The Mean Meme

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on May 31, 2012

A radio whiner referred to a book, The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, and the idea light bulb went off in PG’s fevered mental cavity. The tome is written by Jonah Goldberg, who is often confused for Jeffrey Goldberg. PG has not read the book. However, with the help of Amazon and NPR, he knows enough to write some text. You have to put something between the pictures. The pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The video is courtesy of  The Heritage Foundation. Listen to it at your own risk.

Amazon dutifully posts this brief description: “The bestselling author of Liberal Fascism dismantles the progressive myths that are passed-off as wisdom in our schools, media and politics. According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological. Today, “objective” journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun aphorisms.”

Mr. Goldberg proceeds to break down some of these expressions. Among the sacred cows skewered are : “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter ~ Violence never solves anything ~ Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer ~ Diversity is strength.”

Before we go any further, we should know that PG is no fan of bumper sticker wisdom. Much of what passes for knowledge in our culture is cleverly worded pablum. It is like the sets on a movie soundstage … What looks like Dodge City is a painting held up by a wooden frame. It gives you the sense of being on a western street. Reading Jonah Goldberg gives you the sense of being smart.

A writer starts a fire to promote a book. This fire produces a bit of heat, a smidgen of light, and enough smoke to fill the Georgia Dome. When you write a post about book promotion and reviews, it can be tough to see through the smoke. It is bad for your health to inhale smoke.

Many conservative writers whine about liberal mainstream media. They use MSM to promote their books. It is part of the game. In the internet age, with reviews and interview transcripts, there is a lot of material for the slack blogger. If you add a few comments of your own, then you can quickly produce post with a scary wordcount. Most readers don’t have the patience for more than 500 words. A great deal of long form blogging is not worth the effort, so the slack reader may be correct.

A good place to start is the NPR interview, Do Liberals Live Under A ‘Tyranny Of Cliches’? A transcript is the slack bloggers friend.

Jonah Goldberg: “What bothers me is the way in which cliches sort of sail right through. And so you’ll get these kids who will stand up in an audience and say – you know – Mr. Goldberg, I may disagree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it … And first of all, it’s just a lie. You know, this kid’s not going to take a bullet for me. And second of all, it’s completely not responsive. All it is, is him sort of getting bravery on the cheap, claiming to take – you know, to be valiantly defending my right to free speech. “

Chamblee 54 – PG wonders what Mr. Voltaire meant by that phrase, and what the context was. A version today might be, I may disagree with what you say, and I will interrupt you before you finish your second sentence. Arguments (which Mr. Goldbergs is fond of) usually consist of people yelling at each other, with few listening to what the other says.

As for bravery on the cheap … this is in a country that uses a paid army to fight wars of conquest eight time zones away. Few are called on to sacrifice in the fifty states, except those who serve in the military (and their families). These military adventures are paid for with a tax cut. Yes, to raise money to pay for these wars, the taxes were cut. There is something called supply side economics at play here, and it has produced trillion dollar a year budget deficits. Conservatives denounce big government, then demand that this big government send hundreds of thousands of bootsontheground eight time zones away, and pay for it with a tax cut. Lets talk about cliches run amok.

JG- “That’s right. I mean, it’s not a book about bumper stickers and buzz phrases. Those are sort of endemic to politics, and I’m not sure you can ever completely get them out. I sort of want to go one layer beyond that, you know, things like social justice. Or President Obama recently talked about social Darwinism. And… “

NPR- “He’s against it.”

JG- “He’s against it. But here’s the funny thing: Nobody is for it. There was no intellectual movement in American history called social Darwinism. The people who were supposedly the leaders of the social Darwinist movement never embraced something called social Darwinism. It didn’t exist. But it is one of these sort of mythologies about America and its intellectual history, that the right embraced this thing called social Darwinism, when it never did so.”

C54- So nobody claims to be a social Darwinist. Just like nobody embraces liberalism. The only people who talk about liberalism are conservatives. Very few people embrace the label of liberal. This business of dividing society into liberals and conservatives ignores the people who don’t claim any label, but just want to live their lives and be happy. This is very discouraging to those who want to have arguments.

The New York Times did it’s capitalist duty to help sell Mr. Goldberg’s book. Hating Liberals ‘The Tyranny of Clichés,’ by Jonah Goldberg is a copypaste wonderland. Even more fun is the reply, The NYT Calls Central Casting
New York Times- “Jonah Goldberg’s first book was called “Liberal Fascism.” It was a screed, of course, but a clever one. He argued that liberals who routinely denounce extreme conservatives as fascists should take a look in their own backyard, and he wasn’t fooling around: “It is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion.”

