SILENT NIGHT?—FAT CHANCE

Oh my gosh. Poor Phil Robertson has had his 1st Amendment rights quashed… as some of the biggest bloviators and blowhards on the political right would have you believe. Of course that does not mean they are politically right, but most especially they are not factually correct.

As many other commentators have pointed out A&E, on which Robertson’s show, Duck Dynasty, appears has temporarily suspended him. Oh crap, new shows are already taped with him in them and will be aired in January. That suspension must really hurt.

What is most telling about these conservative complaints is that they are so hypocritical. Dixie Chicks anyone? That singing trio lost all kinds of money when in 2003 one of them, Natalie Maines, spoke up against the looming war in Iraq and told a European audience that not all Americans backed this action.

Without keeping a list and checking it twice many of the naughty and not so nice members of the conservative right threw a hissy fit then and the Chicks were excoriated thoroughly as their patriotism was called into question.

More recently Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin of MSNBC have each lost their programs there due to some objectionable language they used. Bashir said what could be interpreted as a very crude comment on Sarah Palin (though goodness knows she does far more damage to herself every time she opens her yap). Baldwin simply made homophobic remarks about a celebrity photographer whose conduct he took issue with, but that comment occurred during a private confrontation in a public place, not on the air on his show.

Now I have rarely watched Bashir’s TV performance and am familiar with Baldwin only from his appearances in movies and TV shows. I am no great fan of Bashir and I appreciate Baldwin as an actor . Both are ostensibly liberal but that has no influence on me.

But these recent dustups, or the one concerning the Dixie Chicks, or the numerous “gotcha” moments where various of our well known (or possibly not so well known) citizens are caught not on their best behavior seem to generally draw a lot of comment by those we seem to have anointed to form our opinions for us.

However, these critical commentaries pretty much serve no one but the commentators themselves. Their targets, having misspoken, suffer consequences ranging from the faux suspension delivered to Robertson to the actual loss of jobs by Baldwin and Bashir or lost income for the Dixie Chicks to absolutely no consequence whatsoever (Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann).

Yet I am uncomfortable with all this noise, superfluous and hypocritical as it may be coming form all quarters.in protest of ugly stupid words. Yes, Brad Paisley had his song “Accidental Racist” knocked, and yes Steve Martin apparently tweeted a racist joke (his main sin being that the joke simply was not funny). And the PR lady going to Africa tweeted about how she was safe from AIDS since she was white.

Ultimately I don’t give a shit.

Whether I have done so in the past or not, before I get my shorts in a knot about something someone has said somewhere that may offend a particular group or type of other human being, I am going to ask myself this question. “is the person speaking these words in a position to affect public policy or to effect change in our policies or society?” If not, leave them alone. If so, then by all means go after them. Such an attitude could prove harmful to our nation. Bachmann and Cruz serve in Congress and should be more responsible.

At the same time there are some racist, low-minded, folks who do not inhabit a seat of power but who still wield immense influence over the opinions of their listeners, viewers, or readers. (Yes, Rush, you know who you are) And I suppose that where some nonentity has taken the opportunity to not only speak intolerant words but has combined them with negative actions that impact others they deserve our scorn.

But, folks such as I who reach a limited audience or even most MSNBC hosts who reach substantially fewer viewers than their Fox counterparts, or those who speak only in some private capacity but have somehow been placed in the spotlight, let us not waste our precious time getting all upset about them.

Phil Robertson is on a very popular TV program but it would not surprise me to know that the vast majority of the show’s fans already share most of his retrograde opinions so his ability to change minds is limited.

My Facebook friends are fond of posting news items about this nonsense. While I may share a philosophy (or not) with them I think I’ll pass in joining their crusades from now on.

But if you want to duck a dynasty, more power to you.

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Comments

  • Devildog  On December 26, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    It’s scary Umoc, probably to both of us, that I’m almost in total agreement with you. Almost but not totally.

    Since there’s no difference between left and right in this area, no need for you to try to manufacture a difference.

    But where I really agree with you, though, is your defining of the retrograde Duck fans and their retrograde opinions. I’ll bet many of them are of the lower socio-economic class and are so stupid they believe in self-sufficiency rather than living off the government dole.

