Category Archives: The Left

Losing the language

Michael Brenner tackles a tough topic at the Huffington Post, the decay and distortion of the language within a society and its politics. He gets it abysmally wrong on a few points, but the general topic is an important one (and a fascinating one, if you’re a word person). A few of the highlights:

“Language has become a victim of our debased public discourse. It is cause and reinforced effect of speech being used for self-affirmation rather than communication. Public personalities emote more than they express viewpoints.”

“The radical right in the United States effectively took control of the term liberal and all its variants so as to tar it with strongly negative connotations.”

I’ll agree in part with Brenner on this one. I don’t know who or what he means by “radical” right (perhaps anybody or thing on the right is “radical” to him), but I will lament that we have lost the ability to use the words “liberal” and “conservative” with much clarity these days. In terms of being open to new experiences, accepting of others, and being generally forward-looking, I have long been liberal and in some ways am even increasingly so. I’ll call that attitudinal liberalism. Politically, I’m staunchly conservative. But it’s a label that’s hard to wear, because we’ve confused the terms so much.

“There is nothing conservative about modern day Republicans … They are at once reactionaries … and radicals… Their socio-economic thinking in rooted in 19th century social Darwinism, their reference point the ‘Gilded Age’ of the 1890s. Rolling back the New Deal and everything associated with it is objective number one. So-called ‘conservatives,’ once in power, also aim to fortify the arbitrary powers of the Executive, at the expense of the principle of ‘checks and balances’ etched in the Constitution, in a manner never before experienced in the United States. Internationally, they are dedicated to building a world according to American specifications through generous application of American military power. This package is diametrically different from all that has been meant by conservatism.”

I agree that “conservatism,” both the term itself and the modern political agenda as such, has been too rigidly defined to necessarily include a more aggressively engaged/or even interventionist mindset when it comes to foreign policy. I don’t think the true test of “conservatism” ought to be whether one supports military intervention in the next country, or next country, or next country, etc. Though, of course, a valid test of conservatism might be whether one believes America has an exceptional and constructive role to play and can be a great political force for good in the world.

“Nowadays, the promotion of any social change is labeled reform — whether or not its objects will find their situation improved.”

Agreed. And both sides do this. It’s way too easy, and the media needs to start calling people on it.

Unfortunately, Brenner himself tortures language in this screed against tortured language. For example, he continually refers to an understanding of human behavior and acceptance of economic freedom as “fundamentalism.” His attempt – and we’re seeing this increasingly from the left (I suspect they love the aesthetic appeal of cleverly insulting free market types and religious people in the same breath) – is to assert that free market capitalism is founded more on faith than fact, and is utterly irrational.

Anyway, like I said, good topic, and some decent points of analysis here, despite its many other flaws. Worthy reading.

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Filed under Education, Media, Philosophy and Ethics, The Left, The Right

Obama’s campaign pockets stuffed with BP money

Politico, relying on The Center for Responsive Politics, reports that Barack Obama has collected more cash from BP than any politician in the last twenty years. That’s not a crime.

It is, however, a nice little tidbit to remember anytime somebody accuses Republicans of being in the pocket of big oil, etc. (It may also be the reason – along with his recent approval of some modest off-shore drilling plans – that the president has been so behind on the BP oil spill).

I wonder when the group that’s been smearing Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) in tv and internet ads will now run the same ad against President Obama? I’m waiting.

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Filed under Energy, Environment, General & Miscellaneous, The Left

Diversity Discussions

Diversity remains a buzz word on today’s college campuses, including the University of Missouri. The term has come to represent a sociopolitical movement with a sweeping agenda of establishing and enforcing certain liberal mores of political correctness. Its acolytes live to lecture others, but often assume the guise of benign and disinterested parties who seek to simply “ask questions” and stage “difficult dialogues.”

Is it wise to participate in such exercises, given the inherent ideological and immoderate approach to the issues? That is the question I ask in a piece for the National Association of Scholars, as I reflect on some of my recent experiences in attempting such engagement.

Over the next several months I will guest contribute to the organization’s website. I will continue to devote full attention to Principally Political, while linking to anything that I publish at NAS.  I’m humbled by this special opportunity.

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Filed under Diversity, Education, The Left

I know you are but what am I?

Are Liberals Smarter Than Conservatives? It’s a good question – if in large part because the former seems always to suggest exactly that. Jason Richwine tackles the issue and offers sound and honest insight.

While it may raise some interesting points of consideration, ultimately such a question does not meaningfully advance serious public policy discourse. This is the conclusion Richwine reaches, and it seems a reasonable one.

I suggest that any conservative who has ever been confronted by liberal intellectual arrogance read this article, and read it well.

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Filed under Culture, Philosophy and Ethics, The Left

The importance of Glenn Beck

I’ve never really been a regular viewer of Glenn Beck‘s weekday afternoon show on the Fox News Channel – although I have listened to his morning radio program semi-regularly for several years. Beck’s personal on-air presentation style limits his potential resonance with certain audience segments (he lacks the subtlty, cool detachment, and self-conscious displays of cleverness that comprise the dominant aesthetic of more youth-oriented programming like Colbert or Stewart). Nonetheless, Beck has skyrocketed to the top of the ratings game in recent months, drawing plenty of attention – and mocking criticism – in the process.

I haven’t watched the tv show much because I only have a finite amount of time to watch cable news opinion programming, and Beck’s format doesn’t always appeal to me. Admittedly, he’s a bit conspiratorial at times. But at the moment, I’m watching Beck and have been blown away by the program. It’s shows like today that make Beck one of the single most important popular political commentators in the country today. The talk show host has been studying the intellectual origins, history and relationships of political movements of the left – from early in the last century until today (and yes, common linkages do run through these movements over this time period).

His work in this regard should be regarded as a major public service, particularly as it accompanies his exploration of the ideological orientation and motivations of current presidential administration members and allies.

Today, Beck took a look back at genocidal atrocities in the early and mid twentieth century. Radical leftist ideologies motivated these crimes, no matter if the Nazi movement has been (incorrectly) re-branded as right-wing by some. In the Ukraine, Stalin starved millions, forced peasants into farm collectives, and exported the region’s desperately-needed grain to fund the central planning fetishes of the Soviet machine.

Anyway……that’s it for now. Back to beck.

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Filed under The Left

More praises for Dear Leader

The unsettling sights and sounds of youth, coached to sing praises to the national leader, continue to emerge. Big Hollywood publishes eleven new videos, available on YouTube, of schoolchildren of various ages performing various compositions in honor and adulation of Barack Obama.

There is something truly disturbing about this. Any time organized choruses of school children sing praises about the head of government and head of state, it evokes a certain dystopian feeling.

Here’s the thing: what makes dystopias so intensely, psychotically suffocating is that most of the people believe what is happening is good. There is a moral, and more importantly an emotional consensus, or perceived consensus, in favor of contemporary societal developments. All manner of tactical feel-goodism is employed to advance the interests of the power structure – or, society, in the minds of supporters.

We read a fiction story or we study any number of examples in history where whole nations or cultures were lead astray or began to walk down the path of their destruction. It is so obvious to us as the reader or viewer what is happening. It was likewise so for some people in the situation in question.

But for too many others, they were part of the masses that made it possible. That allowed it. That coached children to sing the leader’s praises. That questioned and criticized others for questioning and criticizing the leaders.

The singing needs to stop.

Here is one of the many videos available:

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Filed under Statism, The Left, United States of America

Obama on community organizing, ACORN

In November of 2007:

“I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That’s what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”

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Filed under Barack Obama, Corruption, The Left