert: Yes and no.)
But because Ryan is now Mitt Romney's running mate, he has to keep a lid on the crazy. The campaign even forced Ryan to sit down for an interview to disavow Akin's claims and pretend that he's shocked and offended by Akin articulating exactly what Ryan also believes.
Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would have separated out "forcible rape" from other kinds of rape. End of story. Oops, unless you're running for VP:

Soooo, Paul Ryan is a staunch pro-life candidate in every respect, until he isn't. What will his conservative base think? He'd better start wink-winking and nudge-nudging very soon.

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Also for your edification I offer a gentleman named George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at UC Berkeley, whose theories have fascinated me since I met him at an education conference some years back. He writes today in the Huffington Post:
America was born with a great soul, a moral view of Democracy in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and join together to take responsibility not just for themselves but for each other, for America as a union, a joint enterprise. The government's job was to carry out that moral vision and to do so it created what we call The Public, the provision of basic protection and empowerment for all.
From the beginning of America, the Public provided roads and bridges, public schools, hospitals, a national bank, a patent office, police, a justice system, public buildings and records, and more. Since then the Public has expanded as public needs have expanded -- sewers, clean water, public transportation, public health and disease control, scientific research, the internet, GPS, an energy grid, parks, and much, much more.
The Public provides freedom, the freedom to use what the Public provides to live a decent life and to start businesses. Without the public, there would be no American way of life, no freedom to live a decent life, to run or work in businesses, or work as a public servant. The Public carries out the work of America's soul.

George Lakoff
Lakoff goes on to call a budget that doesn't provide for such public works a "Devil's Budget," which sounds a bit over the top until you stop to think exactly what he means: a budget that promises you that you don't have to pay for this stuff anymore because you won't have to pay taxes when you become incredibly wealthy with all this Randian, libertarian freedom is, in essence, a Faustian deal with the Devil. Why? It's simply because you don't get rich shipping your products on crumbling roads and collapsing bridges, or spotty Internet service or untrustworthy financial institutions, for that matter.

There's Hell to pay eventually. And it isn't hyperbole. It's what's for dinner, after the electrical grid fails.

Lakoff also attracted my attention with another point in his piece:
[...] A significant number of Americans do not share America's founding moral vision. They have a different one. Democracy in America provides the liberty to seek one's own interests and well-being, without being responsible for the interests or well-being of anyone else. It's a morality of personal, but not social, responsibility. The only freedom you should have is what you can provide for yourself, not what the Public provides for you to start out. [boldface mine.]
 Why this resonated so well with me is because of the blow-back -- even from some liberals -- I got when making the case for banning nearly all guns. I thought, what's so important about gun ownership in a society that already has such a robust police presence?

The immediate assumption is that citizens in the U.S. want to be armed to insure that the government can never take away their rights or to insure that a police state could never be imposed. That, however, isn't the reason, in my view, if only because, let's face it, we Americans have already ceded many of our rights -- and continue to let them slip away a little bit at a time -- and we already live in a police state. And the odd thing is that conservatives, who should stand most mightily against this eventuality, are principally to blame, with their law-and-order stance and staunch support of things such as the Patriot Act.

Lakoff's comments, especially the one I highlighted in boldface above, clued me in: conservatives do believe in and support law-and-order positions and laws such as the Patriot Act primarily because they don't think they apply to them. They truly believe it's the "bad guys" that are affected.

North Idaho's Lightfoot Militia: Not the bad guys?

As for the fascination with guns, they want gun ownership in order to maintain their personal prerogatives, even as guns don't actually do so. This they want, in spite of the police state they've encouraged and in spite of the fact that the freedom to own so many lethal weapons often blow back on them in the form of gun violence.

The bad guys.

That's why episodes like Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Columbine capture America's attention so vividly. When it's the "bad guys" or the "other guys" -- read urban blacks and Latino gangs -- who cares? When it's whites in suburban settings, it's real.

The Aurora, Colorado, victims.

The personal prerogatives, the individual needs of citizens trump the well-being of society. Truly a Devil's bargain.

James Holme's personal prerogatives included a hundred-round magazine.

It's the same with financial reform and regulations. Conservatives actually believe that law and order is for suckers, the "other guys." They want loose regulations so they can get theirs. Can't they see that they're the ones so often gotten?

Did Bernie Madoff's personal prerogatives include tight financial regulations?

And we all breath the same air whether we're "libtards" or drill-baby-drill, live-free-or-die conservatives.

What's so conservative about coal-fired power plants?

Obviously, you can put me in the public-good camp. If that makes me a socialist -- in favor of what's good for society -- call me that, too. I happen to believe that a true conservative would be a socialist, too.

Who created the government-regulated, single-payer healthcare system in Canada? The Canadian Parliament did by a unanimous vote, which included every single member of the Conservative Party. Wow. Some "Americans" do appreciate the public good.

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