Patterico's Pontifications

8/8/2014

Be a Human First, a Political Animal Second

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 pm

Wisdom from some dude called Andrew WK:

Hi Andrew,

I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

It goes on like that. I don’t agree with all of it, but it makes some good points. The essay was sent to me by a friend, and I saw it again on Hot Air, linked by Mary Katharine Ham, whose take on it was, I thought, wonderful:

Many of you will likely disagree with Andrew WK and my lauding of his philosophy, but I loathe the idea of a world where my every relationship and every decision is governed by adherence to my political ideology. I want to be friends with people of all stripes and see whatever movie and eat whatever pasta I feel like without running each of them through a political rubric. Not everything that is not of my political sensibility must deeply offend my sensibilities. One of the reasons I’m conservative is because if you increase without end the number of areas in which the federal government meddles from afar, the more politics infects every corner of our lives. And, frankly, that’s a drab life.

I agree. This happens, unfortunately, on both sides. We criticize people on the left for believing conservatives EEEEVIL (instead of just wrong), then some of us turn around and insist that people on the left who disagree with us are themselves evil. I find it annoying.

As Mary Katharine notes, this is an unpopular position with many hardcore conservatives. No righty blogger ever went broke by being too harsh to the left. If I measured my worth by the number of virtual slaps on the back I got from my commenters, I guess I could do a lot better at gaining kudos by screaming my head off about the intrinsic evil of leftists every day.

But in the end, that’s not really the kind of person I want to be. And even though many of the policies the left engages in have terrible results — and even though some of the people on the left are, objectively, evil — most people in the country who hold lefty viewpoints just have a different point of view. It’s wrong, of course. But that doesn’t make them evil.

I say: leave the self-righteous name-calling to the left. They’re great at it; it’s about the only thing they do really well. We conservatives should be the people who are right, and are gracious about it.

P.S. With any luck, some Real Conservative can use this post as a way to scream about my naivete, and thereby gain himself or herself some more virtual slaps on the back. To them, I say: go nuts. But honestly? I’d rather be me than be you.

88 Responses to “Be a Human First, a Political Animal Second”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  2. I grew up in that family, so to speak, and was called bad names for my beliefs. Then I went to college and was called bad names there for what I believed. You can think the fellow writing the essay is all saccharine, but he is so very right: our bumper sticker culture dehumanizes people. It’s all about the snark or the clever insult, not about changing minds or learning from each other.

    Honesty is not the same as tactlessness. Rudeness is not strength. And calling people names only buttresses positions and never leads to dialogue or God forbid a changed mind. But boy howdy does the DNC and RNC love it when we call each other dismissive names.

    That’s my opinion (and no, of course, I am not perfect, or even particularly good). But I remember my late mother (who was a gently and kind soul) expressing a bitter happiness at some politician dying, because he had said things with which she disagreed politically. I just shook my head and asked her to think of the dead person’s family; surely they merited a kind thought or two? And if nothing else, when a person dies, there is never a chance that they will “see the light” and change their minds! She was conflicted, because my mother was a good and kind woman. But that is where our odd society has taken us.

    Thanks for posting that, Patterico.

    Simon Jester (0ac1fa)

  3. :pats Patterico on the back:

    htom (412a17)

  4. Russ Roberts made a really good point in a speech about how to persuade people, and his biggest piece of advice was: be nice. People might be persuaded if you treat them with respect (or they might not) — but they definitely will not be persuaded if you act like a jerk.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  5. I listen to people who are nice and presenting an opposing view. I don’t listen to people who are not nice and condescendingly sneer while presenting their opposing point of view. I’ve lost nothing. They’ve lost the opportunity to persuade. Kindness goes miles.

    When one has family they deeply love hold opposing views, one learns quickly (if they’re smart) what matters most and what, in light of that, becomes almost irrelevant. Love is never worth sacrificing for politics. At least, not in my book.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  6. spades are spades they’re not rice crispy treats so that’s what they should be called i think

    these guys are where i get mine ones from but you can also get them from HEB if you live in america proper

    and they ARE rice crispy treats but they have to call them “crispycakes” cause of trademark issues

    but spades do not have this problem

    this is why people are advised to call them spades

    which is good advice i think

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  7. P.S. With any luck, some Real Conservative can use this post as a way to scream about my naivete, and thereby gain himself or herself some more virtual slaps on the back. To them, I say: go nuts. But honestly? I’d rather be me than be you

    Nice pre-emptive strike. Or is it post-emptive? I’m having trouble telling these days. Shouldn’t we rather concentrate on forming up the team?

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  8. 5. I don’t listen to people who are not nice and condescendingly sneer while presenting their opposing point of view.

    Dana (4dbf62) — 8/8/2014 @ 9:34 pm

    Yeah, sorry about that.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  9. Heh. Steve57, your diatribes are not only delivered with a charming brute force, but nicely challenge as well.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  10. Be a Human First, a Political Animal Second

    I remember once in college when, after crashing at a friend’s place, his mom was driving me back the next morning to pick up my car. She must have heard me the night befor after we got back to her place because she kept saying that just because someone wants to take something from one person and give it to another doesn’t mean they’re a socialist.

