The Battle for What Kind of Country America Will BePosted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized 2 Comments
In 1992, Dr. John Gray published his book, ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.’
From the Wikipedia page:
The book states that most of common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental psychological differences between the genders, which the author exemplifies by means of its eponymous metaphor: that men and women are from distinct planets—men from Mars and women from Venus
Recent pieces from Washington Post columnist Dan Balz and Commentary’s Peter Wehner reference a Pew Poll that indicates how politically polarized Americans have become.
Today, perceptions of political division are even more negative than during the worst days under Bush, and there is minimal confidence that things will change for the better anytime soon.
We are in the midst of a prolonged period of alienation between the American people and those who govern them. That isn’t good for a republic, where some degree of trust between the citizenry and its elected leaders is necessary in order to address urgent national problems.
Words and phrases like ‘polarization’ and ‘politically divided’ are in the air.
All this is simply the latest battle between Americans about what kind of country America will be.
To borrow from Dr. Gray: politically speaking, Conservatives are from Mars and Progressives are from Venus.
That is to say, conservatives and progressives hold fundamentally different points of view on the nature of man, politics and governance.
In his 1987 book, ‘A Conflict of Visions’, economist/philosopher Thomas Sowell explains the fundamental difference between conservatives and progressives with the premise that conservatives and progressives operate from two entirely different ‘visions’, and that these underlying ‘visions’ are in conflict with one/another and this conflict of visions manifests itself in the political struggles seen today.
Sowell refers to the conservative view as being the ‘constrained’ vision, and the progressive view as the ‘unconstrained’ vision.
Commentator Bill Whittle explains the two visions:
I can confirm from my interactions on social media and face-to-face in the last decade or so that people who call themselves conservatives and progressives may as well live on different planets. The assumptions inherent in each other’s arguments and the language each use is so different as to make meaningful dialog and exchange of ideas exceedingly difficult.
How did this happen?
Jonathan Haidt (pronounced like the word, ‘height’), who goes by the title of Social Psychologist at New York University recently posted a YouTube video of a talk he participated in titled, ‘The Moral Psychology of Political Polarization: Many Causes and a Few Possible Responses’. Haidt is the author of the book, ‘The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion’:
The above picture is the cover of Haidt’s book as published in Great Britain; the cover in the USA isn’t nearly so. . .pointed. Haidt’s USA cover nonetheless does have a depiction of an angel and a demon to make his point that political discourse has gotten nastier of late and in these days of hyper-partisan politics, people are more apt to think more in Manichean black/white, good/evil terms and demonize those on the other side.
Haidt believes that political polarization is going to get worse and by way of suggesting a remedy, he shares an Arab proverb, ‘Me against my brother; me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother, and my cousin against the stranger’ to make the point that if Americans were to become united on a common national goal, they’ll be less apt to target one/another (as a for example, Haidt speaks of Americans working together to reverse the trend of America losing prestige, influence, and prosperity to Asian countries growing in power, such as China).
Haidt, who grew up in a liberal environment, nevertheless acknowledges that conservatives are right when they say government has grown too big:
In what may be jarring to some (cough – baby boomers – cough), Haidt recommends adopting the long view (2020 and beyond), focusing on the Millennial and subsequent generations and simply getting through then forgetting about the Baby Boomer generation:
Haidt observes we could be doing civics education better and recounts his liberal upbringing and his lack of knowledge of conservative ideas up until his 40’s when he then sought out conservative ideas:
Haidt’s point about civic education particularly resonated with me, because of my life-long observation that too many Americans are woefully ignorant of the form of government we have that guarantees our liberty, which makes it more likely that those in power will take advantage of the people’s ignorance for their own nefarious ends:
I suspect Haidt’s comments about the kind of insularity he personally experienced regarding conservative ideas represents a large segment of his fellow colleagues in academia as well as people in entertainment, media, and government.
