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Why Should Extremists Have All the Fun?

March 25, 2015

Sometimes I wonder why I use good brain cells in a doomed attempt to combat extremism. By now I’ve concluded that extremism, factionalism, discord and bile are essential components of the human genome. We’re squabbling creatures, and I can do nothing to alter that essential truth. It would be like fighting primal and unstoppable forces of nature: gravity, for example, or the Kardashians.

At my age I should be conserving my dwindling supply of gray matter for more immediately rewarding tasks, like figuring out how to replace a washer in a leaky faucet. Why bother crusading from the median strip of the political highway, when everyone seems to be zooming past me in both directions? Does anyone pay attention to that solitary figure with the sensible placard as the wind ruffles what’s left of his hair?

Well, here I stand, as Martin Luther proclaimed (though I doubt if I’ll have a church named after me): “I can do no other.” Let the extremists quake at my proclamation — assuming they can hear me as they whiz by with their radios blasting, always tuned to the same station.

Yes, extremists seem to be having all the fun. Here’s just a sampling of their antics over the past month:

The so-called Islamic State appears to have entered the demolition business: hacking ancient statues to bits, destroying Islamically incorrect Muslim shrines, ruining the noble ruins of Assyria. If they ever spread their tentacles toward Egypt, all the archaeologists in the world will be powerless to stop them from dynamiting the Great Sphinx.

Of course, the armies of ISIS and their fanatical allies have been wreaking havoc on human life as well: over twenty Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya… nearly that many tourists gunned down at a museum in Tunisia… more than a hundred Yemenis blown up in suicide attacks at two mosques (wrong denomination)… a young Afghan woman beaten and burned to death by a savage mob for alleged offenses against a copy of the holy Koran. Now the Islamists are threatening attacks on European targets and random American soldiers. It’s ugly out there, and chances are we’ll be living with that ugliness until the day we’re lowered into the ground.

Meanwhile, in the Holy Land, veteran Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, finding himself lagging in the polls, cleverly made a sharp right turn to clinch a last-minute victory over his more moderate opponent. Suddenly declaring himself against Palestinian statehood, he roused his base and they showed their love in return. Moral of the story: never underestimate the power of extremism to galvanize the masses.

Here in the U.S., freshman Texas senator and Ivy-educated right-wing demagogue Ted Cruz officially launched the 2016 presidential campaign by announcing his candidacy. In a rousing speech before a captive audience at Liberty University, he exhorted “courageous conservatives” to restore America to greatness. Notice that he didn’t reach out to the American people as a whole; why bother when you can win by appealing to tribal loyalties? Here was factionalism in its purest state, ready to widen the already gaping gulf between the two Americas: beleaguered, science-denying, government-hating, gun-endorsing Bible-believers on the right… latte-sipping, NPR-listening, politically correct Whole Foods shoppers on the left.

Speaking of left-wing latte-sippers, a debate on “rape culture” at Brown University made the news because a member of the Sexual Assault Task Force created a “safe space” in the debating hall for sensitive young women who presumably would be traumatized by hearing the libertarian opponent (a woman, no less) poke holes in the rape culture narrative. Even The New York Times, in a piece by Judith Shulevitz that made the rounds online, seemed incredulous at the need for a literal safe space — a room equipped with (I still can’t believe it, but apparently it’s true) coloring books, Play-Doh, blankets and videos of frolicking puppies, as well as trained trauma counselors. Apparently we can’t let the delicate children of the progressive elite — even at renowned universities that are supposed to train and challenge the intellects of the next generation — have their orthodox world-view punctured by surly contrarians. It would be like forcing them to ingest GMOs, gluten, non-organic tomatoes and Velveeta all at once. Yes, American universities are doing their best to make the world unsafe for heretics. (Maybe that explains their peculiar sympathy for Islam.)

Of course, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that collegiate feminists, some of whom might still be reeling from first-hand experience with rape, deserve to be verbally brutalized while already suffering from PTSD. But if they choose to attend an honest-to-God debate, they probably need to steel themselves for opinions that might stray from scripture. College is not — should never become — a nursery for ideological sheep.

So, yes, the extremists are engulfing society from both ends. They’re gaining ground; they dominate public discourse and Internet message boards. The sensible middle, with its tricky nuances and lack of rhetorical heat, lies almost bereft of life, unable to mesmerize the public or enlist bright-eyed recruits. I admit it; we’re losing the popularity contest to these battling bozos. If you drew a graph of American political sympathies today, you’d see a hill at either end with a depression in the middle. That’s us, down there in the valley.

The extremists are winning converts, but are they really having all the fun? I have my doubts. The left today seems whiny, prone to neurasthenic vapors, and oblivious to common sense. The right, for its part, puts up a macho front that conceals an underlying terror of demographic and cultural change. Both sides come across angry, clannish, intolerant and ready to take offense.

That’s not how I want to spend my days. Moderation and common sense might not generate much heat, but at least we’ll go to our eternal reward (or the communal boneyard) with the knowledge that we tried our best to make sense of these bewildering times. And while we’re here, we can enjoy the heady rush of firing away at follies to the left and right of us. After all, we moderates deserve to have some fun.

