Teaching someone a lesson — NOT

If I had to pick one article to recommend for today’s reading, it would have to be Dennis Prager’s explanation about why voting Democrat would truly put the country on the wrong track. I would go slightly further and say that we have to guard against the same outcome — a Democratic victory — as a result of voting against McCain, whether by abstaining or casting a protest vote (for Barr, perhaps). McCain isn’t perfect by a long shot, but he is so much better than Obama that the two truly cannot be compared. And on the subject of “teaching people (including Presidential candidates) a lesson” I have a little story.

One of my father’s most Germanic traits was that he put people in their place. If a sales clerk offended his sense of how sales clerks were to operate, he’d give her a public and humiliating lecture telling her what he thought she ought to know. Same with teachers, and waiters, and anyone who deviated from his proper German standards about behavior.

Dad had the same attitude on the road. If someone’s driving offended him, my Dad would take steps to let that driver know. His favorite technique was one for dealing with tailgaters. If he realized that someone was on his tail, he’d slow down to “teach them a lesson,” despite my Mom’s increasingly panicked pleas that he just get out of the way of the crazy driver.

Of course the inevitable happened: My Dad, in the midst of “teaching that tailgater a lesson,” got rear-ended by said tailgater. The insurance company paid, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it was my Dad who had the whiplash and lost his beloved car. I learned then that my Dad’s “lesson” approach had no effect on the tailgaters who managed to get stuck behind him, but it certainly hit my Dad back — and hard.

This is not the time to “teach McCain or Republicans a lesson.” This is the time to quit moaning and groaning, to recognize that a democratically operated primary process yielded a candidate most agreeable to the broad spectrum of Republicans, and to make sure that Barack Obama does not take the White House.

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  • echeccone

    Prager is missing the point. He is speaking for Republicans who feel the country is on the wrong track, but this is a minority of total Americans that see the country on the wrong track. He talks about anxiety over the economy and says that raising taxes or perhaps not lowering them further is the reason the Democrats are wrong-headed on this issue. But any economist will tell you that middle class incomes have not risen for at least the last decade; rather only the top 20% have enjoyed real gains. Increasing taxes on the top 20% to help provide social services to 80% might be what that anxious middle class wants. I am not justifying it, but Prager looks like, frankly, an out-of-touch elitist when he makes comments like this. He talks about the American values of self-reliance, individualism and limited government in the context of economic policy; however, he has no problems with big government and a nanny state limiting the free speech of liberal hollywood or shredding constitutionally-protected rights to privacy and protection from the police. If you want the limited government he is advocating, then you better take it fully–like a libertarian would advocate–rather than this selective argumentation that reveals his hypocrisy. As to the concerns over Bush, I think that the majority of the Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track could provide a litany of reasons for his low popularity ratings (outrageous deficit spending, incompetent governance and emergency response, indefensible weakening of constitutional protections, lowering of US prestige abroad, etc.); Prager’s defense of Bush is hardly a balanced view of the man. But he is right that the Iraq War is the big issue on which he should be judged, and on this point Prager is at his worst. He says that whatever one’s misgivings are about the start of the war, the fact is that we’re winning now. This is nonsense. Whether our invasion of Iraq was justified is what separates this act from Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. If the intelligence for invasion were sexed up, as many now believe, then we are not fighting a just war, and that is a remarkably important point that should be obvious to a values voter like Prager. Moreover, whether we currently appear to be winning as a result of the surge speaks little about the political progress that must be made before we can withdraw troops, and the military’s own view on this is hardly sanguine. What is most troubling about Prager is his own list of issues that appear to take precedence over American middle class economic security and the speed with which we can take our soldiers out of harm’s way in Iraq: left-wing “control” of the news–as if Fox wasn’t a ratings juggernaut–and hollywood, the litigation explosion’s impact on the economy (which he doesn’t quantify, conveniently), premature sexualization of children via sex education (which every school in the US allows parents to opt out of), left-wing fear mongering (as if the conservatives haven’t played that fear card over terrorists for years), wars on religion (as if this country wasn’t founded without a separation of church and state), left wing support for gay rights (as if gays choose their orientation and thus are disqualified under the Equal Protection Clause), and that pervasive cultural scourge of multi-culturalism (because it’s the Chinese and Spanish speakers that are causing white kids to fail their English tests). In short, these stale, old, unsubstantiated, backward issues that are the staple of GOP campaign playbooks are all issues that he thinks are more important that putting food on middle class tables and getting our brave soldiers out of harms way. And he wonders why the majority of Americans troubled by the country’s direction are feeling that way…

