Found it on Facebook: The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner

My Facebook friends are besides themselves with delight about Obama’s victory.  I get that.  What I don’t appreciate is the “kick ‘em while they’re down” attitude that these enlightened people show.  Herewith, the latest offerings from the sore winners on Facebook.

Progressives conflate truly stupid statements about human biology (that would be Todd Akin) and rape (Roger Rivard), with defensible, humane positions about the sanctity of life.  That is, you don’t have to agree with Mourdock, Walsh, or Ryan, but you should recognize that they’ve taken a morally defensible position.  I look forward to the day when reporters ask Progressive political candidates “Do you believe in third trimester abortion?” or “What would you do with an aborted baby that is born alive?”


The thinking person might look at this chart and, instead of boasting about about college degrees, think about budget deficits, urban ghettos, and bankrupt cities.  Just sayin’:

And this one? Well, it’s just vulgar and offensive — a classic example of an ungracious winner:

Conservatives need a new ground game

Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m feeling less depressed than I felt last night and this morning.  Part of my more sanguine attitude is based upon a Taranto principle, which is that Obama now owns the events of the next four years:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

The scale of the messes Taranto describes makes it unlikely that Romney could have been a successful president.  At best, he might have stemmed an economic or national security collapse, but I doubt he could actually have improved things.  The systems for self-destruction — massive debt, vast entitlement expectations, ObamaCare beginning to weave into the warp and woof of our social and economic fabric, a dangerous world outside of America’s borders — are already deeply entrenched.  Four years won’t fix them.  (Which may be why voters ignored Obama’s empty 2008 promises and decided that he really need 8 years to fulfill the hope and change manifesto.)

But, but . . . what about Reagan?  He also inherited a dangerous world and an unhealthy economy.  That’s true — but he inherited a different ground game.  Political correctness didn’t exist then.  Skin color diversity (offset by ideological homogeneity) was at the beginning of its trajectory, not the peak.  People still viewed government aid as something one first earned or, if one didn’t earn it, as something one accepted with some degree of embarrassment.  Now, even with no pay-in, they view it as a right, with no shame attached.  In Reagan’s day, our troops hadn’t been fighting a blood-and-guts war for eight years (as opposed to a massive Cold War chess game) against an enemy that neither the Republican nor the Democrat President willingly named.  In Reagan’s day, the intelligentsia may have tried to downplay the Soviet Union, but ordinary people still knew that it was indeed the Evil Empire.  Israel was still loved, not hated, so Americans supported a president who supported Israel.

The ground game has changed.  As Roger Simon says,

So we have a problem with democracy. It’s not working or, more specifically, has been turned on its end, with the masses manipulated against their own self-interest, creating power elites similar to those described in Milovan Djilas’ The New Class.

How did that happen? I think many of us know there are three pillars of our own destruction: the educational system, the media and entertainment (the popular arts).

Those three areas are so corrupted those who legitimately are on the center-right (or anywhere close to it) will increasingly find themselves swimming upstream against a current so great who knows where it will take them. (Think Hayek, Orwell, etc.) We must address ourselves to these three immediately before it is too late. In many ways, it already is. Culture is the mother of politics and mother is turning into Medea.

Okay, fine.  We fight the wars we’re given, not the wars we want.  So here’s my thinking.

As I said, I’m less depressed than I was because I think our culture is such that, no matter who occupies the White House, bad things are going to happen.  Really bad things, both with our economy and our national security.  Seeing as I think the coming hurt is inevitable, I’d rather it happens on a Democrat’s than on a Republican’s watch.  If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow and begin to consider whether my political leanings of the past eight years have been a temporary aberration, and I’ll even contemplate returning to my liberal roots.  (Unlikely, but if the next four years are an American boom time, we’ll all need to rethink our belief systems.)

Accepting the inevitable, how do we fight back?  As polite conservatives, we’ve always tried to work through the ballot box.  We’ve decried the bias in media (including PBS, which we pay for), academia, and education, but we really haven’t done anything about it.  We tried to vote for people who would stop funding PBS and we whined on websites about the indoctrination at our children’s schools.  We’ve still paid to watch movies and we tune in to TV.

