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A Political Quiz and Its Implications

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Let’s take a quiz, shall we? Only six questions. Try to answer as honestly as you can and jot your responses down.

1. How do you feel about political correctness?

  1. I think it’s value is way overblown. Occasionally, it may be right to call a spade a spade.
  2. Civility should be the rule of every polite conversation. There’s no sense, besides, letting strangers know what you really think.
  3. I have no use for it at all. I regard it a hindrance to honest dialogue and opening lines of communication.
  4. It’s a very useful social concept. It shows the extent to which our society has progressed.

2. What’s your view of liberal education? And do you think the parents should have a right to influence the curriculum at public schools?

  1. It all depends on the curriculum. Some course should be eliminated for being useless. But generally speaking, the Board of Education should decide.
  2. We had definitely had enough. The present bent of all public educators towards liberalism only corrupts our youth.
  3. I have full confidence in our public schools and liberal arts colleges. If the parents do their job at home, they have nothing to fear about the future of their young; each person should be free to decide what they want to do with their life.
  4. I think it’s perfectly all right for our children to get exposed to new ideas and vistas. They’ll have sense enough to ferret it all out among themselves.

3. Do you belong to any private clubs or associations? And do you believe they should be free to implement their membership requirements?

  1. I don’t personally, but I believe they should be free to do so within reason, as long as they’re not discriminatory.
  2. Yes, and we should keep it that way. A person has a right to associate in private with whomever he or she wants; discrimination is not even in question.
  3. I have no use for them. I meet with people who share the same interest as I, but it’s very informal. It’s not a club.
  4. All clubs and private associations are discriminatory by their very nature. They should all be abolished.

4. If your only son or daughter were of the mind to enlist in the Armed Forces or in the Peace Corps right after high school, which would you prefer and why?

  1. Peace Corps. It’s good experience.
  2. Armed Forces provided they be safe. It they apply themselves, it could lead to a career.
  3. I’d talk to them first about some college; then they could decide what they want to do.
  4. Definitely Peace Corps! The military is a corrupt organization, and no child of mine has any business being part of it.

5. How often do you associate with people of a different political persuasion and/or ways of life?

  1. Frequently enough! They don’t bother me at all.
  2. I have no use for them. I keep to people who think and believe as I do.
  3. It’s a challenge to be confronted with different points of view; that’s how we build bridges.
  4. I have no tolerance for people who are stupid and think only of themselves; they’re backward.

6. How comfortable are you to express your opinion in public when you know that most of the group would disagree?

  1. Somewhat comfortable.
  2. I avoid being with people who do not think like me. It’s a waste of time.
  3. Quite comfortable, especially if the issue is an important one!
  4. I have no problem expressing what I think, but sometimes I see no point. People don’t listen!

It's fairly obvious that one use of this set of questions is to determine your party affiliation and/or political persuasion. In general, answer "b" is indicative (roughly) of a conservative state of mind (and the Republican Party affiliation, if any); responses one, three and four (again roughly), of different degrees of a liberal mindset or leaning toward the Democrats. There’s another statistic, however, which is implicit in the aforementioned set of questions and answers: it pertains to one’s psychological traits/characteristics and/or their natural inclinations. Attitudinal studies are no longer in vogue — George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist, is one of the few to keep the tradition alive (see, for instance, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think) — but they’re just as important a measure of a person’s state of mind, I daresay, as those which aim at recording their expressed, more “objective” positions. In fact, they’re much more closely related that most people suppose. My purpose here to examine this relationship in some detail, especially as it pertains to our political beliefs.

Let me backtrack for a moment. I recently relocated to Kentucky from sunny California, and it’s been a culture shock. Apart from there being any lack of venues for socializing and meeting people -– the kind of amenities we all take for granted in any metropolitan area and the Bay Area in particular -– the few people I do meet, my own relations included, are of a definite conservative bent. It’s my first real exposure, you could say, to a “conservative mindset” not in any abstract or ephemeral sense but up close and personal. And let me tell you: it’s not a pretty picture.

Which leads me to a crucial distinction: we can’t equate our political positions or views that are acquired as a result of our life experiences, deliberation and rational processes with those that are inbred so to speak, a by-product of our upbringing, cultural milieu, etcetera, and which are rooted besides in our personality, character and emotional makeup. There is a world of difference between the two. The first-mentioned set of views may be quite sound in their articulation and conception and do full credit to their many exponents; the second is anything but. Oddly enough, neither side is immune to caricature here: there are as many inbred conservatives, I’m certain, as there are inbred liberals. It just so happens, however, that the conservative bent of mind lends itself to greater ridicule. Both are equally scary.

I'll cite one episode which literally opened my eyes and prompted this piece. We had visitors for Xmas, family mainly. Among them was my brother-in-law’s nephew along with his father and stepmother.

Joe is a bright 23-year-old. He has already done two hitches in Iraq, is presently on leave and in school for Apache-helicopter training. He’s a warrant officer, besides. With six or so years already under his belt, the next fourteen years of a military career should be a cinch. The pay is good — close to $4,000 a month as best I could surmise — and if he keeps his nose clean and stays out of harm’s way for the remainder of his term, he should retire before he reaches forty with full pension. Not a bad life, you say, for someone who can still supplement his income in a variety of ways: teaching helicopter flying or flying one yourself are the most obvious possibilities.

The problem is, he’s uneducated. Not an original idea in his head. Enlisted in the Navy at sixteen, then in the Marines. No further education to speak of. When I tried to engage him in a conversation during Xmas dinner, trying to open his vistas and make him think, his father intervened. He felt it was incumbent upon him to protect Joe, to save him from unsavory influence, from corruption that might set in.

These are our modern-day heroes. They take ‘em in early and indoctrinate them. The values of patriotism and serving one’s country are inculcated and may the devil take the rest. The supportive parents consent. They consider it a point of honor that their children might atone for their own perceived or imaginary failures or actualize their own latent and unrealized ambitions.

How sad! Wasted bodies and wasted minds! No, I don’t blame Joe at all! I blame his loving father for being so small and inconsiderate of his son’s welfare. It’s below petty. It’s criminal, I should say. To this day, I’m fuming over the fact. I think it’s abhorrent.

So where am I going with this? That we had better realize, and the sooner the better, that much of what we espouse so freely nowadays on the pages of this magazine or that blog, much of what we mouth off about, is nothing but rationalization of our sick minds — of our less-than-perfect upbringing and somewhat stunted development, I should say, of our basic emotional makeup; that it’s self-serving to say the least! So we had better be wary of this before we drag others into this spiral of flawed thinking colored by the need to justify ourselves in our own eyes. There’s too much at stake.

How do we get around the circumstances of our birth and upbringing which literally stifle us and brand us for life?

Obviously, we can’t change our parents, the place we grew up, or who we are. Psychologists tell us that by the time we reach five, we’re already well-formed and set for life. Certain character traits and predispositions are pretty much written in stone. We’re either introverted (more or less) or extroverted, timid or adventurous, practical or idealistic, shy or outspoken; and these are just some of the attitudinal traits which are part of our emotional makeup and which practically determine how we will feel, think and act.

The first step is to become aware of who we are and where we come from. Reflection and self-knowledge are always the first step for they presents us with options, with possibilities and choices heretofore undreamt of. The next stage is one of growth, and by that I mean emotional growth first and foremost, for there is no growth or maturity other than emotional maturity. There is a hierarchy to our emotions, from primitive or base to those which are finer and more noble, depending on the object toward which they’re directed. It’s at this point that human development can truly take place, for only then can we choose.

The thing to be aware of is that emotions always rule. The presumed conflict between emotions and reason is greatly exaggerated: only a few brave souls are truly exercised by it. Most of us take the easy way out and follow the path of least resistance by letting our emotions dictate what we'll say or do. Any rational or logical argument, besides, can be turned on its head. I have done it many a times, and so have you. Facts can be bent to reflect one’s state of mind or present inclination. Moreover, facts never convince!

“You have to win hearts before you can win minds!”

There is a deep truth to this saying and we had better pay heed. The trick is to get our emotions in order. Think nobly and highly and reason will follow.

I’d like to think on virtues — equality, justice, fairness, and yes — love! If you think on these things, you’re unlikely to go wrong. You may be off on a minor detail or two, nothing that Politics 101 couldn’t straighten out, but that’s no biggie. You’ll be right overall! In any case, I wouldn’t presume to try to reconstruct society along lesser lines; and I’m certain neither would you.

Long ago, I made a decision in my life that it is more high-minded and noble to be other-directed rather than self-directed, that taking the side of an underdog represents a more enlightened state of being. I haven’t always been true to this principle but I try. Unlike my many allies on the Left, however, I don’t presume to play God. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I think that my answers would instill peace and harmony in the Universe. Just like anybody else, I falter and I stumble. But at least my conscience is clear and my heart in the right place. And that’s good enough for me.

PS: You’re welcome to take rest of the quiz courtesy of Quizrocket. It’s similar in structure to the one I’d devised. They’ll text you with the results on your cell phone.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • Cindy D

    Hi Roger,

    The test seems a bit bias to me.

    Psychologists tell us that by the time we reach five, we’re already well-formed and set for life. Certain character traits and predispositions are pretty much written in stone.

    I don’t recall any that said that off hand. I thought that was a popular myth. Perhaps some philosopher thought that?

  • Cindy D

    By bias, for example, I mean look at, say #5 and #6. Both answers of “b” seem to me would apply just as much to either left or right.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    I was referring to a person’s emotional makeup more so than anything else. (I’ll look it up for you in psychological literature/journals and provide you with some references.)

    As to the “b” answer to questions 5 & 6, I think rather not. But I was getting at such characteristics of personality as “being open to new ideas,” for example I think the liberals by and large fall in that category more so than the conservatives; although it’s also true that many on the left can be equally intolerant of those who disagree with them.

    RN

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    The problem with the answers to the questions is that they are subjective and don’t necessarily match the experience of others or objective facts. There’s no real evidence to support an assertion that conservatives avoid associating with those who don’t think like them. I’ve certainly never seen that practice being followed. There’s much more evidence to support the trend of leftists trying to use the force of law and government to silence those who disagree with them or whose beliefs they classify as politically unacceptable.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    I think I agree with everything Dave said. Except his last biased sentence. Unless he’s including the religious right in the left.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dave,

    First off, I’m glad you’re taking Cindy off the hook. Kudos to you! It’d hate it if she were the only one to respond to this, I admit, rather provocative piece. I’ll explain my reason for saying this later, if of course the occasion for doing so will present itself.

