This video doesn’t resonate with me too much. It’s a little too conclusory in each of its assertions for my tastes, although I agree with the overall premise. I think I also disagree with his use of “liberal” to describe the Left, which is startlingly illiberal. What do you think?
I’ve been playing catch-up today, with some success. I managed to get about 50% of my to-do list completed, which is pretty good. And now I get to share with you the fascinating stuff that crossed my computer screen today:
Anyone for a flat tax?
I’m not feeling it for Rand Paul, who doesn’t strike me as being stable enough to be president. However, I do like his idea that we get rid of the entire IRS and go to a straight flat tax of 14.5% (if the pay wall blocks you, try finding the article at this link):
My tax plan would blow up the tax code and start over. In consultation with some of the top tax experts in the country, including the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, I devised a 21st-century tax code that would establish a 14.5% flat-rate tax applied equally to all personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, capital gains, rents and interest. All deductions except for a mortgage and charities would be eliminated. The first $50,000 of income for a family of four would not be taxed. For low-income working families, the plan would retain the earned-income tax credit.
I would also apply this uniform 14.5% business-activity tax on all companies—down from as high as nearly 40% for small businesses and 35% for corporations. This tax would be levied on revenues minus allowable expenses, such as the purchase of parts, computers and office equipment. All capital purchases would be immediately expensed, ending complicated depreciation schedules.
The immediate question everyone asks is: Won’t this 14.5% tax plan blow a massive hole in the budget deficit? As a senator, I have proposed balanced budgets and I pledge to balance the budget as president.
Here’s why this plan would balance the budget: We asked the experts at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation to estimate what this plan would mean for jobs, and whether we are raising enough money to fund the government. The analysis is positive news: The plan is an economic steroid injection. Because the Fair and Flat Tax rewards work, saving, investment and small business creation, the Tax Foundation estimates that in 10 years it will increase gross domestic product by about 10%, and create at least 1.4 million new jobs.
From my cousin, commenting on the profound damage the incest media does to classic liberalism and to America:
Today’s “liberal” cannot fulfill the requirements of being a genuine liberal. First, the liberal media representatives cannot report the important news. They can go into lengths describing a botched execution in Oklahoma, but cannot relate the story of the executed man’s hideous crime.
Serious issues like (1) the refusal of the Obama administration to have military force available to rescue endangered staff in Benghazi, and (2) the absence of any order to attempt a rescue of Ambassador Stevens and his staff on 9-11-12 are not reported (reporters note that the Benghazi terror is a Fox News story). The IRS scandal of targeting conservative groups overwhelmingly is also ignored. However, the Clippers’ owner’s rant is covered in explicit detail. The shrinking labor force, down to less than 62%, is never mentioned.
Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the black caucus are given plenty of space to broadcast their rants about Supreme Court Justice Thomas, the Koch brothers, the special investigation panel, etc. Harry Reid acts like a tabloid reporter in discussing the Redskins’ football team name, the Koch brothers, and his claim that ObamaCare criticism is “all lies,” while blocking Senate action on any bills the Senate receives from the Republican-controlled House. The increase in number and quality of Obama’s lawless activities is barely mentioned in the liberal media.
A genuine liberal is always critical of federal government power. A genuine liberal seeks to protect the citizens’ rights. That is different from stoking a grievance industry in the manner of MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. That is also different from stoking fake causes like “War on Women” and Islamophobia or attacking Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condi Rice.
When a fake liberal media protects an increasingly lawless presidency, the result is chaos. Federal expenditures cannot continue to rise while the economy stagnates. A large majority of the jobs created during the “recovery” under the Obama administration are low wage, low skill jobs. Meanwhile the fake liberal donors like billionaire Steyer demand that a major job creator such as the Keystone pipeline not be built. The train wreck in Lynchburg, Virginia, this week tells why the pipeline should be built. The alternative, transportation by rail through populated areas, invites disasters like that in Lynchburg, Va.
A genuine liberal wants open debate, not the current performance of the fake liberal media.
You’ve already heard, I’m sure, about Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran who was beaten to death by two black teenagers. The police are assuring everyone that there’s no need to get worried, because this wasn’t a race crime. Instead, it was Delbert’s own fault. According to the police, when the boys tried to rob Delbert, he had the temerity to fight back, leaving them with no other option than to beat an old man to death.