We resent the system, but we work within in.  For all that we talk about the ageless wonders of our Constitution and free-market principles generally, we are short-term thinkers, who keep believing (all evidence to the contrary) that we can kill the Progressive tree, not by attacking the roots, but by taking an axe to the tip-top of the tree through honestly brokered elections.  The fact is that the cultural battle is so one-sided (against our side) that we’d probably lose even honestly brokered elections, ones that did not involve massive fraud and media malfeasance.

We keep doing trying the same failed tactic, even though we recognize that the strong Democrat victories resulted, not because the Left voted, but because they spent 60 years going after America’s social and intellectual infrastructure.  The numbers of actual Lefties are probably pretty small; the number of people who have been taught to vote Democrat without thinking what it really means, is huge.

William F. Buckley figured out the problem in the 1950s and started a cultural counter attack, which ended with the Reagan ascendency.  Whew!  That was it.  We won.  Yay.  We won forever.  NOT.  The Left never stopped its ground game.  Indeed, during and after the Reagan years (including during the Clinton years), the hard Left consolidated its hold over cultural institutions.  We just watched and whined.

We cannot do that anymore.  For the next four years, conservatives need to stop worrying about this candidate or that candidate (which is all we ever do) and we need to start wooing the masses.

My friend Lulu, who comments here and who has been an occasional guest poster, called me today with a wonderful idea:  Star Parker.  Okay, you’re right.  Star Parker is a wonderful person, not a wonderful idea, but she’s the symbol for my friend’s idea.  We don’t need to run Star Parker for office, we need to run her for talk show host, a la Oprah.  She’s engaging, approachable, intelligent, conservative and black.  I hate to add the last, because I don’t like to judge people by the color of their skin, but I’m in minority.  I live in my head, so I relate to people intellectually.  Most don’t.  They need other people to look like them in order to start feeling comfortable with their ideas.

The talk show idea, though is the right one.  We know that most people aren’t high-level thinkers when it comes to politics but are, instead, low-level, emotional reactors.  I do not mean that they are stupid.  I just mean that, when it comes to politics, they engage in a non-abstract, non-theoretical, non-intellectual level.  The old saying is that, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed must go to the mountain.  We need to reach out to non-engaged voters by meeting them at their level, rather than insisting that they meet us at ours.

Admittedly, our conservative social infrastructure is limited.  Liberals own the media and the entertainment world.  But how did they get there?  They pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  We need to start pushing too.  We need talk shows, even if they start on cable or internet.  We also need to take a page out of the Leftist handbook and start using the courts.  For example, Lulu suggested that, as taxpayers, we have standing to sue PBS to demand that, as long as public broadcasting gets public monies, it must devote 50% of its programming time to conservative programs.  After all, for decades, simply because they rented public airwaves, TV and radio were required to be  neutral.  Why isn’t PBS?

When it comes to Hollywood, we need to come together an create alternatives.  Stop spending your money on movies by people who hate us.  Why are we doing that?  And we should take the money we didn’t spend on the haters and invest it in movie makers (such as Declaration Entertainment) that will make entertaining movies that don’t hit us over the head with their message, but that feed it to us subliminally.  (When we do make movies we always go for the iron hand, rather than the velvet glove).  The Left figured this one out, as Ben Shapiro explains in Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  We too can change the paradigm without being obvious.

And why are we, who pay most of the taxes, allowing publicly funded schools to discriminate against conservative teachers? We sit back and cheer when an individual conservative teacher sues after being denied tenure, but we’ve never had a taxpayer suit saying that, just as student body’s have to be diverse, so should faculty — and that this diversity includes not discriminating against belief systems.  In other words, we have to redefine diversity so that it encompasses ideology as well as (or instead of) skin color.