    I’m not disputing the fact that the six questions I posed as part of so-called quiz (and the respective answers) are “subjective,” whatever that means. What I was trying to get at was personality traits not objectified so much in matters pertaining to politics per se (like dialogue, debate, etc.)but rather as regards such “small and insignificant” (some may say) things like person-to-person relations.

    To take the matter, for example, Cindy brought up in her queery, which I termed “being open to new ideas.” While I agree that the Left can be and often is as intolerant of dissent as the Right, the very definition is liberalism, being liberal, etc., turns precisely on some such openness to mind. The fact that the Left takes these ideas to extreme to the point of becoming intolerant is not a disproof as to what liberalism, as originally conceived, is or ought to be but only of its perversion.

    But to come to some of the personality traits I wished to delineate (again, in the area of person-to-person relations first);

    introversion vs extroversion
    secretiveness/ vs openness
    exclusiveness vs. inclusiveness
    pragmatism vs idealism
    timidity/shyness vs risk taking/adventurism

    That’s for starters. And I must qualify of course that it’s not just either/or. There is a continuum here. But to the extent that these traits are on the emotional level. they show up first in person-to-person relations and eventually spill over to political view and beliefs as well.
    So to take this line of reasoning, one could argue that if “the conservative mind” partakes of what may be called “underdeveloped personality,” the liberal mind an “overdeveloped one.”

    I didn’t want of course to be very explicit about it, so I couched the entire discussion in the questionnaire form; but that’s in essence I was getting at.

    Roger

  • zingzing

    well, i, for one, landed squarely where i should have, i suppose. i got 2 a’s, 2 c’s and 2 d’s. so i’m a typical, somewhat confused, liberal.

    and yeah, dave was right until that ridiculous last sentence. which is typical dave. make a point and then fuck it up with something insanely biased.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I think it was just a slip of tongue on Dave’s part, zingzing. So what, you didn’t score even one “b”? I think it’s rather good for “b” is a caricature of sorts.

    Are your conservative friends cliquish, zingzing, or are they not? How inclusive are they? And how do we know what they say behind closed doors? You know that political correctness had made its inroads into every camp, so we can’t tell anymore by what one says in public. I’d have no idea what they really think if it weren’t for the fact that I was accorded of late privileged access: my own family. The scary things is, they’re educated, but in and among themselves they talk like rednecks. Go figure!

  • zingzing

    no b’s. i’m about as liberal as they come, and feel good liberal guilt if a silly little conservative thought even enters my head. although i do like the idea of fiscal conservatism.

    anyway, i wouldn’t say i have any close friends who are conservative. i have old friends who have turned out to be so, but they aren’t people i hang around with that much, mostly because of physical distance or being in a different spot in life (like they’re married, have kids, don’t go out much, etc). and i live in a very liberal spot (brooklyn), so i don’t regularly run into them.

    but i have run into conservatives here (literally) and there (now and again), and i don’t find them to be particularly closed-minded against people who don’t think like them. lots of my extended family is conservative. my dad even votes that way, but that’s just for monetary reasons. sometimes, we just don’t talk about it.

    that said, a friend of a friend recently came up from georgia to visit here in new york. and he is highly conservative. but he’s also very intelligent and has well thought-out views. his religion informs some of those views, but i could never accuse him of intolerance.

    i think that you only get those non-inclusive conservatives when you mix conservatism with ignorance. there is a certain breed of conservative that is only such because they have no real understanding of the world, or have never been exposed to it. the only possible explanation for the stereotypical redneck conservative is that they just don’t know any better.

    not to say that their culture has no worth. it’s just not worth much is all.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Well, I find it kind of disconcerting when a professional, a PhD and all that, points to a poorer part of town and refers to it as “low life.” They wouldn’t dare to say that in California, I think, or other parts of the country. So their “freedom” to talk like that comes with the territory. And it’s especially unattractive when they’re in a group. Then, even those who don’t exactly think so crudely are more or less forced to “play the game” – the herd mentality at its worst. Of course, places like NY and the like are exceptional in a way: you can’t help being exposed to anybody and everybody. So in a way, I am identifying crude conservatism with ignorance – a kind of homophobia.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    I think I agree with everything Dave said. Except his last biased sentence. Unless he’s including the religious right in the left.

    Actually, I would class many on the so-called religious right with the left. If they were motivated by something other than religion their beliefs would be indistinguishable from many left-leaning advocacy groups. I find the positions of someone like Mike Huckabee to be utterly incompatible with conservatism or liberalism, which leaves him on the political left as far as I can tell.

    While I agree that the Left can be and often is as intolerant of dissent as the Right, the very definition is liberalism, being liberal, etc., turns precisely on some such openness to mind. The fact that the Left takes these ideas to extreme to the point of becoming intolerant is not a disproof as to what liberalism, as originally conceived, is or ought to be but only of its perversion.

    Roger, your problem here is in assuming that the American left is liberal. It is not. The American left is no more liberal than the Stalinists or the British Labour Party. Socialism is inherently illiberal and communism even more so. Marx saw liberals as his natural enemies. Now, some people in the Democratic party are indeed liberals, but hardly all of them, and often only on selected issues.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Dave,

    I guess I shouldn’t be using “the Left” terminology in this discussion because I am more interested in the liberal-conservative contrast (as to mindset) than anything else. So you’re right in that this usage obfuscates the discussion, as regards “intolerance,” for example.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    In light of that, I must add, however, that “the Left,” such as it exists today, had evolved from form(s) of liberalism; and that in itself is an interesting development.

  • zingzing

    you’re far too deep inside your own definitions, dave. i’m not a communist, nor even particularly a socialist, although i do believe that there is some common good to be found in some socialist ideas.

    those, in america, who define themselves as “liberal” aren’t working from your definition of the term. you acknowledge this. so stop using your definition of the term as if it was some weapon against those who define themselves as such.

    the religious right is intolerant, sometimes racist and opposed to sex (in myriad ways). those are things that the typical american “liberal” would oppose. so, i’m sure you’d say, is the typical “conservative.” but it must be said that the religious right is aptly named. they are a faction of the right. it’s bleedin’ obvious to most of us that they exist on the right side of the spectrum.

    i would have to say that a majority of my political leanings do lean to the left. but i would also have to say that mike huckabee is pretty damn far away from me. he’s fairly right-winged. if you say that he’s “on the political left as far as I can tell,” i’m wondering if you can really judge what you’re seeing. or maybe you’re just unsure of where you stand. in a lot of ways, you’re not on the right. you move to the left in a number of ways, but claim some sort of allegiance to the right, probably because you agree with them on a few “key” issues.

    if you compare the american left to “stalinists,” you’ve OBVIOUSLY gone a little far. you know as well as i do that the “left” and “right” mean something far different from what they do in soviet russia and the uk. we’re not in 1945, and we’re not 1,500 miles away.

    far as i can tell, you don’t follow the right’s “party line” of anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-gay, religious nonsense. you are a bit pro-war and very much pro-guns. and you are against any sniff of socialism, which you seem to immediately label as some giant leap into communism–which is typical of the right.

    but how much nonsense can you take from the right? so they protect your right to guns and pretend to not tax you as much… the constitution protects your rights to guns (god knows why) and you can always find a loophole for your taxes. communism is a million miles away, and whatever low-level socialism comes about will probably benefit you.

    combat that with the fact that 10% of our nation still exists as if they didn’t. and that a woman’s right to choose could be legislated against. and that america’s promise to the world could be forgotten. and that we could have our morality written into law. and that we’re stuck in two stupid wars that will only cause more wars.

    i think you just want the left to play to your few proclivities that are right-leaning, but we won’t. so you say we’re as bad as the soviets and we want to put you in a gulag. bullshit.

    you’re just not ready to admit it. you’re a leftist with issues.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I’ll just let you guys fight it out. Only want to say that perhaps we can no longer speak of “the Left” as though it represented one cohesive view: they’re surely are splinters and factions, etc. The Democrat Party, anyway, is a coalition party around many different issues. The ideologies at work also in all likelihood cannot be subsumed under one all-inclusive category.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    A conditional:

    “But to the extent that “the Left” is intolerant of any kind of dissent and verges on fanaticism, then it does resemble the hard-core Stalinism, etc.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    “and you are against any sniff of socialism, which you seem to immediately label as some giant leap into communism–which is typical of the right”

    Because of fear (of change) or just a tactic?

  • zingzing

    nah, cuz they’re stuck in the cold war as their money-making machine and cozy fantasy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Just a profit motive, then.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Which makes them by definition corrupt, selling the country a program under false pretenses!

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I am more interested in the liberal-conservative contrast (as to mindset) than anything else. So you’re right in that this usage obfuscates the discussion, as regards “intolerance,” for example.

    But liberalism and conservatism are not opposed concepts. We are a liberal society. To be liberal IS to be conservative.

    In light of that, I must add, however, that “the Left,” such as it exists today, had evolved from form(s) of liberalism; and that in itself is an interesting development.

    Not exactly true. The left as it exists today owes far more to populism than it does to liberalism, and while they generally accept a liberal position on some prominent aspects of social policy, their position on other issues, especially those having to do with the nature and structure of government owe more to populism, and populism is usually not very liberal at all.

    Zing is so far in denial about what the left in America is all about and how the lines between left and right have become blurred that I’ll need to come back after some sleep to try to help him out.

    But think about this. If you take Mike Huckabee’s beliefs and replaced all of the religious dogma with similar dogma about ‘social justice’ how would you be able to tell him apart from a typical ‘progressive’? Both of them are willing to use the force of government to make us all conform to their particular model of society with little regard for our rights.

    That’s where I draw the line between liberal and authoritarian (its real opposite). If you are willing to use government to dictate the lifestyle or behavior of others, then you are not a liberal. And that very definitely includes the forced redistribution of wealth.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    “If you take Mike Huckabee’s beliefs and replaced all of the religious dogma with similar dogma about ‘social justice’ how would you be able to tell him apart from a typical ‘progressive’? ”

    that’s like saying if you replaced “god” with “sex,” you couldn’t tell the difference between the pope and madonna. you can’t replace the most important part of an argument with its opposite then ask how it differs. but where i agree with huckabee, i’d agree with him. it doesn’t matter if he’s left or right on certain issues, it just depends where he stands. but he’s far right of me, i can assure you.

