Monthly Archives: April 2012

Through Polarized Lenses

There’s a new book out by Jeffrey Bell, The Case for Polarized Politics, which makes the shocking argument that campaigning on “divisive” “social issues” can in fact be a winning campaign strategy for conservative politicians. (I learned of the book thanks to a review by Phil Lawler on CatholicCulture.org.) As I have not, as of yet, read the book, I will not discuss it further in this rant. But today I will rant on an old and more basic pet peeve of mine: the common and long-standing practice by those of the Left of denouncing everyone and everything to their right as “polarizing” or “divisive.”

Whenever somebody says something or takes a stance that’s in anyways at odds with liberal politically-correct orthodox opinion, you can always count on somebody on the left condemning it as “polarizing” or “divisive” – whether it’s Republican congressmen who vote against any one of Obama’s schemes, conservative talk-radio hosts, or anyone else not fully on board with the whole lefty program. Apparently we need to just shut up and gather together holding hands and singing Kumbaya in unified solidarity behind Dear Leader.

For instance, I recall a few years ago, while looking up local independent country singer Austin Cunningham’s song “Guns and Religion,” reading a post on a Texas music blog which denounced the tune as “divisive garbage” which should not receive airplay. I mean, how dare a musician sing a song with anything but a leftwing message! Of course songs with lefty protest undertones, for example, criticizing Bush or the Iraq War (actually not uncommon in the Texas indie music scene), are generally praised by the likes of that hipster music blogger as courageous truth-telling. But if you put out a little number singing the praises of guns and religion while knocking Dear Leader, you’d better shut up, lest your dissent stir up “division” amongst the hoi polloi.

When you strip away the attempts at high-minded rhetoric, this line of attack translates to simply, “Agree with us or shut the hell up!” Not exactly in keeping with lefties’ self-image as rational, tolerant, open-minded folks immune from the constraints of authoritarian thought. In fact, I can’t think of a stupider or lazier line of critique than condemning a point of view simply on the grounds of it being opposed to one’s own.

And this whole “divisive/polarizing” line does appear to be the almost exclusive property of the Left. I’ve certainly heard folks on the right accuse folks on the left of many things, but being “polarizing” or “divisive” is not among them. If you hear someone bitching about “polarization” or “divisiveness,” it’s a sure bet that person’s of a left-leaning persuasion. When I attack a liberal’s or leftist’s ideas or arguments, it’s because I find them wrong-headed, destructive, morally repulsive, or simply stupid, but never just because I find them “divisive” or “polarizing” (which would simply be saying that they disagree with me or other conservatives, which should go without saying).

Does it ever occur to left-wingers that many of their own favorite views and agendas are in fact “divisive” and “polarizing” to those of us who don’t share their worldview? Does it ever occur to them that there are in fact other points of view besides their own? Besides the utter lazy stupidity of the “polarizing” line of attack, I believe its prevalence in liberal rhetoric is revealing of the mindset of much of the current left.

For all its precious talk of “tolerance” and “diversity,” the Left is consistently intolerant of any diversity of opinion from its own viewpoints. For the Left, its own is the only legitimate point of view, and opposing points of view must be relentlessly silenced or marginalized.  This can be seen in the ruthless suppression of politically-incorrect ideas in much of the left-dominated worlds of academic and media institutions. (The great Mark Steyn refers to these folks as “Conformicrats” and the “Comformocracy.”) Any dissent from the notion that man-made global warming is heading us towards environmental apocalypse–or that massive government taxing, spending, and regulation is needed to save us–is dismissed as “propaganda” or “anti-science” (even if it comes from solid research at ivy-league universities), and the powers that be will ensure that the results of such studies go unpublished. Likewise with any suggestion that anything could be behind the creation and evolution of the universe and life on earth beyond blind, mindless chance (despite some very compelling evidence to the contrary from serious scientific researchers).  It can also be seen in the eagerness of many liberals to seek out any excuse to get right-leaning talk show hosts yanked off the air.  Any arguments in favor of a return to standards of “traditional morality”are denounced off-hand as “bigotry and “hate.” And any opposition to any aspects of statist “liberalism” and the notion that yet more government spending is the solution to all our ills is brushed aside as being driven by “racism” or other ugly motives, or is simply beyond the pale of educated opinion. Or, if that doesn’t stick, you can always just denounce it as “divisive.”