  • Ymarsakar

    than this selective argumentation that reveals his hypocrisy.

    EC’s views of the Constitution and how it protects Americans from foreign enemies as being a hypocrisy is very enlightening.

  • jj

    The question really is: how are you going to avoid that outcome by voting FOR McCain?

    In how many ways is he distinguishable from the two democrat candidates?

    All three of them are economic idiots; not one of them will let us go get our own oil (which is abundant); they’ve all bought totally into the global warming BS and will cost us billions both in direct costs to the consumers and in productivity; they’ll all, either directly or as an unintended consequence engage in massive tax rises; they’ll all appoint liberal judges; nobody’s going to guard the borders – what the hell!

    If you spot a difference of better than microscopic magnitude on an issue that counts between all three of them I’d be pleased to know about it.

  • Danny Lemieux

    “He talks about the American values of self-reliance, individualism and limited government in the context of economic policy; however, he has no problems with big government and a nanny state limiting the free speech of liberal hollywood or shredding constitutionally-protected rights to privacy and protection from the police”.

    – I have listened quite a bit to Dennis Prager, EC, and have not heard anything from him that remotely suggests these points of view you raise. Care to offer tangible evidence in support of your charges?

  • Danny Lemieux

    As far as your other stated “Positions”, I would suggest staying away from caricatures. The “stale, backward” issues you reference are simplistic, to say the least (gays are denied their legal rights? Religous “wars”? – C’mon, get serious!).

    True, many people are unhappy with G.W. Bush and Republicans but that doesn’t mean that they buy into the Leftwing, Democrat alternative. Many people are upset with Republicans because they betrayed their values, not because of the values themselves. Also, alot of voters oppose Bush because he hasn’t been nearly conservative enough, especially on issues like government spending and immigration.

    As far as Iraq, you eloquently state your point of view. I don’t believe that it is a view shared by the majority of Americans, however, many of whom fault Bush for not prosecuting the war aggressively enough. As far a him having “sexed up” the data to get us into the war, that canard was put to rest long ago, not just by replaying all the videos of leading Democrats like Clinton, Albright, Pelosi and others voicing their opinion about how Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.

  • Ymarsakar

    JJ, if you think the number of morally disadvantaged people around Obama is more than around McCain, you need to look again at just who makes up the Democrat party.

    It’s a basic odds system given that any President will rely heavily on members pulled out of a hat to enforce the grand policies. The Democrats have more insane people in the hat, thus you’re going to have a worse draw than for McCain.

  • rockdalian

    But any economist will tell you that middle class incomes have not risen for at least the last decade; rather only the top 20% have enjoyed real gains. echeccone

    Historical Income Tables – Households

    Table H-3. Mean Household Income Received by Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent
    All Races: 1967 to 2006

    (Households as of March of the following year. Income in current
    and 2006 CPI-U-RS adjusted dollars28/)
    ______________________________________________________________________________
    Lowest Second Third Fourth Highest Top 5
    Year fifth fifth fifth fifth fifth percent
    ______________________________________________________________________________
    Current Dollars

    2006 $11,352 $28,777 $48,223 $76,329 $168,170 $297,405
    2005 10,655 27,357 46,301 72,825 159,583 281,155
    2004 35/ 10,244 26,212 44,411 70,026 151,438 263,896
    2003 9,996 25,678 43,588 68,994 147,078 253,239
    2002 9,990 25,400 42,802 67,326 143,743 251,010
    2001 10,136 25,468 42,629 66,839 145,970 260,464
    2000 30/ 10,157 25,361 42,233 65,653 142,269 252,400
    1999 29/ 9,915 24,345 40,750 63,423 135,250 235,077
    1998 9,223 23,288 38,967 60,266 127,529 222,283
    1997 8,839 22,098 37,177 57,582 122,764 215,436
    1996 8,595 21,097 35,486 54,922 115,514 201,220
    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h03ar.html

    Perhaps I do not understand the point this poster is trying to make.
    The data undermines what I believe the poster is stating.
    The income level for all groups grew during this ten year group.
    This is the latest data available from the Census Bureau.