    “Both of them are willing to use the force of government to make us all conform to their particular model of society with little regard for our rights.”

    that’s ridiculous. i’m not willing to use the government to make anyone conform. i’m certainly more willing to make the government say we DON’T have to conform to whatever the government seems to want. and i would say that those on the right have been, recently for sure, trying to restrict rights rather than guarantee them… see prop 8. see gitmo. see wire-tapping.

    “And that very definitely includes the forced redistribution of wealth.”

    what the fuck are you talking about? taxes? what tiny bit of our taxes go towards social causes is absolutely minuscule compared to what we shell out to the fucking military. we’re nowhere near “the forced redistribution of wealth.”

    you seem to have some idea that the left (but never the right) is some big ideological block. you must know that that’s a pretty foolish way of looking at things. if you conflate leftism with authoritarianism, which is what i see you trying to do, you obviously have no clue where i’m coming from, much less a majority of the left.

    your view is so skewed, it’s amazing that YOU even think it’s right. if it’s not that, it’s straight up paranoia. (and if i were you, i’d look in the other direction, libertarian.)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    All governments, regardless of their political orientation, “dictate the lifestyle or behavior of others”. It goes with the territory and it is hard to imagine how a government could not do that.

  • Cindy D

    Best Quote of 2009:

    that’s like saying if you replaced “god” with “sex,” you couldn’t tell the difference between the pope and madonna.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    “But liberalism and conservatism are not opposed concepts. We are a liberal society. To be liberal IS to be conservative.”

    Tell it to Rush Limbaugh, Dave, or any of the other talk-show host. They’ll laugh it off.”
    And if what you’re saying is true, then they’ve been misleading their flock

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    And for you to say that “we are a liberal society” as though an indication of what the actual ideological contrast is it to play on words.

    If we are a “liberal society,” it is because and due to our democratic traditions and certain guaranteed rights – freedom of speech, of assembly, and so on; whereas the liberal- conservative contrast is a horse of another color.

    Roger

  • Cindy D

    But think about this. If you take Mike Huckabee’s beliefs and replaced all of the religious dogma with similar dogma about ‘social justice’ how would you be able to tell him apart from a typical ‘progressive’? Both of them are willing to use the force of government to make us all conform to their particular model of society with little regard for our rights.

    Why would you think one needs dogmatic beliefs to focus on social justice issues? You yourself are focused on social justice issues Dave. Gay rights is a social justice issue.

    Why, for example, would you want to, through government law, push your own “pro-homosexual agenda” onto everyone?

    I think zing makes a point about your discomfort.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Anything can be subject to dogma, Cindy. That has to do with how one stands in relationship to his/her beliefs. “The Left” has been known to be dogmatic on any number of issues.

    Which isn’t to say I disagree with you on principle. Such ideals as “social justice” – as ambiguous notion is it is, a kind of buzz word – ought not to be a matter of dogma but should flow from one’s sense of what’s right or wrong.

    \

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    I agree and I don’t dispute that. But I want to challenge Dave on his specific view not some general assumption either he or I am making.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    “Both of them are willing to use the force of government to make us all conform to their particular model of society with little regard for our rights.”

    “that’s ridiculous. i’m not willing to use the government to make anyone conform. i’m certainly more willing to make the government say we DON’T have to conform to whatever the government seems to want.”

    I happen to disagree with you on this (perhaps minor) point. And that fact that you don’t is commendable. But insofar as tactics are concerned the difference may be only of degree.

    Everybody wants to have it their way (human nature), so the tactics are similar: the ends justify the means.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    The “conservative” / “liberal” dichotomy doesn’t seem to be very useful. Just as an experiment, though, how would you label these folks:

    Venezuelan President Chavez
    Cuba’s Fidel Castro
    Colombian President Uribe
    Speaker Pelosi
    President Elect Obama
    Former Vice President Gore

    There are many others, but that may be a useful start.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Why, for example, would you want to, through government law, push your own “pro-homosexual agenda” onto everyone?

    See, there you miss the point entirely. My position is not to force homosexuality on anyone, merely to allow those who practice it to do so freely and with equal rights. That’s very different from those who want to restructure society by redistributing wealth or who want to limit free speech on the airwaves, policies which impact everyone involuntarily, while gay marriage really effects only those who are gay and get married.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Correct, Dan. Perhaps it doesn’t reflect any more the major division(s) in our society (although it’s not yet quite out of whack so as to appear incongruous to the ear).

    Which poses a problem? How do we characterize the nature of our dispute?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dave,

    I think that any form of taxation is redistribution of wealth. Not taxing “capital gains” is just as much a case of it as any other form. It just so happens that those who feel are being screwed cry wolf. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    See, there you miss the point entirely.

    Nope.

    My position is not to force homosexuality on anyone, merely to allow those who practice it to do so freely and with equal rights.

    Yes. I was being ironic.

    That’s very different from those who want to restructure society by redistributing wealth or who want to limit free speech on the airwaves, policies which impact everyone involuntarily, while gay marriage really effects only those who are gay and get married.

    My position is not to force people to accept a system that insists they have no voice to change anything and that takes away their individual rights and power.

    I want to allow those who want to change the government, to be able to speak about doing so freely and with equal rights to be heard in media.

    That’s very different from those who want to maintain the structure of society by redistributing wealth upwards.

    The dominating culture affects everyone’s rights to effect community change.

  • Cindy D

    involuntarily…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    Back in April, I wrote an article suggesting that the word “liberal” be consigned to the trash heap as confusing and therefore meaningless. I then suggested “leftist” as a superior alternative, but I am far from confident that it is any more meaningful. Then, I suggested

    I elect to use the word “liberal” to connote an open but not empty mind, a tendency to encourage the expression of opposing views, to listen attentively to them, and to desire to become familiar with them regardless of whether they are agreeable. It suggests a rational rather than a dogmatic approach to reality. A “liberal” in this sense can also be conservative; a conservative can, by the same token, be a “liberal;” there is no contradiction in terms.

    Although this is my preference, I try very hard not to use the word at all, because the meaning(s) it conveys is (are) not what I intend. Instead, it seems better to use the words “leftist,” which perhaps has less historical baggage and better conveys what is most often meant by “liberal.”

    Words such as “dog” have readily understandable meanings, upon which most can agree and the use of which can therefore be unambiguous. This is true although there are many different types of dog. The word, as used, is neither excessively inclusive nor exclusive. We know, for example, that there is more to the meaning of “dog” than a quadruped mammal with a tail. Were that the definition, my horses would be dogs.

    Precision of speech is necessary for successful communication, and the word “liberal” is no longer sufficiently precise to convey an idea. The same is probably true of “conservative.” That’s why I suggested the experiment of attempting to label the well known folks listed in Comment #31.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    “The dominating culture affects everyone’s rights to effect community change . . .”

    Are the sensibilities of the majority of the populace, Cindy, “the dominating culture”? If so, then enacting “gay marriage” in all states of the union would effect and impact all those who are offended thereby.

    Just asking!

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    This is the best short definition I’ve found:

    Dominant Culture – Whereas traditional societies can be characterized by a high consistency of cultural traits and customs, modern societies are often a conglomeration of different, often competing, cultures and subcultures. In such a situation of diversity, a dominant culture is one that is able, through economic or political power, to impose its values, language, and ways of behaving on a subordinate culture or cultures. This may be achieved through legal or political suppression of other sets of values and patterns of behaviour, or by monopolizing the media of communication.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    We’re on the same page here, Dan. But it goes to show how serious this problem is when you have to resort to a paragraph or two in order to convey the meaning. All labels, anyway, in any kind of ideological dispute are simplistic by their very nature and the intent: to reduce the opposition to a kind of stereotype. So apart from the natural process whereby all terms of natural language undergo however slight change of meaning(s) over time, there is an added problem here because of the subject matter.

  • Baronius

    So I’m apparently 83% liberal.

    I think that Roger loses track of the distinction between political liberalism/conservatism and mental liberalism/conservatism. He says that political libs can be dogmatic, but nowhere points out that political cons can think liberally. Even the formulation is questionable: he associates dogmatism with conservatism.

    I normally despise “what is a con/lib” discussions, but sometimes it’s worth reviewing. American political conservatism tends toward individuality, militarism, and Christian social mores. American political liberalism tends toward statism, pacifism, and Enlightenment social mores. Neither political tradition lacks development.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    So you’re using it to refer to a dominant group or coalition of individuals. Would that include their opinions, beliefs and sensibilities?

  • Cindy D

    Yes.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I admit that I have never heard of that distinction, Baronius. How would you classify Edmund Burke, for example, or William F. Buckley.
    Do you mean exponents of conservative thought?

  • Cindy D

    It also includes their interpretation of the subordinate groups.

    Their interpretation is what is heard and recorded. The subordinate groups are marginalized and often misconstrued.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Then I would have to say, Cindy, that one (major) reason why “gay marriage” is still an issue because it’s not part yet of the accepted mores in our society. Once it becomes accepted, the issue will disappear. Would you agree?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    No argument as to #45.

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    I would agree yes. But my point goes beyond that.

  • Cindy D

    Gayness is not a threat to people in power.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    There are so many air waves available for radio transmission. Communication is an important feature of any society. Free speech and the ability to have one’s views heard.

    If a corporation gets to decide what will be communicated, how is that serving community member’s views? Do we only need the views of the majority? What if the majority has been indoctrinated to a particular view?

    I don’t want to silence Rush Limbaugh. I just want more dissenting opinions. Of course they are not popular. They won’t serve the corporate bottom line. It doesn’t mean they are not valid or that we don’t need them heard.

    I’m not sure if I’m being clear enough. I guess I’ll find out.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Does Dave really hold these views? I haven’t seen it, Cindy.

    Apropos your larger point (#49), of course. But I was addressing the question in the specific context provided by Dave – in that passing gay rights legislation on the Federal level at this point in time would not affect anyone else.

    The point really is that any struggle for rights on the part of the minorities is always a long and arduous process until, that is, the accepted mores will accommodate the divergent view. That’s all!

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    It depends in what you mean by Dave’s views. Which ones?