    This country would be a lot better off if the vote would be taken away from these retrogrades so that more weight would go to the votes of viewers of programs touted by Minx and Toadsly.

    • Little_Minx  On January 1, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      And a Happy New Year to you, too ;-)

  • Little_Minx  On January 1, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    “Why Has Republican Belief in Evolution Declined So Much?”:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/12/why-has-republican-belief-in-evolution-declined-so-much/282730

    Short answer: Because they fear that the greater the knowledge that people acquire, the more their ability to exploit people is threatened.

  • Little_Minx  On January 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Toadsly! Only five days till the new season of “Downton Abbey” :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    Hope you enjoyed the “Call the Midwife” holiday special as much as we did — which they managed to make happy without being saccharin.

    • toadsly  On January 1, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      Can’t wait for “Downton Abbey.”
      “Call the Midwife” ddidn’t disapoint.

      • toadsly  On January 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Sorry about spelling errors, but I can barely see the keys on my smartphone.

  • Little_Minx  On January 1, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    A very Happy New Year to UMOC! Wishing you a healthier 2014, as you continue to recover from last year’s surgery.

    Keep on writin’ :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

  • Little_Minx  On January 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Re Robertson père, I suspect there’ll be a brief up-tick in ratings due to the TV version of rubbernecking, followed by a decline as a significant portion of viewers think about his racist and homophobic views every time they look at him.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On January 1, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      Uh, it already is the highest rated reality show in history. I have a pretty good feeling that a rather large percentage of its viewers have similar beliefs to Robertson. Beliefs, btw, that are homophobic and racist only in the addled mind of a liberal

      • Devildog  On January 1, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Yes, pd, it may “have been” the highest rated reality show in history but that was before the racist and homophobic views of the “Pere” became known. I am quite confident that the innate wisdom and goodness of the American people will put this “retrograde” in his proper place-off the air entirely and maybe even in the slammer, not necessarily for having those views but for having the nerve in this day and age to voice them. Not only is he not protected by the 1st Amendment (as has been correctly pointed out) but his comments can be considered an incitement to violence.

        That you minx for bringing this to our attention. And Happy New Year to you too!

        • Little_Minx  On January 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM

          Don’t cover up this advice from Père, re the desirability of marrying underage girls, because they’re more easily dominated:

          “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16. They’ll pick your ducks.”
          “[B]oys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.”
          “You need to check with mom and dad about that of course [...]”

          Ironically, Père has a 16-year-old granddaughter. No doubt your wedding invitation is in the mail already.

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/12/30/phil_robertson_on_marriage_duck_dynasty_star_advised_men_to_find_15_year.html

          • Devildog  On January 2, 2014 at 4:19 PM

            I’m trying to decide whether Pere should be waterboarded or tarred and feathered. Maybe I should wait on my decision until I have been informed of more of his “statements”. Taking him off television is the least of what this “man” deserves!

          • pittsburgh_dad  On January 2, 2014 at 6:10 PM

            60 years ago, the median age of marriage for a woman was 20.3 years. Something tells me a large percentage of women were under 20 when they married where he grew up.

            Many states permit people getting married at 16. I think you can be younger than that in PA if you get parental consent and the approval of a Judge of the Orphans Court

            Liberals cannot believe that not everybody is as ‘forward’ thinking as they are. The truth is that liberals are the smallest minded people of all – dismissing as ignorant anyone who doesn’t think the ‘right’ way

            • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 4:31 PM

              Would you have permitted your daughter to wed at 16? Only if she was knocked up?

            • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 4:34 PM

              Sixty years isn’t now, and times have changed significantly. And let’s not forget the poor lifetime economic prognosis for anyone (including underage brides) who drops out of high school (not to mention junior high).

            • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 5:56 PM

              Talk about the bigotry of low expectations — which you claim to deplore. Apparently it’s OK with you if it’s applied to females, though.

