Is Conservatism and its Values the New Counterculture?

countercultureby Tim Jones9/19/16
If I had to guess, being hip began around the time of Prohibition when drinking went underground and it became a form of rebellion in order to stick it in the nose of the government by going to the local ‘Speak Easy’ on a regular basis. Once Prohibition was repealed and drinking became mainstream again, being cool and rebellious took a break while the country had to get serious about protecting itself during WWII.

Then came along Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, the trio of writers that begat the beat generation who rebelled against the conformity of the post-war years in the 50s. Coolness came into its own with the new bohemians and beatniks. In popular culture, they were further defined and refined by the likes of James Dean, Steve McQueen and the slick and violent anti-heroes in Bonnie & Clyde played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

But it was the Vietnam War and the hippie culture that really super-charged the new zeitgeist of coolness. Rebellion against the establishment was in high gear and reached its apotheosis in the ultra-counterculture event, Woodstock. Somewhere around 300,000 hippies attended the seminal rock extravaganza. But there was a downside to this event that many overlook when the Woodstock generation went searching for a new social order.

It turned the music industry into big business and co-opted the “revolution” for monetary gain. And that’s been pretty much the way it’s been ever since. This was magnificently portrayed in the movie, The Big Chill, where a bunch of former University Of Michigan students spend a weekend contemplating and lamenting being sell-outs to their youthful rebellion by becoming part of the ‘establishment’ they once decried while in college. (My full review, Failed Idealism: The Big Chill, Revisited is posted on StubbornThings.)

But the new morality was in and the old was out. They smoked pot, snorted cocaine and jumped into bed with one another just like the old days at Michigan. It even went so far as to have one married character played by Kevin Kline get the green light by his wife to sleep with her friend played by Mark Kay Place in the hopes she could conceive a baby since she never married and her biological clock was winding down. And a married character played by JoBeth Williams sleeps with Tom Berenger’s character making up for an unrequited romance both wish they had while at Michigan.

Where the old morality centered around sin, restraint, obligation and sacrifice, the new morality is all about permissiveness, self-liberation and fulfillment topped off by unlimited pleasure-seeking and entertainment stripped of any guilt and limitations. All of the adverse consequences in turn get swept under the rug and became the new normal.

Mary Eberstadt, the author of It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and it Enemies, argued that biblical morality, which is for the most part the foundation of conservative values, has actually always been countercultural . On C-Span’s BookTV series, she recently said that for over 2,000 years, Christianity has gone against, in her words, the “marketplace of convenience,” where people over the millenia have pushed back on restraint and obligation, and in turn being told what not to do. One can easily see how this interferes  with fulfilling personal desires.

This has continued well into modern times, where conservative values go against the grain against capitalism in a very broad sense. Since the ‘bottom line’ of capitalism is the consumerism of ‘more of everything’ – from always buying new things, vacations, entertainment, you name it – and everyone and every business entity pushes it’s bottom line by marketing “you need this” or “you want this.” In the end there is never enough of too much of a good thing. Self-restraint and obligation to family and others are nowhere to be found in today’s secular culture.

So the liberal revolution turned out to be a flop, but the “hipness” and “coolness” that was part of it still lives on in our popular culture, media, education, corporate America and even mainline religions. It has become the de facto way of life whether we realize it or not with the creation of new cultural norms now taken for granted. How can anyone make a coherent argument that what was once the liberal counterculture is not the new mainstream culture? So in turn, doesn’t that make conservatism and its values the new counterculture? • (2364 views)

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88 Responses to Is Conservatism and its Values the New Counterculture?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I haven’t read this yet, Tim, but I’m approving it at an article on general philosophy. I do think conservatives are the new counter-culture with one caveat: What does anyone mean by “conservative” or “conservative values”? I say this in the context of Trump. Many many people had no problem dumping their “conservative values” and “conservative philosophy” to promote this chump.

    So…just saying. Perhaps these values need to be specifically articulated so that we’re all not talking past each other. Let me give you what I think is the definitive definition of “conservative values and principles” in as nutshellish of a form as I can:

    1) Honoring the original intent of the Founders, the Constitution, and the general idea of American Exceptionalism.