    I don’t give a hoot about the accepted mores of society. Any more than I care about what a wishy-washy “God” decided to be for or against today–as explained by way of one of “his” various spokespeople.

    I don’t support “society’s” mores being imposed on people. Society’s mores decide whether being gay is in vogue this year, whether blacks are people this century.

  • Cindy D

    …any struggle for rights on the part of the minorities is always a long and arduous process until, that is, the accepted mores will accommodate the divergent view.

    Let’s assume for just a moment I accept that as written. Then I would say–unless the divergent view is perceived as dangerous to the powerful. In that case it will be crushed.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Can anyone help me here? When I googled “mental conservatism,” I was led to such topics as “Pathologizing Conservatism,” “Is Conservatism A Mental Disorder?” etc. I’m certain Baronius didn’t mean that in #41.

    And what about “political cons thinking liberally” ? Any examples out there, except for instances of “thinking liberally” on this or that issue? Mind you, I’m not interested here about what they think behind closed doors.

    As to being dogmatic, I said it’s mostly a matter of one’s stance with respect to his or her beliefs: it’s not determinable solely by virtue of the cognitive content of the opinion or doxa; so any kind of belief is potentially dogmatic. For it not to be dogmatic, it must be informed in a certain way.

    Finally, I don’t believe I was equating conservatism with dogmatism. But I must admit that conservative leanings (if we stay true to definition, e.g., resistance to change, Burke, for example) are more prone to dogmatic stronghold than liberal ones. Am I totally off the wall here?

  • Baronius

    Roger, I thought that your article was trying to make the point I made in comment #41, but just lost its way. If not, then I have no idea what your article was about.

    I’ve never read any Burke. Buckley embodied the fruits of a liberal arts education. He was literate, intellectually dynamic, and an expert in a wide range of subjects. If you think that his views on tax policy indicate that he was something less than fully actualized, then I think there’s something wrong with your socio-political understanding.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    But Cindy, whether or not they’re being imposed on us from without or within, it’s a fact. A society is not unlike a growing organism, hopefully for the better.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Not at all, Baronius. I have great respect for the man and his views. I was merely hypothesizing about cruder version(s).

    When I see intelligent and educated persons reduce themselves to the level of rednecks, I have to ask myself any number of questions. Why?

    If their education and exposure is not guarantee enough of their sliding back, then what are the fundamental forces which drive them to do so. And given further that they’re not idiosyncratic, deranged or any of the above, and in the absence, furthermore, of any intimate knowledge of their personal history, I must conclude that the forces at work are primitive indeed.

    So what could they be? Fear and sense of impotence as the new world is unfolding. To an extent. But what comes to mind first and foremost are basic emotions (and I’m including here also, basic values inculcated at birth).

  • Cindy D

    …it’s a fact.

    Yes it is. And in my life it will probably always be. But, I figured recently, I can stop accepting it. There is a tiny bit of hope in the air for changes of all kinds. I have never seen that in my life. It’s very empowering.

  • Clavos

    Cindy @ #50:

    I don’t want to silence Rush Limbaugh. I just want more dissenting opinions. Of course they are not popular. They won’t serve the corporate bottom line.

    Which is exactly the problem with reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Talk radio is a commercial enterprise. As such, it’s there to make a profit, and forcing commercial stations to carry liberal viewpoints to “counterbalance” the conservatives such as Limbaugh, is not commercially viable, as the fiasco of Air America demonstrated.

    What will likely happen under the Fairness Doctrine is that radio station operators will simply get out of the political talk show business if they are forced to carry unprofitable programming. there will still be talk radio, but the programming will be non-political, effectively silencing all on-the-air political discussion.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Of course change will come. It always does, but it takes time. A society must grow into maturity.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Very good point, Clavos. It’s easy for Rush Limbaugh and the like to be bufoonish (and entertaining at the same time) because he commands that kind of audience. Serious political discussion is not entertainment but involves hard thinking.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    The following is perhaps the clearest statement of my thesis, addressing the ideological underpinnings of our political beliefs:

    “That unless those beliefs are informed by a deliberate choice, they’re in danger of being dogmatic.”

    Roger

  • Baronius

    Roger, I believe that your article assumes a connection between (1) the “conservative mindset” (which is what I was referring to as mental conservatism), (2) political conservatism, and (3) lack of education or intellect. Am I mistaken?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    I think I may have discovered a litmus test useful for labeling “Liberals” and “Conservatives.” Those who think this is funny are “Conservatives,” while those who are offended are “Liberals.” Of course, the validity of the test is probably less than sixty percent.

    The Heaviest Element Known to Science

    Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

    The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

    These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

    Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

    Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

    In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

    This characteristic of morons promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

    When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    I do want to stick to a distinction between inherited and acquired views. If by #1 you mean actually thought-through individual positions, OK; we’re in agreement. Then #2 designates, I take it, a kind of political program by a political party or any faction thereof, as by the Neocons, let’s say.

    As to #3, I’m bipartisan. “Ignorance” has no favorites. You’ll find it everywhere you look (although it’s more at home, I daresay, with any kind of resistance, to change, progress, etc., and I don’t use these terms euphemistically).

    I guess what I’m getting it is a kind of “false consciousness” that is privy to both the Left and the Right.

    Needless to say, our movers and shakers are not included in that category. They use ideology to their own end. And to use something for any purpose whatever is to be aware of the facts of the case.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    You must be kidding. Anyone who doesn’t think this is funny is off his rocker. I wish, however, we had someone like Jonathan Swift around (A Modest Proposal) to see the absurdity of it all.

  • Mark Eden

    So, Roger, let’s see if I’ve got your point.

    Your method for keeping your heart in the right place and keeping your conscience clear is to cultivate those emotions that you feel when you think about equality, justice, fairness, and love. You would like other people to apply this method.

    What did I miss?

    Mark

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    Who? Me? Kidding? No way. I never kid about serious stuff. Ergo, you must be “Conservative.”

    I doubt that more than a couple of the people mentioned in an earlier comment,

    Venezuelan President Chavez
    Cuba’s Fidel Castro
    Colombian President Uribe
    Speaker Pelosi
    President Elect Obama
    Former Vice President Gore,

    would find it at all funny.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I’m glad you’re jumping in, Mark.

    I don’t know exactly in what spirit your remarks are meant, but in a nutshell, that’s it: we are (or become) what we behold. And yes, I would definitely recommend that all and everybody alike. I can’t think of more worthwhile or more deserving objects of pursuit other than those I had mentioned. But I’m always open to suggestions.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Then I think it’s their problem!

  • zingzing

    so, dan, you’re saying that liberals like big government? i don’t think being a liberal has much to do with the government. i know that, for me, the government has little to do with why i’m a liberal. it’s more about society. so i think the joke is a little off-base. of course it’s funny and it’s clever, in a damn obvious way, but it doesn’t really hit on any fundamental truth about liberals or conservatives.

    conservatives just like to think that liberals like big government and high taxes. but the majority of us don’t. big government and/or high taxes mean less money in the wallet. no one wants that. i would admit that liberals find more worth in giving up their money for whatever they consider justifiable governmental spending… at least they find more justifiable causes. but we like our money as much as you do. maybe even more, because we generally have less of it.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Why Zing, you sound like you might actually almost be a real liberal and not just a leftist.

    Now, just admit that the government party does not actually represent those liberals who don’t think big government is a good thing, and we’re making real progress.

    Where does a small-government liberal fit in the political process these days? Certainly the Democrats don’t even attempt to represent him? And if he believes in civil rights and individual liberty the far-left is actively hostile to him.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    Been thinking about that. I need more time.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    Since you happen to be here anyway. I thought I’d mention that I think you’ll duck my questions.

    :-)

  • zingzing

    yes, dave, i’m a liberal. i’m on the left side of the spectrum. but i’m not part of the government.

    of course the leftist side of the government doesn’t perfectly represent me. the government never could. only i can represent myself accurately. the democratic party sure does represent me better than the nasty old gop though.

    i wouldn’t call myself a “small government liberal.” the government never gets smaller anyway. look at what the last republican president did… i just don’t want the huge bureaucracy to get any bigger. but as our society becomes more and more complex, that’s just what’s going to happen. we think of new things to track every day. and so we do. doesn’t mean i have to like it. but it really doesn’t affect my life that much. and it doesn’t really affect yours either. it’s just if it gets totally out of control that we have to worry. maybe you see it as totally out of control already.

    but like i said, “government” doesn’t really play into my reasons for being a liberal. and that said, the republicans are not better at “small government” than the dems are. they just like to pretend they are.

    i believe in civil rights and individual liberty. and i think that it’s the republicans that have been trampling all over those rights, at least as much as the government can. any government that even hints at trying to take away those things will find itself out of office very quickly. which is why we have such a heavily democratic government coming in in january. so i think it’s the right wing that is “actively hostile” towards my beliefs. which is why i am left wing…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Re comments # 64, 68, 71, 72, and 75

    My whole point was (and is) that the “liberal” and “conservative” labels as they are currently and widely (mis)used are essentially meaningless. Perhaps I shall simply refer to those who agree with me as “geps” and to those who disagree as “beps.” At least then I would have some notion of what I mean.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    I’m impressed….

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Cindy, I’ve been busy responding to conspiracy nuts on other threads. I wasn’t even aware you had questions. I’ll look for them, but why this odd obsession with interrogating me?

    Dave

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    For the record, I’m with Dan in #37. And in a more general sense I’m with Edmund Burke, who encapsulates the liberalism on which our nation was based more than any other single philosopher.

    Maybe we should start calling ourselves “Burkians”.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    No problem. Don’t answer anything you don’t want.

    I only wanted to clearly understand a viewpoint that is opposed to mine. You’ve generally been responsive.

    Change your mind at any time.

  • Cindy D

    Btw, don’t let me interfere in your conspiracy theorist project. some of those people you attract scare me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    So let’s start there, Dave. Otherwise, the whole project is ridiculous, like throwing one’s hands up in the air.

    It reminds me of a complaint by a philosopher that all terms of ordinary language are vague and ambiguous, which led then to a misguided effort to invent artificial language.

    So let’s re-invent some terms if we must, or at least re-define them. Otherwise, this discussion is going nowhere.

  • Cindy D

    “Otherwise, this discussion is going nowhere.”