  • echeccone

    Rockdalian, maybe I am missing something. Why did you use current dollars? You need to use real dollars to evaluate wage growth, since people need wages to keep up with inflation or, actually, exceed it to constitute growth. I believe Bookworm referred to a Stossell piece last week that discussed this very issue and referenced the census data, among other sources (http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdf). My post, which points out that only the top 20% saw wage growth over the last decade or so is found at post number 6 (http://www.bookwormroom.com/2008/05/07/morning-reads/). If I got it wrong, please let me know because the data looked kind of depressing to me.

  • echeccone

    Danny, I don’t listen to Prager enough to cite the frequency of his critique of left-wing Hollywood and mainstream news, but I have heard him attack both of those institutions on multiple occasions. He also cites them as number one on that list of issues in the article Bookworm linked to. He also frequently speaks of the cultural war he is fighting on behalf of conservative values, for which he is willing to overlook constitutional protections to further his goal. Examples would include a religious litmus test that he called for after a Muslim elected to Congress wanted to be sworn in on the Quran; or his attempt to prevent reconfiguration of the California state seal after courts found the use of a Christian cross on the seal was unconstitutional; or his opposition to equal partner rights for homosexuals, an inequality which he has agreed to further by force of the state (i.e., constitutional amendments and Supreme Court rulings to strike down the MA high court decision); he also has argued that the U.S. is above international law by claiming moral exceptionalism and religious superiority. These are clear examples of a man willing to subordinate laws aimed at protecting individuals with a brand of statism, all for the benefit of advancing his ideology. As I said, I don’t listen to him often, but this is what I’ve heard or read over the years. I think it’s pretty clear that he is willing to use state power wherever possible to further his conservative agenda, and few libertarians would align with him.

  • echeccone

    Danny, I’m a little confused. These are not my caricatures, but Prager’s issues. I took them right out of his article. I offered a very brief critique of each which I am happy to expand upon if you’d like. I called them generally stale and backward because they have been used so many times that they sound old to me, and because they are backward insofar as they seek to move the country back to an era in which a country has a state religion, monolithic culture, politically homogenous media, restrictions on sex education and lack of recourse to courts. This does not sound like progress to me, hence the backward moniker. By the way, a caricature would be to say that he’d be more comfortable living in medieval Spain at the time of Maimonades.

    I agree that the majority of Americans didn’t agree with Bush on immigration policy, but this is not the leading issue they are concerned about when polled–especially when you control for job security. The government spending issue only is important to conservatives and libertarians, not the majority of the country. Most people will take all of the government help they can get right now, this is what the polling data has shown for the centrist Reagan democrats, which is why Hillary is offering full coverage health care for all and a repeal of the gas tax.

    On the Iraq War, the majority of Americans are against the war, as most every poll has shown for the last two years. The majority wants the troops out, not more aggressively deployed.

    Finally, on the so-called intelligence leading up to the war, the fact that the Democrats were as irresponsible in their evaluation of the data is not proof that it wasn’t sexed up. You say this is a canard, but you offer no proof other than the word of Pelosi and company. C’mon, who is being disingenuous with that line of argument??? George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, George Tenet all made intentionally misleading statements in the run-up to the war, as has been widely documented. Those that contradicted them were smeared or outed. And ALL of their data was proved wanting. Now, you can argue that they made an honest mistake if you like, but they have not even admitted to that. I happen to believe that the yellow cake, meetings in Prague, now-refuted British and Italian intelligence were all part of a carefully orchestrated plan to exploit outrage over 9/11 to invade Iraq even though no connection between the two existed. The majority of Brits and Americans agree with me (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0714-03.htm; http://www.democrats.com/bush-lied-polls; http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:JCB6cSGCtGEJ:www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp%3FARTICLE_ID%3D34930+poll,+believe+Bush+lied+iraq&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us). What polls are you looking at that suggest that the majority of Americans are for more aggressively prosecuting the war or that the majority of Americans believe the intelligence was not tampered with?

