Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Deja Vu

Alongside praying for the victims of the evil act in Arizona, it might make sense to dust off this book by James Pierson.  I don't agree with every word he writes, but Pierson is great at explaining how center-left writers desperately try to identify their small-d democratic political opponents with political violence even if the attacker did not share their ideology.  Liberals in this instance resort to guilt by nonassociation through stuff about climates of hate or violent rhetoric despite the lack of evidence that the attacker was influenced by any of this stuff.  As Pierson points out, liberals will try to identify their democratic opponents with a violent attack even when the attacker self-identifies with the left.  Several thought to keep in mind.

1.  Decency, and honesty have nothing to with the Paul Krugmans and Bill Presses of the world (no shock there to some.)

2.  They don't deserve politeness or any assumption of good faith.  They are trying to exploit the unburied dead to attempt to silence criticism of powerful political figures and relevant policies.  They owe everybody an apology and should be treated with the coldest and most persistent contempt until they alter their behavior. 

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 25 Comments

They owe everybody an apology and should be treated with the coldest and most persistent contempt until they alter their behavior.

The job of doing that lies with the editors of The New York Times and the faculty and administration of Princeton University.

them too, but also whatever political interlocutors they run across. This morning Bill Press was on CSPAN and he did not get the reaction his statements deserved.

I will offer two hypotheses:

1. His interlocutors find this nonsense perfectly reasonable.

2. That we have for ten years been living in a thought-world which is a grotesque elaboration of the one delineated by Thomas Sowell in The Vision of the Anointed. A conception of justice, however haphazardly conceived of, has ceased to be the motor of the social views of a wide swath of the attentive public. What you have in its place is political discourse as an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and this exercise is carried out pretty much the same way it is in high school cliques.

The result? You get people who manifest no interest in public policy but have a great deal to say about what Glenn Beck said last Tuesday.

AD, one Press's interlocutors was I believe Peter Wehner (I'm pretty sure) who found Press's nonsense unreasonable. I sympathize with Wehner wanting to be polite and I have never been (nor ever want to be) on television, but Press deserved worse treatment than he got. Press isn't mistaken and should not be treated as if he has fallen in intellectual error. There is no reason to explain why innocent people are not responsible for the acts in Arizona and every reason to focus relentlessly on Press's vileness.

I'm no expert on Krugman's social relations but I suspect you are right that he will not expose himself to many forums where he will get much pushback.

A forum he routinely exposes himself to is the arts and science faculty at Princeton University. That tells us something rather disquieting...about Princeton University.


I have never seen a Conservative Hunting Permit:

You've also never seen a connection between anything you have linked to and written about today and the evil act in Arizona. Yours has been the responses of a hyperpartisan weasel for whom the victims are currency in some self-invented game with democratic politicians you find distasteful.

Hmmm ...






















... oh hell, you get the idea.

That was almost too easy ... just a few very simple Google searches.

And yes, my contempt for you is on full display. I've given up trying to be gracious when it comes to you.

You are just like my PhD brother in law, who despite all external markings of intelligence displays a stupifying degree of inconsistency of thought and mindless adherance to his liberal ideology.

Liberals operate like some other religious folks -- they tend to latch on to anything that bolsters the true faith, and disregard (indeed, disparage) anything that seems to contradict it. And yes, there is also an unhealthy slug of narcissism in their worldview.

The sad thing is, they think trying to pin this on the Right will actually help their cause. They are almost as sick as that young man who pulled the trigger.

Excellent, Don. Thank you for taking the time. Without Truth I suppose they can actually believe themselves. 1+1=3

Yes, Don, very nice, but I hope you forgive me for not looking at all the links. I know the redundancy is part of your point.

You mention contempt and it is easy to go there. Yet there is a larger issue that is not confined to this blog. What do we do about people like this, people who, as Andrew succinctly says, add one and one and get three? Arguing apparently does no good. Ignoring? The narcissism factor is evident in that if you ignore them they assume you have no argument which means they are right. I don't know about you, but it galls me to abandon arguments with that result.

Jared Lee Loughner (Is it pronounced "loner"? I will listen to talk radio to find out. ) sounds equally unpersuadable plus violence. What do we do about this? Do any of you guys have an answer. Classes begin for me next week and being on campus means I will encounter a few people who think like Craig Scanlon.

Kate, I have no idea what to do with such people. But I suspect they fall into three general categories:

1) Those that have their viewpoints but are gracious about differences in opinion.

They will discuss calmly if asked, but otherwise do not force the discussion on others.

2) Those who seek to provoke by asserting their 1+1=3 view of things and persist until they get a reaction.

To be honest, there are many on the right who exhibit this same characteristic. So too many fundamental Christians. This is not just a liberal thing.