  • Cindy D

    Not an uncommon phenomenon.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Do you want me to respond to this?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Sorry! Ignore my stupid remark.

  • Cindy D

    Please do.

  • Cindy D

    I could use some insight.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Sorry, Cindy

    I’m getting totally frustrated. My stupid little piece doesn’t even turn on definitions of liberalism, conservatism, etc., or the extent to which they apply or do not apply in modern political discourse. It concerns, rather, the ideological underpinnings of belief systems in general. Now they throw up a stumbling block. I wouldn’t mind doing some homework, but I am not going to reread the history of liberalism from John Stuart Mill onward. As I said, I can do my bit, but others have got to do their part too.
    So how about it, Dave and company? Any takers?

  • REMF(MCH)

    “I’ll look for them, but why this odd obsession with interrogating me?”
    – Dave Nalle

    If he seems a little paranoid, Cindy D, keep in mind he lives in a fortified compound.

  • Cindy D

    I thought your effort was worthwhile Roger.

    Sorry you aren’t a conspiracy theorist or someone else who is worthy of engagement.

    Thanks for that chapter. Is the first book published? One chapter at a time is worse than murder :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    That’s funny!

  • Cindy D

    REMF,

    What does MCH mean?

    I keep wondering that. :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    I hope your second sentence/paragraph is tongue in cheek. Please say so or I’ll shoot myself.
    As to the other matter, you don’t want me to email you the whole thing, do you? Be serious.

  • Mark Eden

    I don’t understand your frustration, Roger. Where were you hoping the discussion would lead?

    Mark

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    How am I supposed to find out what happens otherwise? It’s very intriguing, to me. If you have the whole thing, e-mail it. But, I hate to cut in to a person’s personally earned income. I’d buy it to find out the end. Is it for sale?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    No expectations as to the piece, Mark. I said what I wanted to say and that’s it. It’s rather that I’m almost being made feel inadequate by virtue of the fact that terms like “liberalism” or “liberal,” I’m being reminded, no longer carry the full meaning they once used to.

    As I related in my earlier remark to Cindy, I could do some homework, reread an old book or two, but I do not exactly fancy the idea of reviewing the history and evolution of these meanings for the last two hundred and fifty years. If that’s what some want to do, fine, I’ll participate. But they’ve got to their part too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Don’t be ridiculous, Cindy. What income are you talking about? I never really submitted it to anyone except to Nancy G, whom I presumably have murdered. Of course, she freaked out and I don’t
    blame her.

    I’ll do it tomorrow!

  • Cindy D

    Never trust someone you’ve already murdered. I think that is some sort of aphorism somewhere.

    :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    You still didn’t answer my question in #94, Cindy. Was it tongue in cheek or not?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t know about it being an aphorism or not, but sound like a good line from a Raymond Chandler novel. Do you like him, by the way?

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    I submitted the article (I think) I have no idea how this works. I have two videos that I didn’t include and a photo or two. It didn’t ask me about multimedia.

    I hope I’m not grilling you too much. I want the article to be presented with my intention.

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    This one?

    Sorry you aren’t a conspiracy theorist or someone else who is worthy of engagement.

    I was pissed off at Dave. I’m not his wife after all. Nor am I some sort of (what do you call a person who harasses people?)–that.

    I have more respect for Dave than he does for me. I guessed conspiracy people were easier for him to discuss things with.

    (I was sorta pissed off. But who the hell cares? Don’t let anyone shut you up.)

    If it’s not the one you mean let me know.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Yes, and I didn’t really think you meant I wasn’t worthy of engagement.

    Anyways, good luck with your piece. I’m going to watch another Woody Allen movie (for the umpteenth time) and will email the stuff tomorrow.
    Manana

  • Cindy D

    ooops :-)

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    Regarding Raymond Chandler. No. I’ve not read his novels (though I know who he is). But, I am a avid fan of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series.

    I love mystery fiction. Yours puts a very nice and unusual twist on it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Cindy, you really must get acquainted with Chandler, particularly because you enjoy Parker’s Spenser, who owes so much to Chandler’s Marlowe. (It’s no coincidence that both detectives are named after Elizabethan playwrights!)

    I’m amazed you’ve never read him. It’s like not having read Shakespeare. I’m serious. Get thee to a library! :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    “The Big Sleep” is a good start, Cindy. And it reads like film noir.

    I’m glad we have crime fiction aficionados on this website besides Cindy. Maybe there’s still hope for this world. And this time I am checking out for tonight.

    Adios

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Cindy, I hope I haven’t shown you any marked disrespect. I certainly respect you a great deal more than many of the folks I run into in blogland. I just don’t always see that much of interest in answering these questions, which seem to be going over old ground.

    I’ll see if your article has appeared yet.

    Dave

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    It’s there, but it’s still in Draft mode. If you’re done with it, put it in Pending so we know.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    I emailed the stuff you requested.
    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here is a link to an article by Dennis Prager which, I think, cuts to the chase on the “Liberal”/”Conservative” dichotomy. It contrasts the quite “Liberal” philosophy of Professor Alan Dershowitz in most matters with his vocal support of Israel in the present conflagration, rare among those categorized as “Liberals.” Here is a link to the Dershowitz article referenced in Prager’s analysis. Beyond noting that Prager questions how a staunch “Liberal” can advocate with vigor the morality of the Israeli air and land offensive in Gaza, which is usually deemed a “Conservative” cause, I won’t attempt to summarize either the Dershowitz article or the Prager article; both are well worth reading.

    How does this relate to Roger’s article? I think the answer is obvious, but you figure it out.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    No real disrespect Dave. I am just genuinely interested in understanding your ideas. I guess I was too enthusiastic.

    Thanks for the info on the article. I’ll try to figure it out.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Thanks, Dan. I’ll definitely look it up. I don’t fancy rereading all the classics, although it will never hurt to look ’em up now and then. I’ve done enough of that in graduate schools and most of it have forgotten.

  • Cindy D

    Dr.D,

    Spenser is my favorite character partly because he’s a feminist. What a wonderful thing. Some reviews in Amazon have complaints from men who don’t like this.

    I’ll try a Chandler. Maybe the one Roger suggested. I steered away from the “hard-boiled” genre.

    BTW, how the hell did Christopher get 200 million dollars? I was a bit jealous when you came up with 2 million more than me. Then Christopher posts and we both look like we’re from the poor side of town. It makes me wonder if that isn’t why rich people can never have enough. There’s always someone with more.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    There is no need to reread all, or even any, of the classic expositions of “Liberalism” or, for that matter, “Conservatism” to determine the current connotations of the words. That would be about as useful as looking back to the meaning of “gay” a few decades ago to extrapolate the current meaning. Whatever nexus could be found would be quite tenuous. At least the word “gay” now has a commonly accepted and understood meaning.

    I look forward to reading your take on the Prager/Dershowitz thing. Who know? We may agree.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    OK.
    It’s I just think sometimes that cranking these little pieces compromises a great deal of in-depth scholarship and study. I’d always have to be better prepared before writing papers; and this blogging exercise just lends itself too much into cutting corners, and I’m not certain I like it. So yesterday’s events kind of re-opened my eyes and made me think. Why do it? and is it worth it?
    I’ll get back to you on the Prager thing later.

  • Baronius

    Dan, I have usually found the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to be like magnetic north: not exactly right, but generally pointing you in the right direction. But I’ve begun to wonder about that. People associate conservatives with something awful – I haven’t figured out what. I think it’s a possibility that Prager ignores.

    That last sentence requires some elaboration. Prager asks how can Dershowitz still identify with the liberals. Prager’s answer is that Dershowitz doesn’t want to let something go. I suspect that it’s not so much what Dershowitz doesn’t want to walk away from, as much as what he’s afraid he’s walking towards.

    Your answer to Prager’s question, I assume, is that the lib/con labels aren’t particularly useful. I guess that’s true if people believe one of those labels to be synonymous with evil. But I still believe that there are general commonly-shared visions of the world, and that there’s benefit in being able to refer to them.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    First off, I have enjoyed your three articles in the Politics section, disagreeing with some of the points and agreeing with others. I very much look forward to reading more.

    Please, do not get discouraged. Writing articles can be a bit of work as well as discomforting — particularly when I have discovered that my views simply could not be supported, were probably wrong, and needed to change. Were it not for the subsequent comments pointing out various of my other errors, it would probably not be worth the effort, however.

    Living in a remote area with very few opportunities to discuss concepts such as those about which I write, the comments section provides an otherwise generally unavailable sort of thought fertilization. Reading and responding to comments which express opposing views is more fun — more stimulating, anyway — than reading those in agreement with my own. The process pushes me to think. There have been some comments which have struck me as silly, uninformed or worse, but not many.

    I am now trying to write an article on the place of religion in politics. Figuring out what I actually mean by “religion” has been difficult; probably compounded since I consider myself an Atheist/Agnostic. I think that “religion,” whatever I may decide that it is for purposes of the article, has a legitimate place in politics; as I get further into the article, that view may change.

    In any event, the whole research, writing, submission, occasional discussions with my editor and subsequent comment process have been quite rewarding. I hope that you will continue.

    Dan(Miller)

  • REMF(MCH)

    Cindy;

    I could tell ya, but then I’d have ta … ummm, never mind …

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ah, Cindy, he’s just bashful.

    It stands for My Cat Hamish.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dan,

    No question I agree with you and thanks for your support and encouragement. It’s just that I wonder whether journalism (and some blogging can be regarded as a form thereof) is the best venue for some of the issues and questions we’re raising.

    My whole idea of having started a website was to communicate to “the common man,” i.e., on his or her level and in terms he or she can understand. So if that is the object, then you can’t go too much in depth because you don’t want to be over anybody’s head. On the other hand, I’ve always had a scholastic bent and cranking out these short little pieces, as I had said, do make you compromise on quality and sometimes accuracy. So there is a conflict of sorts.
    Which is why I turned to fiction of late; except that I’m in no position right now and the proper emotional state to embark on a major project.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    The analogy to a magnetic compass is interesting, and possibly right on. Magnetic north is constantly changing, albeit little by little. To use a nautical chart issued a decade or so ago, it is necessary to convert directions by adding or subtracting magnetic variation, predictions concerning which are provided on the chart. As the charts age however, the quantum and occasionally direction of annual variation also change so the conversion becomes less precise. I have read that it may not be long (in geological terms) before the magnetic North and South poles switch.