We also have to advertise ourselves better.  As Romney’s campaign (and McCain’s and Bush’s too) showed, Republican political “leaders” find our ideology embarrassing and seek to wrap it up in gauzy, often impenetrable, platitudes.  One of my readers, Fern, suggests that our campaigns have a musty, fuzzy look.  The Left identifies us as backwards, reactionary, etc., and we yield.  We’ve certainly given the Left linguistic control.  They’re “Progressive” and “Forward.”  We’re fuddy-duddy “conservatives.”

Obama, a child of the Left, understands that words matter, more than the fact that these so-called Progressives keep trying to recycle ideas that failed in all nations that have tried them.  They’ve got the glamor and the gloss, and those gimmicks sell in a superficial world.

One of the first and easiest things we can do is to start with re-branding.  Keep in mind that calling conservatives “right wing” harks back to the 18th century French parliament, when the non-revolutionaries sat on the right side of the hall.  Is that how we want to identify ourselves — as relics of the ancien regime?  “Conservative” too makes us sound like a bunch of reactionary codgers who can be painted as desirous of slavery (never mind that the Republicans freed the slaves), Jim Crow-lovers (never mind that Republicans opposed Jim Crow), and misogynists (never mind that Republicans are in the vanguard of fighting Muslims and Chinese Communists who treat women and girl babies like disposable property).

It turns out that, in a media rich world, Shakespeare was wrong.  That which we call rose, by any other name does not smell as sweet.  With that in mind, how about starting to call ourselves “Individualists” or “the Freedom Party” or something like that?  Liberals successfully (and mostly under the radar) rebranded themselves as Progressives, leaving behind the musty Victorian taint of “liberalism.”  If they can do it, why can’t we?

Truly, the wake-up call we received yesterday is not about 2012 or even about 2016.  It is about our finally understanding that the opposition has long had a better strategy and endless institutional patience.  We won only when there were still enough voters who hadn’t been indoctrinated.  In 2008, there weren’t enough of us remaining to tilt the scales.  The Left attacked America at the root, and we need to take it back at precisely the same level.

The battle is over.  The war has begun.  Consider this post Ground Zero.  If you have ideas — practical, non-whining ideas that ordinary people can put into effect — post them in the comments section, and we’ll see how far we can disseminate them.  For starters, I am no longer a conservative.  I am an “individualist” who supports a “Freedom Party,” as opposed to a “statist” who supports “Big Government.”

UPDATE:  Others thinking about a new ground game too –

The Colossus of Rhodey

Don Quixote (at our own Bookworm Room)

Ron Radosh

Michelle Horstman

Found it on Facebook — Progressives unable to understand a figure of speech

The other day, Joe Biden used a figure of speech:

Ryan has written a book called The Young Guns with two other fellows, members of the house . . . no, these are the Republican leaders in the house. You had . . . . You had . . . Unfortunately, these bullets are aimed at you.

The audience, rather than running for shelter, laughed at Joe’s witticism.  They fully understood that Ryan wasn’t outside the door gunning for them.

Apparently Progressives’ ability to understand figures of speech vanishes if a conservative if speaking.  As you may recall, after Obama repeatedly impugned Romney’s integrity during the second debate, Tagg Romney spoke up.  In doing so, he used a variation on a figure of speech familiar to many of us when someone near and dear to our hearts has been insulted:  “I’d like to punch that guy.”  Not only did he use a figure of speech, he then explained that he was using a figure of speech, and didn’t really mean what he said (emphasis mine):

Tagg Romney, the eldest son of the GOP presidential nominee, joked on a North Carolina radio station that he wanted to jump out of his seat at Tuesday’s debate and “take a swing” at Obama as the president repeatedly called out Mitt Romney.

“But you know you can’t do that because … there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the process,” Romney told Bill LuMaye of WPTF-AM. “They’re going to do everything they can do to try to make my dad into someone he’s not. We signed up for it. We’ve gotta kinda sit there and take our punches and then send them right back the other way.”

Note, too, that Tagg was generally using fight metaphors in his speech, since he finished by saying the Romneys have to “take our punches and then send them right back the other way.”