    OK. I pretty much thought it did, but I didn’t argue.

    And why didn’t I argue, boys and girls?

    A. I wanted my car back
    B. I was hung over
    C. She was my friend’s mom, for Chrissakes!

    Those choosing “C” are the big winners. Sorry no prizes are available.

    The evidence shows conservatives at better at this sort of thing; treating people who disagree with them better.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  11. 9. Heh. Steve57, your diatribes are not only delivered with a charming brute force, but nicely challenge as well.

    Dana (4dbf62) — 8/8/2014 @ 9:56 pm

    I dice. I slice. I make Julienne fries. What in particular did I do that most offended you? My HR team is dying to know.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  12. Steve57, you’ve never offended me. I was paying you a compliment.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  13. I was being facetious.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  14. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the compliment.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  15. As a child of the original Generation Gap of the late 60′s-early 70′s I can truly relate. There was a period where my father and I were estranged, beginning the day, when I was 14, that we found out MLK had been killed and he said “Good!” and I said “F U!” My father came late to accepting the civil rights movement and was pretty much on the losing end of the American cultural revolution.

    Eventually we reconciled, and I’m glad we did. Even though there were things we didn’t see eye to eye on (some of which I’ve come to understand better as an adult), I am glad that we were able to spend time together amiably before he passed.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  16. I don’t get it. I’m not 65.

    Dustin (ee265c)

  17. I read the link when Simon posted it in a reply to Dana. I, too, am glad you posted
    it, sir. It has been said before and bears repeating. It’s all about love. Love makes the world go ’round. Love is a many splendored thing. All you need is love. God is love.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  18. if you were a moron, like me, you would have read this hours ago…

    of course, this is a thing that comes up with every generation, so i still don’t understand why this is “news”…

    people have been acting this way for millennia

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  19. All you need is love. God is love.

    no: all you need is fire superiority and G*d is on the side of the bigger battalions… 8-)

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  20. Nice pre-emptive strike. Or is it post-emptive? I’m having trouble telling these days. Shouldn’t we rather concentrate on forming up the team?

    I don’t know — did somebody already have a chance to preen at my expense regarding this post before the post was even published?

    Patterico (e102e4)

  21. And that’s why I read your blog. Frankly, sometimes the right is wrong, and if you can’t admit that, you are going to ha e a hard time.

    scrubone (325719)

  22. The response to the letter was surprising given the venue.

    agree. This happens, unfortunately, on both sides. We criticize people on the left for believing conservatives EEEEVIL (instead of just wrong), then some of us turn around and insist that people on the left who disagree with us are themselves evil. I find it annoying.

    Agreed. Here’s the problem with your complaint: large numbers of people are not particularly civically engaged nor have an intense emotional investment in their worldview; they are not a problem. Others are tempered (or have to pretend to be) by daily interactions with a mess of people outside of a particular bubble; that’s commonly true of working politicians (though it does not help some of them). The problem with political life today is that the intramural culture of the portside is such that it is making democratic institutions difficult to sustain. This rancid intramural culture is quite manifest in the attitudes of rank-and-file Democrats who comment in fora like this. As far as rank-and-file Democrats are concerned, deliberation and democratic choice in public policy can never extend to any matter in which they and their clientele have elected to make an emotional investment, political argument cannot be had in any area in which they maintain an emotional investment, ‘the Constitution’ is not a law with specific provisions but an incantation by which they get what they want and no one can say boo about it; schools and colleges are their sandbox and nothing done by their higher-education component is properly subject to criticism or sanction by the larger public; their opposition is too stupid to qualify for positions in higher education; their sectarian opinions and normative on various matters amount to facts or reality (this comes into play in recruitment patterns manifest in newspaper journalism and academic recruitment); non-exotic white people are a cancer whose presence must be contrivedly circumscribed in all settings and whose influence on public policy must be expunged through a policy of population displacement; the purposes of all public institutions, professional associations, and philanthropies are properly subordinated to social-engineering schemes; no one has any autonomy to associate bar according to principles enunciated by portside academics and lawyers; it is perfectly reasonable to conscript the tax collectors in a program to harass the political opposition; only institutions within the social nexus they control (faculties in higher education, the news media, public employee unions) have plenary discretion to advocate anything or organize for any cause, the rest being subject to civil penalties for not following a farrago of rubrics (see d’Souza, Dinesh; that it is perfectly acceptable to make use of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to ruin enemies (see Conrad Black and Louis Libby) while granting ‘waivers’ to your friends (Timothy Geinther); and that it’s perfectly acceptable to staff public institutions with sectaries, crooks, and pond scum as long as they are portside (and here recall the contrasting fates of Gary Hart in 1987 and Bilge Clinton in 1998).

    There’s a reason some people are perturbed by the way in which our time resembles Spain, ca. 1933.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  23. the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world.

    I know. My mistake. I should never have thought Communists and Nazis were destroying the world (or their modern equivalents in academia, the media, and government). They have a divergent vision of a better world. No one should be harsh to family member who bombed a synagogue, torched a black church, torn down an orthodox church or supported a party who advocates such things.

    ErisGuy (76f8a7)

  24. I was really bothered by the part:

    “I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all.”