Where Haidt advocates for some kind of ‘grand bargain’ between conservatives and progressives in the future, I see more of a scenario where Americans will, as in times past, have to decide what kind of country America will be.
As Abraham Lincoln said in his ‘House Divided’ speech regarding the institution of slavery:
It [America] will become all one thing or all the other.
The choice before the American people is this: They can become more like a European-style social democracy state (a.k.a., ‘soft despotism’) run by progressive elites and their army of unelected ‘experts’ who will promise cradle to grave ‘security’, where in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, the citizens will be “reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd”.
Or. . .
They can choose to rediscover and restore the exhilarating idea of the American Revolution, the Shot Heard Round The World where people who yearned to be free from the yoke of tyranny told the world’s kings, dictators, and despots in no uncertain terms that a new form of government – self government – has taken hold in this land, and we reject all forms of despotism, including the soft despotism progressives are offering.
Americans must choose. Just as they had to choose between Anti-Federalism and Federalism, or slavery and freedom, or Jim Crow and full civil rights for all Americans, they must choose between soft despotism and freedom.
Haidt’s idea of a ‘grand bargain’ between progressives and conservatives may be motivated by a sincere care and concern for our country, but it is akin to putting new wine in old wineskins. It won’t work.
We know what does work. We know what is right and good and true.
Senator Tom Coburn from the State of Oklahoma delivered his farewell speech in the Senate chamber on December 11, 2014. He was emotional and eloquent in pointing out the dangers of progressivism and the blessings of freedom.
The loss of freedom we have imposed by the arrogance of an all-too-powerful Federal Government, ignoring the wisdom and writing of our Founders that said: Above all, we must protect the liberty of the individual and recognize that liberty is given as a God-given right.
I know not everybody agrees with me, but the one thing I do know is that our Founders agreed with me.
Every Member of the Senate takes the same oath and this is where I differ with a lot of colleagues. Let me read the oath, because I think it is part of the problem. I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties. It is not to provide benefits for your State. That is where we differ. That is where my conflict with my colleagues has come. It is nice to be able to do things for your State, but that isn’t our charge. Our charge is to protect the future of our country by upholding the Constitution and ensuring the liberty that is guaranteed there is protected and preserved.
Senator Tom Coburn argues for an America that celebrates the wisdom of the Founders and the liberty that self-governance provides and warns that the good intentions of a central government run by well-meaning politicians and their hoard of elite compassionate bureaucratic ‘experts’ is a threat to every American’s freedom.
Yes, conservatives operating under the ‘constrained’ vision have the better argument. No, progressives laboring under the ‘unconstrained’ vision aren’t the devil, they’re just profoundly wrong.
Choose well, America.
The Huge Gulf Beetween Progressive’s Good Intentions and Actual Disastrous OutcomesPosted: December 15, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Black lives do matter (all human life is precious in the sight of God, even people of pallor, a.k.a., white people). And police officers who abuse their authority and/or break the law should be held accountable and suffer the consequences of their bad deeds.
But not recognizing or acknowledging that each year hundreds more young black men are murdered by other blacks and not police officers is like paying full, obsessive focus and attention to a back-alley bar room brawl while the landing of the allied forces on the beaches of Normandy is happening.
It’s always easier for a group of people to ask ‘who did this to us’ instead of ‘what must we do to better our lot in life’, especially when there are so-called ‘leaders’ who get paid handsomely by instilling a sense of grievance among groups of people and encouraging them to think of themselves as helpless victims of the larger society.
You’ll hear some on the left invoke the ‘legacy of slavery’ to explain the dysfunctions seen in some black communities, but that is bogus. In 1965, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 25% and it was called a crisis. Now, after almost 50 years of Progressive policies, it is greater than 70%.
The root cause of the dysfunction seen in many black communities is a combination of a sub-group of blacks adopting a culture and values system that virtually guarantees poverty, abetted (with good intentions) by a government that enables a culture and values system that wasn’t intended to but nevertheless does produce illegitimacy and poverty (illegitimacy among whites and Hispanics have skyrocketed too, with similar results among their sub-culture, so it’s not a race/color of the skin thing, it’s a culture/values thing).