    2) Personal responsibility, family, a multitude of community organizations to dispense one-on-one help, and free markets vs. Big Sister (or Big Brother) socialism.

    3) As Steve Jobs would sometimes say (or what’s become a general Macintosh nostrum), “There is no step three.” Inside of “personal responsibility” are all the values such as hard work, honesty, perseverance, trustworthiness, and a general non-dirtbagness that makes one a good citizen, good family member, and good friend. And if you go against these good character traits then, as God intended, you will feel some pain in order to set you back on the right course.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Conservative values involve realizing that rights and obligations go together.

      I believe I’ve seen elsewhere the idea that conservatism is something of a counter-culture today. The main culture is based on the worst aspects of 60s liberalism.

      Note that the real Bonnie and Clyde were just a pair of thugs who chose a life of violent crime rather than regular work, unusual only in that Bonnie was a woman (and a poet of sorts).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I agree with everything you say. And I read that Gene Wilder’s career gained a boost from his portrayal of Eugene Grizzard in the 1967 Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway version.

    • David Ray says:

      Your comment reminds me of when Bush nominated Harriet Myers. He pathetically pushed that lackluster jurist on us, promising she’d help repeal Roe v. Wade.
      We wern’t wanting preconception; we were wanting a STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST. (Thank God we got Aleto instead.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Bingo, David. You really have to hold the feet of these Republicans to the fire. Their first instinct is certainly not conservative. God bless Alito indeed.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    My reference to Bonnie & Clyde was from the perspective that it was one of the first movies, if not the first, to glorify people who were anti-heroes and therefore anti-establishment in terms of their values that people rooted for despite their criminality. I know I did when I first saw it as a kid.
    Although Trump is not considered a conservative, I think he comes along at a unique time in the country’s history where people are totally fed up with all of ‘talk’ on both sides and have nominated a real outsider, not one that claims to be like a Ted Cruz or Chris Christie. My belief is that he will surprise a lot of people if elected president and govern as a real conservative. What makes me think that is that he will have to surround himself with people familiar with the ways of Washington and how to implement his agenda. I think the majority of those people will be conservatives.
    Mike Pence as his vp was a great pick who is as about as conservative as you get. I think that sent a strong signal as to how he will govern as well as the list of conservative judges he would pick from to nominate for the Supreme Court if elected.
    I wasn’t crazy about him at the start of the primaries but the more I listen to him, the more I like him. As a matter of fact, back when he was doing that stupid reality show, The Apprentice, I couldn’t stand him and never watched it.
    When you listen closely to his rhetoric, it is more often than not peppered with the promotion of conservative values. Unfortunately, his style is off-putting to a lot of people and that’s created what I think is a huge misperception.
    But you make a good point Brad. He should be more forceful in promoting and articulating conservatism and its values if indeed that’s what he really believes in.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I hope you didn’t think I was criticizing your mention of the movie. I remember a reader arguing in MAD after their parody of it that Bonnie and Clyde were symbols of the people fighting the big shots, or some such. Even at the time, there were those who evidently saw some of the criminals of the era that way (e.g., John Steinbeck’s comments on Pretty Boy Floyd). The policeman who got them was still alive, and successfully sued the movie-maker for their smear of him.

      • David Ray says:

        That cop was a Texas ranger wasn’t it?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I don’t recall if he was a Texas Ranger, but as I recall, Bonnie and Clyde met their end on some small road in West Louisiana. Perhaps Texas and Louisiana authorities worked together to rid the world of such pests.

          The story I heard as a kid was that Bonnie was buried off Marsh Lane (or Josey Lane), about four to five miles from where I grew up. Her head stone disappeared once or twice I think. Drunken college students or some such types were involved at least once it seems.

          When they developed the area, they dug her up and moved her.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I can’t remember if he was a Ranger, but he was definitely a Texas cop. I think Bonnie was buried with the rest of her family, so that her autobiographical poem’s prediction proved to be partly wrong (they did indeed “go down together”, which was used as the title for their most recent biography, but they weren’t buried “side by side”).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Perhaps Texas and Louisiana authorities worked together to rid the world of such pests.