Jonah Goldberg- “One quick point about Liberal Fascism. My first book still serves as something of a liberal emetic. It elicits vomitous exhalations of bilious nonsense. There’s just something about that  book that many liberals can’t make peace with or contend with honestly. It can be very annoying, but I also take it as a compliment. If the book didn’t matter so much, they’d stop bringing it up.”

Chamblee54- Before today, PG had never heard of “Liberal Fascism”. It reminds him of a billboard announcing a new radio station. WGKA 920 AM LIBERALS HATE US. The truth is, very few liberals even knew the station existed. Most people would rather listen to something else. Mr. Goldberg does score rhetorical points with this paragraph. This sort of prose is fun to read, even if it doesn’t mean a dern thing.

NYT- “But I’ve just come off six months of watching Republican candidates for president ply their trade, and the cliché spew has been volcanic. We can start with “Government doesn’t create jobs,” which somehow elides the existence of the military-industrial complex. Goldberg does acknowledge that conservatives also inhale, but liberal clichés are, well, fascistic, a never-ending assault on American freedom.”

NYT- “One of Goldberg’s next targets — and we’re still in the introduction, by the way — is centrism, which he sees as a particularly insidious brand of liberal obtuseness: “Well, the Wahhabis want to kill all the gays and Jews. The Sufis don’t want to kill any gays or Jews. So the moderate, sensible position must be to kill just the gays, but not the Jews. . . . The point is that sometimes the extreme is 100 percent correct while the centrist position is 100 percent wrong. Would it be pedestrian, in a decidedly liberal way, for me to point out that this sort of argument is not merely infantile, but a sly denigration of the necessary compromises that are at the heart of almost every real policy dispute? Figuring out how to calculate cost-of-living increases for Social Security is not an all-or-nothing proposition. But Goldberg is not interested in anything so quotidian as actual governance. “

JG- “Well yes, it is pedestrian in a decidedly liberal way for him to say this. When I write: “The point is that sometimes the extreme is 100 percent correct while the centrist position is 100 percent wrong,” I mean “Sometimes the extreme position is 100 percent correct.” Does he deny that? Or does he honestly believe the difference-splitting middle is always right?
Well, maybe he does. Like so many in his phylum, Klein is fixated on the issue of “compromise.” These days, “compromise” means conservatives should cave in on all of the big issues and liberals should be gracious about not rubbing it in too hard. Amusingly, this is a major theme of my book, and Klein not only doesn’t really seem to understand it but – like Piers Morgan before him — seems determined to illustrate the point for me.
He says that real policy disputes revolve around how much Social Security checks should go up, and that it is “infantile” for me to suggest otherwise. In other words, according to Klein conservatives are grown-ups when they agree to the status quo and/or growth in the size of government, but they are extremists when they suggest more structural reforms. Liberals, meanwhile, are grown-ups when they agree to bend a little on how much bigger the checks should be and, I surmise, they are never extremists because Joe Klein’s version of liberalism is never wrong. Ultimately, any effort more ambitious than slowing the rate of increase in entitlement spending is, by Klein’s lights, extremist.
No wonder he doesn’t like the book. It’s as if I wrote it about him!”

C54- At some point, it is helpful to quit arguing and find a solution to the problem. To point out the misdeeds of those who disagree with you solves little. It is like kids on a playground, screaming … always screaming … Billy is a liberal Billy is a liberal na nana na na. Dogs like to bark, and Jonah Goldberg likes to argue. Having a shouting match can be great fun for the participants, but is rough on the neighbors who are trying to sleep.

NYT- “Whatever minimal truth there is to that, Goldberg’s methods in exposing these depredations are not exactly rigorous. He begins his exploration of liberal clichés with this one: “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” He says he hears it all the time on college campuses, from students more serious-looking than “the typical hippie with open-toed shoes and a closed mind.” (Hmm. Aren’t stereotypes first cousins to clichés?) “My response?” he responds. “Who gives a rat’s ass? First of all, my right to speak never was in doubt. . . . Second, the kid is almost surely lying. He’ll take a bullet for me? ­Really?”

