October 30th, 2010

Juan Williams, the process of political change, and breaking the liberal trance

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker reflects on Juan Williams and the ideological journey he might be beginning as a result of his NPR firing.

A great deal of this is familiar to me; political change, especially from left to right, is one of the themes of this blog, and the reason I started writing it in the first place. As a changer himself (boy, there are a lot of us), Lifson has some cogent thoughts to add. He also coins a phrase I hadn’t heard before, but which I think is especially apt: the liberal trance.

Juan Williams has been delivered the sort of shock which can cause him to reevaluate the lifelong assumptions of a comfortable liberal. Last night, guest-hosting “The O’Reilly Factor,” he admitted that his assumption that the left was the home of open-mindedness had been wrong.

Having made the journey from liberalism to full-throated conservatism myself, I recognize the importance of this particular revelation. It is the key to opening a mind to rethinking other assumptions about politics. It breaks the trance, so to speak, which keeps many otherwise thoughtful, intelligent, caring people enmeshed in the delusions of modern American liberalism. To these liberals, membership in the cadre of caring, enlightened, public-spirited Americans defines what it means to be a good and responsible member of the civic community.

The overwhelming focus on caricaturing and demonizing conservatives as racist ignoramuses is based on a pragmatic understanding of the importance of maintaining this trance. Because liberal ideas manifestly fail when implemented, the liberal trance is the only way to maintain the allegiance of intelligent liberals to the cause. This is why academia, media, and other liberal hotbeds are so intolerant of conservatives. They fear that real and prolonged exposure to the vibrancy and humanity of modern American conservatism will bleed away the most thoughtful liberals from the cause.

Fascinating stuff. But I disagree with Lifson on that last point; I don’t think they fear it at all. They can barely even conceive of it, and their contempt for those apostates who manage to stop dancing in the liberal circle is very real and not feigned. They don’t consider them the most thoughtful ones; they consider them the most evil ones.

Also, I had a very different experience than Williams in terms of this type of disillusionment. I had gone through most of my transition over a period of about two years, in privacy—through reading and thinking and not discussing it with much of anyone. It was only later that I thought to voice any of my ideas to friends, and the angry and intolerant reaction of many profoundly shocked me. But that wasn’t the beginning for me; it was near the end of the transition—the poisoned icing on the cake, as it were.

[HAT TIP: commenter “kcom.”]

117 Responses to “Juan Williams, the process of political change, and breaking the liberal trance”

  1. john Says:

    Another interesting possible convert. It was reported last week that Justice Scalia and Justice Kagan were spotted together at a shooting range.

    If there is anyone who is ripe for a conversion it is Elena Kagan. She has spent decades in the airtight liberal cocoon of the University of Chicago. She has had plenty of exposure to Straw Man Conservatism, but has probably never had even a bit of exposure to authentic, rigorous Conservativism. Now she’s immersed in it in the company of some of the best conservative minds in the United States of America.

    I’m holding out hope that Kagan turns out to be the Supreme Court appointment that blows up in the Liberal establishment’s face.

  2. suek Says:

    >>I’m holding out hope that Kagan turns out to be the Supreme Court appointment that blows up in the Liberal establishment’s face.>>

    That would be a welcome change! The judges who have seemed to be conservatives to begin with who have switched to the other direction have been disappointing.

    I’m not sure about Juan. I’ve never considered him to be especially bright – but primarily because it was evident that his basic assumptions were (imo) idiotic. I often sympathized with Britt Hume as he could barely contain himself when some of those assumptions were clearly out front. So…my question is whether he’ll somehow manage to change some of those basic assumptions. If not, he’s going to be a lost soul, I think. What do you do when those with whom you’ve identified for your entire adult life cast you out? _Do_ you change your ideas, or simply continue with the same ideas? It will be interesting to watch – I doubt changes will come quickly – and I wish him well. He _does_ seem honest and doesn’t spin stuff like some of them do.

  3. kolnai Says:

    But isn’t it interesting how so many conversion stories are sparked by this particular revelation? I was reading Tammy Bruce in the Guardian the other day, and she had the exact same experience: “I thought we leftists were the open-minded ones; I was wrong” (that’s a paraphrase).

    My own conversion experience was hardly as dramatic as hers, because I was never really a hard leftist. I hated politics and considered myself an anarchist, because that’s an easy way to float by in college. You don’t have to think anything through and you get to be cool. I did nonetheless have a soft spot for some of the harsher Marxist critiques of “the system,” but I would never have voted for a Democrat – I never would have voted for anyone.

    Lets just say I felt very “at home” with leftists – far, far leftists – culturally and intellectually (I liked French postmodernism and Foucault and crap like that).

    But my turning point, when I started to become both politically aware and conservative, was when a friend of mine tried to hold a debate between the three Republicans on campus and about 35 of the 3,000 socialists (my college was extremely leftist).

    After the debate – which I sat through in utter disgust, listening to the crowd boo and hoot and hiss and curse every time the Republicans tried to speak – one of the Republicans had the tires on his car slashed and “fascist” carved in his car with a knife. He left the school not long after.

    I remember realizing at that point that my options had been whittled down fairly cleanly.

    I wasn’t an anarchist, because I had this sense of propriety and good form. Somebody, I thought, should have made the crowd shut-up. I realized then that my respect for human decency was far more essential to me than my disrespect for ALL authority. Tying those two thoughts together – cultivating human decency by having a cultivated sense for genuinely oppressive authority – is essential to conservatism.

    I also realized I wasn’t a leftist because no ideas that had to be defended LIKE THAT could be worth defending. So by default I said, “OK, if I’m going to learn about politicsl, then I’m going to start with the people who deplore displays like the one I just saw.”

    And then I read Thomas Sowell and David Horowitz. They explained very well what I saw. And that was that.

    I had thought these people were just nice hippie communist buddhists. Individually they often were. But when the locusts brushed wings… I’d seen no fury like it.

    So inasmuch as I had a “conversion”, it was the same thing – realizing how unbelievably intolerant the very people who claimed to be the world-historical champions of Tolerance, forever and ever, amen, were. It’s sort of like Obama himself – the messianic pretense sets you up for both vicious behavior and a certain blindness to how vicious you can be. The flip side is that it’s much easier for adherents to get disillusioned with such a vision than with the somewhat somber vision of conservatism, which takes fallenness for granted.

    And I can’t resist a final observation: Isn’t it intriguing that, while liberalism is such an “optimistic” doctrine, liberals themselves are nonetheless (statistically speaking) angrier and less happy than conservatives, who themselves adhere to a doctrine that, by comparison to the sunny utopian progressivism of the left, seems bleak and cold by comparison?

  4. Oblio Says:

    Impressive debut, kolnai.

    Welcome to the fight. This time, our side will win.

  5. rickl Says:

    john Says:
    October 30th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I’m holding out hope that Kagan turns out to be the Supreme Court appointment that blows up in the Liberal establishment’s face.

    Now that’s a delicious thought!

    O’Connor was appointed by Reagan and Souter by Bush 41, but both turned out to be somewhat disappointing to conservatives. You never know.

  6. Bob From Virginia Says:

    I copied the below from a particularly good comment at Pajamas media. I doubt that the author will mind.

    1. cfbleachers
    I also have a thesis. I call it the Inversion Narrative.
    It is this:
    The post modern leftist is nothing that he pretends to be.
    The leftist pretends to be open to new and different ideas, new ways of approaching issues, rational, and tolerant.
    Nothing could be less true. In reality, the academician leftist is a closed-minded, dogmatic, intolerant, shrew. They blackball anyone who has a divergent point of view, indoctrinate those in their charge and adhere with a ferocity of a cult to a pre-masticated doctrine from which there is zero diversity.
    There is not a more intolerant group in America than the post modern leftist. They are intolerant of Middle America. They are intolerant of the Tea Party. They are intolerant of blacks or Hispanics who are not leftists. They are intolerant of Fox News, talk radio and Evangelical Christians. They are intolerant of the South. They are intolerant of Kansas. They are intolerant of Sarah Palin. They are intolerant of Joe Lieberman. They are intolerant of Israel, AIPAC and more frequently these days, Jews in general.
    It is so easy to put them in high dudgeon, you simply have to disagree with any position they take. It will be the swiftest comparison to Hitler you have ever experienced.
    Nothing screams anti-intellectual more loudly than announcing that an unworked thesis is “settled science” and then screeching that anyone that doesn’t agree is a member of the Flat Earth Society. Leftists are all emotional dogma, all the time. They cannot stand to have ANY of their pet theories debunked, or even tested. The maintain the air of erudition, but live the life of intellectual grifters.
    This is among the most insidious of the fabrications. “Southern Man” was a Neil Young song that stereotyped a region of the country, but it is Leftist Man that is the real, raging racist in this country. Leftism withers and dies without class and race victims. The New Black Panther case has shown just how deeply the racism runs throughout the leftist inner circle.
    And don’t dare be black and cross a leftist threshhold. Just ask Clarence Thomas, Juan Williams, Condi Rice.
    Leftists are consumed by race and they use it as a sword and a shield with impunity. They not only have zero interest in being a race neutral society, they are permanently invested in making race “wedge” issues each and every opportunity they can.
    The “peace, love, dove” image is a total fraud. And the seething hatred of our troops is always bubbling just beneath the surface. Bill Ayers was perfectly willing to to explode nail bombs at Ft. Dix to kill young men in uniform and their dates. Michael Moore sees the sworn enemies of America as “minutemen”. Leftists aren’t anti-war, they are anti-AMERICAN in conflict settings.
    When is the last time you heard a leftist make a pointed attack at the violent, war-mongering enemies of the West, most especially America or Israel? That’s right…you haven’t.
    Our civilians murdered are “little Eichmans”, and they are victims of “our chickens coming home to roost”.
    The inversion narrative can go on, but this is probably about the limit of this forum. Suffice it to say…sometimes, things are just not what they appear to be.

  7. kolnai Says:

    Hey oblio – thanks for the kind words. I’m a bit embarrassed to be posting so much my first day here.

    Lets just say it’s a really lazy Saturday and I like the company ’round these parts.

  8. Curtis Says:

    Perhaps the most hideous, insidious and intolerant liberal discipline of them all is “critical thinking” which I restate as “Let me put your mind in a straight jacket” thinking. CT really amounts to a hidden programming of the way we think. The culprits are many but chief among them are John Dewey and William Graham Sumner who published, in 1906, “Folkways.” Folkways presented a justification and method for universal education independent of the parent and local community. CT is based on sociology and particularly a social Darwinism type of sociology. I’m sure that Sergey and Artfldgr can comment from personal experience.

  9. rickl Says:

    That was an excellent comment.

    It is ironic that liberals view human nature as perfectible, given the right policies and incentives, while conservatives regard human nature as imperfect and unchanging.

    That’s why the Founders set up the U.S. government the way they did. They knew that individuals left to their own devices tend to be vain, venal, arrogant, corrupt, and power-hungry. So they set up a government with checks and balances in an effort to prevent any individual or faction from gaining too much power over others.

