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  • Others’ Shoes

    Posted by Cheryl Rofer on September 3rd, 2010 (All posts by )

    [I first posted this at my home blog, Phronesisaical. It's a response to Lexington Green's now famous Glenn Beck post. I'm reposting it here at Lex's request. And forgive me if I seem slow to respond to comments; mine are frequently rejected by this system.]

    Perhaps I’m taking on too much at once. I’m listening to Tchaikovsky’s symphonies and reading some Russian history to get a feeling for before the Revolution. I’m re-reading Daniel Martin to get a better feeling for what La Vida Es Sueño is about. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum today sent me an invitation to visualize O’Keeffe’s creative process.

    And I’d really, really like to understand what is going on with the admirers of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the Tea Partiers.

    I think I’m making some progress on the first two, and I certainly will go to what the O’Keeffe Museum has to offer. But I have been quite stumped on that last. So I was pleased to see that one of my Facebook friends, who goes by the pseudonym of Lexington Green, wrote a post that was endorsed by The Beck himself.

    I have to say that I begin the process of understanding the followers of Beck and Palin with some prejudice. But I have some pre-thoughts about Tchaikovsky and John Fowles, too. And all that may distort what I come up with, but that’s true of anyone thinking anything. And what I am doing, trying to get into people’s heads, is double subjective: theirs and mine. But one of our distinctively human activities seems to be getting into other people’s heads. So I’m struggling with it.

    Tchaikovsky spent time in both Haapsalu and Sillamäe. So have I, probably not as much as he did. I have an etching of Sillamäe in about 1860, Tchaikovsky’s time, with little Russian girls in long crinoline-lined skirts enjoying a vacation, a lodge where Soviet-era apartments now stand backgrounded by the site where the uranium plant and tailings pond later would be built. I think that his first three symphonies have a more Estonian feel to them, the last three more the Petersburg court. More reading and listening necessary.

    Fowles and Pedro Calderón de la Barca were both writing about men’s maturing and how they learn to handle power. My filter there is the differential with women, and the way both authors recognize that the relationship between the sexes demonstrates and feeds into the uses of power. There’s a lot more, too. I could probably spend the rest of my life and this blog teasing it all out. I probably won’t do that, but there will be many re-readings.

    Lexington Green is politically conservative, but he and others at Chicago Boyz have been willing to put up with me; I respect them, too, because they think out what they’re about. I think they actually listen to me, too, even as we disagree.

    So when Green’s post was endorsed by Glenn Beck, I realized that this might be a way to get into his admirers’ minds. Green begins with a John Boyd hierarchy that I haven’t spent much time with; this is another of my departures from my friends at Chicago Boyz. But I suspect that that part can be skipped with little loss. He’s saying that Beck is taking a broad view, going up a couple of levels.

    But I don’t feel like I get the rest of it. I can do a sentence-by-sentence exegesis, but that wouldn’t be quite right. I’m trying to get into Green’s and Beck’s heads, not dispute them. But there are barriers. Since I wrote that, Green has added another update, which makes some things clearer. I’ll get to the update later.

    One is that so much of what Beck offers is factually flawed. Green is an intelligent person; how can he miss that? Perhaps because the bigger things he talks about in the post are more important to him. But those factual flaws are a barrier to me. A lack of fact is a poor foundation for anything to come after.

    What Green likes is Beck’s creation of a large narrative.

    Beck is building solidarity and cultural confidence in America, its Constitution, its military heritage, its freedom…

    Beck is creating positive themes of unity and patriotism and freedom and independence which are above mere political or policy choices, but not irrelevant to them.

    This sort of narrative is indeed attractive; I have wished for a vision that can unite Americans, that would provide a solidarity that we can rest on, a positive vision.

    But there is a double-mindedness to Green’s analysis that is another barrier to me. I agree that we need unifying themes for us as Americans. Period. Unfortunately, it’s easy to unify around an enemy, and, while talking about solidarity and unity, Green develops an enemy, “the Overlords”, and a sense of aggrievedness. Since “the Overlords” are Americans too, that sense cannot be the basis for unity. But that duality is in Beck’s words too: he condemns President Obama for a cult of victimization, and then tells his followers how victimized they’ve been. And for him and for Palin, there are very definitely an “us” and a “them.” Apparently I am one of “them.” From Green:

    This is a vision that is despised by the people who have long held the commanding heights of the culture. But is obviously alive and kicking.

    Beck is attacking the enemy at the foundations of their power, their claim to race as a permanent trump card, their claim to the Civil Rights movement as a permanent model to constantly be transforming a perpetually unjust society.

    Beck is prepping the battlefield for a generation-long battle.

    I wish Green had given more specifics; Christianity is one of his uniting themes, but even his commenters point out that insisting on it is precisely one of the disuniting themes of the right. Green (and other commenters) respond that of course non-Christians are welcome in their America, but it’s hard for me not to feel that those non-Christians would be second-class citizens. So that specific doesn’t work as a uniter.

    In fact, what Beck and Green are offering is a bargain, one I’ve been offered many times: give up large chunks of yourself in exchange for becoming a part of our togetherness. Every time I have accepted this bargain, I have regretted it. No mas.

    Green gets more explicit in his update (now a separate post), which seems to confirm that I’m one of “them,” although I can barely recognize myself in his description of “The Opposition” (as opposed to us, “The Insurgency.”) He’s got that dreamy-eyed wish for “self-organization” that works in agent modeling and that has some validity in human affairs. The problem is that we don’t start each day anew, at least not if we want some continuity in the economy and such, and so once we’ve self-organized, it helps to institutionalize some of that.

    He says his model works and The Opposition’s doesn’t, but provides no evidence. America is some kind of failure? Please.

    Our country’s motto is E pluribus unum, From many, one. That was necessary for the founding fathers. The colonists had formed colonies to escape various sorts of discrimination in the home countries, but each group stayed together. Maryland was primarily Catholic, Pennsylvania primarily Quaker, and Massachusetts primarily Puritan. It would have been easy to revert to Europe’s religious wars and repression. The resolution was a broad tolerance, not an insistence that all share in one faith. Of course, the British obliged by providing an enemy to unify against. Maybe that is the only way it can be done, although I would prefer a more positive route, particularly one where I am not the enemy!

    Green says some things that seem to imply he shares that broad tolerance. But Beck’s and Palin’s worlds are for believers only.

    So sorry, Lex, I don’t buy it. I agree we need to fix some things in the country, to, let’s say, open up opportunity to those whose incomes have stagnated because allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground. Or free us up to create rather than worry about whether the food from factory farms is going to poison us. Those are things that we need government to do. And the, er, “freedom” of deregulation and trying to drown government in the bathtub over the last thirty years are what have brought us those distortions. So I’ve got some evidence for my contentions.

    Now what I have to figure out is why someone as intelligent as Green sees this division into Insurgents and Opposition. That might help get me into his head.

     

    121 Responses to “Others’ Shoes”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      Good.

      I will provide a detailed response when I am able to do so.

    2. newrouter Says:

      One is that so much of what Beck offers is factually flawed.

      the man does 720 hours of programming in the last half year and that’s all they got?

    3. Marta Says:

      You assert early that much of what Glenn Beck says is factually flawed and then link to the St. Petersburg Times to prove it. They are not the final arbiter on what is true or not, and you are a typical product of public schools to place your faith blindly in them and move on.

      But it’s fine — I “moved on” after following that link and saved myself the time I would have spent if reading the remainder of your post. Which I just wasted by posting this message, I suppose. :)

    4. Mike D Says:

      It seems Ms Rofer has as she has stated used Mr Green’s post as a way to “get into his (Becks)admirers’ mind” and to take issue with Mr Green. Problem number one for Ms Rofer: “One is that so much of what Beck offers is factually flawed”. I can only assume from this comment that Ms Rofer is a regular listener/viewer of Beck since this statement implies factual research of a broad sampling of Becks statements and views. If one accepts this conclusion, as Ms Rofer does, she goes on to say “A lack of fact is a poor foundation for anything to come after.”

      It is interesting that Ms Rofer has no difficulty in making these statements of “fact”. That “… incomes have stagnated because allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground.” and “Or free us up to create rather than worry about whether the food from factory farms is going to poison us.” Really. I’m sure that these are undisputed fact because I too would agree that a lack of fact is a poor foundation for anything to come after … or before.

    5. CTM Says:

      I was not at the 8/28 rally, nor am I a religious person. I appreciate what Beck has done to affirm our Judeo-Christian, founding principles and to celebrate the proud, religious traditions of Americans who have been demonized, for years, by our leftist betters. As some wag said, the only religion the left is not suspect of is Islam.

      Conservatives do take pleasure in clear and concise writing, so perhaps you could put aside the music, art and literature, for now, and expound on your 9/1/10 blog post. I quote:

      “I’m re-reading Daniel Martin, by John Fowles. This passage, a quote from a character who is a Conservative Member of Parliament, struck me.

      ‘I think that the notion that we shall all obediently queue up for a place in the Marxist paradise is based on a fallacy about the British. Of course we’re very good at enjoying deprivation when faced with a Hitler – an external threat. My own guess is that we shall lose our sangfroid when it is imposed from inside. It will suddenly dawn on countless people, and by no menas just on middle-class liberals like yourself, that they’ve been flagrantly led up the garden path. I have no doubt they will be extremely frustrated and very angry. And at the same time they will by then be faced with a very considerable apparatus of state repression of dissidence. I rather doubt if the ethos of the cricket-field will see us through that.’”

      I’m curious as to what “struck” you.

    6. mishu Says:

      allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground.

      Huh? I would think government regulation has run manufacturing into the ground. See here:

      Green-oriented policies are often hostile to “carbon intensive” industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, or construction that employ middle-income workers. Green policies implicitly tilt towards industries such as media, entertainment, and finance that employ the best-situated social classes.

      You said it yourself, “Or free us up to create rather than worry about whether the food from factory farms is going to poison us.” Why would you assume that the “factory farm” would poison you? It would be really bad for business for the farm if it poisons its customers. Yes, you could point wave your arms in a southerly direction and say, “BP!”. BP is a rent seeker that is the result of these assumptions. Instead of following the rules, they pay the referee to look the other way or write exceptions in the rules for their favor. And that’s the problem. Give simple, clear rules that are universal. Free us up to work rather than worry about the lawyer or bureaucrat giving us dispensation to do so.

    7. SheepDog Says:

      Cheryl, perhaps I can shed a sliver of light into the mindset of Beck/Palin lovers, as I am one.

      We are very fond of “E Pluribus Unum”, however, from our point of view; we rally around a common goal, as opposed to a common enemy. The common goal is INDIVIDUAL liberty. The “many” I believe were the states, and individual communities within those states, that made up the “one” – the United States of America. The constitution was written, and the bill of rights added, to assure those states and their communities that the federal government was not going to force a certain way of life on them. They would be free to govern locally however they wanted (within reason of course), and the federal government would be there only to mediate affairs between the states (interstate commerce clause) and to provide the larger framework necessary to run things as a nation. As President Obama once put it, the Constitution is a document of negative liberties. It was written specifically to LIMIT the power of the federal government.

      The Beck/Palin/Tea Party idea is to return to a similar idea. The INDIVIDUAL is responsible for providing for themselves and making their own decisions. We believe that not only do we not need the government to tell us what is safe and what is not, but that the more power the government has to keep us safe, the less freedom we have to live our own life. The freedom to fail is essential to individual liberty. If I make poor life choices, I should suffer the consequences of those choices. Help from those closest to me is welcome and encouraged, but an ever expanding government safety net/protective shield not only keeps me from failing, but stifles my growth and prevents my learning from my mistakes.

      To those who consider themselves “progressive” deregulation is a dirty word. It empowers corporate fat cats to dump toxic waste into our rivers and streams and makes the rich richer on the backs of the poor. To those of us that favor individual liberty, deregulation opens up opportunity to make our own choices. For example, deregulation of the phone system brought about a dramatic drop in prices to the consumer but spurred a technological boom due to the opportunity for profit.

      America has been a grand experiment in individual liberty, which was almost unheard of in the world prior to its founding. During the times when America had less regulation and more individual freedom, innovation and productivity boomed, and pulled the rest of the world along for the ride. In 200 years, the world took a 5000 year leap in the areas of technology and human rights. Much of it in spite of efforts to reign it in through increased government regulation.

      I guess it comes down to the idea that we believe the individual to be capable of making intelligent choices for himself and running his own life. Progressives seem to believe that the individual is too stupid to conduct his own affairs unless prompted and protected by the ever present caring hand of government.

    8. James R. Rummel Says:

      You conflate a Russian composer and a British novelist with an American grass roots movement that is devoted to shrinking the size of government?

      I think it is pretty obvious why you are confused!

    9. newrouter Says:

      open up opportunity to those whose incomes have stagnated because allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground. Or free us up to create rather than worry about whether the food from factory farms is going to poison us. Those are things that we need government to do. And the, er, “freedom” of deregulation and trying to drown government in the bathtub over the last thirty years are what have brought us those distortions. So I’ve got some evidence for my contentions.

      here’s your problem your detached from the here and now. finance or banking didn’t cause the economic problem. gov’t intervention in lending did. people who shouldn’t have gotten loans were given loans by banks at the direction of gov’t.

      your thinking of gov’t regulation being always good is misguided. why should the gov’t tell me the type of toilet, light bulb, car or anything else be deemed “good”.

      do you know why we have a vibrant freight railroad industry in this country? because in the 1980′s the gov’t got out of the business of regulating every detail in running a railroad.

    10. Lexington Green Says:

      OK, everybody, be polite about it.

      Use this as an opportunity to explain your positionn to a reasonable person who starts out with differing views.

      Let’s keep a positive tone.

    11. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Some very broad and far-reaching characterization of me on very little evidence, combined with criticism of my characterization of Beck as being based on very little evidence. That duality again.

      And yeah, I’m a fancy-dancy liberal, quoting Russian composers and British and Spanish authors. I think that all sorts of people can give us insight. And if you want to know about Russian history, I would think that indeed you would want to go to some Russian sources.

      I’m not going to argue the specifics of my last couple of examples just now and go OT. But yes, there are facts to back them up. Our conclusions may differ.

    12. newrouter Says:

      But yes, there are facts to back them up. Our conclusions may differ.

      so the same could be said of what you called “factually flawed” things beck said. so that’s a problem you have. beck tells us to go to original sources for research. you rely on 3rd parties to give you information on beck.

    13. newrouter Says:

      i have a question for Cheryl Rofer:

      you own a farm. all the crops on the farm are used by the farm and not sold. should the federal gov’t be involved in your affairs?

    14. David Foster Says:

      Cheryl…”allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground”

      Manufacturing (which is by no means totally stomped into the ground) has suffered greatly from unwise government policies in taxation, regulation, education, and energy. Less tangibly but also importantly, it has suffered from a cultural bias imposed largely by the classes of people who make up Obama’s core supporters.

    15. Lexington Green Says:

      I would like to hear what people think of Cheryl’s perception that there is no class conflict, such as Codevilla argues there is, that my perception of this is a matter of personal grievance psychology on my part without objective reality. Is she right?

    16. newrouter Says:

      Green develops an enemy, “the Overlords”, and a sense of aggrievedness. Since “the Overlords” are Americans too, that sense cannot be the basis for unity. But that duality is in Beck’s words too: he condemns President Obama for a cult of victimization, and then tells his followers how victimized they’ve been.

      LG

      Is she right?

      i’ll await her position on the question posed @
      newrouter Says:
      September 3rd, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    17. newrouter Says:

      Since “the Overlords” are Americans too, that sense cannot be the basis for unity.

      mayor daley is an american. this doesn’t mean i want the chicago machine running america. and unity is kinda fascist concept no? see liberal fascism

    18. Victor Says:

      In the current issue of his World Affairs Brief, Joel Skousen makes these observations which I think relevant.

      “To understand how all of this is going to play out in the coming Presidential campaign, we need to understand the philosophical differences between the two major factions within the Tea Party movement and mainstream Republican leaders, who really have no ideology–only the mandate to do what it takes to make sure that real conservatives have no say in the party.

      “In my view, the Tea Party movement started with two primary factions. 1) the libertarian conservative faction and 2) the constitutional religious conservative faction. They both are very displeased with what government has become and want a strong reduction in the power of the federal government and a non-intervention foreign policy. Both want a return to strict adherence to the constitution as per the principles of the primary founding fathers (Madison, Jefferson and various other anti-federalists like Henry and Mason). However, they differ on various technical aspects of practical liberty and its application to consenting adults and non-religious persons.

      “Libertarian and Religious conservatives are content for now to let these issues stay on the back burner (since our minority status doesn’t allow us to change the laws relative to most of these issues). It seems to be sufficient for now to unite our efforts to deny Obama’s team a working majority in Congress. Then we’ll have to deal with the inevitable team of Hannity and O’Reilly supporting compromising Republican leaders who never follow through on their promises to turn government around.”

    19. foxmarks Says:

      “allowing finance to run unregulated has stomped manufacturing into the ground”

      I can’t be sure where this perception comes from, but I expect it is a standard falsehood repeated. Through 2008, the United States led the world in manufacturing output. All the rhetoric about outsourcing is founded on data about industrial employment, not industrial output. We make more with fewer people.

      We’ll forever have trouble deciding who to blame when the problem itself does not exist.

      The broad tolerance imagined in the newly-born USA cannot exist now when everything is politicized. Tolerance, being different than acceptance, often means not associating with those one dislikes. Government now essentially forces every group that can label itself to compete for favorable legislation. Respectful distance has been displaced by legislative confrontation.

      The idea that a non-Christian might be a second-class citizen doesn’t carry the same weight or event the same meaning without the government-imposed class structure. Sure, the Christians may not trust Muslims (at least until their children meet), but if law does not allow favoritism, so what? Quakers were probably treated as second class if they ventured to Maryland, but those were *personal* discriminations, not legal discriminations.

      Part of what I take from Beck and Lex is that the Civil Rights movement was for everyone. We all get credit for killing Jim Crow. Everybody gets to sit on whichever part of the bus they want. But the Overlords (or whatever you prefer to call the group) didn’t stop there. They made it illegal for people to self-sort. The seats on the bus had to be distributed by some formula that reflected Census data, with a measure of reparations added to the calculation.

      The people in the United States could be united around the idea of equality of opportunity. Those who agitate for equality of outcome implicitly deny unity; each must be individually addressed by the Handicapper General.

    20. newrouter Says:

      Now what I have to figure out is why someone as intelligent as Green sees this division into Insurgents and Opposition. That might help get me into his head.

      start here:

      America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution

      By Angelo M. Codevilla

      link

    21. newrouter Says:

      i’ll leave this discussion with this:

      September 3, 2010

      ILYA SOMIN: Errors In Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Article Attacking the Kochs.