            In essence, Bonnie and Clyde are still with us. As Ayers or Alinsky said, and I paraphrase, you put away the radical means to achieve the radical ends. We now call Bonnie and Clyde “community organizers.” They put away their radical ways (machine guns) and have been able to achieve radical ends (“social justice”)…but no less destructive.

            Sorry for the pointless analysis, but it was too good to pass up. And because it intersects with a renowned movie, it works. 😀

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              As regards the damage they did and danger they presented to society, Bonnie and Clyde were Spanky and Our Gang when compared to Alinsky and his worshipers, including Hillary and Obama. .

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Proposing a massive new government entitlement (his “Child Care Plan”) says one of two things:

      1) His “art of the deal” means this is just a bid to get the women’s vote. If he’s lying about the program, that adds to his ignominy. If he’s telling the truth then . . .

      2) He’s yet another a big-government East Coast liberal Progressive, which seems eminently apparent. You can surround him with a Praetorian guard of conservatives (if you can find them) and Trump is still going to do what Trump wants to do.

      I believe there’s a lot of wishful thinking involved in Trump advocacy. And it’s not his style that is the problem. It’s the substance, or at least trying to nail down what the man really believes and would do. You sound like you have warmed to him, Tim. I just don’t get that. The best case I think a reasonable person can make for Trump is to hold your nose and vote against Hillary.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        How much of what Trump says does he really mean? We have no way of knowing. We do know that the Fire Witch is on the far left, and at some level hates America. Trump doesn’t — and who knows, Jones might be right and he might end up being mostly conservative in his policies. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

  3. GHG says:

    Are we true conservatives opposed to much of the popular culture of today? Yes, but probably more on an intellectual level than how we live our lives. But does that make us the new counterculture? I’m not so sure about that. Maybe I’m too hung up on the semantics but my understanding of the term counterculture connotes a reactionary response to the current culture and I contend conservatism isn’t a reaction, we’re not countering anything, we’ve been here all along. I cant think of a better term to use for the conservative position in the current culture, so I suppose it will have to do, but I think it somewhat strips the historical legitimacy of conservatism to render it a reaction to the mess we’re in.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      If the reigning culture is Progressive/Leftist (which I think it is) then conservatism, by definition, is a kind of counter-culture. If it isn’t a counter-culture in the traditional sense (oxymoron noted), it’s because, unlike the Left, conservatives have ceded the culture wars. There isn’t much of a conservative version of a community organizer. There’s no one burning their bras. There’s no one burning their draft cards. There’s no one throwing dog excrement at the police. There’s no one finding racism under every bit of criticism or divergent thinking.

      Trump is the culmination of the death of conservatism. Not the cause, mind you. Just the road marker. All we have left is to get online and bitch about it. And as Chief Bottle Washer of StubbornThings, I intend to have at least the intellectual honesty to admit this…and also to excise it so that we can get on with better things.

      • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

        I like what you wrote here. But my contrarian voice wishes to speak again. Isn’t it contradictory to advocate for limited government and states rights but seek a strong ‘conservative’ presidency or congress? Shouldn’t we want a weak federal government?

        I’m amused by all the analysis and ink spilled about Trump. He’s not a conservative. He’s not even a republican. But so what?
        It’s a bully pulpit. Trumps a bully. And a reality TV star. Perfect match.

        This isn’t the death of conservatism. It’s a restoration of it. At least the best opportunity to do so in 100 years. Perhaps these are the better things you refer to. I hope so.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Isn’t it contradictory to advocate for limited government and states rights but seek a strong ‘conservative’ presidency or congress?

          Not at all. Conservatives want a “limited” government, with delineated powers, which has the authority and power to fulfill its mandate.

          We don’t want an expansive government.

          The distinction is important.

          • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

            Understood that we don’t want an expansive government. But the federal government has expanded under both parties. What I’m suggesting is a weak or ineffective one might not be so bad.

            Indeed, the founders wanted to dilute the power as much as possible and make change hard. Having a President was a compromise.

            The primary objective being to preserve our liberties, I can see the appeal of posting sentries in DC. But eliminating it as a place of power would be far superior.

            The distinction is subtle.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              To eliminate D.C. as a place of power, i.e. going to the other extreme, would be as bad as having it as the all powerful government which it has almost become.

