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Monday, May 28, 2012

Will Liberals Ever Grow Up?

“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.” — Friedrich August von Hayek

I was driving along the one of the main roads in my own when I came up behind a new UV stopped for a traffic light. On the left side of the rear window was an Obama 2012 sticker and on the right side was a sticker proclaiming that the driver was a proud mom of a daughter in the United States Air Force.

As this was the first Obama bumper sticker I had seen in my neighborhood I just had to pull up alongside of the driver at the next light, which I managed to do without being too obvious. When I was next to the SUV I noticed it was almost brand new and was one of those big V-8 GMCs. The driver, a woman in her late 40s or early 50s was bedecked rings and bracelets and had a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror.

Upon seeing her I thought what a dichotomy. Here was an adult woman with a daughter in the military and member of a church that the very president she was supporting was trampling on its rights. How could this be possible? She was driving vehicle Obama was against, praying to a God whose church we was dictating polices against its beliefs, and honoring a daughter in a military he was trying to emasculate. I guess you just can’t figure out some liberals.

Ever wonder why conversations with adults often leave you feeling like you were arguing with teenagers? Take heart, you're not alone: author Diana West, in her latest book, The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization, explains how and why America has become a nation overrun by adolescent minds disguised as mature adults. The brief description of the theme of the book states:

“WHERE HAVE ALL THE GROWN-UPS GONE?” That is the provocative question Washington Times syndicated columnist Diana West asks as she looks at America today. Sadly, here’s what she finds: It’s difficult to tell the grown-ups from the children in a landscape littered with Baby Britneys, Moms Who Mosh, and Dads too “young” to call themselves “mister.” Surveying this sorry scene, West makes a much larger statement about our place in the world: “No wonder we can’t stop Islamic terrorism. We haven’t put away our toys!” As far as West is concerned, grown-ups are extinct. The disease that killed them emerged in the fifties, was incubated in the sixties, and became an epidemic in the seventies, leaving behind a nation of eternal adolescents who can’t say "no," a politically correct population that doesn’t know right from wrong. The result of such indecisiveness is, ultimately, the end of Western civilization as we know it. This is because the inability to take on the grown-up role of gatekeeper influences more than whether a sixteen-year-old should attend a Marilyn Manson concert. It also fosters the dithering cultural relativism that arose from the “culture wars” in the eighties and which now undermines our efforts in the “real” culture war of the 21st century—the war on terror. With insightful wit, Diana West takes readers on an odyssey through culture and politics, from the rise of rock ‘n’ roll to the rise of multiculturalism, from the loss of identity to the discovery of “diversity,” from the emasculation of the heroic ideal to the “PC”-ing of “Mary Poppins,” all the while building a compelling case against the childishness that is subverting the struggle against jihadist Islam in a mixed-up, post-9/11 world. With a new foreword for the paperback edition, "The Death of the Grown-up," is a bracing read from one of the most original voices on the American cultural scene.”

Cindy Simpson writes in the American Thinker:

“Although West makes numerous compelling and superbly crafted observations, she intentionally offered no specific conclusions as to the impact of her thesis in the realm of politics, stating: "I'll leave it to someone else to argue whether being a grown-up is the same as being a conservative." But a look at the Obama '08 election and the 2012 campaign does reinforce this extension of her assertion: In general, juvenile minds vote liberal; mature minds lean conservative. (And I'll leave it to someone else to argue whether being a conservative is necessarily the same as being a Republican.)

Like the analogy of the kindergarten election where one candidate offers free ice cream in exchange for votes and the other valiantly campaigns on serious issues, the ice cream wins. Obama's enticing "blank slate" flavors, labeled with catchy bumper-sticker slogans, were full of hopey-changey ripples and fair-share chunks, served up in an unvetted waffling cone.

The problem for Obama, though, this time around, is that his concoction has melted into a sticky economic goo, and the media-protected cone of his narrative is starting to crumble. Not to worry, says Obama, urging his troops: "Forward!" while his straw men pass out napkins, blaming Bush and those nasty Republicans for the mess and offering yet more distracting delights in newly packaged flavors. The poor attendance at Obama's campaign kickoff in Ohio, however, may be a sign that the crowd's tummies are feeling the need for more than sweets.