Prior to the 1960’s and the Progressive’s ‘Great Society’, and ‘War On Poverty’, the illegitimacy rate among blacks at a time when Jim Crow laws and open racial discrimination were far more common was far lower. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 19%.
Almost 50 years and 20 TRILLION dollars later, the poverty rate in America hasn’t budged, but the illegitimacy rate among blacks has gone from 25% to over 70%.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Progressives have had more than enough time. Their approach to government and society has been an utter failure. Ironically, the very people Progressives say they are for are the ones who have been most devastated by their failed policies/approaches.
Progressives embody Groucho Marx’ maxim:
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”
If Progressives truly cared for the least of these, they would acknowledge the deep and wide chasm between the good intentions of their policies and the actual disastrous outcomes of them.
If they don’t – if sub-groups of some black communities continue to become ensnared in a dysfunctional culture/values system and government policies/approaches don’t change – then the outcome will continue to be preventable human suffering/lack of flourishing, which is, of course, insanity.
‘Rape Epidemic’ Stories Are To Journalism What Sugary Energy Drinks Are to Good NutritionPosted: December 14, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It’s good to finally have several journalist/outlets covering the collapsed ‘rape epidemic’ narrative that has been hustled by radical feminist types and journalists who sympathize with them.
These radical feminists are fond of using faux-intellectual phrases like ‘heteronormative’ and ‘cis-gender’ to give the impression to the credulous that their radical theories and ideas are somehow worthy of serious consideration to the larger society.
So the Rolling Stone gang-rape story, lauded and celebrated by so many in academic and journalism circles when it came out last November with words like ‘groundbreaking’, ‘important’, etc. has fizzled like a wet firecracker.
While it was expected that radical feminists would continue to engage in hysterical hyperbole and hype the ‘culture of rape’ or ‘rape epidemic’ narrative, it was depressing to see how many smart, reputable journalists got taken in by the story when it first came out. It is apparent they wanted the story of a female University of Virginia student getting brutally gang raped by several men in a frat house to be true, because it confirmed their own biases.
White privilege? Check. Out of control frat-house males? Check. And so on.
Hopefully for many journalists and academics, the collapse of the Rolling Stone gang-rape story will serve to give them pause and perhaps just a little introspection before they jump on the bandwagon in the future. Oh, and a little fact checking would be nice. Jeez, I mean, c’mon! Remember the old saying: ‘If your mother tells you she loves you, check it.’
What of the radical feminists, the ones who were all-in because the story confirmed all of their biases? The fact that the UVA gang-rape story has fallen apart is of little or no concern to them. That’s because no amount of countervailing facts can persuade them because mere facts are nothing in comparison to their contrived ivory tower theories that undergird their cramped, provincial views. No, they’ll keep chuggin’ along as if nothing had happened.
But you journalists who allowed yourselves to be taken in: you need to decide if you’re going to be a journalist or an advocate – as the Rolling Stone gang rape story debacle demonstrates, you can’t be both.
UPDATE, Monday 12-15-14 at 7:16 PM PST: Christina Hoff Sommers, a.k.a., the ‘Factual Feminist’, has a revealing account of how in 2010 a left-leaning institution teamed up with reporters from NPR and produced a study called ‘Sexual Assault on Campus’. In Sommers’ words:
The report is the worst kind of advocacy research, it’s full of anecdotes and misleading statistics – it’s predicated on the claim that 1 in 5 female students can expect to be a victim of rape or attempted rape – I mean these investigative journalists never thought to investigate what serious researchers and criminologists have exposed as a specious statistic.
ObamaCare Architect Jonathan Gruber is a LIAR!Posted: December 13, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Did I mention that ObamaCare guru Jonathan Gruber is not just a garden variety liar. He’s a ‘Liar, liar, pants en fuego‘ liar?
