Some have said that we are living in a post-industrial era, while others have said that we are living in a post-racial era. But growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era.
Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.
Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?
Talk-show host Geraldo Rivera says that there is no way Israel is winning the battle for world opinion. But Israel is trying to win the battle for survival, while surrounded by enemies. Might that not be more important?
Has any other country, in any other war, been expected to keep the enemy’s civilian casualties no higher than its own civilian casualties? The idea that Israel should do so did not originate among the masses but among the educated intelligentsia.
In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.
Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.
Among the factors he cited were the country’s educators. That struck me as odd, and not very plausible, at the time. But the passing years have made that seem less and less odd, and more and more plausible. Today, I see our own educators playing a similar role in creating a mindset that undermines American society.
Schools were once thought of as places where a society’s knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation. But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education — one that has spread through American schools of education, and even influenced education in countries overseas.
John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society’s culture to the young, but as an agent of change — someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.
A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions. The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America — and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.
If you think that is an exaggeration, get a copy of “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and read it. As someone who used to read translations of official Communist newspapers in the days of the Soviet Union, I know that those papers’ attempts to degrade the United States did not sink quite as low as Howard Zinn’s book.
That book has sold millions of copies, poisoning the minds of millions of students in schools and colleges against their own country. But this book is one of many things that enable teachers to think of themselves as “agents of change,” without having the slightest accountability for whether that change turns out to be for the better or for the worse — or, indeed, utterly catastrophic.
This misuse of schools to undermine one’s own society is not something confined to the United States or even to our own time. It is common in Western countries for educators, the media and the intelligentsia in general, to single out Western civilization for special condemnation for sins that have been common to the human race, in all parts of the world, for thousands of years.
Meanwhile, all sorts of fictitious virtues are attributed to non-Western societies, and their worst crimes are often passed over in silence, or at least shrugged off by saying some such thing as “Who are we to judge?”
Mike Pence has said as much in letters to his colleagues several times. It is the lesson of 2006 and 2008. It is time for the governing to match the rhetoric, and now people are paying more attention. The GOP will either walk the walk or it will go the way of the Whigs.
“How long do politicians have to keep on promising heaven & delivering hell before people catch on” – Thomas Sowell
I’m not the biggest fan of Eisenhower or Nixon, but they (and Reagan) are clearly preferable to this post-Reagan Republican Party. Those presidents won national majorities for a reason. They weren’t strict conservatives, but they certainly weren’t any less conservative than the Bushes, McCain, or Romney. They didn’t pretend they were going to abolish the welfare state — often, they didn’t even pretend they would cut the welfare state — unlike so many of today’s Republicans, who don’t follow through but do use their rhetoric to polarize. That gives us the worst of both worlds: big government plus the delusional sense within one party that it represents the antithesis of big government and may freely hate other Americans who don’t mouth the mantra. And what goes for big government goes for Judeo-Christian values, a strong national defense, and all the rest: the GOP’s rhetoric occupies a separate mental compartment from its actions, even as its voters and ideological apologists continue to believe that there is a profound moral difference between them and the rest of the country. It’s a losing strategy, and worse, it’s made the country ungovernable even as government grows.
It is pieces like this that make me regret that I do not have much time to write original pieces anymore. In this piece John Hawkins gives us an all important reminder of what those of us who are politically aware often take for granted.
“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”
Politicians may care about sticking to the Constitution, doing what’s right for the country, and keeping their promises, but all of those issues pale in importance to staying employed in their cushy jobs.
2) Most politicians care far more about the opinions of interest groups than their constituents: Because of gerrymandering and America’s partisan fault lines, even under the worst of circumstances, 75% of the politicians in Congress are in no danger of losing their seats to a candidate of the opposing party. Furthermore, because of their advantages in name recognition, fund raising, and the fealty of other local politicians to someone they view as a likely winner, most challengers from the same party have little hope of unseating an incumbent either.
The only way that changes is if an incumbent infuriates an interest group on his own side that has the money and influence to help a challenger mount a credible campaign against him. That’s why politicians in non-competitive districts are far more afraid of groups like Freedomworks or the SEIU than their own constituents. Incumbents can — and often do, crap all over their own constituents without fear of losing their jobs. However, if they infuriate an interest group, they may end up in the unemployment line.
3) You shouldn’t ever take a politician at his word:People say they want a politician who’ll tell the truth. Unfortunately, that’s not true. What people actually want is a politician who’ll tell them what they want to hear and call that the truth.[Emphasis ours – Political Arena Editor] Partisans on both sides of the aisle have very little tolerance for politicians who deviate from accepted ideology; so the politicians get around that by lying. Most (but of course, not all) of the politicians championed by the Tea Party? They think the Tea Partiers are riff-raff, but useful riff-raff; so they cater to us. It’s no different on the Left. Most of the politicians who talk up the Occupy Movement think they’re damn, dirty hippies. They’re just useful damn, dirty hippies. That doesn’t mean no politician is ever “one of us,” but they are few and far between.
4) Most members of Congress aren’t particularly competent: On average, the politicians in Congress are generally well meaning, a little smarter than average, a lot more connected, and wealthy — but also considerably less ethical. Beyond that, they’re mostly just like a random subsection of a population. If you had a hundred random Americans in a room, a senator probably wouldn’t be the smartest person there, the person you’d want in charge, or even necessarily one of the more useful people to have around. In many respects, politicians are FAR LESS COMPETENT than the average person because so many of them led pampered, sheltered lives before they got into Congress and then have had their behinds kissed incessantly from the moment they got into power.
5) Members of Congress are out of touch: First off, even if members of Congress care about what their constituents think, they spend most of their time in D.C., not back home. Meanwhile, the median net worth of members of Congress is about $913,000. On top of that, members of Congress have staffers who do everything for them and treat them like god-kings in the process. These aides schedule their lives, read everything for them and regurgitate back what they think they need, and incessantly tell them how wonderful they are. Most members of Congress have more in common with celebrities like Madonna or Barbra Streisand than they do with the teachers, factory workers, and small business owners who vote them into office.
6) Few of them will do anything to limit their own power: It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about big government liberals or small government conservatives, very, very few politicians are interested in doing anything that will limit their own power. That’s why term limits for Congress have never passed. It’s why the ethics rules in the House and Senate are a bad joke. It’s also a big part of the reason why government gets bigger, more expensive, and more powerful no matter who’s in charge. If you expect to reduce the concentration of power in D.C. by electing different politicians, then ultimately you’re going to find that you’re barking up the wrong tree.
7) Most politicians only do the right thing because they’re forced to do it: As the late, great Milton Friedman once said,
“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
If you want to change how politicians behave, then you have to change public opinion, build structural limits into the system that force changes, or make politicians fear for their jobs. If people are hoping politicians will do the right thing, just because it is the right thing, then they’re hoping in vain.
The politics of personal distraction. This is mostly what the opponents of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are using to try and trash him personally to the voters. The facts are that when he was in office he was able to carry out most of his promises and the Contract With America in spite of Democrat and media opposition. After he left office the GOP lost their way and became Democrats lite in too many policy areas.
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich’s “baggage” concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama’s broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election:
“We are going to change the United States of America.”
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Gingrich’s personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics’ claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X