It remains the job of party-pooper grown-ups to save the day: to truthfully evaluate the situation, take steps to clean up, and formulate solutions to prevent a recurrence.”


“Entrenched notions of moral and cultural relativism and relative truth have manifested into a mushy, adolescent thoughtlessness -- a superficial reasoning justified by chin-raised assertions of tolerance and "coexistence" -- an intellectual laziness wrapped in the deceptive guise of "multiculturalism" and "inclusiveness," reinforced by society's lack of barriers and boundaries and "embrace of nonjudgmentalism that create[s] a cocoon of unreality."

Such ideas have infected and arrested the mental maturation of adults in both political parties. Lately it seems the only major differences between party platforms relate to economic philosophy, with both Democrats and Republicans tiptoeing around implications of societal or cultural issues. Many Republicans have mothballed traditions that once defined The Conservative Mind and describe themselves as "economically conservative, socially liberal" -- which often seems to translate into a rather childish "I just want to keep what's mine" combined with a "whatever" on everything else. West warns, however, that much more than a healthy economy is at stake: Western civilization -- with its Judeo-Christian foundation and hallmarks of "liberty, prosperity, and human rights."

"Authority and reason," argues West, have given way to "novelty and feelings." Youthful minds assert "I feel, therefore I am moral," creating an "ersatz morality." Emotional appeals, such as Biden's "who you love," sound more like lyrics to a rap song instead of a trailhead marking the slippery slope away from a thousands-year-old foundation of Western culture. Obama's new pro-gay-marriage rainbow, besides yielding a huge pot-o-gold from mega-donors, was drawn to encourage young voters to the polls -- with the revelation that his evolutionary views were shaped by recent conversations with his teenage daughters.”

Generally, liberals and progressives tend to rely upon emotion to push their agenda, while conservatives tend to rely more on pragmatism. Raising the minimum wage to theoretically provide a "living wage" to the poor sounds good, but the reality has generally been higher unemployment of the lower-wage-earners. And if raising the minimum wage is such a great thing why not raise it to 40 or 50 thousand per year?

Take the OWS gang that wants forgiveness of their college loans — loans they willing took to pay for in many cases a useless education. Now they expect the taxpayers to pay off these loans. So how do they go about this? They protest in the streets against the banks that made the loans not against the colleges that overcharged for their substandard education.

The president's re-election strategy is another example. Normally, an incumbent seeks re-election based upon his record and accomplishments. Not this time, apparently. Instead, the focus is to tap into people's emotions by trying to portray Gov. Romney as a cold-hearted businessman who enjoys firing people. The ads to this effect have thus far been based upon the emotional outpourings from former workers at one particular steel plant who lost their jobs under Bain Capital management when the steel plant went bankrupt. The reality is that Gov. Romney left Bain to oversee the Olympics two years before the bankruptcy in question; further, the facts are clear that Bain, under Romney, invested private funds in other steel companies that have thrived, even to this day. Even some liberals have come out in defense of Bain and private equity firms in general. Bain Capital's function was to make money for its investors and shareholders, not specifically to create jobs, and overall, the people at Bain did a good job of both. As in the private sector, there are sometimes companies and positions that just are not economically feasible to retain, and the same is likely very true of our bloated federal government. If Romney were president, the people would in effect be his investors and shareholders, and he should look at the government structure the same way. Upon which portrayal should voters view Romney: one based on limited emotional outpourings or a more complete, realistic review of the bigger picture?

Economist Walter Williams often writes about the analogy Bastiat’s Broken Window example something I have written about before. Williams states in a recent Townhall article:

“…It's not just disasters in Japan. After Florida's devastating 2004 hurricane, newspapers carried headlines such as "Storms create lucrative times." and "Economic growth from hurricanes could outweigh costs." Economist Steve Cochrane added, "It's a perverse thing ... there's real pain, but from an economic point of view, it is a plus."