Well, yes. He’s the kind of liar where when he lies kittens and puppies at the rescue shelter existing in cramped, unsanitary wire cages don’t go home to a loving family.
Gruber’s that kind of liar. The kind of liar who lies to you for your own good, because you’re an ignorant slack-jawed yokel, don’cha know.
You know the funny thing about the Democrats? They aren’t mad at all at Gruber for being a lower than whale sh_t liar and deceiver – no, they’re 100% A.O.K. with that. Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet, y’see. ‘Progress’, and all that.
Heck, Barack Obama himself got the ‘Lie of The Year’ in 2013 for his “If you like your doctor/plan, you can keep them. Period” lie (poor kittens and puppies).
No, Democrats are mad at ObamaCare architect Gruber because he told the truth. The truth that ObamaCare was built on a foundation of deception, obfuscation, and rhetorical sleight of hand. All for our own good, of course.
By the lights of Obama, Gruber, and the Democrats, you should be thankful for ObamaCare, you ingrates. Obama thinks you should be thanking him. Yes, really.
Did I mention that ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber is a liar?
Here endeth the rant.
The Desperate Need for ‘Citizen Training’ in Our RepublicPosted: December 11, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized 2 Comments
The Constitution cannot protect us and our freedoms as a self-governing people unless we protect the Constitution. – Thomas Sowell
democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health. – Richard Beeman
I guess I was a weird kid.
Because, you see, when I was a kid I used to watch episodes of ‘Firing Line’ with William F. Buckley. Is that weird? Guilty as charged.
For reasons lost to me now, the episodes featuring liberal doyenne Harriet Pilpel left the most lasting impression in my memory, but I enjoyed all the episodes. Maybe it was Pilpel’s magnificent hair and unique sartorial taste.
Why on earth, you ask, was I not playing baseball, climbing trees, or burning ants with a magnifying glass?
Oh, I was doing all of those other activities too, it’s just that I tuned in to ‘Firing Line’ as well.
Here were terribly important people (or at least, people who sounded terribly important) debating terribly important things, in a terribly intellectual and oftentimes pretentious and arrogant manner (for an example of the kind of pretentiousness I’m talking about, watch this clip from the 1973 movie ‘The Paper Chase’, featuring John Houseman as Professor Kingsfield):
Back to ‘Firing Line’: Insults were administered to one/another by way of carefully constructed verbal jabs, accompanied by minimal body language including the slightly raised eyebrow and the wry smile.
“What the hell is this?” I thought to myself.
But then something happened: With each episode, I grew to appreciate the language and the logic they used, the words and the arguments they employed, and I actually learned something about politics and government.
A few years later in high school, I was compelled to select an elective class for the new school year, and for some reason I checked the box for the ‘Civics’ class whose teacher was a crusty Korean War veteran named Wylie Smith (civics classes should be required, and required to be taught in a historically accurate way in all high schools, in my opinion).
Mr. Smith’s class was something like a combination of ‘Firing Line’ and Professor Kingsfield’s Harvard contract law class. We delved into Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Locke, Western Civilization, the Magna Carta, the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution of the United States, and the difference between a democracy and a republic.
I enjoyed the civics class like I enjoyed watching ‘Firing Line’. It was highly engaging and interesting stuff. Thank you,
Professor Kingsfield Mr. Smith, wherever you are. You helped me see the genius of the Founding Fathers and set me on a course that would become a lifelong interest in government, civics, politics, and asking/attempting to answer the question from classical Greek times: How should we live?
* * * * * *
Speaking of republics, set the Flux Capacitor Time Travel Thingamabob from the 1970’s to 2015 and ask yourself this question: What kind of shape is this old republic of ours in?
On the plus side, we haven’t become a dictatorship like that of the Orwellian-named ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ (North Korea) or devolved into a state of anarchy or become a banana republic. Yay, us.
