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So, if conservatives win, it’s because voters are stupid?

What is it about certain members of the chattering classes on our nation’s coasts that whenever conservatives do well at the ballot box, their success must be attributed to something other than their ideas?

Ann Althouse, an Obama voter who teaches law at the University of Wisconsin, comments on something on something a fellow UW professor said.  In Bill Lueders’s Isthmus article subtitled “The Triumph of Stupidity“, he asks “political science professor Charles Franklin how people could vote the way they did, and when Franklin answers ‘They’re pretty damn stupid,’ he says, ‘Thank you, professor… That’s the answer I was looking for’“:

Frankly, it’s an answer embraced by many people I know. One of my Isthmus colleagues sent me a study showing that Dane County, which bucked the trends on Election Day, is by far the most educated county in the state. “When conservatives cut support for education,” she mused, “they do so to keep people dumb and their own interests in power.”

This prompts this blogress diva to reply:

Welcome to my world: Dane County, Wisconsin, home of people who tell themselves they are the smart people and those who disagree with them must certainly be dumb. They don’t go through the exercise of putting themselves in the place of someone who thinks differently from the way they do . . . . If you short circuit that process and go right to the assumption that people who don’t agree with you are stupid, how do you maintain the belief that you are, in fact, intelligent, informed, and well-meaning?

Read the whole thing.  It is a puzzling thing how so many people who style themselves to be so superior and smart simply assume their ideological adversaries are stupid.

Chris Christie Knows How to Lead in Times of Financial Crisis

Perhaps the most defining act of responsible Republican governance this past year was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision last month to kill “a proposed train tunnel under the Hudson River between North Jersey and Manhattan because his state’s share of the construction costs was too high.

This tunnel may well be a great idea and may well facilitate commutes between the Big Apple and the Garden State, but that latter jurisdiction is strapped for funds and, like any responsible enterprise, first has to meet the cost of essential services before proceeding to other improvements.   In the near future, political leaders are going to have to make many such choices where they will have to kill potentially beneficial projects because their jurisdictions lack the resources to pay for them.

Making such choices is a primary ingredient of a successful leader.  And not just in politics.  Anyone who has ever served on the board of a company or club knows what it’s like when you’re discussing ways to improve your organization.  People will come up with suggestions which the secretary often dutifully records.  And sometimes as you weigh the merits of various projects, with this or that member suggesting means to improve on the ideas, you’ll find your enthusiasm wane when the treasurer chimes in, reminding her fellow board members of the limited resources in your group’s kitty.

So, kudos to Governor Christie for adding a dose of common sense to our budgetary debates.  No wonder he’s been so dismissive of his state’s senior Senator’s criticism of the project, telling a reporter that all that Democrat “knows how to do is blow hot air“.  And that’s basically how governors are going to have to act when politicians, their appetite like that of the Cyclops in the Odyssey never sated, keep begging for more.

Jerry, are you paying attention?

The right response to David Frum on Reagan

So, CNN is running a column by Tea Party critic and Palin agonist David Frum on how to commemorate the centennial of the greatest domestic policy president of the twentieth century. Despite Frum’s chirping against a grassroots protest movement with a political philosophy nearly identical to the Gipper’s and a candidate who has his gift for communication (and enervating the left) while lacking his extensive reading and government experience, he does have a great suggestion: build a “museum in Washington dedicated to the victims of communism.

That would be a great tribute to the Gipper as it would highlight both his strong opposition to communism and his long-term love of liberty.

In response to Frum’s post, Sissy Willis tweets that the Tea Party is the “appropriate national commemoration of this good man and great president”.

Happy Birthday, George Eliot!

On this the 191st anniversary of the birth of the greatest English novelist, let me offer, in slightly modified form, the tribute I have offered in years past.  It is also the 114th anniversary of the birth of my late, beloved Aunt Ruth.  In her life, that great lady embodied the qualities of a heroine of an Eliot novels.

A few years back in anticipation of Eliot’s birthday, I watched the BBC version of the novel (featuring Ben Kingsley).  And the story got to me as the book always does.  It’s odd I who love books so much and am moved cry so little when I read (yet tear up frequently when watching movies).  Wwhenever I hear the story of the lonely weaver of Raveloe, however, whether in print, via the spoken word (i.e., book on tape/CD) or on screen, I am always touched, always lose it, so to speak it.

Ben Kingsley’s Silas plea to keep an apparently orphaned child who had strayed into his home, “It’s a lone thing; I’m a lone thing. . . . It’s come to me,” is the plea of every human being who has ever felt cut off from his fellows.  Indeed, that line in quintessetially George Eliot who so understood human loneliness and recognized our need for the companionship of our fellows.

And she delighted in the effect of a child on an adult with an open heart:

She [that child] was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep–only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway.

I rediscovered those words just a few nights ago. When I opened the book I had just purchased, I did not quite arrive at the short story I had just begun.  I plunged instead right back into the novel, starting this time in medias res, reading well over two chapters before sleep overtook me.

Such is the power of George Eliot’s prose, the images she invokes, the ideas she presents, the emotions she expresses. She helps us find words for our deepest thoughts and shows compassion for our everyday weaknesses. She seems to see into the troubles of all our lives and finds the balm in tender relations with our fellows.

And that was how I introduced my George Eliot birthday post: (more…)