    The first philosophy led to the murder of 100+ million people in the 20th century, while the second led to an unprecedented outburst of freedom and innovation.

    Good for you for reading Sowell and Horowitz. I haven’t read nearly enough of them myself. I would also recommend Ayn Rand, who is the one who influenced me the most. I especially recommend her nonfiction essays. There are several collections of them. They’re shorter, bite-sized, and easier to read in one sitting than a mammoth tome like Atlas Shrugged. Although that book is worth reading too, since we’re now living it.

  10. Curtis Says:

    I particularly liked the Mencken quote and thought of the BP shakedown.

    October is a month for cigars and scotch and a good book and a walk in the forest–now mostly on the ground–with an enthusiastic Labrador.

  11. Curtis Says:

    Last I checked, the Kevin DuJan “Open letter to Rush Limbaugh” had only 200 plus hits in the last 24 hours. It appears the letter is not going to be big news. But then, I interpreted Neo’s headline “And Speaking of Changers” as being a game changer and not that DuJan was a “changer.”

  12. texexec Says:

    My parents were “yellow dog Texas Democrats”. At a young age, I swooned at Adlai Stevenson’s speeches.

    My almost instant conversion came when I heard Reagan’s speech during the 1964 Goldwater campaign (“A Time to Choose”) at http://tinyurl.com/38c49v2

    Hey! Reagan was a convert too!

    A bit off subject: here’s a fabulous list of points to make when arguing with your unconverted liberal friends…comes from a Victor Davis Hanson column:

    “A vast new healthcare monstrosity that will send private insurance rates through the ceiling. The Machiavellian way in which it was slammed through. Failed stimulus. Wasteful pork-barrel spending of hundreds of billions in borrowed money. Persistent near 10% unemployment. Three trillion dollars in new debt in just two years. Record levels of federal spending. The vast increase in the size of government and its share of GDP. Eight years of projected $1 trillion annual budget deficits. Record high foreclosures. Record high usage of food stamps. The Keynesian zeal of Romer/Summers/Orzag followed by their sudden resignations in the wake of failure. Constant talk of higher taxes on “them” — the promised new healthcare surcharge taxes, the promised return to the Clinton income tax rates, talk of a VAT, talk of lifting the caps on income subject to FICA taxes, new capital gains taxes, new inheritance taxes on the horizon.

    The use of extra-cabinet czars to avoid confirmation and audit. The neglect of the law, from reversing the order of Chrysler creditors to announcing a BP $20 billion shakedown and punishments for health insurers who don’t toe the line. The ascendance of ACORN and SEIU. The months-long shutdown of Gulf drilling. The failure to encourage coal, nuclear, and oil and gas new production. The Black Panther voting intimidation mess. The bowing abroad. The apologies. The outreach to enemies, and the snubbing of allies. The unnecessary humiliation of Great Britain and Israel. The Iran serial “deadline” charade. The unnecessary announcement of Afghan troop withdrawal deadlines. “Overseas contingency operations” and “man-made disasters.” The proposed civilian trial of KSM. The Ground Zero mosque mess. The beer summit mess. NASA’s new main mission of Muslim outreach. Stopping the border fence. Suing Arizona and demonizing the state. The apologies to the Chinese over the Arizona law, which was trashed from the White House lawn by the president of Mexico, and sued by foreign governments to the apparent approval of the administration.

    The constant “Bush did it” refrain. The gratuitous slurs against limb-lopping doctors. The thrashing of the “rich” going to the Super Bowl and Las Vegas. The artificial divide of them/us based on $250,000 of annual income. The racial divisiveness from a sad cast of characters that gave us “cowards,” “stupidly,” “wise Latina,” and whites polluting the ghetto. Unhinged appointees like Van Jones and Anita Dunn. The occasional unguarded admissions like “never waste a crisis” and “at some point I do think you’ve made enough money.” The wacky behavior from the whining of “like a dog” to the sudden junketing to Copenhagen to lobby for the Chicago Olympics. The Orwellian cheap damning of the Bush anti-terrorism protocols only to accept or expand tribunals, renditions, Guantanamo, Predators, Iraq, and intercepts and wiretaps. The golf obsession and Costa del Sol while trashing the indulgent rich.”

  13. texexec Says:

    I just listened to the above Reagan speech I mentioned above again. It is AMAZING how apropos it is for today.

    Check it out again for yourself at http://tinyurl.com/38c49v2

  14. Rose Says:

    I REGISTERED as a Republican back when I was making minimum wage – because I didn’t think anyone would have to pay 50% of their income in taxes and I viewed the Democrat agenda as one of taking money from those who earned it and giving it to those who didn’t.

    I did not THINK of myself as conservative. I was young. It was the 70s. I had lived on top of a redwood stump, without electricity, off the grid.

    I voted, not by party, but based on my assessments of the people running.

    I soon found, in social gatherings, people blithely bashing on Republicans (did you know we eat children?) and sooner or later one would nudge another and whisper “Rose is a R-e-p-b-l-c-a-n” and all conversation would stop momentarily. For along time I laughed it off. But it was not funny.

    At a certain point, I decided not to be quiet anymore. And I can tell you – the left is not tolerant. Not in any way shape or form. Not just on the national scene like what Juan Williams is experiencing, but down at the small town level.

    It still stuns me.

    But there are many Juan Williams’ out here – guys I know who were Democratic party loyalists and Union stewards who found that the new “progressive” mindset that has taken over the Democratic party is neither on their side nor welcoming and open. They found themselves demonized in ways that even Juan Williams would find shocking even with his newly opened eyes.

    And they are stunned.

    Where will it end? And can the damage of partisan hatred ever be repaired?

  15. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Williams thinks he was wronged. Has he begun to think of those he wronged so casually for all those years?

  16. kolnai Says:

    Curtis – ditto on the cigars, scotch, good book, and walk in the forest.

    The Mecken quote caught my eye because it touched on something I’ve been discussing with some conservative friends, and on a point that was made in William Voegeli’s excellent “Never Enough” – conservatives are always being pressed, usually unfairly, on the absolute extremes that their (our) ideas might lead to.

    If you believe that tradition isn’t a priori to be denigrated, then you want to return to Jim Crow and would have defended slavery and apartheid.

    If you happen to be pro-life, then you want women to be disenfranchised, shackled to a stove, and raped and harassed on principle. You also loathe the children.

    If you happen to oppose gay marriage, then you probably don’t believe in interracial marriage and hate Martin Luther King.

    If you happen to support a robust national defense, then you wish to plunder the resources of the world’s poor and kill innocent peasants and villagers for profits.

    If you happen to support a smaller government with greater room for free market competition, then you hate workers, love inequality, and worship Mammon.

    (Ironically, notice how a lot of this dovetails with the rhetorical tropes of classical antisemitism – projection, much?).

    All in all, it really gets tiring having to begin every discussion by refuting the idea that you’re a closet Nazi. But such are the terms of debate, at least in a lot of “respectable” places (read: academia).

    On the other hand, the left has hardly ever been, until recently, forced to cover the same terrain in debate. So a good place to start in debate is to ask the forcing question: Where does it end?

    I asked myself when I read Mencken’s passage if he wasn’t perhaps being a bit hyperbolic with his “pure takings”-bill hypothetical. My honest response was that I wasn’t at all sure about that. I could easily such a takings bill being earnestly proposed and defended by any number of liberals on all sorts of grounds. Krugman would surely find some way to defend it. Robert Reich probably would. Most of my liberal friends would (that I know for a fact).

    After all, remember when early in the Obama administration, when the Democrats were feeling beyond the reach of this mortal coil, a goodly number of them got on TV and offered ringing defenses of the unbelievably anti-liberal (in the classical sense) Fairness Doctrine? Good grief. Or when they were trying to find some way to force FedEX to get covered by the unionization laws?

    And even Obamacare – really, I could see people so drunk with power that they ram through something they know is at best tenuously constitutional. But it wasn’t only that they knew it. It was that they straight up just didn’t care.

    Pelosi thought the very issue of Obamacare’s constitutionality was simply made to provoke endless mirth in her. Like Justice Jackson once said in another context, this kind of blanket sanctioning of limitless power without any regard for the letter and spirit of our constitutional republic “lies around like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of urgent need.”

    Except now the claim need not even be plausible.

    It gets even more disturbing when you start asking other questions about “when is enough enough?” But in any case, it’s served me well in debate to not just come out and cross swords, but to get a bit rhetorical. Most liberals really haven’t thought through their beliefs all that thoroughly. In short, just go Socratic. The Mencken quote seemed a good starting point. “Well how about a bill like this – would you support it? If not, why not? How is it different from these other policies x,y,z you support?” Etc.

    Ok, I’ll stop now. It’s been an absolute pleasure discussing these heady issues with you guys.

    And I should thank neoneocon one more time for running such a classy site.

    Good on ya’, as the Aussies say.

  17. Curtis Says:

    “when the Democrats were feeling beyond the reach of this mortal coil”


    The fourth picture is my favorite.

  18. kcom Says:

    Your comment was well worth reading, Kolnai.

    I, too, am deeply shocked whenever I see people, especially at colleges and universities, using deplorable behavior to prevent others from speaking. It is so immature and anti-academic that it should blot that university’s reputation with shame for all time. And it should be addressed by the university. Emphasizing the importance of letting people speak in an open forum would be a proper subject of freshman orientation, as opposed to some of these Orwellian freshman programs we’ve heard about in the last couple of years.

  19. Curtis Says:

    Let’s try this one since that last link doesn’t work for some reason:


  20. kolnai Says:

    Curtis – you read Hillbuzz? I’m a regular reader myself (they first caught my eye with that touching letter they wrote to Bush last year). You know what they say: Great minds…

    Kcom and Rickl – thanks for your insightful remarks. Emphasizing the centrality of open debate (especially allowing totally normal ideas held by around half of the people in this country to get a respectful hearing) should be priority number one at all college orientations. Unfortunately, you know what they teach in lieu of that.

    Rickl – loved the Atlas Shrugged line.

    And for Rose – the liberals will allow us our baby-eating; it’s the whole emitting CO2 while we breathe thing they don’t approve of. 😉

  21. Tatyana Says:

    Curtis, how else you’d walk in the forest if not on the ground?

    *kolnai: vivid description and well-wrapped; a thought aside: I think most of what repelled you at that college “debate” was characteristic of a mob behavior; true, it is particularly disgusting when people who prize themselves for being tolerant and open-minded form a clique or a booing mob- but that’s exactly the mob, the collectivist, the “community spirit” that you find so ugly. Or maybe it is just me.


    this post reminds me that I wanted to write down my own recent encounter with leftist contempt – at the moment very unpleasant, but on reflection rather flattering. Thanks for the blogpost idea!

  22. Paul Says:

    If you really want to embarrass them, ask ’em if they take income tax deductions. “But aren’t higher taxes necessary? Why don’t you arrange your income to maximize your taxes? It’s for the good of the people!” Stand back so that you don’t get white wine spit all over you.