  • echeccone

    Ymarsakar, the constitution is not there to protect us from foreign terrorists but from our own government. There is no question that constitutional protections need to evolve or shift during a unique war on terror, but it should be done very carefully rather than under the political pressure of looming elections (which is how the Patriot Act was passed and extended). Where warrants can be used, they still should be; where terrorism is not at issue, special powers of the Patriot Act should not be employed. Unfortunately, this is not happening, which suggests that the Patriot Act is not just about terrorism. Bush and Cheney believe that the tragedy of Watergate was not that a President sought to put himself above the law; but that Nixon could be impeached for breaking the law and the Presidency could be weakened. This is about extending the power of the central government at least as much as it is about protecting us from attack. This view is profoundly at odds with Bookworm’s idealistic views of minimal government conservatives like Thomas Jefferson. And Ben Franklin certainly would have disagreed with the neo-cons’ new balancing of constitutional rights with security, based on his famous quote: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”

  • Mike Devx

    There are only two periods in rockdalian’s chart above where the rise in income beat inflation – the years surrounding 1999 and 2006. Both were immediately followed by much more difficult economic times.

    I don’t know if that is just cyclical economic trends or not.

    The usual Democrat mantra is that the Bush economic expansion is the first where the income of the lower and middle class did not rise as the economy roared, and that in fact they lost ground. If that actually is true – and I am having trouble proving it one way or the other – then Republicans really are in serious trouble this fall. A wave of blind repudiation of Republicans by the Democrats and Independents might be in the works. By “blind” I mean that what might happen is not a repudiation of Republican arguments; rather it is a refusal to even LISTEN to those arguments as they’ve already made up their minds that they’re just sick and tired of em and want to see how the “other guys” do.

    Add to that a general Republican dispiritedness, and we have a recipe for trouble in November. How do you break through with your arguments if in fact too many people are going to simply refuse to listen?

    As to Dennis Prager, I agree with all of his points, and strongly agree with most of them. That was a wonderful article.

  • Ymarsakar

    Ymarsakar, the constitution is not there to protect us from foreign terrorists but from our own government.

    You must be talking about the two Confederate governments, not the United States Constitution. Confederacies place high priority on fragmenting central power to prevent a central government from arising. The US Constitution was made with an entirely different set of priorities. Instead of weakening the central government, it provided for a strong central government balanced through three triangular legs.

    And that government’s primary job is indeed to protect the people of America from external enemies, invasions, military powers, foreign princes and potentates.

    When you have a better law that has a higher track record of success than the Patriot Act, go ahead and propose it. However, you have to deal with the reality that the Patriot Act has overseen several counter-terrorism successes inside the US in addition to preventing terrorist attacks.

    Now you may think some people may be convinced by your line that they should trust you to flip the coin that decides how much external factors will change their lives because things needed to be adjusted “back then” during elections and the formation of the Patriot Act in your view, but it’s not a gamble I particularly care for.

    I have the benefits with me now from a gamble, now you want to go back in the past and talk about changing things so that things will come out different, or “better” in your view? I’m not sure a person should take a 50/50 chance on bad things happening in his life just cause you don’t like the Patriot Act, EC.

    but it should be done very carefully rather than under the political pressure of looming elections (which is how the Patriot Act was passed and extended).

    The fixation on the past and this nostalgia about how good things could be if you went back there and changed things, is pretty irrelevant to saving lives, EC. The present and the future is what matters. Getting stuck on the past is perfectly okay with me, so long as you are doing it to yourself only.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, EC, but “communicating with the other side”, to paraphrase you, is meaningless on an objective standard when all your historical assumptions and views are based upon Leftist diatribe and misapprehension.