      The thing to understand is, this article isn’t about the Kochs at all. It’s about preparing a narrative for the New Yorker’s readers about why Obama has failed. It’s not because they were rubes who voted for an underprepared, under-skilled candidate who then proceeded to alienate the electorate. It’s because Obama was beaten by a right-wing billionaires’ conspiracy so vast as to defy understanding. That’s all. Relax, New Yorker readers. No need to feel bad about yourself for being overwhelmed with hope-and-change fever and voting stupidly. It’s not your fault. It never is!

      link

    22. Ric Locke Says:

      No, Cheryl, you don’t understand. You can’t, and won’t, and trying will just frustrate you and make your head hurt. If you had the aptitude leading to understanding, you would have taken a very different course through your education and life experiences, and might well have found yourself on the Mall last Saturday.

      I like Georgia O’Keefe and Tchaikovsky and find the Russian Revolution fascinating, and The Dream Life sounds like something worth attention. Unfortunately, I never had time to follow up on those interests because I was working for a living. You did it for me, and probably did it well — but your recitation of what occupies your days tells us that you know hardly anyone (and value none) who ever contributed materially to sheltering another person from the elements, providing food or clean water to a child, or disposing of waste safely. No doubt you agree that all those things are necessary and proper, but the folks who actually do them are, well, rubes; no person of value goes about with them. You are the spiritual successor to the friends and associates of Hero of Alexander, who ridiculed the poor fellow for demeaning himself by dealing with mere mechanics, properly the province of slaves and helots, and caused him to abandon efforts that could have led to principles Newton didn’t explicate until many centuries afterward.

      See this? The fins, the chrome, the swoopy curves, do nothing to contribute to its function as transportation. Rich men would pay extra for them because they provided evidence of wealth. Not-so-rich men would scrape and defraud to acquire them in the hope of being taken as wealthy. Just so did a gang of ruffians, assembled in a board shack beside a sluggish stream to develop a fraud that would get them out from under an unbearable indebtedness, put in the Constitution of Texas a requirement that the State provide a “University of the First Class.” All the cool countries and States had them, and Texas was to determine to join the cool kids.

      Your function in society is tail fin, a decorative accent providing gratification to the eye and ego. The productive, and the frauds who pretend to be productive, can point to you and say, “Look! We’re good! We produce so much wealth that we can afford to support this individual who provides nothing for the common weal, and provide her a top-class life style to boot!” In the same way, peasants and the “common people” of Europe could point to the excesses of the nobility and say, “Look how rich our Prince is! Are we not fine workers?”

      The nobility took it too far. They decided that the fins and chrome were important, and the engine could be disregarded and taken for granted. They were eventually cast down for that. Your puzzlement at Beck and the tea parties is the incomprehension of a courtier to Louis Quinze: What in the world do those people want? Unlike those people, we don’t want to kill you, hurt you, or even turf you out of your comfortable existence — but if possible we mean to wipe the self-righteous sneer off your face. Since you aren’t even conscious of the sneer and will deny its existence with equally self-righteous vehemence, the hope of your understanding is small, and that of your sympathy near nonexistent. Give it up. You’ll never figure it out.

      Regards,
      Ric

    23. retire05 Says:

      Ms. Rofer, you made the claim that Beck tells his followers how victimized they have been. It is clear that you a) don’t watch Beck, or listen to his radio program or b) you totally miss his point.

      Beck’s point is that we have been asleep, not victimized. And most Americans, when they look at how we got to a point where our Congress can legislate Americans to participate in commerce, whether they want to or not, feel the same way. We have sat idly by as Congress after Congress had removed from us our original premise of freedom.

      The originial intent of the Constitution was to provide us freedom from government. Now we are told what kind of refidgerator we must buy and how much water we can have in our toilets. All laws passed because we are too assume that the D.C. elites are so much smarter than we are and know what is good for us.

      Another thing you miss about Glenn Beck; he is not afraid to express his faith in God. When we see people jumping up and down about the separation of Church and State (although that is no where in the Constitition) and groups try to remove all vestiges of God from our view, he is swimming against the tide. Contrary to the left, we are a nation of laws based on Judeo-Christian philosophy. Now, that may irritate the hell out of you, but you cannot erase our history.

      Personally, I appreciate Beck. He is not afraid to express his belief in God in a nation that has made being religious a dirty word by certain pols and talking heads. I have no problem with athiests, they are free to not believe, but I resent the hell out of their push to make the rest of us not believe.

      Perhaps instead of reading the Russians, you should read Jefferson, Washington, et al. Perhaps then you would see how far we have come from the original concept of personal freedom. I don’t need the government to tell me what I should eat, what I should drive, how much water should be in my toilet. I am an adult, and fully capable of making decisions in my own life that better that life. I don’t need Big Brother to do it for me.

      And that is Beck’s point. We are adults. We need to act like it.

    24. Ernst Schreiber Says:

      Since I am but a guest here, and out of respect for Mr. Green’s request to “be polite” and “keep a positive tone,” I’m going to limit myself to saying just this. I don’t think Ms. Rofer is ever going to understand Mr. Green. Understanding requires sympathy, and Ms. Green is too detached, too comfortable in her own certitudes to have sympathy for a point of view she can’t help but condescend to. Good luck getting into Mr. Green’s head madam. I hope you plan to observe all the standard protocols for expermenting with human subjects, and be sure to take good field notes during your Conservatives in the Mist expedition.

    25. tyouth Says:

      Cheryl,

      I listen to Glenn Beck for a few minutes at a time, only now and then, usually on my morning drive. He can be witty at times but he’s a little to cloying and emotional for me to enjoy his company for very long. Nonetheless I’m a big fan for two reasons. The first is that he advocates an open, gentle kind of Christianity. There is no harm in that, to say the least. The second reason is that I would never have known who Van Jones was if I hadn’t happened to watch Glen a year ago on a youtube video of his television program. Glen explained who Van Jones was and the next Friday evening (in order for the transparent Obama administration to avoid press coverage) Jones was given the axe.

      I believe there might have been a ripple in the major media outlets but I don’t recall seeing anything about it. If Beck can shine a light on one, just one, crypto-radical a year he’s a muck-raking hero in my book and doing more to inform us than the (economically and moral-professionally) failing big news organizations.

    26. zenpundit Says:

      I also want to thank Cheryl for cross-posting here. Not everyone has the courage of their convictions to be in forums where their voice is the distinct minority. There are many people on Cheryl’s side of the aisle as well as ours who cannot tolerate viewpoints other than their own, much less constructively and civilly engage in discussion.

      Cheryl, you wrote:

      Green gets more explicit in his update (now a separate post), which seems to confirm that I’m one of “them,” although I can barely recognize myself in his description of “The Opposition” (as opposed to us, “The Insurgency.”)

      Lex made a sweeping generalization regarding liberal elites. However, the Left is hardly without such rampant generalizations regarding conservatives, Republicans, tea partiers, midwesterners, born-again Christians, gun-owners, people in rural states and so on. Here’s one example:

      http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132×2263867

      There’s a nasty premise current among liberal Democrats that conservative opposition to their policies or President Obama are simply the product of white racism and are therefore, not legitimate (how this explains conservative parties in ethnically homogenous countries goes unsaid). Cheryl – and let me be absolutely clear that I am not implying that you nor all liberals hold that view – that’s pretty much a nakedly authoritarian, anti-democratic attitude that assumes liberal positions are above reasonable debate unless everyone concerned subscribes to the premises of the Left. If they don’t, the only explanation is that they must be racists. See examples below:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=4

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/02/AR2010090203169.html

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-ostroy/the-tea-party-movement-is_b_538750.html

      http://www.politicolnews.com/tea-party-racism/

      http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=conservatives_hate_based_campaign_against_obama

      Interestingly enough, that cynical accusation no longer has the same power to silence debate it once did.

      As you know Cheryl, like you, I’m not afraid to talk to ppl with differing views even if I’m the only one with conservative opinions in the discussion. I hear sweeping generalizations made about conservatives in those forums on a regular basis. If I took such comments with more than a grain of salt, I’d have never have lasted past the first day.

    27. tyouth Says:

      BTW, Cheryl, Re. “factually flawed”

      I think you may be led astray if you are depending upon the truth fact sheet you linked to from the St. Pete times. The paper is rabidly leftist and as such their partisan opinions in some matters are not to be trusted. In this case they have not seen fit include more than the smallest of snippets (really, sometimes just, literally, a word or two) of what Beck has said so that the reader can judge for themselves if the truth “grades” are accurate. I suppose they just didn’t have room on their web site to give a couple of sentences for each quote so that we might Beck AND judge the judges. It does make one wonder about the value that truth means to the author of the sheet.

    28. foxmarks Says:

      If Beck sees an Us v. Them issue (I don’t follow him, so I do not know), maybe this is why:

      a rally dedicated to “restoring honor,” which is tea party code for the otherwise unutterable idea: get that nigger out of the White House! (despite the attendance of a few African-American shills on the scene).

      We are at war.

    29. Anonymous Says:

      Ric writes:

      I like Georgia O’Keefe and Tchaikovsky and find the Russian Revolution fascinating, and The Dream Life sounds like something worth attention. Unfortunately, I never had time to follow up on those interests because I was working for a living. You did it for me, and probably did it well — but your recitation of what occupies your days tells us that you know hardly anyone (and value none) who ever contributed materially to sheltering another person from the elements, providing food or clean water to a child, or disposing of waste safely. No doubt you agree that all those things are necessary and proper, but the folks who actually do them are, well, rubes; no person of value goes about with them. You are the spiritual successor to the friends and associates of Hero of Alexander, who ridiculed the poor fellow for demeaning himself by dealing with mere mechanics, properly the province of slaves and helots, and caused him to abandon efforts that could have led to principles Newton didn’t explicate until many centuries afterward.

      I find it powerfully ironic that someone should write that Cheryl Rofer neither knows nor values those who contribute to “disposal of waste safely” of all things. Her professional background includes extensive work with the Hazardous Waste Remedial Actions Program of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. And the work which brought her to Sillamae, Estonia — the place she mentions visiting, as did Tchaikovsky – was directly concerned with waste management. Indeed, she’s the editor (with Tonis Kaasik) of the NATO Science Partnership — Disarmament Technologies volume, Turning a Problem Into a Resource – Remediation and Waste Management at the Sillamae Site

      A quick visit to Google is all it takes to know these things…

    30. T. Greer Says:

      I sympathize with much written here at ChicagoBoyz; I am as willing as any to argue that America has been co-opted by a rentier elite. But the way the participants of this thread have treated Ms. Rofer is shameful. Nothing she said here is worth the vitriol the commerati has poured upon her. Though ultimately wrong, her case was argued with both respect and reason. That she cannot be answered with the same is a discredit to our cause. The Patronizer is a part played only by those who wish to look like fools.

      Lexington Green has posed an interesting question. Asked he:

      I would like to hear what people think of Cheryl’s perception that there is no class conflict, such as Codevilla argues there is, that my perception of this is a matter of personal grievance psychology on my part without objective reality. Is she right?

      That depends on just what kind of class conflict you perceive.

      Mr. Green, are the villains you see – the “Overlords” – nothing more than the traditional boogeymen of the conservative cause? If so, then your perceptions have precious little to do with objective reality. This was my problem with Codevilla’s piece. As I wrote upon its publication:

      Mr. Codevilla’s elite is not the Oligarchy of Good Intentions that dominates American society today. His is but the traditional conservative caste of villains: the snobbish English professor indoctrinating the youth, the worthless philanthropist surviving off charity of others, the faceless technocrat “managing” the citizenry, and of course, those devils that admire President Woodrow Wilson. These are Codevilla’s ruling class. Those not famous for repeating leftist shibboleths need not apply.

      The original metric gives us a better view of the hands grasping for the levers of power. The California farmer? What is he but the beneficiary of one of the largest – and long standing – subsidies found within the United States? The Texas oil man is hardly better; the oil industry is awarded some of the largest royalty reliefs offered by the federal government. And those evil humanities professors? There are not ten universities in the nation whose humanities and social science departments have not been downsized in favor business, science, and tech over the last decade. And their funding? It too comes from the taxpayer’s pocketbook.

      Oligarchy is not restricted to the political left. For every leftist among our ruling class you will find a man of the right to match him. Events have shown the distinction to be quite arbitrary. What remains is high profile theater performed for the entertainment and favor of the masses.

      The divide between ruler and ruled is not clear cut. It is not one of left and right. It is seen most easily in actual distinctions of class – the exorbitantly rich and powerful who have engineered a system – in all likeliness quite by accident – that allows them to shirk financial and democratic accountability, to privatize their gains and socialize their losses. If there is anything that unites these men and women it is the belief that they deserve their spot at society’s head and have the means to ensure they stay there. It is not the leftist or statist conspiracy talked of by Mr. Beck – just a group of self-interested and self-assured people who are willing to manipulate the state and the market whatever ends they may see fit. (Usually to the detriment of decentralization and community empowerment, but this goes further afield than our discussion at hand.)

      In one respect I think Ms. Rofer hits the nail on the head. Mr. Beck has created a narrative of victimization. And what a false narrative it is! This is America. Ours is government by the people, of the people, and for the people. If at some point an oligarchy came to rule America, it is because Americans let them. As I wrote once before:

      The people have no desire to govern America’s Republic. The oligarchy of good intentions maintains its dominance over society by claiming that its members are the sole possessors of the knowledge needed to hold the reigns of enterprise and state. This claim is for the most part true. Across the board, Americans are woefully ill informed in the fields of science, civics, and history. The worldview of the average citizen is provincial, the media he consumes even more so. There is little indication this will change any time in the near future. To the contrary, the population of the United States is marked by a multi-generational decline in political participation matched only by the nation’s falling levels of civic engagement. With pure passivity the public gazed on as its access to the conduits of power were cut off one by one; without raising a voice in protest the people have have seen their liberties stripped away. Those few items that can capture the interest of the citizenry are petty – popular public discourse is but a competition to see who can fit the most theatrics into a seven second sound bite, politics but a never-ending game of governmental “Gotcha!” Such is needed to keep the attention of a population obsessed with the flashy and trivial; the affairs of the country one has no affection for pale in comparison to the allures of the circus. Bread also has a part to play: in an age where voluntary associations have collapsed and economic disparity is growing, every trial and tribulation has become a problem best solved by someone else.

      Playing the victim’s part is one of the easiest ways to get political support. Every politician and pundit does it. Most do it at the same time. It can be amusing sometimes, to switch from Mr. Beck’s laments to those made the same day on the opposite side.

      It is easy to be a victim. It is much harder to repent of our sins.
      America’s problem is not its ruling rentier class. This class is but a symptom of the much larger sickness. The problem is us. As long as the citizenry of the United States is an reckless, disengaged, uneducated, entertainment-soaked, and irresponsible people, we cannot expect our leaders to be anything but reckless, manipulative, and irresponsible as well.
      This is where I part with Ms. Rofer’s analysis. One can believe and fight against a ruling class without seeing her as the enemy. Even if she had just stepped out of the revolving doors of corporate management, regulation, and lobbying, I could not call her such. Any narrative that launches an ‘insurgency’ to fight a “Them” can claim no sanction from me. The only Them worth fighting is “us.” And until we abandon our cries of self- victimization and take responsibility for our Republic the cause is doomed. Kick out this ruling class, wage an insurgency to your hearts intent – but if the American people have not reclaimed their virtue you will only replace one oligarchy with another.

    31. TM Lutas Says:

      Cheryl – Beck is not an academic and talk radio is a format that combines humor and hyperbole with dead serious examination of important issues. Listen to the lead-in on Beck’s program and he says it directly to the audience every day his program airs. If you take the hyperbole as if it were coming from a peer reviewed academic journal, you won’t ever understand Beck or any of the other personalities on talk radio. The format has its own conventions and that includes exaggeration for effect.

      Long before Glenn Beck appeared on the scene the challenge to the Founders’ vision was organizing and trying to shift the country over to a new path. The unifying vision of coalescing around the Founders, around the original vision of this country updated to expand the circle of freedom to one and all is a positive vision. But why would we need a movement to refocus on the vision of this country unless there was a problem with the transmission of that vision (which had been transmitted for generations without serious problem) and a competing vision trying to supplant it.

      It is this long-existing attack on the Founders’ vision that makes a renewal necessary. If the attack wasn’t there, there would have been no mass of people on the Mall because we’d have already been getting all the focus on the Founders’ vision through our public education, our public intellectuals, our politicians, and our academics. Can you say with a straight face that this transmission is happening today as it did a hundred years ago?

      You say “no mas” to the idea that you should “give up large chunks of yourself in exchange for becoming a part of our togetherness” but this is on offer from all sides. Are you really comfortable with the Left’s two minutes hate routine? I don’t think so, else you wouldn’t be here at Chicago Boyz. I’ve seen much more ostracism and vitriol coming from the left than the right when one falls into heterodoxy on one subject or another. You can’t honestly complain about the offer from the Glenn Beck brigade in comparison to some idealized deal that is not on offer anywhere. Instead compare it to the stultifying PC, all-cultures-are-equal-except-evil-white-western-culture nonsense on offer from the Left.

      You say that you can barely recognize yourself in LG’s description of the Overlords. Please consider the possibility that this is because he didn’t mean you and you have to squint quite a bit to make yourself fit into the enemy grouping. So why are you adopting that squint?

    32. Charles Cameron Says:

      I see that I failed to sign my post (above) responding to Ric. I didn’t intend to be anonymous — it’s mine.

    33. Steel Says:

      I’m new around here, forgive me if my response isn’t coded correctly.

      At 11:50, on September 3rd, T. Greer posted the following

      “In one respect I think Ms. Rofer hits the nail on the head. Mr. Beck has created a narrative of victimization. And what a false narrative it is! This is America. Ours is government by the people, of the people, and for the people. If at some point an oligarchy came to rule America, it is because Americans let them.”

      Now, in response, I will echo commenter Retire05.

      “Beck’s point is that we have been asleep, not victimized.”

      As a regular listener to Beck’s radio program, although I don’t watch the TV show, this is a common theme. I’m sure you could find many quotes where Mr. Beck talks about what “They have done to us”, but as a regular listener, I can give some added context.

      Beck has built a vast structure of arguments foundationally, building off the premises he has given previously. The depth of the arguments make it difficult to sum up the topic every time it is mentioned, especially as talk radio is a format where every ten minutes, a caller changes the flow of the converstation. Beck always, when he makes the full argument, agrees with the final sentence of T. Greer, quoted above. “If at some point an oligarchy came to rule America, it is because Americans let them.”

