Gay Patriot Header Image

From the comments: What we must acknowledge about the left

In the comments for my last post on Obamacare commenter Ignatius began his discussion of the legislation’s undesirable albeit unstated aims with the observation: “I believe that political discussions would be much easier if those on the right jettisoned this quaint idea that leftists have good intentions.”  I highlighted that sentence in a subsequent comment, and other commenters took up the theme, as well.

Commenter Eddie Swaim observed:

While reading the comments about “the left,” it suddenly occurred to me that after listening to Rush Limbaugh for 25 years, he has always been careful to separate “the left” politicians in D.C. from “the left” common everyday folk. I always agreed with him but now I’m not so sure. Most of the gay male liberals that I know fall right in line with the D.C. politicians. Anything and everything is o.k. if it hurts [conservatism] or wins them a battle against the right, whether or not their action is legal or ethical. The ends always justify the means.

Likewise, commenter Steve linked to this video of Ann Coulter discussing the tendency of liberals and the lamestream media to fall back on “racial demagoguery” to advance their agenda in cases like the Zimmerman trial.

I thought of all three comments when I came across another link to an article by John Hawkins dated March 27, 2012.  Hawkins’ article is entitled “5 Uncomfortable Truths About Liberals,” and I encourage everyone to read the whole thing.  For the moment, though, I’ve summarized his five points below.  Hawkins writes that:

1) Most liberals are hateful people.

2) Liberals do more than any other group to encourage race-based hatred.

3) Most liberals are less moral than other people.

4) Most liberals don’t care if the policies they advocate work or not.

5) Most liberals are extremely intolerant.

Now while the language in those observations is strong enough that Hawkins could be accused of engaging in hyperbole, I think a certain amount of strong language is necessary for describing leftist rhetoric and means of argumentation.  There’s no need to take my word for it, though, read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

I would say, though, that in both the Zimmerman case and in the debates (and protests) over late-term abortion restrictions in Texas, we’ve seen many of the traits Hawkins describes displayed quite openly by many leftists.

Likewise, consider this article in The Advocate which a Facebook acquaintance brought to my attention.  The article focuses on the “mighty change of heart” which many Mormons have undergone on the issues of gay rights and gay marriage.  True to what both Hawkins and our commenters noted, most gay leftists will have none of it, as is very evident from their comments on the Advocate article.  Rather than welcome the changes underway in the LDS church, they are expressing their hatred and intolerance for the Mormons in very hostile language.  Read the comments there and see for yourself.

Now while I know a number of our readers might believe that the Mormons brought the hatred on themselves through the church’s advocacy against Proposition 8 in California in 2008, I’d point out a few things that the left never will, namely: 1). Despite what the HRC and its allies would have us believe, opposition to gay marriage isn’t necessarily motivated by hate, however easy or convenient it may be to believe that, and 2). Individuals are and should be defined by more than their affiliation with some group or collective.  The gay left is always up in arms about what this group or that group said or did about some gay issue, but they never have qualms about denouncing or smearing or insulting members of that group in a similar manner.

Humanities in the 21st century

As many have observed, the humanities (and allied disciplines) at U.S. universities have gotten rather silly, these last few decades. Now they’re also falling from favor among job-conscious students:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The humanities division at Harvard University…is attracting fewer undergraduates…

Universities’ humanities divisions and liberal-arts colleges across the nation are facing similar challenges in the wake of stepped-up global economic competition, a job market that is disproportionately rewarding graduates in the hard sciences, rising tuition and sky-high student-debt levels.

Among recent college graduates who majored in English, the unemployment rate was 9.8%; for philosophy and religious-studies majors, it was 9.5%; and for history majors, it was also 9.5%…By comparison, recent chemistry graduates were unemployed at a rate of just 5.8%; and elementary-education graduates were at 5%.

Coincidence?

But, not to worry: Harvard’s Humanities department is prepared to sneer at anyone who doesn’t see how tremendously valuable they are:

This “is an anti-intellectual moment, and what matters to me is that we, the people in arts and humanities, find creative and affirmative ways of engaging the moment,” said Diana Sorensen, Harvard’s dean of Arts and Humanities…

Homi Bhabha, director of the Humanities Center at Harvard….said he didn’t give much weight to criticism from some elected officials who carp that young people need to go into fields that are supposedly more useful. “I think that’s because they have a very primitive and reductive view of what is essential in society,” he said.

Get it? If the Humanities are in decline – despite this being an age of left-wing triumph, and with university revenues/budgets near all-time highs – it’s not the fault of Humanities professors for too often failing to teach kids how to reason, usefully, about life’s problems. No, no, no. It’s everyone else’s fault for being primitive, reductionist and anti-intellectual.

All I can say is: I have an idea of what’s genuinely intellectual, and Sorensen/Bhabha are not it.

Via Zero Hedge.

UPDATE (from Dan): Jeff addresses a topic near and dear to my heart. There are many reasons the humanities are in decline and a good number of them trace back to the humanities professors themselves who focus on esoterica and offer, in the words of Homi Bhabha (whom Jeff quoted above) a “reductive view of what is essential in society”.

Perhaps were more humanities professors to show a genuine passion for the ideals which had defined their professor until scholars (thinking they were really quite clever) started “deconstructing” it in the 1970s, they would find greater interest among students.  But, professors would then have to make the case why the study of philosophy and great works of literature mattered to those who pursued careers in law, medicine, banking and commerce.

I highly recommend Bruce Bawer’s The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind which explores one aspect of the humanities’ decline in contemporary academia.

Today’s Appalling Facebook Meme

Wow, just wow, is about all I can say in response to this piece of leftist rationalization which I saw today on Facebook.  It goes without saying that we’d be hearing something VERY DIFFERENT from this fellow if there was a Republican president.

