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I've clearly been a bit obsessed with the political value of empathy, and the central role it has played in the current troubles of the GOP (here, here, and here).

[Progressive values of] community, opportunity, and investing in people stem in large part from "empathy". They are the antithesis of selfishness and looking out only for oneself. Empathy means putting ourselves in other people's shoes, and being progressive means acting on that empathy. So we do what we can to level the playing field so children who aren't born into privilege can still have many of the opportunities enjoyed by trust fund babies. It means understanding the pernicious effects of discrimination and working to mitigate and eliminate them. It means realizing that the law should be applied to all Americans, and that none should be denied equal protection because of majoritarian intolerance.

As I systematically lay out in those three posts linked above, the GOP's empathy gap is a large reason for its troubles with the young millennial generation, women, and ethnic and racial minorities. Furthermore, the conservative base now blames "compassionate conservatism" in large (if not total) part for George Bush's failures as president. And what was "compassionate conservatism"? Karl Rove's attempt to negate the GOP's empathy gap with swing and independent voters in 2000. "Compassion" is a synonym for "empathy".

I thought of all that when reading this by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Think about this statement which Steve Benen flagged from Liz Cheney:

We've now seen several different occasions when he's been on the international trips, where he's not willing to say, flat out, 'I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, America is the best nation that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today.' Instead we've seen him do what we saw him do in the speech in Cairo, which is sort of, 'on one hand this, on the other hand that,' and then attempt to put himself sort of above it all. I think that troubles people.

The best nation that ever existed in history. No conservative skepticism. No Niebuhrian humility [...]

What you have [...] is a hustle, a bait and switch, in which one claims to be hawking patriotism, but in fact, is selling jingoism. If patriotism is love of country, then much of the unquestioning GOP rhetoric fails on the rudiments. Is love of kin, love of siblings, love of spouse, telling your beloved, that they are the best person that's ever existed in history? Or is that  sycophancy, fast talk proffered by loose friends, who in your darkest hours, appeal to your worst self.

The religious right isn't what's wrong with the GOP. It's the pervasive, unthinking, unreflective nationalism. It's the arrogance of thrice-divorced adulterers reaching for the banner of traditional families, and it's the arrogance of men who prosecuted a poorly planned war, on weak intelligence, presuming to lecture us on national security.

Or, you can distill that all down to "lack of empathy". Liz Cheney honestly thinks it would be in America's interest for its president to swagger around the world telling people they aren't as good as America because we are the best EVER, so fuck you! The slightest shred of empathy would help you understand how counterproductive and potentially destructive such an approach would be, and Obama was elected, in large part, on the promise of a more humble and understanding foreign policy. People got tired of an administration that couldn't understand why torturing and indiscriminately starting wars was destroying our global reputation. We're the best fucking country ever! America, fuck yeah!

I'm proud to be Latino, but I don't think Latinos are the best ethnic group in world history. I adore my kids, but ... yeah, you're shit out of luck there. I got the best ever. But aside from those two bundles of perfection, there's the obvious realization that I love my dearest family members and friends not because they are the best that have ever existed, but because they are wonderful people in their own rights. There is no need for me to create a hierarchy and judge people against each other.

But conservatives obviously do, whether it's their nationalistic jingoism, or their creepy Ronald Reagan obsession, they create artificial ideals and worship at their altars. There is always someone who is "the best", which is why Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a racist affirmative action nominee who isn't as good as "the best man for the job". That pathological lack of empathy further extends from the hypocritical moralizing (failing to accept that we are all imperfect and capable of moral failings), to the vicious homophobia.

It's ugly, and as long as the Republican Party maintains an allegiance to this pathology, its electoral path will be difficult at best.

Update: mjshep in the comments:

What if somepone you knew said, "I believe in my exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, I am the best person that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today.  Although I can make rules for you, and tell you what you can and can not do, I do not have to abide by those rules. Whatever I do is right, because I am doing it and I am exceptional. And, if you don't like it, I will beat the crap out of you."

You would clearly think they are both dangerous and crazy. Either that, or a Republican. And you'd be right.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:16 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  GOP: morally and ethically bankrupt (26+ / 0-)

    WHY do folks still pretend like that are a legitimate opposition party?

    simplicity is the most difficult of all things

    by RichardWoodcockII on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:18:36 AM PDT

    •  The people pretending (10+ / 0-)

      are those that get their news from Rush, Levin, Hannity and FoxNews exclusively.  That is the only reason I can see for anyone to believe that the Rethugs still have a chance in 2012.  Palin as president.  What a nightmare that would be.

      •  Oh no. It's not just Fox exclusively . . . (12+ / 0-)

        it's the beltway and the pundits and the Democratic leadership of the Senate, and millions of dollars in campaign cash flowing to the GOP that constitutes the "belief in the legitimacy" of the GOP.  It's Fox and it's habit and its deliberate manipulation all rolled up in one increasingly psychotic (but comforting) morass for it's devotees.

        "With all the wit of a stunned trout, prodigal stumbled clumsily into the midst of a discussion . . . " -- droogie6655321

        by prodigal on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:24:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're exactly right... (0+ / 0-)

          We have conservatives and conservative lites in the media and in congress.  I think it comes from a.) years of democrats feeling they have to be a middle of the road candidates to get elected and b.) the media afraid of anything even slightly liberal being attacked as commie, left wing extremism and c.) the fact that all politicians have to be independently wealthy or sell there souls to someone who is in order to have enough money to be elected.  They are no longer of the people or even for the people for that matter, just whatever corporation gives the largest campaign contributions.

          Sure, we have some good people in office but just because they have a D in front of their name doesn't mean we have a majority yet.  What it does mean is that even though we don't have enough truly liberal votes, we will still be held accountable for the losses and short falls this still very conservative congress has and if we don't stand up and point them out with the same vigor the right does, we will be standing there wondering what happened in four years.

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 12:37:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  WHY is it, they all deny those sources? (6+ / 0-)

        so many of my Repub friends, parroting the drivel spewing forth on the EIB network and FOX News, deny that they actually listen to those sources....wha?

        I know for a fact these guys listen to a.m. talk radio all day long, feasing on Rush, Hannity, Savage, et. al, yet they are apparently afraid to admit it.

        simplicity is the most difficult of all things

        by RichardWoodcockII on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:31:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's interesting (0+ / 0-)

          I wonder why.  Do you have a theory on that Richard?

          •  baffled.... (7+ / 0-)

            my uncle, for example...ex-Marine...born again Christian...generally a good guy....he drives around all day listening to right wing talk radio, pissed off by the propaganda he consumes, which he then repeats to me as if it were his original thought, totally denying (or refusing to admit)that he is merely a parrot, part of an unthinking mass who has abandoned his ability to think critically and substituted it with paid propaganda....ironically, he accuses me of being precisely what he is, as if my mere decision to vote Democrat is evidence of my status as an unthinking lemming....crazy, and it aint just him...I get this alot around here...

            simplicity is the most difficult of all things

            by RichardWoodcockII on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:49:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  propaganda (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "ironically, he accuses me of being precisely what he is,... an unthinking lemming"

              That's why they constantly attack their "straw man", the Main Stream Media, or MSM. The MSM is anything that isn't on board with their propaganda, CNN, ABC,NBC,CBS,NPR etc... and of course the liberal professors and teachers who are relentlessly  indoctrinating Socialism or worse!

              Don't you see Richard, you're blind.

              All this to set themselves as the font of truth to combat the lies of liberalism.

              It is a frame that has worked for them for years. They may be down now, but any little crack they can expose to spread doubt of democrats and/or Obama will crank up the noise machine for full exploitation.

              If CEO's and their brethern have employment contracts, why do they insist that their employees don't need one?

              by JDPITALIA on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:29:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  There But For The Trace Of God Go I (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The blind selfish rich and conformed connected seek forever to keep their feet on peoples necks. They own, control, confuse and collude to weaken the chances for regular beings to equitably resolve conflict and difficulty.
            Many Republicans now are a cult.
            Sadly, some too many Democrats are like the old semi decent Republicans from the Eisenhower 50's.
            The money has changed. It's very different to be poor today. When i made $1.25 an hour, or 50, 60, 75 dollars a week, you could cooperate and share enough to live. As wild as the 60's were, we didn't generally worry about personal fortunes. If the hatred would leave and the fair justice came back, the world could love and care for itself much better.
            Politicians who thrive on the divisive and narrow pursuits of greed and destruction are a major obstacle to friendly human coalition.
            Intentional cruelty and indifference to suffering should be the 2 most disqualifying factors for any current/future seeker of power in the new century.
            I've always felt that way, and long before i could articulate it.

            Lies at the top cause murder and misery at the bottom. Freedom should be a universal birthright. So many lives end like Neda Agha Soltan.

            by renzo capetti on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:41:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I had a Rethug colleague (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda S

          who can't stand Obama and doesn't read much claim he had read Obama's books and put out-of-context quotes on my facebook site- which just happened to be the same quotes being circulated in conservative chain emails.