A friend of mine noted that, using this reasoning, if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that the race-hustlers are correct and it was Zimmerman who started the fatal encounter with Trayvon, then Trayvon was responsible for his own death because he had the temerity to fight back by climbing on top of Zimmerman, raining punches on his face, and trying to turn Zimmerman’s head into Silly Putty by smashing it repeatedly into the pavement. My friend is right, of course.
But I’ll add something else to the mix. The police are desperate to avoid saying that the white on black crimes that are flooding the news lately arise because blacks are — gasp! — not merely racist in Obama’s hystically race-conscious America, but aggressively so. They don’t want to admit that the aggressive focus on race that surrounded Obama’s election didn’t destroy forever the linger vestiges of racism in America — the presumed outcome of a nation open-minded enough to elect a black man to its highest office — but, in fact, created an aggressive form of black-on-white racism.
Here’s the problem: the new black-on-white racial motivation, although disgusting, is an intellectually recognizable reason for vile conduct. If you deny its existence, all you have left is the admission that American blacks have become feral. That is, they’re not killing for political reasons; they’re killing because they have an animal’s blood-lust, without a human’s self-control, morality, or reasoning skills.
And so, let’s talk about two recent local news stories that the MSM is assiduously ignoring.
Police say the youth lived within in a block of the woman’s house. Investigators say he broke into her home by kicking in the back door and then sexually assaulted her.
The 93-year-old had been sleeping at the time and awoke to find the youth in her bedroom.
Apparently elderly white women are quite the hot commodity amongst the non-racist blacks, because a similar event occurred happened in Poughkeepsie, NY. That’s where 99-year-old Fannie Gumbinger had the misfortune to cross paths with 20-year-old Javon Tyrek Rogers, a black man who is a career burglar. Well, Mrs. Gumbinger didn’t actually cross paths with Rogers. It was more a case of his entering her house and killing her. Why would one kill a frail 99-year-old lady (and believe me, because of my Mom’s retirement home I know precisely how frail 99-year-old ladies are)? Well, it wasn’t a “hate crime,” of course, because blacks don’t commit hate crimes. That means, as Wolf Howling put it, that it was a “feral” act.
The race hustlers have repeatedly put themselves in the position of conceding that black Americans are feral, whether it’s because they say that Damian King couldn’t help trying to beat Reginald Denny to death in the wake of the Rodney King riots, because he was “caught him the rapture” of the moment; or the two teens who couldn’t help killing an 88-year-old because he fought back; or a 17-year-old who couldn’t control his lust for an 93-year-old woman (who his lust for power over a 93-year-old woman); or a 20-year-old who had to murder a 99-year-old lady who was interfering with his burglary; or the five young blacks who tortured a random white couple to death in such a horrible way that I can’t bear to right about it. If these young black people (and they’re all young products of America’s thirty years of institutional Progressivism) acted without a motive, no matter how disgusting that motive was, then the only thing left is to concede that they are either evil incarnate, which argues a certain moral knowledge that the actor deliberately ignores, or that they are so inhuman that they have become like animals.
Even likening them to animals, though, seems to me to be too generous. Animals kill to eat or to control territory. Animals do not waste their energies, nor do they put themselves at risk, simply to indulge in blood lust. That type of act is seen only in rabid animals that have been rendered insane through infection.
So what disease has affected our black underclass to the point at which it has parted ways with humanity and entered dimensions in which, normally, only infected animals dwell? I leave you to think up your own instance.
Incidentally, I do not write this post as an overarching indictment of blacks, God forbid. I am not a classic racist, in that I do not believe that one race genetically inferior to another race. I recognize differences (skin color, musculature, bell curve spread over such traits as book-oriented intellectualism or physical stamina, etc), but I consider those differences virtuous, insofar as they provide a wonderful range of human abilities, with no one quality trumping any other — although there are times, whether through natural- or human-caused events, when certain traits may help one group survive better than another group. I consider myself a “values-ist,” meaning that I judge people by their values, not their skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.