Scanlon falls into this camp, but to his credit not as much as some people I know.

A telling sign is how they react when they finally achieve the reaction from me. It is most often a sense of self-satisfied superiority, as if they are saying, "See? I am above your base response because I am intelligent and rational."

My brother-in-law falls into this category. I don't speak to him any more unless I absolutely have to. He's an Ann Arbor liberal, holds a PhD, and fancies himself the very voice or reason.

His offense was to to assure me he wanted a reasoned discussion of the health care debate last year. I was reluctant, knowing his style. He promised not to be provocative. When I agreed, within two sentences he dropped "tea bagger" into the discussion. Then he put this smug look on his face. I asked him, "You know what that means, don't you?" And with that smug look, said "Yeah."

What he does not realize is how very much he is influenced by the likes of Stewart and Colbert. He claims he did not realize he had said that phrase. When I pointed out how that simply reinforces how influenced he is he rolled his eyes.

I've not spoken to him since, except for necessary politeness.

3) Those who do not know enough or know better than to reason through what they see on TV and read in the liberal papers.

My mother-in-law falls into this camp. She watches the CBS Evening news every night and honestly believes Katie Couric is an objective news source.

It takes almost no effort to point out the inconsistencies in her thinking. At that point she often says, "Well, as I get older I just don't care about these things any more."

Except to the degree you bring them up as if they are fact.

yes Kate, what should we do about the people like those on this blog who are so wedded to their ideology that they refuse to let facts get in their way? How do we address those who are sufficiently uneducated to think for themselves beyond the talking points that are fed to them on the radio and through the Internet? What is the proper and conversation-continuing response to 'you're un-American' or 'you should just die' or any other of the childish schoolyard taunts that are offered when a point of disagreement has been reached. What frightens me is that this is a blog associated with a university and I, therefore, assume that some of it's readers (and contributors) are college students who are seeing appallingly immature rhetorical skills displayed. If our cultural discourse is harsh now, I fear for our future. No wonder more refined minds such as lawler and knippenberg have gone on to think publicly in different and more temperate venues. I too, am going to join them.

'you're un-American' or 'you should just die'

On this site? Certainly not in the original posts. And for the life of me I can't recall anything quite so strident being used in the comments either.

Can you give me an example of appallingly immature rhetorical skills demonstrated by those who have authority to post original content?

As for the commenters ... well, appallingly immature rhetorical skills may well be evident. And some may well be from my keyboard.

But that offers a teaching moment, does it not? Why not use cases where the rhetoric doesn't stand on its own to explain why it falls. And what would be a better approach?

Don, apparently Agatha will not be back to read your response, which seemed just about right. I suppose if we had mature rhetorical skills we would be writing somewhere professionally. Yet, Agatha has a point, that some people can be very rude back here in the comments section. The discourse is not always very refined.
This is an open forum on the back pages; not everyone who writes here has anything to do with the university, any real connection. Do you? The moderator takes a very democratic attitude: not censorious, almost liberal. Here, the front pages are for the intellects, the back pages for the hoi polloi. Isn't that just the way on the Internet? Still, many blogs, even ones supposedly aimed at scholars, have considerably more invective and insult in the comment section than this one does. I think this one was rougher when I first found it.

I do not disagree about your categories, up further above. I meet all of those kinds, everywhere and am related by marriage to the last two types. They're Italian and not interested in arguing with me because I don't yell.

Generally, I am persuasive in arguments at my college. They call me "reasonable for a conservative" or "for a Christian". I try not to think of that as condescension. They don't really seem to mean it like that. My mode is to ask questions. Some at the college even know what I am doing with them, but go along for the pleasure of it. I like to make them rethink what they think they think, just as I do with students. That is easier to do in conversation than when writing. My favorite moments are when they find themselves more conservative in their instincts and answers than they thought they were. It is not a big thing. Even if my arguments prevail for a given political moment, the pressure to conform -- they take their talking points from NPR and their own Internet sources. "Intelligence" is defined in those places by a point of view.

Agatha, if you happen to be reading, cultural discourse has always been harsh. When I was at university in the 1970's it was incredibly ugly, and is actually more polite now. Students wore rudeness then as a badge of honor and it made the academy stink. The world is a rough place, which is why we treasure civility when we find it.

I have a co-worker whose daughter swam for Ashland University. I've been on campus for a few brief moments. That's about the extent of my connection.

Our "political discourse" has always been harsh and contentious, it's a myth to think otherwise. Hell, I think even Tocqueville commented on it (will have to check that). The sad fact is, politics and religion are worldviews that lend themselves to absolutist, supreme value-orientations. One of the big differences between the contemporary Left and Right is that that Right still has traditional religion, so it need not invest as ardently in political "discourse." The Left''s new religion IS politics, which is why 1+1=3 so often in their rhetoric.