As I said, though, Progressives don’t get metaphors unless they’re the ones using them.  That’s why I found this image from a reliable Progressive on my Facebook page today:

If one wants to say anything about Mitt, it’s that he successfully taught his son that violence is not the answer : using a non-violent process is.  As many have understood, politics is war by other means.  Tagg explicitly stated that he’s more than willing to abide by non-violent means to achieve a power shift in the body politic.

Found it on Facebook — crude anti-Mormon sentiment

I continue to be fascinated with the things that my Progressive friends post on Facebook.  I feel like a cultural archaeologist.  Here’s today’s offering:

For once, my commentary can be summed up in a single sentence:

We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. — Barack Obama, September 12, 2012

 

Found it on Facebook: Romney is evil? Really?

One of my old high school classmates, who is gay and Progressive, posted a heartfelt plea today that all of his Facebook friends do whatever is necessary to keep the “evil” Romney out of office.  Evil?  That’s an awfully strong word.  Hitler was evil.  Mao was evil.  Stalin was evil.  Pol Pot was evil.  Saddam Hussein was evil.

But what the heck has Romney ever said or done to earn the appellation evil?  I meant to ask my friend, but my computer is dying and for reasons entirely unclear to me, it will no longer let me post any comments to Facebook.  I’ll have a new computer by next week and, if I remember, I’ll politely ask this guy why Romney is “evil” as opposed to merely being a mainstream politician and member of Lincoln’s party, whose mainstream politics somehow offend this guy.

I’m actually being a bit disingenuous here.  I’ve known for decades that Conservatives think Progressives are misguided; while Progressives think Conservatives are evil.  It’s just that I don’t remember this level of hysteria from before.  People disagreed, but the passion that characterizes the “Leave Britney alone!” video wasn’t as obvious, and the insults weren’t so blatant.


An insight into Progressive beliefs about how voters’ minds work

John Hinderaker caught a very funny statement from Jen Psaki, who is one of the president’s official spokesmen. She was responding to a reporter’s question regarding the fact that PBS asked the Democrats to take down an add using Big Bird (emphasis mine):

We have received that request [from PBS]. We’re reviewing it. I will say it doesn’t change the fact that there’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.

You can just see the great minds of the Democrat party meeting to put together a checklist of ordinary voter concerns that they should be addressing.

Meeting Chairman:  Okay, folks.  It’s time to get to work.  With the president having tanked in his first debate, and the very real risk that Joe will implode in his only debate, we’ve got to get the president ready to talk about things that really matter to the American people.  I’m going to open the floor to suggestions:

Twenty-something young man:  Uh, what about young people’s concern about the deficit that they’ll have to pay for?

Chairman:  Not going to happen, We know they’re not thinking about that.  They just want sex, booze, and subsidies.  We’ve already tapped Hollywood to remind the demographic that the President is cool, and that he’s got their backs.

Thirty-something young woman:  The President needs to tell womyn that he’ll make sure that they get free birth control and abortions, as well as unrestricted access to tampons (which should be free too).

Chairman:  Again, not going to happen, Sandra.  Our internal polling shows that the Independents aren’t buying that argument.  Anyway, women know that Obama has got their back, and we’ve had Hollywood double down on its “Republicans will legalize rape” claims.

Black woman:  Should we talk about the fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by unemployment?

Chairman:  Our campaign funds and air time are too limited to do messaging on the way the President’s policies are good for African Americans.  American blacks know that Obama’s got their backs,  He’ll make sure that the government always supports them.

Jewish Guy:  Isn’t it time that the President made a strong statement about Israel?

Chairman:  We’ve polled that one, Shlmo, and it’s going nowhere in this election.  Let’s let sleeping dogs lie.

Palestinian Guy:  The president must talk about the continued slaughter and rape of the Palestinian people.

Chairman:  Calm down, Achmed.  We don’t need to do a strong message on this, because our base knows that the President has the Palestinian people’s backs.