So if it’s not genetics, it must be culture — and black culture is Leftist culture or, rather, black culture is the victim of elitist Leftist culture. It’s the Leftist ruling class, in government, in the media, and in education, taht thinks so little of blacks that these elites are content to accept that young blacks normally exist in a diseased, feral state, because it seems right and natural to the affluent Leftist eye. If, Gaia forfend!, they concede that blacks are endowed with the same moral and intellectual abilities as whites, then these same elites must also concede that blacks do not need to be perpetually dependent upon the states for all their needs, a status that assumes racial inability.
Does history repeat itself? I fervently hope not.
Ok, I have grudgingly thrown my support behind Mitt Romney. It’s not that I am excited about Romney as a candidate, but I am genuinely excited about the need to get Obama out of office before he does irreversible damage to this country. But, here is where I see a problem:
In one corner, we have a radical Marxist/Progressive, with little to no understanding of human nature and economics, who is on a tear to totally transform society to fit a bankrupt utopian ideology. In the process, he destroys jobs, strips companies of investment capital, destroys human capital, demonizes success, romanticizes failure, takes command of and promptly ruins entire segments of the economy, undermines the Constitution, blatantly disregards the law and does his very best to bankrupt the country while redefining entire segments of the population as dependent wards of the state.
In the other corner, we have a square-jawed, well-coiffed, highly intelligent, erudite and successful businessman who made his mark in an industry demonized and under constant assault by the President. Formerly a Liberal, he now claims to be a Conservative, although large swaths of the Republican party refuse to accept his supposed conversion to conservatism as sincere. He is a nice, rational man who believes in using soft-spoken discourse to sway people and find common ground. Rather than go on a blistering attack in support of the capitalist, free-enterprise economy, he ends up trying to placate the population with his moderation and management credentials, while fending off internal strife within the Republican Party between those that promote strong advocacy of conservative principles and those seeking an accommodationist “middle way”. In many ways, he remains tone deaf to how others perceive him to be and how they react to his awkward choices of words.
This man of whom I speak was Wendell Willkie. He ran against FDR in 1940 and got creamed by 5 million votes. Now, I realize there are many differences between then and now, but take a look at these photos below and please tell me they don’t suggest a spooky echo of the past.
Bruce Bawer, American expat extraordinaire, posted an especially insightful post over this weekend, in which he notes that the peculiarly American assumption that all people want to be free just may be a tad naive.
He cites Jewish writer Tuvia Tenenbom’s (“I Sleep in Hitler’s Room”) observation, upon traversing the former East Germany, that most of the people Tenenbom encountered longed for the “good times” living under the East German dictatorship. In the Middle East, we see peoples offered the light of freedom only to turn further toward the darkness. As Bawer points out, we should know that not all people want to be free: after all, the masses that marched in support of the Nazis and Communists hardly marched for the cause of freedom. Read it all…Bawer makes excellent points in support of his thesis.
We, as a nation, have existed on the premise that all people (like our forefathers) want to be free. This (false?) premise has driven much of American foreign policy. It may also blind us to what is really going on in our own country with regard to the Liberal/Left, the Democrat party and the OWS movement.
I believe that I can understand the pull of serfdom for many people. Just think of all of the difficult life decisions that are taken away from the individual serf: as wards of the state, they don’t have to worry about where they will get their food (of course, they can forget about shopping at Whole Foods as well), whether they will meet their financial needs (albeit at a subsistence level), understanding politics, moral values, education, finding a job…etc. It is, in other words, regression to the mind of a child. They can simply exist for the moment of the day: no responsibilities but, also, no hope. Like vegetables, if you think about it.
So, what do you think? Is what is happening today a defining struggle between those of us that want to be free and those that seek a return to childhood? Is it as simple as this? Because, if it is, then we really are witnessing the final death struggle of the American Republic.
I’ve been having a very interesting email exchange with FP, a friend who sent me the Peter Schiff video that’s now making the rounds:
As you can see, Schiff makes logical points grounded in reality, and the protesters come back with mere protest tactics, rather than making any attempt whatsoever at argument. Strangely enough, despite the dreariness of watching idiocy in action, both FP and I found cause for cheer in the video.