    I took them right out of his article.

    No, you see, what had happened was that you saw Prager’s words and then interpreted them in your brain based upon all these Leftist diatribes you’ve integrated and historical mistruths you’ve learned. Then you pulled a couple of conclusions from your interpretation and put them here on the comments section. You didn’t “directly take them” out of his article. You didn’t even quote anything he said.

    Try not to talk about pulling stuff directly out of a material that you have already processed and interpreted according to your techniques and mandates.

    Bush and Cheney believe that the tragedy of Watergate was not that a President sought to put himself above the law

    Leftist diatribes begin with talking about your political opponents and speaking for them in a fashion that really just says what you want them to say or what you believe they believe. Nowhere do you accept that you are wrong about Bush or Cheney’s beliefs. Nowhere do you recount personal meetings with Bush or Cheney in which they have answered or recollected about their beliefs concerning Watergate. No, everything you believe and say is processed from interpretated data and facts, but you talk about such products and conclusions as if they came from the mouth of Bush and Cheney. They never did.

  • Ymarsakar

    What polls are you looking at that suggest that the majority of Americans are for more aggressively prosecuting the war or that the majority of Americans believe the intelligence was not tampered with?

    all made intentionally misleading statements in the run-up to the war, as has been widely documented.

    Let me clue you in on something, EC, since you don’t seem to be getting it, regardless of all your purported attempts to communicate with the Other.

    When conservatives or even just some other Democrat or moderate or Libertarian thinks about “documented”, they don’t equal it with “polls that suggest”.

    What people believe is true and what is true is totally unrelated. What people are made to believe and what becomes true, are of course related, but that’s not the same thing as the previous sentence.

    This case, in your case, seems to be that you are arguing that they have been documented as being deceptive because polls show that people believe that they were proven as being deceptive. The other argument seems to be that polls show that people believe they have been documented or proven to be deceptive because they were documented or proven to be deceptive. They being Bush and your list.

    This is about extending the power of the central government at least as much as it is about protecting us from attack.

    Bush could have gotten Congressional votes for the War Powers Act after 9/11. He didn’t. Unless he is grossly incompetent and blind, anybody out to extend the power of the central government, as opposed to worrying about the future abuses of Presidents via Executive war powers, would have grabbed that War Powers Act up as soon as he could and did to his political opponents what FDR did with those same powers.

    This view is profoundly at odds with Bookworm’s idealistic views of minimal government conservatives like Thomas Jefferson.

    Many things are profoundly at odds with each other. For example, your view of the world and of history and the psychological profiles of certain leaders are “profoundly at odds” with Bookworm’s. So what’s two negatives multiplied together? You say “this view” is profoundly at odds with Book’s views. I say your view of “this view” is profoundly at odds with Book’s views. Two negatives means “This view” is not profoundly at odds with Book’s view because your view of “this view” is profoundly at odds with Book’s view.

    We can replace Book’s views with mine if it works better.

    And Ben Franklin certainly would have disagreed with the neo-cons’ new balancing of constitutional rights with security, based on his famous quote: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”

    You get a big fat x on historical accuracy.

    http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.-Ben Franklin or by a book’s author, which Franklin published.

    Liveleak when they discarded Fitna to purchase some additional, temporary, security for themselves from Islamic Jihad fanaticism, had to give up the essential liberty of freedom of speech. Which is so essential, the Colonies demanded that it be put into the Bill of Rights and as the first one too.

    Based upon your faulty view of history and historical characters, you may even end up thinking that the Iranian puppet Al Sadr deserves liberty and safety because the Iraqi federal government gave up the liberty of Basra not to be invaded and turned into a war zone for a little temporary safety from Sadr.

    Franklin’s favorite quote is called a lie when people knowingly misquote it to back up their propaganda.

  • Ymarsakar
  • Ymarsakar

    And you can see an example of a misquote, although not one as whitewashed as EC’s, here which the last website mentioned.

    http://www.quotedb.com/authors/benjamin-franklin

    find “liberty” or scroll down.