Sex-changed gay transvestite:  I have two words:  Gay Marriage.

Chairman:  The president’s still evolving on that one until after the election, Pat.  Don’t worry.  You guys, gals and indeterminates know that the president has your backs.

Lone WASP guy:  What about the murdered ambassador in Libya, the head of security killed in Yemen yesterday, and all the other signs that al Qaeda is coming back?

Chairman:  Come on, Charlie.  The president has already explained that these are just highly critical movie reviews that got out of hand.  The public doesn’t need to hear more.  Al Qaeda knows that the President’s got its back.  Uh, misspoke there, Dude.  I meant that the American people and the American military know that the President’s got their backs.

Five year old attending meeting because she’s got a cold and her mom is still breast-feeding her:  Mommy, Mommy! I want my Tickle Me Elmo doll!!!

Chairman:  That’s it. Elmo!  Big Bird!  Protecting those icons from Republican attacks is the one thing we need to do in order galvanize those Independent voters.  It’s Mom, Apple Pie, Elmo and Big Bird.  Okay, folks!  Here’s the official line:  President Obama, Defender of Sesame Street!

 

Progressives rewrite history to suit their needs

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the fact that “the most brilliant president ever” doesn’t know the difference between an endorser and an endorsee.  As you may recall, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator showed up at Obama’s campaign event, leading Obama to say “‘My homeboy from Illinois,’ Obama said, ‘and an outstanding Republican endorsee.’”

I had a good laugh at the genius’s expense, but there was something else in the underlying news story that’s been niggling at me about that news story.  What bugged me finally popped into focus this morning, when I made my daily visit to Ace of Spades and saw the cartoon I reprint below.

It all starts with that original news story.  We learned there that the impersonator, Lance Mack, has been making a fine living attending Republican events.  Apparently, though, he doesn’t pay much attention at those events, because he’s a staunch Democrat.  Mack has no problem pretending to be Lincoln, though:

“Today’s Republicans either don’t know or won’t acknowledge if they do that the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln of 1860 was the progressive party and the Democratic Party was the conservative party,” Mack says. “Mr. Obama, of course, greatly admires President Lincoln. He’s quoted him in many speeches. He also used Lincoln’s Bible upon which to place his hand for his inaugural oath.”

Wow!  This is 1984-style revisionism with a vengeance.  As best as I can tell, Mack’s theory is that anything good that happened historically was “progressive,” and anything bad was “conservative,” so today’s Progressives ( who were, as little as ten years ago, still called Democrats) can claim the mantle of any political outcome that the approved history books like.

You can play this game forever, you know:  During the Revolutionary War, the Americans were the progressive party and the British were the conservative party, so today’s Progressives, everyone ranging from Obama to Pelosi to Axelrod, wears that revolutionary mantle.  And during the Jim Crow era, the anti-Jim Crow Republicans were the progressives and the pro-Jim Crow Democrats were the conservatives, which means that all of today’s Progressives and Democrats can wear the Civil Rights mantle.

I won’t belabor this point because, at Ace, I found the perfect cartoon from The People’s Cube.  I do believe that this cartoon proves, once again, that one good picture is worth a thousand (or maybe ten thousand) of my words:


I’d give a People’s Cube link for the above cartoon, but I can’t find one, and that’s despite scrolling through the archives with some vigor.  What I can tell you though, after having scrolled through those archives, is that you should visit the People’s Cube.  I’ve been aware of the site for a long time, but had never actually checked it out.  It’s really phenomenal.

I’m actually not surprised by the satiric brilliance on display there. The proprietor and creative genius is Oleg Atbashian, who grew up in the Soviet Union. The one thing that the Soviet overlords couldn’t take away from the people was satire. Those who refused to bow down to the cognitive dissonance created by a totalitarian state understood that, sometimes, their only refuge — and weapon — was humor.