  23. suek Says:

    >>Ok, I’ll stop now.>>

    Heh. You’ll be baaack…!

    I finished the long “change” thread and couldn’t help but feel that one of the problems is that as many have pointed out, people under about age 40 don’t really know what Communism was about and why we need to stop anything that approximates it.

    And then I thought once again about what I see as one of the main benefits of the internet and discussions such as this: anonymity. Why? Because we all have prejudices…young people against old people, old vs young, black, white, other national, other religion, no religion…and all that lies just beneath the surface when we communicate face to face. On the internet, we are nothing other than the words on the “page”. Ideas get tossed out, tossed up, tossed back, ripped apart – and really, you – and I – have no idea who the other person is or where they came from. All we have is the ideas to consider. It is, in a sense, the ultimate democracy.

    And hopefully, by eliminating all of those prejudices we all hold, we will be able to consider all the ideas from all angles. I love it!

  24. kolnai Says:

    Tatyana: totally fair point. I considered that it might sound like I just leapt to a position on one side without recalling that conservatives were capable of the same thing, which of course they are. But it isn’t just you.

    After a sip of coffee the caffeine has me thinking that maybe you connected the dots between my prior (admittedly rather superficial and juvenile) anarchism and a corresponding revulsion I might have at mob/collectivist behavior. So the event was sort of a perfect storm for which I’d been primed to respond negatively by my personality. And actually that might be true.

    Here’s what I can say in mitigation. What really pushed me over the edge was what I would describe as the terrorism that drove the kid out of the college. I remember for weeks after his car was trashed, I would overhear people saying he got what he deserved because he was pro-life and therefore hated women. Later in the year, my friend attempted to put on another debate where a conservative said something about Muslim terrorism (sort of like the recent O’Reilly incident on the View), and he was forced by the diversity counsellor to come in and do penance before the aggrieved WASPS in the audience, and then was forced out of his RA position. I think the letter I wrote to the school newspaper protesting that insanity was the first overtly political thing I ever wrote.

    Subsequently, the conversion to conservatism was actually more like a drift. It took a few years. I wound up a conservative-leaning grad school and found the intellectual environment far more stimulating and open. Never once have I seen anyone get treated the way the conservatives at my alma mater were.

    Still, these things do happen on all sides, and anecdotes don’t make statistics. I just happen to think, after a lot of observation and study, that the problem is particularly pronounced on the left these days – and, naturally, leftists think the same about the right. And what can I say to that? Well, in a comment on a blog post, not much. I guess “I disagree” will have to suffice for now.

    Oh, and I’d like to see your account of your recent encounter that went from unpleasant to flattering. Sounds interesting. Do tell!

  25. kolnai Says:

    Suek – damnit, I really tried to cut myself off.

    I actually don’t do this regularly, so I don’t know the etiquette. Am I supposed to respond to people who address me? It just seemed polite… but maybe I’m wrong.

  26. SteveH Says:

    “”people under about age 40 don’t really know what Communism was about and why we need to stop anything that approximates it.””

    On hindsight we maybe should have propped up the former Soviet Union. My experience of seeing footage of their empty grocery store shelves and automobiles 30 years behind ours convinced me communism sucked.

  27. Curtis Says:

    Tatyana, I’ll use an excerpt from the best ever ever ever writer in the whole world:

    “Concerning trees and leaves… there’s a real power here. It is amazing that trees can turn gravel and bitter salts into these soft-lipped lobes, as if I were to bite down on a granite slab and start to swell, bud and flower. Every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts. Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day. A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn’t make one. A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out even more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.”

    — Annie Dillard

    The black cat tried to tell you the great city is the forest.

  28. rickl Says:

    The Juan Williams episode and the Hillbuzz letter seem to be generating some serious shockwaves. I think I’ve seen more new “changers” here in the last few days than for months, if not ever.

  29. billm99uk Says:

    Williams thinks he was wronged. Has he begun to think of those he wronged so casually for all those years?

    Who’d he wrong exactly though? The whole point about Williams was that he was a liberal who got on just fine with Conservatives. Which was precisely what upset the whole “Republicans are Evil” crowd.

  30. Richard Aubrey Says:

    He wronged everybody he accused or implied had a less-than-creditable motivation for doing something or other.
    “Conservatives are/do/think….”
    We know that he got on fine with conservatives on the Fox show, and we know what else?
    If you have a problem on the show with your colleagues, you end up with a faux cage-match like the Hannity/Colmes show. Or you are asked to leave.
    The issue is what he said about, or implied about, conservatives.

  31. Baklava Says:


    There is gold in them posts there. Keep posting please.

    My conversion was during the big news of the LA riots in 1991. I was seeking news and was getting the ‘same’ story over and over on ABCCBSNBC and found talk radio.

    At that point I found another point of view and it challenged me. I went to the library 3 times a week for a full year researching to see what is (I was in college and in the Navy at the time)

    Since then there have been plenty of mind turning events that have turned others (as they’ve described) such as the Clarence Thomas hearings, 9/11, stimulus, etc.

    For others like my girlfriend they relate only to identity politics and are disturbed that the Republicans / conservatives have so very few African Americans and she believes ABCCBSNBC’s point of view because she’s not interested in delving into the detail of what policies produce what results.

    I find a lot of Californians this way. The wave coming across the country seems to be escaping California except for maybe Carly Fiorina. Interestingly Damon Dunn is an African American running for the Secretary of State, Meg is a woman and I don’t find the identity politics gives conservatives or Republicans the same respect if they run for office.

    What is it about Californians?? Interested in the latest celebrity news, sports? Yet hit by 12.6% unemployment and debt levels that are even having Democrat legislature folks alter the pensions here. We have the most anti-business climate this side of the Mississippi and 2 + 2 = 5.

    You asked the etiquette. I’ve been posting on various blogs since 2001. I can only offer that you do what you can – you don’t owe anybody anything here. We all seem to appreciate what you have to say and would love to see more.

    It either runs in your blood or not – but you seem to have a knack. 🙂

    We are a community that have been priveledged to have a say by Neo. We’ve all been touched by words from a man named Fred who passed away and his wife thanked us for the beautiful sentiments passed his way.

    I get caught up in debate sometimes that I’m embarrassed by later – but I’m very thankful for the place here – been posting here since appox. 2006.

  32. Baklava Says:

    I watch Juan with even more interest now for sure Neo.

    I’ve watched him for a decade but haven’t detected a large change.

    Yes – his comments have surprised me from time to time – but they’ve always been there.

    Here is an interview by Dennis Prager of Juan Williams


    You can definately say Juan “cares”. Bill Cosby was a catalyst Juan says…

  33. dloye Says:

    I’ve scanned comments and not spotted a reference to this The circle dance is done in a lovely trance. But it’s the dance of death.

  34. Ilíon Says:

    Kolnai:It gets even more disturbing when you start asking other questions about “when is enough enough?”

    Some say, “enough is enough!” I say, “enough is too much!”

  35. Doom Says:

    I cannot believe FOX is covering for that jerk. He was and still is a PART OF THE PROBLEM. That his own threw him out is none of our affair. Fairness, if we want to look at it cleanly, would dictate that idiots who run with idiots and pay the price for it are not to be consoled. They are to be further chastised.

    I have changed the channel every time FOX has aired that idiot. I hope he goes bankrupt and fails to find work anywhere, personally. Like all msm talking heads, I care nothing for them. No, they cannot be turned, changed, or smartened. Evil is what evil does and it is further proof that FOX is no more conservative than CNN, just not quite as open about it. Conservative talking heads? Sure, insider anyway. Conservative in truth? No.

  36. Ilíon Says:

    *sniff* I have no conversion story, for I have always been conservative (from birth) … and I have always understood leftism for what it is.

  37. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I feel your pain.
    The old saying variously ascribed to, among others, Clemenceau and Churchill about being a liberal/leftisst/communist when you’re young and have no brain and a conservative when you’re old and have no heart—or is that two old sayings?–implies that those of us who were conservative from birth are somehow less noble than those who later converted, and write books about their struggle.

  38. Baklava Says:


    What statement of Juan’s can you attribute to ‘evil’.

    Fox News does not claim to be ‘conservative’. They claim to be fair and balanced (which can be debated). They have Doug Shoen, Pat Caddell, Kirsten Powers, Judith Miller, Juan Williams and people who have no distinguishable political stripes such as Greta Van Sustern and Sheppard Smith and others.

    What is your comment supposed to achieve? Persuasion? I didn’t get persuaded towards anything. Must be something else…

  39. Curtis Says:

    Ilion, you bring up a good point. And I think it necessary to establish how we may best welcome the dusted, the tribulated, and the living.

    All of us early-on conservatives run the risk of the older brother of the prodigal son. “Why did I not get a feast?” We need to be careful.

    “But you have been with me always” is the ultimate reward: “One day in your courts is worth a thousand in others.” We have been in His courts.

    A feast is appropriate to reconcile the differences of birth and circumstance.

    You, who have passed through sarcasm and rejection, are due a feast. Enjoy. We will welcome others.

  40. Jake Says:

    There has been interesting discussion in this thread.

    During my awakening from my left-leaning “trance” over the past 3 or so years , I’ve become more acutely aware of the absurdity of the hyperbolic tenets shared by the “entranced”, namely the whole “Conservatives are stupid, backwards, non-evolution-believing, bloodthirsty, racist, and evil” foundation.

    Over the same time, I’ve come to realize that these core Leftist beliefs about conservatives are commonly projections of their own personal conscious/subconscious beliefs.

    The so-called more tolerant Leftists are actually extremely intolerant when it comes to dealing with people that don’t think 100% like them. They say they are the ones spearheading the drive for racial harmony, yet they are the ones always creating racial controversies by playing the race card in seemingly innocuous situations. They vigorously shield and defend the most intolerant belief system in the world (Islam), but arbitrarily decry as a bigot anyone who dares point out the uncomfortable facts about that religion (and flat-out ignore any Muslim/ex-Muslim that speaks truly honestly about their religious texts and teachings).

    Just take the blogging environment. If a poster on some liberal site who had always seemed to be drinking the Kool-Aid in previous posts, one day posted something which seemed to imply that they were something less than 100% fully for the Ground Zero mosque or the pro-choice movement, he/she would get eviscerated and possibly banned from the site a la Juan Williams.

    Now if here I admit that I have no strong feelings on abortion either way but would probably favor the pro-choice side, that I’m all for embryonic stem cell research, and that I have intermittent flashes where I think that Sarah Palin is much too stupid to be President (vice president is another story), I would assume (to continue the Juan Williams analogy) that my treatment would be a lot more FoxNews than NPR.

    Admitting you’re a conservative in a roomful of liberals will likely result in group derision, anger, dismissal, and potentially violence. And though liberals would claim that the exact opposite were true (likely by describing a scenario straight out of “Deliverance”), the reality would be, other than some light joking aside, they’d be completely welcome in that company. I know this by seeing the way (almost all) raging Leftists are treated in the midst of Tea Partiers and contrasting this to how many rational conservatives are treated at town halls by raging Leftists and union goons.

