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September 14, 2008

Cowboys and Liberals

By Grim at 03:04

Judith Warner is a bestselling author and a blogger at the NYT who produces (I have learned today) a blog called "Domestic Disturbances." Her writing was panned by Prof. Kenneth Anderson, who called it condescending. I have only read the one piece of it she wrote, so I won't say he's wrong as a general thing: but I thought this was a piece that showed a great deal of the right spirit. Let me explain.

She writes about attending a McCain-Palin rally in Virginia. She confesses that she intended to go as a joke, and to mock the attendees -- but she ends up being taken by the kindness of the strangers, their hopes for Gov. Palin, and the evident joy of their lives. It scares the hell out of her.

No, it wasn’t funny, my morning with the hockey and the soccer moms, the homeschooling moms and the book club moms, the joyful moms who brought their children to see history in the making and spun them on the lawn, dancing, when music played. It was sobering. It was serious. It was an education....

For those of us who can’t tap into those yearnings, it seems the Palin faithful are blind – to the contradictions between her stated positions and the truth of the policies she espouses, to the contradictions between her ideology and their interests. But Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of moral psychology at the University of Virginia, argues in an essay this month, “What Makes People Vote Republican?”, that it’s liberals, in fact, who are dangerously blind.

Haidt has conducted research in which liberals and conservatives were asked to project themselves into the minds of their opponents and answer questions about their moral reasoning. Conservatives, he said, prove quite adept at thinking like liberals, but liberals are consistently incapable of understanding the conservative point of view.
Now that's a start. Let's explore it a bit.
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  • douglas: Yes, well stated, Grim. But I think it covers the read more
  • Grim: Hm, that may be a good point. The fear, then, read more
  • douglas: "The place to start is the Haidt essay. He begins read more

December 19, 2007

"Confessions of a Car Salesman"

By Donald Sensing at 21:59

In light of the events related here, I am reading up on buying cars.

If you're in the market, too, then read, "Confessions of a Car Salesman" at Edmunds.com. Enlightening!

I have not bought a new car in many years. One of the advantages of buying a used car (apart from letting the original buyer get soaked by depreciation) is that it's much harder for a salesman to "bump" you - get you to agree to high-cost extras. The car is what it is. Its options are already installed. All they can do is try to sell you high-profit items such as a used-car warranty, but these are easy to turn down.

I saw a new car in a display in the local mall last week that had $2,500 of dealer-added cost, things like "anti-theft engraving" on the windshield, "paint protection" (a plain wax job), fabric protection" (Scotch-Gard sprayed on) and other junk like that. Another article on Edmunds told of a man who was thrilled to get a price via fax for a new, hard-to-find Lexus that was only $500 over invoice. So thrilled that he closed the deal before he even saw the car or closely reviewed the sales documents. He just signed his name away.


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  • Joe Katzman: Check the redneck mailbox pic - didn't expect this, but read more
  • Link Robertson: Nortius Maximus, I always check back to good web sites. read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Bare link, drive-by, probable boilerplate text. Hmmm. AFI, if you read more

January 15, 2007

No Ditz Left Behind

By 'Molon Labe' at 18:44

This past weekend I was surfing through TV channels while making a long-overdue attempt at organizing some records when I chanced on the Steven Seagal movie Under Seige. While I'm an admirer (and one time beginning student) of his martial art (Aikido, not Karate-do), I seldom watch action movies of that sort so I missed this one when it came out in 1992. I gather it attracted a large audience at the time though. Watching it, I can see why.

It's all about that deep American value: No Ditz Left Behind


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  • M. Simon: #13 Sol, Don't forget Truth, Justice, and the American Way. read more
  • M. Simon: #6 lurker, Danger, excitement, very pretty girl. My hormone production read more
  • M. Simon: It has been a long time since I saw that read more

October 19, 2006

Honor/Shame, the Middle East and the American Left

By Donald Sensing at 19:26
The Gospel of Luke 14:1, 7-24:

14 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath ... . 7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

That last paragraph isn't the parable, by the way, which is found in vv. 16-24. Jesus's discourse on jockeying for position illuminates the kind of cultural values that Jesus grew up in 2,000 years ago, and which is still found across most of the Middle East today (and, in his renunciation of those values, helps explain why he made such powerful enemies). Cultures of honor and shame are literally foreign to Western minds. Matters of honor and shame have certainly been powerful in Western history, but such concerns have always been tempered and tamped by Jesus's teachings that "all who exalt themselves will be humbled." And the twentieth century's blood-drenched years did nothing to preserve the concept, either. Jonathan Rauch, writing in National Journal, explains,

