Is What You Believe True?

So, what is it that you believe? People believe all sorts of things – absolutely convinced that they are right. And I’m not just talking about ignorant belief, but well-informed belief.

Just as an example, Douglas Haig was commander of the British forces in France from December 1915 until the end of World War One. During Haig’s tenure of command, Britain engaged in massive and completely fruitless battles, most notably the Somme and Passchendaele. There’s no doubt about some basic facts here – Haig was in command when vast numbers of British soldiers were killed during offensives which simply failed to win the war. On the first day of the Somme, nearly 20,000 British soldiers were killed. Still, it was Haig who in 1918 worked out the military moves which broke the back of German resistance in France and forced the Germans to capitulate. In the immediate aftermath of the war, a grateful Britain awarded Haig an earldom and 100,000 pounds (about five million US dollars, adjusted for inflation). But the days of Haig’s positive press were short-lived. Even before he died in 1928, he had come in for severe criticism from Winston Churchill in his history of the First World War. Churchill, however, didn’t attack the man, as such – later historians did, and ripped into Haig quite severely. By the time everyone had got done with him, Haig was a callous, stupid commander who has pointlessly sacrificed British lives to no purpose. Ask anyone with familiarity with World War One history, and that person is probably not going to have kind words to say about Haig. We all just know he was a bad commander – and probably a bad person, into the bargain.

But, on the other hand, Haig was one of the founding members of the British Legion – a group akin to our Veteran’s of Foreign Wars and/or American Legion. At a time when some powerful voices in Britain were figuring that former soldiers could shift for themselves or survive on private charity, Haig worked diligently to get the British government providing for veterans in a manner fitting of their service and sacrifice. This is not exactly the sort of action that a callous man would engage in. It is, in fact, the action of a man who cared very deeply for the men who had served under his command and wanted to ensure they got all the help they needed in the difficult transition to civil life. Most people who know of Haig know nothing of this – it, after all, doesn’t quite fit the Narrative which has been imposed upon History.

I bring this up because it shows how a certain set of beliefs can grow and become downright impervious to actual facts…and that people then learning about things can just be flat wrong, because what they learned simply wasn’t true. As Reagan said, it isn’t what they know that is worrisome, it is what they know that isn’t so.

We know that our Progressives believe a lot of twaddle – but there is some twaddle that we on the right just as stoutly adhere to. I won’t bring up specifics in this post, because I’m trying to provoke thought, not battle. It is good to roll over in the mind, from time to time, what we think is correct. Maybe we latched on to an idea years ago and have just left it un-examined for years. Perhaps that view has been challenged, but rather than thinking it over we just stuck to our position with fanatical determination. But, what if we are wrong? We might be, on this or that point.

Always be willing to take a fresh look at things. Always be willing to accept new facts, and adjust your views in light of the new facts. Do not dig in your heels! A willingness to accept correction is a vital requirement of life. We don’t know everything – we can’t know everything. The person who is going to win the battle is going to be the person who is willing to see what is happening and listen to criticism. We’ve got a bizarre opportunity coming up starting on Friday – none of us can know what will happen. But if we on the Conservative side want to a Conservative America to emerge – and we do, right? – then we have to be willing to think anew and act anew. We can’t be sure that the particular ways and means we’ve used in the past will bring us to victory now and in the future. This isn’t a call to jettison belief, but a call to seek new ways to apply those beliefs to current circumstances.

37 thoughts on “Is What You Believe True?

  1. Retired Spook January 16, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    I said the other day that I pride myself in being a seeker of the truth regardless of where it leads, and that the truth is becoming more and more elusive in spite of the fact that the information available at our finger tips is growing exponentially every day. Over the course of my adult life I’ve evolved from an unexamined Republican (my parents and grand parents were Republicans) into a Libertarian-leaning Conservative Independent largely because I constantly challenged what I believed.