  41. Adrian Day Says:


    I’m inclined to agree with you on the fear factor. It seems to me though this inability to even conceive of another point of view is built-in to a liberal tendency toward a self righteous sense of superiority. It breeds an arrogance that is invisible to the intiated. This is the reason liberals don’t experience the same nausea as the rest of us every time Obama opens his mouth. John Kerry’s “no-nothingism” is another example of the reaction of disbelief that comes with the territory. THe more steeped one is in this arrogance the less likely an individual will ever escape its self-made trap. The reason someone like Juan or yourself is able to make the journey you have is that you were never seduced by that arrogance and ego stroking tendency of “I’m on the right side of history”. THat’s my theory anyway.

    And as someone who was raised conservative and jetisoned my parents values in order to find my own I suspect that you may have fallen into the same niche that I labored under in my brief period as a liberal, simply being an idealist with a big heart. THe first thing to chip away at it all for me was the phoney self-serving attitude I found in the career-liberals I happened to be surrounded by. I was working with poor blacks in an inner-city social program in New Jersey and my abiding concern was the real life needs of people who were my neighbors. I was often laughed at and chided by older co-workers who considered themselves smarter than me and more far-seeing. They much preferred the company of their college professors who they could impress by their work in the inner city at what they liked to call “the gut level”. Like Woody Allen in Annie Hall I wanted to hit them all at the gut level.

    I soon tired of the hypocrisy and moved on. Meanwhile they pressed on to bigger heights and opportunities. One even went on to be appointed to a position by Bill Clinton in the climate racket selling the polution rights. He’s still at it and he’s still a jerk.

  42. Oblio Says:


    Think of it as a public conversation. We can address each other by name.

    for example,

    “Jake, you bet it’s not like NPR. We have ferocious disagreements, but as long as what you say is civil and serious, fire away!”

  43. Trimegistus Says:

    I was raised by conservative (-ish) parents, but I can’t honestly explain why I adopted those beliefs. I had every opportunity to become a liberal — I thought I was smarter than all the other kids, I got beat up by a kid from an evangelical Christian family, I went to a liberal-arts college, I’m an atheist and lived in North Carolina at the peak of the Religious Right’s political power . . .

    But despite all that I never gave an inch. My personal theory is that I had a good relationship with my parents. No Oedipal urge to stick it to them by betraying their ideals.

    And conversely no liberal arguments ever seemed convincing. There was always the odor of cow manure about them, and in college all the liberal political movements on campus displayed an unlovely combination of whining and bullying.

    But why didn’t my liberal friends ever see that?

  44. PA Cat Says:

    Ilion and Richard Aubrey: I’m another “born” rather than “born-again” conservative. So that makes at least three of us here. And I certainly agree with Curtis: let us welcome the newcomers to the feast. And yes, we have a most gracious hostess.

  45. Tatyana Says:

    I get it: you hop from treetop to treetop, sending down showers of purple and golden foliage, a whiskey tumbler in one hand, dogleash in another. Hail, oh Big Druid!


    I didn’t make myself clear. Instead of writing “it’s just me” I should have said “I know this is what I’d feel, how I would make my conclusions”.

    I think any crowd has a potential to become a mob and to chase down outcasts. A person dissipates, becomes part of exterior will, looses ability to control his body and mental processes. I resist the pressure; since my soviet childhood it was the only way to preserve myself as an individual – by not participating and not letting in to “community spirit”. Two examples – and I leave this off-topic alone – to illustrate: Mayakovsky’s revolutionary poems, compelling as it is to teenagers, feels me with horror, particularly his Left march (“Who


  46. kcom Says:

    I, too, don’t have a conversion story to tell. From an early age I perceived the evil that lay at the heart of the Soviet Union and was amazed and deeply puzzed that so many Americans seemed to be apologists for it, or argued that our political differences were at heart a “misunderstanding”. In my mind, there could be no misunderstanding of what the Soviet Union, and its Communist system, was. So naturally I gravitated to the section of the political spectrum that accorded with those views. Back then, it even included some prominent Democrats. And I guess I’ve been there ever since. My views on domestic and social issues were secondary to that and have changed here and there over the years but my fundamental political identity was formed by those early experiences where the Soviet Union was an obvious and unreconcilable threat and too much of the Democratic Party was out to lunch on the issue. I believe that what sets us apart from much of the world is our Constitution, and our ingrained respect for it. Anything that weakens it is a bad idea and so I have a natural affinity for the TEA party and their standing up to the abuses that Obama and the Democrats have been trying to perpetrate against it for years.

    Anyway, although I don’t have my own conversion experience, I am very much interested in hearing about others’ journeys. It’s hard to say this without maybe sounding insulting, but I’ve always wondered why the “obvious” hasn’t been more obvious to some people over the years. And hearing about your thought processes and how you’ve gotten to where you are today answers some of those questions. And once you do arrive here with the rest of us who have been here for a long while, we do have the shared experience of the disdain shown to us by big swatches of the media-politico complex. Although, as has been stated, you probably get it worse on a personal level.

  47. Tatyana Says:

    I get it: you hop from treetop to treetop, sending down showers of purple and golden foliage, a whiskey tumbler in one hand, dog leash in another. Hail, oh Big Druid!


    I didn’t make myself clear. Instead of writing “it’s just me” I should have said “I know this is what I’d feel, how I would make my conclusions”.

    I think any crowd has a potential to become a mob and to chase down outcasts. A person dissipates, becomes part of exterior will, looses ability to control his body and mental processes. I resist the pressure; since my soviet childhood it was the only way to preserve myself as an individual – by not participating and not letting in to “community spirit”. Two examples – and I leave this off-topic alone – to illustrate: Mayakovsky’s genius revolutionary poems, fill me with horror, particularly his Left March (“Who is marching with Right now?
    or consider excerpt from his poem Lenin, praising “Party is million-fingered hand, tightened in one swift fist…”. Or it might be easier, as an illustration, that scene from Cabare, where peaceful people in a country inn got transformed into a dangerous, ready for pogroms mob listening to HitlerYouth singing…

    Well, that’s about it, fit to write in a comment – and off-topic, although there are dissertations written on the theme, I am sure, and I could have add to them a thing or two.

    Personally, my sympathies are always with the individual and his liberties than with any community with communal agenda. You are right that the problem is more pronounced on the Left than on teh Right – but it seems pretty natural to me, grown up through politinformations, subbotniks and may 1st Demonstrations.

    I learned to be a Cat Who Walks By Herself.

  48. kcom Says:

    I’ve always wondered why the “obvious” hasn’t been more obvious

    Of course, maybe that’s explained by the “liberal trance.”

  49. kcom Says:

    I am so happy for you, Tatyana. I still cry for those people who were born, lived and died in the Soviet Union without ever tasting real freedom. I wish they could have all lived to see the day that the legacy of Lenin’s and Stalin’s evil system evaporated and took Brezhnev and the rest of that sad lot into the dustbin of history.

  50. Beverly Says:

    This was interesting. Gleaned from a book by a couple of British pacifist Lefties about “payback.” They say the following:

    Describing their experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Rudolf Vrba and Alan Bestic tell about Yankel Meisel, a prisoner who had forgotten to sew some buttons onto his uniform, as he had been instructed, just before an inspection by Heinrich Himmler. As a result, while the entire camp was standing at attention, waiting for Himmler to arrive, Meisel was beaten to death by the guards. As the victim screamed and pleaded for mercy, Vrba and Bestic recount that “all hated Yankel Meisel, the little old Jew who was spoiling everything, who was causing trouble for us all with his long, lone, futile protest.” To the inmates, at least during that gruesome incident, the enemy was not Himmler—who after all had orchestrated the entire bestial system—or the guards who carried out his orders. Rather, it was the old, doomed Jew, like themselves, one of the victims.

    Now, the sociologists’ (not Vrba and Bestic) whole thesis is that the urge for revenge is one we must rise above, yet they also, just a few paragraphs previously, stated that people who are alarmed and suspicious of Muslims after 9-11 are just scapegoating them.

    The cognitive dissonance must be awful inside those craniums. Here they instance a case of Stockholm Syndrome, yet they don’t see that they have a dire case of it themselves.

    Does anyone know the book they’re quoting? It’s called I Cannot Forgive.

  51. Mike Mc. Says:

    I have two comments on this excellent thread and the comments.

    1. Explaining Postmodernism, Steven Hicks. Practically a must read if you want to understand the leftist.

    2. Despite all the indoctrination we all received as children, there is still no excuse for grown ups to be leftists. There is the responsibility to be responsible and intelligent and virtuous (a la Aristotle). I do not like the justifications and excuses. Juan Williams and every grown up “changer” should, for a while, feel the same pain they have inflicted on the whole world on whole cultures on people and history. No excuses.

    Up to maybe age 25 (max) it is excusable. After that, and for every year after that, no. Let Juan Williams and all who are like him experience “changing” like Scrooge did – through hell and horror.

    Then they will really know, and changing won’t be mere fashion.

  52. expat Says:

    Thanks for the Prager link. It was great.

    I was a welfare worker in North Philly when fronts within the Black community were starting to harden. I had a similar reaction to yours: the people who were turning activist didn’t care about the real people I saw. The decent people who did care were marginalized by the radicals, aided and abetted by whites who would never set foot in a slum apartment. I remained sort of liberal for years, but I never fell for the lefty line. I hated the phrase “acting white” from the very first. And when the Cosby show was criticized for being inauthentic, I was furious.

  53. Rose Says:

    There’s something else I noticed while watching Juan with the sound off the other day – there is suddenly a lightness about him, as if a great weight has been lifted – very interesting.

  54. Peter Says:

    It was 1970 or so. Back from the Southeast Asian War Games I was anti the way we were fighting the war. I had gone through Hue City during the big Tet ’68 fight and had seen the whole families with their hands bound with wire. What wasn’t ever mentioned was that the women and girls, some as young as six or eight, all seem to have lost their pants in the excitement and were bruised and bloody “down there”.

    So, I had no brief for the “heroic VC and NVA”, I simply had no use for the idiots who were running the war on our side. So, I dabbled in the antiwar movement, I spent as much as a couple of months before I realized what utter losers they were and how many of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War had never so much as learned to always step off with the left foot, thirty inch paces, much less ever heard a shot fired in anger.

    I became apolitical after that, until I just had to vote for Jerry Ford against that grinning idiot Carter. I have voted for damned few Dems since, none at all since the early ’90s.

  55. Vieux Charles Says:

    Lots of interesting conversion stories here. Honestly, I never experienced a moment of revelation – perhaps because, even though I had liberal values in my youth, I don’t think I was ever taken up by the “liberal trance”.

    My conversion was more gradual, realities of society, the market place, the job market chipped away at my liberalism until there was nothing left but a pragmatist who realized that government officials are no less inclined to be corrupt than corporate executives.

