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Archive for the ‘Politics and Society’ Category

I’ve been thinking for a while of revisiting the watershed essays I posted in 2008 and 2009, but I was pleasantly shocked earlier this year when I read an excellent piece by Victor Davis Hansen that already did it for me.  Hansen’s essay “The Last Generation of the West and the Thin Strand of Civilization” covers almost exactly the same ground that I identified six years ago.

The fact that two men of different generations independently see the same writing on the wall cannot be insignificant.

Hansen cites examples for four of the five areas that worry me–the only missing item is, oddly, my number one.  But more on that shortly.

Here are quotes from Hansen that correlate with my first four categories of American decline.  His original has links to evidence–please read his essay and read his links.

 

#5: Government Size and Spending

“The fourth-century Greeks at the end pasted silver over their worthless bronze coins — “reds” being the protruding noses and hair of the portraiture that first appeared bronze-like, as the silver patina rubbed off. The bastardization of the currency fostered many books on Roman decline. More worthless money for more people was a sign of “crisis” — analogous to our own quantitative easing and $17 trillion in debt.

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Mark Steyn, as always, is way ahead of the curve here.  By the time most of my fellow conservatives figure this out, I fear, we’ll be even more of a consciously inconsequential minority, a marginal annoyance with little functional power, than we already are.

*****

Where the Action Is,” National Review, 3/10/14

You can’t have conservative government in a liberal culture, and that’s the position the Republican party is in….Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference. Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up, twisting themselves into pretzels….

Culture is the long view; politics is the here and now. Yet in America vast cultural changes occur in nothing flat, while, under our sclerotic political institutions, men elected to two-year terms of office announce ambitious plans to balance the budget a decade after their terms end. Here, again, liberals show a greater understanding of where the action is….

So, no, I’m not particularly focused on a Tuesday in November in 2016. Liberals understand that it’s in the 729 days between elections that you win all the prizes that matter, on all the ground conservatives have largely abandoned.

What Is the Future of Conservatism?Commentary, January 2013

The Democrats used their brutal Romney-gives-you-cancer/ Ryan-offs-your-granny advertising in Ohio as bad cop to the good cop of Obama’s cultural cool. The trouble for conservatives is we have no good cop. That’s to say, we have no positive presence in the broader cultural space where real people actually live. We have all the talk-radio shows and cable networks we need, and the rest of the country is happy to leave us walled up in those redoubts. But culture trumps politics, and not just in the movies and pop songs, grade schools and mainline churches, but increasingly in the boardrooms, too. Instead of giving your hard-earned dollars to help drag some finger-in-the-windy squish with an R after his name over the finish line every other November, conservatives need to start fighting on the turf that matters. We risk winding up like the Shakers–dependent on conversion while eschewing all effective means thereof.

 

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Three examples from my experience as a teacher:

1. A young man struggles with his work at school because his divorced mother has a hard time getting him to school.  His father tries to facilitate contact with the teachers and get his work made up, but it’s just too overwhelming.  Despite the student loving his school and wanting to thrive there, he ends up having to switch schools in the middle of the year.

2. A young woman is very successful at school, until her mother starts hitting her in fights.  The student has to move in with her aunt and, like the young man above, switch schools in the middle of the year, losing a leadership position at the school she’d attended for years.

3. A young woman has difficulty focusing on maintaining her grades while her mother has to move their family frequently to avoid her father, a drug user who, since getting out of jail, is harassing them.

Cherry-picked worst-case scenarios from over the years to make a point?  I wish.  I saw all three of these things happen in just the last two months.

Family structure and stability are so crucial to success.  That’s common sense, and it’s also supported by mountains of research.  Still, we don’t talk about it anymore because it might be inconvenient for some adults, or hurt our feelings, or be politically incorrect.  And kids just keep paying the price for it…

 

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Instapundit Fun

Go to Instapundit.  Scroll down a few screens and on the right you’ll see the search box.  Search for the phrase, “They told me if.”

Enjoy one of the Internet’s best running gags.