      As a Canadian, an outsider to American politics; as well as a person who lives in a society where Obama’s most radical bills have been law for nearly 40 years (Health Care/Financial Reform), I can say that the American people are not asleep any longer.

      To quote the T-Shirt the Huffington Post was so triumphantly showing on Sunday as a symbol of the “political natre” of Beck’s rally; “Not Racist, Not Violent; Just No Longer Silent”.

      Now, to Ms. Rofer’s original point. As a Christian that is politically torn between Conservatism and Libertarianism, I have to say. Any society that I had a say in running would never, under any circumstance, treat people as second class citizens because of their religion (or lack of a religion). To do so flies in the face of real Christianity.

      In a more Christian culture, there may be less stores open on Sundays, and you may see more public nativity scenes. A cross hanging on the wall in a sheriff’s office wouldn’t be illegal, and if a school wanted to call it’s “Winter Vacation” a “Christmas Vacation”, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

      If you wanted to open your business on Sunday, all power to you.
      If you didn’t want to have a nativity scene in your yard, No problem.
      If you don’t want a cross hanging on your wall, that’s totally fine.
      If a school wants to still call it Winter Vacation, no one really cares.

      North American Christians are, in my experience (as the son of a seminary student), extremely tolerant of those who are not Christian, with the exception of Liberation theologists and kooks like the Westboro Baptist Church.

      I truly don’t understand where your fear of becoming a second class citizen comes from.

      If your constitution stands, that should never be feared; and clearly Glenn Beck is among the most fervent supporters of the constitution.

      Steel

    34. Xennady Says:

      T Greer,

      You think Ms. Rofer has received vitriol here? Are you kidding?

      I suggest you go visit the comment section of just about every leftist website that allows comments if you want to see vitriol. I read one regularly purely for amusement- and in just about every thread you can see contemptuous references to the sheer stupidity of the “teatards”, “murricans”, accusations of treason aimed at the GOP, plus occasional fantasies of genocide aimed at conservatives.

      You’re making roughly the same argument here, except without as many curse words. We’re the problem because we’re distracted by all the shiny things dangled in front of us because we are uneducated buffoons as well as whiny victims.

      Sure. But about that victim thingy. I’m a white male. I’ve spent my entire life hearing about quotas for damn near all aspects of life- for entrance to college, for scholarship money, for work, etc. Even when smacked by the supreme court schools quickly found a way to resume the discrimination de facto. Plus I see illegal immigrants essentially allowed immunity from many US laws, etc. I could go on, but I’ve sure you’ve heard of this sort of thing, right? Pardon me for feeling slightly like a victim, or perhaps a target.

      But I didn’t bring this up just to whine. This is how the ruling elite maintains power in a country with elections- they buy votes by using the power they have over the lawmaking machinery to dispense cash and privilege. When this started it only took a few trifling pennies to win elections- think the early days of social security. But as time has passed they’ve needed to get ever more blatant with the favors which has costs ever increasing amounts of money and generates ever more increasing amounts of anger- think how unpopular illegal immigration has become.

      That’s why Beck is famous and that’s why we’re discussing it here. The people are finally fed up with this enough to turn out en masse and object to it. Not to take anything away from Beck but I think he is as much of a symptom of popular discontent as a cause. If he had come around twenty years ago he would have been a curiosity and not the mortal threat to the establishment that he has become.

    35. Jonathan Says:

      Cheryl, many thanks for posting this. I hope that the ad hominems don’t detract too much from an otherwise interesting discussion.

      It should be obvious that Cheryl wouldn’t be contributing here if she really were the elitist tool that a few of the commenters seem to think she is. I’m not convinced by many of her arguments but I greatly admire her willingness to engage people with whom she disagrees.

    36. Francis W. Porretto Says:

      Lex and Beck have seen what Miss Rofer apparently wishes not to see: the primacy of the moral over the material.

      Great masses of Americans have begun to grasp this. Many of them have Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin to thank. If we manage to pull America back from social-fascist enervation and the destruction of all freedom, it will be a key part of the reason we succeeded.

    37. Jeannie Says:

      I’ve read about those of us who agree with Glenn Beck called “fans”, “followers”, etc. That’s like saying that any student of history is a fan or follower of a particular professor. Beck isn’t the object of our attention but merely a docent or one of those guys who hands out the water along a 5K and marks out the race course to keep us on track.

      I’m a simple person and while I admire Cheryl’s efforts in her critique, the whole response seems to be over-engineered. The motivations behind this recent great awakening are simple: Faith, Hope, Charity. A Godly course correction to their opposites and guideline by which to live a satisfying and fruitful life. Faith is the hardest one for non-believers to understand. It’s like trying to explain what the color blue looks like to an unsighted person. Faith requires suspending our conviction that given enough reading of various literature and listening to enough music and viewing enough art, we can eventually know the mind of something that is often unknowable and part of the relationship with it is based on trust. As one commenter suggested, perhaps a better place to start reading would be the primary writings of this country’s founders and the writings of those the founders read.

      I hope Cheryl actually watched the Restoring Honor event (suggest CSPAN) and not only what was presented on stage, but the crowd’s reactions to it, so she can see for herself, to some degree, what was happening there. It will be difficult for anyone who wasn’t there to fully comprehend it because so much of what transpired isn’t caught on anyone’s films or pictures. And don’t let the “sea of white faces” skew your interpretation. It is possible for the melanin-challenged to transcend the handicap of their skin color to understand and rise above the limiting stereotypes extant in those who disallow based on skin color.

    38. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Thanks for all the comments, I think.

      I could have done without all the “LA LA LA LA LA, I can’t hear you!” Lex raised a good point which has hardly been touched, and my points have gone almost completely ignored.

      A special thanks to Charles Cameron for googling. I realize that my self-descriptions tend to be reticent, but the Google is always there, and it has a lot more besides my blogging. In the spirit of the free market, you can take a look and make up your own minds. But not your own facts. I did find that comment about waste disposal amusing.

      And hi to TM Lutas, who I’ve known since I started commenting on the interwebs. He raises a point or two that I want to respond to, and there are a couple of others that I will respond to later this morning after Farmers’ Market (we lefties have to have our arugula!).

      I just wanted to let you know I’m still here. And I think I’ve found a way to get past all those filters that have given me trouble in the past.

    39. onparkstreet Says:

      Good for you for undertaking this excercise, Cheryl! You’re a better person than I am.

      @ T. Greer – I don’t see vitriol. I see sarcasm and sharply worded points, but not outright vitriol. Of course, I spend my time on a variety of websites and perhaps that has ruined my ability to recognize incivility? Yikes! It’s either that or cultural. The websites I started commenting on – those of the Indian diaspora – get very, er, lively. No one would bother with thinking a conversation like this is uncivil, but who knows?

      Okay, on to the main points:

      I don’t watch Beck, don’t watch much television, didn’t see the televised rally. Still found Lex’s stuff interesting. So, this is about what Lex and Beck have tapped into more than it is about Beck.

      What have they tapped into? Likely a variety of ideas, so I’ll just address one point: culture. I’m not talking the culture warriors because I am not one myself. I am agnostic and raised Hindu by Indian parents in the MidWest. I think Lex and Beck have tapped into a sense that basic civic values have reached a tipping point and that this is having a ripple effect on the whole of our society.

      On Small Wars Journal recently there have been a series of articles about Afghan corruption. A serious problem for a host government and a counterinsurgent. Corruption corrodes, elides rule of law, makes its own “laws” – and those are the laws of the jungle.

      Where am I going with this? Without a certain civic foundation, a lot of what we have built up in this country will fall apart. How many citizens have read our founding documents (I haven’t, embarrassingly, or not in years)? How many students? How many people really pay attention to the community around them, who gets elected dog-catcher or whatever? I see some of this as a call-to-arms (so to speak) to pay attention. Do your job. Follow your duty. You are adults and its about more than just your family and your day job. Pay attention!

      Living in a progressive inner ring suburb I am struck by how similar the complaints are to those living around me in the particular, if not the abstract. In this local context, people are so unhappy with local government, her unresponsiveness and her collosal waste of tax-payer money. A recent hilarious exhange in the paper had a local Trustee lecturing a tax-payer for being insuffienctly unsupportive of local government efforts.

      This attitude is all around – it seems to many of us – and it is not about right or left, although the energy is on the right now.

      The same energy was on the left before. That’s what brought Obama to Washington right? To change things? To change the way Washington works? The rules that game the system for the most powerful players and keep it that way?

      And so, we are in this moment. Both parties are what they are. They are powerful players and they are lecturing those that dare question – like the local Trustee berating a tax-payer in the comments section to the local paper!

      I am not making that up, sadly.

      This is way too rambly to do you any good, I’m afraid :) Take care and glad for the chance to chat.

      - Madhu

      (One more ramble: It’s also about the crassness of popular culture, the increasing bureaucratization and loss of independent thought in academia – I’m a faculty brat and associate professor, I could write volumes and volumes – and that something essential seems changed. The other day, my non-political, gentle, sweet Indian mother said wonderingly “this doesn’t seem like the same country I came to” all those years ago. She is not a Beck watcher, either. Her basic point was that the culture had become harsh and crude, but she’s not a hater. She is the most loving and honest person I know. “People are lonely in this country, Madhu,” she says to me after a day wandering around the neighborhood. People talk to her, tell her things. It’s her gift. She’s worried. I think it’s worry, too. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

      I like the old-fashioned things sometimes. I don’t want to go back to those times or anything, I just wish that we had saved some of the good as we worked on that which was bad. Honesty, decency, prayer, faith, humility, patriotisim – these are not words that should automatically engender eye-rolling sighs and ironic hipster comments. Not always. Not always.)

    40. onparkstreet Says:

      Okay, one more time.

      T. Greer has pointed to some statistics – that I pooh poohed at the time, shamefully – that suggest a more static culture at the top of our society? The loss of some social mobility? Overlords in this instance may refer to that phenomenon.

      I spent a little time in Palo Alto and Boston amongst the academic muckety mucks (little in-joke, there are a lot of people I love in those towns) and I was always struck by the “default mental mode” as I used to call it. It was just assumed, in those environments, that a person would think certain things. “All the right-thinking people think….” I was also struck by how faddish academia is when it is supposed to be about ideas, data, facts, empiricism. Not a right versus left thing, necessarily, but a weakness of the intellectual class perhaps? Business is faddish too, what with the latest management craze. I dunno. Maybe our managerial class has gotten lazy during the boom times of the economy and doesn’t know how to manage efficiently anymore? In and out of public life?

      Our intellectual class doesn’t examine its own assumptions very often and so gets us into trouble as it tries to manage us. Which it does or I would be free to do a lot more things than I am able to around here.

      I am a physician and this pseudo-intellectual stuff plays out in funny ways. Read the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s a wonderful resource for medical papers, but the op-eds I could write in my sleep! It’s the same stuff memo’ed to me and my kind day in and day out in our in-boxes and at meetings. Not right versus left, just accepted wisdom versus questioning and curiousity of thought.

      Again, rambling, but a lot of what I am hearing is a reaction to larger factors within our own society at this point in time.

      Again, take care :)

      - Madhu

    41. David Foster Says:

      “I was also struck by how faddish academia is when it is supposed to be about ideas, data, facts, empiricism. Not a right versus left thing, necessarily, but a weakness of the intellectual class perhaps? Business is faddish too, what with the latest management craze. I dunno. Maybe our managerial class has gotten lazy during the boom times of the economy and doesn’t know how to manage efficiently anymore?”

      No question, there is way too much faddishness in business. Many press releases, for example, don’t even make a serious attempt to do what they’re supposed to be doing–usually to persuade someone to buy something or do something–but rather are mainly about genuflecting to the catch-phrases of the day (“cutting edge!” “state of the art!” “world class!”) And too many actual decisions are based on herd-following, as Bill Waddell has discussed frequently in the context of offshoring.

      The process is self-limiting, though, in the case of business: if you are a mindless fad-follower and one of your competitors is more astute and independent-thinking, then sooner or later bad things will happen to you and good things will happen to him. No such market test exists in academia (outside the hard sciences) or in public education.

    42. onparkstreet Says:

      The process is self-limiting, though, in the case of business: if you are a mindless fad-follower and one of your competitors is more astute and independent-thinking, then sooner or later bad things will happen to you and good things will happen to him. No such market test exists in academia (outside the hard sciences) or in public education.

      Excellent point!

      However, in some environments, less so because of the tendency for local officials and large business groups to meld. They don’t let each other “fail” because they need each other. Of course, look at the environment I am in. Naturally I would be a suspicious type :)

      - Madhu

    43. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Okay. No arugula, just plums, peaches, apples, a melon, corn, squash, onions, and eggplants from entrepreneurial local farmers.

      Before I begin responding to commenters, let me repeat my two stumbling blocks: Beck’s problem with facts and the division into “us” and “them.” The link I provided on the first wasn’t the only evidence out there. I’ve watched a few videos of Beck at the board, and his lack of knowledge of history is truly horrifying. I can’t give specifics; the way I work on stuff like that is one bad video, meh, but as it piles up, I dismiss the person and don’t bother to remember the details. I’ve got other things to think about. Unless those who are claiming great accuracy for Beck have done the same sort of study they want me to do, I’m not sure they have much more credibility than they grant me.

      So let’s leave that point and move on to the second: how can you preach unity when you’re dividing America into “us” and “them,” whatever names you may give them? I’m not seeing much response to this. And, under that rubric, there is the victimization thing, to which a few have responded. Or Lex’s way of putting the question.

      But I think I’ll work through the comments list chronologically, because I’d like to address a few of the side points as well.

      A few points from Foxmarks:

      The broad tolerance imagined in the newly-born USA cannot exist now when everything is politicized.

      It wasn’t just imagined, it was applied so that the mistakes of the religionists in Europe wouldn’t be repeated. That was the reason many of the settlers in the Northeast came over. And, given the actions of Republicans in Congress, I would ask who’s doing the politicizing. I know that this is likely to lead to a lot of OT stuff, but I think it’s an important point. We can go back and argue about who did it first, and I recognize that most commenters here will have a different opinion on that than I have. It seems to me that the question now, and what I think Lex is saying that Beck is trying to turn the conversation to, is how do we get that tolerance in the name of unity?

      Part of what I take from Beck and Lex is that the Civil Rights movement was for everyone. We all get credit for killing Jim Crow.

      Um, sorry, no. This is part of the distortion of history that I object to. If you’re too young to recall the horrific violence in the South on every night’s news, you might have seen the pictures of law-enforcement personnel siccing dogs and turning fire hoses on protestors. Or heard about the bombings and murders. The Civil Rights movement was action by a small number of brave Americans against serious unconstitutional injustices. They get the credit. That said, younger people today can perhaps claim that they bear no guilt for those injustices. They may have benefitted from them, however. And if they are spreading lies and fear of Muslims, they’re not much different than those who resisted civil rights for blacks.

      They made it illegal for people to self-sort. The seats on the bus had to be distributed by some formula that reflected Census data, with a measure of reparations added to the calculation.

      I’m not sure what is meant by this. Have you had law enforcement officals visit your house lately to make sure you are associating with the right people? Can you point to those laws? I think the second sentence is a metaphor, but if that’s what it is, could you point to what you’re objecting to more specifically?

    44. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      We live in a web of mutual dependencies. I’ve grown a garden, so I know how much work that is, and I’m very grateful that the entrepreneurs at the Farmers’ Market now do that work for me, so that I can supply them some of the money they need.

      That’s one of the thing that bothers me about many of the comments, which stem from the conservative/libertarian belief that we are all separate atoms, occasionally colliding like billiard balls, but only by a specific choice made at the moment of collision.

      We live in a social fabric. I drove to the Farmers’ Market in a car made and delivered by American (more or less) industry, over streets supplied by mutual agreement of the people who live in my city that they are worth building and maintaining with tax dollars. My driving was made safer and easier by the network of traffic laws that we citizens have agreed on. It would be silly to have to work out right-of-way at every traffic interaction.

      Retire05 enunciates the separate-atom hypothesis and gets some history wrong in the process.

      The originial intent of the Constitution was to provide us freedom from government.

      Not really. It was to form a new sort of government, separate from the British monarchy, which had played an oppressively colonial role in the New World. I am wondering which parts of government in my getting to the Farmers’ Market Retire05 would like freedom from: the roads, the money, the traffic laws, or the industry that property and corporation laws make possible.

      Contrary to the left, we are a nation of laws based on Judeo-Christian philosophy.

      Again, not really. The founding fathers were largely Deists, who probably were closer in their thinking to today’s atheists, or perhaps agnostics, than to a heavily Biblical theology. The Deists’ God is sometimes called the Watchmaker God, because he built the universe and set it in motion according to scientific principles and no longer intervenes directly.

    45. onparkstreet Says:

      I am wondering which parts of government in my getting to the Farmers’ Market Retire05 would like freedom from: the roads, the money, the traffic laws, or the industry that property and corporation laws make possible.

      Can you sell the vegetables you’ve grown in your garden at the Farmer’s Market without a permit? Provided you wanted to? I’m guessing, here, but perhaps that is what some refer to upthread.

      By the way, congrats on the Farmer’s Market purchases. Sounds yummy!

      Okay, I’ll leave this thread alone now as I am getting in the way of the spirit of the thing.

      Apologies Lex and Cheryl Rofer.

      Nice excercise. I shouldn’t let my innate skepticism get in the way of such valuable “practicing”.

      - Madhu

    46. ThomasD Says:

      Presumably Ms. Rofer has some sort of basis for opposition to Beck and Green above and beyond a reactionary desire to carp. I wish she had given some specifics. Something beyond cartoon representation. One look at the growth of the Federal budget over the past half century certainly puts paid to any notion that we have in any way succeeded in “trying to drown government in the bathtub over the last thirty years.” Insert snark about the barriers factual flaws create here.

      Perhaps given some specifics we might be able to evaluate her rejection of what she terms Beck & Green’s bargain – that she “give up large chunks of [herself] in exchange for becoming a part of our togetherness.” That we might compare this rejection as it relates to her own particular vision of the proper role and limits of government. Would they be logically consistent? Would they be amenable to reason? Would they be judged in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Constitution? If her rejections of what others may espouse are to be judged reasonable expression of personal liberty are our own rejections of what we style the progressive agenda to be deemed equally just and appropriate?

      As it is she has given little if anything upon which to proceed.