          •  Same thing happened to me during the last (0+ / 0-)

            election.  I asked her to give me the page numbers because I had indeed read the books and couldn't remember those quotes. She conveniently told me she didn't have the books, she borrowed them from the library and so she was sorry but she knows she read them.  I just chalked it up to too much Limbaugh, Levin, Hannity and Foxnews.  It kills the brain.

    •  I agree about the pretense. (3+ / 0-)

      What is amazing is that the Republican party is recognized as "legitimate" at all.

    •  Empathy is a family value and a Christian value, (7+ / 0-)

      that the self-described party of family values and Christian values rejects. Democrats should spend more time pointing this out.

      If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

      by MikePhoenix on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:46:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the gops don't believe in evolution, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      why do we expect them to evolve beyond the tribal nature of early humankind?

  •  I now refer to the Republican Party as the (13+ / 0-)

    Lunatic Party, and Republicans as Loonies.

    It's more insidious than simply a lack of empathy. The party lacks decency and humanity.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

    by rontun on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:19:48 AM PDT

    •  After hearing Coleman refer to the "Democrat" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      party yesterday, have at it.

    •  "Lunatic Party" - making it personal (10+ / 0-)

      Kos' making it personal - that second to last paragraph - nails it.

      Liz Cheney said:

      'I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, America is the best nation that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today.'

      What if somepone you knew said, "I believe in my exceptionalism. I believe unequivocally, unapologetically, I am the best person that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today.  Although I can make rules for you, and tell you what you can and can not do, I do not have to abide by those rules. Whatever I do is right, because I am doing it and I am exceptional. And, if you don't like it, I will beat the crap out of you."

      You would clearly think they are both dangerous and crazy. Either that, or a Republican. And you'd be right.

      If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. ~James Madison

      by mjshep on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:55:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And that gap's probably going to be hard to close (8+ / 0-)

    while wishing the deaths of thousands of Americans to score a political point.

    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei

    by Dittoz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:19:52 AM PDT

  •  The Best Nation That Ever Existed In History (20+ / 0-)

    As commented upon by those who have an extremely stunning lack of knowledge on the subject ............

  •  Religious fundamentalism, which largely drives (17+ / 0-)

    the GOP world view these days, insists on absolutes and dualities.  It is a deliberate infantilization of thought, discourse, and perspective that serves as a means of social control.  

    "With all the wit of a stunned trout, prodigal stumbled clumsily into the midst of a discussion . . . " -- droogie6655321

    by prodigal on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:20:37 AM PDT

  •  The "best nation" (12+ / 0-)

    committed genocide, slavery, and installed dictators in other countries. I love America simply because I care about Americans. I don't have to worship an abstract "nation".

    "I welcome death, but not subjugation." --Iranian protest chant

    by Eryk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:20:47 AM PDT

  •  easy to knock the republicans (5+ / 0-)

    i just dont understand why the all dem government insists on keeping all the wars going. they didnt have wmd. we need to leave and apologize to them. its madness.

  •  kos, (29+ / 0-)

    one of the best you've written in a long time and a topic that needs to be front and center.  Therein lies the rub of today's conservatives.

  •  GOP (11+ / 0-)

    God Bless America and no one else. It's that type of view that disgusts me the very most.

    It's time for a Progressive Party.

    by mdgarcia on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:22:19 AM PDT

  •  "Compassionate Conservativism" (18+ / 0-)

    Putting those two words together is an admission of guilt.  If conservativism wasn't, by nature, non-empathetic and non-compassionate, they wouldn't have to handicap it by tagging on the qualifier.  They admit to a losing position right off the bat.

    Nobody needs to say "a warmth-providing heater," or "violent brutality," because those things are already inherent.  Compassion, though, isn't inherent in conservativism.  You wouldn't need to say "selfish conservativism," because that's already a given.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:22:35 AM PDT

    •  No it isn't. Conservative doesn't have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, SlackwareGrrl

      such a moral value within it.  For many, a conservative philosophy is a means to achieving a compassionate end.  One may disagree with those means, but that doesn't mean that it lacks empathy or compassion.

      During the 50's & 60's it was the Conservative Republicans who made civil rights legislation possible.  It was a Republican appointee, and Conservative, Earl Warren that brokered Brown v. Board.  Now, many Republicans seem to believe Warren was a "judicial activist" but I could easily argue the opposite. And the current Court shows this most starkly, with the example of Justice Souter, the consummate Conservative, who believed in stare decisis (precedent, a Conservative value) but because of that he was labeled an "Activist".

      What we have now is as, a poster posited up thread, is an absolutism and need for dualities and no nuance in the GOP, which has nothing to do with being a Conservative.  That's not Conservatism, that's just idiocy.

  •  George Lakoff had a really good diary on empathy (11+ / 0-)

    and the republicans a while back:

    Fight the stupid! Boycott BREAKING diaries!

    by VelvetElvis on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:22:50 AM PDT

  •  Lacking empathy is the same as lacking (15+ / 0-)

    recognition of the common weal as defined by our Founders.  In that sense it is deeply and irrevocably anti-American.  

    One of these days (in my dreams) the GOP ethic of selfishness will be called out for what it is: traitorous.    

  •  The GOP idealizes a history (9+ / 0-)

    of America that never was. They cling to the values of a society that never existed. They are living in a fantasy land.

    The best is the enemy of the good. --Voltaire

    by pateTX on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:23:57 AM PDT

    •  Many people who can't deal with (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mimikatz, Captain Sham, pateTX

      change live in fantasy land. They want oh so much for things to be like they used to be - except they forget the BAD parts of what used to be.

      And remember - wanting to go back to what 'used to be' means that they basically want to go back to childhood. When they didn't have to worry about things like the mortgage, the car payment, their job, or putting food on the table.

      They want Daddy to take care of them, because they deep down they don't think they can take care of themselves.

      I also think they don't want to face up to the fact that they've probably seen their best years, and the rest is downhill (in more ways than one).

  •  Kos your kids (9+ / 0-)

    are the best ever, except of course for my two kids.
    Love you Ashley and Richard.

    It's time for a Progressive Party.

    by mdgarcia on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:24:27 AM PDT

  •  I hope the gee oh pee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Becomes a whining minority who cant obstruct legislation but just occupies space.
    61 progressive Dems of al Franken, Barbara Boxer flavor, with Speaker Pelosi in charge, would make me sleep easier and be able to ignore the vocal RW Nuts.
  •  Substitution (9+ / 0-)

    Empathy is the action of understanding and of being aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another human being.

    Empathy is antithetical to the belief of one's own superiority, which is what grandiose nationalism is an example of on a larger scale.

    To say "I am the best" or "We are the best" is to say, in effect - "I am better than you" or "You are less than me."

    So the GOP is doing with this idea of empathy=nationalism the same thing they've done with everything else.

    They are creating a lie and then saying it is the truth.

    They are not only ethically and morally bankrupt, they are philosophical liars.

    •  Yes. Their values are competitive, (4+ / 0-)

      not cooperative.

      "I welcome death, but not subjugation." --Iranian protest chant

      by Eryk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:26:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And that way lies demons... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle, Eryk, dotalbon

      Not to go all Godwin, but when believes they are superior to all others, it is very easy to then dehumanize everybody else.  'They are inferior, therefore, they don't matter' leads to 'Only the superior deserve to survive' which leads to 'the inferior must be eliminated' and 'purity of race'.  The absolute, sociopathic, belief in one's on superiority leads to things like war, torture and eventually genocide.

      [Journalism] is media agnostic. - Kos

      by RichM on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:32:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's also impractical (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Patricia Taylor

      You cannot efficiently for long run a society founded on greed and individualism.  By its nature, individualism is anti-government.   It quickly devolves into the haves vs. the have-nots, and you don't need to be a history major to know where that leads.

      The genius of the American experiment was that it fostered notions of individual liberty within the framework of a strong government dedicated to preserving the general welfare.  That's what makes American viable after 230 years.  

  •  Hey, I got my two wonderful kids, and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snazzzybird, TomP

    when you have children, you can never be out of luck, love and joy.  LOVE the post, thanks for talking about this and family without being maudlin and over the top.

  •  Kos, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snazzzybird, kafkananda

    So true, so clear, you have cut the heart out of the GOP mindset.

    •  And remember, Obama has said it is about (0+ / 0-)

      changing the mindset. We're only a change of mind from unimaginable fields of empathy and cooperation. Once we get past that worship/fear of self-centeredness.  

      Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

      by kafkananda on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:50:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Competitiveness is the antithesis of empathy (8+ / 0-)

    Competitiveness says that if I win I'm better than you, and to the victor belongs the spoils. Only a hyper-competitive person could believe that a CEO is worth 1,000 times what his janitor is worth.

