A Convalescent Musing

The incompetence of the Bush administration’s response to the Gulf Coast disaster is explainable by the strictly dualistic worldview of the neo-conservatives who comprise it. For anyone who sees the world in terms of black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, either-or, there’s no room for third (or fourth or fifth) possibilities. Action “A” *must* cause Result “B”, or their conception of reality falls apart. The neo-cons, therefore, are unable to cope with — or even recognize — chaos, especially when it results from their own actions, which could not possibly be in error. When chaos does arise, they are paralyzed until they can formulate a new duality to account for the unexpected result.

That’s what happened in Bagdad when the Iraqis didn’t throw flowers, and it’s what happened in New Orleans when it turned out that many Americans actually gave a shit whether their less fortunate countrymen lived or died.

7 Responses to “A Convalescent Musing”

  1. Elayne Riggs Says:

    I don’t think the incompetence from on high is due to the bullshit-swallowing abilities of their camp followers. I think Paul Krugman put it very well: “the federal government’s lethal ineptitude wasn’t just a consequence of Mr. Bush’s personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn’t forthcoming?” These are folks who quite deliberately appoint people to positions in agencies who are either incompetent, inexperienced or have open contempt for those same agencies. They quite obviously couldn’t care less about governing or public service; they’re only in it to enrich themselves.

  2. Brian Spence Says:

    My theory on the mindset of Republicans is a lack of empathy for other kinds of people. They can never understand why someone wouldn’t choose the life that they chose for themselves.

    “Why didn’t those people just leave New Orleans?”

    “Why won’t the Iraqis accept us with open arms and flowers?”

    “Why would anyone commit a crime?”

    “How could anyone kill a fetus?”

    “Gay people are gross! Who could do that?”

    My old boss at the comic book store I worked at was very right wing. He actually said,”why would anybody take out a loan to pay for something?” The guy had never actually been in debt. He went to William and Mary and got a degree in psychology. Opened his own comic book store. He has a collection of nice sports cars. Not to mention his huge collection of valuable comics. All because of mommy and daddy.

    He asked me this, as I was sitting there with $20,000 in student loans and a $15,000 car payment. I should have replied,”because I wouldn’t have a degree and a car? How do you want me to get to work? How do you expect me to do better in the future without a degree? How will I get enough money to buy a house?”

    The right thinks that anyone who disagrees with them is somehow incompetent, faulty, ignorant, etc. They condemn anyone who’s too blind or stupid to see it their way.

    The left tries to see the other side. What is their perspective? WHY does Osama Bin Laden hate us? We know it’s not just because he’s “evil” and he “hates our freedom”. We know poor people weren’t just too stupid to get out of Katrina’s path. We know why not every pregnancy is wanted. We look for understanding and compromise, if possible.

    In the right wing mindset, all people are either with them or against them. If someone disagrees with them, then they must either change or be stopped. That’s why they hand out such harsh criminal penalties expecting a change in behavior. They think the power of their words and their laws will get everyone on the same path as them. That’s why right wing hate radio has been so popular. It preaches that.

    Just my theory.

  3. Brian Spence Says:

    Wow, long post there. Sorry.

  4. Steve Gerber Says:

    Elayne: That’s still the dualistic mindset at work. Less government = good, more government = bad. Of course, they downsize government with little regard for *what* they’re cutting. Every cut must be good, because it diminishes government. So whether you cut FEMA or a study of insect mating behavior in Fiji doesn’t really matter.

    Brian: Your examples are all based on the duality, too. My lifestyle = right, your lifestyle = wrong. All the other assumptions proceed from there.

    You’re right, though. That kind of outlook ultimately renders compassion impossible. With a few rare exceptions, I’ve generally found that to be true of conservatives; they’re incapable of walking two steps in anybody else’s shoes. The imaginative faculty is completely stifled. So, to typical conservatives, nothing qualifies as a tragedy *until it happens to them* or someone close to them. Witness Nancy Reagan’s conversion on stem cell research.

  5. Brian Spence Says:

    I loved how Al Franken put it in his “Lies” book. I’ll try to paraphrase here. Democrats are fine with people who criticize America. We know America isn’t perfect, and it makes mistakes.

    Republicans see any criticism of America as a personal attack. It’s like you’re attacking their mother. You can’t talk bad about my mommy!!

    Perhaps it’s an insecurity about their world views. They can’t handle a real analysis of anything. They’ll brand real journalism as “the liberal media”, just because it sometimes makes Bush or their party look bad.

  6. Eric Says:

    There are times when things ARE black and white.

    I don’t care why Osama Bin Laden hates us. He caused the death of thousands of people. His “rationale” means less than nothing to me.

    And, no, I don’t understand why people didn’t leave New Orleans when .. (a)the media and the local government was yelling to all heavens to get out, and (b)there was a huge Category 5 hurricane heading right toward them.

    When the local government tells me “evacuate, and here’s WHY”, I will generally do what they say, so, again, no — I don’t understand, and I have difficulty having compassion for those who CHOSE TO STAY when everyone told them to get out.

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