The message here boils down to: freedom doesn’t matter, liberty doesn’t matter, rights don’t matter, and the most important role for government is to stand for “social justice.”  Here’s the link, but I’ve quoted the whole thing in its appalling entirety below:

Things I’m more worried about than my phone being tapped:
Global warming. The richest 1% controlling more wealth than the bottom 50%. Homelessness. Gutting the food stamp program. The rich hiding several Trillion untaxed dollars. Secretaries paying more in taxes than billionaires. Politicians being bought and sold. Malaria and starvation. More people per capita in prison than any other country. The “war” on drugs. More black men in prison than in college. Rising cost of education and health care. The rise of extremism. The continued oppression of women. The general lack of compassion in the world. The degree to which we all blame our problems on others and close our eyes to our own irrationality.
That more people are outraged by a small loss of privacy than any of these other issues.

Should I add “People who write in sentence fragments” to his list of outrages more “worrisome” than a government which spends all its time monitoring its people, or is that just my pet peeve?

Not surprisingly, the best responses to this kind of thing date to the founding of the Republic.  We’ve always got the classic from Benjamin Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But in this context, where the message is to sacrifice liberty for “social justice,” I think Sam Adams might be better, though trying to choose just one passage that is appropriate is rather like an embarrassment of riches.  I have long admired this one:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Perhaps this one is better: “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

And just in case the Obamalaise is getting to you, here’s one worth repeating regularly: “Nil desperandum, — Never Despair. That is a motto for you and me. All are not dead; and where there is a spark of patriotic fire, we will rekindle it.”

Capricious Enforcement: A sign of the times

Back in October 2010, blogger Tigerhawk recalled what one of his Princeton classmates, who was originally from Romania, said about the nature of life under socialism:

One recurring tool of socialist tyranny is the capricious enforcement of unworkable laws.

He quoted the passage in making a point about the “capricious enforcement” which was an inevitable feature of the unworkable mess better known as Obamacare.

But two and a half years later, it’s evident that observation could just as easily have been applied to our byzantine tax code, our environmental regulations, and even laws pertaining to press freedoms under the Obama administration.  As Dan wrote earlier today, the only folks who are surprised by any of these scandals are the ones who haven’t been paying attention to what has been going with our government since January 20, 2009.

In the case of the Obama administration, though, it’s not strictly capricious enforcement, but selective enforcement, always with a partisan goal in mind.  The IRS targeting of the Tea Party and conservative organizations is appalling, but one would have to be naive not to believe, as ABC’s Trey Hardin noted today, that it wasn’t authorized by someone in the West Wing.  Hardin observed (audio at the link):

I will tell you this on the IRS front. I’ve worked in this town for over 20 years in the White House and on Capitol Hill and I can say with a very strong sense of certainty that there are people very close to this president that not only knew what the IRS were doing but authorized it. It simply just does not happen at an agency level like that without political advisers likely in the West Wing certainly connected to the president’s ongoing campaign organization.

And it’s not just the IRS.  Earlier today it came out that the EPA waived fees for leftist organizations and leftist journalists who requested information, but not for conservative ones:   “Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.”  Yes, this would be the same EPA that has classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant, making the mere act of exhaling potentially troublesome.

A coincidence?  I think not.  This is the same administration committed to picking winners and losers on most matters.  Hence, it should surprise no one that while oil companies are prosecuted for the deaths of eagles and other protected species, the bird-killing wind farms are naturally given a pass.   Clearly, some energy companies are more equal than others.

It’s the same with journalists.  Just a day after the AP snooping scandal broke, the administration is playing favorites again.  Jake Tapper has gained a reputation as one who can be counted on to ask tough questions of the White House with greater frequency than the reporters at most of the other lamestream news organizations.  Well, today Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection is reporting that the White House played Jake Tapper by selectively leaking one e-mail with the apparent aim of creating a diversion in the reporting about the Benghazi cover-up.  Jacobson writes: “Like I said, this entire diversion of leaking a single email out of a chain of emails to Tapper was simply meant to put critics of the administration back on their heels and to provide an excuse for White House defenders to throw around words like ‘doctored.’”

And so what else do we see today?  Well, all of a sudden the administration’s lackeys in the press such as Hilary Rosen are now out expressing their sympathy for poor Jay Carney.  I guess they’re afraid of ending up as the subject of a DOJ snooping scandal or an IRS investigation or a selective leak.

 

Social Liberalism: Simple-minded and Pernicious Memes

When I wrote my first post on liberalism as more of a social phenomenon than an intellectual one, I imagined a series of posts dealing with many different implications of that idea.  So far I’ve written three other posts in the series on topics ranging from slogans to leftist intolerance and political changers to the so-called “wealth gap.”

One big topic that I haven’t explored yet–even though I’ve meant to do so since the start of the series–is the way in which liberal ideas are perpetuated on social media and elsewhere through the use of simple-minded memes.  As I considered the idea of social liberalism, one point which came to mind is that so many liberal memes might seem catchy at first glance,  but they are either responses to outlandish straw men, or they make no sense whatsoever when subjected to even the slightest bit of scrutiny.

At Legal Insurrection, Professor Jacobson has written a few posts about the role of the leftist site Upworthy in promulgating memes of both sorts, including a post this past Tuesday on the high cost of low-information voters.  And he’s not the only one to recognize the importance of simple-minded memes for the left.  For example, this post at Breitbart.com takes the idea one step further to reflect on the significance of LOLcats in politics.