    Only a hyper-competitive person could believe that the inheritance tax was grossly unfair.

    Only the hyper-competitive try to corrupt the government so that they can increase already unfathomable wealth.

    Searching for intelligent life on the Internet. Please post a URL.

    by blue aardvark on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:26:14 AM PDT

  •  The most... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bramish, snazzzybird, Eryk, dewley notid, Larin

    ..disgusting & hypocritical display of Republican empathy is their newfound empathy for Iran.

    Iran, the same country they all wanted to bomb the shit out of not that many months ago.

    But now they're complaining that Obama is not showing enough empathy towards the  misunderstood citizens of Iran,  who are suddenly kindred spirits with all our empathetic  American wingnuts.

    Uighur, please. -(attributed to John Stewart)

    by wyvern on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:26:17 AM PDT

  •  Liz Cheney is damaged goods. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Captain Sham, eXtina, Larin

    But the GOP will fawn over her and the media will have her on more often than her father, because she's the best hope they have right now.  In three years, she'll be a leading VP candidate choice for whatever old white dude the GOP chooses.  Hey, her father was VP, so she does have experience...

    It's often said that life is strange. But compared to what? --Steve Forbert

    by darthstar on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:26:19 AM PDT

  •  Most of it is really just defense of privilege (12+ / 0-)

    People who lack empathy just want to hang onto what they have.  For the elite, like the Cheneys, it is their privileged position.  Even for poor GOPers, especially in the South, it is clinging to whatever makes them feel superior to someone else--whiteness, their marriqage, whatever.

    Maybe it takes a capacity for empathy to step out and see beyond oneself, mmaybe just a sense of inerconnectedness--what happens to one group or person affects the whole.  Or maybe just a bit more sense of security.  But for a great many GOPers it is a matter of defending what they think gives them a privileged position vis a vis the rest of the world.  Jingoism is a part of that.

    Democracy needs accountability. Investigate and prosecute the Torture Thirteen.

    by Mimikatz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:26:38 AM PDT

    •  Yes; it is no coincidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kafkananda, SlackwareGrrl

      that their belief that there is a "best" whatever is followed closely by the belief that they are, or know, the best.

      Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

      by RickMassimo on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:32:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've always understood "compassion", as used in the phrase "compassionate conservatism", to mean something like "sympathy towards one's inferiors."

      What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? - Lin Yutang

      by PhilK on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:47:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it's fear (0+ / 0-)

      and laziness.

      They have to keep telling themselves they're better, because they're afraid nobody else will.

      And while deep down they know they're NOT better, they're often too scared, ignorant or lazy to do anything about making their lives better.

  •  In all honesty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, Linda S

    I could not agree more.

  •  Well said, Kos. (6+ / 0-)

    One of your best and most insightful posts.  It is a pathology, a sickness.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by TomP on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:27:08 AM PDT

  •  stunning irony of GOPism and Am. Exceptionalism (6+ / 0-)

     is that GOPers offer no definition or articulation of what makes America the shining city - what engine led to her exceptionalism

      The best of America - and what lays at the bedrock of her greatness - is an idea - or better put a series of interlocking ideas - government from the consent of the governed parceled carefully among checks and balances where each individual is equal before the rule of law.

       Well - the modern GOP is against all of that - they seek a unitary executive empowered to override checks and balances and crush the rule of law for the individual in deference to vesting power in a handful of priviliged elites -

      Of course they have no empathy - because they have given way to the most extreme authoritarian strains of their political base.

    •  Good post. (0+ / 0-)

      ... is that GOPers offer no definition or articulation of what makes America the shining city - what engine led to her exceptionalism

      Yes because to do so would be an endorsement of a progressive agenda.

  •  I sure hope you are right about this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's ugly, and as long as the Republican Party maintains an allegiance to this pathology, its electoral path will be difficult at best.

    My doubt stems from 8 years of Bush and the lack of empathy Americans had in voting for him, especially the second time.

    I'm proud of my bleeding heart progressive self.  I'm sure many are.

    How empathy ever became a bad characteristic I don't understand, but it never got past the skin level with me.

    Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

    by cany on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:27:36 AM PDT

    •  You have to remember (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, filby

      When Bush ran in 2000, he really didn't appear all that horrible. He wasn't that great, but he wasn't that horrible.

      And in 2004, we were in 2 wars, people were still traumatized from 9/11, and the economy wasn't in the toilet. (And Kerry listened too much to the pundits/consultants, IMHO)

      By 2006 people had woken up some, and by 2008 I think most people were awake.

      The GOP now is sooooo far off mainstream, and sooooo hypocritical that it's only the total rabid wingnuts that believe what they spew.

      •  I dunno, what I see where I live is that many (0+ / 0-)

        Pubs I know don't relate to the total weirdness of the party, but being conservatives, are not bailing.  I'm in Orange County, though, so we are hardly "normal".

        They just will not support Obama or dems.  Most of these folks, BTW, are not part of the religious right wing.

        What IS happening, though, is that more dems are working on issues than before.  That truly makes me happy.

        Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

        by cany on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 11:50:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think what many don't understand (0+ / 0-)

      is that empathy is a lot more than emotion.  I believe it is a cognitive ability that can be practiced and developed. (Sorry I don't have any references but that's a conclusion based on years of reading and education).

  •  If I had to win an election by declaring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D in Northern Virginia

    that we were the best nation that ever existed and will exist, I would lose the goddamned election. One of THE
    greatest evils in the world today and in human history
    is nationalism and tribalism.

  •  Reasoned dissent and an educated, ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, Wildthumb, Mr MadAsHell, Larin

    Informed population are the foundations of patriotism. Not slogans, lapel pins or bumper stickers.

    The Republican brand: "Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich"

    by D in Northern Virginia on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:28:19 AM PDT

  •  Isn't there something about worship of false gods (4+ / 0-) know, written somewhere

  •  conservatives are very insecure (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, Captain Sham, Eryk, dewley notid

    they have to think American is the best country ever so fuck you, or else they are left with their sad, insignificant lives

  •  By what measure? (5+ / 0-)

     OK Liz, I'll bite.  America is the best nation on the planet today (forget all of history and other planets and universes for just a second) by which specific metrics?  Governance?  Fiscal probity?  Freedom?  Moral acting on the world stage?  Fast food joints at every intersection?  Billboards?  What?

    Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow

    by peterborocanuck on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:32:46 AM PDT

    •  Natural beauty (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Something we had nothing to do with and are fast despoiling.

      Seriously.  Where else do you still find pristine high mountains, magnificent redrock desert, wild coastlines, all in one country.

      But we had nothing to do with it and are fast despoiling it because we don't appreciate it enough.

      Democracy needs accountability. Investigate and prosecute the Torture Thirteen.

      by Mimikatz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:38:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice try, but weak. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle, sethyeah

        Mexico.  Chile.  Argentina. China.  Spain.  France.  Italy.  Australia.    Not to mention countries which are possessed of a type of beauty America doesn't have, like Brazil and Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Besides, natural endowments are among the least of what makes nations great.

        Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow

        by peterborocanuck on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:47:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to take this a step further. (7+ / 0-)
    A failure to empathize with a majority of the electorate at some point becomes a non-sequiter.  Baby boomers like me at least understand where the GOP is coming from; we've been on the front lines of the culture wars for three decades now.  Anyone younger than, say, forty is looking at the GOP as if they represent another solar system.  Why DO they care about Sotomayor?  What do those code words mean?  What difference does it make if gays marry?

    Boomers like me get angry; but increasingly America is just plain puzzled by the positions Republicans take.  They make no sense if you look at them from outside the culture wars.

    Après le thé, le déluge. -- Glenn Beck, aka Napoleon XIV

    by mspicata on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:34:22 AM PDT

    •  That's because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      their leaders are all over 50 - most are over 60. They can't move past the 60s/70s/Vietnam.

      But there's a huge chunk (and getting larger) of the voting populace that thinks all that is ancient history, and doesn't give a rat's ass about it.

      Maybe if they had some people in positions of power who were younger and SANE, they might change.

      Apparently all the younger sane people are Democrats.

  •  GOP offers a poisonous brew... (6+ / 0-)

    ...of arrogance and selfishness and jingoism, and I say let them keep at it.  Because they will only destroy what's left of their party if they keep this up (and then maybe a genuinely useful opposition party can emerge, somthing I believe is vital to have in a healthy democracy, but that's another story.  In any case, the GOP isn't it).
      At the risk of sounding somewhat sycophantic, I think Kos hits the nail squarely on the head here.  Youth, women, minorities - basically everyone in the country who is not a white male and not well-off economically (except for those less-well-off social conservatives still deluded enough to believe that the GOP really cares about their hot-button social issues, or that its leadership actually has any moral credibility left) - look around and they see the damage (economic, social, diplomatic and international) left by years of Republican control.  And they see the Republicans still - still! - turning away from those hurting economically (such as poor Gov. Sanford bravely struggling to prevent unemployed men and women in his state from getting an extension of benefits).  And they see GOP spokespersons such as Liz Cheney still- still! - acting as if a strutting arrogance is the best way to deal with other nations on the diplomatic scene.
        Do conservatives truly believe that compassion and humility are not virtues?  That they are something to be sneered at?  If so, they will continue their slide into irrelevance, and we (you, me, the nation, the world) will be better off for it.