    The problem with the truth is that it is generally not the friend of those who attempt to achieve or hold on to power, and, unfortunately, the powerful also control, at least to some extent, the dissemination of information, although that’s changing with the emergence of alternative media. I think the vast majority of people can be broken down into two main groups and two sub groups. The main groups are made up of those who are afraid to challenge what they believe and those who are too lazy. These are what Amazona often refers to as “foot soldiers.” The two, much smaller sub groups are made up of those who seek to control and/or obfuscate the truth to achieve and maintain power and those who zealously seek the truth to challenge those in power.

    • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 12:29 am

      “…..The problem with the truth is that it is generally not the friend of those who attempt to achieve or hold on to power…” which is why the truth about Hillary Clinton and other Dem elites lost the election for the Left and changed the nature of American governance.

      Or at least we hope it has….

    • M. Noonan January 17, 2017 / 5:00 am

      Victor Davis Hanson has a long piece out which, I think, is quite relevant:

      …Is there something about the land itself that promotes conservatism? The answer is as old as Western civilization. For the classical Greeks, the asteios (“astute”; astu: city) was the sophisticated “city-like” man, while the agroikos (“agrarian”; agros: farm/field) was synonymous with roughness. And yet there was ambiguity as well in the Greek city/country dichotomy: city folk were also laughed at in the comedies of Aristophanes as too impractical and too clever for their own good, while the unpolished often displayed a more grounded sensibility. In the Roman world, the urbanus (“urbane”; urbs: city) was sometimes too sophisticated, while the rusticus (“rustic”; rus: countryside) was often balanced and pragmatic.

      Country people in the Western tradition lived in a shame culture. Family reputation hinged on close-knit assessments of personal behavior only possible in small communities of the like-minded and tribal. The rural ethos could not afford radical changes in lifestyles when the narrow margins of farming safety rested on what had worked in the past. By contrast, self-reinvention and social experimentation were possible only in large cities of anonymous souls and varieties of income and enrichment. Rural people, that is, don’t honor tradition and habit because they’re somehow better human beings than their urban counterparts; a face-to-face, rooted society offers practical reinforcement for doing so.

      In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity.

      Farming, animal husbandry, mining, logging—these traditional bodily tasks were often praised in the past as epitomes of the proper balance between physical and mental, nature and culture, fact and theory. In classical pastoral and Georgic poetry, the city-bound often romanticized the countryside, even if, on arrival, they found the flies and dirt of Arcadia bothersome. Theocritus and Virgil reflected that, in the trade-offs imposed by transforming classical societies, the earthiness lost by city dwellers was more grievous to their souls than the absence of erudition and sophistication was to the souls of simpler farmers and shepherds…

      Do read the whole thing. I think that we’ve lost sight of what is real. I, too, am guilty of this. I live in the city; I work at just about the opposite of physical labor; I “know” how my food and such comes to me, but only in theory. I don’t know the reality of if – that someone had to put in massively long hours of very hard work just to get me that loaf of bread I’ve got in the pantry. As you guys have seen over the past few years, I’ve changed a bit – all that yammering I do about “make, mine, grow” is the result of this shift of viewpoint, as is my adherence to Distributism. Probably half the American working population – and perhaps more – is engaged in activities which are not necessary. Necessary in the sense that if we stopped doing them, people would die. Arts and entertainment, law and finance all have their useful roles to play in the functioning of our civilization but at the end of the day, it is froth…if what we do, collectively, harms those who put food on our tables and roofs over our heads, then we are doing it wrong. And even if those people who do such work are “dumb” in the sense of not appreciating Hamilton or the latest gender theory on campus, they still aren’t stupid in the sense of not knowing what is what.

      What the residents of cities don’t realize is that they aren’t needed so much. And in 2016 the people who are needed decided to roll the dice on a New York City billionaire who at least acted like he cared. Personally, I think that whatever he might have been in 2015, by the end of 2016 he did realize some real truths about America…he met these people, maybe for the first time, on their own terms and listened to them.