    I’m sorry, this isn’t a “political rubric” thing; this is an “immature jackhole” thing. You presume that everyone who disagrees with you is out to destroy the planet and your precious “progressive values.” No wonder why you can’t have a relationship with your dad – you’re too obsessed with treating him like dirt.

    bridget (37b281)

  25. I think it is worth mentioning that it is almost impossible for a conservative to avoid constant exposure to liberal-left ideas in the USA today. On the other hand it is easy for a liberal to cocoon themselves while perhaps honestly believing they are open to a variety of perspectives. I try to get past the name-calling by pointing out to my liberal relatives that I know what the AP and the NYT and the alphabet networks are saying, and I know what Fox News is saying, while they also know the former, but never allow themselves to be exposed to the latter. I wish I could say it had any effect, but all I get back is that they “can’t stand” listening to conservative points of view.

    That is the source of my greatest difficulty in avoiding feeling disdain for them – I have trouble respecting people who are proud of ignoring points of view they have been told are horrible, but have no direct exposure to. I get tired of being asked to discuss issues, when the discussion becomes them calling me names within a few moments, and their rebuttals consist of shouting “that’s a lie”. I have one close relative with a college degree in liberal arts who firmly believes it should be “illegal” to “publish lies like Drudge does”. As she explained the evils of Drudge, it became obvious that she had no idea the he is merely a news aggregator and had never even seen his website! Sometimes I feel like the proverbial “stranger in a strange land”!

    Ray Van Dune (d9ea85)

  26. We criticize people on the left for believing conservatives EEEEVIL (instead of just wrong), then some of us turn around and insist that people on the left who disagree with us are themselves evil. I find it annoying.

    The word you use, or “evil,” generally misses the basic premise that much of the left has of the right, and, in turn, much of the right has of the left. Simply put, “evil” misses the actual impression that many liberals have of conservatives, whom they see as lacking human kindness and compassion. Of that they’re mean more than evil. In turn, many conservatives perceive liberals as being gullible, foolish and phony.

    People like George W Bush buy into this basic stereotype, since in his case he thought conservatism needed to be qualified with “compassionate.” But that’s hardly surprising because how many times in mixed company — among people of all walks of life — does a truly candid, even blunt, conversation take place about the real nature of liberal biases versus conservative biases?

    Mark (1c4a55)

  27. But I remember my late mother (who was a gently and kind soul) expressing a bitter happiness at some politician dying, because he had said things with which she disagreed politically.

    Based on your description, I’m not sure if your mother was of the left or right. However, I’m guessing she was a liberal, which makes her emotions even more ironic but, in reality, actually quite fitting. That is, where surveys reveal that people of the left are, in actuality, less generous in their charitable instincts, less likely to donate their time, money and even blood.

    And also more likely to believe (and this is a truly fascinating irony to me) that it’s okay if blacks are discouraged from moving into certain neighborhoods. But the reality of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry Truman and the private sniping of Bill Clinton certainly don’t refute that glimpse of the real nature of liberalism.

    There was a period where my father and I were estranged, beginning the day, when I was 14, that we found out MLK had been killed and he said “Good!” and I said “F U!”

    Based on your description, I’m guessing your father leaned right. In turn, I wonder if he was much into or greatly respected the concept of meritocracy.

    Mark (1c4a55)

  28. I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, the acrimony dos get a little thick. On the other hand, I do get a little weary of seeing the Left get away with propaganda and slander with no counter fire. I really think that is what the Left hates most about Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter; they use the Left’s rhetorical excesses against the Left, and having “nursed the pinion that impelled the steel” the Left naturally does not approve. Done well (and Rush does it well) it’s hilarious.Lesser proponents are almost as annoying as the lefty diatribes they mimic.

    In my personal life, I mostly keep it low key. And I make some progress. My Step-Mother-In-Law had on of those awful “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican” bumper-stickers for years and dismissed my complaints as “you don’t have a sense of humor”. I ultimately told her “What you are saying is that it is acceptable to prevent people from voting if they disagree with you. That’s what the KKK used to do in Mississippi.”

    The bumper-sticker was gone the next day.

    C. S. P. Schofield (e8b801)

  29. I believe what Patterico is getting at is Tolerance. I have certain core values that I believe are correct, but that doesn’t mean that I want to force everyone else to believe the same as I do. After all, I could be wrong and the world would be a boring place if we all thought he same.

    But as a Conservative-Libertarian who has spent his whole life in public Universities, I’ve had it with intolerance towards any viewpoint that is not “correct”. I get to hear on a nearly daily basis the complaints from my peers about stupid right wingers and climate deniers. I love to debate… well anything. But I have to be quiet or else I may hurt my career. Its getting harder and harder to find a person of opposite beliefs who doesn’t immediately ridicule or start yelling at an idea with which they disagree. It seems that expressing a viewpoint without actually acting in anyway to force others to adopt your viewpoint is now a direct threat to ones career.

    Maybe it is the same for a Liberal living in a deeply conservative area. I can only speak for myself.

    Bellerophon (a94664)

  30. This whole argument reeeekkkkss of the “Obama is a good man” BS I heard years back.

    Here is a fact, the kid who wrote the letter is a piece of trash.