My optimistic take is twofold. First, I have to believe that people like Schiff, and and like FP, and like those of us at the Bookworm Room, people who have knowledge, analytical abilities, and intelligence, will be the ones who eventually make intellectual contact with those who are not using tactics, but who are actually struggling to understand real issues. Everything we write, and read, and think is another arrow in our quiver. We are educating ourselves for real arguments, with people who actually want to listen.
Second, I’m optimistic about the fact that so much of this manifest idiocy emanates from those who have paid the most for their so-called educations. (Here’s a great photoshop summing up that particular type of insanity.) Perhaps these protests, which highlight higher education’s absurd costs and manifest failures, will break the stranglehold that the PC education establishment has over Americans. Parents of teens and tweens may figure out that they are not getting their money’s worth when they ship their children off to pricey schools. I think about this a lot, as Mr. Bookworm is invested in the Ivy Leagues, and thinks they’re worth $200,000. My son, bless his heart, promises me that he’s going to Annapolis!
FP is also optimistic, and I’ll quote him directly, ’cause I think he’s right:
I’m going to sound a bit Hegelian here (not in the dialectical sense…for once…more in the ‘catapulted through history evolutionary’ sense) but I’m coming, more and more, to see the conservative worldview as the inevitable end to liberal ideology — once the individual has had some sort of practical interaction with the world and/or really stretches the liberal ideology to it’s inevitable conclusion. You and I (and my wife and mother) and most of the best, most vocal proponents of modern conservative thought (Mike Adams, Thomas Sowell, and even Andrew Klavan and yes, in my opinion, the very articulate and clever Sunny Berman) are all ‘converts’ to the church of conservatism. We’ve all been exposed to liberal ideology from a very early age but heard the voice on the road to Damascus and decided to stop kicking against the pricks. There are two paths that I’ve seen that lead to the road:
1. Pragmatic need — i.e: having to pay bills, working hard, and realizing that others are not but want to take what you have. This is an incredibly effective catalyst but more difficult to explain in the purely metaphysical realm of college coffee shops and poetry slams (and the like). A lot of my hardworking blue collar friends have reached conservatism through this path (I can’t help but believe that most of the blue collar union workers that voted Reagan into office the first time came to their political beliefs, at least during that election, through this path).
2. The ‘intellectual’ path — following liberal ideas to their natural conclusions
As I examine some of the basic tenets of liberalism — at least those things that the more effective sophists blather on and on about in the local coffee shops — I keep seeing places where the ideology collapses in on itself. It either leads to Marxism (which history has shown — again and again and again — does not work. Anyone with more than the most glancing view of history accepts this as axiomatic truth. The argument FOR Marxism — which usually whines that we just haven’t done it RIGHT yet — reminds me of Paul Krugman’s ‘Keynsianism-works-we-just-haven’t-put-enough-money-into-it’ b.s. It’s ridiculous. No one’s done it right because THERE’S NO WAY TO DO IT RIGHT) or folds in on itself (like a black hole). Here’s what I mean by that:
The liberal meme that calls for people to ‘coexist’ is silly — people already coexist. If they didn’t then you wouldn’t have anything to put on a bumper sticker because no one exists. The liberal meme that calls for us to ‘tolerate’ sounds great — but then you have to ‘tolerate’ the rich as well because, well, we wouldn’t want to JUDGE, now would we?The liberal meme that calls for ‘peace’ sounds great — until you experience 9/11 and realize that ‘peace’ would mean accepting that sort of treatment from those who disagree with you. The liberal meme that calls for a utopian ‘one world’ sounds great — until you realize how the rest of the world lives and what that would mean for us — the top 1% OF THE WORLD (imagine the rest of the world decided to ‘occupy America’ to go after us — after all — we ARE the 1% as far as quality of life!)
In other words, right about now, a whole lot of liberals are getting mugged by reality.
It’s in this same vein that the flyer I published in the previous post is relevant. Zombie told me that it’s been floating around in the internet since April 2010, but that fact is that it has real resonance now. In America, the difference between “us” and “them” isn’t inherited wealth or a class system, it’s that some work and some don’t. Now that the fat of the land has vanished, it’s ants versus grasshoppers, or little red hens versus lazy animals. In this world, with ants and hens on the one side and grasshoppers and slugs on the other side, the ants and hens, merely by virtue of energy and initiative, will prevail.
