Saturday, August 13, 2011

The (Republican?) [Anti]Confidence Game

[a fragment of debate]

Hal Morris

The Republican [Anti]Confidence Game

If we take seriously the idea that the mood of the country (confidence or panic) can have a huge effect on the market, the genius of FDR's "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" becomes clear.

On the other hand does anyone dare suggest that 2-1/2 years of a war against the president that showed its hand with the urging of parents to keep their children home from school the day he made a special address to schoolchildren -- that these years of calling the president a Marxist, a thug, a secret muslim, not an American citizen, an elitist intellectual an incompetent fool, a wild ideologue, a  triangulator with no ideology, and predicting doom for the country if he isn't stopped -- does anyone dare suggest that this is all bound to have a profoundly negative effect on the economy?

I expect to hear from the right equating criticism of their line of talk with a call for Stalinist censorship.

Watch this space.


Oh come on, HalMorris, we all know Obama's handlers are all from Wall Street. Do you remember all the fears of what a Catholic would do in the Presidency when JFK got elected? You got it, right into the Cuban missile crisis. How can we expect any different from Obama? And what if a Mormon got elected President? We have nothing to fear...... Lee in Rhode Island

My Counter-Response:
"Oh come on, HalMorris": Now that's a profound argument -- or rather device of implying "you know I'm right and you're wrong and you're just being -- stubborn? silly? whatever". Next comes: "we all know": -- a more obvious version of the same.

Not a productive way to have an argument. I'm pretty sure you don't know I'm right so I won't insult you with "Oh Come on" or "We all know".

What's with all these comparisons to Catholic or Mormon? What are we talking about, his race?

Anyway, I was around in Kennedy's day, though fairly young, and I'm a pretty serious historian, and what I see is a unique, up to this point in American history orchestrated campaign by Fox and other right wing media, right wing propaganda tanks, pseudo grass roots organizations like "Citizens for Prosperity", and anonymous but well coordinated emailers (note link here) and crazy or cynical bloggers -- all of which has become "the news" for a huge segment of the population -- probably less than, but close to a half.

The trouble is, 99% or more of what we know is second hand, and that can't be helped no matter how hard one tries, and most of us aren't even trying, but reading or listening to whatever we happen to read or listen to without questioning it, and thinking if gives us a pretty good idea of what's going on. Up til now, my reading is that we've had a balance of institutions, which we never as a people consciously planned or designed, not so great that we, e.g., consistently elected the best people for president, but giving us a close enough view of reality that we would not do anything as bad as what the Germans did to themselves in the 1930s. I think we've depended on luck, however, and can't take that for granted any more, which is part of why I've tried (feebly so far as I'm barely keeping solvent while working 80 hrs a week) to create a "truth project" (

Whatever our ideologies, I think we all have a stake in not merely being clever in distinguishing truth seeking from manipulation -- that will never be adequate -- but in structuring the flow of information such that we have some hope of really understanding what's going on. Scientific institutions managed to do that, and that is more key to their success than a particular way of doing experiments called "the scientific method". I think they have built up a methodology that works, as long as there actually is a reality to be observed (Hence history really does make progress, while literary criticism has no such common reality so it runs around in circles).

In what is happening to us politically, there is a reality to be observed though we are a long long way from being able to observe it with any confidence.

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