The excremental Left — an amateur Freudian analysis

The SF Chron had an article about the mountains of rubbish that revelers left in San Francisco’s Dolores Park on July 4.  I can tell you with absolute certain that the Dolores Park partiers were liberals or, as they would call themselves, Progressives.  That City and, more specifically, that neighborhood, tell you everything you need to know.

The story made me realize how strongly I associate the Left with dirt.  When they party, they leave behind mountains of dirt.  When they Occupy, they leave behind mountains of dirt.  When they have street protests, they leave behind mountains of dirt.  More than that, the Left is obsessed with excrement.  They poop and pee in parks, on flags, and in buildings.  They collect poop and deliver it to their “enemies.”  Even their writing is littered with excrement, insofar as they are addicted to using scatological phrases to insult anything (or anybody) that doesn’t meet with their approval.

Part of the filth is the Progressive mentality that says an individual is never responsible for things.  Responsibility lies with the community or the government.  That’s how things roll in the socialist world.

Looking at the writing, though, you realize that something deeper is going on.  After all, even wackiest Progressive doesn’t expect some government organization to come along and purge the expletives from his paragraphs.  In other words, at least mentally, a lot of Leftists live in the gutter by choice.

If I was taking a stab at psychiatric analysis — and I am gleefully unqualified to do so — I would say that Progressives are stuck in the anal stage of development:

The anal stage, in Freudian psychology, is the period of human development occurring at about one to three years of age. Around this age, the child begins to toilet train, which brings about the child’s fascination in the erogenous zone of the anus. The erogenous zone is focused on the bowel and bladder control. Therefore, Freud believed that the libido was mainly focused on controlling the bladder and bowel movements. The anal stage coincides with the start of the child’s ability to control their anal sphincter, and therefore their ability to give or withhold gifts at will. If the children during this stage can overcome the conflict it will result in a sense of accomplishment and independence.

Here’s the key:  according to Freud, the adult charged with potty training a child has to strike the right tone.  Too strict, and you get one of those compulsive, rule-following people we all casually refer to as “anal retentive.”  Anal retentive people can be irritating (or, colloquially, a pain in the ass), but theirs is an ordered world.  Too lenient an approach — and you can bet that the young Lefties out there were all raised by “rules be damned” old Lefties, and you’ve got today’s Progressives:

If parents take an approach that is too lenient, Freud suggested that an anal-expulsive personality could develop in which the individual has a messy, wasteful or destructive personality.

In other words, the problem with today’s politics is clearly a result of bad parenting a few decades ago, especially when it came to potty training.

It’s all so simple when you have a degree in armchair psychology.

Thoughts about Progressives, inspired by Jonah Goldberg’s new book

I haven’t yet finished Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, which is unusual for me, given that I’ve had it since Friday. It’s the kind of book one gobbles up — but that assumes time to gobble. Since I bought the book and Jonah signed it (more on that later), I’ve been in perpetual motion. You’ve seen that reflected in my blogging silence, and I’ve seen it reflected, as well, in my inability to find time to sit and read.

Having found time to read half the book, though, I can tell you a few things about it.  While Jonah’s last book was about history — namely, the way in which liberalism and fascism have marched hand in hand through the 20th century, albeit sometimes with a smiling face — his current book is, as the title says, about ideas.  Ideas are much harder to marshal into a book.  They’re slippery and abstract and, if I can add yet another adjective, abstruse too.  Jonah does a great job getting a handle on ideological constructs and anchoring them to a more solid world.

The premise of Jonah’s book is an interesting one:  he contends that liberals constantly deny that they are anything but pragmatists, which is a good thing and, say liberals, the complete opposite of an ideologue, which they say is a bad thing.  Conservatives, of course, are ideologues.

Liberals refuse to acknowledge that the pragmatism they describe is simply their willingness to use all possible coercive approaches to achieve their end, with the end invariably being something that falls under the socialist rubric.  By denying that they have an ideology, they are therefore able to castigate conservatives for being blinkered by an ugly conservative ideology that advocates dying sick people, homeless old people, starving children, etc.

