In Search of Meaning, why do they do it?

When Polish Jew, Henri Tajfel, left Poland to study Chemistry in Sorbonne, France he did not know that when he returned that none of his immediate family and few of his friends would be alive. The Second World War would find in France, where he volunteered in the French Army and later would become a prisoner of war a year later.

He would face a dilemma, announce to his captors deny he was a Polish Jew or claim to be a French citizen. In the end he admitted to being Jewish but claimed French citizenship. This act probably saved his life as he survived the war in a series of POW camps. This experience also embarked him on a quest to find out the reasons for prejudice and intergroup relations.

After the war he worked with a Jewish organization helping to resettle Jewish orphans and the UN’s refugee Organization, but it was his work in social psychology that is the most influential to this day. After moving to the UK to study psychology and graduating his research examining different areas of social psychology, social judgment, nationalism and prejudice that I want to talk about.


Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Little Lies

In 1987, Fleetwood Mac released the song “Little Lies” it would be their last top 10 hit in the US. As the song goes the singer would rather hear “little lies” than the truth. We as a country are willing to accept the fantasy, the little lies than to inform ourselves.

If I could turn the page
In time then I’d rearrange just a day or two
Close my, close my, close my eyes
But I couldn’t find a way
So I’ll settle for one day to belive in you
Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

We allow others to re-write history, to re-arrange events, to re-define people, all to conform, to get along, to not offend, to question lest we be labeled sexist, racist, extremist, Conservative, out of touch or just plain crazy.  In seeking this conformity we forget that Little Lies have a way of becoming Large Lies and that while that little lie does not affect you personally,  at this time, those big ones will one day.

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
Although I’m not making plans
I hope that you understand there’s a reason why
Close your, close your, close your eyes
No more broken hearts

It is easier to accept the lies, nobody wants to be heartbroken. It is hard to accept that you been duped, that you have been lied to , that the world is a dangerous place and it cannot fit into easy understandable, predictable and controllable ways. The real world is harsh, it is cruel, it has no pity and accepts no excuses or good intentions.

A few months ago, Ezra Klein former columnist for the Washington Post, got together with other writer and columnist to launch a new website  Its aim is to explain complex problems in a short column or a 5 minute video. I was awestruck that the idea, it was perfect for today’s generation. A generation that has the attention span of a 30 second commercial. At the same time I was floored that such an idea could get the backing he requested $10 million dollars and that such a thing was even contemplated. The sheer brazenness and arrogance of Klein and his collaborators to think that they would succeed at this venture was and is amazing.

I guess that is the whole point, we like little lies, as any attempt to explain complex problems so callously would entail. How else could think that explaining the Iraq problems, or the IRS scandal or even the Obama Administrations failures could be explained in such a short concise manner.

But, we Americans and most residents of what is call the First World are nothing but arrogant. We are so arrogant that many believe that not only can we affect the weather but the entire global climate.  We recede the oceans, save the whales and polar bears even if they are not in any danger from changes in the weather.  We have deified ourselves, that we know exactly what time conception occurs and the difference between a clump of cells and what would be a human being. We know that if someone is biologically a male but feels in his heart that he is a female that this is as it should be. I think therefore I am, I am a female or male then that is all there is to it. Biology be damn, after all with some hormone treatments and a little nip here or there we can be whoever or whatever we want to be.

This is how a little know Jr. Senator from the State of Illinois is elected to the Highest Office in the US. We know he attended Columbia and Harvard Law School but for someone who has been declared the smartest President in our history, we have no idea what his grades were.  Does anyone think today that if he was an ace student, considering how narcissistic he has been, that we would not be constantly reminded of how well he did in school? This was a pretty lie we told ourselves to at least justify to our selves voting for an unknown entity with really sharp creases and the ability to read a speech from the teleprompter.

Women told themselves lies about Sarah Palin, what “real” woman is still married to his high school sweetheart, 20+ years later. Is not like she attended an Ivy League school, she graduated from the University of Idaho, Idaho.  Palin not only worked but had more than 2 kids, one who had Down Syndrome. I know she was the youngest and first female elected to governor in Alaska but we know that there had to been some shenanigans for that to happen. Worst of all she was unabashedly a follower of that cult of paternalistic, gay hating, anti-abortion group of people; the Christians.

We were told that we could spend ourselves out of a recession, that we could “reset” with Russia, that we could negotiate with terrorists without detriment, that we could replace all of our energy needs using 13th century technology and solar batteries. We were told that we could create a new health care program which would insure everyone, but if we like our plan we could keep it, if we like our doctor we could him to and not only would it not cost us more but it would save us $2500 a year.

We were told that a YouTube video which few had seen, not only caused mass protests and riots in Egypt but led to the attacks on our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, who were told we had help dispose of its leader to prevent him from defending hi self in a revolution. We were told that these people who were revolting were Moderates, who really liked us and would help the country.

We were told that a few rogue IRS agents in an office in Cincinnati were responsible for denying, delaying, releasing information on non-profits groups that would be opposed to the Administration. Now that we know that this is not exactly the truth, we are told that the e-mail communications of the lead official in charge of supervising this are lost due to a computer failure, but not just hers but 6 other officials which would also have been involved all suffered catastrophic computer failures so their e-mail communications are lost as well.

Too many have accepted the little lies, too many have made excuses, have attempted to clarify, to tell us that what we were told, was not what we thought but something else entirely.  Regardless many say it is for our own good, if it didn’t work it is not because of them, the liars, but those who resisted the lies, yes they are the ones responsible. Because it is not a lie if you believe in it, if you close your eyes, you can make it true.

That is why someone who has lived for 18 years on  residences provided free of charge, while earning 4 times the median family income can go on National TV,  and with a straight face claim that she understands what Americans are feeling, because after 18 years of receiving room and board from us, she was broke from debts she acquired to buy 2 new homes while waiting for multi-million dollars windfalls in book deals that were in the works.