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

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66 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2015 6:55 am

    I completely concur on the Kadashians and would love a Phd thesis on why we cannot escape them.

    • March 25, 2015 6:28 pm

      It really is a mystery how such a phony, uninteresting family hold the nation in thrall, isn’t it?

      • March 25, 2015 6:51 pm

        I am happy to report that I have never watched one minute of their so-called TV show.

      • Roby permalink
        March 26, 2015 6:25 am

        I have almost no idea who they are. I have never listened to their music. I don’t really know who Brangelina is either or what that other woman, jen, who is always in the tabloids getting married or having a baby when I check out at the grocery has to do with them. I never listen to their music either.

        No! Please do not sully my cultural virginity by explaining to me that they are not musician but Chefs or talk show hosts.

      • David P. Summers permalink
        April 7, 2015 8:43 pm

        What I found interesting is Paris Hilton, who was basically “famous for being famous”. I talked with a friend about this and we decided that the tricky part (getting famous so you can be famous) was a general example of nucleation phenomena.

    • March 26, 2015 9:17 am

      Haha, Roby, pop culturally, you are as pure as the driven snow……..(the K’s are “none of the above”)

      • March 26, 2015 10:14 am

        I confess to having watched several episodes of the Kardashian saga, and their popularity fascinates me. On the one hand, they’re larger-than-life, mega-rich tabloid celebrities; on the other, they’re no more talented than their audience, so the average viewer can relate to them. Then there’s the ongoing train-wreck factor: it’s a real-life soap opera, and the main characters are always teetering on the edge — will they fall? Well, we can see what happened to Bruce Jenner.

  2. March 25, 2015 7:00 am

    If we will live in a world of perceived logic and rationality (which cannot and do not) but for some reason strive for in the West, then you always have extreme Left and extreme Right. As you imply and I believe, since we are animals and creatures of emotion and perception, trying to argue people into your idea of moderation can never happen. We all perceive the World differently.

    The Progressives are never satisfied and there will always be another perceived problem to fix via Law and Regulation. By now, we can figure out that Laws also repress our instincts. And place too much power in the hands of Police, Lawyers, Bureaucrats, and Judges. The new power elite.

    The Conservatives, I am not sure what their policies are except social conservatism??? or differing social values than the Progressives.

    For Liberal Libertarians such as myself, there is little hope. Because we lack the fanaticism of the Progressives and hard core Conservatives.

    For the moderates, you can only hope there are enough people to hold the line.

    • March 25, 2015 8:51 am

      Actually, Libertarians should be happy that the left and right struggle to a tie. If the Left actually gained much power, individual liberty would be a thing of the past.

      Reference the USSR as your guide. Throw in Cuba and China for good measure.

    • March 25, 2015 6:53 pm

      I think the so-called Right would like to ban abortions, have a controlled, legally driven immigration system, an effective public school system and an approach to balancing the federal government budget. For starters, I think that would them deliriously happy.

      I think that would make a great start as well.

      I suppose that is considered “extreme” in some circles, but so be it.

      • March 25, 2015 11:38 pm

        JB, in most of this I would have to disagree except for the abortion position. Conservative love to tell others how to act and what they should and should not do. (ie Marijuana, gay marriage, abortion, etc)

        As for the legally driven immigration system, have you seen anything proposed by any Republican that modernizes the current archaic immigration laws based on immigrants from each country and total immigrants per year? (If we need 100,000 nurses and one country has 100K to send us, why limit it to 10K if that is what the current law requires? For example purposes only!) Have you seen any Republican offer a balanced budget within 5 years based on “REALISTIC” economic forecasts? Has any balanced budget amendment to the constitution passed either wing of congress since either was controlled by the GOP?

        I think all of these (except the abortion law) would be great. But the GOP is wonderful in running their mouths about doing something about the problems that face the country, but have done little to make any significant changes. If they wanted changes, they would pass a modernized immigration policy bill BEFORE tackling the illegal immigrants in the country today, would pass a budget based on current economic conditions in their forecast resulting in realistic revenue numbers and expenditures over the next 5 years and would pass a balanced budget amendment in the house and send that to the senate for their debate. In addition, there are enough states controlled by the GOP that could begin the balanced budget amendment on their own at the state level and force the congress to pass the bill.

        They will do none of this and continue in the same manner we have been going in over the passed 15 years. They love to bitch about the problems, but want to do little to make hard decisions that might change the course this country in heading.

      • March 26, 2015 7:55 am

        You asked what might make conservatives happy. I supplied the list. I did not suggest that the GOP was up to the task. Certainly, the Dems are not on board with anything that made my list.

        I will mention that the issue of Abortion is not merely “telling others what to do.” We can debate that all day long but to me, individual rights do not include killing the unborn because you feel them to be an inconvenience.

        Ditto using MJ or other drugs. It is fine to say that this is an individual right IF you want to destroy you own life and mind. The problem is that it almost never stops there. Others are harmed or killed and society is left to mop up the damage.

        I could go on, but I won’t. Nothing will change.

        I would note how quickly you went after the GOP for not proposing things. The fact is that the House has passed numerous bills on the issues you referenced. The Dem controlled Senate passed none of them and Obama has vetoed several that have made it to his desk.