The key is 'at university'. Not all venues are on the same rhythm. Robert Bork has said that the discourse practiced in official Washington when he returned to it in 1982 was dramatically different from what had prevailed during his previous sojourn (1973-77), with a viciousness which had not been present during the previous period. He was speaking of the standards and practices within the Democratic Party. It was his view that things had never truly recovered.

As I look around college campuses, I see little or no sign of any political, cultural, or religious engagement, uncivil or otherwise. There was a measure a dozen years ago and more than that when I was a college student 25 years ago. Is it all being publicized via social networking sites?

I suppose Bork was encountering the 60s/70s "visionaries" grown up and moving into government power. No, things have never recovered, you can see that in news. I sure see it in college faculties.

It could be worse: I am just at a community college in Ohio. The leftish faculty complains about a lack of student engagement, thinking they, personally, would not be on the receiving end of anti-authoritarianism. In a sense, I think they are. Many of my students, mostly the non-traditionals, roll their eyes at the faculty's politics. The younger ones get upset. There are students who are influenced and, bizarrely, they often sound like Loughner as described in Peter Schramm's post on the front page this morning.

Not in the mood for fighting, I will avoid the faculty areas where the talk will be reflect the "news" that the Arizona shooting is all Sarah Palin's fault. Mention of Palin is like catnip, inciting group caterwauling. Mention of GWB used to do the same thing, but his name seems to have lost potency recently. These are all mild-mannered casual liberals, very comfortably middle-class, whose dislike of the Right is a reflex. They are wound that way, which is why relaxing them in conversation to a different point of view does not last.

Too many metaphors, but no time to clean them up.

What is community college for in Ohio? Here in New York, community colleges and state technical schools are vocational institutions. They employ an arts and sciences faculty so students can meet distribution requirements. There are students who get arts and sciences degrees (I think in one of a few interdisciplinary programs, not specific subjects) as they are in transition to baccalaureate granting institutions. I seem to recall the last time I checked that students seeking vocational degrees and certifications made up the bulk (90%?) of the community college population (nationally). Is my memory faulty or are your accounting and auto repair departments shot through with leftists as well?

"What is community college for in Ohio?" Apparently, to be all things to all people.

In the English department, we are instructed to maintain the standards of the state's four year colleges. A large number of our students transfer to those colleges or private ones. Ohio has a Post-Secondary Education Option program for high school students who are thought capable of college level work. They get college and high school credit at once at public expense. We are supposed to be rigorous so they can compete in the real academy.

I think this is a real problem for those of our students becoming dental hygienists, nurses and technicians of all sorts. No auto repair, but business management has accounting classes. We have a comp. class for the grammatically challenged. There are four levels of non-credit literacy and remediation courses below that. I don't have to teach those.

There are many Ph D's running loose in the US. The full-time faculty and even most of the adjuncts in the liberal arts fields have advanced degrees. Most of them would rather be teaching elsewhere. You are quite right that the dental hygiene and criminal justice or firefighting instructors are more conservative. I rarely see them.

I am not understanding your situation. Here, the business, ag, & tech faculties would be 70% of the total. Why would you 'rarely see them'? We have five or six enormous community colleges, but most have enrollments under 6,000. The state technical colleges are smaller (2,200 - 3,500).

We are considerably off-topic.

No ag., no car repair, and the engineering or tech facilities are in a different building. So, too, are the business department, and both education and health technologies/nursing; all connected buildings, but separate. We have a core curriculum and the Eng. Comp. courses I teach are part of that. Everyone takes two semesters of Eng. Comp.

No, I do not expect all of the college is as politically liberal as those I see the most.

Over 12,000 full-time and part-time students attend Lakeland annually. The average age of a student is 27. Approximately 80% of students are employed full-time or part-time while taking classes. Part-time students comprise 58% of the population.

I have never before looked at the way the areas of study are broken up in my college. Phys. Ed. is in the division of Arts and Humanities. Mathematics is with Engineering. History and Hotel and Lodging Management are in the same division, along with Corrections and Fire-Science. Physics and Massage Therapy must have more in common than I knew. This all makes as much sense to me as my mother-in-law's kitchen cupboards.

In the last few years, the college has partnerships with a few four-year colleges so that there is a seamless transition with them, hence our two-year college offers a few four-year degrees. This type of program has done very well and they have plans for a whole new area on campus that will separate out those aimed for higher degrees, even grad school in some subjects.

As I said, they are trying to be all things to all people.

According to my analysis, millions of persons on our planet receive the business loans at various creditors. So, there's good possibilities to receive a college loan in every country.

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