  •  Jingoism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, CeeusBeeus, emidesu

    one claims to be hawking patriotism, but in fact, is selling jingoism.

    I have noticed this about the Republican Party going back to the Reagan years.  In fact, jingoism was the essence of the spun-sugar cotton-candy fantasy, the "shining city on a hill", that the Gipper used to woo voters away from Jimmy Carter's roll-up-our-sleeves, short-term sacrifice for long-term gain, energy independence in 30 years realism.

    "We don't have to work hard, or sacrifice, or accept hard truths!  We're already the bestest there is, because we say so! U! S! A!"

    I love the smell of failed conservatism in the morning.

    by snazzzybird on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:34:36 AM PDT

  •  The Assyrians thought they were the shiznit too. (4+ / 0-)

    Look what happened to them.
    Don't get me started on the Inca.

    Russ Feingold: cooler than Batman.

    by yojimbo on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:34:49 AM PDT

  •  It's simple for conservatives (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, filby

    Life is a zero-sum game: eat or be eaten. In their mentally constipated little worlds, they are going to claw, scratch, cheat, lie, steal, do whatever it takes to be the piggiest pig at the trough. And screw you.

    The irony is that the key to obtaining that golden ring they so prize is the empathy they despise.

    "Respect for the rights of others is peace." Benito Juarez

    by Blue Boy Red State on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:35:54 AM PDT

  •  Well when large groups of various types of people (0+ / 0-)

    VOTE you're pretty much obliged to be empathetic. Free Market Corporate Anarchy exists when only white men vote.

    Kos was right about the inappropriateness of the WH correspondent's dinner~

    by plok on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:37:03 AM PDT

  •  Liberal keynote at CPAC (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Someone should aak Cheney how well her exceptionalism plan would work if the equivalent Markos was asked to keynote CPAC.  A former Republican who is trying to convince a skeptical audience of his political philosophy.  

    I doubt one person would change their mind if all he did was talk about the exceptionalism of liberalism.

    I doubt Cheney uses logic though so this is likely a moot point.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

    by justmy2 on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:37:31 AM PDT

  •  Niebuhr = Obama's favorite philosopher (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, emidesu, gooners

    but then again, I'm sure all Kossaks already know that, being about 100X more well informed that the rest of the population.

    •  it isn't Jesus? (0+ / 0-)

      crap, not only did I not know that, I don't even know who Neibuhr is. I guess that means I'm not the best, greatest kossack past, present or future.

      But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin! Now that side was made for you and me!

      by gooners on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:42:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  oh my! I have no empathy for this..... (0+ / 0-)

    Stabbity stab to Jenny!

  •  They remind me of thuggish football fans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, Eryk

    The kind of fans who get roaring drunk hours before kickoff; verbally, and sometimes physically, abuse fans wearing the opposing team's colors; and commit senseless acts of violence after the final gun sounds.

    "Some people meditate. I go watch baseball."--Keith Olbermann

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:39:14 AM PDT

  •  It's always about their frail self-esteem. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, eXtina, sethyeah

    The poor whites who needed the social inferiority of blacks. Evolution is framed as a personal insult: they're calling you a monkey. Homophobes feel, personally, that their manhood is insulted by the existence of men-rejecting lesbians, and they sometimes get violent.

    "I welcome death, but not subjugation." --Iranian protest chant

    by Eryk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:40:05 AM PDT

  •  Tribalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the definition of oneself/tribe in juxtaposition to all others/tribes.

    The number of atrocities committed can be explained and justified by membership in the tribe...everyone else is not worthy of any respect or consideration.

    In ancient times it was the shaman who mesmerized the tribe.  Those who were able to be hypnotized were welcome to be a part of the tribe...those who were not 'controllable' were cast out.

    Apparently progressives are part of a disparate group of uncontrollable cast wonder we cannot get organized :-)    

  •  the best man for the job... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been thinking about that too, it is something heard a lot from affirmative action opponents. The position should go to the best person, they say, as if there is some objective way to measure such a thing. Even with, say, a presidential election. Is Barack Obama the one very best person in all of America to be president? Damned if I know. But he is better than my other option, so that's who I voted for.

    I believe there are many good people for every job and that they are good for different reasons. Maybe that's my liberal "relativism". But until some one can explain to me the process for objectively identifying the very best anything, I believe in diversity, because that makes the group as a whole stronger.

    But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin! Now that side was made for you and me!

    by gooners on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:41:38 AM PDT

  •  I thought that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, kafkananda, filby

    I had the best kids ever.  

    I bet my dad could beat everyone else's dad at arm wrestling.

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

    by lockewasright on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:43:27 AM PDT

  •  Sen. Al Franken on love of country: (4+ / 0-)

    Al Franken has the absolutely perfect take on patriotism and love of country in one of his books. He notes that Republicans love their country like a three year old loves his mommy; even if mom is drunk by noon everyday, lets the kid play with loaded firearms and broken glass, and goes out every night with a different sleazebag, that three year old still loves his mommy because...well, just because. She's mommy. America may be pushing the global climate into the abyss, we may be bombing hapless innocents on the other side of the globe, we may be destroying the world's economy via Wall Street's massive Ponzi scheme; but we're still the Greatest Nation in the Entire History of the World.

    Democrats love their country like an adult loves a close friend. They're willing to point out to their friend that maybe they're drinking too much, and that partner they're dating might be a serial killer so they may want to rethink the Cancun getaway, and maybe you should give up those cigarettes too. But I still love ya.

    •  Al would love this quote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      from Carl Schurz, a political observer from 100 years ago:  

      "I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves ... too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’"

  •  I love my country... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dump Terry McAuliffe, dotalbon

    but I recognize where my country isn't the best and want to make it better.

    GOP: take your Nazism and shove it up your ass!

  •  agreed, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a bit hard to contrast the Republican lack of empathy with our elected Democrats' empathy - few seem to have it. Where are the RFKs and John that speak passionately about the few?

    Until we start living up to our end and getting that empathy to show up in the result of what our elected officials do, their lack of empathy will only be a temporary setback.

    The Republicans have all of the wrong answers but manage to get it into law. We have all the right ones but only manage to get a floppy dick of a bill made into law.

    I see the empathy of our inputs - where is the empathy of our results?

    carpe diem,
    jeremy n mendonsa

    by jmendonsa on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:46:33 AM PDT

  •  Here's the thing, though: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John H, dotalbon

    As the GOP drives out its moderates and independents, the new shrunken party is composed only of the pure conservatives--the increasingly crazy extremists.  There are fewer of them now, which doesn't matter, because the few that remain are unstable and dangerous.  You don't need a hundred people if you have two who are willing to nuke the country to save it.

  •  It is not an accident that the GOP lacks empathy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, dotalbon

    and tends at the extreme to sociopathy and psychopathy.

    My own comment earlier today on a Mark Sanford diary tries to explain how I think sociopathy fits very well with the Republican persona and why it is, sadly,  part of our political life:

  •  One small correction: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, dotalbon

    But conservatives obviously do, whether it's their nationalistic jingoism, or their creepy Ronald Reagan obsession, they create artificial ideals and worship at their altars. There is always someone who is "the best", which is why Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a racist affirmative action nominee who isn't as good as "the best (white) man for the job". That pathological lack of empathy further extends from the hypocritical moralizing (failing to accept that we are all imperfect and capable of moral failings), to the vicious homophobia.

    •  Sorry, have to correct myself: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But conservatives obviously do, whether it's their nationalistic jingoism, or their creepy Ronald Reagan obsession, they create artificial ideals and worship at their altars. There is always someone who is "the best", which is why Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a racist affirmative action nominee who isn't as good as "the best (straight)(white) man for the job". That pathological lack of empathy further extends from the hypocritical moralizing (failing to accept that we are all imperfect and capable of moral failings), to the vicious homophobia.

      •  Oops, I did it again *blush* (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But conservatives obviously do, whether it's their nationalistic jingoism, or their creepy Ronald Reagan obsession, they create artificial ideals and worship at their altars. There is always someone who is "the best", which is why Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a racist affirmative action nominee who isn't as good as "the best (straight)(white)(evangelical) man for the job". That pathological lack of empathy further extends from the hypocritical moralizing (failing to accept that we are all imperfect and capable of moral failings), to the vicious homophobia.