Much has been written about playwright David Mamet’s coming-out as a conservative and his reasons for so doing, but there is still much gold to be mined from Mamet’s mind.
Today’s National Review Online revisits Mamet in this stellar piece by Matthew Shaffer that contains this one gem that perfectly encapsulates some of the alphabetized mindsets encountered and challenged on this blog:
“But liberalism, Mamet thinks, is dismantling culture. The problem is that “the Left today is essentially an elitist movement, and it has invested a lot of time and money in the idea that they know better.” Elites have been led to think “by getting the grades, and getting into good schools and think-tanks and government positions that they are fit” to reorder society more rationally. But this requires first demolishing the order produced by the organic processes of tradition, democracy, and markets — the culture. Why are some so susceptible to this fatal conceit? “They get out of elite schools being told nothing but, ‘You’re the best.’” Hubris — a dramatist’s area of expertise. (The liberalism of his own elite group, the literati, he blames on “devotion to fantasy — this sort of Manichean view.”)
You can read the entire article here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/270190/david-mamet-s-exodus-matthew-shaffer
Keep this in mind when considering the role that the Maryland school system has now openly assumed for itself as an indoctrination center for Liberal elitist belief systems, by requiring that all students must pass an “environmental literacy” test before being allowed to graduate.
To reiterate what I’ve posted before, there is nothing scientific about “environmentalism” or “environmental sciences”, just as there is nothing scientific about “political science”. It is indoctrination, pure and simple, targeted toward the destruction of prevailing belief systems and culture.
I think that this will backfire. Eventually forced to confront reality in the age of the internet, students will eventually realize when they have been corrupted and degraded by Leftwing ideologues and I predict that their reaction will be harsh. In the end, it is this narcissistic hubris of the Leftwing elites that will destroy them. I have no doubt that the students that today provide such ready fodder for indoctrination today will eventually turn on their teachers with the retribution of nemesis. It will be a cultural revolution.
From whence does the viciousness in the Leftwing soul emanate?
I know that most if not all of us in the Bookworm circle have seen this horrific video below. I post it because we need to see this again and again. We need to look into their eyes to recognize what this is. I view this with fascination, much as I would were I an anthropologist viewing South Pacific cannibals at the village feast…with morbid horror at the depths of human depravity:
I have never, never experienced such hatred and vileness emanating from any group of conservatives that I know. Not even close. When I have observed rank racism, misogyny or homophobia, it has almost always emanated from people of the Left. It’s as if by incanting a few pat phrases of Liberal/Left orthodoxy or voting for a half-black man (speaking of race, not culture) as President, they feel they get a pass at spewing such vileness (as in, “I can’t be racist, I just voted for Obama”).
I like to use my own Leftwing /Liberal brothers-in-law as my own anthropological laboratory. A couple are happy cheerful people who don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. OK, they are clueless, but that is another story. There is one, however, who projects a portly, kindly exterior that absolutely seeths with venom underneath (his Facebook postings make my skin crawl).
Perhaps one clue is that he is also a man very much disappointed with his choices in life. I also don’t know if he is able to see himself as others see him. Similarly, we have the wife of a close family friend…outwardly, she is a very kind and considerate person. She talks the talk, anyway. But if you get her on the subject of George Bush or Sarah Palin, she transforms into a writhing, spitting demon (to her credit, she is at least aware of this and admits it as a character flaw).
Frankly, these people scare me. I feel that, should they ever be given the power to act out what they verbalize, they would unleash great evil on humanity.
What’s going on with such people? What goes on in their hearts and minds?
Does any budding psychiatrist within our discussion group have insights to share?
Have you ever been in a debate with a Liberal/Lefty and been so overwhelmed with either the vapidity of their arguments or the absolute volume of misstatement, sloganeering or fact-twisting that you are left open-mouthed and unable to respond. After the interchange, you kick yourself by thinking, “I should have said….”. Happens to me all the time. Instead of constructively engaging, my mind asks “where do I begin?”. Or, alternately, I may start hammering them with facts and my own positions, none of which they will retain.