      My suggestion would be to cease this rather foolish notion of getting within anyone else’s head. Simply put, there is little if any extra room in another’s head, and certainly not enough to accomodate your own apparently quite inflated one. Instead strive to provide your audience with a fair representation of what is within your own head. Great and vast though that may be, I trust that the internet has pixels sufficient for the task. In doing so you might allow your readers the courtesy of evaluating the relative merits and demerits of what you believe to be true.

    47. bgates Says:

      Since “the Overlords” are Americans too, that sense [of being aggrieved] cannot be the basis for unity.

      Hm. The Klan were Americans. Seems like we managed a fairly broad consensus against them.

      Green (and other commenters) respond that of course non-Christians are welcome in their America, but it’s hard for me not to feel that those non-Christians would be second-class citizens

      If you think we’re all liars, why are you having this conversation at all? Would you like to know what Tea Partiers think of “fellow citizens who share the same civic, political, economic and Constitutional principles” as we do? Go to a tea party. Ask 20 people if they’ve read “Liberal Fascism” (or “Liberty and Tyranny”, or “Free to Choose”). To those who say “yes”, lean in close and whisper conspiratorially: “You do know ‘Goldberg’ (or ‘Levin’ or ‘Friedman’) is a Jewish name, right?” You’ll be stunned at how few people cross themselves and start sprinkling holy water all over the place. Ask one person whether he feels comfortable with the idea that in the next Congress a good Catholic woman like Nancy Pelosi could be less influential than a guy like Eric Cantor who has never accepted Christ. I say “ask one” because you’ll get such an earful out of such a stupid, insulting question you won’t want to talk to anybody else.

      Beck’s and Palin’s worlds are for believers only.

      “Believers” in what?

      if we want some continuity in the economy and such

      So that I could be typing this on a Selectric instead of a laptop? No thanks.

      He says his model works and The Opposition’s doesn’t, but provides no evidence.

      An educated person really shouldn’t need to have the failures of centralized planning explained, but Lex does cite the Soviet system as the extreme of “the self-flattering delusion that just because someone had good SAT scores he is qualified to tell millions of citizens how to live, from his desk.” You may have noticed in your visits to Sillamäe that the Soviet Union experienced some economic difficulties. He also mentions Hayek, in case you’d like theoretical justification for why that system can’t work.

      America is some kind of failure? Please.

      What does the unemployment rate have to hit before you see signs of trouble? How about the deficit?

      And the, er, “freedom” of deregulation and trying to drown government in the bathtub over the last thirty years are what have brought us those distortions. So I’ve got some evidence for my contentions.

      Please provide the evidence that the government has been “drowned in the bathtub”, or shrunk, or seen sustained decreases in the rate of increase of its growth.

    48. ThomasD Says:

      The founding fathers were largely Deists, who probably were closer in their thinking to today’s atheists, or perhaps agnostics

      No. They were largely Protestant Christians, with a small but highly significant number of Deists (Jefferson looming large.) Most Eighteenth century Deists were not particularly close to today’s version of atheism, and were not even close to their own contemporary version of atheism (e.g. Diderot)

      http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_the_Age_of_the_Enlightenment

    49. bgates Says:

      as it piles up, I dismiss the person and don’t bother to remember the details.

      Funny, I just got to the same point myself.

    50. dilys Says:

      I share this woman’s horror of “give up large chunks of yourself in exchange for becoming a part of our togetherness.” But the heebie-jeebies of warm’n'fuzzy do-gooder ultimately self-defeating redistributive collectivism bring it out in me.

      So, it seems to boil down to what the “chunks of yourself” are made of. The drive back to deflating the nanny state and the tentacles of government I perceive as removing a major threat to the assembled chunks of myself. Not as a victim, as a rational agent.

      That is, her apparent analysis seems to boil down to emotional taste and assumptions. No doubt my perspective does too. But at this point in the discourse, it seems important to recognize that, not flail for an art-world-credentialed fulcrum to escape the deep shackles of subjectivity.

      Likewise, any satisfactions in “[Obama's]… worlds are for believers only.” We’re caught in a perfect fun-house of projection mirrors, here. At least her post shows us that.

      Incidentally, for Russian intelligentsia thinking before the revolution, one could do worse than Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, the trilogy stunningly produced at Lincoln Center a coupe of years ago. Stoppard’s not a liberal by her standards I suspect, but he’s a deeply morally-imaginative thinker, with a cosmopolitan literate upbringing.

    51. Darleen Click Says:

      But Beck’s and Palin’s worlds are for believers only.

      The is the main mistake, or deliberate misstatement, from which all your other objections flow. And it demonstrates a misunderstanding of ecumenical Christianity and what much of what was being said at the Beck rally.

      Not that your dismissal of the majority of Americans as “exclusive” is unusual. The kind of demand that not only should our government be secular, but that the public square be scrubbed of all manner of religiousity, has been the default thinking for the last 40 some-odd years. The main problem with such “religious” secularity, is its hypocrisy — it has demanded the Bowlderization of America’s history of the role religion has played, from abolition to civil rights.

      The “God talk” Beck offered at the rally had everything to do with inclusivity because it was dealing with individual non-partisan responsibility. The deliberately irresponsible who wish not to change need not apply.

      I do understand that many observers felt uncomfortable with the religious framing of the event, but that comes from, in my opinion, contemporary ears unused to God in the public square due to 40 years of shoving it out of the public square and a media dedicated to ridiculing people who take their beliefs seriously (when was the last time you saw in film or tv any fictional character Christian/minister/priest who wasn’t the bad guy?) A lot of the public ridiculing of believing Christians as rubes, bitter-clingers, inbred hicks, snowbillies, et al, has pushed those people to eschew politics. Beck’s rally was also to speak their language and to urge them to come out of the closet.

      Take God out of the equation completely and hear Beck’s talk as a motivational speaker would put it — having to get right with yourself, to identify and articulate the principles you want to live your life by, and demonstrate behavior consistent with those principles. Beck, and any others that speak from a religious POV are not saying “believe in my God” but “believe in my PRINCIPLES that I personally get from my God”.

      If you find talk about principles as an exercise in “us” and “them” then you have larger issues than can be solved here because some principles are better than others.

      And please stop with the “Founding Fathers were Deists not Christians” shibboleth. It is a simplistic, distortive, and rather self-serving dismissal of the cultural belief systems of the 18th century. Leave it that the FF’s were ethical monotheists who believed in the positive role that religion could play in the lives of people.

      And yes, the Civil Rights movement does belong to the country as a whole regardless of who started it, just as the abolition of slavery does — and both had their origins in religion. If the majority of this country, which happens to be “white”, refused to abolish slavery or grant Civil Rights, it wouldn’t have happened. It is because of the basic principles of the majority of Americans that recognize that melanin-content should not be the criteria for judging people that allowed the Civil Rights movement not to die on those streets in Birmingham.

      Remember, Ghandi may have gathered massive members to sit on the train tracks, but it was the decency of the British that kept them from plowing through them and rounding up the rest for execution.

      Which is why a Ghandi would never get past the first protest in Nazi Germany or contemporary Iran.

      What must be kept in mind is that foundational principles matter. If you get to the principle that individuals are sovereign beings via God/Creator/Ultimate Power or by reasoned assumption, fine. It’s the principle that is most important. But do understand that having inherent rights helps with establishing the principle that those rights exist whether or not government secures them. But there is a competing principle held by the Left/Progressives – that rights are “collective” and most people are too stupid to do what is right. George Lakoff in HuffPo last week repeated the Left canard that people who vote for REpublicans/Conservatives are voting against their own interests, Robert Reich writes in the NYTimes last week promoting confiscatory taxes on “the rich” because “the rich” don’t handle their money — oh, excuse me, — they don’t handle their “share of the national income”, in the way Reich believes they should.

      Do you begin to understand the difference of principle here? Beck never called for any government solution on 8/28. There was no call for theocracy. He was speaking specifically to individuals. Progressives demand Government micromanaging of peoples lives — from speech codes on campuses, what light bulbs to use, criminal penalities for not recycling, smoking bans in outdoor places, doctors reporting patient’s BMIs to the government, “fat” taxes, etc.

      As I said here

      If one were to point out the major difference between, in Lakoff’s words, Progressive and Conservative morality, is that Progressives believe in controlling people (via Big Government) for their own good and Conservatives call for people to control themselves as individuals for their own good.

      Now which is really the foundation of Liberty?

    52. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      A bit of chiding, Zenpundit!

      Your comment falls into my category of “LA LA LA LA LA.” You’re criticizing liberals rather than responding to my post! But because we’ve been going back and forth on various issues since we’ve both been blogging, I’ll give you some leeway!

      Lex’s generalizations were part of what happens when you’re blogging. It’s not possible to put every qualification and exception and piece of backup evidence into every post. So I was being a little hard on him, but I did want to make the point that one needs to be careful who one is excluding when you make divisions into “us” and “them.” I would hope that people reading my posts are aware of those time and space limitations of blogging.

      Let me argue a bit with what you said here:

      There’s a nasty premise current among liberal Democrats that conservative opposition to their policies or President Obama are simply the product of white racism and are therefore, not legitimate (how this explains conservative parties in ethnically homogenous countries goes unsaid). Cheryl – and let me be absolutely clear that I am not implying that you nor all liberals hold that view – that’s pretty much a nakedly authoritarian, anti-democratic attitude that assumes liberal positions are above reasonable debate unless everyone concerned subscribes to the premises of the Left. If they don’t, the only explanation is that they must be racists.

      Putting aside the generalizations involved via what I just said about blogging, I have a hard time seeing how the second part (nakedly authoritarian, anti-democratic attitude) follows from the first. Let me strip your quote down a bit:

      The current premise among liberal Democrats that conservative opposition to their policies or President Obama is simply the product of white racism is a nakedly authoritarian, anti-democratic attitude that assumes liberal positions are above reasonable debate.

      There is an edge to some opposition to Democratic policies and President Obama, along with talk on talk radio, that sounds an awful lot like racism. I could even pull a few quotes from comments in this thread. There are even a very few out there expressing overt racism, but, for this discussion, we’ll dismiss them as extremist nuts. So the premise (conclusion? concern?) is not without basis.

      I agree, though, that it is illegitimate to extend it to all conservative opposition. But is that extension merely the same sort of thing as the generalizations of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin against their opposition – the exaggerations of politi-speak? Or is it a nakedly authoritarian, anti-democratic attitude that assumes liberal positions are above reasonable debate? I suspect that that depends on how it’s used. I wouldn’t use the authoritarian label until law is invoked to silence the opposition, which we can see here hasn’t happened yet and seems (to me, at least) pretty far away.

    53. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      I tend to agree with T. Greer’s evaluation of the Codevilla article. I read the article a few weeks back and was disappointed that the arguments seemed pro forma, not particularly strong or original.

      But that doesn’t undermine the validity of Lex’s question. I’m not sure I’d call the division a class division, or say that there is no reality to grievances. Just that grievance, even if it’s real, is not necessarily the best basis for going forward.

      And that brings us to that Russian history that several commenters are suspicious of. If you’re thinking about revolution, and I believe that Beck has used or implied that word, it’s probably wise to go back and look at historical examples. There’s a lot that can go wrong in revolutions!

    54. Ric Locke Says:

      Charles Cameron takes me to task for not familiarizing myself with Ms. Rofer’s background. Having done so, I find that reliance upon the fundamental basis of all mathematics could have saved me an hour or so of aggravation. Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, and the near-identity of Ms. Rofer’s plaint with this piece is diagnostic. She is precisely what her essay reveals her to be: an elitist soft-leftoid who is, for instance, utterly perplexed as to what the motives of Kim Jong-Il and, by extension, North Korea might be; their repeated and often vehement statements of goals, failing as they do to comport with her (axiomatically correct) worldview, can of course be discarded as of no moment.

      My advice stands: Ms. Rofer should abandon the attempt at understanding, for the same reason she should not attempt a career as an NBA forward, viz., she utterly lacks the characteristics required for success in either venture, and acquiring them would necessitate self-modification approaching self-destruction.

      Regards,
      Ric

    55. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Hi TM -

      [Let's see if I can close that link for a change!]

      I’m not taking Beck as more than an entertainer. What I’m wondering is what people see in him, because he seems to have pretensions to being more than an entertainer, or his admirers seem to take him as more than an entertainer. Some of the comments here have contributed to my understanding of that, although there remains much I am puzzled about.

      I’ll agree with this:

      The unifying vision of coalescing around the Founders, around the original vision of this country updated to expand the circle of freedom to one and all is a positive vision.

      But there seem to be different interpretations of what this means, as you and I have discussed at length in a different venue. What bothers me is when those differences are demonized, rather than worked out, and one of the things I worry about in Lex’s post is the division into two groups. Not that Lex is demonizing anyone, but, as we see in the comments, it may not be far from that division to demonizing.

      Can you say with a straight face that this transmission is happening today as it did a hundred years ago?

      Hm…a hundred years ago was 1910, the Gilded Age, so there are some similarities! As to the transmission of Constitutional values, that’s harder to say and would take more historical digging than I’ve done. Overall, I think that we’ve done pretty well on transmitting Constitutional values over more than 200 years.

      You’ve qualified that as I would: presumably what you mean by “updated to expand the circle of freedom to one and all” is that we no longer allow slavery, everyone is considered a full person, not 3/5 of one, and even women are allowed to vote. So those are changes to the original wording that you accept.

      Things keep changing, though. We need to keep rethinking intellectual property laws, for only one example. So sometimes we argue over the original intent, as contrasted to wording.

      You say that you can barely recognize yourself in LG’s description of the Overlords. Please consider the possibility that this is because he didn’t mean you and you have to squint quite a bit to make yourself fit into the enemy grouping. So why are you adopting that squint?

      I will consider that. Certainly I would be more comfortable having his much more complimentary description of Insurgents applied to me! But there were bits and pieces there that seemed to put me on the wrong side of that line, and certainly many of the commenters here have no doubt as to where I fall!

    56. Grey Fox Says:

      I don’t think I have much to add to this conversation, but I would like to point out that the piece Ms. Rofer links to bolster her claim that Beck is inaccurate puts his statement that John Holdren has advocated forced sterilizations, etc., in the “Pants on Fire’ category. However, while Holder never outright advocates doing so, he certainly suggests the possibility that they might be done should other measures to reduce the population fail and dicusses how they might be carried out. It is pretty evident that Holdren and his coauthors felt that such things could be justified and felt no particular repugnance. Beck may have oversimplified things somewhat, but he was mostly correct and the inability of the St. Petersberg Times to recognize that places that entire article in doubt.

      To read the relevent passages, go here and scroll to the bottom:
      http://zombietime.com/john_holdren/

      Grey Fox

    57. Lexington Green Says:

      Cheryl is a good sport.

      The commenters have been pretty good, though a few have gotten a little heated. Any blog’s comment section can quickly devolve into a bunch of mindless biting rats. CBz commenters have tended to be far above averaged. This has been a tolerable performance so far.

      Cheryl, feel free to delete any comment that is abusive or does not advance the conversation. Civil disagreement is one thing. Rude behavior is another. The author of any post on CB possesses God-like powers to make anyone who behaves rudely go away with a click. I exercise this power whenever necessary. So far it does not look like that has been necessary here. But you’ve got it in your pocket if you need it.

      So I think this exercise has been worth doing.

      I find it helpful.

      Cheryl’s critiques have been teased out, which is good.

      As she notes, in a blog you have to generalize. That is the nature of the medium, since you are not writing a legal brief or an academic paper, the medium requires brevity, you are usually speaking to the like-minded, and it is often a matter of using broad strokes for humorous effect. However, if you can turn the blog into a conversation, you can go beyond or below the generalizations.

      No specific responses from me now. I will do a separate post at some point.

      Zenpundit’s picture of Cheryl in the lions’ den turned out to be a little overstated. Which is nice.

    58. Ric Locke Says:

      Cheryl, you might well ask why I bother to post. After all, why continue a course I myself have declared futile?

      The answer also illuminates Beck and the tea partiers from an oblique angle. In order to divert our society’s course into avenues we consider more fruitful, you and your fellow thinkers must be either convinced or defeated. The consequences of the second course, both in terms of effort required and obvious side effects, are so horrifying that any person preserving a shred of sanity must pursue the first to the limit of available resources, so long as any tiniest hope of success remains.

      Unfortunately you and yours have been so entrenched for so long that you no longer respond to argument with other than shibboleth and strawmen, with a big component of that being the restatement of opposition arguments so as to conform to your own prejudices rather than preserving the arguer’s intent. There are, for instance, positions to the right of you that don’t go to the limit of sophomoric libertarianism; acknowledgement of a right and proper role for Government in road construction does not lead, inevitably and inexorably, to the necessity for a committee of unelected (and largely unaccountable) bureaucrats assembled to decree the proper contents of a fast-food hamburger according to the latest nutrition fad.

      The limit was reached when your spokesman, Mr. Obama, declared to those opposed to his program, “We won.” This flat assertion that might makes right, that your gang is so big, so bad, so inexorably unstoppable, that anyone contemplating disagreement must simply shut up and retire from the lists was a wake-up call. Beck, the tea partiers, and I still hold to the hope that a resolution is possible, but the first thing that must be done is to demonstrate that you are neither ethically unassailable nor so demographically preponderant as to automatically win by numbers alone. That is the primary function of the tea party rallies and Mr. Beck’s assembly on the mall.

      Regards,
      Ric

    59. tyouth Says:

      “The link I provided on the first wasn’t the only evidence out there. I’ve watched a few videos of Beck at the board, and his lack of knowledge of history is truly horrifying. I can’t give specifics; the way I work on stuff like that is one bad video, meh, but as it piles up, I dismiss the person and don’t bother to remember the details. I’ve got other things to think about…”

      Uh, are you sure; how can you be sure, that you weren’t reacting to Beck in a way that contradicted your preconceived notions about the validity of what he said? If you want to take the man to task for his ideas and lack of knowledge, and, as you said, want to try to understand what attracts his listeners, or if you want to influence someone else, you had better do your homework and be specific before making up your mind and posting/commenting.

      You are shirking Ms Cheryl….major points deduction. Nice to have you here though.

    60. foxmarks Says:

      Re: “the broad tolerance imagined”.
      I meant the tolerance was not all hugs and unity. In current days, tolerance has become synonymous with acceptance. We get back to tolerance in the name of unity by letting people decide how much tolerance they’re comfortable with. That means government has to butt out of a lot of cultural stuff. And yes, both of the big parties are guilty. But that shouldn’t prevent a lefty from joining a movement toward respectful distance, should it? Does it violate a secret pact to agree that the politcization of everything creates entrenched factions and prevents broad tolerance?