In countless online debates on any number of subjects I’ve read or been involved in, it seems that while conservative actually engage in reasoned argumentation, the “arguments” of those on the left consist overwhelmingly of labeling (“stupid,” bigoted,” “homophobic,” “Islamophobic,” etc., etc.), name-calling, and personal insults and ad-hominem attacks (all the while praising their own superior intelligence and open-mindedness).  There are few people more narrowly conformist and doctrinaire than the “tolerant” “free-thinking” “liberal.”

Formal censorship is in fact unnecessary when you can create a general culture of opinion in which any deviation from the party line is instantly dismissed and disregarded as simply unthinkable. Somewhere in the depths of Hell, Uncle Joe Stalin and Chairman Mao are beaming proudly.

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A Rural Point of View

From the latest album of the cool Dallas-based rockabilly/psychobilly outfit The Reverend Horton Heat:

Just the Good Reverend singin’ about his Rural Point of View.

“An ivy league professor loves his wheat(?)
He says pickup trucks will soon be obsolete.
That pompous little fool can ride his bike to school
Cause a farmer with a truck is how he eats.”

Since moving to Texas, I’ve been totally digging the local rockabilly scene, man.

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The Father of the Constitution on the Constitution

As we continue to sit around and wait for Justice Kennedy for make up his mind on Obamacare’s Individual Mandate, after Dear Leader has threatened the Supreme Court and accused any justices so foolish as to oppose his grand plan of “judicial activism,” I thought I’d take the time to post some typically unenlightened and primitive thoughts regarding the judicial activism, the Constitution, and the unevolved 18th-century knuckledraggers who framed it.

When debating with liberals and similarly highly-evolved progressive-minded folks on constitutional issues, including the HHS mandate I’ve been ranting about lately, I’m often told essentially that the federal government can do whatever the hell it wants in such matters because there is no right specifically written in the constitution (in the case of the HHS mandate) for religious employers to not pay insurance that covers their employee’s contraceptives/abortifacients.

While I actually do find this suddenly newfound concern for the letter of the U.S. Constitution by liberals touching, as usual, they have it back-asswards. (In constitutional law as practiced or understood by most liberals, nebulous and ethereal entities as the “Emanations of the Penumbra”- which means literally an “emission from a shadow” – take supreme precedence over that unimportant text that’s actually clearly written down in Constitution in black and white. A lot of the same bleeding hearts who insist that such unwritten Emanations hidden deep within the Penumbra as the absolute right to abortion or gay marriage are beyond any question or doubt will insist just as vehemently that such statements as “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” are some kind of arcane literary metaphors not to be taken literally, and which us rubes without advanced law degrees could never hope to understand. Of course, the rest of us unenlightened types smell the distinct emanation of bullshit.)

Today’s illiberal “liberals” regard the powers of the federal government as being virtually limitless, constrained constitutionally only where it is very explicitly spelled out that the federal government cannot do some very particular thing. Though, of course, in the vast majority of those cases, they can confidently trust that the SCOTUS justices will handily pull some Emanation out of the Penumbra granting the federal government some long-dormant power heretofore unrecognized to do whatever it is that “needs to be done.”

This is why liberals were aghast at the possibility that the Supreme Court might not in fact give a green card to Obamacare’s Individual Mandate. Suddenly, Obama and other government leftists are calling into question the rulings of the all-powerful Black-Robed Ones, of whose decisions, Nancy Pelosi once said were “almost as if God had spoken.”