Over time, in business negotiations, I have learned that the best way to buy time while digesting information is to ask questions to better flesh out the issue. I don’t mean a Socratic dialog, I mean questions meant to make the other person think about their position(s). I offer the following in the context of the very excellent comments that have been made on this blog, recently, about how to constructively engage Liberals, especially the Liberals who have no idea of why they think the way they do, not to mention having a clue regarding why conservatives and libertarians think as we do. I propose that this latter designation represents a very significant block of prospective voters and we need to work on them, not just before November but with an eye to 2012.
In my own evolution from Scoop Jackson Liberalism to a blended libertarian conservatism, I recalled how one memorable question could completely change my world view. It didn’t happen right away, but over time I would mull that question and it would have its intended effect of making me change my mind. So, I would like to ask for your help with this question: how can we use single questions to help puncture the Liberal/Left bubble-sphere?” I also propose that using “why do you think…” is a good way of appealing to the other person’s intellect.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
When a Liberal uses the race card: “why do you think that people on the Left are so utterly obsessed with peoples’ race?”
When a Liberal talks about America’s supposed insults to Islam: “Why do you think that all countries the surrounding the world of Islam are subject to Muslim attacks and terrorism?”
On Democrats being for the little guy: “Why do you think it is that the Democrat leadership is so filthy rich?”
On the Tea Party: “With what beliefs of the Tea Party do you disagree?”
On Democrats being for minorities: “Why do you think that blacks have fared so badly in Democrat-controlled inner cities since Johnson’s War on Poverty of 50 years-ago?”
One Liberal Dependency on Government: “Please share your thoughts with me on how one can be simultaneously dependent on Government programs and still be free?”
When Liberals talk about Islam’s tolerance for others: “How many Muslims do you know? Can you tell me what’s in the Koran about tolerance toward others?” (OK, that’s two questions).
Would anyone else like to either help improve upon or add to this list of “one, memorable questions” that can puncture Liberal/Lefties’ world views?
One of the things that I try to understand is the Great Divide between today’s Liberals and conservatives that has left us talking past one another on policy issues. Frankly, I have concluded that discussion with Liberals is often futile because we attribute different meanings to words and concepts.
One of those concepts, I suspect, has to do with “money”. Let me throw the following proposition on the table for discussion:
Liberal /Lefties view “money” as a fixed, tangible quantity with intrinsic value, like gold coins, for example. Thus, the value of money is intrinsic to the lucre itself, be it coins or dollar notes. Conservatives, on the other hand, see “money” more abstractly as representing “created value”…as scrip or IOU on value created or received. As economists put it, money is a “medium of exchange” for value. So, for liberals, “money” is something tangible to that must be amassed by taking from someone else’s stash. For conservatives, “money” is something more abstract that must to be created (i.e. goods or services) directly (e.g., wages) or indirectly (e.g., inheritance) through the creation of “value”.
How might this color our perceptions of one another?
1) When people like Bill Gates amass a large quantity of money by creating products that many people wish to purchase, conservatives view Gates’ money as a reflection of the value that he created and contributed others. No hard feelings there – it’s a fair exchange. A Liberal/Lefty, however, sees only Gate’s amassed pot of lucre that appears disproportionately high compared to the lucre stored in other peoples’ pots. They see this imbalance as patently unfair, especially since this lucre was transferred from other peoples’ modest stashes into Bill Gates’ already whopping big stash: Bill has more, all of his customers have less.
2) When money is needed to achieve a desirable social or governmental goal, a conservative recognizes that such money needs to be generated somewhere to pay for this goal. This can only be done by either drawing down existing value (confiscating peoples’ lucre) or by creating new ‘value” that can be taxed (i.e., growing the economy). A Liberal/Lefty doesn’t make this connection – they see the process simply as one of either redistributing the existing lucre from other peoples’ pots or creating new lucre by printing more money. The problem of printing new lucre, of course, is that it is still underwritten by a fixed quantity of value – expanding money supply representing a fixed value means that each dollar is worth less. We call that inflation.
I can’t tell you how many times Liberals have looked at me with puzzlement when I have asked where they expect to get the money for their favored social programs.
3) De-linking “money” from the process of wealth creation makes it easy for Liberal/Lefties to confuse using tax money to pay for unemployment checks, dance troupes or road repair as “economic stimulus”. You are, after all, taking lucre sitting idle in some peoples’ pots and putting that lucre into other peoples’ pockets to spend on purchases. Unfortunately, the fact is that such activities do not in themselves create new value. This cannot therefore “grow” the economy.