    Can we all be friendly to a piece of trash like this child, sure.

    But when needed it must be put to the curb.

    So, are all leftists equal? No.

    But put aside your feeeeeelllllllings about how nice and inclusive you want to be and do good.

    The Left must be put in their place whether we consider it drab or not.

    As with this child lecturing his father with overly dramatic prose — it really needs to be stop dead cold either kindly or with an ass whooping.

    Rodney King's Spirit (8b9b5a)

  31. #29 Which is why being nice does not work when you are being assaulted. What works is you pummel them to death.

    Rodney King's Spirit (8b9b5a)

  32. Tolerance?

    ok, Mr. B

    we used to just call this social skills i think

    i guarantee you this letter-writer person has a harder time than most negotiating life outside the bubble

    this has nothing to do with politics

    if anything my guess is in many cases it’s reflective of how we raise children today – mollycoddled and kept in a very cozy comfort zone and heavily indoctrinated (we’ve developed a “psa culture” is how i think of this last bit)

    but tolerance is not the answer here really

    letter-writer’s dad needs to man up and be a dad i think

    time for some tough love, pickles

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  33. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable.

    Look, arguments require at least two people involved. The letter writer is either provoking and goading an argument or he is taking the bait and dishing back. Either way, he has a choice in the matter to not participate – whether defending or being aggressive and whether quietly resenting his dad or quietly letting the fact that his dad doesn’t believe and behave he wants him to to eat away at his insides. Quite possibly, only the letter writer has these feelings and his dad is just fine with the way things are. So, no wonder he can’t enjoy his time with his dad! He is making bad *choices* to either attack or get played.

    The underlying tension is likely *his* perception, not his dad’s reality. I have a parent that can argue politics til kingdom come, be disagreed with, challenged, etc., and parent will not lose a moment of sleep over it and more so, will absolutely thrive in such discussions and think it brings us closer together. However, I would come away exhausted and frustrated until I figured out that said parent never took or meant it personally. It was politics, nothing more. For me, it was personal. Now that I understand the dynamics and that it was me *choosing* to take it personally, we can talk without all the yuk. To this day, said parent does not understand how it could have ever been taken personally or caused any agitation in me. And I have learned the discipline necessary to keep it not personal and simply politics.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  34. I agree with him on many parts, but there are also people in this world that legitimately want to hurt us for our beliefs. They have dehumanized us and have no interest in changing their viewpoint. How do you turn the other cheek when it comes to those individuals?

    I’m fine with giving your family leeway, but when it comes to politicians and people that can directly affect my life in a negative fashion, I have no sympathy for them. They don’t look at us as human. I know they are human, but I know they are also evil. The belief system they push has killed hundreds of millions and impoverished billions.

    NJRob (5da6c8)

  35. As Mary Katharine notes, this is an unpopular position with many hardcore conservatives. No righty blogger ever went broke by being too harsh to the left. If I measured my worth by the number of virtual slaps on the back I got from my commenters, I guess I could do a lot better at gaining kudos by screaming my head off about the intrinsic evil of leftists every day.

    But in the end, that’s not really the kind of person I want to be. And even though many of the policies the left engages in have terrible results — and even though some of the people on the left are, objectively, evil — most people in the country who hold lefty viewpoints just have a different point of view. It’s wrong, of course. But that doesn’t make them evil.

    I say: leave the self-righteous name-calling to the left. They’re great at it; it’s about the only thing they do really well. We conservatives should be the people who are right, and are gracious about it.

    It is important to remember basic psywar principles, as explained by William a. Levinason.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/5967

    PsyWar Basics

    (1) PsyWar is decisively effective. “Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.” Linebarger, however, wrote that the Communists proved that the figure is closer to two percent. This explains how a handful of Nazis, who made the effort to study psychological warfare intensely, were able to take over one of the most advanced nations in Europe.

    (2) Propaganda must be simple, visceral, and convey the desired message in seconds. Sally Hogshead’s presentation at the 2013 ASQ World Conference said that it is necessary to fascinate your prospective audience within nine seconds. The context involved business relationships, but application to PsyWar means that images are the most effective medium. The propaganda that both the Lutherans and the Catholics used during the Reformation consisted extensively of simple woodcut images that were comprehensible by somebody who could not read.

    (3) The Propaganda Man is the person to whom we direct our argument. This means the propaganda must be tailored to each Propaganda Man (or woman); “one size fits all” emphatically does not work.

    (4) Effective propaganda is honest. As defined by Linebarger, “Propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of communication designed to affect the minds, emotions, and action of a given group for a specific purpose.” Appeals to donate blood, warnings against driving while drunk, and encouragement to get cancer screenings are propaganda by definition. Hitler proved that you can get away with a big lie but, more often than not, the instant the Propaganda Man catches you lying to him, you are finished.

    (5) Direct negative propaganda against the enemy leaders, and not the rank and file. Linebarger warned against defining the enemy too widely. When we direct hatred at the enemy followers, we enrage them and encourage them to continue to fight. The idea is to discredit the leaders to get the followers to walk away from them. Here is an illustration from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Note how the destitute subjects are carrying a fat king on their backs. An image of this nature could be directed at any enemy nation whose rulers live lavishly while the people go hungry.