    Recommended by:

    GOP response.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:48:28 AM PDT

  •  Empathy for (some in) the GOP... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, dotalbon

    I guess I draw a distinction between "empathy" and "compassion".  When you argue with someone, empathy allows you to understand the other's argument, even to the point where you can help him make that argument better.  Compassion involves much more.

    I empathize with a number of GOPers, the ones who were told "Work hard, follow the rules, and everything will be just fine", but who then discover that life's banquet is one shit-sandwich after another.  These folks chafe whenever they see anyone (else) receive a government benefit, and will start to blame others for their own misfortune.

    In addition, their misfortune makes them easy marks for blowhards like Beck and O'Reilly, two recent incarnations of a species which has visited us before (Alan Burke and Joe Pyne, for example).

    Don't be a DON'T-DO... Be a DO-DO!

    by godwhataklutz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:48:32 AM PDT

    •  But the GOP has loads of empathy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue book

      for sinners of their own ilk, the ones who make lachrymose, scripted public apologies for their misconduct.  If they say they've found God, even better.  

      •  I'm not so sure... (0+ / 0-)

        If we're talking about the sort of guy I mentioned above, he might not have any compassion at all for someone like Sanford, who was thought to be a straight-shooter, but was just another con-man.  Most folks don't like it when they've been conned.

        Don't be a DON'T-DO... Be a DO-DO!

        by godwhataklutz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 11:07:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Measuring cost / benefit. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm not sure it's really emphathy, but how costs versus benefits are measured.

    So-called "conservatives" (I really hate labels) seem to measure cost / benefits only at the individual level.  (That is, when they are willing to engage in fair and accurate measurement).

    So-called "liberals" or "progressives" seem to understand that costs and benefits can be measured collectively, to the system and community as a whole.

    Truth creates money. Lies destroy it. - Suze Orman

    by smartcookienyc on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:48:37 AM PDT

  •  I actually find (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    their use of the word "empathy" to be a code word for minority sympathizer. They use it to point out indirectly that Democrats support people who aren't white, or straight, or whatever, in much the same way Reagan talked about "states rights". It's really despicable.

    I mean, it's not like they have a lack of empathy for big money, powerful white men or their interests. Oh, I guess that's just greed.

    Some say we need a third party. I wish we had a second party. -- Jim Hightower

    by joe m on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:48:45 AM PDT

  •  Who is Liz Cheney? (4+ / 0-)

    Why the fuck does her opinion even matter?

    Because she is the daughter of arguably the worst VP in American history?

    Why does the media enable her by printing her statements?

    It's best to just ignore her rather that to give her a bigger microphone.

  •  Great points, Kos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The conservative hatred of the empathists is really a disturbing phenomenom.  A local NY conservative blogger recently wrote a post saying how the the founding of the first social welfare organization, the The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1877, is responsible for the sad state of Buffalo today.  It is really quite a doosey but illustrates the conservative mindset so well, that I tore his argument a new asshole on the Albany Project.

    "All my soldiers in the field I will wish you safe return/ but only love kills war, when will they learn" ~Jay-Z

    by Roatti on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:49:36 AM PDT

  •  As BIS an asshole the GOP are I have empathy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for them as much as a drug addict or murderer.

  •  GOP "patriotism" = indulgent parenting (4+ / 0-)

    This never fails to amaze me:  so called-conservatives who never fail to rail against what they call liberal indulgence in personal relations (especially between parents and children) advocate exactly this in conceiving of and treating the nation.

    The nation is a spoiled child who can do no wrong and had never been less than a perfect angel.  All complaints against him are damn lies cooked up by jealous rivals and evil people out to undermine him.  His ego and psyche are so fragile and precious that to even contemplate criticizing him is to reduce him instantly to shambles.  He is perfect, but at the same time unstable, defenseless, fickle, manic-depressive, violent, egotisitc, etc.

    Ultimately, the vision of America promoted by the GOP is that of a ten-year old narcissist contemplating his own image and steeling himself against the world with a "my dad makes more money than your dad and can beat him up" mentality.

    Yet they want to lecture the rest of us about parental authority, building strong families, and the like.

    Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

    by Fatherflot on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:50:27 AM PDT

    •  Just like worshippers of a punishing God (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Religious Right, the core of the modern GOP, has no use for a God of mercy or compassion.   They want God smiting down the enemy, and if God can't do it, they will.   I'm no psychiatrist, but it seems clear that people who want and need this kind of deity have serious personal issues.      

      •  Mencken had this nailed in the 1920's (0+ / 0-)

        If you haven't had the chance, go back and read his writing on fundamentalists and their return to the crudest and most violent conceptions of God.

        Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

        by Fatherflot on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:00:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Homo Neanderthalenis" (0+ / 0-)

          published right before the Scopes trial in 1925:

          Homo Neanderthalensis

          H. L. Mencken
          (The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1925)


          Such obscenities as the forthcoming trial of the Tennessee evolutionist, if they serve no other purpose, at least call attention dramatically to the fact that enlightenment, among mankind, is very narrowly dispersed. It is common to assume that human progress affects everyone - that even the dullest man, in these bright days, knows more than any man of, say, the Eighteenth Century, and is far more civilized. This assumption is quite erroneous. The men of the educated minority, no doubt, know more than their predecessors, and of some of them, perhaps, it may be said that they are more civilized - though I should not like to be put to giving names - but the great masses of men, even in this inspired republic, are precisely where the mob was at the dawn of history. They are ignorant, they are dishonest, they are cowardly, they are ignoble. They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.

          Such immortal vermin, true enough, get their share of the fruits of human progress, and so they may be said, in a way, to have their part in it. The most ignorant man, when he is ill, may enjoy whatever boons and usufructs modern medicine may offer - that is, provided he is too poor to choose his own doctor. He is free, if he wants to, to take a bath. The literature of the world is at his disposal in public libraries. He may look at works of art. He may hear good music. He has at hand a thousand devices for making life less wearisome and more tolerable: the telephone, railroads, bichloride tablets, newspapers, sewers, correspondence schools, delicatessen. But he had no more to do with bringing these things into the world than the horned cattle in the fields, and he does no more to increase them today than the birds of the air.

          On the contrary, he is generally against them, and sometimes with immense violence. Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had the power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands.


          The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life. Certainly it cannot have gone unnoticed that their membership is recruited, in the overwhelming main, from the lower orders - that no man of any education or other human dignity belongs to them. What they propose to do, at bottom and in brief, is to make the superior man infamous - by mere abuse if it is sufficient, and if it is not, then by law.

          Such organizations, of course, must have leaders; there must be men in them whose ignorance and imbecility are measurably less abject than the ignorance and imbecility of the average. These super-Chandala often attain to a considerable power, especially in democratic states. Their followers trust them and look up to them; sometimes, when the pack is on the loose, it is necessary to conciliate them. But their puissance cannot conceal their incurable inferiority. They belong to the mob as surely as their dupes, and the thing that animates them is precisely the mob's hatred of superiority. Whatever lies above the level of their comprehension is of the devil. A glass of wine delights civilized men; they themselves, drinking it, would get drunk. Ergo, wine must be prohibited. The hypothesis of evolution is credited by all men of education; they themselves can't understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.

          This simple fact explains such phenomena as the Tennessee buffoonery. Nothing else can. We must think of human progress, not as of something going on in the race in general, but as of something going on in a small minority, perpetually beleaguered in a few walled towns. Now and then the horde of barbarians outside breaks through, and we have an armed effort to halt the process. That is, we have a Reformation, a French Revolution, a war for democracy, a Great Awakening. The minority is decimated and driven to cover. But a few survive - and a few are enough to carry on.


          The inferior man's reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex - because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious. So on what seem to be higher levels. No man who has not had a long and arduous education can understand even the most elementary concepts of modern pathology. But even a hind at the plow can grasp the theory of chiropractic in two lessons. Hence the vast popularity of chiropractic among the submerged - and of osteopathy, Christian Science and other such quackeries with it. They are idiotic, but they are simple - and every man prefers what he can understand to what puzzles and dismays him.

          The popularity of Fundamentalism among the inferior orders of men is explicable in exactly the same way. The cosmogonies that educated men toy with are all inordinately complex. To comprehend their veriest outlines requires an immense stock of knowledge, and a habit of thought. It would be as vain to try to teach to peasants or to the city proletariat as it would be to try to teach them to streptococci. But the cosmogony of Genesis is so simple that even a yokel can grasp it. It is set forth in a few phrases. It offers, to an ignorant man, the irresistible reasonableness of the nonsensical. So he accepts it with loud hosannas, and has one more excuse for hating his betters.

          Politics and the fine arts repeat the story. The issues that the former throw up are often so complex that, in the present state of human knowledge, they must remain impenetrable, even to the most enlightened men. How much easier to follow a mountebank with a shibboleth - a Coolidge, a Wilson or a Roosevelt! The arts, like the sciences, demand special training, often very difficult. But in jazz there are simple rhythms, comprehensible even to savages.