What do you think? Am I onto something? And, if so, what other aspects of the Great Divide does this help to explain? Does this help or hinder us in discussing our differences with the Liberal /Left?
I was at my child’s school the other day, and happened to glance at the daily handout the children receive. It had the usual special announcements and ended with “Today’s Patriotic Quotation.” I was rather pleased to see that there was a patriotic quotation included (on a daily basis, yet). Reading the quotation, though, just depressed me. As far as I could tell, it had nothing whatsoever to do with patriotism.
Patriotism means support of or pride in ones country. A patriotic quotation, therefore, would laud something distinctly American. I’ve been happily awash in patriotic quotations lately, since I signed up for daily emails from The Patriot Post. Every day, as part of the material this organization sends to me, I get a quotation from the Founders reminding me of America’s exceptionalism. Here are just a few examples:
“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803
“No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.” –George Washington, letter to James Madison, 1786
“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 57
“I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society.” –Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788
I admit that many of the Founder’s quotations are more intellectually sophisticated than the average 11 year old can comprehend, but there are other truly patriotic quotations floating around, highlighting the wonders of the American system and the fundamental goodness of the American people. (And I would be delighted if you would send your favorite patriotic quotations to the comments section in my blog.)
The day I visited the school, though, the “Patriotic Quotation” had nothing whatsoever to do with America. Instead, it was this, from Eleanor Roosevelt:
It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.
Am I missing something when I read that, or am I correct that it is entirely unrelated to America? Instead, it’s the standard pabulum of the Left, waffling on about the wonders of peace.
Believe it or not, despite the fact that I’m a conservative, I’m all for peace. But peace is only worthwhile if it stands for something. As my regular readers know, I’m extremely fond of quoting Tacitus, who spoke of Roman military victories thusly: “They make a desert and call it peace.”
Totalitarian countries are very peaceful. There are no barroom brawls, no street protests, no euphoric rock concerts, no wacky TV shows, and no political debates. All is quiet. If citizens follow the myriad rules, if they keep their heads down and worship at the government’s shrine, all is peaceful. The residents in such countries work at peace daily in their continual efforts to stay alive.
You’ll pardon me for being condescending here, but I cannot escape the feeling that the liberal approach to war and peace is extraordinarily shallow. They attach labels to appearances, and then try to derive deep meanings from those labels. (Hardly surprising, I guess, from a political orientation that rotates around the hardcore labeling that is identity politics.)
Here are the familiar liberal tropes, the behavior labels, if you will: “War is bad.” “Peace is good.” “Small armed groups rising up against a large military are good.”
But what if the War is the Civil War, which broke the back of the institution of slavery? (It also severely damaged states’ rights, which I understand, but I’m focusing on slavery here, a genuine evil that Progressives surely would want to see destroyed.) Or how about if the War is World War II, which defeated Nazi Germany?
I don’t need to re-hash my peace shtick, set out above. Peace is good only when it’s allied with freedom. Peace alone can easily be the quiet of the grave.
As for the “small armed uprisings,” you know that I’m thinking of all the Progressives who compare Al Qaeda or Hamas to the American Revolution. At the shallow strata that constitutes Progressive thinking, if you’re big, you must be the oppressor, and if you’re small, you must be the oppressed.
I actually wrote about this precise point some years ago in an American Thinker article regarding Leftist — or, as I called it, Marxist — morality, a post triggered by my watching an acclaimed movie called Maria Full of Grace, which was a sympathetic portrait of a drug smuggling illegal alien. Marxist morality is a distinct creature from our more traditional Biblical morality. Rather than reinvent the wheel, let me quote myself:
This ethical paradigm [i.e., Marxist morality] isn’t premised on right and wrong. It is, instead, concerned with oppressor and oppressed. We all know, of course, that Marxism orders the world by oppressors and oppressed. I always saw this hierarchical standard, however, as ex post facto retrofitting explaining, not why someone was right to do as he did, but why he shouldn’t be punished. This Marxist approach was an explanation for things that had already happened (a la the Officer Krupke song), not a moral justification for determining future conduct.