  56. Rightwing bigot alert « Скрипучая беседка Says:

    […] reminded me with her post that I wanted to write down an amusing scene  from 3 weeks […]

  57. Curtis Says:

    Mike Mc: Bought the book here off Neo’s Amazon link. It is superb. Not a bunch of socio mumbo jumbo.

    One thing that seems apparent: A person may become financially incapable of choosing truth. But truth has a way of winning. It’s my contention that cancer and heart disease and the plethora (plethora!) of health problems especially faced by women is nothing more than financial stress. When a person chooses financial security over truth their health will suffer. Therefore, health care becomes more important.

  58. Tatyana Says:

    Sorry for inexplicably posting a comment twice (1st time unfinished) – and both in quite an unreadable English. I don’t know what it is with me today.

    *kscom – thank you, yours is a noble sentiment.

    *kolnai – post is up @my place (link at my name).

  59. Curtis Says:

    I stated earlier in this post that “[p]erhaps the most hideous, insidious and intolerant liberal discipline of them all is “critical thinking” which I restate as “Let me put your mind in a straight jacket” thinking.”

    But, as we know, our minds process rational and emotional thought.

    And emotionally, the left is just as dishonest in removing freedom of thought as it is in being dishonest in removing rational thought. This might interest some:


  60. Curtis Says:

    Try this:


  61. Curtis Says:

    Well, just like the Communist Party’s recommendation of Obama that was scrubbed, this was looks like it was too. But I have the original document in hard copy, so I know it exists.

  62. SteveH Says:

    “”I think I’ve seen more new “changers” here in the last few days than for months, if not ever””

    Check out youtube comments of Obama’s recent speeches. The disgust for democrats and Obama is breaking into stampede mode. Some sort of societal barrier is being breached as we speak.

  63. Curtis Says:

    The summary of the report is that hypnosis (Ericksonian hypnosis) is ordinary and everyday and can be utilized and is utilized by unethical politicians. The lower brain is programmed with messages that essentially can’t be un-programmed ever. There’s no un-programming, ever. One must rely on “trigger awareness,” to resist.

    That’s why Matthews can get a buzz up his leg and half of the population doesn’t have a problem with that. How could a supposedly rational reporter report that?

    It may seem far fetched now, but remember the 2008 speeches and euphoria when judgment was suspended. Kind of like Germany in the late 1930’s.

  64. Curtis Says:

    Maybe a link to a link will work:


  65. Curtis Says:

    Click the internet-grocer link.

  66. Curtis Says:

    Breaking the liberal “trance.”

  67. Beverly Says:

    In re: how those of us who were Dims didn’t realize what was wrong with our movement?

    I can speak for myself only — I was never a lefty, and had little use for them (couldn’t stand the pro-Communists any more than Nazis). But in the period after the fall of the USSR, when our gaze as a nation was inward, I, being a feminist (equal-opp. variety rather than “rad-fem”) and pro-choice, as well as being an animal-lover, opposed the Republicans on those two grounds.

    As for the rest, I didn’t think much of it. I DO remember when I switched my registration from Independent (20 years) to Democrat, about 5 years before the 2000 election: the sensation was like ceasing to walk the ocean floor against the undertow, lifting my feet, and just drifting with it. Blissfully Easy. And I noticed how my Leftoid friends here in Manhattan welcomed me “In.”

    I plead guilty to staying in the liberal Silo of “information,” changing the channel whenever any contrarian came on; refusing to read any clippings my Goldwater Republican parents sent me. (I asked them later if they knew I hadn’t read their clippings, and they said “Yeah,” rather drily.) I see my liberal cousins and other friends doing so still.

    But I will say that my fury was great when I realized that the Dims had deliberately lied to us about the 2000 election “manipulation,” quite cynically and ruthlessly to game the results for the Party. I’ve always put my country first, and I found out real fast that this was NOT true of the Left –in fact, they hate us.

    I hated Bush still for a while, but 9/11 and its aftermath finished the job for me. I actually cried with relief when he was reelected in 2004, outside the Margin of Cheating.

    I think the main problem, with most Democrats (not the hardcore Leftoids, they’re basically goners), is that they never hear any contrary arguments and they tune out opposing voices. Hence the loathing of Fox News et cie.

  68. Mike Mc. Says:

    Opposing Republicans on “animal lover” grounds.

    Shallow and decadent as it gets.

    We’re doomed.

  69. ELC Says:

    @ Curtis.

    Your link doesn’t work because the WordPress blog software changes the plain apostrophe in the URL to a “curly” apostrophe.

    I think the following should work:


  70. jon baker Says:

    “how much is enough”

    Recently I was arguing with a liberal on Facebook about the stimulus. I pointed out how, from the data he had linked too (which provided a supposed range of jobs saved and cost-without doing the math) how if you did the calculation the stimulus cost between $2.4 million and $5.8 million dollars PER JOB! He tried to argue it was necessary and many economist thought so. He then tried to say Japan didnt do stimulus and look what happened. I found a 2009 article from the Liberal New York times which pointed out how Japan had indeed tried stimulus, to the point of running up a debt “totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy “. He at first tried to ignore this contradictory article then when pressed, claimed Japan didn’t spend enough on stimulus and waited to long to reform their banking industry. I asked what would have been enough stimulus – 200% debt to GDP? , %500 ? %1000 percent? He would not answer!


  71. waltj Says:


    Check this out from Pajamas Media. It’s Bill Whittle’s explanation of why we on the conservative side are, paradoxically, actually more optimistic about about human potential than those on the liberal side. Simply put, because we accept that humans are flawed and imperfectable, we are able to work with human nature as it is rather than as we wish it to be. Liberals, on the other hand, keep trying to perfect human nature, and always end up disappointed because human nature is essentially immutable. Here’s the link:


    Parts 2 and 3 of Bill’s series are also excellent in explaining the essence of modern conservatism. Enjoy.

  72. Foxfier Says:

    I don’t have a conversion story, either.

    My folks are generally right-ward, but the main thing they did is argue _against_ anything I said– rationally, calmly, until I started trying to look at more sides of stuff, and question information from authority figures that don’t actually have authority in the field.
    (The one that stands out in my memory is when our She-Woman Man Hater English teacher told us how everyone who was drafted in ‘Nam came home insane, missing limbs or in a bodybag {paraphrasing}
    … that’s when I found out that my dad and five of my uncles did the Nam thing.

    Mom put it well: “If you can’t argue against it, you don’t know enough to argue for it.”

    Mix in a measure of the realization that people are often self– followed later by realizing that folks can dang near kill you, even though they’re intelligent and not BAD people, just because they don’t realize what they’re doing– and you end up with whatever flavor of conservative I am.

    They did the same sort of teaching with religion. Seems to have worked pretty well.

  73. neo-neocon Says:

    kolnai: welcome! Your etiquette is fine. Comment whenever you want, and don’t comment whenever you don’t want. If you step over any lines, I’ll let you know. I try to at least skim most of the comments here; don’t always succeed, but I try.

  74. RickZ Says:


    It was 1970 or so. Back from the Southeast Asian War Games I was anti the way we were fighting the war.

    Funny you mention that. I was young, 12, when Khe Sanh occurred. I remember the weekly body counts served up with the nightly news during the dinner hour. It always struck me as odd how the reports would go something like ‘an estimated 10,000 North Vietnamese/Vietcong were killed this week, while US losses were 275’ or 311 or some other number. As a young child fond of military history, I did the math and asked, if we’re killing so many of the enemy and losing so few of our own, why isn’t this war over by now? I became anti-war, not because I was against war, or even that particular war, but was against the way the war was being fought. Later, I learned that many over there called it the 9 to 5 war, and war simply cannot be fought like that; war is a 24/7 bloody business. I remember the protests with the oh so smart liberals carrying NVA flags, the kind with that star, and being oh so brave over here against ‘the man’. I saw through that BS, even at a young age. It’s also why I am now against the wars in which we are currently engaged: Having ridiculous rules of engagement will do that. To sacrifice American military personnel on the altar of political correctness does not sit well with me. Either fight a war to win, or get the hell out.

    I was a Navy brat, raised in Norfolk, VA, surrounded by military. I always believed in our military, and knew from my nascent study of history how good and moral our troops were/are. Yes, I use the word moral. Like any group, there’s always a bad apple or two, but the policy of the US military is not rape, as was the case with the Red Army going into Germany in WWII, or a plethora of other armies throughout history. Our foreign military objectives never included the acquisition of slaves. Our soldiers have been prosecuted for breech of military codes even during war; not too many countries can make that claim.

    I was also taught by nuns, who instilled in us the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Soviet gulags (although it wasn’t called that as Solzhenitsyn’s books hadn’t come out yet)). We were taught that evil existed in the past and in the then present day. It was our duty, our moral imperative, to never succumb to it and to fight it. That’s why I’ve always been a military conservative, and why I agreed with the taking out of Saddam Hussein, who was just another evil despot with which history is littered.

    But the other thing the nuns taught us was compassion, which made me more socially liberal. I agreed with the tossing out of the sodomy laws with which gays were arrested and persecuted. My best friend back then was gay (and best friend to the day he died of AIDS). I could not see punishing him for something over which he had no option. He told me about being around 4 and thinking the mailman was hunky, so he was always attracted more to men than to women. But he was also a conservative, and had stronger beliefs on the death penalty than even I as a pro do. He was also very much into torturing child molesters, and thought society let them off way too easy. I think if he ever saw the ‘gays for Palestine’ protests, he would not have been amused.

    Another anecdote, from college. In the winter (1975) of my freshman year, in a school where winter was cold and dark and snowy with little to do, I went to a talk given by Moishe Dayan. The crowd was relatively small for the auditorium, mostly populated with the cadets from the school’s Corps, along with some ‘civilians’, like me and my dormmate. There were no shouts, no protests, no trying to shut Dayan up. I listened and learned a great deal of modern history that night. I know today such an event would be unthinkable, what with the shrill protests against the Israeli Nazis and how could the school allow such an atrocity, blah, blah, blah. After seeing what goes on at college campuses (campi?) of late, I know I would never survive the politically correct indoctrination current students undergo. I just don’t have it in me to quietly suffer such idiots.

    So I guess I’m a synthesis, a military/fiscal conservative who has socially liberal leanings. That is not to say I agree with the left, as they are not liberal, but are totalitarian, as many have indicated in their personal stories. I’m one of those who believes in the old saw, ‘your rights end where mine begin’. Being raised in Virginia, I also have a deep appreciation and respect for possibly the greatest American political thinker of all time, Thomas Jefferson (I have been lucky enough to have been to Montecello 3 times, with the visits spread out over my life). My belief in Jefferson does not take anything away from that other great man, George Washington. They were two sides of the same coin, for without a George Washington willing to volunteer to lead a military force to push Jefferson’s ideals, Jefferson would not even be a footnote in History. As a result of my respect and admiration for a war mongerer (GW) and a slave owning racist (TJ), old dead white guys both, I’m an enemy of the left. Of that, I’m quite proud.