What interests me at the moment, though, is that there is a whole class of liberal memes which go beyond the simple-minded to the downright pernicious: they promulgate leftist thinking in a way that seems ironic or clever or humorous, even as they blatantly acknowledge the darker goals of leftist ideology.   I stumbled across a prime example of one such meme on Facebook about two months ago when an acquaintance “shared” a meme which had been promoted by the Facebook group “Being Liberal” back in December 2011.  I’ve pasted the image below.

308673_10150327804021275_119643999_n

We’re all familiar with the common liberal tropes about “beating swords into plowshares” and the frequent lament heard on the left that “if we spent on education or social programs what we spent on the military” somehow all of society’s ills would disappear.   This meme takes that same tack, but uses “irony” to take it one step further by suggesting that the government can use the military to “win the hearts and minds of the population” and put the “locals to work” working on infrastructure politics.

By supposedly employing “irony” to make its point, therefore, it moves from the simple-minded lament about spending more on education and social programs into the territory of the pernicious by endorsing the use of the military as a means of social control.  The person who posts or re-posts the idea can feign ignorance of the pernicious implications by saying that the meme isn’t “serious” or that it is “just making a point through irony,” but it’s a point which betrays the left’s ignorance of the way free people and free markets operate.  The point of the meme is unmistakable:  all good comes through government, and we ought to use the force of government to establish a planned economy.

The Facebook page for “Being Liberal” attributes this meme to one of its readers named Terry Sebolt who wrote in and said (with the disingenuousness common on the left): “”Those were my words, but not my pic. Feel free to put it anywhere you want. I meant every word of it, and hope people enjoy the irony, regardless of credit. It was a throw away line…”

The claim may be spurious, though, as I did some internet searching and the earliest example I could find for the meme online was this appearance on Twitter from August 9, 2011.  I’ve posted a screenshot of the image below.

Screen shot 2013-03-01 at 11.22.28 PM

Regardless of the authorship, though, the claim is intended to make a point by shocking, even though those who quote the statement will try to distance themselves from its actual implications.  Those implications, though, tell us a great amount about the worldview of the left.

What’s even more amazing in the case of the person I know who re-posted this meme is that she is an immigrant from eastern Europe with a PhD in a scientific field from an American university.   She often refers to the bad days growing up in her country under a brutal dictator when everyone was suffering.  And so she moves to the U.S. and spends time in universities and decides that she’s a “liberal” and approvingly re-posts that “ironic” image.  If that’s not an example of a socially-promulgated disorder, then I’m not sure what would be.

Filtered History vs. the Political Wheel of Fortune

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.”  I thought of that recently in seeing some of the media pushback against the publicity generated by the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas this week.  Thoreau’s quote is as true as ever about the state of contemporary philosophy, but it is also true about the state of historical inquiry:  these days we have professors of history more than historians.

The professoriate is a class with its own interests and its own agenda, an agenda that largely overlaps with that pursued by the majority of our lamestream media.  That agenda does not include the practice of history in the abstract, insofar as that involves presenting the evidence, weighing the options, employing reason, and drawing conclusions.  To most professors of history and folks in the media these days, history is only useful insofar as it serves their left-wing agenda.  Hence their resistance to the displays in the Bush library.

Consider this article from Yahoo! News:

DALLAS—As former President George W. Bush prepares to officially open his presidential library on Thursday, a question arises as it has for his predecessors: How objective will it be about his time in the White House?
Bush left office five years ago as one of the most unpopular presidents in history, his poll numbers weighed down by public discontent over his handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and worries about the economy.
But the former president wanted to take the controversies about his presidency head-on, say several former aides who worked closely with him on the library. One way of addressing the challenge is an interactive exhibit allowing visitors to see what it was like for him to make decisions as leader of the free world. People will hear information Bush was given by aides, then be asked to make their own choices. Afterward, the former president’s image will appear on a screen to explain what decision he ultimately made and why.
“He really wants people to go in there and get a sense of what it was like to be president during that time and to use that to make an informed decision about his presidency,” said Karen Hughes, a longtime Bush adviser.

In some respects,  the article strives to be slightly more balanced than I’m giving it credit for being, since it does point out controversies over the presentation of material in both the Clinton library and the LBJ library, as well, but I think it is materially different, too, in that Bush is trying to present the information that influenced his decisions and both the media and some so-called historians are crying foul over the fact that he is doing so.

One reason they don’t want Bush to tell his version of the story is that as the nightmare that is the Obama administration continues to develop, Bush is regaining popularity.  While I don’t often share Dan’s enthusiasm for Peggy Noonan’s writings, I was intrigued to see her recognizing the depth of the differences between the two men in her column this week where she wrote:

But to the point. Mr. Obama was elected because he wasn’t Bush.

Mr. Bush is popular now because he’s not Obama.

The wheel turns, doesn’t it?

Here’s a hunch: The day of the opening of the Bush library was the day Obama fatigue became apparent as a fact of America’s political life.

And she isn’t the only one.  Writing for Politico this week, Keith Koffler complained  about “Obama’s hubris problem,” prompting Neo-Neocon to ask the question that is on many of our minds: “And he thinks it’s only a second-term phenomenon? Where has he been, on planet Xenon?”

It seems like the media is unhappy this week because Bush is getting a fresh chance to tell his story independent of their filter, whereas the public is increasingly growing tired of the combination of arrogance, divisiveness, imperiousness, incompetence, and the need to politicize everything for which President Obama is increasingly known.

Perhaps, to modify Noonan a bit, the opening of the Bush library was uncomfortable for many of his admirers because, in seeing all five living presidents together again, the public got a chance to see them and to size them up, and as Joseph Curl wrote in the Washington Times W. easily outclassed Obama.