        It is very clear to me by the actions of the Obama and the Dems that they simply want to secure elections by making 11M or so illegals into voters.

        To me, that is simply criminal and why I will never vote for a Democrat again in my lifetime.

      • March 26, 2015 1:21 pm

        JB, you comment that the house has passed numerous bills that the house has passed concerning immigration, balanced budget, etc. I can only find a couple instances where the house has voted on those issues as I stated them.
        1. HR 15 was an attempt to modernize the immigration system, but included many proposals that doomed the act from the start. As for my comment about modernization, this proposal still had a limit of 150,000 immigrants per year based on profession, etc. Again, why have the limits? If we need 200,000 more immigrants for job shortages, why limit those coming into the country?
        2. I find that the last balanced budget amendment house vote was November 18, 2001, at which time the house voted down that proposal.
        3. Abortion, we have had this discussion many times to the same conclusion, so we will still have to continue to disagree. I personally am against abortion, but do not believe my personal positions should be imposed on others I do not know. For those I know, I can let them know how I feel, but it is still their decision.

        I sill believe that the Democrats and the Republicans have no desire to find solutions to the problems of this country and their main desire is their own interest and survival. And moderates are stuck with what we have been given to use by those parties.

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 1:58 pm

        You are right, there is no point in discussing abortions, Mothers kill their babies and that is OK. Yet, at the same time, mothers to be that light up a smoke are vilified by the left. Go figure.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 26, 2015 5:39 pm

        Both are someone else imposing their personal views on others. I don’t support either. Neither do I support smoking or abortions, but I also accept others personal responsibility for their own actions.

      • March 26, 2015 12:15 pm

        Ron/jb: The core of the problem is that partisanship seems to trump patriotism these days. Somehow it became more important to beat or stifle the opposition than to act in the best interests of the country.

      • March 26, 2015 1:37 pm

        Rick, so true and how sad that when politicians do team up to work on solutions they are demonized by their own parties for “giving in” or “not supporting party positions”. One has to wonder if this happens in all decisions made in America today by individuals and corporations, and if so, why has this changed from 20 years ago when Clinton and Gingrich were able to craft welfare reforms. This would never happen today.

      • March 26, 2015 12:29 pm

        Jb: The illegal immigration issue has no easy solutions. We never should have allowed so many illegals to cross our borders in the first place (easy for me to say, of course.) But now that they’re here, we can’t just deport them. It would mean separating parents from their “anchor babies” (a politically incorrect but accurate description). Meanwhile, they keep procreating. Democrats don’t mind because they’re future Democrats; Republicans don’t mind because they provide cheap labor for businesses.

      • March 26, 2015 1:44 pm

        And that is why I asked the question why no one has proposed modernizing the immigration policies of the country. The old dumb comment about eating an elephant one bite at a time is appropriate for issues such as this. Why are all the bills loaded with everyone’s special interest that doom the bill from the start. Bills should include one item at a time and let the members vote on that one issue. Work though the numbers coming into the country, then border security, then how to handle those already here.

        But maybe that is one trait of being a moderate and that is why it is not present in todays politics.

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 1:57 pm

        There are no “easy solutions” to any problem, if by that you mean that someone might not like a consequence of the solution. Why is that new?

        Illegal is illegal. There is no good reason to keep illegals here because their “babies” are here. The babies can go back with their parents AND remain US citizens.

        But, then again, it wouldn’t be easy for them to vote if they lived in Mexico, would it?

    • March 26, 2015 10:20 am

      Mark: The problem with moderates is that they tend to be complacent and uninvolved. They typically don’t have an agenda to push, so the agenda-pushers naturally steal the spotlight from them and win avid followers.

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 10:25 am

        Sometimes an agenda is appropriate. Are you content to allow the current immigration “policy” to continue as it is? I am not.

  3. March 25, 2015 12:13 pm

    I have a bit of a problem with using the term “extremist” to describe Bibi Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, and Barack Obama…all of whom are routinely vilified with the appellation on a regular basis. I don’t think that any of the 3 are out of the mainstream in their political views (wrong, perhaps, but not out of the mainstream). On the other hand, I have no problem at all with calling ISIS an extremist organization. Yessiree, when it comes to genocide, beheadings and burning people alive, “extremism” seems the appropriate term. Not so appropriate when it comes to describing politicians who, say, oppose Obamacare.

    I agree with those who put some of the blame on social media. It’s hard to make a nuanced argument in 140 characters…much easier to just label another’s opinion “extreme.” Especially when there has been no attempt, on either side, to discuss and debate. Just “tweet.”

    • jbastiat permalink
      March 25, 2015 12:40 pm

      Except for Barry, I concur with you Priscilla.

      • March 25, 2015 6:41 pm

        JB, you know that I am no fan of the POTUS – I find him disingenuous, uncaring and lacking in respect for just about everyone. As commander of the military, I can not think of a worse president (especially given the news we got today about Bowe Bergdahl (news that apparently had be delayed for months, at the urging of the White House). That said, he has a view of America that is held by many progressives and his politics line up pretty neatly with the mainstream liberal agenda. So, I don’t consider him extreme, in that sense…..