      I’ve had a running Twitter argument with a rock-solid, highly educated and very intelligent Conservative – the subject has been about Protectionism. You and I (and he) know full well that Protectionism is a bad thing…but on the other hand, Free Trade isn’t necessarily so swell when the Chinese now produce ten times the amount of steel we make and the steel they flood are market with is utter garbage. That it is lower priced than American steel is undoubted…but why is it lower priced? Not because it is made faster and better…it is just made cheaper, by people who don’t have our skills, and who have inspectors who can be bribed to let substandard materials pass (yes, Americans can be bribed like that, too…but we still have a free press and, also, a company putting out lousy steel which causes injury or death will find itself shelling out massive amounts in liability claims). And maybe it isn’t made cheaper – maybe the Chinese government is fudging the books merely to bury our market under their goods in order to eliminate American competition? We don’t know – we can’t know; there’s no one in China who is allowed to check and tell us. Do I want a trade war with China? No – but I also don’t want the American steel industry hammered by unfair trade practices…and if we ever go to war with China, you can bet your last dollar that we’re going to have to produce one heck of a lot of steel…and thus we’d better make sure we have the capacity, even if a stainless steel appliance winds up being 10% more expensive than now.

      And I think those who produce things realize this better than those who don’t – and realize both the substantial benefits of free trade and the risks of free trade. There is a common sense in any man or woman who actually makes something – as Hanson puts it, either the crops grow, or they don’t. There’s no theory involved – you’ve either done your job well, or you haven’t. We need to make that attitude paramount in our society. Whatever it is we do, is it doing what we said it would? Even if you want to “cure” climate change…ok, have your efforts made that happen? You want to rescue the poor from poverty? Fine. You’ve been working on it for a while – are they no longer poor? If the answer is “no”, then its time to try something else…just as a farmer will try something else if the crop last year was lousy…he’s not just going to keep on doing it the same way, over and over again, in hopes that the same input will result in a different output.

      • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 5:42 pm

        “…you’ve either done your job well, or you haven’t…” ….except on the Left. As Hugh Hewitt said, when a contractor makes a mistake, a door falls off—when a Liberal makes a mistake, he get tenure.

        We might sum up a lot of the failures of the Left in two words—-NO CONSEQUENCES.

        When you deal in reality, there ARE consequences, but if all you deal in is ideas, nothing happens when you are wrong. If your ideas are put into practice and they fail, you still get credit for having the idea, which is to the Left the most important thing. This is evident in the development of the Participation Trophy.

        I think Chinese steel probably is cheaper to make—–they use recycled steel that contains a lot of crap, so it is contaminated with elements that make it weaker. Just as their dog food is cheaper, because they can put pretty much anything they want into it, their toys are cheaper because they don’t have to test for lead in the paint, etc. Maybe an acceptable form of protectionism would be to only import materials and items that meet our own standards, and let the industries self-regulate. They can make dangerous crap, and we can refuse to allow it past our borders.

      • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 5:55 pm

        “…Arts and entertainment, law and finance all have their useful roles to play in the functioning of our civilization but at the end of the day, it is froth…”

        Back in the day, an education was considered important because study of “the arts” was a way to connect generations of human beings to the same basic immutable truths of honesty, discipline and truth. People felt that a college education would benefit even a steelworker or a farmer, because it would link him to the wisdom of the ages, wisdom that provided a connection among people. Young Thomas Jefferson learned Greek because it was his link to the wisdom of the past and his connection to others who had learned the same things.

        Today’s college education has moved away from the basics, to callow pop culture. “Plato? Wasn’t he Micky Mouse’s dog? I think I saw him at Disney World.” Today people connect over the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen songs, or (shudder) Beyonce. Yes, today’s “arts” are mere froth, so shallow and corrupted they offer absolutely nothing but self-congratulations for either being daring or pretending to find meaning in the meaningless. There are no timeless lessons to be learned in pop culture.

        If we were to be thrust back into a medieval lifestyle by some worldwide catastrophe, people could be enriched by reading Shakespeare or Greek tragedies. They could be inspired by studying Churchill, or biographies of truly great and accomplished people. These are things that could help rebuild a civilization, built upon the lessons of the past. I cringe to think of a new civilization built on the heritage of Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Barack Obama.