      Re: The history of civil rights.
      Did you forget that those dogs were controlled by Democrats? Did you forget that opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was vastly Democrat? That might help you understand what Beck was going for. The lefties have seized credit for something their ancestors opposed. If only a handful of activist deserve credit, that eliminate most of those who today claim status because they wear the correct political jersey. And if we’re trying for unity, we all get credit for killing Jim Crow because it is an example of the US political-socio-cultural system correcting injustice. We’re all in the system. If we can be shamed for slavery, we must also be glorified for its end.

      Re: Self-sorting.
      The police need not come to my door for their power to have an effect. Anything in law ultimately has a gun behind it. I intended to allude to the enduring raft of affirmative action legislation, the ever-increasing body of health-driven controls on who may do what on private property (e.g. smoking bans), and the quotas for allocating government spending (and the related dictates on private activity like mortgage lending).

      It might help your quest for understanding to keep in mind that politics is not two-dimensional. If I argue against lefty stuff, that does not mean I endorse righty stuff.

    61. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Steel and a couple of others (including Lex) seem to be willing to exercise that tolerance of those who don’t share their thinking. I’m glad to see that, because I would like to see dialog across the ideological divide. That’s why I’m here.

      I’m not quite so convinced that this is a majority feeling among Beck, Palin, and the Tea Partiers.

      Jeannie would like to keep things simple, and Lex says something along that line. But simple can also be a way to crush disagreement. As a number of commenters have noted, and I’ve responded, a blog post isn’t adequate to cover what we’re talking about. I’d like to make it simple, too. Faith, hope, and charity are the basis of what I’m saying. But Jeannie and I probably mean different things by those words.

      Madhu makes a good point:

      I think Lex and Beck have tapped into a sense that basic civic values have reached a tipping point and that this is having a ripple effect on the whole of our society.

      And I wonder how much the emphasis on extreme individualism, what’s mine is mine, and don’t take my tax money away from me, along with the damage done by starving government of the money needed for little things like keeping bridges in repair, has contributed to that erosion of civic values. So the cure would be a return to a sense of interdependence and sharing. Not because we are all Christians together, but because we are all Americans and neighbors. I think there’s a saying about loving one’s neighbor as oneself…

      I’m also struck by a number of commenters who have a very clear idea of what they’d prefer me to be doing and have instructed me to do that. It seems to me that it’s very hard to have a discussion when you’re telling the other person what to say. The word “authoritarian” was used upthread. Isn’t that the adjective for people who tell other people what to do and how to think?

      A number of commenters have also focused on my comment about Beck and Palin focusing on “believers only” and have asked, believers in what? That is one of the things I don’t understand. Palin belongs to a Protestant denomination I’m not familiar with, but it’s toward the evangelical and pentecostal side of the spectrum. Beck is a Mormon. Both weave their religion into what they say and promote, but they are less than explicit about it. But they clearly focus on an in-group that agrees with…something. That something may be a civic religion that was highly criticized back in the 1950s and 1960s as being lukewarm and not having any serious religious content, but Beck and Palin also have some specifics that they insist on. Perhaps they expect the belief to be in themselves. I haven’t parsed it all out, but they’ve defined an “us” (believers) and a “them.”

      And thanks, Lex, for telling me I can delete comments. I haven’t seen any that I think merit that – yet. A few skate along the edge, but I might as well leave them in so that I can point back to the ugly things that right-wingers say, the mirror of what a few commenters here have done. ;-)

    62. Beth Says:

      “I’m not sure what is meant by this. Have you had law enforcement officals visit your house lately to make sure you are associating with the right people? Can you point to those laws? I think the second sentence is a metaphor, but if that’s what it is, could you point to what you’re objecting to more specifically?”

      I think that people still remember the legacy of Boston’s busing experiment and others like it.

      “Um, sorry, no. This is part of the distortion of history that I object to. If you’re too young to recall the horrific violence in the South on every night’s news, you might have seen the pictures of law-enforcement personnel siccing dogs and turning fire hoses on protestors. Or heard about the bombings and murders. The Civil Rights movement was action by a small number of brave Americans against serious unconstitutional injustices. They get the credit. That said, younger people today can perhaps claim that they bear no guilt for those injustices. They may have benefitted from them, however. And if they are spreading lies and fear of Muslims, they’re not much different than those who resisted civil rights for blacks.”

      Were you aware that thousands of white Republicans put their lives on the line for African Americans? Many were lynched for it. Check out the history of the Civil Rights Movement and how hard Republicans worked to advance it. Of course, it’s not covered in today’s school books. Why not, I wonder?
      There is a lot of factual information in this Freedom Calendar (pdf).
      And it was Judeo-Christians who put a stop to slavery, which had been part of human history since the beginning.
      Are white Republicans and Christians not entitled to honor their own history as well? I know many black Republicans and Christians who do honor it.

      http://www.bookerrising.net/

      Can you understand now why the tired liberal memes of “racist Republicans” is getting little traction these days?

      Cheryl, I can see myself in you in so many ways. I’ve made a complete 180 degree turnaround these last few years. Perhaps you will too one day because you are intelligent, curious and fair-minded. Thanks for opening the dialogue.

      Madhu, you are wonderful!

    63. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      One point to Foxmarks, and then I’m caught up.

      Yes, the people with the dogs were Democrats, but they changed parties sometime in the seventies and eighties and became Republicans. That’s why the South was solidly Democratic in the sixties and is now solidly Republican. It wasn’t the “lefties” who opposed civil rights, but the leftovers from the opposition to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. The left-right spectrum doesn’t always fit the Democrat-Republican dichotomy, as you note.

      There’s probably more to say about that business of “a gun behind” every law. This is one of the things I’d like to understand. I don’t feel that I am so coerced in this world, but others like Foxmarks do. I don’t know how to get at that issue just now, though.

    64. foxmarks Says:

      “The founding fathers were largely Deists, who probably were closer in their thinking to today’s atheists, or perhaps agnostics, than to a heavily Biblical theology.”

      Nope.

      Only 3 of 55 Constitutional Convention delegates were Deists. Most were Calvinists. About half were ministers. If we do not get to choose our own facts, what’s your source for the claim of Deism?

    65. foxmarks Says:

      “they changed parties sometime in the seventies and eighties and became Republicans. That’s why the South was solidly Democratic in the sixties and is now solidly Republican.”

      Yeah, I suppose George Wallace was a closet Republican, too. The 36% of blacks who voted for Nixon must have made a different assessment of the Republicans and racism than today’s blacks. They were only a decade away from the dogs, but our five-decade hindsight is so much clearer…or maybe we’re rewriting an inconvenient history?

      Did the part-changers bring all the racism with them? What’s your evidence? I suggest that most of the folks behind the dogs were dead by the 80s. And certainly by now.

      Your view seems to ignore the possibility that people’s views can change over time (like Wallace!). If we’re in agreement that politics a space, not a spectrum, why would you imply/insist the unifying element among 2010 Republicans is racism? Couldn’t those decent folks (and their children and grandchildren) have gotten over most of the racism over the span of five decades and now vote according to other motivations? Is finding virtue something exclusive only to the left/statist/Dem factions?

    66. foxmarks Says:

      Re-reading, I retract my “half were ministers” claim. I misread my source.

      But 34 of the 55 were lawyers, and there sure was a lot of biblical precedent in the law of the 1770s. :-)

    67. Ric Locke Says:

      “Is finding virtue something exclusive only to the left/statist/Dem factions?”

      Precisely the bone of contention.

      The Civil Rights workers and advocates came to us, in the South, and told us that our pretentions were hypocritical; that, while bragging about Freedom and Honor and Opportunity, we were denying those things to a substantial fraction of the population on irrelevant grounds. They ultimately prevailed because they were in the right, and were able to convince enough of us that this was so to change the way things were done.

      For half a century and more since then the presumption has been that, because they were in the right on one big issue, they were most likely to be in the right on other proposals they made. This has led them to take into their hearts, and express in their behavior, a degree of sanctimonious disregard for any contrary opinions not seen since the Church set up the Inquisitions. Yes, indeed. As seen in her essay, Cheryl and her fellows do, indeed, feel themselves the fount of TRVTH and all virtue, and any opposition must, of necessity, come from the (secular equivalent of) demonic possession.

      And, since their big (and totally deserved) victory came about over the subject of race, they must and do see any opposition through that lens. Their opponents in the Fifties and Sixties were, in true and grim fact, racists. It follows that any opponents today must be motivated by the same impulse. In military circles this is referred to as “fighting the last war.”

      Regards,
      Ric

    68. Jeannie Says:

      Cheryl,

      “Contrary to the left, we are a nation of laws based on Judeo-Christian philosophy.
      Again, not really. The founding fathers were largely Deists, who probably were closer in their thinking to today’s atheists, or perhaps agnostics, than to a heavily Biblical theology. The Deists’ God is sometimes called the Watchmaker God, because he built the universe and set it in motion according to scientific principles and no longer intervenes directly.”

      Um, uh, sorry, no. Yes, really. No. This statement is perhaps the best example of your having run off the rails and you have been googling your answers, or else you have been reading the Huffington Post for too long. No matter how erudite your other responses, this one exposes your lack of primary research. A good primer would be the collected source documents/writings of the main characters of the pre-revolutionary as well as revolutionary period. I keep a volume of the Annals of American History handy. Ding.Ding.Ding. Thank you playing.

      If Lexington Green had thought that he might pick up some new commenters from the largesse of Beck’s shout out, I for one will not be in attendance. I’ve spent the past two years reading stuff like Cheryl’s “Sermon from the Mount of I use big words and know the mind of Georgia O’Keefe”. And it all comes down to the same thing.

    69. jdm Says:

      There are some excellent rebuttals in here, but I think this would’ve been a much better series of arguments had no comments been allowed.

      A driving factor of the Tea Party movement and it’s friends and relations is the condescension shown to its members by today’s elites. As Ms. Rofer makes her points, the condescension seems evident and occasionally palpable. And one is surprised by the vehemence of some of the responses?

      I believe that had Lex and Ms. Rofer figured out a way to discuss this all between themselves with a series of posts or a back and forth in the comments the cogent points could’ve been addressed by two people who clearly respect one another – or either ignore or don’t feel threatened by the rhetorics.

    70. Beth Says:

      Just throwing this out there, Cheryl –
      Although the lead-up to the Russian Revolution is fascinating (I hope you’ve read Tolstoy by Henri Troyat. Tolstoy had much to do with the spiritual angst and zeal that led to the revolution, IMHO), I highly recommend Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class by Michael Voslensky This book is one of the major reasons why I pulled my leftist head out of the sand and said, “Hey, wait a minute…” Individualist that I am!

    71. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Well, a big thank-you to Rick Locke! You have clarified something for me.

      The Civil Rights workers and advocates came to us, in the South, and told us that our pretentions were hypocritical; that, while bragging about Freedom and Honor and Opportunity, we were denying those things to a substantial fraction of the population on irrelevant grounds. They ultimately prevailed because they were in the right, and were able to convince enough of us that this was so to change the way things were done.

      It looks like you are developing a narrative that allows you to accept the civil rights movement, and that is valuable. Unfortunately, your narrative as presented leaves out a lot. The South acquiesced only after some very ugly violence, which required military intervention.

      Narratives are necessary for a shared history. And they’re necessary for healing. You’ve telescoped a lot here, so I don’t know if what I inserted is part of your larger narrative. And narratives bend to current-day requirements. Others will have to buy into this narrative to make it a healing narrative.

      And I didn’t say anything about Republicans being racist. Here’s what I said upthread about the civil rights movement:

      If you’re too young to recall the horrific violence in the South on every night’s news, you might have seen the pictures of law-enforcement personnel siccing dogs and turning fire hoses on protestors. Or heard about the bombings and murders. The Civil Rights movement was action by a small number of brave Americans against serious unconstitutional injustices. They get the credit. That said, younger people today can perhaps claim that they bear no guilt for those injustices. They may have benefitted from them, however. And if they are spreading lies and fear of Muslims, they’re not much different than those who resisted civil rights for blacks.

      A “small number of brave Americans.” I wasn’t among the Freedom Riders, so I don’t claim that I was responsible in the same way they were. I don’t think others should make that claim, either. What I said can include Republicans and anyone who participated. But to spread the credit around to everyone who might have eventually decided to obey the law of the land seems to me to be going too far.

      And if those folks with the dogs were in their thirties, then they would have been in their fifties by 1980 and may well be alive today.

      I will agree that I overestimated the number of founding fathers who were Deists. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say. However (you knew that was coming, didn’t you? ;-)), those who were Deists were more vocal than the others about their beliefs, and it was this disparity that led me to my conclusion. I’ll also note that the religiosity displayed by both Beck and Palin would be quite alien to the founding fathers. Mormonism didn’t even exist at that time.

    72. Jeannie Says:

      “I’ll also note that the religiosity displayed by both Beck and Palin would be quite alien to the founding fathers. Mormonism didn’t even exist at that time.”

      Does corporate prayer in the continental congressional chambers count as a display of religiosity?

    73. Jeannie Says:

      My apologies, I forgot a sample link: http://chaplain.house.gov/archive/continental.html

    74. Xennady Says:

      I find this is a fascinating thread. I can only marvel in amazement at Ms. Rofer.

      Pardon me if I seem rude Ms. Rofer but you asked for help understanding Beck supporters and I’m one of them. So I would be doing you a disservice if I failed to express my actual evaluation of your opinions as it has a direct bearing upon why the us vs. them mindset has emerged.

      Your attitude seems to me to be incredibly condescending and dismissive. For example you stated his lack of knowledge of history was horrifying yet you couldn’t be bothered to give any examples. As this is a major focus of Beck this is sort of important. However since you have given us examples of other facts as you see them I think I’ll agree with the view of Mr. Beck and not you.

      Which I think is a common result today. Vast swarms of the public including Beck/Palin supporters refuse to accept the narrative they are given by the elite. As an example consider the body count of the Beck rally tossed out by- I think- CBS news: 87000. Beck supporters including myself believe this to be ridiculously low. The leftists I read seem much more willing to accept it. Years ago a pronouncement by someone like Walter Cronkite was given significant weight. Now Katie Couric is an object of ridicule.

      In the interests of brevity I’ll stop there- mostly. Except this quote struck me: “Yes, the people with the dogs were Democrats, but they changed parties sometime in the seventies and eighties and became Republicans”.

      That reminded me of something Peter Medawar wrote about Freudian psychoanalysis a long time ago. Paraphrasing roughly, he said that the theory buried every possible objection under lava-like blather that had a complete explanation of every possible objection.

      This sounds exactly like the present US elite. They’ve got everything covered- and are mystified why anyone would object to their rule.

      But I said I’d shut up didn’t I?

    75. Quayle Says:

      Cheryl, if you would, the first principal you must come to understand is very simple.

      The left has made it a supreme moral virtue for a citizen to be tolerant. Yet this incessant demand to adhere to the orthodoxy of tolerance is becoming lethal to our civic body in the same way that the AIDS virus is lethal to a human body.

      AIDS is the ultimate purveyor of tolerance. A body infected with AIDS will tolerate everything. Such tolerance enables a great diversity – a diversity of bacteria and organisms. We all understand that these two byproducts of of AIDS, tolerance and diversity, are the very things that make it deadly to a human body, yet all we here from the left these days is the unmatched value and virtue of undiluted tolerance and absolute diversity.

      We know from history that great civilizations can flourish and then vanish. This should show us that some ideas, objective, or practices that can destroy a civic body, even a great one. And it would be a supreme act of arrogance for Americas to conclude that we’re somehow immune.

      So what are those ideas, objectives, or practices that are or would be harmful to our body politic?

      Ah, try asking that question or having that discussion with the left, and you’ll be shouted down as a bigot, hater, and worse. Any effort to have a civic dialogue in reference to a natural law, or an absolute scale of morality, or of shared common values gets attacked by the left as an attempt at owning an reinforcing the structures vocabulary of oppression of others.

      It seems to me that to the western intellectual left, the only moral absolute is that there are no moral absolutes, a circular concept silly enough to be the topic of a Star Trek episode.

    76. Steel Says:

      I feel that there are several arguments against the premises Ms. Rofer has used since I posted last; and these are not my invention, it is my rephrasing of far more eloquent writers. If I remembered the exact source, I would give credit, but perhaps it is simply an amalgamation of information absorbed from any number of locations.

      Firstly, at 12:51 on September 4th, Ms. Rofer said

      “You’ve qualified that as I would: presumably what you mean by “updated to expand the circle of freedom to one and all” is that we no longer allow slavery, everyone is considered a full person, not 3/5 of one, and even women are allowed to vote. So those are changes to the original wording that you accept.” (emphasis added)

      This is a trite argument, as the 3/5ths clause was inserted by the founders to allow the possibility of ending slavery, not keep it going.

      Simply put, congressional districts were decided by how many people lived in them. Not how many voters, but how many people. By counting slaves as 3/5ths of a person, the founders successfully stopped the slave states from overpowering the non-slave states in Congress.

      If you can find it online, I highly recommend watching Beck’s Black History specials, as they illuminate the many African-American founders, in a context I, at least, had never heard.

      Secondly, although you claimed on September 4th at 6:15 that:

      “And I didn’t say anything about Republicans being racist.”

      You contradicted an earlier comment, made at September 4th at 3:18, when you said:

      “Yes, the people with the dogs were Democrats, but they changed parties sometime in the seventies and eighties and became Republicans.”

      I can’t read your mind, but I have to say, I think the people with the dogs were racists.

      So, we have an interesting duality here. If you say they WERE, and still ARE racist, you contradicted yourself.

      The only other option I see is the possibility that they WERE racist, but now aren’t, and are now Republicans, which would give the true mantle of the civil rights movement to the Republicans, because if the anti-slavery party grew to cover the south because the south stopped being racist and joined the Republican party, the current democratic narrative is a wreck.

      Thirdly, You gave me credit on September 4th at 3:07 for my tolerance, but you questioned how common that tolerance is.

      As this post started because of your query about GLenn Beck, I assume you know of his rally. The rally where Rabbis, Imams, amd both Protestant and Catholic ministers joined nearly 500,000 people to unite behind a general banner of honor and faith.

      Beck is on record supporting the Cordoba Project mosque, before the Imam was revealed as a radical. Does that sound like someone who wants to destroy religious freedom?

      In fact, I’m curious. Who have you heard saying anything OTHER than the need for freedom of religion?

    77. Ric Locke Says:

      Cheryl, I didn’t have to turn on Huntley & Brinkley to know what was going on. I lived there. True, I was a teenager, and was “against Civil Rights” with the mindless enthusiasm of a teenager who knows everything; it was only later that I was convinced. And yes, my statement telescopes a lot of important issues into a few short sentence. What was that you were saying about the immediacy of blog comments always leaving a lot out?