      • March 25, 2015 6:55 pm

        In that context, I agree. For a progressive, Barry is NOT extreme. Then again, since he chooses to simply ignore the Constitution, I guess we could call him an unindicted felon?

    • March 26, 2015 10:03 am

      Priscilla: Yes, the various Internet amen corners have probably done more than Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow to polarize this country. The most extreme comments tend to pick up the most “likes.”

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 10:23 am

        That would be Rachel Madcow to you, Rick.

      • March 26, 2015 2:03 pm

        By the way, Rick, I must comment on my misplaced modifier (“As commander of the military, I can not think of a worse president”). I hate when I do that!

        I may have to resign as commander…..

      • March 26, 2015 5:29 pm

        Priscilla: You know, I didn’t notice it on the first go-round, but it’s considerate of you to renounce your position voluntarily. Not that you’d have made a bad commander, mind you…

  4. March 25, 2015 1:08 pm

    I find it hard to understand why the libertarian views have not become a more powerful voice in America today. Although I too (following Priscilla’s “extreme” comment) do not believe that Cruz, Netanyahu or Obama are extremist, all have positions that infringe on some rights that individuals should have.

    Progressives believe in tighter controls on capitalism (unless you are Hillary and Wall Street is banking your run for President), believe in income redistribution to support the unwilling to work while taking it from the willing, believe in few laws controlling personal decisions and believe less in personal responsibility than in government control all while believing foreign countries should be on their own in conflicts with enemies.

    Conservatives believe in less control on capitalism, less income redistribution, less reliance on government programs, more laws controlling personal decisions all while believing many foreign countries can not make it on their own without American interference and money, thus taking American lives and tax dollars to support those positions. American control of foreign countries destiny’s is of up most importance to conservatives.

    Now take the Libertarians. For the most part, they take the best from both the progressives and conservatives and leave out the bad. Stay out of the way of capitalism, out of peoples personal lives, out of individuals financial well being (fewer taxes), require personal responsibility to succeed in life and stay out of foreign countries conflicts with enemies unless there is a direct danger on America.

    These positions moderate somewhat when a Libertarian such a Rand Paul states them, but they are closer to what many moderates in America believe in. The only problem is Moderates have no voice in what happens in America today, thus we end up with what the Progressives and Conservatives give us to vote for.

    “Moderation and common sense might not generate much heat, but at least we’ll go to our eternal reward (or the communal boneyard) with the knowledge that we tried our best to make sense of these bewildering times.” >>>>>>>>>>>>>The question here should be, “Is making sense of these bewildering times good enough for our future generations?”

  5. Roby permalink
    March 26, 2015 6:38 am

    You can have fun, or you can follow the grim news of politics. Never the twain shall meet.

    • March 26, 2015 9:58 am

      Roby: I try, but there’s a reason I don’t post a new column every day (besides laziness, raising a son and other mitigating factors).

  6. Roby permalink
    March 26, 2015 6:52 am

    I remember how I used to irk Dave with my use of the word extreme. Its a personal choice, subjective. Politically, for my taste 99% of the common sense and common decency lie within one standard deviation of the American political mean. Others have other subjective opinions. Obama and Cruz are both extreme to me. Cruz is at the far ideological edge of a congress that has already lost any semblance of a moderate keel. Obama thinks that elections matter, but only when he and his party win. When they lose that means he will become imperial. That is extreme, maybe not ideologically. He is also extremely naive and extremely weird, e.g. his reaction of beaming rays of happiness on the golf course after dealing with a beheading a few hours earlier. I don’t know enough about Netanyaho (I can’t spell him and the closest the spellchecker here comes is “Hootenany”, very funny) or Israeli politics to know whether he is extreme, I can say that he throws red meat well, not a good sign.

    • March 26, 2015 8:24 am

      In the main, I am ot seeing this as extreme.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Cruz#Political_positions

      • Roby permalink
        March 26, 2015 9:18 am

        Well, OK, but In a candid moment you admitted that you are no moderate. And that is the closest I am going to come to arguing with you old buddy. Sip some wine, put on Bach, enjoy the spring air if it has reached Iowa yet…

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 10:21 am

        Yes, I am not a moderate on balance and I am not arguing for sure.

    • March 26, 2015 9:26 am

      Roby, this is the first time that I have understood your use of the term “extreme” (after all these years, go figure – we could have avoided a few flame wars here and there 😉 ) And it occurs to me that Rick’s definition of the word is probably closer to yours than to mine.

      As far as Netanyahu, I would say that he is the least extreme of the group, by either definition. But, then again, in his part of the world, extremism IS mainstream.

      • March 26, 2015 9:55 am

        Priscilla: I wasn’t really tagging Netanyahu as an extremist. I just found it cringeworthy that he suddenly shifted to a hard-right position on Palestine on the eve of the election so he could pull out a last-minute victory. In other words, he saw (and so did I) that extremism pays.

      • jbastiat permalink
        March 26, 2015 10:22 am

        If you lived in Israel, I daresay your definition may vary a bit from here, in the safety of your own home.

      • Roby permalink
        March 26, 2015 10:09 am

        Thanks Priscilla. I’d insert dancing smiling

        To quote Henry Higgens:
        I’m a very gentle man,
        Even-tempered and good-natured
        Whom you never hear complain;
        Who has the milk of human kindness
        By the quart in every vein.