          What all this amounts to is that the human race is divided into two sharply differentiated and mutually antagonistic classes, almost two genera - a small minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in, and a vast majority that finds them painful, and is thus arrayed against them, and against all who have traffic with them. The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority, and to the minority only. The majority has no more to do with it than it has to do with ecclesiastic politics on Mars. In so far as that heritage is apprehended, it is viewed with enmity. But in the main it is not apprehended at all.

          That is why Beethoven survives. Of the 110,000,000 so-called human beings who now live in the United States, flogged and crazed by Coolidge, Rotary, the Ku Klux and the newspapers, it is probable that at least 108,000,000 have never heard of him at all. To these immortals, made in God's image, one of the greatest artists the human race has ever produced is not even a name. So far as they are concerned he might as well have died at birth. The gorgeous and incomparable beauties that he created are nothing to them. They get no value out of the fact that he existed. They are completely unaware of what he did in the world, and would not be interested if they were told.

          The fact saves good Ludwig's bacon. His music survives because it lies outside the plane of the popular apprehension, like the colors beyond violet or the concept of honor. If it could be brought within range, it would at once arouse hostility. Its complexity would challenge; its lace of moral purpose would affright. Soon there would be a movement to put it down, and Baptist clergymen would range the land denouncing it, and in the end some poor musician, taken in the un-American act of playing it, would be put on trial before a jury of Ku Kluxers, and railroaded to the calaboose.

          Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

          by Fatherflot on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:05:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Like Sharks That Eat The Wounded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Karl Popper in describing the authoritarian mind said that weakness of any kind triggers the attack reflex in authoritarians.  

  •  Point of Order: I propose phrase "so-called" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Webster Hodges, dotalbon, dirkangel

    as a mandatory prefix to use of the word "conservative" when referring to the GOP from now on... there is nothing "conservative" about today's GOP and, like most everything else, they've simply turned that definition on its head, like patriot, or Christian....therefore, I propose from now on we exclusively refer to the GOP as "So-Called Conservatives"

    simplicity is the most difficult of all things

    by RichardWoodcockII on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:52:48 AM PDT

  •  Think of "Birth of a Nation" . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, dotalbon

    ... and D.W. Griffith's own twisted view of the "best nation EVER" and American exceptionalism.

    Let there be no doubt, today's conservatives and Republicans are direct lineal descendants of that  portion of the American polity that made the rejection of "empathy" a basic tenant, and the advocacy of uapologetic jingoism, nationalism, and merciless violence against any group of "others", foreign or domestic, who disagreed with them one of their core principles.

  •  Add Shceuer's desire for 9/11 part Deux (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, dotalbon

    So what if 3,000 have to die for him to get permission to torture and spy again ?

    GOP: Unpatriotic - public health care plan. Unpatriotic - phosphate free detergent. Patriotic - wishing for a terrorist attack on US

    by lostmypassword on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:53:37 AM PDT

  •  Robert Frost puts it in words of one syllable ... (0+ / 0-)

    "We love the things we love for what they are."

    "Distribution should undo excess,/ And each man have enough." --King Lear

    by Webster Hodges on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:53:58 AM PDT

  •  On the one hand, we have lunatics like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, dotalbon

    Scheuer who say 'the only way to save America is to have it attacked', and then on the other we have Darth's spawn threatening to attack anyone who dare say America isn't 'the best'.

    The fascinating part of this is there's no middle ground in the Republican Party apparatus being heard at all.

    Are there any sane Republicans left?
    It seems as if there aren't.

    Michael Scheuer is a Traitor to the United States of America

    by shpilk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:55:55 AM PDT

  •  What you think, versus what you say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, dotalbon

    Liz Cheney honestly thinks it would be in America's interest for its president to swagger around the world telling people they aren't as good as America because we are the best EVER, so fuck you!

    I doubt that Liz Cheney even really believes this.  Who could??

    Even if you think we live in the greatest country in history - and I'm hard pressed to think of an argument against that - you don't say that when you're talking to other countries.

    Or maybe Liz does believe this. In which case, she must be a fun neighbor and friend.

    "Oh, you have a lovely home.  It's not as nice as mine, though.  My house is the best in the county.  You should really appreciate how much nicer my house is than yours. Really, you'd do well to try to decorate your house like mine."

    "My children had a lot of fun at the birthday party. Tell your son thank you for inviting them.  Perhaps if he plays with them more often, he can start emulating them?  Because I noticed that he's not nearly as bright or talented or athletic as my kids.  You really should work on that if you want me to keep visiting you."

    I can't imagine that would work any better on the international stage. Talking to countries with armies and money.

    •  That sounds just like every episode of (0+ / 0-)

      "The Real Housewives of (fill in the blank)", where women following scripts try to outdo each other in vapidness, boob size, and model of car.  It's all intensely competitive in the way a cat fight is, but of course that's the role pop culture assigns women.  

  •  Nations and people can't be ranked that way. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lisastar, dotalbon, Larin

    I love my parents because they gave me life and raised me and cared about me and provided for me.  I love my daughter because she is the most amazing thing I have ever done and every advance she makes makes me so proud.  I love my husband because he is the one who shares all of life's joys and frustrations with me.  You don't love people - or nations - because they are the BEST EVER - you love them because they are yours.

    America - it's mine and I'm so proud of it.  Of course I love it.  Doesn't mean I can't tell it to stand up straight, tuck in its shirt and say "please" and "thank-you" when it isn't acting right.  And doesn't mean that I can't tell other people that their countries are nice, too.

  •  Great people, great minds, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lisastar, dotalbon

    great athletes, great nations...they do not have to beat their chest and proclaim how great they truly are. As I teach my children, every day, if you are fortunate enough to be very good, or even great, at something, you keep your mouth shut and others will say it for you.

    Every time, Cheney (any of the loons in that family) or any of the modern-day GOP circus performers they claim as their leaders, it's pure amusement for my family and I. It's amazing that folks who know so little about the many different cultures and people of this world have actually run this country (into the ground)while waving who we are in their faces. Their insecurities disguised as nationalism have given rise to some tremendous hatred pointed in our direction.

    As if President Obama has to tell the world that we're the best!!! Give me a fucking break. If you have to tell people you are the greatest, a look in the mirror would reveal that you probably are not.

  •  Conservative used to mean recognizing limits (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, dotalbon

    Keeping things in proper perspective, exercising humility, remaining skeptical about utopianism, guarding against dangerous egotism, making the measured use of language a virtue.

    I think Christopher Lasch wrote at some point that there is no such thing as modern "conservatism" in the US.  We only really have two major strands of liberalism---left and right.  So-called conservatism is simply the worst of liberalism tempered by a deep intellectual dishonesty about the price of cancerous selfishness.

    Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

    by Fatherflot on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:58:18 AM PDT

  •  It's a little frightening how many (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lisastar, dotalbon

    actions by conservatives appear to have no value other than their perceived effectiveness in pissing off non-conservatives.  

    I can understand Ann Coulter/conservative talk radio schtick: the fans like to hear them say atrocious things because liberals will be outraged by them.  Gotcha.  It's just George Carlin's "seven dirty words" routine in reverse.

    But liberals never considered shouting dirty words into people's faces as our political raison d'etre.  For conservatives, it seems as if the schtick has become just that.  Otherwise why would they have invested so much time and energy on self-destructive issues like torture?

    Fight 'em 'til Hell freezes over, and then fight 'em on the ice. - David Van Os

    by sagra on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 09:58:30 AM PDT

    •  They act that way because it works (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Conservatives paid attention when the James Baker team walked into Florida in November of 2000, grabbed the media by the throat and said, "WE WON and anyone who says we didn't is a sore loser".  Gore's forces were instantly put on the defensive.  Then Cheney took office and showed them how bullying can stifle dissent, cow the media and prolong power.    

    •  Forget about the talking heads and the circus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      clown acts .. they are a sideshow. Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter .. distractions.

      Just watch CSPAN if you really want to be frightened. Look at these drooling idiots with the [R] beside their names that got into office. Listen to what they say, even the 'reasonable sounding ones'.

      Very scary.

      Michael Scheuer is a Traitor to the United States of America

      by shpilk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:06:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lack of empathy precludes you "getting it." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Habitat Vic, lisastar

    And I don't mean sex.

    But those who lack empathy assume all are motivated by what motivates themselves. This precludes them from comprehending anything other than what motivates them.

    If I am a whore then, if the price is right, you are a whore.

    If I am a killer, if the motive is right, you are a killer.

    If I am a torturer, if the circumstance is right, you are a torturer.

    This explains the utter shock those without empathy feel when you act selflessly. They will search for your hidden agenda and ascribe "motives" to your actions which are selfish – because they are you MUST be. Review the last thirty years of talking points and you will see a history of rhetoric projecting "hate" on progressive efforts.

