Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Rant Rant Rant


OH MY STARS!  Where to begin…
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The huge ass majority of this post goes after the jump.  Why? So you can ignore it.  But I cannot.  There are the occasional diatribes that must be rebuked , for me with a sarcastic humor.  However I don’t need to subject everyone to it.
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The incoherent mass of sentences below comes from a mailer, as pitch, for a new book by Johan Goldberg, called “The Tyranny of Clichés.”  It is the full reprint of a review of the book by Townhall’s JacquelineOtto.  And yet… and yet, it traffics in nothing by clichés and generalizations in its sales pitch.  My head will explode if I can’t comment.  So, to avoid the head explosion….
Always one for a good rant, Greg Gutfeld on Fox News' late afternoon show The Five has recently had a series of "banned words." He argues that certain words and phrases such as "narrative" and "slippery slope" have been over used and therefore shouldn't be used until people learn what they actually mean. It's almost as if Gutfeld has been reading from a copy of Jonah Goldberg's new book, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.
Wait; is the problem definitions of words or clichés?
This is a book about Goldberg's pet peeves. …
Oh, it is about neither.  Why didn’t you say that?


… It is about all of the debates, arguments and lectures for which he laboriously prepared and was countered with a lack-luster cop-out of a response. It is about those times that he dumbfoundedly stared as someone, and in his best Inigo Montoya voice said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." In his own introduction to the book Goldberg says, "there's a kind of argument-that-isn't-an-argument" and he was going to stand for it no longer.
Again, Inigo, you are confusing definitions with clichés.  But I won’t harp on it.
Certain words and phrases have so much power in our political discussion that invoking one acts as a conversation-stopper. This is the tyranny that Goldberg argues serves no justice to the advancement of ideas.
Like “liberal” or “socialist” or “mob”?
In most cases, these clichés are relied upon as crutches for those too ignorant to realize that they don't actually have an argument….
Clichés like “gay agenda” or “femi-nazi”.
… What really vexed Goldberg is that liberals have a way of using them intentionally.
Yes, it is annoying that “liberals” use words intentionally.  We should all use them like Mitt Romney – completely devoid of intention or honesty.
Have you ever wondered what liberals really mean when they said things such as "well you are just an ideologue..." as if they are not? Or they appeal to "social justice" as if we should all intuitively understand what that means. What about people who instinctively say that conservative policies hurt the middle class? Or they say that Republicans are all just "social Darwinists" who deny "science"?
Well, “social Darwinists” are people who believe that “survival of the fittest” is the appropriate method for societies to grow.  They would leave behind the weak, the poor and those unable to go to school or get health care without the intervention of government providing a public good. 
And “science” is the systematic study of the physical world, where we accept the reality of the world.  “Science” explains gravity, climate, medicine and agriculture.  It is NOT a Chinese Restaurant where you can take 2 from column A, 1 from column B and none from column “Global Climate Change”.
While Goldberg is certainly not the first conservative pundit to point out the brevity and inadequacy of these kinds of liberal arguments, his book takes painstaking efforts to actually work through every tacky cliché. While these represent his personal pet peeves, they certainly ring true for most readers.
“ring true” – is that a cliché?
What I most enjoyed about this book, is the subtle subplot he builds, slowly attacking the pseudo-moral-superiority that liberals enjoy in their ephemeral insipidity…
I have read a lot of Jonah Goldberg, there is nothing subtle about his arguments.
… Liberals generally have little use for religion in public life, hence the "separation of church and state" cliché…
Wow, that is a pretty wide topic change mid-paragraph, but OK.
No.  Liberals generally have little use for religion in government.  In public life, there is a large use of religion.  Supporting religious outreach to the poor (I work with World Vision Christian ministries), supporting clothes and food drives for the poor in this country as well as those that attend church means there is a great deal of use for religion in public life.  Just not in government.
… But when they need moral-sounding arguments for their pet projects they trot out all manner of sentiments and scriptures. …
Liberals don’t need moral-sounding arguments, they support many of these programs out of a moral mind set.  There is a difference between morality driving your actions, and a single religion driving government’s actions.
…We ought to care for the poor, therefore we obviously need this agency, and so on. "I'm unaware of any passages in the Hebrew or Christian bibles," Goldberg points out, "where God says that doing good to others means supporting bloated, inefficient, and often counterproductive government programs."
Dear Ms. Otto, this is what is called, a “straw man argument”.  Mr. Goldberg, by tying his quote to the argument that liberals think we ought to care for the poor, makes it sound as if liberals are supporting the need for government action by quoting the Bible.  We do not.  
By using Mr. Goldberg’s same logic, the Bible doesn’t talk about differential tax rates for Capital Gains, or regulating drug safety or supporting the invasion of Iraq by the United States.  There are a plethora of things the Bible does not state.
In discussing how liberals dismiss capitalism as pure evil, he points out that capitalism actually had a founding in very moral sentiments.
Cliché alert!  Liberals do not dismiss capitalism as pure evil.  Nor any evil. Capitalism is a method of commerce.  It can be practiced in a positive, negative, evil or moral way.
"[Adam] Smith believed that the free market and, more broadly, the free society, directs men's vanity towards its proper objects, the virtues of prudence, restraint, industry, frugality, sobriety, honesty, civility, and reliability. Freedom teaches the virtue of 'self-command' which, he writes, 'is not only itself a great virtue, but from it all the other virtues seem to derive their principal luster.' And this is the great and tragic irony. The hurly-burly of America's cultural politics, while important, even vital, can never unravel the implicit social contract of capitalism which says that if you follow the virtues Adam Smith laid out, you will do just fine. If you teach those values to your kids, they will do better than you."