    Michael Ejercito (becea5)

  36. 20. …did somebody already have a chance to preen at my expense regarding this post before the post was even published?

    Patterico (e102e4) — 8/9/2014 @ 1:47 am

    This particular post? No. But the past being predictive…

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  37. A famous Mark Twain quote:

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    Maybe the boy should realize his dad knows a few things about the real world.

    luagha (1de9ec)

  38. @28:

    I really think that is what the Left hates most about Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter; they use the Left’s rhetorical excesses against the Left, and having “nursed the pinion that impelled the steel” the Left naturally does not approve. Done well (and Rush does it well) it’s hilarious.

    I also owe them a debt of gratitude; it’s easier to be the person who can make a truce with the other side when you are backed up by an army ready to do battle on your behalf. Rush, Ann, and the rest of the crew back us up so that we can’t be cowed into silence.

    bridget (37b281)

  39. 37. Maybe the boy should realize his dad knows a few things about the real world.
    luagha (1de9ec) — 8/9/2014 @ 11:12 am

    That’s just part of being a boy. If the kid realized, he’d be an adult.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  40. However, I would come away exhausted and frustrated until I figured out that said parent never took or meant it personally.

    I’m curious about the specifics in terms of what issues or topics were discussed that caused the reaction you had. Similarly, I’m curious about the specifics of the conversations (or arguments) that the father of a “Son of a Right-Winger” had with his son.

    I wonder if part of their conflict was due to the father not realizing just how nonsensical it is that too much of the public falls for — or feels that or emotes over — the idea that “conservative” needed to be qualified with “compassionate,” with his son, naturally, happily buying into that assumption.

    A few decades ago, if not today, it was considered inappropriate by the cocktail-circle elite (including in the media) or those living in ivory towers to delve into the ideological orientation of a person nominated to the Supreme Court. So a person who needed to be vetted to determine whether he or she deserves one of the top positions in the federal judiciary should therefore be allowed to stay in the dark regarding the fundamentals of what makes him or her tick?! Huh??!

    Mark (1c4a55)

  41. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    A variation of this somewhat well-known phrase:

    If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.

    BTW, the guy currently occupying the White House is 53 years old.

    Mark (1c4a55)

  42. Among elected Republicans, gracious means unprincipled. It is the cover used by the Trent Lotts of our party whose only real interest is in divvying up the spoils of taxation. I reflexively recoil when I am told that we conservatives need to be gracious because it is the argument most used to get us to abandon our principles. Of course, I know that’s not what you are saying.

    It wasn’t until I moved into the college dorms that I had my first contact with New Yorkers. A gracious bunch, they were not. They had an honesty and directness, which my more decorous suburban approach lacked. In addition, they were more willing to voice dissent and more effective at it.

    My real concern is that of effectiveness. Historically speaking, Republicans have been a gracious bunch. Has this graciousness in the face of a shrill and disparaging Leftist onslaught be an effective tactic? I think the answer is “No.” I’m not saying that conservatives should match the nastiness of the Left, but graciousness is not the ticket. Republicans need to stand up to the bullies on the Left and not pull our punches in some misplaced effort to be gracious. We should be a party of Dick Cheneys and not a party of Trent Lotts.

    ThOR (130453)

  43. “Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.” Linebarger, however, wrote that the Communists proved that the figure is closer to two percent.

    How does that work if groups of 2% or more hold opposing beliefs (which is usually the case)?

    Gerald A (9e3e6a)

  44. #35

    Item (5) is understandable except the muslims who are our enimies are the 10% or 2% and their leadership is widely distributed. The leadership or Imam locally is at the mosque and inciting violence against anyone outside their sect.
    Malmo, London, Paris, California, Minnesota and on around the globe to Australia, the PI, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Africa in a band from Kenya to Nigeria and northward.

    The leadership within in ISIL recruit foreign fighters with hopes of training them, identifying those who can return to the country of their passport and wreak havoc there too.
    So I think we should find some Chinese cluster bombs, mark them up like they were sold to Iran and then eradicate the jihadis whenever they mass up for an attack.
    That way there will be less followers to enrage. Wait. They were already enraged. OK. Less followers to rise to leadership

    steveg (794291)

  45. What if you’re liberal when you are 12, but grow a brain by 17?

    Does that mean you have no heart?

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  46. They had an honesty and directness, which my more decorous suburban approach lacked.

    That “suburban” approach is followed by just about every person in the political world, among most politicians. That’s in marked contrast to people like commentators Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Prager, or, speaking of New Yorkers, the famous-for-being-a-loud-mouth Howard Stern, perhaps the only person in the public spotlight who has ever been very upfront about — or had the experience of — attending a public school that changed racially.

    I believe Richard Nixon is one of the few top members of the political world over the past 70 years who has ever used and specified “liberal” or “liberals” in public discussions — and often negatively — which is a big reason that, even though he was a big squish (much less an unethical, thin-skinned one), he earned a lot of enmity from the left. I read that when Harry Truman went out on the campaign stump, he would cite in negative terms “conservatives.”