 

 

Friday Night Thoughts

Although I first saw an online news posting about the explosion in West, Texas on Wednesday night, I had no idea of the severity of the incident, and I didn’t research the matter in much depth.  When I first heard news reports about the story on Thursday morning, though, I was struck by the fact that the reporters and the news networks almost resented having to take time away from covering this week’s events in Boston to report on the disastrous accident in Texas.

I wasn’t the only one to notice.    Yesterday Ace and Mary Katherine Ham noted a New York Times piece faulting Fox News for focusing on the events in West, Texas rather than reporting on the failure of the gun legislation in the Senate on Wednesday.  Writing in the New York Times,  Brian Stelter lamented: “While most of [MSNBC's] ‘Joe’ was dedicated to guns on Thursday, Fox’s morning show, ‘Fox & Friends,’ didn’t mention the word once. It focused instead on news about a Texas fertilizer plant explosion.”

Ace’s characterization of the complaint gets at it perfectly:

The media here documents its own sick-making bias and arrogance but instead of understanding their own words — we ignored the destruction of an entire town to focus only on the minor heartburn suffered by our Liberal Messiah — they use it as a bludgeon for criticizing Fox.

See, Fox did wrong by thinking the lives in West, Texas mattered.

And as Thursday moved into Friday, that has only continued to be the case.  Granted, the story of a manhunt for a suspected terrorist is more dramatic, particularly when most of a major urban area is ordered to go on lockdown and to stay indoors.

But when it comes to the magnitude of what happened in West, Texas Wednesday night compared with what happened in Boston on Monday, what happened in Texas is many times worse, not only in terms of deaths, but also in terms of destruction and lives uprooted.  At this time, the death toll in Texas stands at 14 (including five volunteer firefighters and four emergency service workers) with 60 people still unaccounted for.  Three fire trucks were destroyed, at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed, and at least 200 other people were injured.

An act of evil which terrorizes and disrupts a major city is certainly important.  What happened in Texas, though, is just as important, as the consequences will likely be much more devastating for the lives of those involved and for the entire community, and yet the media is doing its best to bury the story, just as the media and the Obama administration did its best to deny that a terrorist incident in Texas 4 1/2 years ago was actually a terrorist incident.  How many people even knew that three weeks ago, the Army formally declined to give Purple Hearts to Fort Hood shooting victims?

To listen to most of the media this week, it should be abundantly clear that some lives and some places are clearly more equal than others.  And the lives and livelihoods of a bunch of folks in a tiny town in rural Texas aren’t viewed as amounting to much.

UPDATE:  Assistant Village Idiot has some related thoughts (about Boston’s importance to the media, that is, not about their lack of interest in Texas) here.  This paragraph stands out as a key reflection of the media’s insularity about its focus on the Northeast:

I admit, a few dead and almost 200 injured is a big deal.  But the shared mentality is of the news, the politicians, and the teams combining to make it look more universal than it actually is.  OMG, the kid was from Dorchester!  Why, I go past Dorchester a lot!  A BU grad student! Oh no!  I knew some BU grad students once!

When should trading on inside info stay hidden?

Answer: When you’re a federal employee:

The U.S. House on Friday eliminated a key requirement of the insider trading law for most federal employees [ed: the 2012 STOCK Act], passing legislation exempting these workers, including congressional staff, from a rule scheduled to take effect next week that mandated online posting of financial transactions…

One advocacy group pushing for greater government transparency blasted the move, saying it “guts” the law…

To be precise: Federal employees would still have to report trades. But mainly to Big Brother. Not in a form that would let the proverbial Army of Davids (online citizen-journalists) catch inside trades.

But hey, at least we know now what the ‘gun control’ drama is about:

The House vote followed similar action by the Senate Thursday. The votes were done with little notice and came at a time when most people were paying attention to the Senate’s work on high profile issues like guns and immigration.

Hat tip, Zero Hedge.

UPDATE: The IRS is now watching your transactions; even your eBay auctions and Facebook updates.

Here’s the thing. As America has devolved into a social-fascist state these last several decades, we have increasingly developed a presumption that government employers can spy on monitor the taxpayers. But, taxpayers monitoring the government employees? Perish the thought! Repeal it by a unanimous vote of Congress, with Obama signing the repeal swiftly! That’s the opposite of what the American Revolution was fought for.

Hugo Chavez is dead. NPR hardest hit.

Those of us who listen to NPR largely to monitor the bias in the publicly-funded network’s news programming were treated to a whole series of stories about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela this week in advance of that country’s election on Sunday.   While it is easy for NPR to downplay the bias in its reporting on North Korea since few on the American left are foolish enough to openly praise Kim Jong-un, reporting on Chavez and Venezuela poses a large number of challenges for the network, as it tries to appear “balanced” while still advancing its agenda.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, for instance, I heard part of this interview and couldn’t believe what I was listening to, as NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Rory Carroll, a correspondent for The Guardian who has written a book about Chavez.  The interview began with Carroll making an observation about Chavez’s strong support among poor Venezuelans:

I would say about a third of Venezuelans adored him right through everything. From the beginning, right until the end. And, it’s impressive. I mean, for a guy who’s in power for 14 years? And you would tramp up the barrios — these hillside slums were his bedrock of support — and these people felt that down below in the palace, in Miraflores, there was a guy who was on their side — that he was their champion. He looked like them, he spoke like them. He was them. And that was an incredibly powerful connection that Chavez was able to maintain all through his 14 years in power.