On the other hand, for the “liberal” statist, the lowly citizenry of this land have no rights beyond those explicitly stated and spelled out (that is, again, unless an Emanation of the Penumbra is discovered nullifying it). Since the Constitution doesn’t spell out word-for-word the right of those who run Catholic institutions to choose health care plans which don’t violate their deeply-held moral beliefs, then it simply must not exist. Of course, if the proposed mandate in question involved a more politically correct religion – say, a mandate demanding that all Muslim institutions serve pork – no doubt the bleeding hearts would be singing a quite different tune.

However, James Madison, the man rightly regarded as “The Father of the Constitution,” saw things quite differently. A he wrote in The Federalist 45 (January 1788):

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

In The Federalist 39, he writes

In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects.

This, of course, is the basis of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution which states plainly: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Of course, this part of the Bill of Rights has been neglected for decades, if not centuries, and many liberals contend that successive amendments have somehow rendered this inconvenient amendment obsolete.

Of course, discussing the views of Madison or any of the other framers of the Constitution regarding their intent with “liberal” statists is usually a futile exercise, for typically at this point they will start driveling something about how the high-tech world today is so much more “complex” than those primitive knuckle-dragging apes in their powdered wigs could have conceived, and that therefore the constitutional principles of yore can no longer apply. As though the horseless carriage, YouTube, and Twitter somehow render the principles of freedom and limited government obsolete. Of course, this is nonsense. Freedom remains freedom and tyranny , tyranny, just as much in the 21st century as in the 18th.

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Radical Dudes

Browsing the news today, I saw a (rather predictable) story about how President Obama denounced the $3.5 trillion Republican budget plan as “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.”

Indeed.

The plan is “radical,” you see, because it would cut proposed federal government spending and tax rates. I mean, that’s some wild crazy bomb-throwing shit right there! How’d those wild-eyed lunatics ever get elected to office?

It seems the word “radical” (as well as its popular twin, “extremist”) means less and less every day, regularly used by those on the Left, including Dear Leader, to refer to anything and everything opposed to their agenda in any way.

The reality is that the Republican proposal is woefully inadequate with regards to slashing the out-of-control government growth and spending which is driving our country ever deeper into bankruptcy. You see, under Obama’s regime, any deviation from the will of Dear Leader is unacceptable “radicalism” –treason, almost.

Personally, I find the Left’s quickness to lambast anyone and everyone who disagrees with them on the right as “radical” or “extreme” amusing. Really, I thought liberals and left-wingers were supposed to be the wild ‘n’ crazy radical dudes and dudettes inspired by bold visions of Hope, Change and the Fundamental Transformation of our society, while conservatives were a bunch of hopelessly boring and hidebound Old White Guys, plagued by rheumatism and chronic fear of change.

But I guess that’s until the leftists get into power, and anyone who dare give even weak and timid resistance to socialism must be denounced as a crazed radical.

So are we Evil Conservative types a bunch of boring and irrelevant old stick-in-the-muds afraid of any change, or are we wild-eyed, armed-and-dangerous radicals who are an immediate threat to all we hold dear in America? It would be nice if the folks on the left could at least make up their minds.

Quite frankly, I’d like to see more of return to the kind of “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” radicalism which led our forefathers to take up arms against the British Crown, over taxation and government oppression on a scale much smaller than that exercised by our current rulers on the Potomac.

As for wanting to lower taxes being “radical,” it should be remembered that for the bulk of our nation’s history, prior to the ratifying of the 16th Amendment in 1913, there was no federal income tax, on anybody, period. (How quaint that back in 1913, Americans still bothered with the lengthy and tedious process of constitutional amendment before granting the federal government sweeping new powers over the citizenry!) Yet socialism has become so pervasive in our country over the course of the past century, that today, people seem to commonly think that the wealth earned by private citizens somehow belongs to the federal government by divine right, and that any attempt to reduce what the government takes is, well, radical.

His Majesty George III’s ambitions were indeed timid and paltry compared with those of our country’s current “leadership.”

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