              • pittsburgh_dad  On January 3, 2014 at 7:15 PM

                It doesn’t matter whether I would let my 16 year old daughter marry. I am not judging whether it is right or wrong. As with his comments about blacks, his beliefs about marriage are based on his experience.

                If you’re so concerned about high school dropouts and teen pregnancies, why do you support welfare programs that perpetuate cycles of dependency that lead to these things occurring?

                It’s your belief that I have low expectations for these girls. This is obviously completely untrue. Now if you can show me that the quality of life of a woman in Robertson’s world is significantly less than the average woman, we can talk. In all honesty, I bet in their world, women are happier than the average woman in general. Your issue is that you’re imposing your belief system on these women. Remember how we agreed above that this shows how truly small minded liberals are

  • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    “Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free”:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/heres-exactly-how-much-the-government-would-have-to-spend-to-make-public-college-tuition-free/282803/?google_editors_picks=true

    Oh, the horror of depriving profiteers of the chance to exploit public education for their own gain — while at the same time giving the lower socioeconomic classes something for nothing!!!

    • Devildog  On January 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      As usual Minx, I think I am missing something. If public education is free, wouldn’t there be a lot more people trying to get admitted. And if it was opened to everyone, many of the smartest would go there instead of private schools, admission standards would be raised and many of the people you want to help would be excluded. I went to a free public college, City College of New York, which was very difficult to get in to. Years later it started open enrollment to city h.s. graduates which turned into a disaster and was later reversed. We used to say if you had money and couldn’t pass the test, you went to N.Y.U. But if you could pass the test and had money, you went to C.C.N.Y.

      If you think free public college education is the way to go, you have no idea of the unintended consequences. So, what’s new?

      • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        The consequence is that somebody might get something for nothing, which offends the conservative “morality” that believes in widening the wealth gap.

        • Devildog  On January 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

          Ah, Minx, I apologize for my failure to communicate in a manner that you can understand. Getting something for nothing. I don’t think having to pass a tough test in order to get admitted is getting something for nothing (and I’m sure pd will agree with that. The “bigotry of low expectations”. Surely you jest. What do you think affirmative action, inter Alia, is all about. How about free public colleges, limited seats with admission only by admission tests, and no affirmative action. Sure with your “high expectations”, you would favor that. At one time CCNY was as good academically as the Ivy League schools because it was free and those schools wouldn’t admit a certain group of qualified students.

          Putting aside the conservative “morality” (for the moment), the liberal morality has really helped the “lower socio-economic classes” hasn’t it?

      • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 5:57 PM

        Talk about the bigotry of low expectations. Apparently it’s OK if it’s applied to the poor.

        • Little_Minx  On January 3, 2014 at 6:02 PM

          You’d have LOVED the City of Mahagonny, where the gravest crime was lack of money.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On January 3, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      The idea that there are no cost to these ridiculous liberal policies is beyond ludicrous. Haven’t you been watching what has happened with the trainwreck that is Obamacare?

  • Little_Minx  On January 5, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    Toadsly! Hope you enjoyed the season première of “Downton Abbey” as much as we did. Apparently there’ll be one more season after this.

    • toadsly  On January 6, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      I did. It’s still the best show on free TV.

      • Little_Minx  On January 7, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        Hard to say. It’s certainly the most luxe. But “Call the Midwife” and “Doc Martin” have much to recommend them (while trumpeting the virtues of universal health care).

        • Toadsly  On January 7, 2014 at 5:32 PM

          Great minds don’t always agree. Well, at least one great female mind!

          • Little_Minx  On January 18, 2014 at 2:48 PM

            Toadsly! Lotsa good British stuff coming up on PBS — Sherlock, Call the Midwife, continued Downton Abbey (who saw THAT coming last Sunday?) and Doc Martin. Plus on commercial TV, the end of the NFL season, then the Olympics. Combined with wintry weather, kinda makes a person want to stay indoors and hibernate, huh?

            • Anonymous  On January 19, 2014 at 9:42 AM

              Thank God for PBS. I don’t care about sports. Hope you and yours are well and happy.

            • toadsly  On January 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM

              Thank God for PBS! I rarely watch sports. Hope you and yours are well and happy.