  75. SteveH Says:

    Looking back, i’d say there were little moments that revealed to me that i was a conservative. Such things as finding myself miles from home with a bunch of drunk teenagers and having the epiphany that myself and others just might die if nobody behaved responsibly enough to get our butts home.

    Liberalism in a nutshell is all about passing the buck of responsibility on to someone else.

  76. kolnai Says:

    Tatyana: I read your story, and I must say, I admire the approach you took. Honestly, like I mentioned in a previous comment, I tend to dodge on such occasions (until it gets personal). But the way you found unintentional flattery in the incident is revealing of the more general phenomenon: just as we were noting how particularly gauche (pun intended) it is for the purportedly uber-tolerant to so reflexively intolerant, it is equally so for the professedly sophisticated and thoughtful to be so completely incapable of facing dissenting viewpoints.

    Curtis: Interesting observation about health care and “women’s issues.” I read a blog post from Robin Hanson (the George Mason professor) a week ago, and he uncharacteristically ripped into the whole pink ribbon business (they symbolize breast cancer, I believe). Let me see if I can dig up a link…


    His general point is that a lot of these issues that are purely health-related in form are actually ways of signaling content-wise that one is pro the liberal agenda with respect to (say) women or homosexuals. Regardless of what one thinks of those agendas, it is surely a peculiar state of affairs when “merely” scientific or medical rhetoric is used to signal heavily politicized substance. (Lets just nod to the climate change movement and say no more, for now).

    Waltj: Thanks for the Whittle link – I love his work, and I wish he had a TV show. Bill is very smart, very informed, and very articulate. And he’s even-tempered too, which always helps.

    Beverly: I noticed your remark about being leery of Republicans for a good while because, as i understood it, you were very concerned with animal-rights issues. I was wondering if you’ve ever read Wesley J. Smith? He’s a former Naderite and animal rights activist (still is, by his lights), but subsequently understood the issues in different terms. His recent book “A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy” is marvelous. I think you’ll love it, if you haven’t read it already.

    MikeMc: You are totally right about the Hicks book. I studied French postmodernism as an undergraduate, and even wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on Gilles Deleuze, and I found Hicks’ work to be highly insightful. It really is the best primer on postmodernism, and he also manages to sum up Kant and other extremely difficult philosophers in a way that is comprehensible but not too oversimple.

    neoneocon: Good to know about the etiquette. I don’t want to seem totally naive – I regularly read blogs – I just rarely make comments. Not to bang this drum too hard, but even some of the very high-toned blogs I read have commenters that, shall we say, deter participation. Here, however, it feels like a real discussion. And the friendly vibe is like a big Welcome mat. I look forward to joining in when I can.

    Happy halloween to all, by the way. For me, it will only be happy if my Bucs can manage to beat the Cardinals (my Rays already got spanked by the Rangers, but at least the dread Yankees did too – sorry New Yorkers!).

  77. waltj Says:

    Rickz: I also went to a college that was cold, dark, and snowy in the winter and I also remember being one of those ROTC cadets at a Moshe Dayan speech sometime in the mid-70s. We were the ushers. I would have been a junior at the time you mention. Was the school in the Upper Midwest, by any chance? (Being a respecter of others’ privacy, I don’t want to get any more specific than that just yet).

  78. Tatyana Says:

    *kolnai: thanks.
    Many people would call it stupidity, let alone admire it…it’s just that I taught myself to be absolutely free to say what I mean to say – within polite bounds, of course. Life is too short to leave in fear.

  79. RickZ Says:


    Not even close to the midwest. It was Va Tech, up high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia. Must have been a Moshe Dayan tour that winter.

  80. Tatyana Says:


    if you are up and reading this: I just came across a quote that evaluate the phenomenon [of Leftists expressing contempt towards dissenting opinions] brilliantly:
    “And so it went, the Liberal members declining to engage with the very concept of principle. Indeed, their principal principle seems to be a principled objection to principle: they disagree with what you say but they will fight to the death for the right not to have to listen to it. That’s why we need government agencies to police all these opinions and determine which ones are sufficiently homogenous to be compatible with a diverse society.” — Mark Steyn

    [found at Dustbury.com]

  81. kolnai Says:

    Tatyana – Great merciful Zeus, Steyn can be withering.

    Did you hear about the recent attempt to shut him out of London (the one in Ontario, not England, and the Ontario in Canada, not California)?

    Seems he may have had ideas about saying some honest things about a certain minority of a minority with a taste for, if you will, the architecture of Nothingness.

    The London Zhdanovs couldn’t stand for that, now could they?

  82. waltj Says:


    Ah, Blacksburg. My nephew looked at going there, but wasn’t big on the isolation, so he ended up at Charlottesville, which is closer to where his folks live in NoVa. Definitely not close to the Upper Midwest. Our school didn’t really have enough ROTC cadets for a “corps”, even though that’s what we were called. More like a reinforced squad. Va Tech was a different story.

    Yeah, it probably was the same Dayan tour. Our essentially apolitical state college had small, mostly polite crowds for him. One Arab student did try to ask what he thought was an embarrassing question, but he should have known better than to bring a wet noodle to a gunfight. Dayan took him apart verbally without breaking a sweat. It was a beautiful thing to behold.

  83. RickZ Says:


    There’s a reason they call it Bleaksburg.

  84. M J R Says:

    Regarding kolnai’s suggestion that a liberal be asked, when is enough enough — here’s a kindred formulation that I remember from many years ago:

    [Note — it does assume for sake of conversation a (lazy, thought-free, but conventional) definition of a conservative, but it’ll do.]

    “Mr./Ms. Leftie, could you please describe a society in which ^you^ would be a conservative?” . . .

  85. kolnai Says:

    MJR – I like that one! I will definitely add it to the arsenal, and you really got me thinking.

    I always wonder – being a budding political scientist – what serious survey work on such questions would reveal.

    What sort of answers have you heard? Or if anyone on this thread has asked a similar question and managed to get a response, do tell.

    The assumption of Kurtz’s new book is that what current American “stealth socialists” desire as their ideal is essentially what the left wants in Sweden.

    I wonder. First of all, the left in Sweden evidently doesn’t feel that Sweden is as ideal as American leftists do. So what do Swedish leftists want? I don’t know anything about Swedish politics, but aren’t most leftist parties in European countries communist parties?

    I’m not certain about any of this, but the point of the “when enough?” or “what would it take for you to be a conservative?” questions is to test the suspicion that these people really don’t know what they want. That was also what I found so striking about the Mencken quote (posted below one of neoneocon’s previous posts on Kurtz’s book).

    One suggestion: for conservatives, these questions are intrinsically easier to answer because 1) conservatives are tinkerers, rather Burkean by temperament; 2) conservatives generally want to preserve a framework of opportunity without trying to engineer or “plan” results.

    But for liberals/progressives, the question is intrinsically harder because they prefer huge, sweeping changes and are aiming to engineer preferred outcomes. It’s like I imagine it used to feel to people looking out at the ocean before there was any seafaring: they know they want to go “over there” to the other side, but they don’t know what awaits, and are so eager that they command people to build a bridge until they hit land. And that doesn’t sound swell or end well, so liberals are kind of bashful about “unpacking” implications and going back to first principles.

    And this, in turn, always leads to the thought: well, what outcome do they want? What would satisfy them? (M J R’s “conservative” question). Again, I’m not sure, but my suspicion is that the answer is: Nothing short of absolute equality and complete governmental control over the economy (you can’t have one without the other, in any case).

    As far as that goes, it’s just the logical implication of a nebulous “liberalism” that defines no ideals but just keeps pushing for MORE equality of result and MORE government control over the means of production.

    This is why it is unfair to blame conservatives alone for eliding liberalism with socialism/communism. Most liberals really are not communists (many are just single-issue voters who go along for the ride); but the whole point is that they haven’t thought their ideas through, so neither they nor we know how far toward communism they are actually prepared to go.

    Alas, that it one of the most fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives: Liberals have absolutely no worries about communism – it never occupies their minds except as a way to accuse conservatives of McCarthyism. Conservatives, on the other hand, think communism is just as important to guard against as “Fascism,” and we also tend to think that it is certainly no less of a threat. The totalitarian temptation is in our hearts, not the dustbin of history.

    However that may be, it isn’t just that conservatives are sometimes too quick off the hip in throwing the word “communism” around in discussions of liberalism, but also, and not insignificantly, that liberalism itself has never convincingly or even in any detail managed to differentiate itself from, at minimum, communism-lite (granting that there is such a thing).

    Rawls tried, but to make a long story short, simply wound up asserting (rather than demonstrating the logical endpoint of) progressive American liberalism. The early progressives such as Croly, Landis, and Goodnow were not clear on the matter, and mostly distinguished themselves in principle from communists by maintaining that they were democrats (small d) fist and foremost. Yet they would also have outbursts lauding the Soviet Union as being somehow ultra-democratic.

    It’s all a confusing mess. Hayek dedicated Road to Serfdom to socialists of all parties, but no socialist has ever shown how they would block the road.

  86. gs Says:

    Tatyana Says:

    Personally, my sympathies are always with the individual and his liberties than with any community with communal agenda. You are right that the problem is more pronounced on the Left than on teh Right – but it seems pretty natural to me…

    I’d sign that.

    Soon after I arrived at college in the 1960s, we freshmen in my living group were visited by a freshman from another living group. He told us a bunch of desirable things that ought to happen for us all. When someone asked how these good things could come about, he replied that he was running for class president.

    I still remember my reaction of…disconnect? letdown? proto-skepticism?…I don’t know how to express it.

  87. Oblio Says:

    kolnai, you are right to go straight to Rawls. Modern Leftists and cultural leftists couldn’t last 15 seconds if they could rely back on Rawls, usually without referencing him or even knowing that they depend on him. Those of us opposed to the Left should study Rawls and understanding the utopian conditions of his thought experiments, and how they can never provide workable guidance for policy under real conditions.

    Rawls, like Marx and for similar reasons, is flawed at the heart of his analysis.

  88. kolnai Says:

    Oblio – and on that note, I realized that the typical response from leftists to the analysis I just presented is that the left is “self-critical” and “pragmatic.” They deal with problems as they come, in effect.

    Another possible response, and in my view a more plausible one, is that liberals in America are part of a yin/yang system, checking the far out consequences of conservative policies while conservatives do the same to liberal policies.

    On the first response, here’s an article from the great Peter Berkowitz:


    Pragmatism should mean “doing what works,” but in fact all it means is that the left will choose the most effective means for ensuring its lock on government and public discourse. (Anyhow, Rawls is the guy to understand for so-called deontological liberals; but Rorty is equally important for “pragmatist” liberals).

    On the second response, the problem is that when the left gets the power it craves (as it did in 2008), they indulge in policies that are far too close to the way-out-there-left end of spectrum to make the claim that they are simply “balancers” plausible.