        A patient man am I,
        Down to my fingertips;
        The sort who never could, ever would,
        Let an insulting remark escape his lips.
        A very gentle man.

        Well, maybe not always….

  7. Roby permalink
    March 26, 2015 10:11 am

    I’d insert a dancing smiley face if I knew how is what I meant to say.

  8. Roby permalink
    March 26, 2015 10:25 am

    For no better reason than the fact that I love everything about the Audrey Hepburn/Rex Harrison version of My Fair Lady and watched it again a week or so ago, I am going to insert the whole song lyric, though it has no connection to politics and moderation I don’t think, so forgive me. Its just a little moment of PreKardozian American culture that I value. Please don’t think I would be politically incorrect enough to actually support the dreadfully anti-woman sentiments, but the song is funnier than hell

    PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
    I’m an ordinary man
    Who desires nothing more
    Than just an ordinary chance
    To live exactly as he likes
    And do precisely what he wants.
    An average man am I,
    Of no eccentric whim,
    Who likes to live his life, free of strife,
    Doing whatever he thinks is best for him.
    Oh, Just an ordinary man.

    But! Let a woman in your life,
    And your serenity is through.
    She’ll redecorate your home
    from the cellar to the dome,
    Then go to the enthralling fun
    Of overhauling you.

    Let a woman in your life,
    And you’re up against a wall.
    Make a plan and you will find
    She has something else in mind,
    And so rather than do either
    You do something else that neither likes at all.

    You want to talk of Keats or Milton;
    She only wants to talk of love.
    You go to see a play or ballet
    And spend it searching for her glove.

    Let a woman in your life,
    And you invite eternal strife.
    Let them buy their wedding bands
    For those anxious little hands.
    I’d be equally as willing
    For a dentist to be drilling
    Than to ever let a woman in my life!

    I’m a very gentle man,
    Even-tempered and good-natured
    Whom you never hear complain;
    Who has the milk of human kindness
    By the quart in every vein.

    A patient man am I,
    Down to my fingertips;
    The sort who never could, ever would,
    Let an insulting remark escape his lips.
    A very gentle man.

    But! Let a woman in your life,
    And patience hasn’t got a chance.
    She will beg you for advice.
    Your reply will be concise,
    And she’ll listen very nicely,
    Then go out and do precisely what she wants!

    You were a man of grace and polish
    Who never spoke above a hush.
    Now all at once you’re using language
    That would make a sailor blush.

    Let a woman in your life,
    And you’re plunging in a knife!
    Let the others of my sex
    Tie the knot around their necks.
    I’d prefer a new edition
    Of the Spanish Inquisition
    Than to ever let a woman in my life.

    I’m a quiet living man,
    Who prefers to spend the evenings
    In the silence of his room;
    Who likes an atmosphere as restful
    As an undiscovered tomb.

    A pensive man am I,
    Of philosophic joys;
    Who likes to meditate, contemplate,
    Free from humanity’s mad inhuman noise.
    A quiet living man.

    But! Let a woman in your life,
    And your sabbatical is through.
    In a line that never ends
    Come an army of her friends;
    Come to jabber and to chatter,
    And to tell her what the matter is with you!

    She’ll have a booming, boisterous family,
    Who will descend on you en masse.
    She’ll have a large Wagnerian mother
    With a voice that shatters glass.

    Let a woman in your life!
    Let a woman in your life!

    I shall never let a woman in my life.

    • March 26, 2015 12:10 pm

      I love those Rex Harrison Henry Higgins soliloquies — that one plus “Why Can’t the English…?” and “A Hymn to Him” (aka “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?”). I tip my hat (if I wore one) to Alan Jay Lerner.

      • Roby permalink
        March 26, 2015 4:09 pm

        I’m not able to be objective about things I fell in love with as a child, but I think the music and lyrics from My fair Lady and the diologues, everything, were pure genius. Glad we share that taste!

  9. Pat Riot permalink
    April 5, 2015 11:26 am

    Don’t despair, rational Americans! Hold the line! Extremism is actually a small minority, multiplied millions of times daily by the commercial media machinery. “News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles on the surface of a deeper world.”–Rolf Dobelli, Swedish author of “The Art of Thinking Clearly” (2011). http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli

    • April 6, 2015 11:15 am

      Although I want to agree with this article, I can’t help but wonder if the author is essentially advocating that everyone just give up. A strong democracy depends on educated – or at least somewhat aware – voters. Otherwise, let’s just appoint a dictator we like and let him or her go forward, while we make the best of things and stay our of trouble.

      On the other hand, I totally agree that true extremists are in the minority, and that the news media inflates their power and influence to an alarming degree, The news also “creates” extremists, like that poor pizzeria lady in Indiana who tried to answer the gotcha question on gay weddings honestly (seriously, who would ask a small pizzeria to cater a wedding!?!) and ended up being portrayed as a far right religious bigot. BUt, the outpouring of sympathy – and money- that she received was due to the unfairness of that portayal, so I think it shows how many of us are NOT ok with the news.

  10. Pat Riot permalink
    April 6, 2015 8:45 pm

    Priscilla, I know, we’re supposed to stay informed.