In a subsequent exchange, Carroll related the story of a “clash” he once had with Chavez on television where Chavez responded to the question in part by deploying the rhetoric of race and class which is so popular on the left.  Summing up the encounter, Carroll made it clear he thought Chavez had made a valuable point: “I was a perfect fall guy or rhetorical punch bag, in the sense that, yes, I’m Irish, freckly and blond, or ginger, if you like — I was in that sense a perfect foil as a stand-in agent of imperialism.”

As the interview continued, though, Carroll acknowledged that the longer Chavez remained in power, the less enthusiastic he and the staff at The Guardian felt about Chavez’s reign.  Carroll talked about economic stagnation in Venezuela, the rising crime rate, and the fact that the failure of many of Chavez’s policies disproportionately affected the poor.  Carroll answered a question about his declining enthusiasm for Chavez as follows:

Well, it’s a good question. Yes, at the beginning — and I think most liberals and right-thinking people would have been, in his first couple of years in power. There was plenty of reason to give him any benefit of the doubt. Now, over time, when he became a bit more oppressive, shutting down television stations, and when the wheels were kind of beginning to come off the economy in some ways, I, in my own reporting, became very critical, just reflecting what I saw on the ground. And this prompted quite a debate, internal debate, in my newspaper, because a lot of editors then and to this day feel and felt that we should have supported Hugo Chavez because he was a standard-bearer for the left. Whereas I, very close up, I thought, well, no, actually. Because sadly, he’s running the country into the ground and we have to report that.

In other words, even a reporter for The Guardian feels compelled to actually practice journalism once in a while.  And it was at this point when this interview–and other stories like it during the week–started to get very challenging for NPR and its listeners.

My reaction to the interview–and other stories like it during the week–was rather like Tim Graham’s take at Newsbusters: “Thatcher, Schmatcher. NPR is still obsessing over its loss of leftist Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.”  But when I actually looked up the interview on the NPR website, I saw something else completely.  Even when normally far-left NPR decides to air a mostly positive story about Chavez, it is still not positive enough for its left-wing listeners.

Many listeners were voicing their anger at NPR for daring to mention any of the negative realities of life under Chavez.  One listener wrote:

The tone of this article is most disappointing. Where do I start and is it worth it, given that NPR has become a mouthpiece for North American pursuit of control over everyone, starting from its docile citizens? Or are they simply immoral and prefer to ignore military intervention so they can continue to shop and charge everything on (more…)

More signs of the times

Don’t worry, I’m probably not going to make these headline summaries a regular feature. Other bloggers do it better.

Still, I must again express my amazement at how, on any given day, a quick scan of the headlines reveals a world gone awry. Just from Ace and HotAir today:

I need to start looking for things that are going right. Of course Obamacare, which kills both jobs and worker benefits, isn’t one of them.

But maybe the fight for gun rights is. Like seeing Mark Matteoli (of Sandy Hook) or Manuel Martinez (formerly of Communist Cuba): two men who understand freedom, and speak out in its favor.

Misadventures in Multicultural Studies Indoctrination

Jeff’s post the other day about the questionable workshop at Brown University came to mind recently when I saw a very far-left Facebook friend link to this article by a professor named Warren Blumenfeld who had just retired from a position as a professor of education at Iowa State University.  The article contains the professor’s reflections and gives voice to both his lamentations and his indignity about those students who took his class who were not won over to his worldview and who had the temerity to announce that fact in their final papers.

The course was entitled “Multicultural Foundations in Schools and Society,” and Blumenfeld describes it in the following terms:

I base the course on a number of key concepts and assumptions, including how issues of power, privilege, and domination within the United States center on inequitable social divisions regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, religion, nationality, linguistic background, physical and mental ability/disability, and age. I address how issues around social identities impact generally on life outcomes, and specifically on educational outcomes. Virtually all students registered for this course, which is mandatory for students registered in the Teacher Education program, are pre-service teachers.

In other words, this is a required course in “multicultural studies” indoctrination.  If the course were voluntary, it would be a slightly different situation, but as a required course, it amounts to an example of the sort of thing that conservatives can easily point to as illustrating the left-wing biases of academia.

Professor Blumenfeld is particularly alarmed by the case of two female students who tell him quite boldly that the course has not changed their socially conservative Christian worldview:

On a final course paper, one student wrote that, while she enjoyed the course, and she felt that both myself and my graduate assistant — who had come out to the class earlier as lesbian — were very knowledgeable and good professors with great senses of humor, nonetheless, she felt obliged to inform us that we are still going to Hell for being so-called “practicing homosexuals.” Another student two years later wrote on her course paper that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins in the same category as stealing and murder. This student not only reiterated that I will travel to Hell if I continued to act on my same-sex desires, but she went further in amplifying the first student’s proclamations by self-righteously insisting that I will not receive an invitation to enter Heaven if I do not accept Jesus as my personal savior since I am a Jew, regardless of my sexual behavior. Anyone who doubts this, she concluded, “Only death will tell!”

Now while we might question the wisdom of both students in advertising the heresy represented by their beliefs so boldly in a graded assignment,  I think we might also be heartened by their courage in being true to their faith, even if we do not agree with all of the particulars of their worldview.

The professor, however, is shocked and appalled, and the rest of the essay is his attempt to reconcile–through reference to one leftist theory and tract after another–what he calls “our campus environment, one that emboldens some students to notify their professor and graduate assistant that their final destination will be the depths of Hell.”  Notice his word choice, there.  The problem is with the “campus environment” which “emboldens some students.”  It seems like a foreign idea to this professor to think that a university could be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas, especially those ideas that are unpopular.  I trust we will not find him quoting Voltaire or Jefferson anytime soon.

No, instead what we get is a description of and a reflection on a course that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from  the pages of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, albeit with a more contemporary reading list.  While the professor uses the (more…)

The nature of Hugo Chávez’s appeal on the American left?