Singularly, however, the West has backed away from honor. Under admonitions from Christianity to turn the other cheek and from the Enlightenment to favor reason over emotion, the West first channeled honor into the arcane rituals of chivalry, then folded it into a code of manly but magnanimous Victorian gentlemanliness -- and then, in the 20th century, drove it into disrepute. World War I and the Vietnam War were seen as needless butcheries brought on by archaic obsessions with national honor; feminism and the therapeutic culture taught that a higher manly strength acknowledges weakness.

He goes on to explain that in Arab culture, one's standing in the community is of paramount importance. What Easterners call "saving face" is a real force in the Middle East. Why else, Rauch asks, would Saddam lie about possessing WMDs, knowing that the lies could bring about his downfall and demise? "Saddam was more concerned about saving face -- preserving his reputation for being fierce and formidable -- than about his office or even his life. Indeed, he could not feel otherwise and still count himself a man."
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  • Fly: Other ethical components: For the good of the nation or read more
  • PD Shaw: M. Simon: PD, your multi-culturalism will get a lot of read more
  • RD: I submit that honor can be nothing more than read more

October 10, 2006

On The Tragedy Of Opposing Islam

By David Blue at 23:56

This post was prompted by the thread of the post Who's Afraid of Islam? by Joe Katzman (link), AMac's request, (link), and a number of very good statements made lately by outstanding people who are Muslims, speaking more than five years after 11 September 2001, but still (or for the first time) speaking as isolated individuals, when history has moved on.

Now that Iran is embarked on what looks like a final drive to manufacture nuclear weapons and now that North Korea is nuclear armed and may put its products up for sale, some regrets are too late. I think time is running out, and we have to deal with the Islam we have already encountered, not with a post-reform Islam that we might imagine and would prefer to have encountered.

I will say what it is that I think we have encountered as it relates to us as a challenge and a threat (not in itself, as I have no claim to be an expert on the inner spirit of Islam), and some of what is to be done, in what spirit.

I think that considering the splendid personal character of many of the people who are on the opposite side in this fight, or who will wind up on the opposite side as events unfold, we ought to regard this as a bloody tragedy. And I think we have to accept that, and press on anyway. I think we should fight boldly, fiercely and proactively for certain key values such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, to protect the lives and dignity of those who exercise those freedoms, especially against Islam, and intentionally to diminish Islam, which threatens them. I do not think that we can get out of this fight or prevail otherwise.


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  • yankeewombat: I have made much of the same journey from thinking read more
  • David Blue: #40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "As a Former Christian and read more
  • Neil C. Reinhardt: As a Former Christian and now a very knowledgeable Atheist read more

October 9, 2006

Why North Korea is the Wrong Focus

By Joe Katzman at 08:19

As fate would have it, I was sitting in a local Italian restaurant with Marc Armed "Liberal" Danziger when the call came in at around 8:30pm California time. Kim Jong-Il, the star of "Team America: World Police" and also incidentally the ruler of North Korea, had set off a nuke. Later research at home turns up the 4.2 quake near Chongjin, an area that doesn't have much of anything in the way of seismic activity history. That isn't a 100% lock as a nuke test... but I'd put it around 90%. Especially given that a Hiroshima size nuke in a chamber 100-150 ft. cubed would be expected to produce about this size quake.

So the day has likely come, as it inevitably had to. And with it comes the question: "Now what?"

And my first answer is: Forget North Korea. No proposal involving their government, from idiotic talk of sanctions (what, we're going to cut Kim out of the movie remake?) to even dumber and more craven responses around "rewards" (read: appeasement and a license to keep cheating) is worth even 10 seconds of your time. Search and boarding activities for ships from North Korea may be helpful, and preparations for that have been underway for a while, but ultimately this doesn't solve the problem and raises risks whenever used.

If you want to fix the problem, you have to see and understand the lever.