On the negative side, the delicate balance between concentrated power and self-governance that the Framers intended has recently suffered an imbalance towards more concentrated power and centralized government.
How, you ask?
Barack Obama, a man of the far left, a.k.a., a Progressive, took office as President of the United States on January 20th 2009. Being the Progressive ideologue that he is, he and his fellow travelers in the Democratic Party have worked to concentrate power so they can fundamentally transform the United States of America into their image:
Like the anecdote that says you can boil a frog alive if you turn up the heat slowly enough, the two terms of George W. Bush were a time of some discomfort with the growth of the national debt and mistakes made in executing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other things, but with most in the middle class chugging along.
But the advent of a presidency presided by a leftist ideologue like Obama bent on “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” was like cranking the burner knob 100% full-blast open, quickly changing the slow simmer into a raging boil, which had, at least in the eyes of Progressives, the unintended effect of ‘frogs’ jumping out of the water and asking, ‘how the hell did this happen?’
True to his radical, far-left upbringing and ideology that focuses on concentrating power (for the good of the people, of course), Obama has usurped the powers of the legislative branch of government by unilaterally making or changing laws he doesn’t agree with, in clear violation of the oath he took to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Obama has demonstrated, time and again, that he has no respect for the Constitution’s limitations on his power.
Despite his oath of office, to see that the laws are faithfully executed, Obama has unilaterally changed welfare-reform laws, by eliminating the work requirement passed by Congress during the Clinton administration.
He has repeatedly and unilaterally changed or waived provisions of the ObamaCare law passed by Congress during his own administration.
He has ordered Border Patrol agents not to carry out provisions of the immigration laws he doesn’t like.
Etc. Sowell makes the point that Obama would be a ‘lame duck’ president, if he respected the Constitution. The problem is he doesn’t.
About that imbalance towards concentrated power and centralized government: think of our republic as a teeter-totter, with concentrated power on one side and self-governance on the other.
The fulcrum of this teeter-totter is the engagement of active and informed citizens. A republic, as the Framers intended it, is supposed to be a delicate balance of power between concentrated, centralized government and self-government, with the engagement of active, informed citizens being the critical fulcrum that keeps the powers balanced and in check.
In the parlance of the Star Wars movies, Barack Obama and his Merry Band of Progressive Mischief Makers in the Democratic Party represent an imbalance, a disturbance in the ‘force’, towards concentrated power and centralized government. I don’t think Obama & Co. are the dark side, they’re just profoundly wrong.
But there’s a huge problem in any effort towards restoring balance: Our country’s educational system has not only largely failed in teaching the 3 R’s, they have failed to teach about the history of our republic and how it is largely responsible for the freedom, prosperity and human flourishing we as a people enjoy.
Hence the need for civic education – ‘Citizen Training’, if you will – in our society, and pronto.
But where to get it if the schools are no longer or inadequately teaching it?
The good news is there are activist citizens who see the imbalance of power Progressives have caused that threaten our republic who are working to restore freedom and liberty by informing, educating and training their fellow citizens.
An outstanding organization is the Society of Free Range Americans, a.k.a., the Citizen Ninjas.
Another is the Center for Self-Governance More and more organizations like this are popping up, and I encourage you to take advantage of these resources, to arm yourself with knowledge and get in the fight to preserve the republic that guarantees our freedoms and our way of life.
If you want to learn more about the Constitution, the presidency or economics, check out Hillsdale College’s excellent on-line courses.
Don’t have a class in your area? Educate yourself and start one of your own. The republic and your freedom and liberty are worth it!
How Sloppy Agenda ‘Journalism’ Hurts Those it Purports to HelpPosted: December 6, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Rolling Stone, a magazine with a reliably leftist point of view, ran a long-form story last November about a woman (‘Jackie’) who said she was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity house in 2012.
The story became a cause célèbre, with many in the journalism world hailing it as important and groundbreaking and many using it as justification for action against the so-called ‘epidemic of rape’ on college campuses.