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  • National Review post called “Dear Hysterical Liberals: Hectoring Hurts Science” says this: “But conservatives (including Christian conservatives) aren’t anti-science as much as they’re anti-hectoring and unpersuaded by naked appeals to authority delivered with maximum condescension.”  No joke.  Early in college, my religious and political beliefs developed largely for the same reasons: because I saw solid, irrefutable results in one way of thought and not in the opposite way, and because the advocates of those opposite views typically relied more on belittling the character of others than on engaging in serious argument.  I noticed that anti-Mormons (and anti-Christians in general) as well as secular leftists tended to ridicule others rather than refute their points, or even support their own.  I saw so much bandwagon elitism from those allied corners that it just added a deep layer of comfortable relief to the more objective conclusions I had otherwise reached about politics and religion.
  • If aliens from another planet came and observed America, they would determine that the purpose of our public school system is to make girls and minorities feel good about themselves.  After all, where does the balance of our energy and resources go?  What are our most sacred values there?  What agendas permeate the system top to bottom more than any other?  Based on the evidence, what else could those extraterrestrial visitors possibly conclude?   (more…)

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I recently read two completely separate articles that make an intriguing contrast.

On one hand, “‘Preferred’ pronouns gain traction at US colleges:”

On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who, like Crownover, self-identify as “genderqueer” — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language.

Though still in search of mainstream acceptance, students and staff members who describe themselves in terms such as agender, bigender, third gender or gender-fluid are requesting — and sometimes finding — linguistic recognition.

Inviting students to state their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs for short, and encouraging classmates to use unfamiliar ones such as “ze,”’sie,” ”e,” ”ou” and “ve” has become an accepted back-to-school practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools.

Note the tell-tale theme words: “self-identify,” “describe themselves in terms,” “preferred gender pronouns.”  I wonder why, when there’s a conflict between biological reality and psycho-emotional consciousness, we actually privilege the latter and disdain the former as some sort of obsolete relic.

I asked this of someone last summer and was immediately called a “transophobe.”  Apparently that settled things.

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When I once asked, “Is there any combination of consenting  adults you *wouldn’t* accept as a marriage?” only one of my more liberal acquaintances really addressed the question with a substantive response.  He said he wouldn’t support legalizing polygamous unions because of the confusion they would create.

He was absolutely right, but this is another example of how social progressives must not have truly examined the likely consequences of changing the definition of marriage, because such a reality will absolutely be the actual result of where our society is going.

I know this because we’re already well on the way.

In 2012, Brazil formalized a three-person union.

Also that year, a bill was introduced in California to allow children to have more than two legal parents.  The bill made it all the way to the governor before being vetoed.  Obviously, such an outcome is inevitable if same-sex marriage is sanctioned.

As the journal Public Discourse noted:

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  • “Fatherless families were also at least partly responsible for a national breakdown in authority and rising levels of crime. My view was backed in 1992 when three influential social scientists with impeccable Left-wing pedigrees produced a damning report.  From their research, they concluded that children in fractured families tend to suffer more ill-health, do less well at school, are more likely to be unemployed, more prone to criminal behaviour and to repeat as adults the same cycle of unstable parenting. But instead of welcoming this analysis as identifying a real problem, the Left turned on the authors, branding them as evil Right-wingers for being ‘against single mothers’.”  Melanie Philips, “Why the Left hates families: MELANIE PHIILLIPS reveals how the selfish sneers of Guardianistas made her see how the Left actively fosters – and revels in – family breakdown…

 

  • “I have been told that being hard on you Millennials will turn you against conservatism, that I should offer you a positive, hopeful message that avoids the touchy problem of your manifest stupidity.  No. There’s no sugar-coating it – your votes for Democrats have ensured that you are the first generation in American history that will fail to exceed what their parents attained. Embracing liberalism was a stupid thing to do, done for the stupidest of reasons, and I will now let you subsidize my affluent lifestyle without a shred of guilt.”  Kurt Schlichter, “Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millenials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom

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America has been making fun of political correctness for at least 20 years now.

1994 saw the release of, for example, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, a reworking of classic fairy tales with a more enlightened view, and PCU, a David Spade/Jeremy Piven movie about a typically “politically correct university” full of clueless leftist zombies.  