    Mark (1c4a55)

  47. Does that mean you have no heart?

    Perhaps it means a person has both a brain and a heart.

    When I encounter obnoxious, vindictive or bigoted people in the public, I sometimes wonder what their political-ideological orientation may be. IOW, if photos of Obama and Clinton (Bill or Hillary) were flashed before them, and then photos of Reagan and Bush were shown to them, I wonder what type of visceral reaction, if any, they’d display between one group and the other.

    Mark (1c4a55)

  48. I believe Richard Nixon is one of the few top members of the political world over the past 70 years who has ever used and specified “liberal” or “liberals” in public discussions — and often negatively — which is a big reason that, even though he was a big squish (much less an unethical, thin-skinned one), he earned a lot of enmity from the left. I read that when Harry Truman went out on the campaign stump, he would cite in negative terms “conservatives.”

    Mark (1c4a55) — 8/9/2014 @ 12:15 pm

    It was mainly Agnew. He coined the term “radiclib” to describe the new breed of liberals like McGovern that were taking over the Democrat party. There hasn’t been any high profile elected conservative who has done that since, that I can think of. The Democrats do that stuff constantly.

    Dennis Prager repeatedly says that demonizing conservatives is the only thing the left is successful at.

    Gerald A (9e3e6a)

  49. If you want to find someone who fans the flames of demonization, look no further than the White House.

    AZ Bob (c949f7)

  50. This particular post? No. But the past being predictive…

    I don’t quite follow, sorry.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  51. I agree with him on many parts, but there are also people in this world that legitimately want to hurt us for our beliefs. They have dehumanized us and have no interest in changing their viewpoint. How do you turn the other cheek when it comes to those individuals?

    I’m fine with giving your family leeway, but when it comes to politicians and people that can directly affect my life in a negative fashion, I have no sympathy for them. They don’t look at us as human. I know they are human, but I know they are also evil. The belief system they push has killed hundreds of millions and impoverished billions.

    How to respond depends on who your opponent is, and what they are doing. I don’t advocate turning the other cheek when, for example, terrorists are trying to kill us. But when the opponent is a Democrat who is simply advocating bad policies, our approach has to be different. We have to win people over to our side. Milton Friedman always did so with a smile. He never backed down, but neither did he get nasty. Having a spine does not mean you have to be ill-tempered. And I bet Friedman, with his smile, won over far more people than do Internet or talk radio screamers who spit out bile day in and day out.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  52. If you want to find someone who fans the flames of demonization, look no further than the White House.

    Oh, I agree. Nothing I’m saying requires us to ignore that, or to stop pointing it out. I plan to continue pointing it out every chance I get.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  53. But when the opponent is a Democrat who is simply advocating bad policies, our approach has to be different.

    wouldn’t full disclosure on this post kinda sorta necessitate indicating that the sweet loving spoonful you go home to every night is something sort of politically opposite

    or at least a wee bit out of synch with

    your own political thinkings?

    meaning only that this “tolerance” muscle is one you damn better be in the habit of flexing, yes sir tell me I’m not wrong

    specially if you want them tasty vandycamper fishsticks while you catch up with your stories on the teev-o

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  54. But when the opponent is a Democrat who is simply advocating bad policies,

    Again, you’re usually not talking to Glenn Loury. George McGovern is dead and Nat Hentoff is real old. Portside discourse in our time is commonly composed of assaults on persons, flagrant falsehoods, defenses of criminal behavior, and high dudgeon that you’re advocating anything at all or paying little attention to their interminable list of ps & qs. The problem is structural and one of process.

    As for the man’s specific problems with his father, I’ll wager its a failure of perspective and a grafting of political discussion on abiding problems between the two.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  55. But when the opponent is a Democrat who is simply advocating bad policies, our approach has to be different.

    wouldn’t full disclosure on this post kinda sorta necessitate indicating that the sweet loving spoonful you go home to every night is something sort of politically opposite

    or at least a wee bit out of synch with

    your own political thinkings?

    meaning only that this “tolerance” muscle is one you damn better be in the habit of flexing, yes sir tell me I’m not wrong

    specially if you want them tasty vandycamper fishsticks while you catch up with your stories on the teev-o

    Full full disclosure would require me to point out that I care about this stuff a lot more than she does, and also that she agrees with me on many, many issues.

    Also, I demand that all Real Conservatives disclose whether they are married to other Real Conservatives, and tell us precisely how politically involved their spouses are. Just as relevant, no?

    P.S. I hate fishsticks and we pretty much cook for ourselves most of the time.

    P.P.S. The above is a long and nice way of saying “no.”

    Patterico (e102e4)

  56. ok it’s just something what occurred to me in my head is all

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  57. you’re missing out on them tasty fishsticks though

    they’ve changed a LOT

    the new ones got sodium tripolyphosphate to Retain Fish Moisture

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  58. I believe Richard Nixon is one of the few top members of the political world over the past 70 years who has ever used and specified “liberal” or “liberals” in public discussions — and often negatively

    Well, perhaps, but Nixon, as President, was fairly liberal himself and an incredible statist. He implemented and ran most of the Great Society programs that LBJ had left unfinished, he imposed wage and price controls, he established affirmative action programs, he started the war on drugs, he favored detente and he went to China.