      Your picture of dogs and shooting leaves a lot out, too. Among the early settlers of our East Texas county after the Civil War were a pair of brothers, distant ancestors of mine, who went to Vidor for the founding of the Texas KKK — and returned, announcing disgustedly that they’d have nothing to do with those peckerwoods or anyone who associated with them, because “…all they want to do is beat up on the n–rs.” As a result, our county and town had no Klan and were regarded as something of a refuge for blacks, and we had many, especially educated ones who’d been run out of other towns for being “uppity”. Does your picture of the Fifties and Sixties South include anything like that? Does it include my neighbor, who had “n–r” on his lips constantly but insisted that his black employees be paid the same as white ones, and couldn’t join the Rotary Club on that basis? Or my uncle, who cursed the preacher in colorful terms and left, never to go back, because the church wouldn’t honor a decorated veteran of the Red Ball Express, even at an outdoor “dinner on the ground”?

      None of that excuses us, and I don’t pretend that it does. But if your picture of the Civil Rights era is only a mosaic of burning churches, snarling dogs, and red-faced sheriffs with nightsticks, it leaves a lot out. It leaves out the many, many veterans whose memories of the “colored” construction battalions and transportation companies in WWII contradicted their prejudices; it leaves out hours of debate, often ending in violence; it leaves out the extended black family down the road from my childhood home, descended from freed slaves who accompanied their white former master to Texas after the War, built him a plantation house and staffed it, and kept him in comfort until he died childless — then, one and all, took his surname for their own while standing over the freshly-covered grave. Most of all, it leaves out my grandmother, whose black eyes would pop in anger if anyone in her presence said “n–r”, and who, in ’58 or ’59, defined the modern Democratic Party while chiding me for such an episode: “You have to be nice to the Negroes,” she said. “They can’t do for themselves the way white people can.”

      Again, none of that excuses us, and I don’t pretend that it does, but you couldn’t have won without it. Eisenhower (a Republican!) could not have sent the National Guard to Little Rock if there had been no Red Ball Express, because the only reason the Guard went instead of mutinying was that it had members who remembered getting food and water from black hands while under enemy fire. You couldn’t have kept your gains without people like me, who accepted the new order (however grudgingly) and came to realize that you had been right and we wrong. And we — yes, it’s “we” — can’t keep those gains if you and your fellows keep pounding away that no apology, no contrition, no acceptance is sufficient. I and my relatives, neighbors, and friends accepted equal protection under the law, and came to realize it was right; we did not agree to our turn in the barrel, and we won’t be persuaded to.

      Every social change is complex, with many aspects to it. Don’t chide me for eliding unpleasant facts when your own stereotype has gaping holes in it.

      Regards,
      Ric

    78. Andy Says:

      I’ve been reading this thread with interest and I’m sad to say that I think it’s largely turned into a disappointment. There are some tired partisan arguments, an irrelevant debate about the personal religious views of the founders, a lot of opinions masquerading as facts, etc. I think what’s bothered me most though, are the accusations of condescension thrown at Cheryl. She came here with the intent to learn and understand. This was an opportunity that I feel was largely wasted on ad hominems and accusations. A few people said it’s impossible to understand, you’re a liberal, you don’t get it. Talk about condescension! All I can say as an outsider in this debate is that the argumentative tactics are likely to prove counterproductive if your intention is to grow your movement.

      Anyway, before anyone jumps to any conclusions – a caveat I unfortunately feel is required – I’d just like to say that I find my self between the debaters here. Well, no, perhaps that’s not right; I’m probably on the sidelines or even in the next field over. Neither the liberal, conservative or Tea Party narratives are a good fit for me unfortunately, so here is some criticism from my own perspective:

      First to Cheryl,

      You’ve brought up two common liberal narratives that I’d like to touch on. First is deregulation and the financial crisis and second is the right “starving” government of funds preventing it from providing basic services like bridge repair.

      On deregulation I do think inappropriate deregulation (or bad deregulation) was part of the picture, but only part. You also had regulators who did not regulate and regulations that materially contributed to the present state of affairs. For example, regulators knew as far back as 2005 that Lehman was in trouble yet did nothing. Part of that was pressure to look the other way because no one wanted to stop the good times from rolling. That’s common during bubbles actually. Pressure came from both sides of the aisle, though for different reasons. Another part of it is that regulators are continually under-resourced compared to the number of firms and regulatory complexity. Part of it is a culture where regulators are often young and inexperienced and are looking to jump into industry, so they don’t want to piss off a potential future employer (this was a technique Maddoff used, for example, to intimidate the regulators who came to check on his books). In short, all these are various forms of regulatory capture which is historically a huge problem in financial crises and one that’s frustratingly absent from the liberal narrative and liberal solutions (see FINREG).

      Secondly, I don’t find the regulation-deregulation dichotomy useful or accurate. One can have, for instance, a lot of regulations but very little regulation. Regulatory complexity has some bad consequences and little upside. It promotes oligarchy because the big players can afford the expertise to game the system and capture the regulators, while the small players, lacking both the expertise and pull, are put at a competitive disadvantage. In general it’s better to have simple, enforceable regulations than the complex mess we have now. Fewer regulations can result in better regulation.

      Additionally, government holds a lot of responsibility for the present crisis. Hundreds of billions of investment dollars poured into the now famous toxic assets because of bad regulations. Most of that money came from institutional investors whose investment decisions are restricted by government regulation. These restrictions were designed to protect them from losing money, but in this case, the opposite happened. These investors could only purchase high quality investments as determined by one of the government-approved rating agencies. The rating agencies were compensated in a way the provided conflicts of interest – and those compensation practices were implemented via regulation. Then there was the Fed, which kept institutional investors away from government securities – the really safe place to put your money – by keeping interest rates so low.

      So, we had all these highly regulated institutions and processes that were specifically designed to mitigate risk, but ended up greatly increasing it. Here’s how the chain of events went: Institutional investors, who could not earn returns on government securities due to low interest rates set by the Fed, went looking for other investments. Since they could only invest in the highest-rated, supposedly safest securities, they bought AAA-rated securities. The rating agencies, for a variety of reasons, gave low-quality investments AAA ratings. With a AAA rating and a good return, hundreds of billions in institutional money began to pour into those investment vehicles which created a huge demand for more. We all know what happened after that. Government regulation had a hand in there every step of the way. That isn’t to say that regulation is wholly or even mostly to blame. The lesson, I think, is we should be wary of complex regulatory schemes because they are subject to highly destructive unforeseen consequences.

      On the second point, I think the evidence overwhelmingly shows that the conservative dream of limited government has almost completely failed. The only real exception is federal revenue which has held pretty steady at 15-20% of GDP for the past half century. State government revenues, by contrast, have doubled since 1960 on a GDP basis and have quadrupled on a constant-dollar per capita basis (those are aggregated figures over the whole US – individual states will obviously vary). You can chart the numbers for yourself.

      Where is all that money going? The answer, for the most part, is pensions and health care, which are both growing much faster than inflation and GDP. Growth faster than inflation and GDP is, by definition, unsustainable and such growth has been happening for several decades now. As a result, by any metric government spending has gone up at the federal, state and local level. In your state (New Mexico, for those who don’t know), spending at the state and local level has doubled in real dollar terms since 1992. Are you getting twice the services today that you received back then? Likely not.

      The reason, in my view, that bridges aren’t getting maintenance is because pension and health care spending is crowding everything else out. For most states those two priorities trump “essential” services. In some states (such as Illinois), the payment of pension and health benefits for public workers is written in the state Constitution! There’s nothing about bridges in the Constitution unfortunately, so they will always be a tertiary funding priority. When you have obligations that trump all else and can’t be avoided and those obligations are exhibiting unsustainable cost growth then you have the makings of a severe budgetary problem. That’s bad enough, but the situation we’re in today is much worse because we’ve been paying for these cost increases for over the past several decade by burning our seed corn, which includes money for bridges. We have to increase taxes yearly to simply to maintain current government services. There is no level of revenue nor any conceivable tax rate that can sustainably cope when a large part of federal, state and local budgets are increasing faster than GDP and inflation. So, in my view, it isn’t conservatives or the GoP that starved revenue, it’s a half century of unsustainable entitlement and personnel cost increases.

      In the interest of fairness, I feel it necessary to put conservatives and supporters of Beck in the spotlight as well. Since this comment is already lengthy, I’ll limit myself to one point: Cognitive dissonance concerning the simultaneous promotion of traditional Judeao-Christian values and individual freedom.

      There’s been a lot of talk in this thread about the founder’s religious beliefs and the premise was made that we are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values. My question for you is, how is that relevant today? Obviously it may be relevant on a personal level to the individual, but how is it relevant socially and especially for government policy? I ask because it’s one thing to take such values to heart, but it’s quite another to make them part of a policy agenda and use the coercive power of government to promote them. I don’t know Beck’s stance on this topic, but in my experience conservatives (except libertarians) promote “individual rights” up to the point where religious values come into play (see, for example, gay marriage, abortion, the NYC mosque, etc.). So is Beck promoting something new or is this the same social conservatism we already know?

      In closing, a few people mentioned that the civil rights movement belongs to all of us. Well, if that is true, then surely the founders belong to all of us as well, correct? If liberals, therefore, don’t have the right to “own” the civil rights movement as part of their intellectual legacy, then what gives Beck or conservatives the right to similarly “own” the founders?

    79. T. Greer Says:

      This has been an interesting thread.

      A bit earlier I said the vitriol poured on Cherly was shameful. Perhaps my words were a bit more vivid than they needed to be; I have seen far worse vitriol on the web in houses both left and right. Much less common is to see so many attacks on the personal character of one of our fellow debaters. Nothing Ms. Rofer has said warrants such abuse. As Andy notes above, it is a quick way to make the “movement” as inclusive as possible.

      (For what it is worth, all of the ChicagoBoyz bloggers treated Ms. Rofer with the respect she deserves, and ought to be commended for it. It is other commentators who give cause for shame.)

      Some objected to my portrayal of Glenn Beck’s position as “victim theology.” He is not telling Americans they are victims, say these objectors, he is telling the sleeping sheep to wake up. I would ask these objectors if they have yet heard the keynote speech of the 2010 CPAC, also given by Mr. Beck. The speech made headlines for Mr. Beck’s declaration that the “GOP doesn’t need a big tent.” But upon listening, it was not this line that caught my ear. It was Mr. Beck’s musings on the leftists among us I found most interesting. A minority in power over a majority, said he, a “cancer” on the American people. What an interesting metaphor! Cancerous tissue spreads and threatens to overgrow the healthy cells of the organs in which it is found. Cancerous cells cannot be accommodated. They must be cut out. Eradicated.

      That was the take-away of Mr. Beck’s speech. We must cut away the cancer.

      That is not a cry to wake up and shake away our sins. It is not a cry to accept responsibility for our fates. He would have been better off telling those listening to him that they were sick, and that their sickness was self inflicted – but no, America’s alignment had nothing to with them. Us conservatives are healthy cells. They are the cancer.

      Now a question for Ms. Rofer, if she will have it.

      Much of your opposition to the message of Mr. Beck, Lex, et. all is that they divide America into an “us” and “them” and that this is poor footing for America to face her future.

      Yet you also said:

      The Civil Rights movement was action by a small number of brave Americans against serious unconstitutional injustices.

      I believe that Mr. Beck et. all think that the ‘oligarchy’ utilizes “serious unconstitutional injustices” to consolidate their hold on power to the point where legitimate political engagement is insufficient to dislodge them. Assume, for argument’s sake, that this is true (I am undecided on the question). Would you still find the divisive nature of the movement so egregious? The Civil Rights movement was an “insurgency” of Lex’s type – why doesn’t that movement also suffer your disfavor?

    80. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Last night I decided that there was no point in responding to comments on this thread any longer. What I said had been so distorted and the arguments offered against me so trite that it was time to end it.

      Ric is still assuming an awful lot about me, or perhaps it is a rhetorical style motivated by anger. I find his insights and experiences enlightening, though, and I thank him for that.

      I also thank Andy and T. Greer for their defense of me. I agree with T. Greer that the Chicago Boyz bloggers have been good debaters, as they always are. I wish the whole thread had proceeded at that level.

      Andy addresses those two examples I tossed out in the last paragraph, which were very subsidiary to my main concerns. I could have chosen many other examples, and I suspect that they would have been equally distorted throughout the discussion. Andy makes some good points in a responsible way, but that’s not what I want to discuss just now. It’s off my main topic.

      So now to T. Greer’s question, which is along the lines of my main concern. Let me rephrase it:

      The civil rights movement involved the actions of a few against injustices perpetrated by many and a social system sanctioned by many. Beck and others believe that today’s situation is similar: many oppressed unconstitutionally by a few. How do I see the differences?

      I’ve softened the question a little; I hope T. Greer will be tolerant. I would give the same answer either way.

      There might be a parallel between the civil rights movement and the sort of thing that Beck describes, although where T. Greer is uncertain about Beck’s premise, I reject it. There is much talk by Beck and others of like political persuasion of a “real” America and “most of the people” agreeing with them. Both voting and opinion polls show otherwise. So the difference I see is that Beck is wrong and the civil rights workers were right.

      But let’s suppose that there is some shadowy conspiracy, or just the confluence of money and power in our government in a way that damages and distorts the will of the people. This brings the argument closer to Greer’s and Beck’s. What if that is the case?

      The civil rights workers had a clearly focused mission: to end segregation. Many different tactics were possible and necessary because of the differences that Ric describes. The most immediate of their goals was to break the back of “separate but equal” – the segregated lunch counters, public transportation, schools, drinking fountains, and the whole double system that had grown up in the South.

      Beck has no such clear mission. Overthrow this unrepresentative government? That’s considered sedition, I think. Bring God back into government? What does that mean? How would we do that, under the Constitution? Instill right feeling into the hearts of men? We’ve got a lot of preachers working on that and have had for some long time now.

      There are ways to end the concentration of power and overinfluence of money in our government far short of revolution. Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Koch family points in one direction, but that would not be congenial to Beck and his admirers because the Koch family provides much of the funding for the Tea Party. Laws for federal funding of political campaigns would help, but the people who fight against those laws do so in the name of individual freedom. I would start there, just as the civil rights movement started with court cases to validate their claims that separate but equal was wrong.

      Beck has to show that his claims are right and that his solutions can work. He isn’t even close to doing either.

    81. Darleen Click Says:

      It looks like you are developing a narrative that allows you to accept the civil rights movement,

      Goodness, could you be any more clear in calling Ric Locke a racist, albeit a recovering one?

    82. foxmarks Says:

      “Beck has no such clear mission.”

      Which brings us back to Lex’s post that started this avalanche. Beck’s mission is to:

      Beck is building solidarity and cultural confidence in America, its Constitution, its military heritage, its freedom. This is a vision that is despised by the people who have long held the commanding heights of the culture. But is obviously alive and kicking.

      Beck is creating positive themes of unity and patriotism and freedom and independence which are above mere political or policy choices, but not irrelevant to them. Political and policy choices rest on a foundation of philosophy, culture, self-image, ideals, religion.

      I do not see why everyone is so concerned with “being nice” to Rofer. She is in the enemy army.

      Presented with verifiable facts different from her indoctrination, she falls back to talking about narratives. Thus, she is in the postmodern world where “fact” does not exist. Everything is true only in a context and frame of reference. She cannot learn, since there are no facts. She can, however, try to empathize, to feel what a Tea Partier feels.

      This attempt at empathy (described as understanding to give it weight and importance) marks her as a superior being. She can claim higher status in her circles because she had the courage to walk through the lions’ den.

      Yet, it was a doomed journey. One cannot feel what a Tea Partier feels without being one. The feeling comes first. To feel it, you have to have social and cultural values in roughly the same weight and rank as the TPs. And you have to have heard for decades (for most, their entire adult lives) that this value hierarchy is flawed, corrupt and evil. But you look around at the people you know in regular life, and at the people you meet at a TP event, and you do not see evil people. You see decent folks.

      And the more you reflect on all the abuse heaped on people who prefer to live more like most Americans have since the founding and in familial arrangements most common across the history of humanity, you get angry. Why do they hate me? You learn you are not alone, that your circle of friends is not an oddity. Why do they hate us?

      You realize that, to force the analogy, your kind have been discriminated against. Not so much legally, but culturally. You are heartened that our country has killed Jim Crow, but wonder why you feel scorned because your son chose to become a Marine. The electeds and the talking heads on TV news grate against your own experience. It is like you have been living in someone else’s world as an unwelcome guest. Or even as a servant.

      Beck, the Tea Partiers, and those factions remind you that this is your world, your country, and the decency you see around you is at the core of the American identity. You feel “home”.

    83. Lexington Green Says:

      Cheryl is a friend, and we treat everyone with civility. I invited her here. If you have a problem with that, you are free to not read this blog and spend your time elsewhere.

      There is no enemy army.

      There are fellow citizens who we disagree with politically.

      The Left talks about killing people they disagree with. Don’t do it again on my blog.

      We dispute by peaceful means. That is the way you convince the mass of people who haven’t picked sides already. You have to be willing to speak with civility and make your case rationally.

      You can respond. “Lex is a pussy. He doesn’t want to fight.”

      Actually, all I want to do is win. I don’t care about gratifying my pride. I want to discern what will be politically effective and do it. For that you need intelligence gathering. You need to road test your arguments. You need to listen to your opponents, when they are willing to have a conversation, and see what they have to say, and respond to it. This is part of that process.

      That is how you win the center and get majorities. You test your own views and your opponents’ views, by argument. Not by forming a pathetic little “amen circle” of people who already agree with you.

      You cannot just say “you have to feel it.” That limits you to the people who feel it. Millions of our fellow citizens not only don’t feel it, but don’t have any idea what you are talking about. Some of these can be won over politically. We have to offer explanations and evidence to support them to move beyond the people who already feel in their guts what we do.

      Finally, and most importantly, the personal is not political. The personal is far more important. You act with charity. You see Christ in others. You maintain self-command and a sense of humor and a sense of perspective.

    84. newrouter Says:

      Last night I decided that there was no point in responding to comments on this thread any longer. What I said had been so distorted and the arguments offered against me so trite that it was time to end it.

      i can see that you have deeply held convictions and are willing to die for them. /sarc off

    85. Xennady Says:

      I’ll address this to our host Lexington Green. First thanks for inviting your friend here to post. As I said above this was fascinating and I regret that she was offended by some of the comments she faced. I hope my two comments were not offensive to her.

