Category Archives: Media + Politics

The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears and Stories: Part III

In two recent op-eds in The Huffington Post, “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears,” and “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears, Part II,” I talked about two masterful analysts of America’s founding myths and stories, Rupert Wilkinson and Robert Reich.

Wilkerson identified four fears have not only been present from the very founding of the Republic, but they are so basic that they are virtually synonymous with it: 1) The Fear of Being Owned; 2) The Fear of Falling Away; 3) The Fear of Winding Down; and 4) The Fear of Falling Apart. Continue reading

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Confronting Shame-Based Politics: The Biggest Challenge of All

What an incredibly boring and uninteresting world it would be if one needed nothing more than a surface understanding of things in order to take action against wrongs.

Over 40 years of professional experience has taught me that deep unconscious forces, of which we are by definition largely unaware, govern the vast majority of human behavior. At a minimum, unconscious factors impact human behavior significantly. Continue reading

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The Moral Contemptibility of the Conservative Mind

Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is highly admirable. It deserves all the good reviews it has garnered. Nonetheless, I want to take exception with it because I believe it fundamentally violates one of its own main theses.

As someone who has taught ethics for more than 45 years, I agree strongly with Haidt that virtually all of the great traditional ethicists profoundly missed the boat, especially when it comes to morality. Continue reading

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The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears and Stories: Part II

In a recent op-ed, “The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears,” I talked about the fact that in 1988, Rupert Wilkinson published a remarkable little book. Wilkinson identified four fears that not only have been present from the very founding of the Republic, but are so basic that they are virtually synonymous with it: 1. The Fear of Being Owned; 2. The Fear of Falling Away; 3. The Fear of Winding Down; and 4. The Fear of Falling Apart.

Very few people know that just a year earlier in 1987, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich also published a book that dealt in a different but complimentary way with the same themes. In fact, I regard it as one of his best books. Continue reading

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The Republicans’ Masterful and Insidious Prey on America’s Founding Fears

In 1988, Rupert Wilkinson, who has taught at leading universities in America and the U.K., published a remarkable little book, The Pursuit of American Character. It is nothing short of brilliant. I only wish that more people everywhere were aware of it. If they were, they might really understand America. Continue reading

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The Need to Fight Ignorance on the Left and Right

The confusion that reigns in the “marketplace of ideas” is as great as it’s ever been. To say that the Republicans candidates for president exploit this state of confusion for their own benefit is a gross understatement. (Indeed, they provoke it by spreading vicious lies. In this sense, “confusion” is too nice a word.)

Nonetheless, to lay the entire blame for confusion wholly on Republicans is not only not fair, but inaccurate. Liberal Democrats are confused on many of the same issues as well. Continue reading

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How Groups Become Extreme

In two recent op-eds in the Huffington Post (“Is Truth in Politics Possible? Is Truth Possible in Anything Human?” and “Absence of Truth: Why the Republican Candidates Can’t Get Anywhere Near the Truth”), I argued that historically there are at least four different kinds and meanings of “truth.” There are of course more than four. But four is enough for my purposes. Continue reading

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The War of Words: Are Certain People and Words So Reprehensible Such That They Should Be Ostracized?

The recent “reprehensible outburst” — if that’s what it really deserves to be called — by Rush Limbaugh towards Sandra Fluke has predictably set off a War of Words between conservatives and liberals.

Liberals, among whom I enthusiastically count myself, are completely — and in my view, rightly — disgusted not only by Rush Limbaugh’s choice of words, but his general behavior and demeanor. Continue reading

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Is This the Time Bomb From Which Rush Limbaugh Cannot Finally Escape?

I have been researching and consulting with regard to major crises of all kinds (criminal, natural disasters, financial, reputational, etc.) for 30 years. During this time, I have seen individuals and organizations of all types become trapped in the same disastrous pattern from which they rarely escape, or at least not completely unharmed. Continue reading

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Is Truth in Politics Possible? Is Truth Possible in Anything Human?

Is truth possible in politics, let alone in anything done by humans? To respond adequately to this ponderous question not only requires a lifetime of study of science and philosophy, to mention only two of the many fields of knowledge that are relevant. Therefore, let me merely consider four of the primary means that humans have used historically to establish “truth.” Continue reading

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