    I believe Rolf is advocating tuning out from the saturation, the overwhelming surface noise, but not the issues. He wants to digest the issues in deeper ways. I believe Rolf gets a heads up from his friends when there’s something he should be aware of. I was following up our own Roby above who was saying we can either have fun or follow the grim news of politics. I say a big reason it’s grim is because of the WAY in which it’s delivered: sensational, lopsided, unbalanced, divisive. Rather than attempt the whole truth, we get the most salient parts that provoke us.

    A simple example I’ve harped on before is that when a car accident is reported, the truth is that millions of other people drove carefully and successfully. We don’t get the context, which is the reality, we usually only get the anomalies, over and over again. How many Muslims are radical? Anthony Bourdain, the food guy, did a special in Iran. Everyone looked nice and regular and decent by his cameras. I want the truth, and I’m damn tired of the distortions, the trickery, and the propaganda, ‘ya know?

    • Ron P permalink
      April 6, 2015 11:40 pm

      Pat, when you have the majority leader stand up on the Senate floor, tell an out and out bold faced lie about his parties presidential candidates opponent and then brag about it saying it helped get his party elected,.why should we expect anything different from our news media. Only when the media is caught like they were with the Virginia University rape case does it cause them any discomfort and even then it’s not anything that has a lasting impact.

    • April 7, 2015 10:55 am

      Ron, the UVA Rape story in Rolling Stone is a very illustrative example of what Pat is talking about. As cynical as I am, I am still flabbergasted that this story got published at all, and after it was completely debunked as a total lie (but not before it destroyed the reputation of a fraternity and a university), Rolling Stone still declined to fire the writer, and said that she would continue to write her agenda-based stories!

      So, Pat, I’m with you on the lies and propaganda and distortion, but I still think that Rolf is advocating willful ignorance, as opposed to looking for the truth.

      This morning, one of my leftist FB friends posted an article about a young woman (in Indiana, the new “hateful conservative state” natch) who was supposedly going to prison for inducing her own abortion. That struck me as highly unlikely, so I dug into the story a bit, an found out that the woman was from a strict Hindu family, had hid her unmarried pregnancy from her family, gone into premature labor and delivered a live baby (although very premature) and then allowed the baby to die. I certainly don’t agree with the judge’s decision to put this girl in prison, but this story is not about abortion, which is legal and safe in Indiana, it’s about infanticide – or feticide, as most of the stories call it.

      The reporting of the story as a “War on Women’s Reproductive Rights” is classic agenda driven news, which is all we ever seem to get. I want to ignore it, but I also want to know the truth. Ya know?

      • April 7, 2015 10:58 am

        Re: the abortion story – the woman’s premature labor may or may not have been caused by her attempting to abort. Either way, the legal issue was over the fact that the baby was born alive.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 7, 2015 11:56 am

        Priscilla, Pat made the comment ” I want the truth, and I’m damn tired of the distortions, the trickery, and the propaganda, ‘ya know?”, so that generated my comment about Harry Reid lying about Romney and his taxes, bragging about it getting Obama reelected and generating a media that is allowed to make up stories with no ramifications.

        I am not surprised that this story got published. Virginia rape case, “hand up don’t shoot”, and all the other “stories” that a proven to be falsehoods printed by the media just supports Rolf’s tuning out from the saturation as much of it is falsehoods that should not be listened to to begin with.

        Problem is too many tune out everything and then when the time to vote comes around, they believe the lies that come in political ads and vote for someone they have no actual knowledge of and what they stand for.

      • April 7, 2015 4:29 pm

        I have to agree with the decision of the court in this case. First the woman was 33 years old, not a teenager or early 20’s where her parents might be able to control her life and decisions. She is in America and when she reached the age of 18 she was an adult, so she is 16 years past that age. Second, she was 7 months pregnant, not 2 or 3 months pregnant. A large majority of 7 month babies survive as a preemie. There is a vast difference in the development of an 8 or 12 week fetus and a 30+ week baby. And last, she had the mental capacity to make up stories about what happened, so any innocence based on mental illness does not seem to be one that would fly in this case.

        But the story behind the story is the liberal left and the conservative right that like all issues facing this country today can not be reconciled. And until we have a government that will compromise on most all issues and find a somewhat acceptable solution in the middle and then shut up, we will continue to have stories like this that blames liberals or conservatives and not the person responsible for unacceptable actions such as this one.

      • Roby permalink
        April 9, 2015 3:42 pm

        ” I am still flabbergasted that this story got published at all, and after it was completely debunked as a total lie (but not before it destroyed the reputation of a fraternity and a university), Rolling Stone still declined to fire the writer, and said that she would continue to write her agenda-based stories!”

        100% agreement. Now, I never, I repeat never thought of RS as a news outlet. Hip, usually smug lefty political opinions, and their taste in music has been generally exquisitely bad (head over heals in love with “Glam rock”! and Punk) every rare time I have had an issue of the RS in my hands, somehow, that I promise you did not buy. Sue the RS until their ears bleed.