    The Libertarian Party was formed in 1972 in response to Nixon’s (and the GOP’s) embrace of the mega-state.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  59. Kevin M – it’s a common joke in the more politically aware parts of my social circle to refer to Nixon as the most Progressive president the US ever had. :)

    aphrael (69561e)

  60. 55. …P.S. I hate fish sticks and we pretty much cook for ourselves most of the time.

    Patterico (e102e4) — 8/9/2014 @ 6:23 pm

    I used to like fish sticks. It was what you got when your parents were on the tail end of their rope.

    Parents: “Look, kid, it’s fish sticks or nothing. Cuz we’re broke.”

    Me: “Thanks for for the fish sticks.”

    If you were lucky you got ketchup. I you were really lucky you got tartar sauce.

    Steve57 (ba12a7)

  61. A different POV, born of inadvertent ignorance, is no sin.

    Looking directly at the face of proven evil, and insisting that I must allow the evil to continue, or to “come to a middle ground” with it, is to be evil.

    Choosing, or willful, ignorance is evil, as well.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  62. Milton Friedman was an extraordinary man. His command of the technical aspects of free market capitalism was matched by a profound understanding of the moral implications of capitalism and competing economic systems. It didn’t hurt that he was an outstanding communicator, as well. Unfortunately, few among us are Milton Friedmans.

    In the marketplace of ideas, we all have something to offer. The fact that some conservatives are more graceful than others when presenting their beliefs is a testament to the diversity of conservatives as a group. Glenn Beck doesn’t speak for me, nor does Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Coulter or Huckabee. But their sometimes intemperate voices are important to legions of conservatives and, in that way, they are important to me and to the conservative cause.

    Most Americans are more than capable of sorting through the cacophony of competing voices and making informed decisions. That’s how the marketplace for ideas works. I think Friedman would see it that way. Besides, given the state of national and global affairs, we have more important things to concern ourselves with than the occasional graceless remark by a fellow conservative.

    ThOR (130453)

  63. The writer of the question has probably absorbed too much “liberal” bad thought.

    In the first place, his father is not “destroying the environment”

    The problem is too much liberal thought puts an emphasis on individual effort. You save the world by conserving water, or electricity, or not using plastic bags, or whatever.

    This is, of course, not true, but it probably gives him a great deal of pain to see his father counteracting all of his efforts. And his asking his father not to do this or that starts an argument.

    There is a possibly an extra problem if he goes by the mantra that every vote matters.

    He never considers the possibility that he might be mistaken, or that it i only what everybody thinks that might matter.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  64. Well, perhaps, but Nixon, as President, was fairly liberal himself and an incredible statist.

    That’s why I theorize the major reason he generated such ire among a lot of liberals was due to his often negatively using the words “liberals” or “liberalism” in public discussions, and also due to his berating a leftwing Democrat woman, Helen Gahagan Douglas, for being “red,” during the time he and she were competing for the US Senate seat from California back in the 1950s.

    It’s interesting — and perhaps not purely coincidental — that the most notorious, unethical Republican in history had left-leaning tendencies.

    Mark (1c4a55)

  65. Well, perhaps, but Nixon, as President, was fairly liberal himself and an incredible statist. He implemented and ran most of the Great Society programs that LBJ had left unfinished, he imposed wage and price controls, he established affirmative action programs, he started the war on drugs, he favored detente and he went to China.

    1. Which programs ‘unfinished’??? Nixon engineered the dismantling of the Office of Economic Opportunity, which was the signature Great Society program. He did not act to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare, for obvious reasons. He attempted to decentralize public decision making in many areas through replacing categorical grants with bloc grants and general revenue sharing, as well as to fold some existing cabinet departments into four more general departments. Congress would not agree to these proposals. He had no choice but to ‘run’ the patronage mills set up between 1963 and 1969; the statutory authorizations were on the books and Congress appropriated the money. Unlike the current incumbent, Nixon never had the idea he could re-compose an inconvenient statute.

    2. Nascent initiatives toward ‘affirmative action’ date to 1966. The Nixon administration did exacerbate matters.

    3. Federal prohibition of street drugs dates to 1914. The predecessor of the DEA was formed in 1968 during the Johnson Administration from a merger of two antecedent agencies.

    4. I do not know what you fancy would have been a more astute course of action in 1972 re Soviet Russia and China. Nixon and Kissinger had to maneuver in a world they could not shape.

    Nixon was a political opportunist who drew on the kultursmog ambient in the political class in generating policy. The result of that was that he was much closer to Rockefeller that Reagan in his general policy prescriptions. You have the details wrong, though.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  66. An historical note:

    Richard Nixon grew up a Quaker, a Pacifist Sect.
    His 2nd-Cousin was the author Jessamyn West, who wrote “The Friendly Persuasion“.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  67. Hey, I’m married to a moderate-to-liberal Democrat — but I’m definitely a conservative. I decided early on in our relationship that there are more good things about her than there are bad things in her views. And interestingly enough, I’ve spent the last couple of decades watching her move in my direction on issues like immigration, the death penalty, and the like. She may never become a Republican — but perhaps she will manage to drag her party back towards sanity.