Does Rich Lowry get it?

Chávez got his first political break in a failed military coup and never lost his taste for militarizing politics. Fidel Castro was his mentor, and he propped up the Castro regime with Venezuela’s ample oil. He funded guerrillas warring against the democratically elected government of Colombia. He praised every heinous dictator around the planet as a brother-in-arms. He was hell on the plutocrats, and also on the Jews. “Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews,” he warned his countrymen, in a sentiment worthy of the 15th century.

All of this should make Chávez an unsympathetic figure for everyone in America. Not so, sadly. For some, all is forgiven if you hate the rich with a white-hot passion and talk the language of populist redistribution, while wrapping your program in a bow of rancid, paranoid anti-Americanism. Then, every allowance will be made for your thuggery. Everyone will obsess about your colorful and charming personality. And praise you when you’re gone.

Emphasis added.  Via Powerline Picks.

The Dietary Delusion

Over the past few weeks, I have awakened to hear snippets of stories such as this one on NPR about “the obesity epidemic.”  The stories are all part of a series reporting on a recent poll undertaken by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.  The poll looked at the attitudes and the self-reported actions of parents towards the ways their children ate and about their children’s activity levels.

Among the key findings of the survey highlighted in the NPR reports have been these two points:

  • “Recent public opinion polls show that most American adults think obesity is a serious problem for society, but most parents in the poll here are not concerned their own children will become overweight as adults.”
  • “In most cases, parents don’t seem to believe that the way their child ate on a given day is likely to make them gain unhealthy weight.”

The NPR story linked above blames a psychological factor known as “optimism bias,” and says that parents may think they are doing the right things, but really they are just poorly informed and/or deluding themselves.

Since this is an ongoing series on NPR, one can expect it to culminate with an interview with Michelle Obama or someone behind her “Let’s Move” campaign, or with a series of suggestions for more government action, or calls for more spending on government nutrition programs, or possibly with all of the above.

What hasn’t occurred to the geniuses at NPR, though, is that perhaps the parents really have been listening to the advice coming from the government and the media for the past twenty five years and they really do think they are doing the right things, but the advice is flawed.

Ronald Reagan famously remarked that “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”   In recent years, Gary Taubes has become the best-known of those who have challenged the nutritional and dietary orthodoxy which has been promoting a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.  Writing in Newsweek last spring, he explained that:  “The problem is, the solutions this multi-level campaign promotes are the same ones that have been used to fight obesity for a century—and they just haven’t worked.”

(more…)

Social Liberalism: The Wealth Gap

When I put up my first post on social liberalism several weeks ago, I envisioned a series of posts that would discuss many of the implications of the fact that modern liberalism is more a social phenomenon than an intellectual one.  I’ve done that in part, but have until now neglected to mention one of the largest implications of all, namely that most modern liberals make easy targets for propagandists of all stripes because their political identity is driven more by their feelings than by the facts, and so they rarely exert critical judgement over the memes and narratives of the moment.

Quite to the contrary:  to exert critical judgement is automatically to invite suspicion, because it means asking difficult questions, seeking facts, pointing out fallacies, noting inconsistencies, all of which make modern liberals profoundly uncomfortable because those sorts of activities advertise the questioner’s willingness to dissent from the orthodoxy.

Neo-Neocon wrote a great post many years ago where she quoted Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting on the power of “Circle Dancing”:

Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.

To question is to step outside the  circle, to resist the lure of the dance.  And so the memes and narratives proliferate, pushed on by those who “feel moved” by them and are too afraid to question them.

Among the many liberals I know, this week’s meme is a viral video about “the wealth gap.”  I first noticed a college acquaintance (and an enthusiastic Elizabeth Warren supporter) mention it on Facebook on Sunday, and have noticed at least three other references to it by others since then.  The video is only 6 minutes and 24 seconds long, but if you’re like me, after about three minutes, it will seem like it is going on forever.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve recorded some of my thoughts below the fold.

(more…)

Bits on Morrissey, Reagan

Y’all know I love the economic issues, and sometimes avoid the “gay” issues (as unprofitable – heh). But hey, this is a gay blog, and courtesy of reader Peter Hughes, we have a couple of gay-themed tidbits.

First, the irrepressible, he-won’t-come-out-but-everyone-knows-anyway singer Morrissey enlightens us that if we had more gay men, we’d somehow have fewer wars:

If more men were homosexual, there would be no wars, because homosexual men would never kill other men, whereas heterosexual men love killing other men.

Where has Morrissey been hiding? Let’s set aside the famous gay male serial killers, let’s even set aside the ancient Greeks: The fact remains that some of the most aggressive (and best) men out there are gays who have made a career of the U.S. military.

And I say, good on them! Real men protect people from evil, and the roughness and aggression of the good men who protect all of us from terrorists, criminals, etc. may (if under good regulation) be a virtue. Sensitive, artistic men are also needed, but I don’t want a world where the type that Morrissey seems to prefer – the effete, self-indulgent eunuch who protects no one except himself and maybe a few cows – is dominant.

Next, we hear that ABC is ready to produce a Reagan-hating mini-series:

The Hollywood Reporter relayed on Thursday that “Mere days after the Academy Awards, ABC Studios has bought rights to David France’s film,” How to Survive a Plague, a hard-left documentary on AIDS activism in the Reagan years, when the Left claimed Reagan wanted them all to die off…

Clearly, the Gay Left’s mythology of Reagan-as-gay-hater is going to be with us awhile. Fortunately, no amount of repetition of a myth can alter the truth.