      I mean that. You’re spot on when you say that there (these?) are citizens we disagree with politically- and Ms. Rofer certainly is a fellow citizen- but I disagree with her.

      I’ve been on the internet a long time. I was online when AOL was a hot new thing. In that time I’ve been involved in many political discussions with leftists- and the One True Thing I took away from all that is these people hated my guts. Passionately. Truly. And they wanted me dead. Slowly and painfully if possible.

      I do not believe your friend Ms. Rofer wants that. She seems nice.

      But too too many of the fellow citizens of her political persuasion that I’ve interacted with aren’t. I’ve seen them defend the genocide in Vietnam after we left as necessary and justified. I’ve seen them say straight up that conservatives are scum who would be best booted out of the country. In my non-internet life I made the mistake of discussing politics with a leftist- and he tried to get me fired from my job. As I also noted I read the comments now on a leftist site and it is every bit as vile now as it ever was.

      I bet vast swarms of Beck/Palin supporters have similar anecdotes. They leave a mark. They explain why the relentless attacks on Beck and Palin have had thin impact. Folks just don’t trust the attackers as honest critics because they’ve seen their sort of baseless politically motivated attack elsewhere in their own lives.

      I’m sorry if the end result of all this results in comments that hurt Ms. Rofer’s feelings. But if she really wants to understand where Beck/Palin supporters are coming from she’ll have to tolerate this lack of deference.

      Tough as it is.

    86. Lexington Green Says:

      Xennady, you are right. There are people out there who hate your guts. Mine too.

      Let’s not project that back onto everyone who disagrees with us.

      After I look at the viciousness on the Lefty sites I am sickened by it.

      There is no reason, morally or practically for us to imitate it.

    87. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Xennady, I’m not offended or (far less) my feelings hurt by anything on this thread. I do find some of it self-contradictory and some a bit scary.

      You’re doing something that is not conducive to discussion, though, and a number of other commenters have done the same thing. It’s the main reason that I was thinking of dropping this thread. You seem to believe that you know what I’m thinking beyond what I have said. If we’re going to have a discussion within the limits of the Web, we need to stick with each other’s words, not what we think or wish the other person is thinking, still less what their life has been like. Still less, does it make sense to tell them that you don’t care what they think they think, you really know what they think, so there! (You, Xennady, haven’t done that, but others have.)

      So the substantive points I’ve raised have largely gone unanswered in a storm of reaction to something I’m not. I recognize that some of the things I’ve said and the way I’ve said them probably triggered some of those stereotypes. I wrote the post for my home blog, which has a different audience. I had some reservations, for that very reason, when Lex asked me to post here.

      But I am who I am. If you want to find out who that is, clear the mental cache of stereotypes and read what I have to say.

    88. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      I just deleted a comment. It was solely a personal attack, along the lines that I just suggested were useless for discussion.

    89. Beth Says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      One thing that troubles me about your original post is that you used Politifact as your go-to source for facts. I find that source to be extremely subjective. For example, the discussion on Van Jones: If you had listened to Beck, his truck with Jones was that Jones never renounced the fact that he was a communist. Based on viewing many many videos of Jones’ speeches, it is Beck’s belief that Jones has adopted a left wing “green” agenda and is co-opting capitalism to further his aims.
      “But Beck has repeatedly said Jones is a communist. Present tense. Although we could not find a comment in which Jones explicitly said why he is no longer one, we found ample evidence that he now believes capitalism is the best force for the social change he is seeking. So there’s truth to Beck’s claim in that Jones was a communist, but it’s apparent he isn’t any longer, as Beck suggests. So we find the claim Barely True.”

      If Jones no longer believes that communism is a worthy system, why doesn’t he just come out and say so? Wouldn’t it be a worthy teachable moment?

      Please, please look into original sources. Listen to Van Jones’ many videos and make up your own mind.

      And here is why we admire Sarah Palin. She IS like a pit bull.
      Palin spars with Politifact

      And this is fun:
      Sarah Palin, never misunderestimate Shakespeare.

    90. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Beth –

      I recognize that many of the commenters are unhappy with my choice of Politifact. I also notice that some of them are using rightwing blogs and other sources for their “dueling facts.” As I’ve said before, that was only one source I could have used and certainly not my whole basis for saying that Beck has trouble with his facts. I observe that while I am expected to provide lots of documentation for my statements, others have not shown their fact-checking that shows that Beck knows what he is talking about!

      I suspect that rightwing sources are the only ones that many commenters would find acceptable. That limits my options in ways that (surprise!) would favor rightwing conclusions. I think that may be one facet of what Lex was talking about when he said he didn’t want the blog to become an “amen corner.”

      We differ on Beck’s factuality. Can we accept that? I cited that as one of my problems with him. It has been adequately established in this thread that many of the commenters accept him as totally factual. I accept that that is what those commenters believe.

      There is also this business of “original sources.” Let’s consider the Constitution, which has been one of the recommendations. It is written in a rather archaic English, with the concepts and word meanings of a particular time. It has been interpreted and amended over time. I can read the original, but that may not tell me what I need to know. I can spend a lot of time tracking down supporting documents of that time and documents, like Supreme Court rulings, that show how the Constitution and its interpretation have changed over time. It takes a lifetime to become conversant with the entire history, and others have chosen to do that. So I read what they have to say and decide whether I can trust them.

      We all do this with pretty much all the information we acquire.

      You can read the Constitution and, all too often, read what you want into it because of its archaic English and conventions. So more than “original sources” are needed.

    91. Beth Says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for your comment and for hanging in there. I understand and agree that we all gravitate toward the sources that reflect our own views. I try not to do this, but it’s easy to settle into a comfort zone. However, you mention that some of the original sources are difficult to understand. I would recommend you read the letters and essays written by our Founding Fathers. They are fascinating and give an excellent insight into the thought at the time. These men were amazing. I also like to listen to the modern speeches and read the transcripts of those I do not agree with (like Van Jones).

      One more try at what I wrote earlier about the Civil Rights issue and history. When studying the Holocaust, we turn for solace and hope to people like Anne Frank (our conscience) and people like Miep Gees, Bonhoeffer, Kolbe – what the Jews call <a hef=http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/about.asp<The Righteous.
      What is the equivalent for our own abolitionist and Civil Rights movements? Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr. (our consciences, of course) and The Righteous, like William Wilberforce, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Quakers who started the Underground Railroad – Thomas Garrett, for example…and those many heroic African Americans.

      As one who reads thousands of student essays from the U.S. and from around the world, I can’t tell you how disturbing it is to constantly read blanket statements that “whites” hated “blacks” and that “Martin Luther King Jr. saved blacks from slavery and gave them their freedom.” “If not for Martin Luther King Jr, I would not be able to have white friends like I do now” (from New York!) Nary a word about Wilberforce or the many whites who were horrified by the treatment of blacks in the South or of the many blacks who served in legislatures before the Civil Rights movement even began. Most of these students don’t know that African American men were given the vote in 1870 – before women! Context is so important. It’s this slant in the schools that many conservatives find fault with and why Beck is often a breath of fresh air.

    92. Beth Says:

      Oops, sorry about the link to The Righteous.

    93. foxmarks Says:

      Lex, you may not think there is an enemy army. You probably do not think we are at war. So how do you describe the widespread vitriol, not just on the internets, but in real life, too? I know nothing of your experience, but the hate that we try to dismiss as coming just from the loony extremists is alive and mainstream (for those who have opinions) in my urban neighborhood.

      What we have is a civil war, where the personal and the political are in conflict. You and I are going to face (more) tough choices.

      And this is likely the kind of talk that scares people. Well, get a helmet. I am being honest in my assessment, and direct (although pretty much civil, too) in my language.

      I did not say you just have to feel it, as if emotion is the only justification for Tea Parties. With a different audience, I might prefer a different technique. I am not trying to persuade those undecided multitudes by engaging here. I know many in the meat world who make the same noises as Rofer, and I have learned the best way to help them relate is emotional. They (and we) are too bright to accept facts, or even to distinguish between fact and judgment.

      More to the original post, too, I find emotion to be the unifying element in political movements. You want to get inside Beck’s head (or anyone’s), you’ll find most of the action in the limbic system. Figure out the emotional status mechanisms that lie mostly unexamined, and you’ll probably understand more about why the cerebral cortex comes up with logical justifications for tribal displays.

      I could roll off the whole catechism of minarchist philosophy, with all its reasoned points. I could highlight the flaws in the orthodox economics that lead to bad decisions and unnecessary suffering. But it wouldn’t matter because Rofer doesn’t seem to see a problem. She wants to understand why so many see a problem that she does not. So we have feelings.

      Or postmodern relativism, like this: “You can read the Constitution and, all too often, read what you want into it because of its archaic English and conventions. So more than “original sources” are needed.”

      That’s essentially a denial of history. What was once a fact becomes a “fact”. Was there an original intent in the Constitution? Legal terms, although archaic, retain pretty fixed meanings. Contracts are not “living documents”. Is there an objective truth?

      And here I can see we’re go where all the logicalistic arguments go, to arguing epistemology. How do we know what we know?

      Then I go back to one of my first points. Why do we have to argue about what we know? Because the politicization of everything forces into interactions and competitions and defenses that threaten whatever each of us holds important or even sacred. With respectful distance, I don’t care so much that the guy on the next block wants his Christian church to recognize gay ministers. All I need to know is that he’s polite when we’re in line together at the co-op. When he agitates for government (with their laws and their guns) to get involved to force his church to accede, which thereby forces my church, too, then we are at war.

    94. Lexington Green Says:

      We are not at war because political power in this country can still be changed and influenced by elections, by litigation, by administrative action, by peaceable speech and assembly.

      War is when you are actually killing people and subject to being killed yourself.

      I don’t buy the war metaphor.

      I have too much respect for war to pretend that conditions short of war can be usefully called war.

      Political struggle is not war. Political disputes can be bitter, but they are not war. Political conflict can descend into war, but it is not war. War is the continuation of politics by an admixture of other means. Generally, so far, the disputes within the USA, as serious as they are, and you and I agree they are very serious, have not yet broken out into open, armed conflict. The other means have not been admixed. I hope that never happens. My prediction is that it won’t. The preconditions for a civil war are not in place, thank God. The existing power structure is not succeeding, even on its own terms. Political change will be sufficient to remove and replace it.

      Hence my objection to the term “enemy army.”

      Ratcheting down the invective is (1) morally preferable, civility is a good in itself, and (2) politically more effective. It appeals to people who do not already agree with you. It opens up the possibility of convincing the unconvinced It does not presume malice on the part of your opponent, which is usually directed at us, and there is no reason for us to mirror-image that intellectual error. Turning the other cheek is a strategy for victory, not a formula for surrender. It allows the reconciliation of your opponent, who will not have invested his pride in opposing your anger. As the political tide turns, you want people to rally to your side, or quietly accept the change, not fight you to the dead and bitter end.

      The point is to win in a long term political and cultural struggle. We see a similar landscape. We anticipate a different state of play as we go forward.

      Here is a piece of advice from a very holy man, which is always timely: Trample on your pride.

      Love your neighbor, especially when they don’t deserve it.

      Transcend.

      This is not airy-fairy talk. It is the path to victory.

    95. bgates Says:

      You’re doing something that is not conducive to discussion, though, and a number of other commenters have done the same thing. It’s the main reason that I was thinking of dropping this thread. You seem to believe that you know what I’m thinking beyond what I have said.

      It has been adequately established in this thread that many of the commenters accept him as totally factual.

      If I quote something about the speck in your neighbor’s eye vs the log in your own, would that be archaic enough language that you wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about, or would you be able to point to it as further evidence of the incipient Mormon-Evangelical-Roman Catholic-United Methodist theocracy that Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Lexington Green and I have been plotting?

    96. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Good stuff, Lex. I agree with most of what you’ve said in this latest post.

      I have the feeling that arguing about arguing is not particularly interesting, but maybe in a situation like this, where there are widely differing viewpoints and an attempt to establish communication, maybe it’s worth it. Let me know, Lex, if we’re reaching a point of diminishing returns.

      Bgates, when I said

      It has been adequately established in this thread that many of the commenters accept him as totally factual.

      I was referring to what people had written. That was why I said “It has been adequately established in this thread.” I also qualified it with “many,” because I recognize that several opinions of Beck have been expressed, and some commenters have expressed no opinions.

      I would be interested if you could point to where I said anything about an “incipient Mormon-Evangelical-Roman Catholic-United Methodist theocracy that Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Lexington Green and I have been plotting.”

      More broadly, this type of argumentation, pulling and juxtaposing quotes followed by wild extrapolations, can go on for some time and can prove almost anything if you want it to badly enough. But you’re not addressing the substantive points I’ve raised.

    97. Lexington Green Says:

      These conversations have a life of their own, including a point of natural death.

      You are free to just stop responding when you have had enough.

      I am grateful for the large number of honest and generally civil comments.

      CBz readers, old and new, are a higher grade than you get on most blogs. So, hey, love you guys.

      Arguing about arguing in this context is actually meaningful.

      You can argue with a political opponent.

      You cannot argue with an enemy.

      You have to defeat an enemy, then you can talk.

      There are certainly people on the Left who think in those terms. I am acutely aware of them. Visit a comment thread on Kos.

      But that approach, however immediately emotionally satisfying some may find it, is not effective. In addition, it is morally defective.

      One of my heroes, William F. Buckley, was very effective politically, and was a hard fighter for his cause. But he did not personalize it, and he was willing to extend himself to people he disagreed with. This was because of his Christian faith. I try to imitate that.

    98. tyouth Says:

      “We differ on Beck’s factuality. Can we accept that? I cited that as one of my problems with him. It has been adequately established in this thread that many of the commenters accept him as totally factual. I accept that that is what those commenters believe.”

      Yes but YOU posted and have not been specific about what facts YOU have a problem with. We aren’t concerned about what “those commenters” believe. One problem you seem to have is wandering around with other examples, other times, other subjects and other peoples actions. Get to the point or it’s just BS.

    99. Jared Says:

      I would like to suggest that Glenn Beck’s position as a leading figure in the Tea Party movement is not analogous to a leader of an established party because the Tea Party is a reactionary movement and is thus comprised of people unified by their perception of a problem to be fix rather than an integrated ideology. Many of his supporters in the movement do not agree ideologically with him or other supporters on many issues but still support him because he is advancing the collective reaction.

      This is similar to other reactionary movements in the past where people of disparate positions band together against a perceived common enemy (in this case government intrusion). Such a movement’s unity in action does not correlate to a unity in thought or ideology. The ability of varied groups to aggregate into a single movement has often had negative consequences especially when such movements were truly revolutionary such as in the French and Russian revolutions where minority faction used the temporary consensus of action to place themselves in power and then turned on their former allies.

      I feel that a similar thing has been happened in the Republican party since the 90s where the Republicans herald themselves as a reaction against “big government” drawing reactionary support to their election then co-opted the power to suit goals not in keeping with sentiments which got them elected. This is what I think has lead to the birth of the Tea Party movement and the alienation some (my self included) feel with the Republican party.

      All of this means that Beck’s accuracy, integrity, and ideology are less important to his supporters than would be the case with other political leaders. I believe the movement supports him because he agrees with it rather than because it agrees with him.

      Not sure if that truly addresses your specific points but I hope it may clarify some of the dissonance between support for Glenn Beck as a leader promoting the Tea Party movement and the lack of reliance on his particular opinions and factual analyses for the basis of that support. I think that apparent incongruity is something that is easily perceptible from outside the movement but may not be easily understandable from that perspective.

    100. Andy Says:

      Foxmarks,

      I wonder how you plan to convince the great majority of Americans, most of whom are far less ideological than any of us here, to accept the premise that there is a “war” going on, much less convince them you are on the correct side in that war? It’s one thing to claim there is a war against and enemy, it’s quite another to fight and win that war.

      A quick note on “facts.” This is an area I deal with professionally – namely the attempt to objectively examine evidence. I say “attempt” because objectivity isn’t really possible. “Facts” usually do not speak for themselves. Humans have a pretty amazing capacity to confuse fact with opinion or the result of reasoning because of how our brains are wired. That’s not a slam on anyone, just an observation about how the human mind functions.

      Fact-checking sites, while useful tools, should therefore generally be viewed with some suspicion, especially since they are increasingly partisan-based and dedicated to “debunking” the other side – IOW they have agendas. They are good for simple stuff, but it’s impossible to “fact check” interpretive conclusions. Is Van Jones a communist? That is something that cannot be determined with certainty. Individuals will have to look at the evidence on both sides and decide for themselves – either way, they are establishing opinions, not facts.

    101. bill Says:

      Excellent post, and excellent points by Cheryl in the comments.

      Perhaps we should look at our timeline to see how we got here:

      Lex wrote a post and follow-up praising Glenn Beck and his recent march on DC.

      Cheryl wrote a blog cross-posted here that took issue with Lex’s post. Cheryl’s post said nothing about Lex personally, or much else about Lex’s political or moral beliefs, or, more importantly, about the beliefs of his fellow travelers.

      The comments to Cheryl’s post have been, essentially, “THE LEFT” (whatever that means) is mean, which explains why it’ hard for us not to be mean.

      There has been virtually no comment addressing the merits of Cheryl’s post (which squarely addressed Lex’s post).

      Lex writes in comments:

      “There is no enemy army.

      There are fellow citizens who we disagree with politically.

      The Left talks about killing people they disagree with.”

      I think that sums it all up right there. In one sentence, the recognition that there is no THEM, just fellow citizens who we disagree with. The very next sentence, it’s just THEM who act inappropriately.

      Priceless.

      I think I’ll re-read Cheryl’s post again.

    102. Jared Says:

      It has been brought up that no one has address the points brought up in the original article so I though I would give it a go. Here are the points as I can gleam from the article, restate to reflect my understanding (If I misstated anything let me know). My responses follow.

      1. Glenn Beck makes factually inaccurate statements.

      r. I can’t make a judgment about his actual record as I haven’t extensively researched it and don’t regularly watch. But I don’t think the occasional inaccuracy or overstatement is unusual for those in the news or commentary business. Unless there is evidence of systematic misreporting or fabrication I don’t think this discredits him.

      2. Do his supporters recognize this fact?

      r. I think most viewers of any news or opinion program realize that the presenter can be wrong for a variety of reasons. As I said I don’t think mistakes or overstatements discredit a reporter unless intentional and systematic.

      3. Glenn Beck promotes an Us vs Them ideology.

      r. On most issues there are at least two side at least some what in opposition. I think it is a valid view point.

      4. This is bad.

      r. I personal believe conflict is an important and valuable part of our democratic system and that consensus poses great potential dangers. But I think that stigmatizing and demonizing the opposition is not helpful for national discourse and can be dangerous.