This is how our President can claim to emphasize with single parent homes, completely forgetting that he grew up with his grandparents who paid for his elite private school in Hawaii while his mother continued to live in Indonesia. This is how a 6′ + tall young black male, Trayvon Martin on his 3rd 10 day suspension from school in a little over half the school year, can become the martyr for all young black males. How a portly short Hispanic man, of mix heritage can become the most hated man in the country and have part of his heritage brushed aside because it is inconvenient.  How his parents which had him bounce from home to home and who was left alone with son of his father’s mistress for the weekend are now the epitome of the perfect parents for our country.

Is not that politicians lie, that is expected to a degree.  Some lie by omission, some over promise, some lie our ignorance, some for expediency like I said it is expected to a degree. What I do expect is that there be consequences for continued lying.  That we could be more discerning and not so cheap with our trust. I hope that when little lies become big lies, that we stop reelecting those that abuse our trust, and it is not just politicians but the media, or anyone else.

It is up to us, to make that happen, accountability in government or anywhere else begins with us. As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying

“The government you elect is government you deserve.”

H.L. Mencken said the same thing, but better:

“People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”

Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies


What wrong with Conservatives?

I was watching Bill Whittle‘s speech on YouTube and after it I was left wondering what is wrong with Conservatives?  Watch the speech first, maybe the answer can be found there.

So what is wrong with Conservatives?  Bill thinks that it is because we don’t believe our message and he has a point, but only to an extent.  It not just that some don’t believe the message is that we don’t express it.  We can believe it but when it comes down to it we just don’t know how to express it, we sugar-coated it.  We try to express our ideals by what the other side is saying.

You see a Progressive listening to that wonderful speech, would say that Bill is a war-mongering, agitator, a bully in other words.  They would not get pass that to understand that he is not proposing attacks or more war, but he is holding the other people responsible for their actions.  If the Iranians want to support those that are killing Americans, then they will face the consequences of that decision, because we will retaliate.  See the difference.

Some would say that Bill is uncaring for suggesting that attacks against innocents is the way to act.  I see it as he is very caring, about American lives, first.  We are citizens of the World but we live in America, the citizens of Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc  don’t care about us,  in fact they want to become Americans citizens themselves.

Some have said that Romney would be rude for talking about how rich he compared to others.  Why, he made the money, it is his.  He pays his taxes, and besides the point is that any of us, could be him.  Any of us if we are successful can become a Romney, or a Buffett, or a Trump or a Gates.  How many other places on Earth can say that,  that working out of your garage you could become a billionaire and not have noble birth or are a member of the Communist Party.

There was a time when becoming a millionaire was something rare, a very limited club exclusive to the royalty and country leaders, now in the US alone there are 9 million millionaires, many who started with just and idea and a dream.  We use to celebrate that, they were our role models, today we denigrate them.  It is ironic to me that so many of these are proponents or called themselves Progressives, like Buffett whose company has been fighting the IRS for 10 years.  People like those actors who profess to support every Progressive idea, but have teams of lawyers and accountants to ensure every penny they earned is protected from the taxman.

What is wrong with Conservatives? I have heard civil rights leaders proclaim that Conservatives don’t care about them or their issues.   I have heard some say that Conservatives want to put chains on them again.  When the reality is that we want to unchained them, allow them to reach their potential.  We don’t think that they are less smart, and try to dumb down test so they can pass them.  We think they can be just as intelligent and more.

Conservatives don’t want to remove the safety net, we want the net to catch them when they stumbled, allowing them to get back on their feet,  we just don’t want that net to become a blanket for them to hide under.  Conservatives don’t think it is their business to tell  adult people what to eat,  how much soda to drink, which doctor they can see.  We understand that some schools are better that other, that human, so we want to give vouchers for those willing, or wanting the option for private schools.  We think that a bureaucrat in Washington is not better equipped that the local school board to determine the needs of our kids.

Conservatives believes that we have laws as set forth by the Constitution, that are pretty damn good, it is not a living organism  and it some things can be improved upon, but it has served us well for all of 237 years, there is a reason countries when crafting their own constitutions use ours as a guide.

We believe in freedom of choice, freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom to fail or succeed.  Is is a fact that not everyone can become a millionaire, but everyone should have the ability to.  We believe that if you come to our country illegally and break the rules, you don’t get rewarded for that.   Imagine if someone breaks into your house, and sets up camp, without your permission or invitation,  that person eats your food, watches cable  you pay for, perhaps that person even assists you in some way but the fact remains that he broke into your home and now you can’t get rid of him.  That is how Conservatives feel about illegals, it is not that we are uncaring for their plight,  we understand why you want to live in my house and enjoy what I have, but the difference I paid for it, and I did not invite you.

What is wrong with Conservatives?  Well I guess we are uncaring, we believe that you are responsible for your personal choices, if you had unprotected sex, and you got pregnant, you should bear the consequences of that choice, and please don’t ask me to pay for your contraceptives, I am not enjoying the act so why should I pay for it.  We spend millions to educate kids about the birds and the bees, so they should be not surprise if you do the deed and seed is planted.

We don’t like quotas, set asides, graduated scores, affirmative action of any kind, you should succeed on your merits and not as a result of a formula that someone came up with.  We believe that government is working for the people not the people working for the government.  That it should spend the money that we provide properly, with a balance budget, without deficits and in the open.  That government workers are there to serve us, their employers, when government workers are earning more than those in private practice then we have a problem.

We believe that as Bill says entitled to your own opinion, just not your own facts.  What is wrong with Conservatives?

Nothing, maybe we just change the name, Tea Party anyone!