    I agree that many people associate “Conservative” with bad; many people make the same association with “Liberal.” These are not particularly useful associations, but are part of the problem.

    As to Dershowitz, you suggest that

    I suspect that it’s not so much what Dershowitz doesn’t want to walk away from, as much as what he’s afraid he’s walking towards.

    Interesting, but as I understand him, Dershowitz has long been in Israel’s camp, while remaining four square on the “Liberal” side on just about everything else. If he is walking toward or away from something, it has been rather a long walk between two points which do not seem to me to be all that far separated and the distances between which vary with time and subject.

    Aside from the problem that I really don’t have a good idea what “Liberal” and “Conservative” currently mean, my problem with the terms is that it is quite possible to be “Liberal” in some areas and “Conservative” in others — like Dershowitz. I often find myself in much the same situation.

    There are those to whom the labels can reasonably if dangerously be applied; I haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter much at all, but based on what I have read, neither may ever have entertained a “Liberal” thought. I say “dangerously,” because when the term “Conservative” is applied to those who occasionally do, the perception thereby imposed is, at best, confusing.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    I wouldn’t worry too much about writing over people’s heads. Writing for People Magazine or Hollywood’s Latest Scandals would raise that concern, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem here.

    I’ve tried writing fiction — several not too bad short stores, a terrible novel, and a decent one. However, finding a publisher turned out to be (a) more work than writing the stuff and (b) nowhere near as much fun. It’s a lot more fun in the blogsphere.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dan,

    I didn’t mean you guys. You are like critics and Blogcritics is not a misnomer. But my pieces are geared mainly at general audience, wherever it is. And I agree, it is fun.
    I find fiction rewarding because it allows for imagination to come in, but my experience with “closing” once you’re done is just as disappointing. I refuse to put time and effort to be peddling my stuff.

    Dave, by the way, had started a literary agency of sorts, and he’s looking at my synopsis and a chapter or two. One never knows!

    So I’ll be here for a while, not to worry.

    Roger

  • Baronius

    Roger – I hope you don’t take the number or intensity of comments as a put-down. That happens here. The comments can get heated, and we don’t always stay on point.

    Also, what Dan said: writing to your intellectual comfort level is the best way to ensure that your message is accurately presented. If something’s technical, you may have to go into more detail, but generally we’ll be able to figure out what you mean.

  • Cindy D

    My Cat Hamish? hrmm…robotzombiemonkey is an artist who’s cat is named Hamish.

    (will just resign to being confused)

  • Baronius

    Cindy – I’m not sure if this is what you’re asking, and my info may be wrong, but here goes: MCH are the initials of a regular commenter. He used them as his handle for a while, then out of respect for his military service, he switched to REMF (a bit of military slang). He uses both to avoid confusion. Quite a few regulars have changed their handles over the years, and it’s a point of etiquette to make it clear when you’re doing so.

  • Cindy D

    Baronius, thanks :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Thanks, Baronius.

    And no, there’s no problem here. I’m a Scorpio and a real fighter in the realm of ideas. I welcome heated discussion. In fact, I don’t find enough of it here (except for Dave, of course: he never gives up. Good for him!)

    And I think I basically do that – “my own intellectual comfort level.” But I’ve been through too many graduate schools not to come to the conclusion that much of the debate is for academics only. I detest that. If something can’t be said simply and clearly enough that the man on the street with average intelligence and motivation can’t understand, then perhaps it’s not worth saying. That’s what made a populist out of me and I like it. The academia it too narrow a circle, and too irrelevant to my thinking, to devote your life’s effort in that direction unless you’re a scientist or a social scientist or deeply entrenched in some such community. So for better of worse, I’m here.

    Roger

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’ve written some novels as well, off and on since I was about 19. I think I’ve completed about six of them all told, although only two or three of those are in any degree publishable.

    I’ve had a couple of stabs at getting published, but after a dozen or so rejection letters the effort wears a bit thin.

    I may try again at some point, although I have heard several published authors say that what happens after your book gets accepted for publication is a lot less fun than actually writing it.

    That said, one thing that attracts me to writing as a possible career option is that it’s just about the only way to be famous and still be able to go outside without being recognized all the time.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    But Doc, you are infamous.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    This is true.

    [Pulls Dan’s hat down over his eyes while he’s trying to mount his horse, runs away]

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I’ve got two under my belt and they are publishable. But I won’t stoop so low as to self-publish. What bugs me, they’re just as good and catchy as 80 percent of what you see on the market, better I’d say.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dan (Miller),

    Thanks for links to Prager’s article and Dershowitz’s. There’s enough meat there to sink one’s teeth into. So if you’re not doing anything with it, I’d like to give it a stab.

    Let me know.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Cindy,

    Did you get my email with the attachments?
    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger,

    By all means, have at it. I look forward to reading your article and to the discussion certain to follow.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Cindy D

    Roger,

    Yep. Thank you! :-) It’ll be fun.

    I just now pended my article. What a freaking pain. So now what happens? I wait to be discovered by talent scouts? (lol)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Good luck! It ain’t easy. Although one writer, I can’t think of her darn name now – they made a best-selling movie from her book – was discovered through her blog.

    Some parts of what I had sent need re-writing, I see that now. But I don’t want to bring it up now lest I prejudice your first read. We’ll talk later.

    Good luck with your article. The worst part is working with their editor. I still have problems, and if and when you become proficient with it, I’ll ask you some questions. OK?

    Roger

  • Cindy D

    Ok. Sounds good.

  • http://blogcritics.org Lisa McKay

    The worst part is working with their editor. I still have problems, and if and when you become proficient with it, I’ll ask you some questions. OK?

    Or you could ask pretty much anyone on the editorial staff, Roger. We’re pretty conversant with it after all these years and are here to help.

  • Cindy D

    I have to say Dave was very kind and helpful to me. The problem was only my own idiocy with new things. And I fall asleep reading instructions.

  • Cindy D

    RE# 59

    Clav,

    I was reading that Obama is not interested in the fairness doctrine. He’s taking the approach of capping commercial use (something like that) and making more airwaves available to the public. Public broadcasting.

    That suits me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Thanks, Lisa. I know that. I just didn’t want to burden you with mechanics. I’ll do so shortly.

    Roger

  • http://ex-conservative.blogspot.com Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Thanks, too. I didn’t know that…and frankly it sounds like a sort of end run around the firestorm the conservatives would whip up if he were to bring back the ‘Fairness Doctrine’.

    That suits me, too.

  • Clavos

    Cindy @# 143,

    I got my info in re the resuscitation of the Fairness Doctrine from the MSM, so there’s a high degree of probability that it’s incorrect and/or exaggerated.

    That said, one wonders just what Mr. Obama contemplates when he speaks of “public” broadcasting. Who will pay for it? Who will operate it? Produce it? Write it?

    We already have NPR and PBS, which are ostensibly “public,” but which, paradoxically, appeal to a very narrow segment of the public; they certainly are not attracting the blue collar folks as audience (at least not significant numbers of them); to the contrary, their audience seems to comprise more the self-styled “intelligentsia,” and their programming, as a result, is narrowly focused.

    Across the pond,, the Beeb (BBC), by contrast, enjoys a wide audience from among all classes, thanks to their more catholic programming.

    One can only hope that any new “public” broadcasting entity will adopt a more inclusive and wide-ranging programming philosophy than that which currently passes for “public” broadcasting in this country.

  • REMF(MCH)

    Cindy;
    Mistrust all Chicken Hawks

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dan Miller/Baronius,

    Thanks for referring me to Prager-Dershovitz debate. It’s loaded and I already know where I’m going with this. I wonder, however, Dan, why would you want to use it as source for bringing religion in other than two delineate the underlying currents of two opposing ideologies: the traditional, “Judeo-Christian” vs. secularism, pseudo-scientism/rationalism, etc (an outgrowth of the Enlightenment(.

    Anyway, you might want to look at the writings of Jean-Francois Lyotard for perhaps the clearest statement of the post-modern condition. I’m certain that Lyotard touches on aspects of modernity you wouldn’t want to miss in connection with the project you have in mind.

    But I don’t want to discuss this any further at since, as I said, I already know where I am going with this and I don’t want to be influenced by other thinkers at this point. I’ve got enough ammunition as it is.

    Talk to both of you soon.

    Roger

  • Cindy D

    MCH,

    Good idea. I never met a chicken hawk I trusted.

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    One can only hope that any new “public” broadcasting entity will adopt a more inclusive and wide-ranging programming philosophy than that which currently passes for “public” broadcasting in this country.

    There’s always hope, but… I don’t expect too much from any sort of reform (public broadcasting or fairness doctrines). Never-the-less, it’s movement in a direction.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Cindy D,

    In June of last year, I wrote an article about the so called Fairness Doctrine. The article was based on my experiences practicing communications law during a period including the last fifteen years when the doctrine was in effect. The doctrine did quite a lot more to stifle expression than to promote it, for the reasons given in the article. To summarize, whenever I received a call from a radio or television station on a Fairness Doctrine related matter, the question was generally “If we present X program, will the doctrine apply?” If my answer was “maybe,” and the station decided to go ahead with the program, there would have been an area of uncertainty which could easily result in litigation and associated legal fees amounting to thousands of dollars. Radio and television station owners, just like most people, don’t enjoy either litigation or paying legal fees; particularly when there is a far easier and less expensive alternative. Accordingly, the program was rarely broadcast. If my answer was “yes,” then the decision was almost invariably the same. Neither the aggravation of finding opposing spokesmen and producing a program presenting opposing views, nor the prospect of expensive litigation if that did not happen, seemed worthwhile.

    Back then, there were other disincentives as well to the broadcast of “public affairs” programming — few were interested in listening to or viewing it; well done, it was costly to present. The Fairness Doctrine exacerbated these disincentives.

    Media concentration has grown very substantially in recent years, putting more and more stations in the hands of group owners. Rather than reinstitute what I consider to have been a noble but failed experiment, I would like to see media concentration dramatically reduced. That seems far more likely to result in the presentation of opposing views on “controversial matters of public importance.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    Rather than reinstitute what I consider to have been a noble but failed experiment, I would like to see media concentration dramatically reduced. That seems far more likely to result in the presentation of opposing views on “controversial matters of public importance.”

    Hear, hear!