    This explains why those without empathy insist you cannot be a good or morale person without god telling you the rules. They would be happy to lie, cheat and kill if god hadn't said not to (also notice how they lie, cheat and kill anyway but search constantly for rationalisms from their sacred texts).

    "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

    by Bill Section 147 on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:00:19 AM PDT

  •  America IS the best nation in history (0+ / 0-)
    Sorry, gang, but it is.  It just is.

    And I'm not referring to purple mountain majesties or fruited plains.

    What we have is a document -- the Constitution -- which is flawed but still miles ahead of any corresponding document of any foreign country.  We have an economy that bankrolls the defense of the world.  We have a people more diverse and energetic than the people of any other nation.

    If we were a jewel, we'd be the Hope Diamond.  If we were a band, we'd be The Beatles.

    We had the unspeakable evil of slavery and we conquered it ourselves.  No allied armies had to invade us to free us from slavery.  Similarly, we had the unspeakable evil of Jim Crow, and we solved that problem ourselves too. (What we have is the afterglow of subtle racism, and I do believe we're working on that as well.)  In the last century, all we did was free the world from fascism, put the world on wheels and in airplanes, and go to the moon.

    You can dwell on what's wrong with our country, but that doesn't alter the truth:  we really are one of a kind.

    •  thirty years ago (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I would have agreed.

      But right wing politics have taken us backward. We no longer "make" anything. We consume. We are no longer known for embracing the world, instead we torture. Our hidden sins in supporting corporate hegemony around the world have morphed into an open display of invasion and destruction.

      I have loved America all my life, but there are other countries I would choose to live in if I were younger.

      Dennis Kucinich was right.

      by lisastar on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:16:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Aren't you encouraged that we're fixing (0+ / 0-)

        these problems?

        •  yes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          There is no doubt America is waking up.

          But the evils are so insidious, so embedded, that even our own party with a large majority cannot, in the most vital situations, do the right thing. They are not cowards, they are part of the new system that is ruled by the corporations.

          We may work our way back. That is why I worked for Obama, who, like him or not, was our only hope to move forward.

          Dennis Kucinich was right.

          by lisastar on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:29:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You're right about the Constitution. (0+ / 0-)

      So why do the Republicans shit all over it?

      The most violent element in society is ignorance.

      by Mr MadAsHell on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:54:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because R*p*bl*c*ns SUCK (0+ / 0-)

        The R*p*bl*c*n Party is the party of darkness and evil.

        There were members of the Nazi Party who, after the war, acknowledged that they were members but claimed that they didn't really go along with the party program.  They claimed:  "We were members of the Nazi Party, but we weren't bad Nazis; we were GOOD Nazis."

        You can't be a "Good R*p*bl*c*n."  What were the four most important steps forward our nation took in the 20th Century?  Civil Rights, Social Security, Medicare, and Labor laws.  And who was on the wrong side each time?

  •  Apparently (0+ / 0-)

    Markos "doesn't really understand" the senate.

  •  I wish there was a way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I could rec this.

    So I hotlisted it instead.

    I've felt this about the repub party for at least 30 years.  Far too many of them have a biological inability (defect?) to extend empathy towards anyone or anything other then themselves.

  •  fine piece of writing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    As someone who works for an int'l relief agency, empathy is sort of a Duh! concept.  

    It makes me sad that at this point in civilization empathy it is still so hard for so many to grasp, but there are millions starving unecessarily under a selfish dictator's rule, and the right continues to artfully work the fear factor with the uneducated in America.

    Dennis Kucinich was right.

    by lisastar on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:06:47 AM PDT

  •  This false 'Mrkn Exceptionalism' is a conceit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that we must outgrow, or we will be abused of the notion by others.

    I'd rather we come to that conclusion ourselves as a nation, rather than have the rest of the world shove it down our throat.

    It's time to grow up America, and join the rest of planet in the real world.

    Michael Scheuer is a Traitor to the United States of America

    by shpilk on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:10:35 AM PDT

  •  cause your Greek side said, "Nuh uh, (0+ / 0-)

    We are the best."


    'm proud to be Latino, but I don't think Latinos are the best ethnic group in world history.

    And both sides of you couldn't agree more on this point.

    I adore my kids, but ... yeah, you're shit out of luck there. I got the best ever.

    We are creatures with a wonderful mix of characteristics that have traveled around the world for many centuries.

  •  GOP Demagogues (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From Wikipedia:

    Demagogy (also demagoguery)is a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes.

    Time to educate everyone about the danger of GOP demagogues.

  •  It's a mindset (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and a mentality.  Rush, Beck, Hannity, and like-thinking pundit moronicos don't create those who lack empathy.  They attract them.
    My oldest brother once asked me, "You know why a lot of people can't stand Rush Limbaugh don't you?"  Without waiting for a response he answered, "Because he's right 99.9 percent of the time."  I looked at him in shocked wonderment and after several awkward seconds the necessary retort finally came to mind, "Maybe if you agree and share Rush's point of view is he right 99.9 percent of the time.  I don't, and hardly ever RIGHT about anyTHING."  An utterly ridiculous conversation ensued where I tried and failed to convince my brother that all sorts of worldly and worthy points of view exist.  He only understood that I don't consider Rush's to be worldly or worthy, and hence, I am a liberal idiot.  

  •  HEADS UP --POTUS Health Care Town Hall Meeting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Scheduled on C-SPAN  1:15 pm EDT - LIVE - today

    Guess it is running LATE.

  •  How can they expect Obama to believe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in American exceptionalism at the same time that he is an illegal alien from Kenya? Seems like a lot to expect from someone who they think isn't from here and doesn't belong here.

    I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

    by doc2 on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:27:07 AM PDT

  •  Kos, you're a damned fine essayist. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, Captain Sham
  •  While opposition to the framing of "empathy" (0+ / 0-)

    messages by goppers is important to the current SCOTUS appointment much like issues of "temperment", it will eventually dissolve much as Mark "Emo" Sanford continues to whine in public.

    I am interested in the demographic shift in GenY exhibited by the last election, but generalizing from it is problematic when we see the significant number of gop voters in that category who continue to reproduce their parents' values in thought and action like their tweener-intellectual carny act at CPAC.

    Also, using the historical construct of American exceptionalism should be placed further in context since it does not have a single party affiliation. It seems clear that the "compassionate conservatism" message frame was primarily meant to co-opt centrist voting populations and their liberal-leaning fellow travellers during the Bush43 regime.

    Pendelton State University is a college located in Rutherford, Ohio.

    by annieli on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:28:41 AM PDT

  •  The 'best' of anything is what is only the best (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue book

    to you.

    To anyone else, to any other nation, your 'best' is highly debatable.

    The weakness of some parts of America is the jingoistic view that our 'best' is what everyone else should accept - democratic government, consumerism, militarism.

  •  Empathy gap playing out in California today.. (0+ / 0-)

    the lack of a budget, or the taxes to pay for BASIC services and education, are the result of the minority's pathological lack of compassion. The "no taxes" movement is a symptom of a sort of collective Borderline Personality Disorder.

  •  Jingoism... Had to look it up. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue book

    Pretty much describes the conservative meme for the last 30 years.  It's not hard to see how unchecked capitalism coupled with television can lead a population down this path.

    Since WWII America has been on the road to unbridled egotism, a normal defense mechanism to feelings of low self-esteem.  In spite of our history of genocide, we became a "great nation."  But humility can never be a part of ego-driven behavior, thus our refusal to face and deal with our own past honestly.

    Unchecked by reality (hello, national press?) egotism will ultimately lead to narcissism.  

    Definition of narcissism:

    An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
    • Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    • Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
    • Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)
    • Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply)
    • Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations
    • Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
    • Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
    • Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
    • Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted

    Conventional wisdom is that those surrounding the narcissist always wind up seeking psychological assistance, while the narcissist him/herself never does.

    Kick apart the structures.

    by ceebee7 on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:32:50 AM PDT

    •  Those are the same characteristics (0+ / 0-)

      of victimizers in abusive relationships, aren't they?

    •  Cut to Ovid (0+ / 0-)

      Indeed.  You've hit the nail on the head!  

      Truly, the mythical Narcissus can only look at and admire himself in the reflection in the water, finally falling in love with his own reflection, after having cruelly spurned all other lovers.  It is to be noted that the mythical Narcissus "after pining away for a while...realized that the image he saw in the pool was a reflection of himself. Realizing that he could not act upon this love, he tore at his dress and beat at his body, his life force draining out of him."

      Might there be a lesson to be learned from Ovid?

  •  Liz Cheney: self-styled historian's historian (0+ / 0-)

    This is nothing but smug chest-thumping, based on no better research or study of the History of Civilizations than the average Fox News viewer, which involves stating a grandiose opinion on subjects that NO ONE can expect to have studied fully, even for a lifetime.

