Looking at classically liberal minds that can change, and “elite” minds that can’t

Karl Marx

Yesterday, Adam Carolla’s YouTube video about the human capacity to change inspired me to write a post about the metamorphosis I’ve seen in myself over the course of my lifetime.  What made the difference, of course, was living life, rather than just being (as all children are) a passive recipient of lessons from schools, family, and friends.

It turns out that Robert Avrech responded to Adam’s video in much the same way, writing a post about the changes he’s gone through, and how his life experiences made him question the knee-jerk Democrat leaning that was the mother’s milk of all American Jews.  (It wasn’t exactly the same way, of course, because Robert’s life has been different from mine and because Robert’s a much better writer than I am.  But still….  I flatter myself that great minds — or, in my case, pretty darn good minds — think alike.)

In his post, Robert includes a marvelous paragraph about those self-styled intellectual “elites” who don’t change, and who are locked forever in an immature ideological stasis (emphasis mine):

Yes, we eager students studied history, literature and art. But soon enough it became clear to me that a massive amount of time was spent on Marxist theory, a material view of the world. Still observant, still wearing a yarmulke, I would ask about religion, about the spirit. With deep condescension, my professors informed me that we live in a post-religious world. Religion, I was lectured, was the opiate of the people.

I wondered, but never had the courage to suggest, that perhaps Marxism was the opiate of the elites.

Hat tip:  Wolf Howling

Answering back to a nasty email about Palin

My sister forwarded the following email to me from someone who clearly is not a PUMA, which I sent back with my comments:

For those of us who have been stunned by McCain’s VP pick, it seems to fit his cultivation of the idea of “maverick” over thoughtfulness, of political strategy over the good of the country.  We know so little about her.  And apparently, he doesn’t know that much either, but it is a reflection about his process in coming to this “judgment.”  She’s connected through the oil lobby for sure.  The letter below is from Jackie who went to college with Sarah Palin and also lives in Alaska.

As an Alaskan, I am writing to give all of you some information on Sarah Palin, Senator McCain’s choice for VP. As an Alaska voter, I know more than most of you about her and, frankly, I am horrified that he picked her.

The most accurate description of her is red neck.  [So what?  I thought we were a class-free country.] Her husband works in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and races snow mobiles. [Is this writer saying that American workers are less worthy than the effete elite?  Yes, I think she is.] She is a life time member of the NRA and has worked tirelessly to allow indiscriminate hunting of wildlife in Alaska, particularly wolves and bears. [Re the NRA, can we say 2nd Amendment?  We the wolves and bears, that’s not true.  Environmental management recommends culling.] She has spent millions of Alaska state dollars on aerial hunting of these predators from helicopters and airplanes, dollars that should have been spent, for example, on Alaska’s failing school system.  [I know about the airplanes, although I doubt the money calculation.  As for the schools, Marin City has long had one of the best funded school systems in America, and it outinely ranks at the bottom in California.  It’s a non sequitur argument.] We have the lowest rate of high school graduation in the country. Not all of you may think aerial predator hunting is so bad, but how anyone (other than Alaska wolf-haters, of which there are many, most without teeth), could think this use of funds is appropriate is beyond me.  If you want to know more about the aerial hunting travesty, let me know and I will send some links to informative web sites.  [Without more facts, I can't tell is this is a reasonable environmental position or not.  From the tone alone, it sounds like a PETA subscriber is writing this.  She'd probably be shocked to realize that the federal government is one of the largest animal killers through its animal management on federal lands.]

She has been a strong supporter of increased use of fossil fuels, yet the McCain campaign has the nerve to say she has “green” policies. The only thing green about Sarah Palin is her lack of experience. She has consistently supported drilling in ANWR [So do I.  ANWR is a desolate wilderness in the middle of nowhere.  I’d happily sacrifice it to stop sending US money to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc.], use of coal-burning power plants (as I write this, a new coal plant is being built in her home town of Wasilla) [coal is one of the major ways to fuel America.  The goal isn’t to burn less, since we have vast amounts of it, but to burn it cleaner], strip mining, and almost anything else that will unnecessarily exploit the diminishing resources of Alaska and destroy its environment.  [Environmentalists do not tend to have a balancing act between nature’s needs and human needs.  They side only with the former, and to hell with the latter.  I’d need a hell of a lot more information before I got upset about these data free accusations.]