So, obviously, this brain-dead scourge has since been completely erased from our society.  Yup, no new awkward neologisms have been forced down our throats since then; no new restrictions on what’s acceptable discussion and belief have been foisted on us by our elite media betters.  Certainly, the rules of PC have not grown so Byzantine and ubiquitous that they’ve all but dictated how public life works these days.

*sigh*

It’s almost enough to make one lose faith in satire…

PCU

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A Google search for “Obama economy ‘turning a corner’” draws over 34 million results, spanning the last five years.  Apparently, it’s one heck of a long corner.

corner

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In my years of teaching, perhaps no pop-culture cliché has annoyed me as much as this.  I’ve heard dozens of earnest, zealous teens announce this one with a look of holy glee on their faces, ecstatic at the chance to show off how well they’ve internalized this bit of media indoctrination.

Whenever this line gets repeated, I, in my role as a teacher of the English language, feel compelled to address the error:

Me: “Yes, there is.  It’s in the dictionary.  Look under ‘N.’”

Teen: “But it doesn’t mean anything.  There’s no such thing as normal!”

Me: “Since you won’t look it up, or consider my point, I’ll walk you through this.   (more…)

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Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, has been the subject of both adulation and damnation in recent days because of comments he made about homosexuality.  All the commentors are focusing on something wrong that someone else has done, without realizing an important truth: everybody is wrong here.

Why Robertson is wrong:

The defense of Robertson holds that he was voicing a traditionally Christian view of homosexuality as sinful.  But there’s more to it than that.

Those of us who hold to traditional religious views need to do a better job of making sure it’s clear that we “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and that the sin here is unchaste behavior, not the feelings that prompt them.  Maybe we feel that such diplomacy is excessive or unnecessary, but that’s life.

Robertson’s comments–as they’ve been presented publicly by the media, at least–don’t even try to do that.

Worse still, he criticizes homosexuality as “illogical.”  A direct quote from the interview in question: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus.  That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

This is stupid.  As if sexual preference were the result of a thought process that hadn’t been properly carried out!  Perhaps Robertson thinks gay men will read this and say, “Hey!  Good point!  Now that you’ve pointed that out, I understand.  Why, women are more anatomically compatible with men that other men are!  By Jove, Mr. Robertson, thank you for showing me the light!”

Robertson made some worthwhile comments about the decline of society’s morality in that interview, but those remarks will never be remembered, because he said this.  That’s a shame, and there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

Why Robertson’s conservative defenders are wrong:

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Last weekend I judged a round of mock-congressional debate at a high school tournament.  Teens argued for and against various proposals they’d written, one being a bill to eliminate the debt ceiling.

One young man gave a speech for it.  Then a young woman asked him if this measure might not result in catastrophic debt accumulation.

“I don’t think our politicians would be that stupid,” he said.

A few minutes later she gave a speech, against the measure.  Directly referring to the boy who’d spoken before her, she said, “Our national debt is already 17 trillion dollars.  Don’t you think that’s stupid?”

 

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“I’m Black”

On the first day of most classes I’ve ever taught, I ask kids to write some info about themselves on a note card.  I use this to help learn the names and character of the group I’m working with.  One of the last items I ask for is, “Tell me something unique or special about you.”

Many times I have gotten those cards back from kids where that item is answered in two words: “I’m black.”

No other ethnicity is ever used as an answer for that prompt.  Usually people just note that they play an instrument, or moved here from somewhere else, or love kittens, or something like that.

Does this tell us anything about the state of race in our society?

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Some liberals are calling conservatives petty for focusing on the massive failure of the healthcare.gov website rollout.  They say that these kinds of kinks are normal and will be worked out soon.

That’s just delusional denial.  The catastrophic malfunction of the first aspect of this law is a harbinger, not an outlier.

Can anyone imagine a history book a hundred years from now saying, “There were some minor glitches in the website at first, but those quickly got fixed, and then everything was fine with Obamacare forever.  Everything else always worked perfectly.”?

 

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