    It is telling that there has never been a dramatic conservative “revolution” in Western democracies comparable to the leftist ones. We conservatives do love ourselves some Reagan and Coolidge and Thatcher – justly – but as we somberly reflect in our less lyrical moments, what they accomplished was a few chips off the block of the leftist monolith.

    (Remember Sam Tenenhaus’s inane little pamphlet on the Death of Conservatism? “Chipping” the edges of leftist policies was his definition of conservatism. And, well, nuts to that. But still, however mistaken Tenenhaus might have been about what conservatism is in principle, he may have been right descriptively about what it has been in action – dismayingly right).

    There are much bigger questions lurking here, about human nature and its relation to power, for instance, yet the main issue can be confined: The leftist mind in America is nebulous; the nebulousness allows an uneasy amount of slippage into totalitarian territory; and the nebulousness is not cured by Rawls’ deontological liberalism, Rorty’s pragmatic liberalism, or liberalism-as-yin to conservatism’s yang.

    Hayek’s “road” remains far too open.

  89. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Trying to figure out why I was never a liberal. Even when I was doing civil rights stuff in MS in the Sixties, I was the conservative in the group.
    Ran across a phrase recently which may explain it.
    I never thought you could “negotiate with reality”. Other than being raised by intelligent, commensensical parents, I have no idea where I came by that inability–to negotiate with reality.

  90. Oblio Says:

    “Pragmatic” without any capacity for consequential reasoning. Scary.

  91. M J R Says:

    “Mr./Ms. Leftie, could you please describe a society in which ^you^ would be a conservative?” . . .

    What sort of answers have you heard? Or if anyone on this thread has asked a similar question and managed to get a response, do tell.

    Alas! — It’s a response I read somewhere, but in all my dealings with lefties, and I have had quite a few in my many decades of engaging them, I have never had the opportunity and the context in which that particular catch-all question was appropriate. I, too, am interested in others’ experiences and/or suggestions.

    I’m not certain about any of this, but the point of the “when enough?” or “what would it take for you to be a conservative?” questions is to test the suspicion that these people really don’t know what they want.

    What they want is a kind of perfection-on-earth, unattainable on this planet in these times. Truth is, they’ll never get it, and enough won’t ever be enough.

    One friend of mine used to declare, liberals insist perfection is attainable, pointing to themselves as examples to illustrate the point.

    And this, in turn, always leads to the thought: well, what outcome do they want? What would satisfy them? (M J R’s “conservative” question).

    I’m not sure they’ve thought it through to that conclusion — which is why I like the question so much!

    As far as that goes, it’s just the logical implication of a nebulous “liberalism” that defines no ideals but just keeps pushing for MORE equality of result and MORE government control over the means of production.

    Sigh. A leftie’s work is never done . . .

  92. Steve G Says:

    I remember quite well the day I became a conservative although the situation was, if anything, not very memorable. I suppose that’s how it happens for many of us. I was 19; a sophomore in college. I got into an argument with a friend of mine who was a “Republican” and whose family were active in politics in Philadelphia, then (and still) a Democrat stronghold. My family was not political but still voted Democrat in every election and for every candidate. The fact that my friend and his family were from another political party was interesting but had no impact on the close relationships we and all my democrat friends of his had. We lived a life that just did not center on politics.

    I got into an argument with this friend and soon enough made the point that Roosevelt had been a friend to the Jews. He said, “How? Because he allowed about 800 to enter the country and put them in a concentration camp in North Dakota?” What are you talking about, you idiot, I replied. He smiled. I looked it up. He was right and I was acting from emotion and not the facts. The problem for me was that I was not going to let him get away with that lie about the hero of my family. So, I started asking questions…. And never stopped. I never took anything a politician said at face value ever again. And my trip into conservatism began.

  93. br549 Says:

    Rick Z, I’m also born and raised of Navy parents in the Norfolk area. Returned to the area ten years ago. My daughter is a Va.Tech graduate, now at U.C. Davis getting her PhD (what a difference in the two schools!).

    My parents were JFK democrats. Oh, well. Jimmuh Carter made me a republican. Ronald Reagan made me a conservative. Obama has made me concerned, to put it mildly.

  94. james wilson Says:

    I’m not hopeful for Williams. He’s past the age where we go through conversions, and he cannot claim his exerience did not include hearing the best conservative arguments. The Right is behaving childishly and opportunistically. This doesn’t pass the smell test.

  95. Tarquin Says:

    Re: Explaining Postmodernism by Hicks: You can buy a copy on eBay for over $1000 [go figure] or you can go to Hicks’ website and download the pdf version. You decide.

  96. strcpy Says:

    “It is telling that there has never been a dramatic conservative “revolution” in Western democracies comparable to the leftist ones.”

    My own left/right theory is that it largely depends on how malleable you think the world is.

    Most engineering vocations see the world as something we adapt too. You can certainly build great soaring and beautiful arches, build a space craft to reach the stars, or a great number of visionary things – yet you do so by submitting to reality and figuring out how to manipulate it to get what you want.

    The left sees the world as something we can transform into what we want. We can feed everyone if only, we can clothe everyone if only, we can shelter everyone if only – well if only those engineers would get off their butts and figure it out! (well, yea, I’m of the engineering group so I can be a little bitter here :)). But really – that is the idea, I express a bit strong but in the end it comes down to that.

    Then there are the ones that are one way by chance only – frankly most fall into this category. If/when someone finally gets a clue they almost always become conservative, but there are plenty of them out there that would just as easily been liberals if their personal situation were different.

    For to make a “conversion” there has to be some event that causes them to examine beyond the knee jerk ideas they have held (and this is true for those that were conservative by chance only too). For some it may be a very abrupt event, for others something over time – yet in the end they move from a By Chance Only” to a ” for Real” and is rarely towards the liberal side.

  97. kolnai Says:

    strcpy – I like the engineering approach (and lord knows, I wish I had the mental stuff to comprehend it).

    The only thing I’d add to your account and my own is that it is highly instructive to see how leftists – especially intelligent ones – attempt to explain the left/right divide. I’m in political science, and I deal with it on a daily basis. One of my best friends is very much into the “authoritarian” literature – a literature that I know neoneocon is familiar with, because that’s how I came to this site. She was commenting on that ridiculously flawed meta-analysis of all the “scientific” studies of conservatives and authoritarianism.

    What strikes my eye is this: lets bracket the knee-jerk leftists and rightists from our consideration and consider only the views of whom I’ll just go ahead and call the “thoughtful” (fully realizing it’s tendentious – this is just not the place to split hairs). The people who post at this site are thoughtful conservatives, by my definition (and, naturally, so am I!). People such as my close friend mentioned above and my former professors were also thoughtful.

    Now, look at the ways in which we try to account for the left/right divide. You, strcpy, are discussing ideas, approaches to the world, essentially what Thomas Sowell calls “visions.” I try to do the same. So, I have noticed, do oblio, Curtis, and Tatyana. And those are just the fellow commenters I’ve discussed the matter with in the past few days. Everyone else here pretty much follows the same procedure.

    Turn next to my former professors, et al. We can see their analytical procedure reflected in the daily news commentaries on the insanity/mental disorder of the current voter inclined to go Republican on Tuesday. It boils down to pathologizing the right. It’s no joke – the tippy-top of the “thoughtful” liberal hierarchy – the very one Obama progressed through, incidentally – almost to a man/woman sincerely believe that it has more or less scientifically verified that conservatism is a form of mental or personality disorder (or both).

    When I was undergoing my “conversion,” one of the things that struck me was this imbalance in the ability to see the other side fairly. I may be misremembering, but I cannot recall a single book or article by a leftist attempting to explain conservatism that even passed the laugh test. I guess I would say Jonathan Haidt is the exception that leaps to mind. He is a liberal who makes a concerted effort to accurately, even sympathetically, “get” conservatives. Other than him, though, I draw a blank.

    The problem is that describing your opponents as simply, merely, purely deranged or as something out of Gustave Le Bon is a non-starter. I can believe – I do believe – that a lot of conservatives are deranged. It’s obvious to any conservative that a lot of any people are. But these thoughtful leftists ask me to believe that Thomas Sowell is, that Eric Voegelin was, that Edmund Burke was, that Adam Smith was, and so on and on and on.

    Because if those guys were not deranged or suffering from a personality disorder, and they therefore cogently and intelligently laid down conservative arguments and principles – then… doesn’t it follow that conservatism in no way is inherently a disorder?

    And the laugh test gets flunked beyond belief when you go on to ask some probing questions of these leftist political scientists. I ask them: “Does it follow from your theory that George Bush was ‘authoritarian’ but Barack Obama is not?” I have never heard a single one of them even willing to COUNTENANCE the idea that Obama might have authoritarian proclivities.

    The whole thing is so patently self-serving and disingenuous that it’s kind of sad – well, at first sad, then funny, then back to sad again.

    From all of my years in political science departments, reading thousands of papers, talking to hundreds of professors, I am genuinely convinced that when it comes to understanding the essential ideological divide in politics, they are not interested in getting it right.

    And that’s just sad – it never gets to funny.

  98. Doom Says:

    I do not attempt to persuade. If I can persuade a dolt with a comment, the next comment will persuade them back. If you do not fall for something, you will fall for everything.

    As well, considering debating liberals as they are currently on national news is only slightly less repulsive than debating active open honest Westerner-killing jihadis. The difference, at this point, is minuscule.

    I have no time to convince, the near future will do that. The meek will inherit the earth… but only when they are dead. Keep being meek. I have… a different role to play.

  99. Foxfier Says:

    The Right is behaving childishly and opportunistically. This doesn’t pass the smell test.

    How so? It’s not like Fox never hires libs– the entire kerfluffle is because they ask libs to show up and talk.

    I do not attempt to persuade. If I can persuade a dolt with a comment, the next comment will persuade them back.

    What if you sway them with reason? With a well-placed fact and sound judgment? Thinking everyone who disagrees is an idiot is a classic liberal failing, these days– let’s not try to take their place.

    As well, considering debating liberals as they are currently on national news is only slightly less repulsive than debating active open honest Westerner-killing jihadis. The difference, at this point, is minuscule.

    I think the unwillingness to plant bombs (yes, a lot of lefties are open to it, but they don’t get invited to debates on national news) is a large factor.

    I have no time to convince, the near future will do that. The meek will inherit the earth… but only when they are dead. Keep being meek. I have… a different role to play.

    Way to be creepy, dude. Can’t tell if you’re an over-excited rightie or a trolling leftie.

  100. Sergey Says:

    Enlightenment, especially the French one, gave life to many fallacies, which still are believed by lots of liberals. Untill they being completely debunked, the same mistakes of judgement would be made again and again. The naive hope in omnipotence of scirence, in infinite malleability of human nature, in efficiency of social engineering and top-down economic planning is still alive and breeds utopian thinking. All these fallacies are natural for immature individuals, so young people often hold these ideas. But when they becomes more experienced, they reject them, so this drift from the Left to the Right is a natural process of maturation. Eventually, humandkind will begin to teach children to avoid these fallacies, even at school. We need a long marsh through educational institutions to debunk these myths of Enlightenment, and a great religious awakening is needed to make this transition.