Jonah’s absolutely right.  I had my epiphany when I finally sat down and looked at the way in which, during the 1980s and 1990s, Christian conservatives referred to Democrats/Liberals as “secularists.”  This made no sense to me.  As far as I was concerned, the Christian conservatives were the ideologues, with their talk of God and the Bible, and their wacky habit of letting their moral beliefs inform their political stances.  We, the high-minded, enlightened, pragmatic liberals had no ideology at all.  Ideology was solely the Christian preserve and we were simply un-Christians, shedding political enlightenment wherever we went.

It wasn’t until I read Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief that I finally figured out that imposing disbelief on politics is just as ideological as imposing belief on politics. Those darn Christian conservatives were right. Once I had that epiphany, I could never again pretend that my political beliefs were purely the absence of bias and primitivism. (Carter’s book was, obviously, another stepping stone in my slow journey across the ideological Rubicon, from unthinking liberal to thoughtful conservative.)

I still have a lot to learn about abstract political ideas, though, since I tend to be a remarkably concrete thinker. This can be a good thing when I finally understand an abstraction, because it means I’m adept at explaining the abstract idea to others in fairly concrete terms. Not all of us, after all, are philosophers. Jonah’s book is excellent because he too is good at explaining abstract political thought — and, in the case of Progressives, the false denial of abstract political thought — in easy to understand terms.  More than that, and unlike me, he’s extremely knowledgeable, which makes his book both witty (which we expect from Jonah) and informed (which, I have to say, we also expect from Jonah).  As I said to Jonah when we met, I feel as if he’s got the smarter version of my brain.

Here’s what I took away from the book after reading about the development of Progressive ideology:  Progressives have as their touchstone “pragmatism.” This was new to me.  I knew that in the 21st Century, Progressives like to call themselves the “reality-based community,” something that I’ve always seen as a wonderfully ironic joke. Their reality is always bounded by what suits their political ends.

Pure Progressive pragmatism goes behind this unreal commitment to reality.  It turns out that it also means denying the collective wisdom of the ages. Progressives put all their faith in modern science, economics, social science, etc., believing that anything that came before lacked this scientific gloss, making it ineffectual and inefficient.

This refusal to draw from the past’s wisdom means that, for all their constant reminiscences about the Roosevelt and the New Deal, and Johnson and the Great Society, Progressives see these historical events only at the most superficial level.  They stand for the principle that government can do big things. That’s it.  Progressives have no interest in what actually happened. That is, they don’t seek to replicate the precise procedures that FDR or Johnson used — something that is scarcely surprising given the uniformly dismal results. The takeaway for Progressives when they look back in time is simply “Government.” The rest of history is useless to them, because it’s old and wrong, and their experts are very busy reinventing everything in the here and now.

Which leads me to my pithy epigram: Progressives deny that known history has any value, yet they insist that their predictions about the unknown future are entirely accurate.

Pretty good, huh?  And it is, I think, a nice companion piece to my blog slogan:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”

Oh, and about that book signing? Two things. One, Jonah wrote a nice inscription in my book: “To Bookworm! Hail, Bookworm” Hail! All my best, from one happy warrior to another.” I liked that.

The other nice thing is that, when I identified myself to Jonah as Bookworm, a gentleman standing in line behind me exclaimed “You’re Bookworm? I love your blog.” To that gentleman: Thank you. You made my day!

Two Hollywood movies, made a decade apart, revel in the Church of Progressive Government

My husband and I are current watching The Ides of MarchThat I am staying awake during a movie that stars the bovine George Clooney, the insipid Ryan Gosling, the obscenity-spouting Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the “I don’t get why he’s famous” Paul Giamatti and that, forty minutes into the movie, still has no discernible plot, testifies to my ovarian fortitude in the face of great mental suffering.  (I toyed with the idea of saying “testicular fortitude,” but decided it just didn’t work.)