      • Amazona January 18, 2017 / 1:52 pm

        Continuing the idea of our degraded culture, I read this this morning, as part of an article titled “Families, Schools, and Churches: The Building Blocks of a Healthy Social Ecology”

        The Renaissance of Classical Education emphasis mine

        But family-encouraging policies on the part of the government and the business sector are certainly not all that is needed to restore our social ecology. Mothers and fathers need other support institutions—vibrant schools, churches, and other cells of civil society—to help them form their children in the virtues they need to use their freedom well. So, my second challenge is that we get behind the renaissance of classical education that is now taking place across our country. By steeping children in the very best Western civilization has to offer and by intentionally inculcating in them the moral and intellectual virtues children need to flourish, classical schools are, one by one, recreating the ecosystem of moral support parents need for their children and for themselves.

      • rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 2:22 pm

        I agree with much of what you’re saying here substantially but I would caution against vilifying the arts too strenuously. Mark, in common with your desire to “make, mine and grow” realize that artists make things too–they are makers. Not all of it good, not all of it enduring, but much of it invaluable. What we see today in our post-post-modernist world plus technology is a glut of artistic product, and often it’s the aesthetically puerile that rises to the top for mass consumption. But among this glut is quality–there are so many capable people these days who are able to make art that there is something for everyone, you just have to sort through the chaff to find what you like.

        Important to all of this is a return to the classics and we see an abundance of that today as well. Another reason I move center politically is because of the left’s disdain for the classics, which has everything to do with identity politics. Once you start judging art based on the color of the artists skin you’re sinking into oblivion and dreck.

  2. Cluster January 17, 2017 / 9:01 am

    Excellent post Mark. I have always believed that everyone should challenge conventional thinking from time to time, particularly their own which reminds me of a poster I had back in my college days that said – Question Authority. Your story of Douglas Haig translates well to the current John Lewis dust up. No question John Lewis is a civil rights figure and an important one, but what he did in his youth does not permanently define who the man is, and since then John Lewis has been as partisan and as ineffective as your standard fare politician, so he is certainly not immune from criticism and those who rush to his defense are those who are stuck in partisan dogma.

    In this past election, I think you saw a lot of conservatives, evangelicals, etc., challenge their own conventional thinking by nominating and electing Donald Trump. I think everyone can agree that Trump breaks the mold of the conventional GOP candidate, and my hope is that by shattering the paradigm, conservatives have a chance to advance their agenda more so than with any other conventional candidate. On the other side of the aisle, we witnessed a party neck deep in unchallenged orthodoxy as they nominated a candidate with every intention of maintaining the status quo, and as the final results indicate, Americans wanted to shake things up and take a risk.

    The other day Amazona criticized Rubio for being a lightweight and while I have always held promise for Rubio’s potential, I now have to agree. Yesterday Rubio pandered to the crowd on this John Lewis story and it was abundantly clear that he did so to win the praise and applause of the audience he was in front of, and to me that is cowardly. In my opinion, no conservative can look back on the results of the last 30 years that John Lewis has been in politics, living off of tax payer money, and deem him to be one of the most “important figures in American history”. Not even close.

    • M. Noonan January 17, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      Rubio clearly does adjust his manner in order to wring what he views as the best advantage out of a given situation. And he’s got to tread a fine line for quite a while as his next chance at the White House isn’t until 2024, and between now and then he’ll have to balance Trumpster with NeverTrump. It’s a tricky situation…and I only hope it doesn’t make him, in the end, an overly tricky politician. Nixon became like that – saying one thing to please the right, then another to please the left…eventually, he got mistrusted by everyone and when the chips were down, he found he had no friends. I think that Rubio’s best bet for the next 8 years is to stake out two or three crucial issues as his own and be seen as point man on them…and, yes, even battling with Trump to get them, if necessary. Pure calculation says he should find an issue he can out-Populist Trump on, an issue he can out-Conservative him on and one which he can out-Moderate him on. We’ll see if he’s really got the smarts and the grit to do it.