JG- “By the end Klein simply starts to unravel entirely. It’s easy to imagine him dictating the last bits from his fainting couch, as he gestures for his attendants to bring him a cold rag for his brow. Assuming you’re still with me, I promise to keep it briefer than Klein deserves. He suggests I’m being absurd when I write: “Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is.”
“In other words,” Klein responds, “the reforming instinct — the progressive insistence that meat be inspected by the government, for example — is inherently un-American because it’s a first step down the slippery slope toward government control?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I am saying! Meat inspections are unpatriotic! (Actually, I make no such slippery-slope argument, but he makes a slippery-slope inference. Also, I never say liberals are unpatriotic, I say they are confused about patriotism. For instance, Barack Obama has voiced his desire to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” a locution, I think, that is hard to square with a love for America as it is. Don’t believe me? Tell your wife or husband, “Honey, I love you, I just want to fundamentally transform you.”) “

C54- ““Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism” “I never say liberals are unpatriotic, I say they are confused about patriotism.” When your arguments about ideas don’t work, you go for the personal attack. Then you deny that you made this attack, but explain what you meant by it, which is when you launch another personal attack. Holy rhetoric Batman.

NYT- “After a while, it just becomes exhausting. “Feminism was in no small part launched as a Trojan horse for an older and more familiar Marxist assault.” And “No Jews were tortured in the Spanish Inquisition” (only “former” Jews who claimed conversion to Catholicism were, but Jews were treated far better by the Muslims than by the Catholics, a fact Goldberg neglects). Gandhi evinced “stunning naïveté” and was, occasionally, “incandescently dumb,” without a mention of the impact of his philosophy on the American civil rights movement or the collapse of the Soviet empire. Does Goldberg really believe this stuff? Or is he just being tendentious for rhetorical effect? In the end, his vindictive thrashings have very little to do with the actual practice of politics; the idea that political clichés are banal isn’t exactly a blinding insight, either. Sadly, Goldberg has intellectual resources that might be put to grown-up use. But then, as the liberal cliché has it, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

JG- “Well, yes, I do really believe this stuff. What I want to know is whether Klein thinks any of this amounts to an impressive rejoinder or is he just monkey-dancing for the readers of the New York Times Book Review as the editors churn the organ grinder? Does Klein dispute that Gandhi was “incandescently dumb” when he advised the Jews of Germany to commit mass suicide? How about after the war, when Gandhi said, “The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife”? Does he know George Orwell and I see eye to eye on this? Is Klein arguing that Gandhi was savvy and smart when he told the British to surrender the British Isles to the Nazis? Does he deny Gandhi was naïve to call Hitler his friend? And what does Gandhi’s influence on the American civil-rights movement have to do with anything?”

C54- Mr. Gandhi was in a struggle against the British. If Great Britain were to surrender to the Nazis, then perhaps the goal of Indian independence would be closer to fulfillment. Or maybe not. Many people in the Soviet Union greeted the German’s as liberators. Where have we heard that phrase?

JG- “In the Tyranny of Clichés I write that liberals are largely ignorant of, and disconnected from, their own intellectual history and blind to their own dogmatic and ideological commitments. As a result, their thinking has become calcified, and they tend to mask their ideological agenda behind clichés that sound more intelligent and harmless than they really are. I want to thank Mr. Klein for proving my point.”

No Amazon assisted post is complete without one star reviews. There are plenty to choose from.

Confused, muddled, and irrelevant ramblings from someone with too much time on his hands Jim (Northern Virginia) May 23, 2012
The author insults people for using “cliches” such as, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” He says it is an expression “born in glibness – defined by vanity.” But here’s a post written by the author from his magazine’s blog in 2010:
“I can criticize and complain about my brother all I like, but if my brother bothers somebody outside the family, well, that’s just too bad. Similarly, Ted Kennedy may or may not be a Caligulan carbuncle, but if the jihadists want to behead him for it, they’ll have to get through me first.”
Whoops! I guess dumb cliches are only dumb if they aren’t being used by the author. That his confused hypocrisy can be exposed so easily shows how undeserving of serious attention this person is. He needs to get a real job.

Shameful, Disrespectful, and just more War propaganda.
A. S. Evangelista “Truth Seeker” (Midwest) May 21, 2012

This is nothing more then neoconservative propaganda, spewed out to keep the hate alive between two groups (liberals & conservatives) in hopes of further separating us and promoting overall approval for Governmental violence in face of overwhelming evidence it is not working.

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