Some journalists who asked questions and cast doubt on the Rolling Stone story were criticized and vilified, but it turns out those critics were right to ask the questions they did, because on closer examination several inconsistencies have been found that call into question the truth of the alleged rape victim’s story.
Now Rolling Stone has this statement at the beginning of their piece:
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.
This is too bad, because *actual* rape/sexual assault/domestic violence are serious matters that deserve to be accurately covered and the perpetrators of such horrible deeds deserve to be punished.
But the Left’s attempt to gin up an ‘issue’, whether it’s racism (see Ferguson), climate change, health care, etc. with false, sensational reporting too often leaves them with egg on their face and the public they purport to serve misinformed.
All journalists need to remember the old saying, ‘If your mother tells you she loves you, check it.’
However, the problem with agenda journalism goes far deeper than mere fact checking. It goes to those wanting so desperately to believe a story to be true because it fits their ideology, it fits the way they view the world as taught to them in college, etc., that their capacity to recognize, much less combat, Confirmation Bias is virtually non-existent.
Here again, if you’re getting your ‘facts’ exclusively from right-wing media or exclusively from left-wing media, the probability is high that you are misinformed to a significant degree.
As always, buyer beware and grains of salt come in handy.
UPDATE: Sunday 12-7-14 at 10:44 A.M. P.S.T.: Rolling Stone has now added to their apology, making it clear *they*, and not ‘Jackie’, are responsible for the story, here. Before Rolling Stone embellished/clarified their apology, even people on the uber left, like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, were spittin’ mad at Rolling Stone:
No mincing of words there.
The Right Word, The Right Way, at the Right TimePosted: December 4, 2014 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
There are three things, apart from demonstrative proofs, which inspire belief–namely, sagacity, high character, and good will. . .If a person is thought to command them all, he will be deserving of credit in the eyes of his audience.
– Aristotle, ‘Rhetoric’
Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
– Proverbs 25:11
A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Hewitt had on as his guest NBC’s political reporter and anchor of ‘Meet The Press’, Chuck Todd.
Hewitt asked Todd about why the Main Stream Media (MSM) wasn’t adequately covering the story of numerous videos that had come to surface that showed the main architect of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, calling the American people stupid and how he/they used deception and rhetorical sleight of hand to jam ObamaCare down the throats of the American people.
That same morning, I saw a tweet from ‘The Federalist’ journalist Mollie Hemingway, (you really need to check her stuff out) referencing a piece written by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg that nicely encapsulated the problem of why big stories don’t get covered by the MSM:
The reason Gruber has been so outrageously under-covered by the mainstream media is obvious: The whole story is an indictment of the entire ecosystem of establishment liberalism, from the supposedly “explanatory journalists” who picked sides from the beginning, to the academic elites who serve as willing mercenaries for the Democratic party (while pretending to be unimpeachably objective followers of the facts) to the press corps that carries water for the whole enterprise. Grüberdammerung runs against the narrative that only lovers of limited government are driven by self-interest and greed. It gives the average person a glimpse into how the sausage is made and embarrasses the sausage makers.
Goldberg’s quote was *perfect* for what Hewitt was questioning Todd on, so I tweeted the quote to Hewitt and five minutes later Hewitt was using the quote I tweeted to him on the air wrapped in a question to Todd.
Good fun, that.
Unlike Jonathan Gruber, et. al., an ethical purveyor of persuasion doesn’t rely on trickery and deception, but on what I call Aristotle’s ‘Four Pillars of Persuasion’: demonstrative proofs, sagacity (good mental discernment and sound judgment), high character, and good will.
There are many ‘how to’ references on effective communication, and I just ran into this list from communications expert Frank Luntz called ‘The Ten Rules of Effective Language’ last night as I was surfing the internet, so I thought I’d pass it along.
Coupling Aristotle’s ‘Four Pillars of Persuasion’ with Proverbs 25:11’s “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” represents a winning formula of saying the right thing in the right way at the right time.