        Yes, this is a case of an obvious agenda on the part of the writer and the RS. However, I give credit to the so-called “lamestream media” for unraveling the BS. Yeah, she wanted to do good and did it so badly that she put a great big dent in legitimate efforts along the lines of her agenda. In other words she did what extremists always do, she discredited more moderate balanced people with the same basic cause. The reaction of the paper and the joint non-apology to the fraternity are such a clear example of the arrogance of the crusading (somewhat far) left. Makes me ill.

        BTW, I’m strongly in the camp of those who believe that Cosby is guilty of being a criminal sexual predator and have read many comments from those who lump all of his accusers together as liars and tie a ribbon around the package in the form of Gloria Allred (although she only represents about 6 of them). The RS debacle sure makes their day.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 9, 2015 6:13 pm

        There was a period of many yeas in this country where journalism was based on facts and journalist would investigate a story, gather the facts, verify the facts and then report the facts as they where able to obtain. In some stories, some facts might be left out to frame a story in the light that they wanted the reader to see, but the story was still based on the facts of the case.

        We now have journalism based on what people say and others charged or there reputation destroyed based on circumstances that have not been proven. Legally, there might be a case against RS, but in reality I bet there will not be any lasting impact on RS or the journalism profession that will change anything.

        And we will continue to see more and more lies reported in the press and those lies spread throughout the internet by those that believe whatever the extremist press has on their agenda for that day.

  11. jbastiat permalink
    April 7, 2015 2:20 pm

    I will disagree. I would expect jail time for this young woman. Otherwise, the message is pretty clear: Babies don’t matter, in, or out. of the womb.

    • April 7, 2015 2:53 pm

      I do get that, JB. But the sentence here seems pretty draconian, since we’re talking about a desperate, possibly disturbed woman.

      My question is this: if free abortions are so important to a woman’s “reproductive health,” why are there still cases like this? I know the answer, but it is yet another instance where the talking points on a controversial topic ( in this case that legal, affordable abortion on demand prevents desperate young women from seeking back alley or self induced abortion) do not line up with reality.

      • jbastiat permalink
        April 7, 2015 3:03 pm

        Yeah, but you can’t counter the liberal “narrative.” I guess I am just blind to my white privilege.

      • asmith permalink
        April 9, 2015 3:22 am

        people who commit crimes are often “desparate”.

        The test of someone’s values is how they adhere to them when it will cost them.

      • April 9, 2015 8:31 am

        I get that, Dave…..and I am not disagreeing. But our courts routinely take into consideration extenuating factors, such as mental state and emotional distress, when sentencing.

        The fact that this woman was 33 makes me even more perplexed as to why she did not seek an abortion in the early stages of her pregnancy, when she could certainly have done so without her family’s knowledge . One has to consider the possibility that she was in a somewhat deranged mental state when she did this In addition I’m not certain that she presents a danger to society, insofar as she is probably unlikely to do it again. So, I question the long prison sentence.

        But, of course, to get back to the point of news media, I don’t even know if I have read the whole story, or know why the judge imposed this long prison sentence. The way this story is being reported, one would think that her “crime” was wanting to end her pregnancy….the details of the baby’s birth and death are pretty much left up to the reader to intuit. No doubt that this is due to the fact that the Narrative here is the War on Women.

  12. Pat Riot permalink
    April 7, 2015 5:04 pm

    I may have told this story before, not sure because I’m overworked and getting old: I saw an ad for a job asking for writing experience with videography experience. I emailed my resume because I have both. The guy who contacted me is a regular contributor to a news site you would recognize. He told me he generates his money by the number of hits he generates. He wanted to partner to churn out a story per week with video, preferably amusing, funny, or startling, something with the potential to go viral. He told me straight out that he really only cared any more about generating hits and making money.

    So besides the profession of journalism being weakened and corrupted from the top, we also have scads of newcomers leaping on from the bottom and posting things for the wrong reasons.

    No, I’m not advocating completely tuning out, but I’m much more protective of my peace of mind these days.

  13. Ron P permalink
    April 12, 2015 1:40 pm

    Today we find Clinton announcing for president, Rubio is expected to announce, Paul, Bush and Cruz are in. With the article that Rick wrote concerning extremism, so far only one of these might be considered extreme in their political positions to the average American.

    But in American politics today, it seems to me that the major issue that faces this country today is not so much extremism as the fact that Democrats can unit behind a far left candidate such as Obama, they can unit behind a moderate democrat such as Bill Clinton and possibly Hillary Clinton should she maintain her past positions in this campaign, all while the Republicans have to have everything or nothing.

    McCain and Romney were moderates and while McCain lost many votes due to his brain fart in picking Sarah Palin and then the financial meltdown, both he and Romney could not energize the Republicans to vote in the numbers required because they did not fit some mold in the party.

    So what do we have today. Cruz, the conservatives conservative, Rubio, the fiscal conservative, but lacking the hard stance on immigration needed to bring the hard right to vote, Paul, the Libertarian that can energize the younger voter, but turns off the over 50 voter,and Bush, the Republican machine’s candidate but one who turns off the “never again Bush voter” and then a handful of others that be attractive to some, but not all. The Republicans will once again eat their own in the primaries, leaving many in one wing or the other of the party lacking any desire to vote because they did not get their way.

    And all the time Clinton will run and get the far left liberals voting for her all while her campaign is being financed by Wall Street bankers and corporations which the far left despises.