  101. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I would, cleverly, divide left/lib thinking into two categories; the leaders and the followers and assert that they have two separate philosophies.
    The leaders are cold-eyed powerseekers.
    The followers have a different idea, of course.
    I knew the Weather Underground Linda Evans in college. It would not be a surprise to hear me say she seemed a bit spacey.
    But in a special way.
    For her, cheerfully odd in those days, there was a special way everything was supposed to be–good for everybody involved. There were no costs to making it so, no trade-offs, no conflicting rights. Eventually, I figured that in her world, there was some vague father figure who could make everything right just by willing it.
    If he didn’t, since it was so easy, it must mean he didn’t want things to be right. Or perhaps he wanted them to be wrong.
    Which meant he was evil, along with his minions.
    It’s a leap from Linda Evans to Graham Greene, who said he had no brief for the USSR, but the enemy of his enemy was his friend and his enemy was Ronald Reagan. I do not recall if he specified what RR had done. So if the US government was bad–it allowed all the bad things The Kids could see around them when it could simply stop the bad things–its enemies must be The Kids’ friends.
    I submit that this speculation allows for the left/lib’s resistance to facts and the stunning speed by which a reasoned discussion–one reference to history–spins off to spitting ad hominems.

  102. strcpy Says:

    kolnai, I think you need to pair what I wrote with what Richard Aubrey did. If you think the world is malleable in that method the *only* reasons not to do it are self serving, and therefore “evil”. It *is* logically concise.

    It reminds me of an argument I get in from time to time – “Why can’t those programmers do , I can easily do it”. My area of expertise is in formal languages and computability – I tend to be well versed in answering that one.

    Often what someone wants to do is equivalent to The Halting Problem, it can not be solved. Basically you can’t write a program that takes an arbitrary program and see if it will run for ever or if it will have a finite end. That *sounds* easy, but you can set up a situation where if the program halts then it is flagged and not halting and if it runs for ever is flagged as halting.

    I’ll have people argue that one should never underestimate what we can do – *anything* is possible. No, 2+2 will never equal 5 no matter how much or how hard one wants it too. It may make life a living paradise and be *so* easy to envison – but it isn’t going to happen.

    Now, if you think it *is* easy and us conservatives are the ones blocking it (and causing it to fail every time you try it) then, yes, you would end up disliking us.

    If we go back to the “how malleable is your world” argument I have to note that software engineers trend quite liberal – our world is *highly* malleable. Most do not even get into computability and the hard limits – that is specialized graduate studies (and a lot of money is wasted at many software firms because they are sure they can get the halting problem solved). Amusingly when you *do* get into those of us that work at those hard edges – well we get back to mostly be conservative.

    It is a pattern that fits quite strongly across the boards – biologists often see the world as simple processes that can be manipulated and many are atheist, astro-physicists see a universe that is so fragile that it should never exists and tend towards strongly deist. Mathematicians are spread out fairly evenly (their ideas simply have to balance), and your humanities – the most fungible of all groups – tends towards highly leftist. The harder the engineering discipline the harder line conservative most of its practitioners are.

    In fact, if you look at the few notable exceptions – say labor unions – you find the second type of liberal that Richard Aubrey speaks of and that is the ones seeing as a path to power.

  103. strcpy Says:

    I’ll add that this idea is also why we get the “drug companies aren’t curing cancer because there is too much profit otherwise” – if we are so advanced we can cure everything else then we *must* have other reasons to not cure these few really bad ones. If you take that axiom as truth then that is about the only conclusion one can draw.

    Never mind something are just *hard* even if they do no look like they are from the outside.

  104. Richard Aubrey Says:

    You may recall the occasional insistence that the auto companies bought up and hid the hundred mpg carburetor. Back when there were carburetors, I mean.
    I heard that a number of times and asked two or three people who told it to me personally why the auto companies did that. They weren’t in the oil business.
    Got puzzled looks. Best any of them did was to insist that auto companies owned stock in oil companies. But the question had never occurred to them.
    Nor had it occurred to them to wonder if there were, under the most ideal conditions, enough energy in a gallon of gas to go 100 miles anyway. IOW, if you burn a gallon of gas as efficiently as possible, in the lab, can you get enough joules/ergs/whatevers to move a car one hundred miles if it could be applied with 100% efficiency? I had a chem teacher tell me no, back in high school. But he probably owned stock in oil companies.

  105. SteveH Says:

    The more specialized and therefore removed from the average layperson technology gets, the more the average person gets the perception that anything can be done. A lot of the liberal argument springs from this notion. That the USA is obviously an omniscient power and any problems within it are caused by greedy people with suspect priorities. Because we all know it is a nation so advanced as to produce actual magic.

  106. Tatyana Says:

    SteveH: right before I read your comment above I received an email in my inbox: Metropolis (a leftie/environmentally fanatical architectural magazine…hmm; that’s an oxymoron) announced a contest for designing a house in LA with ZERO footprint on environment.

  107. Daniel in Brookline Says:


    You reminded me of an analogy I’ve used from time to time, mainly when talking to computer scientists.

    Computers have operating systems that run the show. Until relatively recently, there was a tug-of-war between pre-emptive and non-pre-emptive operating systems. (Pre-emptive operating systems have power that the mere programs don’t, and can keep programs from certain kinds of misbehavior, or stop them outright if necessary. A non-pre-emptive operating system can’t do that, and is just one program among many, hoping that the other kids Play Nice.)

    It’s not surprising that non-pre-emptive operating systems crashed a lot more often, because — guess what? — not all the kids do Play Nice, and the OS can’t handle it when that happens. (So why did we have non-pre-emptive systems at all?… Because building pre-emptive systems is a lot harder, and requires hardware that cheap computers didn’t have for a while.)

    To me, the political analogy is obvious. In the United States, we have a federal government and state governments, ensuring that people play fair (and punishing as necessary). In the international arena, there is no over-arching authority — meaning that nations will go to war over resources, and occasionally will bring the whole system down.

    To this, liberals often say that there should be a World Government. I wouldn’t mind that either, but how do we get there from here… and what would such a government look like?

    One thing it would NOT look like is the UN (which many liberals like to pretend is a quasi World Government). The UN is a debating society, where evil and good are given equal time; it’s the world writ small, in other words, with a horribly corrupt bureaucracy thrown in to keep things interesting. The UN can say all sorts of ridiculous things (and does), but can’t enforce anything, because it has no power.

    I used to hear this all the time — we have laws in the United States to keep people in line, why can’t International Law do the same thing? Because there is no such thing as International Law, that’s why. There are treaties signed by countries, which they break when it suits them; there is no overarching authority to hold people (or countries) accountable. Nor does the world have overarching principles, which must form the bedrock of any nation, determining what is right and what is not.

    And, just as it was when we had primitive computers with non-pre-emptive operating systems, wishing for an overarching authority won’t make it so. Pretending will certainly not make it so. And, unfortunately for the idealists, making it so will be a lot harder than building more powerful computers.

    Daniel in Brookline

  108. SteveH Says:

    “”ZERO footprint on environment.””

    Heck, even dead people make a footprint on the environment. I better hush or someone will suggest space shots for all cremated remains. Lol

  109. Tatyana Says:

    SteveH: not so funny, when one considers it’s for Federal buildings – who do you think will wind up paying for this folly?
    [see link to Metropolis].

    As to cremation…funny you mentioned that:

  110. Don Says:

    And I can’t resist a final observation: Isn’t it intriguing that, while liberalism is such an “optimistic” doctrine, liberals themselves are nonetheless (statistically speaking) angrier and less happy than conservatives, who themselves adhere to a doctrine that, by comparison to the sunny utopian progressivism of the left, seems bleak and cold by comparison?

    It is ironic, but perhaps not surprising.

    It seems to me that a world view that is accurate in predicting outcomes makes one happier than one that consistently predicts happier outcomes than are achieved.

  111. Don Says:


    I think you are being too hard on the Enlightenment. English Enlightenment thinkers came up with things such as modern economic theory, and the conservative and libertarian theories of politics.

    The thing about the Engish Enlightenment is that it started on the ground, with free markets and representative government, and the great thinkers were basically explaining what they saw. The French enlightenment was false, in that it wasn’t “in the streets” but only in the heads of great thinkers. The French then had a more theory based and less grounded Enlightenment, which allowed them to develop radical leftist ideas.

    The English / Scottish Enlightement was a great event, the French one was an evil event.

  112. SteveH Says:

    Tatyana, the metropolis magazine site is both creepy and humorous. Creepy in their obvious obsession that man can exist but only if he behaves like an imposing visitor on earth. Humorous in how it reminds me of a book i saw in the third grade about cars of the future. Cars of the future looked nothing like any of the hundreds i recall they rendered. lol

  113. Sergey Says:

    Yes, Don, these two kinds of Enlightenment, French and Scottish, were worlds apart. The first gave us Karl Marx, the second Adam Smith. The first inspired Jacobin terror and Communism, the second – US Constitution. The very notions “Left” and “Right” reflects how opposing factions were sitting in the first French Convent. My point was that we are still in the height of controversies originated in 18 century.

  114. Gringo Says:

    A house with close to zero impact on the environment would be someone sleeping on the sidewalk- ignoring, of course, the cement used for the sidewalk.

  115. Tatyana Says:

    Gringo: the contest is for federal building in LA. No, I don’t doubt the bureaucrats are dozing off in their offices, but suspect they wouldn’t appreciate the sidewalk suggestion.
    SteveH – if only you’d met the Editor, as I did – creepy and humorous is bull’s eye, reinforced by personal impression…

  116. Artfldgr Says:

    so i guess you went into those NLP posts… Neuro linguistics, etc… i forgot which thread i mentioned them in… 🙂

  117. strcpy Says:

    Daniel in Brookline:

    One of the more amusing (to mind at least) match of wits that I engaged with a leftist was over my handle – specifically that strcpy was not a safe operation and one should use some other function (I do not recall which of the ones that would work that he chose).

    My response was that as a conservative I was quite capable of taking care of my own bounds checking and it was just like a liberal to want to put his safety in the hands of someone other than selves. Further that that idea also assumed that ultimately that other person was better than you too – I’m a programmer, if I can’t check bounds on an array I do not need to be programming. This ends up in a feedback loop if everyone thinks this and nothing gets done (and is really an issue in some models – each side defers to the other to “do things right” and no one does – all assuming the other side has taken care of the problems).

    He quit the conversation at that point – I didn’t and being the Evil Conservative pressed it 🙂

    With respect to production software strcpy isn’t used by me either – but then that has nothing to do with why I chose my name. His making it so opened it up to a battle of wits and extrapolations that make little real sense. I *can* do those existential mental masturbations – I just see them for what they are. He went into the battle with no armaments against a well armed opponent 🙂

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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