  • Cindy D

    Dan (Miller),

    Thank you for that personal account.

    I did not like the idea of the fairness doctrine anyway. I just want airwaves (which should be available to everyone – they are public property) to be available to the public.

    I would love to see a whole variety of broadcasters, having space to present views. I think that would be best done outside corporate media outlets.

    Rather than reinstitute what I consider to have been a noble but failed experiment, I would like to see media concentration dramatically reduced. That seems far more likely to result in the presentation of opposing views on “controversial matters of public importance

    I am won over.

    Thanks Dan (Miller) and Clav.

  • Cindy D

    I think I am channeling Clavos today.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    We already have NPR and PBS, which are ostensibly “public,” but which, paradoxically, appeal to a very narrow segment of the public; they certainly are not attracting the blue collar folks as audience (at least not significant numbers of them); to the contrary, their audience seems to comprise more the self-styled “intelligentsia,” and their programming, as a result, is narrowly focused.

    Clav, while that’s broadly true, public broadcasting is simply filling a niche. The more ‘blue collar’ audience is already amply catered for by the major commercial networks and countless cable channels.

  • Clavos

    Clav, while that’s broadly true, public broadcasting is simply filling a niche.

    Clearly true.

    However, I was addressing Cindy’s comment about Obama’s ostensible plans for a new “public” outlet, and wondering whether it will be truly “public” in the mold of the Beeb, or simply another elitist propagator of propaganda.

  • Baronius

    With the high percentage of people with access to cable and satellite programming, do we need any public broadcasting? Do we need a fairness doctrine either? Add in the number of people with internet access, and most anyone can encounter all points of view. We’re at the point where it’d be cheaper to target aid to those who don’t have access, than to continue to operate hundreds of low-strength public broadcasting stations with terrible ratings.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    I agree. We certainly don’t need a warmed-over Fairness Doctrine, and I question the need for more public broadcasting. Still, I would very much like to see a substantial reduction in media concentration, and a return to the “good old,” but somewhat mythical, days, of local radio and television.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius, the strength of public broadcasting is that it doesn’t have to worry about ratings, and therefore doesn’t feel nearly as much pressure to compromise on the quality of its programming.

  • Baronius

    Dan – I grew up with 2-3 TV stations and a landline telephone. Now, I’m chatting with a guy in Panama. The dispersion of media control is unprecedented. The whole world is Speakers’ Corner, and while we may be down to one newspaper in my home town, I read the Guardian and Telegraph often enough that I know what Speakers’ Corner is.

    Dread – I appreciate your point. My point is that if the goal is 100% access to culture and civics, PBS is certainly not the most cost-effective or practically successful way of achieving it.

  • Clavos

    Baronius, the strength of public broadcasting is that it doesn’t have to worry about ratings, and therefore doesn’t feel nearly as much pressure to compromise on the quality of its programming.

    Not on the quality, no, and PBS’ quality is excellent.

    Its content is another matter, it’s too sharply skewed toward a relatively small segment of our culture, and as such, makes a mockery of its sobriquet of “public.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius,

    There is no doubt about it. The availability of stuff is mind-boggling. Without the internet, life would be far less enjoyable and less informed. I can telephone anyone in the U.S. for about two cents per minute; I can have a video call with just about anyone anywhere who has internet access, for free. I can read almost unlimited stuff from around the world, and if it is not in English, I can get a pretty decent Google translation almost immediately and for free. The discussions on BC are great!

    Still, I think it would be neat if the ownership of local radio and TV were more diverse and more local, and the folks in West Bovineville, Omaha could tune in the local radio station and hear local people talk about whether the school needs repainting or the stadium lights at the football field need to be replaced or what should be done about the roads.

    I’m not confident that a focus on international and national affairs, to the exclusion of local affairs, is all that great — if that is what is happening. Perhaps if there were more focus on local affairs things would be better. Or worse. Or about the same. I don’t know. I haven’t been there for quite some time. Perhaps all is well there just as it is.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    Let me jump in for a sec.

    It would seem to me that your opposition to Dan’s desire to decentralize the media is not in your own best interests. Do you want to add to the already all-predominant voice of the Left, a voice which practically drowns out all other divergent and dissenting voices? From a rather sketchy, I admit,understanding of your position, I should think not.

  • Baronius

    Dan – Valid point. First of all, ideologically I’d rather see more things done at the local level than nationally (or internationally). Second, it’s probably unhealthy to spend so much time debating politics at a level which is difficult to affect – see the discussion of Harry Reid on another thread.

    But the internet is not just big, it’s small. It can get you your local Mass times, swing dance lessons, nude beaches…and I’ve used it for two of those. If you want information on the school board and the proposed highway expansion, it’s posted on a poorly-designed site with no search engine, but it’s out there.

  • Baronius

    Roger, I’m not thinking of this in a partisan way. I just don’t believe that the media are centralized.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Dan Miller/Baronius,

    Local news is fine and I’m all for it. But it has to be properly digested in the context of national and geopolitical concerns. The “communitarian movement” of the 80s by such as Amitrai Etzioni and the like had failed miserably.

    But in the absence of clear and divergent voices providing a counterbalance to such networks as PBS, BBC and NPR,I’m afraid there’d be nothing to
    provide the public with an alternative view in terms of which to interpret even local events. Right now, they’re being spoon-fed.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Baronius,

    Neither am I. My concern is mainly that of providing the public with viable alternatives so it can make intelligent choices. Sure, the media is not centralized in some respects – like the blogging we do here or on our own websites. But when it comes to presentation of major issues – like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, or any other matter of national and geopolitical concern – I would say that it is. Independently run and operated local newspapers, for example, is a thing of the past. They’ve all been gobbled up by Gannet, Murdoch and other media moguls.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dan @ #162, § 2:

    Just because Omaha voted for Obama while the rest of Nebraska voted for McCain doesn’t mean it’s now its own state.

    It’s just that everyone in the city is dyslexic and liked the idea of voting for themselves.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc, It’s just that everyone in the city is dyslexic . . . .

    1. Why do you disparage the handicapped, kind sir? What happened to your political correctness?

    2. I think that’s true of almost all cities; that’s why I don’t live in or close to one.

    3. Obama who?

    Dan(Miller)

  • zingzing

    clavos calls pbs and “elitist propagator of propaganda.”

    now, it it’s programming was all political in nature, i would say that would probably be a valid complaint from clavos’ yacht club.

    but, as pbs programming is dominated by cultural, educational and historical shows, it seems like clavos has decided to latch onto a specific show or two and proclaim it as representative of the whole. clearly, he has not spent much time watching pbs, therefore i wonder if his opinion of it comes from an educated place, or just from the propagators of propaganda which he chooses to believe. i think it’s the latter.

    you don’t need to see american experience or nova anyway, do you clavos?

  • zingzing

    ok, my eyes are a little blurry. “pbs AN ‘elitist…” and “in its programming…” sigh. not gonna even read the rest of it again.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Glad to have you aboard, Zing,

    You are a satirist in case you didn’t know.
    “Clavos’s yacht club.” That’s hilarious!

    Keep it on!

    Roger

  • Clavos

    zing,

    You actually are reinforcing my point.

    I wasn’t referring only to PBS’ political programming, and the two programs you cite are excellent examples of what I mean by “elitist programming,” in that they are aimed at the self-styled intelligentsia, NOT the “public.”

    The proles find NO programming of interest in those outlets.

    Ergo, it’s not “public” programming, since a relatively small group of people are inclined to watch.

    As to the propaganda aspect of PBS: I stand by my qualification, even in regard to the non-political programming. Example: when was the last time you saw a science program on PBS or NPR which cast any doubt on the IPCC reports/conclusions?

    Or a sports/cultural program singing the praises of NASCAR racing or gun collecting?

    By deliberately appealing only to the highly educated and ignoring the masses (except to criticize them) PBS and NPR are, by definition, elitist.

    You may not consider them elitist, because you’re part of the elite to whom the direct their programming, but to us Joe Sixpacks who aren’t intellectuals, there’s little that appeals, except for the country music programs aired during fund raising season.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Clavos,

    I agree with you entirely. Except, please don’t refer to yourself ever again as Joe Sixpack.

    Are you suffering from angst?

    Roger

  • Baronius

    I love it! What a hilarious exchange:

    “PBS is liberal propaganda.”
    “No, not their shows about…solar flares.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Exactly my point, Baronius. I am glad you came out and said it! Or am I misunderstanding you?

  • zingzing

    clavos: “the two programs you cite are excellent examples of what I mean by “elitist programming,” in that they are aimed at the self-styled intelligentsia, NOT the “public.””

    i’m a little perturbed that you think the average american couldn’t enjoy programming like american experience or nova. they may not watch it with regularity, maybe out of some “pbs is boring” thing… but that programming certainly isn’t that much different from stuff found on the history channel, etc, what with nova’s constant “mummy” shows. there’s also a ton of other forensically-inclined programming on that show.

    american experience had that one show on jack johnson, the boxer, which would definitely appeal to a large audience. and there is plenty of “sports/cultural program singing the praises of NASCAR racing or gun collecting?” see the history of nascar that they did, and then there’s antique roadshow… if an episode of that goes by without a gun, i’d be surprised.

    “By deliberately appealing only to the highly educated and ignoring the masses (except to criticize them) PBS and NPR are, by definition, elitist.”

    ignoring the masses? with their silly little cooking/rick steve’s europe shows? and all the children’s programming? where do you think sesame street is? and i’ve never really thought they bore any ill-will towards the masses. if you can point out any criticism of “the people,” you’ll be grasping at straws.

    you need to go back and really look at what kind of stuff pbs broadcasts. it’s probably not what you think. they may not be as guilty of “dumbing down” television as the major networks are, but who do you really think is exploiting who? pbs doesn’t take advantage of anyone by actually producing television worth watching. it’s cbs/nbc/abc/fox/mtv/vh1 that are actually the enemy, not pbs.

    do you watch espn? once sportscenter ends at 7 and “outside the lines” comes on, do you change the channel because they are actually presenting thought-provoking, controversial stuff? is it automatically elitist because it looks into the more complex issues of the sports world?

    the only stations/shows worth watching are cartoon network (just for adult swim), pbs, and wonder showzen. go look up “clarence patience wonder showzen” on youtube. and prepare to spend the next few hours watching clarence destroy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I hope you’re enjoying my novel, Cindy.
    Let me know!