      Trump proved to my satisfaction that there is no unwinnable election, no unwinnable State. I really wish he had spent some time in California (I bet he does, too…had he, even if still losing the State, he would have got more votes there and perhaps got close to winning the popular vote). And that shows that all our Expert Political Smart Guys were wrong…and they were wrong not because they are stupid (they aren’t – and some of them are downright geniuses), but because they refused to rethink what they thought they knew.

      • Retired Spook January 17, 2017 / 3:53 pm

        I really wish he had spent some time in California (I bet he does, too…had he, even if still losing the State, he would have got more votes there and perhaps got close to winning the popular vote).

        Actually I don’t think trying to win the popular vote was ever part of his strategy. Trump could have doubled or tripled his campaign spending and still not won the popular vote.

        I think I may have posted this the other day, but to illustrate just how regionally isolated the Democrat Party is, Hillary won LA County by 1.3 million and the 5 boroughs of New York City by 1.5 million, which accounted for all of her 2.8 million popular vote margin. Hillary won the popular vote by winning 500 out of 3,100 counties. No better reason I can think of to keep the Electoral College.

      • M. Noonan January 17, 2017 / 8:36 pm

        True – but CA was a complete disaster because the GOP didn’t even remotely compete there in 2016. Everyone knew Hillary would win it, and even for the Senate contest, it pitted two Democrats against each other given that CA opted for a “jungle primary” where, naturally, various groups will try to ensure there are so many GOP candidates that none of them come in second.

        I’m hoping that Conway and the rest of Team Trump think carefully over this – they won States the GOP was never, ever supposed to win again…I’m not saying they can win in CA in 2020, but I’m hoping they at least try. For future party building, if nothing else – but, also, if we play there, Democrats have to play there, and that means they’ve got less opportunity to play in our sandbox.

    • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 5:30 pm

      Rubio has always been all over the place, trying to avoid controversy as he did in Florida when he took the coward’s way out and refused to address the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman debacle, or going along with the Gang of Eight to try to gain cred with what he evidently thought was the winning side of that argument and establish himself as a “statesman” and then backtracking on that to some extent when he decided to run for president. He is a political lightweight, perfectly acceptable as a placeholder in a Republican Senate but not a leader and not someone we can count on. Because he seems to have no reliable internal compass, his needle swings toward whatever he thinks will benefit him most at any given time.

      He is attractive, personable, articulate and pleasant, and seems to be pretty bright. I think he is right where he belongs, as long as he is surrounded by strong conservatives to give him a sense of direction. I used to think a lot of his deficits were due to immaturity, and hoped he would grow into a strong and principled conservative once he found his way and a voice, but he has not changed appreciably from the easily influenced and ideologically shallow Rubio of a few years ago. If anything, his fluctuations are more pronounced now, as seen in his praise of Lewis and his attacks on Tillerson.

      I get it, that he has a serious problem with Castro and therefore with anyone who isn’t as passionate in refusing to have anything to do with Communist Cuba. I understand that he associates Russia with Communist Cuba and by extension what happened to his homeland and his family. It is understandable to have very strong feelings about all of this, and I happen to think he is right in feeling absolute disgust for that whole sorry episode in history. But he seems to be letting his emotions dictate how he acts as a legislator in the most powerful and significant government in the world, and that is unfortunate.

      • M. Noonan January 17, 2017 / 8:38 pm

        He’s still pretty young for a politician – I’m hopeful he grows to what he wants to be. Some day, he may make a fine President…but, right now, I’m kinda glad he didn’t make it…and I voted for him in the primaries.

      • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 9:37 pm

        I don’t think youth is the problem. I think it is his character. A strong character is present even in the young and inexperienced. I understand the desire to have a young, handsome, articulate president but our best presidents were none of the above. I think his highest and best purpose is as a Senator from Florida, and possibly, if he matures a little, governor of Florida.

  3. Retired Spook January 17, 2017 / 11:24 am

    Sort of OT, but timely, nevertheless, given Obama’s imminent departure (hopefully) in a little over 72 hours.

    • Cluster January 17, 2017 / 11:54 am

      Great article spook, but of course Chris Matthews and Brian Williams disagree and continue to shower The Magnificent One with praise. From yesterday:

      Chris Matthews: “One thing I try to figure out is: how he knew how great it was to do Al Green, how he just knew he could slide right into that part, sing this soul kind of music which is so smooth and so cool and he did it without any sweat.”