    So it seems to me that the Democrats come from a background where they have never received everything they wanted while growing up, while the Republicans seem to be the kid that takes his ball home when the neighborhood kids want to play by rules that are acceptable to all. If the kids are Democrats, they are playing in the park as a group while the kid who s a Republican is setting at home pissed off because he did not get his way.

    Come January, 2017, the Republicans will once again be asking why they can’t beat a liberal, spend happy candidate while Hillary is getting ready for her coronation.

    • April 12, 2015 2:30 pm

      Like all generalizations, this one is more wrong than right.

      • April 12, 2015 5:20 pm

        I did say “So it seems to me” in the next to last paragraph which makes this a comment based on my personal belief in how I see the Democrat and Republican parties and the candidates that are running today.

        I appreciate your comment that this was a generalization and it being more wrong than right. This could be true and we will know if that is so come November 2016.

        I can only comment based on what I hear from people I am around when they may be talking about politics or from what more moderate media personnel say when they are being interviewed on some news program. Some of my thoughts are also shaped by articles such as the following:
        http://www.redstate.com/diary/griffinelection/2012/11/14/what-went-wrong-in-2012-the-case-of-the-4-million-missing-voters/

        Please note the section titled “Myth of the Independent”. It seems to me to suggest what I said in my previous comment, that the independent voter supported Romney, but because the evangelical right did not get everything they wanted in a Republican, they did not vote, allowing Obama an easier route to reelection.

        So if the evangelical voter did not turn out to vote, are they just a one issue voter who cares less about foreign policy, domestic fiscal policy, judicial appointments, etc and only vote if one of their own is running? That’s what it seems like to me.

        But again, it is a generalization and could be completely wrong. But I am also one that believes getting half a loaf is better than others getting all the loaf like they did with Obama, so that could cloud my judgement.

  14. Pat Riot permalink
    April 12, 2015 10:19 pm

    I’ve never had so much anxiety over an upcoming election.

    Interesting Ron P that you seem to be on the money above when you say that Rand Paul turns off the older voters. I’ve heard two 70-somethings dismiss Rand immediately as a “nut job” and a “wacko.” OK that’s a really small sample size (2) but why that demographic so rash about him? I’m not in the Rand Paul corner. (I believe with all my heart that the gangsters at the top have sat him down and explained to him how he’s going to play it. He seems to have some portion of “the machinery” behind him, in stark contrast to his father)

    Anyway, for the past few years I was thinking I was a Libertarian, but now I’m thinking that’s just another way for big business to run amuck with less interference. Too much interference is bad, not enough interference also bad. I know we’ve got Libertarians here at TNM. Tell me how free markets can work when things are rigged from the top via lobbyists and big money? Monopolies and near-monopolies are not free markets.

    I would welcome a woman President, but please GOD, please PEOPLE, please, please, not Shillary (Shill for the Oligarchs) Clinton. If ever there was a career politician who has sold her soul…somebody please tell me how I’m wrong about Shillary.

    Despite the rhetoric and the Rah-Rah that’s going to be beamed at us, isn’t the truth that the very top is wealthier than ever, and that the gap has widened between these “super elites” and the middle class that has been decimated, with some exceptions? Who will help steer things back to a less-rigged playing field? Is less-rigged too much to ask for? Who can we trust?

    Anxious in Pennsylvania,
    Pat

    • April 13, 2015 12:26 am

      Pat, I have to agree with you in most of what you have said. There are degrees of liberalism, conservatism and Libertarian-ism. Now some may question this statement, but I think that each of these is in its pure form would be considered extremism by many. You state that you thought for some years that you were a Libertarian and I also believe in many of their positions, but in its pure form it would not work in our society. People are not trustworthy enough to expect them to deregulate business and industry completely. Libertarians have also believed that national defense should be mostly within our own borders and in many cases like WW1 and WW2, that could not have been acceptable. Viet Nam and Iraq #2 should have followed the libertarian viewpoint and we should have stayed out of those countries.

      But when you moderate any position, people can come to the middle and compromise for the good of the country. We need regulations, but we need fewer, but more effective regulations. We need government spending, but we need less, more efficient government spending. And we need laws covering personal actions, but those laws should cover actions that negatively impact others that do not agree to be part of those actions. Laws should not cover actions between two consenting adults like gay marriage or individual actions that impact no one else except someone committing those actions.

      As for the divide between the rich and the middle class, it is something that has occurred by, for and supported by the elite for the most part. When I retired from the healthcare field, the difference between an RN’s salary (about 50% of the healthcare systems salary cost) and the CEO’s salary was about 10 times. The RN’s made around 40K, while the CEO was around 400K. Now the RN’s are around 50K, while the CEO’s salary is well over 1 million. The directors on the board for the hospital are the same businessmen that the CEO sits on their board(s). You scratch my back, I scratch yours! The work still gets done by the RN’s, while the CEO makes the salary. And that happens in many industries and government. A few years ago, the difference between the school superintendent in our area was around $100K . Now in some counties it is $250K or more. And it is the teachers job that has become harder, not the superintendent. One might also find this in higher education between the professors and the chancellors.

      And little will change no matter who is in power in Washington.

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