      5. Glenn Beck promotes a victimization ideology.

      r. My view is that Beck feels that wrongs have been done in America and that this has been harmful. This would make those harmed in a sense victims.

      6. Glenn Beck condemns his opponent’s victimization ideology.

      r. I think that he does feel that victimization is promoted by his political opponents to increase and perpetuated their power.

      7. This makes him hypocrite.

      r. I think that the main difference is in how the victimization is proposed to be resolved. I think that Beck wants those wronged to solve their own problems and feels that those exploiting victimization do so by proposing external restitution and that such an external solutions creates dependency. Thus it can be consistent to advocate that victims act to solve the wrongs done against them while decrying their exploitation though the distinction might be a but fine.

      8. Glenn Beck is religious.

      r. Glenn Beck is by all accounts religious.

      9. Being religious is divisive.

      r. I don’t think that religion is more divisive than any other value or identity system. I do think that coexistence of multiple religious beliefs more beneficial than removing religion from public life and debate. Strict secularism does not in my opinion promote the same acceptance of the fact that other people will disagree as living with those of other religions does.

      10. “In fact, what Beck and Green are offering is a bargain, one I’ve been offered many times: give up large chunks of yourself in exchange for becoming a part of our togetherness. Every time I have accepted this bargain, I have regretted it. No mas.”

      r. I do not understand what your point is here but I agree with your sentiment. I have felt much the same way about freedom and safety.

      11. Tolerance is good and historically part of the founding of this country.

      r. I agree with this point.

      12. Religious conformity is something Glenn Becks advocates.

      r. I have not seen religious conformity advocated by Glenn Beck or the Tea Party. Perhaps he has stated that religion or religious values have merit but that isn’t the same thing.

      13. Beck and Palin do not support tolerance and exclude the nonreligious.

      r. I don’t think either of these is true. I would assume that both would wish to persuade, convert, or at least coexist amicably with rather than exclude.

      14. Income stagnation is the result of reduced manufacturing which is caused by lack of regulation.

      r. I agree better regulation of some financial products is called for. I don’t think that the regulation of or lack there of financial markets has strongly influenced manufacturing unlike our free trade policies.

      15. People don’t create because of fear over issues which could he eliminated by regulation.

      r. I think that safety and contentment do not necessarily promote creativity. I think need plus resources is likely a better formula.

      16. Factory farms are more likely to poison people.

      r. I honesty haven’t seen any data on if factory or individual farms are more likely to sell food which causes injures. Though if your point is that there isn’t enough criminal liability for corporations I agree.

      17. Regulation and more government power and funding would have prevented the our financial problems and commercial safety issues.

      r. I disagree with this point. Money and power doesn’t insure it is used well, for example compare FDA and DEA budgets for import inspections then think about how much better it would be if those inspection were dual purpose.

      18. Division is bad.

      r. I think division and conflict within the bounds of the law and our political system are good and necessary as well as being inevitable.

    103. Michael Kennedy Says:

      This has been an interesting thread and an astonishing validation of Angelo Codevilla’s theorem. I would particularly like to thank Steel, on 9/4 at 8:51 pm, for refuting Cheryl’s distortion of the 3/5 clause in the Constitution. Each time I found an item that I felt required rebuttal, someone else did so before I had a chance. A useful exercise that I read all the way through.

    104. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Every time I think the thread has reached a natural end, some more comments appear that are worth responding to. Andy boils down concisely what I was trying to do in my example of why reading “original sources” like the Constitution isn’t enough. It’s worth repeating what he said.

      A quick note on “facts.” This is an area I deal with professionally – namely the attempt to objectively examine evidence. I say “attempt” because objectivity isn’t really possible. “Facts” usually do not speak for themselves. Humans have a pretty amazing capacity to confuse fact with opinion or the result of reasoning because of how our brains are wired. That’s not a slam on anyone, just an observation about how the human mind functions.

      I would add to the sentence I’ve emphasized, neither do documents, particularly those from other times. I’ve concluded that Beck is not a reliable source. Some of the commenters, who believe otherwise, have tried to convince me otherwise. One of the points I’ve been trying to make has been that we need to respect each other’s point of view to the point where we can get beyond that constant attempt at conversion. I’ve stated where I’m coming from; you’ve stated where you’re coming from; let’s move on with the discussion.

      Jared breaks down my post into a number of separate assertions. I think that he’s broken some of them down a bit too far and misses some of the continuities, but that’s within the normal back-and-forth of discussion. So thank you, Jared, for addressing what I said.

      What I’d like to address of Jared’s breakdown, and what I think is the most important point I made, is the conflict between the claims of unity and the actuality of insisting that there is, among Americans, an “enemy.” I agree with Lex that we’re a long way from declaring “enemies” and “war.” We have many ways to deal with our differences short of that.

      Here’s something that I thought of and didn’t say in discussing the analogy, which I rejected, between the civil rights marchers and the Tea Partiers. At the time of the civil rights actions, the country was basking in a false unity. We were all suburban and happy, or so went the broad narrative. But “we” weren’t, if you included all Americans. Right now, the predominant narrative is conflict. That may be as false as the unity narrative of the 1950s, but that narrative makes it easier to slip over into the warlike position. So it’s important to consider that when preaching unity and an internal “enemy” simultaneously.

      Historical context matters in politics as well as in understanding original sources.

      Which brings me back to Steel’s explanation of that 3/5 of a person. I simply mentioned it as a part of the Constitution, which it was, no arguments made. I was bothered by Steel’s explanation, because it was only one way of seeing that 3/5. That number was a moral compromise between those who saw slaves as not persons at all and those who wanted them freed, and it was a political compromise to work out the votes. Perhaps some of those compromising saw it the way Steel does. But others saw it as a betrayal to “the enemy.”

      So Steel’s explanation is one way to see it. We probably need more compromises of this kind in today’s politics. But Andy’s caution on “facts” stands.

    105. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I won’t belabor the point but slaves were not “persons” as voters but the southern states proposed they be used to determine the number of representatives. The northern states objected to counting them and the 3/5 compromise was one of the great compromises of the Constitutional Convention. The “3/5 of a person” is a very common distortion by the left of something very different. If I wrongly accused you of holding that view, I apologize but it is common on the left. The fact is that slavery was opposed by non-slave-holding states right back to 1789.

    106. foxmarks Says:

      Andy, thanks for demonstrating exactly how these discussion always devolve into epistemology. And you’re argument from authority is cute. Does that work in your real life?

      And Lex, you’re on the same train. We have to diddle around with the definition of “war”? You say it means X and I say it means Y.

      So, fine, pick a different word that doesn’t hurt your sensitive mind. But whatever we call it, the USA has factions with irreconcilable views. It can only end in death or surrender for somebody. We can’t just leave each other alone (as I keep harping on). I would so much prefer that course, but it is not available. So I am called to fight.

      I do not have to persuade anyone the war is on. Heck, Rofer even says, “the predominant narrative is conflict.” The PoMo condescension implied by the concept of narratives aside, at least we agree that we do not agree. I can’t pretend there is some Third Way between the factions.

      Since we’re been beating the racial horse, I am on the side of John Brown. Either slavery is moral or it is not. Either the lefty agenda (or the righty, or any) agenda is the best moral choice. Since Christ has been repeatedly invoked, where did He compromise? And remember, the victory for Christ is not in this world.

      Like several others, I feel that my most essential points have been ignored. I do go back to the original post trying to find relevance even as the ranging blather is fun and interesting. Just now I was struck by this:

      I’m trying to get into Green’s and Beck’s heads, not dispute them.

      Really? This has felt like asking someone about how they came to G-d. Even if the question is posed with the kindest honest curiosity, it always becomes a series of challenges and attacks. Have we seen evidence of “rolling along with the narrative” to see if it winds up in something coherent and comprehensible? Or has every point been a battle…? Try to think of it like watching a movie. If you spend all your time looking for continuity errors, you’ll never get the big picture.

    107. Lexington Green Says:

      “War is on.”

      No.

      War is killing.

      War is not on.

      We have an election in a few weeks.

    108. foxmarks Says:

      Like I said, you can pick whatever term you like best. “War” works for me. We’ve had killing already. Lee last week, and Fort Hood spring to mind. In context of what I get of Beck and your reading of the rally, those incidents are early skirmishes in the next civil war. The new John Browns and Jayhawkers are already at work.

      And, not to be too pedantic, you wrote (emphasis added):

      Political and policy choices rest on a foundation of philosophy, culture, self-image, ideals, religion. Change the foundation, and the rest will flow from that. Defeat the enemy on that plane, and any merely tactical defeat will always be reversible.

      There is an enemy. Not just an idea, but people who hold overlapping sets of ideas. They are organized. And that set of ideas is irreconcilable with the set held by Beck and the Tea Partiers. If this is not war, what word do you prefer?

    109. Lexington Green Says:

      My post is not difficult to understand.

      I was very clear.

      Boyd was talking about war.

      I was talking about politics, by analogy.

      You understand that.

      I am done talking to you. Go last if you want.
      I

    110. seedtick in ohio Says:

      I suggest you read “Born Fighting, How the Scots [Scotch] Irish Shaped America”. I do not think you can have an intelligent understanding of who we are as an American people unless you know the remarkable dynamics of our founding, of which the Scotch Irish were a fundamental force. These people were [and are] fiercely individualistic, sometimes to a deadly fault, and loyal to family and community very much in that order. What Glenn, Sarah, Jim DeMint etc all express is the value of the collective integrity, intelligence, common sense, and ability to survive of the individuals who inhabit our country rather than the collective integrity, intelligence, common sense and ability of the small group of the political class who would happily run our lives in exchange for our money. It isn’t so much an intellectual exercise as it is an intuitive one, especially if you have Scotch Irish DNA at your core.

    111. Lexington Green Says:

      Seedtick in Ohio: I have not yet read the Webb book. But David Hackett Fischer, in Albion’s Seed, and Walter Russell Mead, in Special Providence, make much the same points.

    112. sol vason Says:

      The problem the left and the right have in understanding each other arises because the left are philosophers and the right are historians. Historians study past and current events and develop a philosophy that learns from past mistakes and successes. Philosophers read other philosophers and focus on the broad “currents” and “waves” of history. Typically, philosophers reshape and rewrite history to match their own philosophy.

      The best example of rewriting happened 1900-1950 when the history from 1200-2000 was rewritten to show the rise of classes, class struggle, class warfare and class exploitation. And of course the history of ancient Rome and Greece was rewritten.

      If you are over 40, then read a grade school or high school history book. You will be amazed by how our nation’s history has changed.

      What ever happened yesterday is lost forever. We have only our memories and our notes and our pictures. But all these things are but a selection of things that happened because even were we omniscient eventually we’d have to decide on how to summarize what happened.

      The Right cannot agree with Rofer because we do not like in the same universe and the Left and Right cannot agree on which universe is real.

    113. Cheryl Rofer Says:

      Sol Vason -

      I would say that your comment illustrates the difficulty in establishing discussion between left and right.

      The problem is that rightwingers like a hierarchical explanation, like yours, whereas lefties tend more to look at situations and individuals. You posit some essential characteristics of The Right and The Left, posit an absolute dichotomy between the two, and then derive what must be the problem with my arguments without ever having to look at those arguments!

      I happen not to believe that there is a Platonic ideal that determines my ideas and actions (or yours!). I also don’t believe that there is an absolute political divide, but rather a spectrum of beliefs that different people hold. If you want to get really specific, there are probably several spectra of beliefs. We’ve seen that in the comments, where there is no single Right “line.” People are individuals and should be addressed at such.

      So I’d even divide up our universes differently than you do.

    114. sol vason Says:

      Cheryl Rofer,

      Everyone has a philosophy. Philosophy is merely the way we determine what is worth remembering, what is safe and what is agreeable. Plato is a famous philosopher but he’s been dead some 2500 years. Newer philosophies have found followers.

      People to the left of me believe in an economy based on cooperation. It is like one of those medieval monasteries where every monk got what he needed and provided all that he could, all for the greater glory of God. Every monastery had an abbot who planned the future and assigned jobs to the monks. Remove God and you have modern Progressivism.

      People to the Right of me believe in an economy base on competition. You keep what you make. We believe that socialism only works in monasteries and the ancient Russian Mir. Otherwise we believe in The Seven Wonders of Socialism:
      1. Everybody is employed.
      2. Although everybody is employed, nobody works
      3. Although nobody works, everybody fulfills the plan.
      4. Although everybody fulfills the plan, there are no goods.
      5. Although there are no goods, everybody has everything.
      6. Although everybody has everything, nobody is satisfied.
      7. Although nobody is satisfied, the Communist party always gets 100% of the vote.

      Please note that people to the left of me base their philosophy on logical ideas which were developed by some philosopher. People to my right base their philosophies on personal experience.

      2 different universes. Who can say which is real. As Hawkings points out we get the universe we are in because we are in it.

    115. seaninsf Says:

      Cheryl,

      About a year and a half or so ago, I posted repeatedly in the comments section of this blog for several months. I did so, despite having liberal political views because I did not understand why our national discourse had become so balkanized and sought, in my own small way, to have a genuine conversation.

      To their credit, the site admins always treated me with respect. I was able to engage in some enjoyable discussions.

      What was unexpected was the degree of vitriol, misplaced class envy and anger I encountered. Not from everyone, and certainly not those I engaged with. But from the majority of respondents. The envy was especially ironic, because my personal experience of conservatives offline has been largely with the wealthy. But yes, strange as it still seems to say it, American conservatism is a populist movement – for better or for worse. In another time and context Huey Long would have felt right at home in it. The vitriol was just depressing.

      Anyway, what I took away from that experiment was this: it is, extremely difficult to step out of one’s own skin and truly experience the other. Perhaps, for a little while, within the protection of an intimate relationship or friendship – but not on the Internet, with all its free floating hostility. Logical arguments and facts are as nothing compared to emotion. We have to connect before we can hear each other.

      Anyway, I enjoyed your article and comments. It was a worthwhile effort.

    116. Xennady Says:

      Seaninsf,

      You think the vitriol from conservatives is depressing?

      Try being a conservative attempting to have a conversation with leftists. Vitriol doesn’t begin to cover it.

      Scroll up and read my comments for a tiny bit about my experiences. Or not. Because I think we’re close to the point when none of that matters. The bitterness and hard feelings are just too thorough and too deep. Note the people in this thread who write about current politics as a war or near-war.

      In my opinion that’s a huge factor in the emergence of Beck and Palin as notable political forces. Conservatives have run out of patience with the establishment and all its assumptions and assertions and are constructing a new narrative with its own set of facts untouchable by criticism from the present elite.

      Don’t take my word for it. I suuggest you investigate a book called “The Fourth Turning”. I think my evaluation of our situation is subsumed in their larger analysis.

    117. Darleen Click Says:

      Seaninsf,

      Here’s an experiment for you. Go to any Leftist blog (especially a Left-feminist blog) and attempt even a mildly non-left argument in the comments (i.e. men and women are not fungible).

      Will you get vitriol? Maybe … but more likely you will get deleted and immediately banned.

      It is a rare Left-of-center that regards any argument of the non-left as legitimate and worthy of any discussion.

    118. Lexington Green Says:

      Huey Long was a leftist populist. There was nothing conservative about him. The conservatives in his state hated him and eventually murdered him. Read T. Harry Williams’ biography, which is a gripping tale.

    119. seaninsf Says:

      Lex,

      Yes, that’s true. That’s why I used him as an example – there is no equivalent populist on the left today; populism has been ceded to the right. Rightist populists from the same era are, for example, Fr. Coughlin; Beck is in his tradition (the enemy within, etc.)

      Xennady: In my opinion, anger rarely achieves any lasting change. Perhaps it makes one feel better temporarily. I’m sorry you feel that way.

      To oversimplify, it seems that many conservatives really dislike liberals (see use of eliminationist rhetoric, accusations of treason etc.). Liberals tend to think conservatives are perhaps not the quickest on the update. They may not be angry with conservatives but they do condescend to them.

      I admit this myself; my experience of conservatives is either the very rich (who appear to have good reason to be) or ideological middle to lower middle class “movement” conservatives whose arguments leave me unimpressed). There are very few conservatives left with any intellectual heft – perhaps Daniel Larison – such a difference from the 1960s and 70s when all the energy and new ideas on the right. This may be due to the fact that populism scares away many who might otherwise identify as such.

      Neither attitude is appropriate. Fighting a “war” with your fellow citizens is dumb. And making fun of, for example, Palin or Beck, may be easy to do but misses the fact that they connect, clearly, with many people.

    120. Xennady Says:

      Seaninsf,

      Well, you’ve certainly condescended to conservatives in your reply. Typical. Also typically you exhibited absolutely no comprehension of what I was saying- just gave me a helping of liberal talking points and a verbal pat on my head.

      You didn’t even notice that I did not say I was angry- although since you no doubt consider me just a dimbulb conservative populist I’m sure you didn’t care.

      This is sad, really. I think it explains why leftists have so little comprehension of Beck and Palin (and many others)- they just automatically assume that those people and their supporters are stupid and worthy of no consideration. The idea that this might not be the case just does-not-compute- like those robots in Star Trek who froze when confronted with a logical contradiction.

      So they continually condescend to them and treat them like morons- and just as continually Beck and Palin make them look like fools.

      I love it. And hey- leftists don’t lack for leftwing populism for lack of trying. I’ve read that Ed Schultz likes to make populist noises- not that I’d waste my time listening to him- and ACORN certainly is an attempt to be populist. The problem is you need an actual movement with actual people for populism to exist. What you have instead are union members paid by Soros to be bussed around the country and wave pre-printed signs in front of mainstream media television cameras. FAIL.

      Seriously, read that book I mentioned. It will help you understand present events in this country.

    121. foxmarks Says:

      Lex, to have come this far only to have you stomp off in a childish huff is quite a disappointment. More so given you took issue with my description, but offered no alternative. Yes, I do get your analogy, and made a smartypants comment about my own pedantry.

      You can have the last word. Let it be that word which you prefer to describe the conflict.

      “anger rarely achieves any lasting change”

      At the risk of what sounds like more pedantry, anger itself is powerless. It needs an agent. Anger is a motivator. Anger makes people effect lasting changes. Sometimes they misdirect or misjudge and remain angry. Other times they win. And with the irritant removed the anger dissipates.

      Myself, even as a fan of overzealous rhetoric, I am not sure that “anger” is my predominate feeling. It is more like “disappointment”. Or perhaps resignation and sadness. I imagine it is something like what Travis felt when he realized Yeller had gone rabid.