No one argues that capitalism was not founded in moral sentiments.  However, capitalism – as practiced by some, does not display the virtues of prudence, restraint, frugality, civility and honesty - to name just those few of those sentiments that are completely corrupted by the Financial sector on Wall Street (as bailed out by the dreaded government).
This is a discussion often omitted from the debates. …
It is omitted from debates because the historical origins discussion brings nothing of value to the currect state of capitalsm.  Just like we don’t discuss the human-powered bronze plough when we strategize on how to plant corn in Iowa
…Liberals wholly believe in their moral superiority because of their cliché of "social justice."
I think the “Liberals wholly believe in their moral superiority” is quite a generalization here.  It is assumption that is incorrect.  It is possible to argue that something is the correct path without assuming one’s own argument is morally superior.  I can argue about capitalism with no assumptions at all about moral superiority.
They seek justice from the government and from corporations, but as they correctly point out, time and time again, neither the government nor corporations are people. Morality must come from individuals. …
First, you are equating “justice” and “morality”.  They are not the same.  It is possible to seek “justice” from government and corporations.  This is why we have laws governing the actions and limitations of both.  The “morality” of these laws must be supplied by the individuals that make the laws.  Liberals seek “justice” from corporations by expecting them to follow the laws.  Liberals desire some amount of “morality” in the creation of those laws, which is why we look at the morality of those we elect to make the laws.
…As a system, free markets and limited government treats individuals with more dignity, provides them with more opportunity, and deputizes them to be the moral agents in their community. …
“more dignity” and “more opportunity” than what exactly?  
As for “moral agents in their community” – I must have missed the deputization ceremony. Free markets and limited government may free people to be moral agents in their community, but it doesn’t deputize them.  
A government that deputizes citizens to be moral agents is Communisum.  North Korea deputizes citizens to be moral agents – even though neither of us would agree with the “morality” at work.
…The moral superiority of freedom is that it is balanced with the increased moral responsibility of individuals.
What?  The “moral superiority of freedom” might DEPEND on “increased moral responsibility of individuals”, but there is no requirement.  One doesn’t have to follow the other.  Hence, laws.
Liberals, most recently seen occupying Wall Street, expend great energy condemning caricatures of Gordon Gekko….
Where to begin?  
At most there a few thousand occupying Wall Street.  To paint all liberals as those people is intellectually dishonest (a cliché, but true).  There are maybe a hundred million liberals, to decide we are all represented by the Occupy Wall Street is lazy.  It equivalent to someone calling ALL Catholics child molesters, based on a small sample of Catholic Priests.  Is it obviously untrue and meant to paint a terrible picture.
Next, those occupying Wall Street were not "condemning caricatures of Gordon Gekko". They were condemning the actions of those in the Financial Sector that bilked millions of average Americans, and then got bailed out when the game fell apart.  Then, after getting bailed out, provided themselves with hundreds of millions in bonuses, will denying loans to many deserving people.  Which is, by the way, to my brain, not so moral.
… In reality they are just a mob….
Really? “just a mob” that is an odd thing to say.
… And as Goldberg points out, "That is not the American political tradition or creed. In America the hero is not the mob. It is the man - or woman- who stands up to the mob..."
Oh, there it is.  So then, from your words, it is acceptable (nay, moral) to paint an entire group of people with a single brush – to disregard any actual arguments - so as to later disparage and reject everything they say?  Wow.  To paraphrase Jonah, I am unaware of anywhere in the Bible that people who peacefully demonstrate against Corporations can be summarily dismissed as a “mob”.  Alternatively, there are passages in the Constitution that specifically recognize a person’s right to demonstrate.
Ultimately though, the liberals are demonstrating not only their improper knowledge of freedom and free markets, but their misconstruction of the very morality to which their clichés appeal.
To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, “knowledge of freedom?”  I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.
Political analyst Yuval Levin, one of Goldberg's multitude of sources for the book, once said,
Properly understood, the case for capitalism is not a case for license or for laissez faire... It is a case for the moderate virtues, encouraged by market pressures but finally drawn from deeper wells--from the wisdom of tradition, the love of the family, and the divine and mysterious tug of a love beyond love, all of which must in turn be supported, encouraged, and strengthened.
Well-being and prosperity encompass more than material goods. They concern the condition of our character. Freedom is a well-spring of virtue for the well-being of our souls. Its product is the prosperity of our hearts.
And here my head bows off.
Did you NOT read what you wrote? “.. the case for capitalism is not a case for license or laissez faire..”  And yet you decry as immoral any attempt to regulate or rein in unbridled capitalism.  It is nearly impossible to have a coherent discussion with someone who defends laissez faire capitalism by use of a quote against laissez faire capitalism!  
Ah, but you aren’t really trying to have a discussion are you?  You are merely trotting out a sophomoric set of lies to explain how liberals only talk in clichés.
This argument requires a fully-developed vocabulary to discuss, a well-honed sense of logic to debate, and a soften heart to understand. It cannot be captured nor countered by mere clichés. And that we cannot have the argument, because liberals lack or refuse to employ the capacity, is what Goldberg calls the tyranny.
So, you justify not talking to liberals, by saying we aren’t worthy of talking to.  That is cleaver.  Completely useless in resolving the problems of our country, but cleaver.

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