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  • Roger: [Hey Roger - guess what! You're banned! A.L.] read more
  • Tom Grey - Liberty Dad: Bush should propose a 10% import tax on Chinese goods, read more
  • Elam Bend: Not that I like defending Clinton (and there is no read more

The Smell of Death

By Grim at 17:24

Armed Liberal has, I gather from his posts, been taking some time to reconsider his posts on killing your own meat. Since he seemed to feel like he and I were talking about the same things, let me venture a few words on the topic.

Today I took a long morning walk -- six miles or so over the Georgia hills, a good stretch of the legs. Much of this was along country backroads, but for two miles in the middle, it was along a two-lane highway. Logging trucks went roaring by, their wake turning the stagnant, humid air into a brief cyclone.

As one such truck tore past, the rush of air behind it whipped up a smell that some of you will know. I knew at once that some large animal was dead nearby, and sure enough, as the air settled the smell remained.


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  • Alexa: Killing for the purpose of spreading terror is one of read more
  • Sue: I would love to send this post to family members, read more
  • rosignol: Interesting discussion. I'm sorry I didn't find it sooner. I read more

April 27, 2006

War or No War

By 'Callimachus' at 22:20

The op-ed by Todd Beamer's father, based on the Flight 93 movie, is behind the subscription firewall at the WSJ. Cardinalpark, however, has a key excerpt up over at Tigerhawk:

"This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.


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  • Ken Dryden: There is absolutely no chance of anything else government Iraq read more
  • Coleen: One of my favorite military writers, Martin Van Crevald - read more
  • rocketsbrain: Krauthammer - Never Again? Charles Krauthammer is saying out loud read more

April 17, 2006

Credo: "America Is Our Child"

By 'Callimachus' at 21:06

Patriotism is a bad word. America is not our daddy (patria). It is our child, raised again by us each generation, our inescapable responsibility, to be praised often, corrected when necessary, loved and protected always.


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  • Mark Poling: More from Burleigh's piece for you, Alchemist: Listening to their read more
  • alchemist: Look, I didn't hear the salon parents whole speech, but read more
  • Sam: America is not our father. America is not our child. read more

April 13, 2006

Michael Ware and the Law of Unintended Consequences

By 'AMac' at 05:18

On March 28, Michael Ware, Times Baghdad bureau chief, gave an admirably open interview with Hugh Hewitt about the ethics of war-zone journalism and its reduction to practice in Iraq. Winds covered the interview on March 30. Reflecting on The Issue of Faked War Photos made me want to touch on this story once more.


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  • AMac: Kougar and Rikki, thanks for commenting. A couple of thoughts: read more
  • Mark Poling: Kougar: The bottom line is that you are pissed off read more
  • Kougar: The bottom line is that you are pissed off that read more

April 12, 2006

Some First Thoughts on Propaganda

By Armed Liberal at 18:31

So I've been working on the media piece - about the role of media in creating and nurturing national mood - and, of course it's impossible (for me, anyway) to digest what I'm seeing down into a blog post because it's a woolly topic and one where I keep picking up threads - Homer! - Habermas! - and following them out to distraction.

Which means I've been reading a lot. I've looked and looked for the pithy quote that sums my position, or even a book to point you to. And to be honest, haven't found it.

The closest things I've found have been in Clausewitz and in Thucydides, about which more later.


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  • Mark Poling: About the campus moderates, and maybe getting back to the read more
  • AMac: Ken #63: On the basis of reading and occasionally contributing read more
  • ken: A.L. I think that anyone who defends liberalism as vigorously read more

March 26, 2006

Threshold

By 'Cicero' at 16:43

I am quite aware of Thomas Friedman's 'Flat Earth,' and agree that globalization has done far more to spread wealth than just about any other historical economic influence. I know that telecommunications and the Internet have compressed the world economically and politically. I understand the interdependent ties between global regions and the nations within them. Look at isolated countries like North Korea or Talibanian Afghanistan, and it is obvious that in our time, countries that 'go it alone' face massive economic privations, often accompanied with the horror of internal repression.

In spite of the view that the globalized world will deliver long-term freedom and prosperity, I have begun to wonder if openness will be an option as we cross history's harsh thresholds, hidden in the tall grass. History always reaps the unexpected; its scythe is strident.


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  • MediTheHutt: Iran is going to be the power broker in the read more
  • Jim Rockford: Matt -- Spengler in the Asia Times reports that the read more
  • Alvin Rosenthal: Others have made this connection: Loose nukes => one terrorist read more
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