              • Little_Minx  On January 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

                Back atcha, dear amphibian! I DO watch a fair amount of sports on TV, but switch away if another station has something else on that I’d rather watch (e.g., last night “Downton Abbey,” then “Sherlock”).

                • Anonymous  On January 21, 2014 at 12:30 AM

                  “Sherlock” is a great bromantical comedy, but the sleuthing is mediocre.

                • toadsly  On January 21, 2014 at 12:36 AM

                  “Sherlock” is a terrific bromantical comedy, but the sleuthing is mediocre.Give me Jeremy Brett every time!

                  • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:48 PM

                    Brett was the best Holmes ever, IMHO. What do you think of “Elementary” on CBS? They took a lot of liberties, yet most seem to work quite well. Biggest problem is the 1-hour strait-jacket.

  • Little_Minx  On January 7, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    “Think America has the world’s best health care system? You won’t after seeing this chart”:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/07/think-america-has-the-worlds-best-health-care-system-you-wont-after-seeing-this-chart/?tid=hpModule_ba0d4c2a-86a2-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394

    “…Americans lose three times as many years of life to infectious diseases as the average OECD country and loses twice as many years to metabolic diseases….”

  • Little_Minx  On January 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    The conservative motto – Never let facts get in the way of idiot-ology:

    “How Rush Limbaugh Decides What Is True – The talk-radio star explains his epistemology: True conservatives are always right”:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/how-rush-limbaugh-decides-what-is-true/283078

    Something special happened Monday on the Rush Limbaugh radio program. Its host set out to explain why conservatives won’t be defending New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during the bridge scandal in the same way that they rallied behind Clarence Thomas during his 1991 nomination to the Supreme Court. And in doing so, Limbaugh provided an unusually frank account of how he and his followers reach snap judgments about what is true and what isn’t true. This monologue laid bare the epistemology of talk-radio “conservatism.”

    The backstory is straightforward enough: George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the Supreme Court; Democrats opposed the nomination; Anita Hill came forward to allege that she’d been sexually harassed by the nominee; he denied the charges, and he accused the Senate of subjecting him to a “high-tech lynching.” Liberals and conservatives are still at odds over who was telling the truth.

    When the controversy began, Limbaugh reminisces, he didn’t know who the nominee was. “I didn’t know Clarence Thomas,” he recalled. “I had never met Clarence Thomas. I had to read about Clarence Thomas to find out who he was.”

    Nonetheless, “I began the biggest, full-throated defense of Clarence Thomas that there was, and I didn’t know him. I’d never met him. I had to read and find out who he was and, you know, about his life, the things he’d done, where he’d worked, gone to school. Yet I didn’t feel I was taking a risk at all in a full-throated, never-ending, full-fledged not only defense of Clarence Thomas, but an attack, a returned attack on Anita Hill and the Democrats. Now, how was I able to do this with such confidence, not having met the man, not having known the man?”

    I’d begun to wonder that myself. Fortunately, Limbaugh goes on to explain himself, but first he underscores the degree to which he took Thomas’s side immediately:

    “ I was doing an appearance on Saturday when the Anita Hill stuff really hit, and all of the outrageous allegations, the ‘ pubic hair on the Coke can’ and all the sexual harassment stuff, and I can’t tell you how livid I was. I spent the entire almost two hours on stage that night (it was a Saturday) talking about this, and how sick it made me and how angry it made me. The reason that I—and I have been fully vindicated, by the way—was able to defend Clarence Thomas with total confidence against this, is that I knew he didn’t do it.”

    But how? Having heard, amidst a live performance, about specific sexual-harassment allegations involving two people he knew almost nothing about, alleged to have taken place some years before in a private setting, how did Limbaugh instantly discern who was being truthful and feel “total confidence” in doing so?

    “I didn’t think I was risking anything. I really didn’t. If I’d had the slightest doubt of his innocence, I woulda never opened my mouth. If I thought that there was just a tiny thread of possibility that what Anita Hill was saying and what the Democrat witnesses were saying was true, I woulda stayed silent. But I didn’t. I went to the equivalent of the mountaintops and started shouting. Now, why? Character, conservatism, and my knowledge of the left.”