Why might Japan's and Florida's devastation be seen as "pluses"? French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) explained it in his pamphlet "What is Seen and What is Not Seen," saying, "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen."

Bastiat elaborated further in his "Broken Window Fallacy" parable where a vandal smashes a shopkeeper's window. A crowd forms, sympathizing with the shopkeeper. Soon, someone in the crowd suggests that instead of a tragedy, there might be a silver lining. Instead of the boy being a vandal, he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town. Fixing the broken window creates employment for the glazier, who will then buy bread and benefit the baker, who will then buy shoes and benefit the cobbler and so forth.

Bastiat says that's what's seen. What is not seen is what the shopkeeper would have done with the money had his window not been smashed. He might have purchased a suit from the tailor. Therefore, an act that created a job for the glazier destroyed a job for the tailor. On top of that, had the property destruction not occurred, the shopkeeper would have had a suit and a window. Now he has just a window and as a result, he is poorer.”

This emotional portrayal of Gov. Romney is also a major campaign point, arguing that being a highly successful businessman is no qualification for being president. Gov. Romney, of course, also has executive experience as governor of a major state. he private sector is what drives our economy, and private-sector experience is logically a valuable asset. Yet if anyone dares to point out the reality that president Obama had lesser qualifications and no private-sector experience when elected in 2008 — his qualifications consisting of having been a community organizer in perhaps America's most corrupt city, state legislator in one of the most corrupt states, and a less than a one-term U.S. senator — such a person or entity is attacked as being focused on the past, hateful, or even racist.

Perhaps an even better insight into the tendency to use emotion as a political tool can be found in the political rhetoric based on focus groups. Words and phrases are chosen that are designed to appeal to people's emotions rather than their logic. For example, liberals no longer use the phrase "government spending," instead now calling it "investment." Instead of saying a budget proposal will raise taxes, they say it will be revenue-positive. In effect, revenue has become liberal code for taxes. This is part of an organized effort to disguise the reality of something most people oppose on a pragmatic level and make it more attractive on an emotional level. Is this just politics as usual? Yes, but it is essentially dishonest to the point of causing serious damage to our nation's economy.

Liberals and progressives like children live in cocoon. It's comfortable living in a cocoon — associating only with those who share your views, reading journalism and watching news that only reinforces them, avoiding those on the other side of the cultural divide.

Liberals have been doing this for a long time. In 1972, the movie critic Pauline Kael said it was odd that Richard Nixon was winning the election, because everyone she knew was for George McGovern.

Kael wasn't clueless about the rest of America. She was just observing that her own social circle was politically parochial and could see only one side of the political spectrum — the left. She could not fathom the thoughts, desires, and ambitions of those outside of her liberal, progressive circle in a part of the country liberals refer to as “fly over country.” In the mind of the progressive liberal these folks just don’t exist for anything more that feeding us and fighting our wars.

Michael Barone writes in Human Events that Cocooned liberals are unprepared for political debate:

“The rest of us have increasingly sought out comfortable cocoons, too. Journalist Bill Bishop, who lives in an Austin, Texas, neighborhood whose politics resemble Kael's, started looking at national data.

It inspired him to write his 2009 book "The Big Sort," which describes how Americans since the 1970s have increasingly sorted themselves out, moving to places where almost everybody shares their cultural orientation and political preference -- and the others keep quiet about theirs.

Thus professionals with a choice of where to make their livings head for the San Francisco Bay Area if they're liberal and for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (they really do call it that) if they're conservative. Over the years the Bay Area becomes more liberal and the Metroplex more conservative.

But cocooning has an asymmetrical effect on liberals and conservatives. Even in a cocoon, conservatives cannot avoid liberal mainstream media, liberal Hollywood entertainment and, these days, the liberal Obama administration.

They're made uncomfortably aware of the arguments of those on the other side. Which gives them an advantage in fashioning their own responses.

Liberals can protect themselves better against assaults from outside their cocoon. They can stay out of megachurches and make sure their remote controls never click on Fox News. They can stay off the AM radio dial so they will never hear Rush Limbaugh.