    Rhymes With Right (da71f4)

  68. Art Deco (ee8de5) — 8/10/2014 @ 8:23 am

    He had no choice but to ‘run’ the patronage mills set up between 1963 and 1969; the statutory authorizations were on the books and Congress appropriated the money. Unlike the current incumbent, Nixon never had the idea he could re-compose an inconvenient statute.

    Nixon is famous for “impoundment” which started after Congress overrode his veto of the water pollution bill. However, that was a new law.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  69. LBJ was also ‘guilty’ of impoundment.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  70. fishsticks in peril!

    oh god this can’t be happening

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  71. Nixon advanced statism in a manner even FDR dared not: Wage and price controls.

    Nixon was a pure pragmatist. Here, he decided he needed to use the state to regulate beyond anything ever seen. I care not that he was not a dyed-in-the-wool statist. What matters is that he engaged in a singular act which advanced statism.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  72. Nixon advanced statism in a manner even FDR dared not: Wage and price controls.

    There were extensive wage and price controls and ration books during the 2d World War.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  73. Nixon is famous for “impoundment” which started after Congress overrode his veto of the water pollution bill. However, that was a new law.

    No, impoundment was a kibosh on expenditure of appropriated funds.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  74. What I meant was the water pollution bill was a new law, unlike Medicaid or Medicare spending.

    (I see there is also a difference here in that Medicare and Medicaid are entitlements, which means they may not require appropriations, once authorized.)

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  75. Re; wage and price controls @72. And also during the Korean War.

    Nixon opposed the bill that authorized him to oppose wage and price controls. It passed in March 1971. I think he signed it because it was part of a larger bill.

    Then, on August 15, 1971, he reversed himself.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  76. I reject times of war when it comes to distinguishing precedent. State spending in the Vietnam was not primarily driven by the need to pay for war, either.

    The link describes how Nixon, arbitrarily decreed wage and price controls. This as action by fiat, not law. Whether he had cover of an unconstitutional law or not, Nixon chose a supreme act of statism.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  77. Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  78. Not that Andrew whatever doesn’t have a point its just we’ve passed that juncture where quietism has an upside.

    We can acknowledge the point as we look into this new person’s face whom we’ve encountered, but if recognition of possible merit does not follow in seconds its time to sort and move on.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  79. Nixon was quite familiar with WW-2′s Wage & Price Controls as he worked in the Office of Price Administration (OPA) as a Navy officer.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  80. Fabulous post. I agree 100%. I might be looking back with rose-colored glasses, but I remember my parents’ generation arguing about politics, but doing it civilly, with a generous helping of cocktails. We had friends that literally would not speak to us during election season 2004/2008. This has to stop. People of good faith have to get along. “They” are not the enemy, just people who disagree.

    Andrew WK is playing at Riot Fest this summer; I might have to see the show.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  81. carlitos #81 – people of good faith *still* get along … we have never stopped getting along …

    Alastor (e7cb73)

  82. you know what brings people together?

    a heaping platter of golden brown fishsticks, that’s what

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  83. Part of it, carlitos, is to somehow stop all this name calling that is all over the place these days in politics. That kind of simple minded approach allows a person to objectify an opponent as a “nonperson” and somehow deserving of some pretty awful insults. And let’s face it, most people who do that kind of thing would never, ever refer to a person that way in person. So it’s cowardly as well as intellectually lazy.

    More to the point, all the snarky nasty name calling takes away from the ethical high ground that we should be taking. It’s possible to say you don’t want Person X to be President, Representative, or Senator without poking fun at their names, saying things that are untrue, or being vulgar. Yes, yes, different people can have different opinions. But mine is worth something, as well.

    You see, I have watched this develop over the years. I have a friend from elementary school who considers himself quite a feminist. But he had utterly no problem posting a Photoshop of Sarah Palin’s head on a streetwalker’s body. He thought that was hilarious…yet became quite exercised when someone called HRC a bad name. The hypocrisy seemed to escape him. And he would invariably point to some right of center person being vulgar as justification.

    The truth is that it is all tribalism, and what we need is better manners. But it sure is easy (and safe, when you aren’t confronting the person) to call people snarky or nasty names.

    By the way, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. But you cannot be surprised, on the other hand, when people demonize people you like, when you have no trouble demonizing others. I’m well aware of how often the Left does this. But that shouldn’t make it great for us to do it. I think the “they do it, so we should” attitude really diminishes differences between our two societal tribes, and makes it easier for people to drop out and not vote. And that, I think, is the worst thing you can do these days.

    And as always, the DNC and RNC love the bumper sticker approach to politics. They think it’s great.

    So a roundabout way of saying I agree with you, carlitos. But I fear that your and my opinion is in the minority these days.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  84. R.I.P. Robin Williams

    Icy (e6ea2c)

  85. with tartar sauce, happyfeet?

    mg (31009b)

  86. The whole foods has the best ones, Happyfeet. And all my lefty pals agree, except for the vegans.

    SarahW (267b14)

  87. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It will always be helpful to read through articles from other authors and use a little something
    from their web sites.

    lovely (f1a721)


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