    He knew that Thomas was a conservative, and that his political adversaries were leftists. And that’s all it took to “know” that Thomas was innocent. Evidently, no true conservative would ever sexually harass anyone, and no leftists would tell the truth about being sexually harassed by a conservative.

    Limbaugh offered all this to make a point about Christie and the dearth of people defending him:

    “ Christie may well be worth defending, is my point. I don’t know. He may well be worth a Clarence Thomas-type defense, but notice that nobody is coming forth with one. They’ve all got that caveat. ‘He’s home free IF he’s not lying.’ This is not a comment about Governor Christie, so please don’t misunderstand or be confused. I’m trying to illustrate (What’s the word?) the emptiness of the Republican … I’m trying to make the point that over there in the RINO Club, the Republican establishment, the wildebeests, whatever, there’s not an ideology. There’s not a belief system. There’s not a foundation on which to base a defense, as I had with Clarence Thomas—and, by the way, he’s not alone.”

    Got that? Were Christie and his supporters all true conservatives, they would be assured that Christie is in the right. Whereas as non-conservatives, the only way to ascertain the truth is a dispassionate analysis, qualified with hedges such as, If he’s lying about everything, then he isn’t blameless after all. Christie may well be innocent, Limbaugh argues, but no one can know for sure because he isn’t a conservative.

    Then he introduces another wrinkle:

    “It’s just every Republican who has entered the fray defending Christie has to put a caveat out there ‘if he’s telling the truth.’ Now, if there were a fervent ideological foundation, if there was a substantive reason of believing in Governor Christie, then whether he lied wouldn’t matter. They’d be out there defending him left and right just to make sure the Democrats don’t get away with this. And I’ll admit that was part of the reason that I jumped into Clarence Thomas. There was no way they were gonna get away with this if I had the ability to have a little bit of something to do with it. There’s no way. I wasn’t gonna sit there and put up with this. I’d done enough to find out he was a fine man and know this was a witch hunt. They were out to seek and destroy.”

    But if Christie lied, then his accusers wouldn’t be “getting away with” anything, would they? Their attacks would be accurate. Unless, Limbaugh seems to be saying, Christie was a true conservative, in which case the attacks on him would be illegitimate, because attacks on true conservatives are by definition illegitimate, at least when they’re coming from leftists. It’s sort of like the Richard Nixon/John Yoo theory that if the president does it, then it isn’t illegal,—except applied to misconduct and true conservatives. I can’t say that Limbaugh is the only commentator who conducts himself as if this ideological method of deciding what to believe is sound, but I’ve never seen anyone embrace it openly and self-consciously.

    True conservatives cannot fail, they can only be failed. They cannot sexually harass leftists. They can only be falsely accused. That is Rush Limbaugh’s ideology. I’m not sure what to call it. But it isn’t deserving of the name conservatism.

  • Little_Minx  On January 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    HEY TOURIST: Long time no hear. Hope you’re doing well, and keeping warm — although goodness knows it’s not as bad there as here! What’s the latest thing there? Drop a line when you get the chance. Happy New Year from Little Minx.

    • Tourist  On January 25, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      Hey, Minx! Happy New Year to you and all as well! Nah, nothing happening as exciting as what you and Toadsly are onto just below this. Here it’s the mid-winter plum blossoms, getting ready for war with China, you know. Same old, same old.

      • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:46 PM

        Good to hear from you, Tourist! Still watch NHK Newsline here some days — Japan surely won’t go to war with China, what with wildcard North Korea lurking — right?

  • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Ooh-la-la, Toadsly! Have you seen THIS???

    “The Scandalous Truth About Downton Abbey’s Royal Gigolo ‘Jack Ross'”:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/downton-abbey/10377794/The-scandalous-truth-about-Downton-Abbeys-royal-gigolo-Jack-Ross.html

    • toadsly  On January 25, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! Will share on Facebook with Reg-ulators, giving you full credit. Read she also had affair with Nehru in India. The IRA murdered her husband, off the coast of Ireland. I hope “Downton Abbey” uses Jack Ross to full effect.

      • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:44 PM

        I’d heard the Nehru rumors too — no, not at the time (I’m not THAT old ;-) . It was my mother who told me, decades later.

      • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        Please say “Howdy” to the Reg-ulators from me, Toadlsy!

  • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I could never have made this up!

    “Iowa GOP Proves They’re Not Racist By Posting Ridiculously RACIST Meme on
    Facebook”:

    http://aattp.org/iowa-gop-proves-theyre-not-racist-by-posting-ridiculously-racist-meme-on-facebook
    ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

  • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Pssst, UMOC! You around? Long time, no hear :-(

  • Little_Minx  On January 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    À propos of the original subject of this thread, I read that ratings have dropped for the Duckers. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving crew.

    • toadsly  On January 25, 2014 at 10:57 PM

      Everywhere I go, dumbasses are wearing articles from their clothing line.

      • Little_Minx  On January 26, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Maybe you should consider going different places, then? ;-)

  • Little_Minx  On January 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    At last, permanent discrediting of libertarian theories!

    “Confessions of a former Libertarian: My personal, psychological and intellectual epiphany”:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/01/26/confessions_of_a_former_libertarian_my_personal_psychological_and_intellectual_epiphany

    During college, a friend admitted he was confounded by my politics. He didn’t know how to reconcile my libertarianism with my other commitments. We were Buddhists and vegetarians, and I knew exactly what he meant. The tension centered around compassion. He wanted to know how someone concerned with the world’s suffering wouldn’t adopt a more compassionate political perspective.

    It was a reasonable question, one that I asked myself regularly. My stock answer was that while I supported compassion in the form of assistance to those in need, I opposed the clumsy government mechanisms we relied on for it, not to mention the veiled coercion behind them — where did anyone get the right to enforce their values at the barrel of a gun (meaning taxes), no matter how noble those values might be?

    Pretty by-the-books stuff. Libertarianism represented to me a matrix of freedom that could be collapsed onto any particular set of individual values. It was a simple formula to live by: If enough people value X, those people will pay for X, whether or not X = someone else’s interest. Government intervention was at best superfluous to this outcome and at worst distorting of the collective will (measured as the aggregate economy).

    When my friend offered the natural response, What if people fail to provide enough for those in need?, I resorted to the tried-and-true strategy of telling him the problem wasn’t a problem. The real problem was taxation or regulation or minimum wage or a failed incentive structure. If people were in need it was because government was preventing the market from providing for them.

    What’s interesting to me now is not why this kind of thinking is wrong but why it was once so attractive to me.

    I found my way to libertarianism in my teen years when I began reading some of its introductory texts and was attracted to the internal consistency of its policies. If you accepted that the individual was sacrosanct and the government’s only role was to protect the individual, everything else pretty much followed. Unlike mainstream liberalism and conservatism, which were constantly engaged in negotiations between social and economic freedoms, libertarianism was systematically clean and neat. So much so that I quickly stopped concerning myself with how ideas played out in the world. The ideas themselves were enough.

    As a kid, you learn to refute anyone’s “theory” by snidely mocking — “In theory, communism works.” When I was in college, I knew that communism did not work, even in theory, and I was happy to tell you why. Only libertarianism worked in theory.
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    That in switching the terms of the joke I made myself its butt was, regrettably, lost on me. When the lens of ideology grows so thick it’s all a person sees, a sense of humor is often the first thing to be occluded.

    So what accounts for my transition from orthodox libertarianism to an unremarkable liberalism? At the risk of putting the cart before the political horse, I’m not an isolated reasoning subject and individual actor but a complex and conflicted human in various social and environmental contexts, and the reasons I abandoned libertarianism are personal and psychological as well as intellectual.

    It felt good to be libertarian. I could win political debates (to my satisfaction) by applying the internally consistent reasoning I so admired to any issue. My reluctance to compromise was a virtue that straightened my posture. I took my rigidity as a sign not of narrow-mindedness but of integrity, the consequence of careful advancement from first principles. This particular kind of coherency put me self-satisfactorily and peacefully to sleep on many nights.