              The founding fathers saw what happened under the Articles of Confederation and the resultant weak central government.

              Our problem is we are no longer a virtuous people and have, too long, let criminals and careerists run things. These people have come close to destroying the “balance of power” on which our government was based. We need to re-balance things, not destroy them.

              • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

                I’d settle for a Balanced Budget Amendment. And or the elimination of the Federal Income Tax. Meaning, take away the blank check and the power to tax and spend is diminished and the power of DC is gone and it returns to a deliberative body or advisory group.

                This federalist / anti-federalist debate is as old as country itself. When it comes to the Balanced Budget Amendment, I’m surprised the founders didn’t think of it.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              The liberal/leftist thinks government (as big and centralized as possible) is the answer to every problem. The libertarian thinks government is never the answer. The conservative realizes that government is rarely the solution, but sometimes it is, and sometimes it has to be centralized. For example, national defense must be a federal function.

              • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

                To me Conservatism in America is about liberty. And the role of the federal government is about preserving it. It’s that simple.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                That is a bit simplistic. Unbridled liberty brings on anarchy which has historically ended up in tyranny.

                The greatest test which faces every conservative government is trying to find the balance between liberty and security. Without security, liberty will eventually disappear.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                As Gil Robles pointed out in a key Cortes debate in 1936 Spain, a country can live under any form of government — but it can’t live under anarchy (by which he really meant chaos, though Spain at the time had a very large anarchist movement). I discussed this in more detail in an article here several months ago.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Also, in regards to a “counter-culture” proper, I think a fair definition (given past events and the reality of the movement), there is a powerful two-fold influence of nihilism (wrecking things just for the joy or wrecking them) and Utopia (and because things are imperfect…less than Utopia, that is…this give a convenient rationalization for the wrecking or “fundamental transformation”). Any “counter-culture” of the right is not likely to be of this kind because (hopefully…Trump’s popularity notwithstanding) we are not insane.

      And in danger of sounding like a misogynist, no discussion of the counter-culture can be complete with reference to the central role of feminism. In fact, as things have played out, the utopian search for the equality of the sexes in all things (if not also the superiority of all things feminine) has been perhaps the main drive in “fundamentally transforming” society.

      Anyone who truly wants to fight back against Progressive/Leftist/Feminist culture has to be willing to face these fact or else it’s all just rhetorical shadow-boxing…which I believe most of the conservative media has devolved to.

      So, in all, GHG, I agree with you that “counter-culture” isn’t a particular tight fit in regards to traditionalists and American conservatives. Perhaps the best we can hope for given the reality of the media/entertainment/education complex whose indoctrination abilities are beyond any power conservatives have is to form little Amish-like communities.

      But fight back? Okay. Great. I try to in my small ways…and not mistake babbling on the internet as a substitute. And that, I fear, is what is going on in most places if only because few want to face the harsh reality that fighting back entails toppling a whole bunch of sacred cows (not a mixed metaphor…it’s like cow tipping) and thus unleashing a shit storm of condemnation from not only the usual suspects but what is now the rank-and-file — your friends, neighbors, and business associates.

      I don’t blame people, per se, for having Progressive/Leftist/Feminist culture rammed down their throats, feeling powerless to do anything, and then needing to vent. But (especially in the case of Trump) we should not mistake venting for positive action. Right now a lot of confused and angry people are riding Trump down to the bottom like Slim Pickens did with the bomb in “Dr. Strangelove.”

  4. Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

    Brad, your initial comment contained the issue that confuses most discussion of conservatism. What is it, fundamentally? I’m not prepared to render a definition that works in this venue, but there is an obvious relationship between conservatism as it is usually understood and the teachings of Christ, together with the Bible.

    It is not crazy random happenstance that our country was founded solidly on the basis of the Judaeo-Christian ethic and culture. Of the many facets of conservatism that are acknowledged today, most are related to the Founders’ faith in that culture. Rule of law, equality of opportunity, personal freedom, etc., are what we still desire, but unfortunately for those who attempt to gain traction towards these venerable goals, not following the aforementioned ethic and culture as a basis dooms their efforts.