If you haven’t seen the movie, the plot precis is that a poor, unemployed, pregnant Columbian girl gets herself a job as a mule, running cocaine into America. The San Francisco Chronicle, in its review, introduced the movie as follows:
A “Bonnie and Clyde” moment — when you find yourself rooting for the outlaw over the authorities — comes a third of the way into “Maria Full of Grace,” a revelatory independent film whose moments of incredible sadness are offset by the same state of grace that blesses its astonishing title character.
Given that the lead character is an unwed pregnant woman engaged in illegal conduct, I naively assumed that the “state of grace” to which the review refers was the moment in which Maria suddenly realizes that she is engaged in evil, immoral conduct; repents; and works to undo the wrongs in which she was involved. Had I begun by reading the Roger Ebert review, I never would have made this silly mistake. Thus, Ebert has this to say, in relevant part:
Long—stemmed roses must come from somewhere, but I never gave the matter much thought until I saw “Maria Full of Grace,” which opens with Maria working an assembly line in Colombia, preparing the roses for shipment overseas. I guess I thought the florist picked them early every morning, while mockingbirds trilled. Maria is young and pretty and filled with fire, and when she finds she’s pregnant, she isn’t much impressed by the attitude of Juan, her loser boyfriend. She dumps her job and gets a ride to Bogota with a man who tells her she could make some nice money as a mule — a courier flying to New York with dozens of little Baggies of cocaine in her stomach. [….]
Maria is a victim of economic pressures, but she doesn’t think like a victim. She has spunk and intelligence and can think on her feet, and the movie wisely avoids the usual cliches about the drug cartel and instead shows us a fairly shabby importing operation, run by people more slack—jawed than evil. Here is a drug movie with no machineguns and no chases. It focuses on its human story, and in Catalina Sandino Moreno, finds a bright—eyed, charismatic actress who engages our sympathy.
By writing the above, Ebert unwittingly defines the second part of Leftist morals, the part that states that, if you are on the bottom of the Marxist hierarchy, your status preemptively sanctifies any conduct in which you engage, provided that it is directed against oppression (however you define that oppression, or whoever creates that oppression). In other words, morals aren’t just about feelings, anymore. Instead, they can be determined relative to a person’s status on the economic ladder. “Maria is a victim of economic pressures.” Given her situation, she cannot make immoral choices. All of her choices are virtuous responses to her degraded situation.
I might have spent several days brooding over the movie’s complete immorality, and the critics’ swoons over that same movie, if I hadn’t heard the next day a laudatory review on NPR about the new Battlestar Galactica series. In that science fiction show, cyborgs have conquered humans living on a distant colony, and the humans are struggling to deal with the situation and to overthrow the cyborgs. The critic interviewed in the NPR spot said that, to him, the show worked to make the viewer understand the insurgents in Iraq by showing us that they have an “oppressed minority fighting against conquering majority” viewpoint. In other words, it makes the Iraqi insurgents sympathetic.
Frankly, I have a hard time being sympathetic to people who back regimes that murder millions of its own people; who enjoy beheading innocents; and who would like to impose a relentlessly grim religious rule that requires death sentences for eating ice cream, singing, playing tennis, or putting on a clown show for children. These are not good people whether they’re in power or are seeking power.
In the Leftist moral view, however, just as all workers are exploited and should be praised for taking the initiative by engaging in utterly immoral, illegal activity, so too are all underdogs virtuous. If you’re in charge, you’re bad; if you’re struggling to overthrow those in charge, you’re good. It doesn’t seem to occur to Leftist moralists to examine the motives of those involved in any given struggle.
There’s more of the same in the rest of my article, here, but I think you get the point.
And so I’m right back at the quotation they served at my child’s school as an example of patriotism. It had nothing to do with America, and everything to do with a conviction that some abstract peace is the highest goal. Having read that, I sincerely wonder what yesterday’s patriotic quotation was, and what tomorrow’s will be. Does the school ever praise our country, or does it just use famous Democrats and Leftists as mouthpieces for shallow and abstract ruminations about facile and meaningless goals? I hope that the day I was there was just a one-off, since our children our vulnerable, and their schools’ indoctrination affects them strongly.