Social Psychology, Politics, and Disgust

I saw this item at Reason.com the other day.  It’s a short piece reflecting on a video of a speech by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talking about how one’s “sensitivity to disgust” is supposedly some sort of predictor of one’s political views.  I haven’t watched the whole video yet, but the speech was given at the Museum of Sex in New York City, so some amount of its content seems designed to appeal to the audience that would be attending a speech in that location.

Jim Epstein at Reason.com summarizes the key points of the speech as follows:

“Morality isn’t just about stealing and killing and honesty, it’s often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex with, and how you handle corpses,” says NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who is author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics.

Haidt argues that our concern over these victimless behaviors is rooted in our biology. Humans evolved to feel disgusted by anything that when consumed makes us sick. That sense of disgust then expanded “to become a guardian of the social order.”

This impulse is at the core of the culture war. Those who have a low sensitivity to disgust tend to be liberals or libertarians; those who are easily disgusted tend to be conservative.

The full video of the speech is available at the above link.

My reaction to all this is that it 1). depends on how one defines conservative, and 2). it depends on what kinds of things one labels or considers to be examples of disgust.

With respect to point 1)., I think that a large portion of the conservative coalition is rather heavily libertarian-leaning, and it just makes more sense for us to identify as conservative and vote for Republicans because  the Libertarian party seems doomed to remain a fringe party, at least as long as that party’s leadership continues to endorse an isolationist or head-in-the-sand approach to foreign policy.  Now while it may be the case that many traditional “social conservatives” have a “high sensitivity to disgust” with respect to issues of sex, I’m not even convinced that that is as widely the case as Haidt’s remarks suggest.  I’ve heard socially-conservative Christian ministers talk about sex in ways that show they may have a better understanding of the variety of human sexual experience than many academics who claim to be experts on the subject.

On the other hand, with respect to point 2)., I can find many, many examples of “disgust” fueling the attitudes of liberals and leftists.  One could begin by looking at their intense hatred of Sarah Palin and anyone like her.  Some of that hatred, I would argue, was fueled by a disgust at the lives of anyone who doesn’t live the life of a modern liberal in a major coastal city.

Most modern liberals are disgusted by hunting, by the people who shop at Wal-Mart, by the petroleum industry, by the food industry, by the military, by evangelical Christians, and by the reality of life in small-town, rural America.  James Taranto and British Philosopher Roger Scruton call it “oikophobia”: it is a worldview which accepts or excuses the transgressions of select special-interest groups or of non-western cultures, while it judges the familiar by a harsh standard and condemns them with expressions of disgust at the nature of their lives.

Meme of the Week: Crazy Cat Lady Liberals

My last post generated a lot of great discussion, which is still continuing.  I hope to highlight or focus on some of the strands of that discussion in future posts, but for now I thought I’d emphasize one passage with the hope of turning it into the conservative meme of the week.

Our commenter Crosspatch wrote a number of very detailed and thoughtful responses, but one paragraph of this comment is worth highlighting for expressing a cogent critique of modern liberals which everyone can understand:

Many Democrats are to people what cat ladies are to cats. The cat lady can not stand the thought of those poor kitties out there all on their own in the dead of winter so she takes them in to “take care of” them. The cats end up being packed into slums as she micromanages them but the task becomes too much, requires too much overhead, and living conditions begin to deteriorate as they are in Detroit. The cat lady isn’t really doing it to help the cat because the cat would probably have a much better quality of life if she had left it alone. She is doing it to help HERSELF not feel bad. Liberals often don’t do things to actually help people so much as they do it to make themselves feel better, like they are doing something about a problem. If you try to explain to them that they are actually doing a disservice to those they are trying to help, you are treated just like any other person who points out a flaw in a “fundamentalist’s” logic. You are attacked and ostracized.

When I was quickly skimming through the many comments, I originally glossed over that paragraph, but subsequent comments by Chris H. and Bastiat Fan made me take a closer look at it.

One of the themes of Crosspatch’s comments has to do with the ways in which the leftist media and the educational establishment both set the ground rules and expectations for debate and discussion of issues to make it difficult for conservatives to respond.

One way conservatives can fight against this, it seems to me, is to generate as many powerful and accessible counter-narratives as we can to begin to change the way people view both conservative and liberal ideas.

The Crazy Cat Lady Liberal meme has that power.  Although I found a reference to a similar idea from a column by John Hawkins that appeared last march the idea hasn’t caught on widely yet, and it’s time we see to it that it does.  (As an aside, it should surprise no one that there really are crazy cat lady liberals who are proud of being both of those things.)

Social Liberalism: Going Too Far

A few weeks ago, a reader at Instapundit found an interesting passage in the archives which Glenn Reynolds had first quoted in February 2002.  I made note of the passage because it seemed to fit so well with both the social liberalism theme and also with the distinction (increasingly hard to recognize in the age of Obama, I admit) between liberals and leftists to which I made reference in my last post.

The passage is from an article by Judith Lewis entitled “Why I’m Not a Protestor” that appeared in the LA Weekly on Jan. 30, 2002:

And whatever these perfect strangers from Kentucky stood for, however distant they were from the causes of global minimum wage, clean energy and sustainable peace, they were still able to treat people who shared almost none of their values without contempt. We were able to do the same, and to us, that was a hugely political act.

But it is the kind of political act for which the current crop of activist groups — from the Voters Rights March to Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center — have increasingly little patience. Faced with dissenting views or even devil’s advocacy from newspaper reporters, they grow hostile and deny access. When I’ve collaborated with activists on the left, as I did recently on a Web site, I’ve found them willing to censor discussions or use ridicule when certain words make them uncomfortable. When I’ve written about them, they’ve been unhappy that I’ve focused on their personal struggles and not exclusively on the issues, and as a member of the media, I’ve endured their suspicion and scorn. Were these people ever to actually run the country, I complained loudly in the summer of 2000, while I was up in Malibu covering the Ruckus Society’s direct-action training camp, it would be a bona fide fascist dictatorship.