    Put this fucktard in the same league as the snarly Palin. Definitely not ready for prime time.

    Bullshit is the glue that binds us as a nation. George Carlin

    by gereiztkind on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:37:54 AM PDT

    •  As I posted above, (0+ / 0-)

      goppers "continue to reproduce their parents' values in thought and action".

      Pretty much in the mold of her Mom especially when she took on the National Endowment for the Humanities and like her Dad in setting the nation up for future attacks on the basis of flakkery.

      Pendelton State University is a college located in Rutherford, Ohio.

      by annieli on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:47:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem of "empathy" (0+ / 0-)

    is the matter of understanding and using evidence.

    Suppose Alice scores lower than Bob on a test. That fact I feel sorry for her doesn't justify my concluding that Alice is, despite the evidence of the test, better at the material than Bob.

    Now suppose I learn that Alice learned that her child had a potentially inoperable cancer an hour or so before she took the test.  Empathy works an entirely different way here, one that serves objectivity.  I have good reason to doubt the accuracy of test ranking of Alice and Bob here. If Alice were only slightly below Bob on the test results, I might reasonably suspect she's actually considerably stronger than he on the matter being tested.

    Empathy does not overrule principle. It tells you which principles apply in a precise situation.

    Empathy tells you how a reasonable person would react, not in some abstract case, but in the specific instance being examined.  Empathy shows you why it is objectively reasonable to apply different standards to an abortion clinic protest than to a labor picket for example.

    Without empathy, it's impossible to apply any kind of "reasonable person" standard to any problem.   Without it, one might as well replace judges with spreadsheets into which a small set of observable parameters are entered.  Such spreadsheets would obviously not be able to make any rational decisions, but they could process simple rules like "A picketer is not allowed to physically prevent a person from entering a place the person is entitled to go."

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:42:20 AM PDT

  •  American Exceptionalism (0+ / 0-)

      /ɪkˈsɛpʃənl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ik-sep-shuh-nl]–adjective

    1. forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary: The warm weather was exceptional for January.
    1. unusually excellent; superior: an exceptional violinist.

    Am I the only one who understands that 'American Exceptionalism' refers to the notion that what sets us apart is that we are a nation built on an idea, rather than on a homogenous culture or race? That is what makes us an unusual, rare instance of a country.

    In other words, it is the first definition above which the term refers to, whereas conservatives believe it to be the second.

    Bipartisanship: I'll hug your elephant if you kiss my ass

    by Uranus Hz on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:42:59 AM PDT

  •  I think you're right. I always have a problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue book

    with people saying, "God bless America" at the end of speeches. The fact is, America is already blessed. It's one of the most blessed countries in the world. I think we need to start asking God to bless other countries too.

    After dark all cats are leopards. - Native American proverb

    by StateOfGrace on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:47:42 AM PDT

  •  My All-Time Favorite .... (0+ / 0-)

    .... was when some GOP congressman (I forget which one) said, about health care:  America has the BEST health care system in the history of time.

    I swear!  They say such ridiculous things, I sometimes think they are playing a game.  At first I thought all of them (politicians and teevee people) couldn't possibly believe this stuff.  Now I am convinced they don't.  It has gotten so ridiculous, it is a joke.

    Yes, I know some imbeciles believe them, and that's why they do it.  But, do enough believe it for the GOP to actually say it?  How depressing!

  •  Kos, tell us what you really think? n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska

    by ThirtyFiveUp on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 11:11:12 AM PDT

  •  Running on Empty (0+ / 0-)

    I just came from another site, (which I find generally progressive and forward looking,) where the current topic under discussion centers around whether landlords should be penalized for renting to illegal aliens.  

    A quick perusal shows that the ayes outnumber the nays.  What stands out, though, is the tone of hatred and anger that permeates those writing for the "aye" column.  The vitriol that emanates from practically every post speaks to the anxiety and insecurity twisted into paranoia and selfishness.  

    I see this in the Republicans' attack against empathy.  They are so turned into themselves and their own fears that their minds and souls are empty. Emptiness = no empathy.

  •  Regarding that update: (0+ / 0-)

    "What if" someone you knew said that? Some I know DID say that, his name is Michael Bloomberg and he's the mayor of New York. He believes in his own exceptionalism so much that he personally overturned the term-limits that the people of New York twice voted for. And it's for precisely these reasons that he's a much better fit for the Republican party than he is for the Democratic Party, despite his generally left-leaning views on most issues.

  •  The GOP's 'fuck you' pathology (0+ / 0-)

    is all they got and all they ever had.

  •  Lack of Empathy... (0+ / 0-)

    It is telling to note that one of the core definitions and characteristics that define a psychopath is 'lack of empathy.'  

    I looked up psychopathic in the dictionary and it merely said, 'See Republican.'

  •  They only want empathy........... for themselves (0+ / 0-)

    Ever notice how conservatives love to equate raising taxes to govt theft of private money?  Have you ever had a conversation about taxation with a conservative and they DIDNT call taxation stealing??

    Think about that. Stealing. Now why dont we like stealing?  Why should we care if someone takes something that belongs to someone else? We care because we know how we'd feel if it were done to us. To understand why stealing is bad we need..................EMPATHY.  So I wonder, why would you (I'm talkin' to YOU Mr conservative) think a govt without empathy should care about stealing. You, you empathy derider, should know better than anyone that a govt with cold self interest will steal. This is the govt YOU WANT! Un-empathetic, calculating and self interested.  STFU

  •  Liz Cheney considers herself a patriot. (0+ / 0-)
    Imo, she is a nationalist.  Her view of our country is that it can do no wrong.  A patriot would see what is wrong and work to make it right.

    Indict, convict, imprison. "Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana

    by incognita on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 12:26:35 PM PDT

  •  I didn't understand anything you said... (0+ / 0-)
    maybe it was because I was listening to this too loudly to understand:

  •  In 1954 America was the Best place in the world (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Europe was struggling out of the ashes,
    Japan was still picking up rubble,
    China was peasantry,
    India was just out of a famine.
    Brazil was a mess.

    In 1974, America was First among Equals.
    We had great research facilities,
    We had great Universities.
    We had great Industries
    But Europe had rebuilt their academies.
    Europe had rebuilt their industries
    Europe was building research facilities
    and while we had Fermi and Livermore
    and Sandia, they were building CERN.
    India was no longer seeing Famines
    China was shaking off the cultural revolution.
    Brazil was setting the stage for Energy Nuetrality.
    Japan was building industry and research facilities

    By the 1990's America was a peer.
    European research was as good as ours.
    Japanese R&D was outstanding in numerous fields.
    We were deindustralizing.
    We had cancelled the SSC, while Europe was starting
    the LHC.
    Russia, Japan, Europe, all maintained arctic research bases.
    The BRIC were beginning to grow and become tier 2 players.

    The GOP is living in the past where 1954 was the greatest, blacks knew their places, there were no homosexuals and America was the great superpower.

    In maintaining the dogma, they lost track of the reality.

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 01:39:38 PM PDT

  •  Well, I agree with Liz Cheney (0+ / 0-)

    I do think that America is not only the best country in the world today but the best country ever in the world.  And if you disagree, instead of just treating it as a ridiculous notion a priori, name the countries that you think are better.

    And, I should hasten to add, I voted for Obama, and have voted Democratic in most every election in my lifetime.  And I do not watch Fox, either.  :-)

    •  What does that mean? (0+ / 0-)

      We're the best! What does that mean?  Best at what? Best at everything?  Have we always been the best? Will we always be best?  Was it nature or nurture?  Are we still the best, but not as good as we used to be?  Who's the second and third best?

      Perhaps we should provide the world a list, so everyone knows where they stand, and number two can try harder!

      We're the best! The statement comes off like a Jr. High Cheerleader, mindless yelling:


      In particular, the suggestion that Obama too should be out there with pom poms, reminding the world just how damn much better we are than everyone else, seems particularly ill-advised in the age of missing WMDs, American torture, rape and murder of prisoners, and a collapsing American-led free market.

      I think the essence of Obama's approach to the world is a frank admission that sometimes we are not the best, that,  on occasion (frequently, in recent years) we are far from the best, and are not even good.   That sometimes we wouldn't know the "best" if it smacked us upside the head.  
      Whether you're an individual or a nation, I don't think screaming at the top of your lungs that you're the best, makes it true.

  •  And why is America the bestest country ever? (0+ / 0-)


    America, Fuck Yeah!

    Hokey Pokey: n. Boring, conservative sex solely for procreation.

    by jimbo92107 on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 03:20:23 PM PDT

  •  As Stephen Lynch said... (0+ / 0-)

    "Is it possible that we should prepare against other threats besides terrorists?" - Al Gore

    by Simply Agrestic on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:43:46 AM PDT

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