      Brian Williams: “And he did it with a lot of courage. It takes a lot of guts to do that,” Williams opined, “And then later in his presidency, after Charleston, after the shooting when he sang “Amazing Grace” to a stunned congregation, that is a moment that lives on in our hour as well.”

      • M. Noonan January 17, 2017 / 12:17 pm

        Goodness! Such nauseating sycophants! But, they believe it – they clearly believe every bit of it. They are living in a world where Obama is this massively popular figure who has forever found a place in our hearts…almost hate to break it to them that in 2117, he’ll be a Trivial Pursuit question…

      • Amazona January 17, 2017 / 5:33 pm

        I think the term “throne sniffers” is not only really, seriously funny but really, seriously, accurate.

  4. Retired Spook January 17, 2017 / 4:28 pm

    Brilliant response from Mike Rowe to an anti-gun nut.

    Obviously, you and I have a difference of opinion regarding the role of the Second Amendment in modern society. But thanks to the first amendment, we can express our differences in whatever way we prefer. We can criticize those with whom we disagree, or we can try to persuade them. We can make a case as to why we believe what we believe, or we can simply announce our disappointment to the world, as though our feelings alone are enough to justify our beliefs. (emphasis – mine)

  5. Retired Spook January 18, 2017 / 8:09 am

    James O’Keefe does it again.

    I’d pay to see a confrontation between these little anarchists and the tens of thousands of Bikers for Trump who are rolling into D.C. It’ll bring “throat punching” to a whole new level.

  6. rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    Well, in spirit of this post, I don’t mind giving myself a hardy pat on the back for open-mindedness for reasons you all know–I’ve been a liberal my entire life but have recently moved to the center and voted Republican for the first time in my life. I recognized a radically shifting social political landscape and was able to step outside my partisan bubble. Not an easy thing to do.

    One thing that helped, as many of you have said, is a willingness to listen to and respectfully engage the other side. There are plenty of issues of disagreement between myself and other posters at this site, major disagreement. I think if you were to look back on our arguments of yore you’d find my positions haven’t changed much. What has changed is the social political landscape of this country (epitomized in the Clinton campaign) and with it the issues I deem most worthy of defending, and on many of those, we happen to agree. With all of our disagreements bubbling under the surface I’m sure there will be some heat from time to time, but hopefully with no rancor like before.

    That leads me to another aspect of my conversion, the utter hostility toward open debate from the left these days. Around the time of my evolving attitude I posted some thoughts on that liberal site where I was a frequent contributor and was met with immediate scorn. I tried to maintain a civil debate but the only mode of engagement from them was attack; identity politics, guilt by association, labeling, name-calling–all were perfectly adequate substitutes for reasoned argument from that side. I was eventually banned, and that site has gone silent. Indeed, what do they have to say anymore? I tried warning them that their myopia and intolerance were bringing their own destruction, but they preferred to keep it up anyway while gleefully trusting the polls.

    Anyway, my advice for getting at the truth: Be informed. Follow the news, but cross-reference–verify those stories that hit you the hardest. Listen. Question your standard course of action. Apply reason and logic. On the slightly cynical side, understand that everything is imperfect and always will be, and equality is a myth.

    • Amazona January 18, 2017 / 1:48 pm

      Rusty, as another former Lib, I think my turning point was realizing that the Left can never explain themselves. I “knew” things because, well, everyone around me knew them, knew them with absolute certainty, so I “knew” them as well. (This, BTW, was before the internet took off, back in the Clinton days.) I also “knew” other things. I knew that being FOR something made me a better person, and that anyone who did not agree with me was by definition AGAINST those good things, making him a bad person. But I didn’t talk about politics and I didn’t know anyone who talked about politics. It was just Us and Them, and We were good and They were bad.