Prior to her one year as governor of Alaska [uh, that would be two years as governor], she was mayor of Wasilla, a small red neck town outside Anchorage.[There’s that redneck thing again.  How snotty is this writer?] The average maximum education level of parents of junior high school kids in Wasilla is 10th grade. [What’s that got to do with being mayor?  This is one mean spirited writer.] Unfortunately, I have to go to Wasilla every week to get groceries and other supplies [I actually suspect it's that, unfortunately, those poor Wasilla citizens have to deal with you], so I have continual contact with the people who put Palin in office in the first place. I know what I’m talking about. These people don’t have a concept of the world around them or of the serious issues facing the US. [So because he doesn’t like the grocery clerks, she’s saying Sarah is . . . something, something, too earthy?  too hard working?  too polite to give this unusually snotty person the kick in the ass she deserves?] Furthermore, they don’t care. So long as they can go out and hunt their moose every fall, kill wolves and bears and drive their snow mobiles and ATVs through every corner of the wilderness, they’re happy. I wish I were exaggerating.  [They sound like ordinary Americans who do not live in New York, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area.]

Sarah Palin is currently involved in a political corruption scandal. She fired an individual in law enforcement here because she didn’t like how he treated one of her relatives during a divorce. The man’s performance and ability weren’t considered; it was a totally personal firing and is currently under investigation. While the issue isn’t close to the scandal of Ted Steven’s corruption, it shows that Palin isn’t “squeaky clean” and causes me to think there ay be more issues that could come to light. Clearly McCain doesn’t care.  [Let’s see.  Her former brother in law drove drunk, threatened to kill her father, tasered his 11 year old son, and killed some sort of special Alaska moose without a license, which is apparently a very serious offense.  All of these claims are documented and corroborated as true by independent investigators.  Her staff – not Sarah – but her staff wanted him fired, which is rather unsurprising.  As for the official Sarah did manage to fire, he served at the Governor’s will.  One does have to wonder about the cronyism, endemic to Alaska that sees someone who serves at the governors will work his little hiney off to save the job for a drunken, tasering, murder-threatening, license-free hunter.  This is more an indictment of Alaska’s good ol’ boy network than it is of Sarah.]

When you line Palin up with Biden, the comparison would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Sarah Palin knows nothing of economics (admittedly a weak area for McCain), or of international affairs, knows nothing of national government, Social Security, unemployment, health care systems – you name it. The idea of her meeting with heads of foreign governments around the world truly frightens me.  [You know, you either respect someone who has spent his whole life in the Senate or you don’t.  And you either respect someone who has twice been caught in major acts of plagiarism, or you don’t.  And you either respect someone whose idea of foreign policy (after a lifetime in the Senate) is to send a huge check to Iran immediately after 9/11, to make the “Arabs” friends with us, never mind that Iranians aren’t Arabs, or you don’t.  And you either respect someone who praised Obama as being a clean, articulate black man, or you don’t.  And so and so forth.  It’s not what he knows, it’s what he is and what he’s done with his knowledge.  As for the “hope” and “change” thing, you kind of have to wonder about the hope and change aspect of a guy who has done nothing in his life but feed at the political trough.]

In an increasingly dangerous world, with the economy in shambles in the US, Sarah Palin is uniquely UNqualified to be vice president. John McCain is not a young man. [I’m really troubled by this assumption that McCain will drop dead immediately upon taking office.  The greater likelihood of a neophyte isn’t Palin stepping into McCain’s shoes sometime I the next four years, it’s Obama stepping into Bush’s shoes in January 2009.] Should something happen to him such that the vice president had to step in, it would destroy our country and possibly the world to have someone as inexperienced and inappropriate as Sarah Palin. The choice of Palin is a cheap shot by McCain to try to get Hillary supporters to vote for him. when McCain introduced her today, Palin had the nerve to compare herself with Hillary and Geraldine Ferraro. Sarah Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton.  [Thank God.  Sarah got there on her own.  Clinton did it the old-fashioned way:  by marrying a politician and destroying anyone who pointed out his failings.]

To those of you who, like me, supported Hilary and were upset that she did not get the nomination, please don’t think that Sarah Palin is a worthy substitute. If you supported Hillary, regardless of what you think the media and the democratic party may have done to undermine her campaign, the person to support now is Obama, not Sarah Palin. To those of you who are independent or undecided, don’t let the choice of Palin sway you in favor of McCain. Choosing her shows how unqualified McCain is to be president. To those of you who are conservative, I guess you have no choice for president. But please try to see how the poor choice of Palin tells us a great deal about McCain’s judgment. While the political posturing inherent in the choice of Palin is obvious, the more serious issue is the fact that the VP is, literally, a heartbeat away from the presidency. Sarah Palin is totally and unequivocally unqualified to be vice president, let alone president.

I know this is a lengthy and emotional email, but the stakes are high. I thought it might help for all of you, regardless of political affiliation, to know something about Palin from someone who has to live with her administration in Alaska on a daily basis.

Question for you: After reading the above, who do you respect more? The hard working, self-made, charismatic, old-fashioned values Sarah Palin, or this embittered intellectual forced to confront nasty real Americans in the wilds of Alaska? I know what my vote would be.