Actually, there is a reason I’m struggling through this so-far pointless, plotless movie about a Democratic primary in Ohio.  I’m quote-gathering.  The very first lines in the movie piqued my interest.  Ryan Gosling speaks them, presumably while standing in for his employer and candidate, George Clooney, who later repeats those same words during a debate in which the opposing primary candidate challenges his religious beliefs:

I’m not a Christian. I’m not an Atheist. I’m not Jewish. I’m not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in is called the Constitution of United States of America.

If the above quotation sounds familiar to you, it should.  Although it’s not identical to a speech in the movie The Contender, it’s certainly similar in content.  In that movie, a Democrat Vice Presidential candidate who has been grossly slimed and maligned by evil Republicans, defends herself thusly:

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism. Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.

It sounds as if both those movies are saying “My religion is a Constitutional democracy,” but that’s not true.  If that were true, the Progressives writing, producing, and acting in these movies would be strict constructionists and, quite possibly, libertarians.

Instead, those quotations boil down to “My religion is government.”  Progressives’ faith in this religion is unswerving, and their doctrinal attitude as rigid as any that Torquemada supported.  The Church of Progressive Government requires unswerving fealty to abortion, welfare, open borders, redistribution of wealth (except for that wealth held by those Progressives who have already obtained great wealth and power), racial categorizations every bit as rigid as those practiced in the Old South, and continuous American obeisance to the other nations of the world.  Deviate from this doctrine and, even if you’re not stretched on a rack a la the Spanish Inquisition, as Corey Booker just learned, you are dead.

Religion is a harsh taskmaster, especially for those foolish enough to cross the true believers.

 

President Obama’s church is the Chapel of (Progressive) Democracy

Best of the Web posts a 2004 interview with Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Times in which Obama defines sin, not along traditional Christian or Muslim lines, but along self-referential lines:

Falsani: Do you believe in sin?

Obama: Yes.

Falsani: What is sin?

Obama: Being out of alignment with my values.

The President, when he made that statement about the measure of sin being his own values, might have had in the back of his head the unspoken qualifier that his values are “Christian.” I doubt it, though, because I have found the definitive doctrine of Obama’s faith. Joan Allen, in the 2000 movie The Contender, recites the doctrinal beliefs of what she calls a church based in “this very chapel of democracy.”  I think her church could be more accurately described as The Church of Progressive Political Belief, and it’s clear that President Obama is a devout member.

Here’s the video, followed by a transcript with my interlineations:

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman of the Committee.  Remarkably enough, it seems that I have some explaining to do.  So, let me be absolutely clear.

I stand for a woman’s right to choose.

[So does the President, and he stands for making everyone in America, including religious institutions and religious worshippers that are doctrinally opposed to that "right," pay for women's choices.]

I stand for the elimination of the death penalty.

[This has not been an issue for our president, although he does seem uncommonly fond of drones.]

I stand for a strong and growing armed forces because we must stamp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for.

[Here we have an early articulation of R2P -- responsibility to protect.  In the Progressive canon, our country is not worth fighting for and dying for.  Genocide -- provided that those on the receiving end of genocide are neither Christians nor Jews -- is the real reason a Progressive United States should have a military.  In this regard, it's ironic that president Obama not only presided over two wars, but started a third.]

I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home.  Period.

[Three words:  Fast and Furious.]

I stand for making the selling cigarettes to our youth a federal offense.

[Because, really, who needs education, the marketplace of ideas, and free will?]

I stand for term limits and campaign reform.

[Obama hasn't said much about term limits, but he's made it clear that his idea of campaign reform is to stifle corporate speech, despite the fact that corporations are aggregations of citizens and pay taxes; and that his personal contribution to campaign reform is to campaign more than all the other presidents since Nixon put together.]

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

[The Founders could not have made it more clear that Freedom of Religion, which is contained in the First Amendment, protects religion from government, not vice versa.  The Amendment's language is unequivocal:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There's nothing in there mandating that no religious person can serve in Congress or have a say in America's government.]

Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves [that would be the Republican sect of the church], that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.  [And there you have it -- President Obama's creed writ large:  "I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes.  I need my heart, my brain, and this (Progressive) church.]