The problem is that this leaves them unprepared to make the best case for their side in public debate. They are too often not aware of holes in arguments that sound plausible when bandied between confreres entirely disposed to agree.”

Because liberals are unprepared for adult debate they fall back on emotional arguments and personal attacks. If you don’t believe me spend some time watching Fox News with their “fair and balanced” coverage and then watch MSNBC or CNN to see totally one-sided coverage of an issue with a panel of Pauline Kaels all agreeing with each other and attacking conservatives. Even it they do have a conservative on the show they will gang up on him or her in the manner of a gang of school yard bullies.

Simpson Continues:

“West referred to anthropologist Margaret Mead who described the "abdication of the adult": "When mothers cease to say, 'When I was a girl, I was not allowed...' and substitute the question, 'What are the other girls doing?' something fundamental has happened to the culture."

Peer approval greatly influences immature minds. It's the juvenile thinkers that call others names like "racist" and "birther" (and are especially fearful of being called such names themselves), protest with actual sticks and stones, and bully those who don't agree with them. Gray-haired ponytail types dominate college campuses, teaching groupthink to the next generation. Wrinkled fans esteem botoxed rock stars as political gurus, who twitter wisdom like: "If ROMNEY gets elected I don't know if I can breathe same air as Him & his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters."

Perpetual adolescents also feel entitled to believe that the world revolves around them instead of truth and reality. "Our first adolescent president" exemplified the value that lies are only bad when caught, and even then, supposedly grown-up Republicans accommodated childish arguments over the meaning of simple words and allowed Clinton to walk away unscathed. Incapable of rationally debating with adults, juvenile minds tend to react with emotional comebacks: "So why do you hate me?!" Sound familiar?

Saying "no" to children elicits the same responses as saying "no" in politics. And when conservatives say "no," their views are characterized as a "vast right-wing conspiracy," "hate," a "war against women," or flat-earth thinking. “

Today, of course, the mainstream media bewail how polarized the political landscape has become. They fret over the violent language, the dirty tricks, the lack of dialogue. But what they are fretting about is that there has over the past thirty years appeared a point of view that disagrees with the flocked ranks of Liberalism. It is the point of view held by 40 percent of the American people compared to their 21% with Republicans trending more conservative from 62 to 71 percent (according to a recent Gallup Poll). It is the point of view that has dominated politics since Ronald Reagan's election and gained emphasis since President Bill Clinton threw up his hands and said, "The era of big government is over." It was in retreat in the last years of George W. Bush and perhaps the first six months of President Obama, but now it is again gaining dominance throughout the land. The problem is, however, that no matter what the liberals decry the mainstream media has no place for conservative voices. For this you need to turn to print journalism or the Internet.

Ms. Simpson concludes:

“Tocqueville warned of the nanny state and the power of despotism as resembling "parental authority if, fatherlike, it tried to prepare its charges for a man's life but on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood."

Grown-ups see beyond the distractions and are despised by those who, as Robert Knight noted, "openly wish their opponents were dead. In the Washington Post, the far-left cartoonist Tom Toles showed a man holding a book in front of two men. He says, 'If anyone here objects to the marriage of these two men, speak up now because opponents are aging and dying off and soon won't matter anymore.' In the lower right corner, a man at a desk says, 'Is it okay to yell "hurry up"?'"

Restless and tired of "austerity," France elected the ice cream socialist who promised to expand, as Thomas Lifson described, "the welfare state even beyond the generous cradle to grave cocoon in which the French state lovingly wraps its citizens." While the majority apparently voted in "favor of heading straight for the fiscal cliff, pedal to the metal," wealthy French citizens are planning to get off the bus and head elsewhere, leaving the kids behind to ultimately realize (to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher): Socialism is great until daddy's wallet is empty, he moves away, or he can no longer provide because Toles et al urged him to hurry up and die -- and take his old-fashioned ideas with him.

To paraphrase West: Grown-ups must put an end to being taken for a ride by the kids in the backseat, and station real adults behind the wheel of our government. More than "stand athwart history, yelling stop" -- we must shift -- not always into "forward," but even reverse at times, to find our way back to the road that leads to the shining city on the hill.”

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