  • rockdalian

    echeccone;
    Using this inflation calculator ( link below ) the inflation rate for the period Jan. ’96 to Jan. ’06 is 28.43%.
    Use the middle two columns ( 3 and 4 ) from the chart to represent the middle class.
    Column 3 ’96 income is 35,846. Multiply by 28.43 = 10,180. Add the two together totals 46,026.
    The ’06 income is 48,223. Not great, but above the inflation rate.
    Ditto for column 4.
    http://tinyurl.com/236xp3
    I think I have run the numbers correctly.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Echeccone – what makes it difficult to reply to your posts is the quantity of unsubstantiated charges that you throw up against a wall at any one time. For just a few responses:’

    1. Prager exercises his constitutional right to attack those views to which he objects in a public forum (radio). Somehow, you and your fellow travels seem to equate his criticism of your views with using the government to shred your constitutional rights. Feeling oppressed, are we? In fact, it sounds as if you would deny him his right to express those views.

    2. “Examples would include a religious litmus test that he called for after a Muslim elected to Congress wanted to be sworn in on the Quran; or his attempt to prevent reconfiguration of the California state seal after courts found the use of a Christian cross on the seal was unconstitutional; or his opposition to equal partner rights for homosexuals”.

    Sorry, Echiconne – Prager’s objection to Islam is not that it is a religion but that it is also a political system that is in and of itself anti-Constitutional. Re. “the State Seal”, perhaps his position is that the First Amendment does not force the state to remove religious symbols but in fact explicitly states that the free exercise of religion shall not be infringed. Allowing militant atheists to attacking the historic seal of Los Angeles on the basis of it portraying a crucifix (reflecting its historical origins) might reflect “infringement”, don’t you think? As far as opposition to gay marriage, that never was a constitutional right. I can look all through my copy of the Constitution and find a single reference to gay marriage, much less marriage.

    The opposition to the Massachusetts court decision was that it was based on legal fiat rather than legislative action. “Marriage” has a historical and legal definition with profound and nationwide legal, social and religious implications – changing that definition may ultimately prove to be legitimate but, if so, it should be put forth to us riff-raff, knuckle-draggers and all (i.e., voters), don’t you agree?

    “they seek to move the country back to an era in which a country has a state religion, monolithic culture, politically homogenous media, restrictions on sex education and lack of recourse to courts.”

    Echiccone – this is so over the top it really doesn’t merit comment, except a suggestion that you might want to bone up on history.

    “George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, George Tenet all made intentionally misleading statements in the run-up to the war, as has been widely documented.” – sorry to inform you, MoveOn.org, Kos World, Sheehan and Code Pink do not constitute credible sources of documentation.

    If these individuals (including back into the Clinton administration) made misleading statements, it is because they were based on the best intelligence available, If Saddam Hussein had been more forthcoming, perhaps the intelligence would have been better. Too bad – he gambled, he lost. Oh well.

    But what the hey? No need to worry about that big bad world out there. Settle down, take a nap – no bad shall ever come to the Hobbit Shire, right?

  • Ymarsakar

    Danny, EC mentioned to me that on the Soros thread I wasn’t able to dispute his facts that he used to support Soros as a free market capitalist that is making the world a fairer place.

    It is has always been objectionable to me that people would support someone like Soros as the brand for honesty or at least free market liberty, while castigating someone like Bush who actually went out and cut the orders to create real free markets and liberty where none had existed before.

    To EC, Soros has been making the big money just by sitting around and not using his power and influence to manipulate the currency markets based upon some personal anecdote from EC’s perspective. But to EC, Bush and company have been extensively using their power to corrupt the office of the Presidency, America’s Civil Rights, and various other things ongoing.

    EC might want to take his own advice about how people shouldn’t be against Soros just because Soros funds propaganda groups opposed to conservative beliefs. Certainly EC is against Bush precisely because Bush has extended the free markets to Iraq and created real human liberty where none had existed before.