Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Big Questions

NBC file photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

As a public service, here is a transcript of my most recent interview with Elizabeth Docent...

Libby: It's good to see you again.
Howard: Likewise!
Libby: I've got another appointment, so I'm going to have to narrow the scope of this interview to just three questions.
Howard: I can handle that.
Libby: Are you ready?
Howard: Yes.  What's the first "Big Question?"

Libby: Why do they hate us?
Howard: Because they are taught to hate us.
Libby: I'll need you to amplify on that.

Howard: Political/Religious Groups (PRGs) increase their power and authority by selecting an adversary group and marginalizing it.  The adversary group becomes the cause of all that ails the members of the PRG.
The technique has been seen throughout history (even on the elementary school playground), but has been used with particular success in the Middle East.  Hatred of western culture is taught in the Madrasas and the Mosques.  When a PRG instills the intensity of emotion that incites a member of the group to strap on explosives and kill, that is a spectacular accomplishment.  We see it in the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan...
Libby:  Bring this back to America, if you would.
Howard: The widespread teaching of hatred is foreign to most Americans, and we don’t understand the political power of the technique.  However, we are becoming acquainted with its use.  Our soldiers in Iraq have noted how children act “like children” until they are teenagers, and then they succumb to the teachings of the Madrasas.  The older youngsters exhibit strong suspicion of Americans.

We also see elements of it in America.  Our political parties represent different policy viewpoints, but a powerful political tactic is to marginalize the opposing point of view by teaching that the person holding that view is a bad person: “a risky extremist.”  It may seem innocuous, but the application of the technique is devastating.

Cultures can teach a society to hate.

Libby: I'll have to think about that.
Howard:  That's fine.   What's the second "Big Question?"

Libby: Will President Obama be re-elected?
Howard: No.

Libby: Explain that.

Howard: Consider it the “Do as I say, not as I do” effect.  Many Americans are attracted to people who are steadfast in their principles.  We may not like that another individual thinks of taxpayer-funded healthcare as a “right,” but if the individual maintains that principle in resolute fashion, he or she earns our respect.

On the other hand, when principles are used as political props, it strikes us as a type of insincerity.  If our President declares a standard for transparency in government action, and then doesn’t follow it, we are disappointed.  We accept one or two such indiscretions, perhaps as a “political promise” that was used simply for campaign advantage, but these indiscretions have an additive effect.

When there are real problems in the country, the electorate begins to compare expectations (based on political promises) against actions taken.  President Obama has shortcomings in this area that will not be overlooked.

Libby: OK, last question: Who will win the Republican nomination for President in 2012?
Howard:  I don’t have a clue.

Libby: But you seemed so certain on the other questions…
Howard: I can tell you that I’m still a big fan of Sarah Palin, but a lot will happen in the next few months.

Libby: There's that "Palin thing" again.  Why do you support Governor Palin?

Howard: She puts our country first.  She understands what makes America a great place to live, and doesn’t want to see it squandered to advance the power and authority of a political party.  That philosophical stance, plus the cultural persecution that she has gamely endured, make her an attractive political figure to me.  The Arctic Fox is our modern day “Davy Crockett.”

Libby: Pretty strong words for an obscure blogger…

Howard: Someone’s got to say it.

UPDATE 6/24/2011:
Mark Tapscott, writing in The Examiner, gives an example of the "Do as I say, not as I do" effect.  He shows how the Jones Act is used as a political tool, and how the representation of a "national emergency" is politically pliable.

As noted above, many voters are attracted to leaders with steadfast principles.  If President Obama's only steadfast principle is to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party, he alienates a large group of American voters.

UPDATE 6/24/2011:
This BlackFive post demonstrates "Do as I say, not as I do" in an emotionally charged atmosphere.  President Obama represents that he is a capable Commander-in-Chief, but shows insensitivity for the sacrifices made by our armed forces.

UPDATE 6/30/2011:
Operation "Fast and Furious" at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has a whistleblower who is being terminated by the agency after 24 years of service.  Linda Greene has a story titled "Obama's War on Whistleblowers" at CounterPunch. It contrasts how President Obama pledged to protect whistleblowers in 2008 and is now doing the opposite:

Since he became president, Obama, acting under the Espionage Act, has indicted five whistleblowers who allegedly leaked sensitive government information, the New York Times reported on June 11. "In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions."

UPDATE 9/16/2011:
Stephen Moore in The Wall Street Journal provides a pretty good list of some of the "Do as I say, not as I do" proclamations of President Obama.

UPDATE 9/19/2011:
David Brooks in The New York Times gives voice to the emotional feel of "Do as I say, not as I do."

UPDATE 3/29/2012:
Peggy Noonan has a devastating take on the difficulty of President Obama's re-election.

UPDATE 10/10/2012:
Thomas Sowell gives a clear example of President Obama employing the "Do as I say, not as I do" effect.

UPDATE 10/27/2012:
Kimberley Strassel has a nice list of presidential "flip-flops."

UPDATE 11/7/2012:
President Obama wins re-election!  So much for my prediction...

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