    But it also sometimes felt bad to be a libertarian. I didn’t like that people I cared about regularly thought I was a smug asshole. I didn’t like that so often in debates I sounded to myself like a smug asshole. Not my intentions — say what you will about the positions, I always held them sincerely — but the words themselves. They didn’t sound compassionate, as it got harder and harder to remind myself they really were supposed to be.

    The ideological purity at the heart of libertarianism was so true that I was certain only good effects could follow from it. The plainness of this was apparent enough that I was actually perplexed when others didn’t see it on face value. Whenever an interlocutor pointed to a real-world counterexample I was ready with a distinction between the applied and the perfect libertarian policy.

    But the truth an ideologue is at pains to accept is that no life can live up to ideology. We are a messy species living messy lives. And we are lucky for this. The intellectual libertarian wants the world to be the kind of ideal world it never can be. He (and it’s often he) is unable to live with ambiguity and compromise. The beautiful (it is a kind of beauty) logical edifice of libertarianism is built on the faulty premise that this is the kind of world that is built on logical edifices.

    The discomfort I felt with libertarianism was the discomfort of my ideas not aligning with my experiences. My thoughts and feelings were at odds. The feeling nagging me was that I couldn’t reconcile my humanity with my ideology any more than my friend could for me. Over time, that feeling became a reason in its own right.

    I saw, as many libertarians see, a world tangential to this world we live in, which is the world I always felt like I belonged to.

    • Tourist  On January 26, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      “When the lens of ideology grows so thick it’s all a person sees, a sense of humor is often the first thing to be occluded.”

      From a Salon comment thread:

      “It’s hilarious that people like you think liberals and Democrats are socialists. They are nothing of the sort. They are wishy-washy namby-pambys. As a radical socialist, let me assure you that they will be in the second wave of enemies sent to the wall — after, of course, the first wave of reactionaries have been carted away.

      “Then we’ll come for the libertarians.”

      • toadsly  On January 26, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        Hitler would be so proud! Think they have free Wi-Fi in Hell?

        • Tourist  On January 26, 2014 at 7:01 PM

          Intermittently.

          • toadsly  On January 26, 2014 at 7:39 PM

            Great! That explains much; especially, as far as some of the commenters on this blog are concerned.

            • Little_Minx  On January 27, 2014 at 12:46 AM

              Snort ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

  • Little_Minx  On January 28, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Hi, Tourist! Saw on NHK Newsline tonight that you’re having warmer-than-average temps this week — lucky you! I assume you follow Pittsburgh weather, so already know how bitterly cold it’s been here much of this month. With any luck at all next weekend Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, signifying an imminent Spring.

  • Little_Minx  On January 28, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Tea-party tax-cut orthodoxy totally shot out of the water:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/unemployment-benefits-food-stamps-economic-impact

    Obviously Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics is a Commie Pinko Socialist.

    • toadsly  On January 28, 2014 at 7:15 PM

      Nice, easy-to-read chart.

      • Little_Minx  On January 29, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        It must really gall those whose economic fantasies run counter to the facts!

  • Little_Minx  On January 30, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    Teaching children early that there’s no such thing as a free lunch — because as we’ve been told repeatedly here, the “soft bigotry” of compassion would send the message that they don’t have to pay the price for their parents’ poverty.

    “Taking of Salt Lake City school lunches ‘abuse of power’”:

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57472249-78/lunch-district-kids-lunches.html.csp

    Amid outcry from parents, lawmakers and outraged observers who created a sensation on social media, a Utah senator says someone should be fired over the seizure of school lunches from up to 40 young Salt Lake City students with unpaid meal tabs.

    The lunches were taken away Tuesday at Uintah Elementary. While the Salt Lake City School District initially said the call was made by a district-level child nutrition manager, a spokesman now says it is still investigating.

    Sens. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, and Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, visited the school Thursday, holding a press conference outside before joining kids for meals inside. Weiler called the incident “bullying.”

    “To me this rises to the level of bullying,” Weiler said. “Children were humiliated.”

    Weiler called for a firing.