    There will only be a resurgence of our nation’s health and avoidance of certain national death if a serious majority repents their sins, both active and passive, of participating in and allowing the current Godless culture to flower. And then, action according to Christ’s example. Calling our culture secular is a cheap thrill that misses the primary point. Sure, there are secular aspects to our society, and rightfully so, rendering unto Caesar and all that, but our primary focus must be on moral righteousness.

    So, to extend this discussion to Trump; I don’t care if he’s “conservative” at all, I just want a leader that knows right from wrong, and I think he does. It is a 1,000% sure bet that Thunder Rodent Thighs, aka Hilda-beast, aka the current manifestation of Satan – HRC, will not act morally. So, we must act accordingly, in recognition of our personal duty to avoid the passive sin of allowing her to gain power.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’m less sure than you are of Trump’s ability to tell right from wrong. His record in business is somewhat dubious. But I believe he may want to do right, and that he definitely loves his country. The Fire Witch qualifies on neither count.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      So, to extend this discussion to Trump; I don’t care if he’s “conservative” at all, I just want a leader that knows right from wrong, and I think he does.

      That’s hogwash, Tom. Conservatism isn’t (or shouldn’t be) an incantation. It’s not like you say “conservative” and then kill a chicken and spray its blood on the walls. It’s not magic. “Conservative” is shorthand for believing a while bunch of things, including moral things, economic things, Constitutional things, social things, religious things, community things, and family things.

      Rush Limbaugh has one idea powerfully right: The answer to America’s problems is conservatism. So to say “I don’t care of someone isn’t conservative” is, in effect, saying “I don’t care that someone is just another cultural wrecking ball and can’t help but make things worse.”

      And that’s what Trump is. He’s no solution precisely because he is not a conservative. But if you want more of what we’re getting now, then go with Trump or go with Hillary. The differences are strikingly minimal.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I suppose you noticed the Victor Davis Hansen article on NRO today targeting the NeverTrumpers, more particularly those who (like Bush 41 according to one story today) actually prefer Slick Hilly. He points out not only the permanent, irrevocable harm she would do to America, but the fact that she and her fellow liberals behave just as obnoxiously as Trump does (and show equal occasional ignorance). The link is:

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Again, nothing new here by VDH. It’s a reasonable (but it could play out otherwise) argument that Hillary would be worse. But as for doing lasting damage, we need to get a grip. The “lasting damage” has been creeping up on us bit by bit for over 50 years. Either Hillary or Trump would ratchet the country Leftward. Perhaps two clicks for Hillary and one click for Trump — if we’re lucky.

          “Lasting damage” is such a foolhardy thing to say. We’re up to our ears in “lasting damage.” Read Mr. Kung’s recent article on how widespread bastardy is, for example. Or look at our national debt. Or look at the state of the media, public schools, and Leftist fascism (otherwise known as “political correctness”).

          Remember: Trump has just proposed another massive Federal entitlement. And for those who think he’s on our side, all you need to know is that he buys into the nonsense of men using women’s bathrooms. That’s pretty basic.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            It’s a reasonable (but it could play out otherwise) argument that Hillary would be worse. But as for doing lasting damage, we need to get a grip. The “lasting damage” has been creeping up on us bit by bit for over 50 years.

            It is impossible to do anything against damage, lasting or otherwise, unless one recognizes what the damage is and articulates this clearly.

            Many so-called conservatives have completely adopted the narrative of the Left. For example, whenever that idiot Hannity repeats himself about how weak Clinton is against ISIL and/or Iran, the first thing he brings up is that “they kill gays and lesbians.” I have heard him go off on this several times and he always starts with “gays and lesbians.? What is that about?

            Is that really the most important thing that is happening in the Middle East? How about the hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yasidis and other Muslims that have been killed as well as the Christians who have been expelled from their home countries?

            Does he think by spouting this drivel he will get all the bent crowd to vote for Trump? Or is it just New York values? Maybe he thinks he has a chance to turn the NYC Chelsea vote for Trump.

            To my mind, the lasting damage has already been done and there is very little chance of it being undone. Electing Trump, will at best, delay things a little. Maybe. But a small hope is better than none at all.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              An important aspect of the jihadists’ misogyny and “homophobia” is that this should cause liberals to oppose them mightily — and they don’t, because “race” trumps gender in their ranking of victim groups.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I believe it is even more basic than that.