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    PBS did indeed fill a valid role of serving the public interest when all we had was broadcast TV and it provided the kind of programming that you couldn’t find on commercial stations. The intelligentsia are part of the public too, you know.

    But that legitimate role no longer exists, because some clever folks discovered that what PBS was paying for with public funds could be commercially profitable, with the result that we now have dozens of PBS-like stations on cable and satellite. If they can make money then PBS could and should support itself. It’s particularly ridiculous that despite plans to do so for almost a decade, they have yet to premier their PBS cable network. Production companies associated with PBS like National Geographic and CTW have been enormous commercial successes and very little of that secondary marketing and merchandising revenue gets back to PBS. Hell National Geographic launched its own cable network based off of a programming formula they tried out first on PBS. Another example – PBS had Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith and Julia Child in their lineup in the 80s. Now there are about 5 networks devoted to cooking shows and similar programming. Everything PBS does is being done better and on a commercial basis elsewhere. There’s no longer any justification for its existence. Not one bit of educational programming would stop being made as a result.

    What’s more, in markets where there are enough people without cable to justify it, private stations could rebroadcast syndicated educational and intellectual programming from the cable networks successfully on a commercial basis.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    “Sesame Street” is an exception. It had literally put PBS on the map. But that was in the 60s. Lots has changed since then.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I wouldn’t necessarily argue for dissolving PBS. Why take such a radical stance? Let’s just recognize it for the ideological role it plays and leave it at that. It’s just that we need other venues besides, be they commercially or publicly funded. Let’s not get overly ideological.

  • Cindy D

    Hi Roger,

    I have been working all day. Good thing I don’t have a boss who notices my comments on here :-)

    I will hope I will be able to get back to it soon.

  • zingzing

    oops. looks like they removed all the clarence from you tube.
    look here instead. patience is midway down the page.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    Way to go, Cindy! Long ago I realized that working for yourself is the essence of the American Dream. No one else to account to except yourself. So keep it up! In this county of the free and the brave, we still have that option.

  • Cindy D

    ROFLOL zing!

    They don’t even get it. that’s hilarious.

  • Baronius

    I don’t have cable, so I don’t know if other channels are doing everything that PBS does, and better. Are there many arts channels out there? For the rest (food, news, documentaries, BBC rebroadcasts), I’m sure you can do fine on cable.

  • zingzing

    clarence is a masterpiece. check out “what makes you angry?” and “personal space.” i’m lucky that my wifi is moving so slow right now, as i would just waste time watching clarence the rest of the evening.

  • Cindy D

    That is freaky. It’s sort of a mixture of derangement and wisdom.

    Is that originally from MTV?

  • Cindy D

    It popped into a news one. I like the girl writing the letter to Jesus.

  • Cindy D

    Is that all that puppet does? Every show? I’m watching freedom of speech

  • zingzing

    that’s clarence’s role, for sure. he does something like that. i’ve only watched a few episodes on tv, but i think he’s in about half of them. the news thing is hilarious. have you come across “beat kids, the kid’s news show?” their theme song is “beat kids! beat kids!” awesome. i think it aired on mtv2, and i think there’s a new season coming soon.

  • Cindy D

    I saw beat kids pharmacy:

    The kid says, “So, how many medical school classes do you have to flunk to become a pharmacist?”

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Are there many arts channels out there?

    A&E and Bravo, mainly. More if you have a broader definition of art. My satellite has channels about how to milk your cows, two full channels of college lectures, a channel which broadcasts a full high-school curriculum, an all new age philosophy channel, an all bollywood channel and so on.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Which satellite service do you have, Dave?

    I’m using Dish Network and love it.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    I have Dish network too. It’s ridiculously expensive and run by crazy Mormons, but it certainly delivers a fine selection of channels.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Dish is run by Mormons? Damn. Does that mean they all have to wear that magic underwear (sacred undergarments) while at work? When I think of magic underwear I think of Harry Reid and Mitt Romney. And then I realize how glad I am that Barack got elected.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I was wondering why my satellite dish insisted on wearing a name tag, why the only Sirius station I get plays The Osmonds constantly, and why Dish service engineers are frequently seen riding around in pairs on bicycles. Mystery solved.

  • Baronius

    “When I think of magic underwear I think of Harry Reid and Mitt Romney.”

    I’m glad that I understand the reference, because otherwise, that sentence would keep me up at night.

  • Baronius

    Dave, I took a cursory look at A&E’s and Bravo’s schedules. They look like mostly homemade reality and reruns of the last 10 years of network crime dramas. I’m thinking about the performing arts: concerts, dance, theater, opera. PBS does a little of it. I don’t think anyone else does it.

    Believe me, as a conservative I’m not crazy about defending PBS, but I just don’t know if anyone else covers the performing arts. If someone does, then by all means shut down PBS.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    As a conservative, Baronius, exactly what have you got against PBS?

    It’s not owned by the government, receives less than a quarter of its funding from federal sources, and is apolitical. Hardly a major ideological worry for you, I would have thought.

  • zingzing

    oh, dreadful… pbs apolitical? even i have to admit that i’ve rarely seen much of a conservative point of view being espoused on pbs. i’ve certainly see them try to show both points of view without making a judgment. and i’ve also seen them taking the liberal side of things. but the conservative viewpoint is relegated to the “other” point of view more often than not.

    that said, i often think pbs chickens out of going liberal, and too often they feel they have to be fair. to a certain degree. still, their political content is just a small part of their programming.

  • Baronius

    I think it receives more federal funding than you realize. But I’m not sure. So much of its funding comes through CPB, NEA, the Department of Education, and viewers like you. :) Also through not-for-profits that receive federal grants and tax benefits. I’ve never seen a decent accounting of its federal funding.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    zing:

    I mean apolitical in the sense that PBS is not beholden to any particular political party or ideology. They do make a conspicuous effort to be fair, especially on shows like Newshour, whose panel discussions almost always have someone from each side of the issue of the day.m (They don’t yell at each other like on Fox News, either, which is a blessing as far as I’m concerned!)

    What PBS doesn’t always realize is that being fair doesn’t necessarily mean being meek. The BBC is the standard for ‘assertive’ fairness in broadcasting – as you’ll know if you get BBC America and have watched Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman. Paxman’s irreverent, often contemptuous interviewing style is a constant bugbear for politicians and particularly government ministers, who frequently try to shut him up. It’s not uncommon to see a spokesperson for the governing party, clearly still smarting from his or her head-to-head with Paxman the previous evening, go on record whining that he overstepped the mark and is violating the BBC’s mandate for impartiality because he never talks to opposition politicians like that.

    But what you’ll notice if you stick with Paxman over a period of several governments is that he’s always like that – and that the colors of the complaining governments change with time. The reason he doesn’t give the opposition such a hard time is because they’re not the party in power. It doesn’t matter whether their ideology lines up with Paxman’s personal political views – they’re simply not accountable in the way that the governing party is.

    And Paxman, although he’s indisputably the rudest, is by no means the only BBC journalist who does what he does.

    PBS could certainly stand to be a bit more in yer face. I mean, somebody on PBS other than Bill Moyers.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius:

    I didn’t realize I was part of the federal government…! :-)

    According to the latest available CPB figures, federal money accounts for about 19% of funding for public broadcasting. State and local taxes make up another quarter. But more than half comes from private sources.

    I think it’s a bit nitpicky to include money from non-profits which may or may not in turn have received federal wonga. Once those organizations have their grants, what they do with them is pretty much at their discretion, no?

  • Baronius

    Dread, the first paragraph of comment #203 is so wrong as to not be worth debating. As to the comment addressed to me, this is something I hadn’t thought much about until I looked at some of the charities burned by the Madoff scandal. They all contribute to the same organizations. There’s some pretty intense inbreeding in the world of non-profits. So I think if we’re looking at the idea of abolishing PBS, we should be realistic about where its funding comes from.

    The problem is, the Fords and Annenbergs don’t simply want to do good; they want to do good and be recognized for it. So they’re not necessarily going to contribute to the most efficient projects.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius, that’s not exactly fair, is it? If you don’t consider the points worth debating, then your claim that they’re wrong is hollow.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Re: “intellecutal” cable channels

    I forgot that Bravo has dumbed itself down a bit, though they still have Inside the Actor’s Studio which is very PBS-like. Some of the other stuff got spun off into separate channels in pursuit of the philosophy that their should be a channel for everything. Check out the Ovation channel for your Operas, Ballets, Jazz, etc. Learning Channel and Discovery Channel have educational sci/tech stuff. There’s also an all space/nasa channel which I forget the name of.

    Frankly, there are so damned many channels I can’t go through them all in a reasonable period of time, but I’m pretty sure you can find just about anything somewhere. If there’s a channel which has room for a whittling show and another which carries broadcasts from the nuts at The Church Universal and Triumphant there’s room for anything.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Dread, that wasn’t intended to be rude. If you said that the sun isn’t bright, I’d have to assume that you’d never seen the sun or that you meant something different by the word “bright”. Either way, there’d be no point in a conversation. I’m sorry but I can’t go any further than that.

  • Baronius

    Wow, Dave. I just checked out the Ovation channel’s schedule, and it’s exactly what I’d hope for. Makes me think about getting cable. If that’s available, then Sesame Street really is the only unique property of PBS. And a Sesame Street Network could operate off the profits from Elmo dolls.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Part of PBS’ plan is to make this programming available to all, not just those who can afford cable. “Inside the Actor’s Studio” hasn’t been PBS-like in years.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baronius, which exactly of the four main points of that paragraph do you feel is/are so obviously wrong as to be ‘not worth debating’?

    – That PBS doesn’t adhere to any particular political ideology?
    – That they try to be fair?
    – That Newshour panel discussions usually have someone from each side?
    – That the decibel level is much lower and the civility level much higher than Fox News?

    If you can’t demonstrate that these statements are false, I can only assume that your scorn is subjective.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I think he focuses on number 1, mainly.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Indeed, Roger. And while I respect his decision not to debate, my assertion just isn’t the plain falsehood he seems to think it is.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com Roger Nowosielski

    I’m sorry I butted in. I shouldn’t have. I just don’t like to see such communication breakdowns among bright and intelligent people. We all should be building bridges, otherwise, what the hell are we doing in here.

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