      What nudged me into a little skepticism about my chosen alliance was the reaction of the Left to the women accusing Bill Clinton of various attacks and misdeeds. In a heartbeat, NOW and the Left in general spun from “respect women and believe them when they say they have been attacked” to “she’s too ugly to rape” and, as the Louisiana Snapping Turtle Carville sneered, “What do you expect when you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park?”

      Then I was doing a lot of driving and there was a talk show on Denver radio hosted by conservative Mike Rosen. I would listen sometimes, and thought he was just mean to Libs who called in, but pretty soon I caught on to a pattern. A Lib would call in, usually quite irate and often insulting, and Mike would engage him in conversation and ask him to explain what he thought, or why. And the Lib would not answer. He would duck and dodge, usually by coming back with another question or sometimes just trying to shift the discourse to another topic. I remember one time a LIb called in espousing one of my own beliefs, and Mike asked him to explain it, and I turned up the volume because I wanted to know why I believed it. I knew I did, but I had no idea why, and I really wanted someone smarter than I to explain it, and then defend it to this bully conservative troglodyte Mike Rosen.

      And the Lib couldn’t. He scrambled, he tap-danced, he ducked, he dodged, he evaded, he tried to divert the conversation to something else, he tried responding with questions instead of answers. And when Mike just calmly and courteously said no, we won’t move on until you answer this question, the caller got belligerent and abusive. And I realized if I was going to be on a side, I wanted to be on the side that can explain itself, defend its positions, and do so without name calling. That is when I started reading, studying, and discussing politics, and the more I learned the more I realized that we had a pretty good thing with our Constitution, and we were starting to mess it up.

      • rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 3:51 pm

        That’s interesting. I don’t think I was ever in the position of not knowing why I was believing something, but more in the position of believing something for the unexamined reasons. Heck, I think a vast majority of us agree on the same problems but disagree on emphasis and what the prescriptive solutions might be.

      • Amazona January 18, 2017 / 7:51 pm

        Rusty, you might really like Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. He goes into the core belief or worldview that ends up pushing us to a collective mentality or an individual one. I got bogged down about a third of the way into it because at that point I thought I really needed to be in a discussion group to talk about it.

        I think you put it much better than I did—knowing why you believed something but not examining the reasons that supported that belief.

      • Retired Spook January 19, 2017 / 5:38 pm

        Heck, I think a vast majority of us agree on the same problems but disagree on emphasis and what the prescriptive solutions might be.

        It used to be that way, and maybe if more people would open their minds we could get back to actually debating ideas, which ones work, which ones don’t or never have, and which ones haven’t yet been tried.

      • Amazona January 19, 2017 / 9:13 pm

        What has happened—and I think it has been a strategy, not just a natural occurrence—-is that an internal and usually unexamined narrative has been established in the minds of Leftists. Basically, it is: ” I believe in ______. _____ is a good thing. Therefore I am good. I have an opinion on how to achieve this _____. An Other does not agree with my opinion on how to achieve _______. Therefore this Other does not want ______ to occur. Therefore the Other is bad.”

        A few years of unquestioningly accepting this narrative will result in a conviction that We and They do not want the same things.

        So if the Left says they want to raise taxes to fund a massive federal agency with the stated goal of distributing funds to feed hungry children and the Right does not think this is the best way to address the problem or an accepted duty of the federal government, this translates into “The Right doesn’t care if children starve”. And those who wanted to raise taxes and establish this bureaucracy feel quite entitled to claim the Higher Moral Ground—-though nothing has been accomplished—–as well as condemning the Other as the opposite of moral, or evil.

    • Retired Spook January 18, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      That leads me to another aspect of my conversion, the utter hostility toward open debate from the left these days.

      This is not a new phenomenon, but it’s gotten progressively (pun intended) worse since Obama was elected. I think the main thing it stems from is people who think they know what’s best for everyone else — a one-size fits all, zero tolerance mentality. You basically have three choices: you can agree, fight it or ignore it. Most people I know, who are predominantly conservative, Ignore it. A great many Liberals, OTOH (and I hate to generalize) look at one size fits all, zero tolerance the same way “moderate” Muslims look at radical Islamists. They don’t participate, but they also don’t condemn or obstruct such policies. That is, they approve by their silence.

      • rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 4:22 pm

        I see it that way too, Spook. I remember alerting my liberal friends to the growing concern of leftist anti-free speech activities on our campuses and was met with total indifference, they couldn’t even move themselves to condemn it. “A few crazy kids” they said, “college kids are prone to this type of silliness”. But we’re seeing a massive increase in this type of campus fascism and one has to wonder how many instances it will take before a faction of the left will condemn this type of activity.

        Recently, as I’m sure many of you have heard, an event featuring Milo Yiannopulos was shut down at the University of California by violent leftist mobs.

        I link to the partisan Daily Caller post on this only because it’s one of the media outlets which shows the video of the actual tactics being employed here. This isn’t protest, it’s censorship. The students had every right to protest and have their voices heard, but their aim was to shut down the speech from happening at all, and they succeeded. These young ignorant fascists have no idea what fires they’re playing with.

      • Amazona January 18, 2017 / 7:58 pm

        I’ve seen videos of attacks—and I mean actual physical assaults—on Ann Coulter and David Horowitz while they were onstage on college campuses, assaults which came after efforts to drown them out with heckling. Not long ago there was a story about a college coed, probably 19-20, who needed tranquilizers because she was frozen with abject fear due to the fact that Ben Shapiro was actually speaking on her campus. She was falling apart, and said she felt physically “terrified” by the knowledge that he was on campus—-he was about three miles away from her.

        If Leftists would come out in favor of totalitarian rule and oppression of dissent as a philosophy, at least they would be honest. But their rhetoric is all about being “inclusive” and “tolerant” and the need for “diversity”, until something comes along that they don’t agree with, and then their default position is to threaten, intimidate, try to silence, and then resort to violence to shut it down.

      • rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 10:16 pm

        Yes, totally. I can’t think of an equivalent on the conservative end of the spectrum that’s trying to stifle public debate. Can anyone point to any conservative/Republican groups trying to shut down liberal/progressive speech? Casper? Anybody? Seems like the fascism is coming from one side.

      • Retired Spook January 19, 2017 / 12:14 pm

        Yes, totally. I can’t think of an equivalent on the conservative end of the spectrum that’s trying to stifle public debate.

        Neither can I.

  7. Amazona January 18, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Good. You got your star back.

    • rustybrown2014 January 18, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      Hey, my star ratings are in direct proportion to the brownie points I receive, thank you very much!

  8. Retired Spook January 19, 2017 / 12:53 pm

    One of the best pieces I’ve ever read on politics, religion and culture.

  9. Retired Spook January 19, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    A scary what if posed by Brian Todd on CNN yesterday.

    Blitzer introduced the segment, saying, “What if an incoming president and his immediate successors were wiped out on day one?” and from there, CNN contributor Brian Todd took over to outline the line of succession if an attack blew up the inaugural dais, killing both Trump and Pence.

    The upshot was that in the case of both heads of state being killed, the Secretary of State would take over. Currently that man is Secretary of State John Kerry, But in case some objected because his office would also end as of noon on Inauguration Day, then it would be the Speaker of the House — Republican Paul Ryan — or even Obama’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon.

    The report also noted that the designated survivor appointed by the Obama administration could also become president in the case of a disaster. So, in CNN’s analysis, most of the people who would take over in the worst-case scenario would keep the Obama administration in power, at least indirectly.

    This seriously calls into question CNN’s status as anything more than a kook fringe news (and I use that term loosely) site.

    Less than 24 hours to go to find out if America’s history of peaceful transitions of power will remain intact.

    • Amazona January 19, 2017 / 9:04 pm

      I have a feeling there is an air of wishful thinking in CNN’S piece.

  10. Retired Spook January 19, 2017 / 6:33 pm

    As I was watching Lee Greenwood belt out God Bless the USA at the Lincoln Memorial (one of the few songs that gets me all teary-eyed) I realized one thing that I absolutely believe to be true: that the majority of Americans love this country. My hope is that that love manifests itself in a hundred different ways in the years to come, especially in bringing people who disagree with each other together to achieve great things.

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