    “I think it’s an abuse of power,” he said. “This person came into a school and used her power to humiliate and embarrass children and I think we ought to draw a line and say that’s not acceptable behavior.”

    Superintendent McKell Withers did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

    Spokesman Jason Olsen said he could not comment on any personnel decisions. He said the district, which has apologized, is still investigating what happened and whether any policies need to change.

    He said Uintah school officials have received threats. “I don’t know how many or the nature of the threats.”

    • Little_Minx  On January 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

      (cont’d)

      Why take away lunches? » The lunch seizures appear to stem from how the Salt Lake City district at times identifies which kids are in debt — while they are checking out in front of friends.

      Olsen said the Uintah students had to go through the lunch line before their balances were checked to give cafeteria workers a chance to make sure they had chosen foods that comply with federal school lunch rules.

      But when one of the students in debt reached that point and couldn’t eat the meal, Olsen said, it couldn’t be given to another student. Staffers had to throw those students’ meals away, and gave them a snack of fruit and milk.

      Of the Salt Lake Valley’s four largest districts, only Salt Lake City has been using that strategy.

      In the Granite, Jordan and Canyons districts, children at the end of their various grace periods are identified before they enter the lunchroom and are given alternative meals when they arrive.

      Former district lunch worker Pam Gomez said public seizures in Salt Lake City schools have been done routinely on a smaller scale.

      “The kitchen managers are aghast every time they have to do that,” said Gomez, who retired two years ago after working in the district for seven years. “You have children crying. You know they get embarrassed because it happens in front of everybody.”

      She added, “It’s sad for those kids, but at least now the policy is out in the open.”

      Principals in the Canyons School District keep close tabs on kids’ accounts and know if they’re empty before kids head in for lunch, said spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook.

      “We do not take food away from children. That is not our policy,” she said.

      Olsen reiterated Thursday that physically taking lunches away from students was a mistake, but did not explain how it will be avoided when students in debt are identified only after they’ve gone through the lunch line.

      • Tourist  On January 30, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        “Somebody should be fired” is probably second only to “That’s offensive” as a knee-jerk overreaction to whatever anyone does not like or agree with these days. Some things are offensive. Some offenders deserve firing. Sort those out. But is no one allowed to realize, regret and learn? How about: “Let’s not do that again.”

        This not partisan.

        Fired?!?!?

        • Little_Minx  On January 31, 2014 at 12:30 AM

          My concern re firing is that low-level people will get “thrown under the bus” rather than those who instituted the policy being fired.

          • Tourist  On January 31, 2014 at 2:34 AM

            I agree, Minx, as far as that goes. But being “thrown under the bus” can apply at any level. If firing would be unfair, it would be just as unfair to a middle manager or administrator as to a line worker.

            Take a look at the very last paragraph of your two-post story, starting with “Olsen reiterated.“ It ends: “. . . . but did not explain how it will be avoided when students in debt are identified only after they’ve gone through the lunch line.”

            The two paragraphs immediately above that explain how another school district identities such students earlier, before they go through the line – so that is probably the substantive answer. Olsen agrees, *says* that what happened was his district’s “mistake.”

            What may very well be the case here – may – is that a problem existed (students overdrawn on their lunch accounts; the need to do something about that) and someone further up – whose own boss may have already expressed concern over at least the overall accounts – formulated a policy (don’t let them have that lunch; give them fruit and milk instead), without appreciating how the policy would be implemented (embarrassment and wasted food). No one seems to have said, “Humiliate the little deadbeats.”

            “Somebody should be fired”? Maybe somebody should re-think.

            Important: There is indication here that the implementers did not like what the policy required them to do (“kitchen managers are aghast every time they have to do that”). The situation changes if *they* had complained upward. I have no idea.

            I wasn’t really reacting to this story. I was reacting to the reflex response: “Somebody should be fired.” Again, sometimes yes. But not because somebody else wants a headline or a trophy. Sometimes they just made a mistake, didn’t think it through, overlooked something, or aren’t up to the job they were given. So instruct them or penalize them or reassign them. They may even do better next time.

            They’re people, neighbors, us.

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