Although the LA Weekly article ends by reiterating the writer’s allegiance to leftist goals and ideals, she intends it as a warning to her fellow liberals and leftists that they need to learn to work and play well with others.  Despite her moment of clarity, she is unable to recognize that the leftist activist class is extreme and intolerant because leftist philosophies inevitably end up there.

The passage came to mind again when I saw this recent interview with Juan Williams at the Daily Caller.  In the interview, Williams talks about what he learned from his firing by NPR:  the liberal media will “shut you down, stab you, kill you, fire you” if you disagree, he tells Ginni Thomas.

Both examples remind me of the many political change stories that Neoneocon has collected and written about over the years.  Although neither Judith Lewis (in the LA Weekly article) nor Juan Williams have abandoned their belief in leftist ideas, both have experienced a key element of leftism that has inspired many others to look more closely at conservative ideas and conservative thinkers.

In other words, the ingrained tendency of the left to go too far often unsettles the willingness of individuals to continue to believe in the narrative of a beneficent and well-intentioned politics–a belief which, however unfounded, is one of the hallmarks of social liberalism.   At least that has been my experience.

What have our readers observed?  Were any of you political changers?  Was there something about the anger, intolerance, and extremism of the leftist activist class that inspired you to question your views or, alternately, that made you more resolute in your conservative beliefs?

New Tax Threatens Dancing In Seattle, Gays To Riot?

News from the world of the absurd…..

Hallie Kuperman loves to dance. But what she loves even more is sharing this passion with visitors to her social dancing club, the Century Ballroom.

Hallie purchased the vintage dancing space 16 years ago, turning it into a Seattle institution. The Century Ballroom not only teaches swing, tango and the foxtrot, it also hosts cabarets and other live performances for an eclectic crowd of all ages. The club’s trendsetting owner has become a prominent and beloved figure in the community.

Business was swinging until a surprise bill arrived from Washington’s Department of Revenue. The state agency decided to reinterpret an obscure old tax, audited the Century Ballroom, and demanded a check for $92,000.

Read the WHOLE THING at FreedomWorks by my blogger friend Jon Gabriel.

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

Social Liberalism: The Power of Slogans

The first post in my ongoing, periodical series about “social liberalism” generated a lively discussion (which was still continuing last time I checked).  I had originally planned a second post about the implications of the socially-perpetuated nature of liberalism on both the arguments (or lack thereof) and pundits that seem to dominate on the left side of the political spectrum.  I still think that’s a fascinating topic, and I plan to write more about that in the future.

For the time being, though, I’d rather call attention to this noteworthy post by Bookworm which I learned of as a result of this post by Neo-neocon.  Bookworm’s post is about the need for conservatives to focus largely on messaging which captures something that Malcolm Gladwell refers to as “the stickiness factor.”  Bookworm explains:

The Stickiness Factor?  That’s what it sounds like:  it’s a message that doesn’t just amuse or intrigue people for a mere minute.  Instead, it sticks with them and, even more importantly, makes them act.  During the Bush years, the Dems came up with a great one:  No War for Oil.  The fact that this slogan had little relationship to the facts, or that a ginormous number of people stuck it on the back of their gas-guzzling SUVs was irrelevant.  Those four words convinced too many Americans that the Republicans were fighting wars on behalf of Standard Oil.

She goes on to reflect on examples similar to the kinds of things I was reflecting on as I imagined some of my future posts on the socially-coercive power of contemporary liberalism:

The Progressive penchant for ignoring facts undoubtedly makes it easier for them to come up with the pithy slogans and posters that sweep through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and email chains before ending up on tens of thousands of bumper stickers that subliminally drill into every driver’s head. People could laugh when reading “Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot,” never mind that George Bush was a highly educated, accomplished man with an academic record better than or equal to his opponents’.

Conservatives used to have pithy sayings (“Live free or die,” “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” “That government is best that governs least”), but we don’t seem to have come up with any clever ones lately.  As you may recall, during John McCain’s failed candidacy, his slogan — “Country First” — managed to leave supporters cold, while allowing opponents to mumble about racism.  I doubt that we’ll ever get another “I like Ike,” but we can certainly do better than Romney’s “Believe in America,” which sounds more like the beginning of a fairy tale than it does a rousing call to the ballot box.

And finally, there’s the Power of Context, which at its simplest level means that a message has to capture the zeitgeist.  People have to be primed and ready to receive the message.  In 2012, Americans, fed on decades of anti-capitalist education and entertainment, were more than ready to believe that Romney was a dog-abusing, woman-hating, religious nut who wanted to enslave poor people and blacks.  Thirty years ago, people would have laughed at this message.  Last year, there were too many people who thought it made a good deal of sense.

(Read the whole thing.)

Conservative thinkers may have some level of disdain for the demagogic nature of most political slogans, but one can’t deny their force or their effectiveness.   People on the left, for instance, love to make assertions about “social justice,” “sustainability,” and lately “gun violence” which rarely stand up to close scrutiny, but the mere application and repetition of the terms is usually enough to persuade a certain sector of the population that these must be serious ideas deserving of merit.

Bookworm argues that conservatives need to focus more on generating catchy and timely messages  and that doing so will help advance our ideas more effectively.  I think it’s a great point.  Conservatives are certainly capable of it:  the early Tea Party rallies were filled with all kinds of clever signs and slogans, but the creative force of that movement seems to have dispersed lately.   How can we reignite it?