                The American Left has one basic goal in mind. That is to destroy any vestige conservatism in this country. To achieve this goal, they will do anything possible and work with anybody, including those adherents of a religion which is diametrically opposed to the Left’s libertine agenda.

                Once the Left achieves its primary goal, they will think about how to deal with the Muslims.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Is that really the most important thing that is happening in the Middle East? How about the hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yasidis and other Muslims that have been killed as well as the Christians who have been expelled from their home countries?

              A wonderful observation, Mr. Kung, on how many pseudo-conservatives have taken on the thought processes of the Left. Although the fossil record is bereft of “transitional” fossils to show, say, how a chimp-like ancestor supposedly became a human, we are now alive in time where we can see many transitional forms around us. Trump is certainly one of those “missing links,” as well as his followers.

              Mr. Hannity, how about the fact that Islam is killing people? And if we must find a hate crime in this, the most apparent one is Islam’s murder of Christians.

              I think, Mr. Kung, we should re-purpose this site. Instead of our tagline being “Facts are stubborn things” it should be “Helping you transition to liberalism so that you never are faced with the inconvenience of defending a non-Progressive principle.”

              Whether it’s disgust with illegal immigrants, the Republican Establishment, disgust with Obama’s trolling, or just hatred of Hillary, we’re seeing that there is little market these days for conservative principles. In fact, many people (showing the evolution of a transitional form of pseudo-conservative) are apologizing for a man (Trump) who if he were running as a Democrat would be Public Enemy #1.

              All I’m saying about this is to be honest. Both of these candidates are horrible, and Gary Johnson is a kook. But these are the top choices presented by the major (or minor) parties. Must we fool ourselves about Trump in order to vote against Hillary? Apparently for many people, this is a necessity. And the chimp transitions to The New Man.

      • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

        Sorry to report that you are entirely wrong about this issue, Brad.

        ” But if you want more of what we’re getting now, then go with Trump or go with Hillary. The differences are strikingly minimal.”

        Let us employ the simple mechanism of right vs. wrong. Please cite facts that show Hillary’s policy prescriptions are in any way similar to Trump’s, or even better, superior.

  5. Steve Lancaster says:

    Lots of talk about conservatives, but it all comes down to don’t initiate violence and don’t steal someone’s stuff.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Steve, the short version of rules to live by are the Big Ten. The pocket version for quick reference when on the road is the Golden Rule.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        I can think of 10 pretty good suggestions, and thanks to Madison, et all, 10 pretty good ideas to make them work. Everything else is commentary.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Where the old morality centered around sin, restraint, obligation and sacrifice, the new morality is all about permissiveness, self-liberation and fulfillment topped off by unlimited pleasure-seeking and entertainment stripped of any guilt and limitations.

    Speaking of “in a nutshell,” I think Tim has just nailed it with that description. Kudos for clarity and conciseness.

    Now, there’s an interesting argument to be had about what is to be permitted. The other conjoined argument (nearly always blotted out as unimportant on the road to utopia) is “Who is going to pay for it if your little fling with doing the hell what you want leads to sorrow and expense?”

    A conservative might be willing to permit a whole lot of things…if the participants were willing to bear the costs themselves. You want to play dress-up as a girl? Fine. But don’t expect to use the lady’s room. Etc.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      If I am forced, with threat of jail or worse, to unwillingly pay for some one’s lifestyle then that is theft, just because the government is the middleman does not change the ethics or the morality of the act.

  7. Tim Jones says:

    I highly recommend “It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies” I mentioned in my commentary above. Mary Eberstadt, in discussing her book on C-Span’s BookTV (coincidentally I saw the show not long after finishing the book) made a great point about how the “religion of secularism,” (and she described in excellent detail how it mimics Christianity) is not content to coexist with Christianity but is on the warpath to destroy Christianity. Fundamental to secular religion was the sexual revolution which is its foundation. With the invention of the pill, it liberated peoples’ sexual passions from the old norms and inhibitions, and from there it’s easy to see how it’s led to the acceptance and normalization of homosexuality and gay marriage we have today. She explained the secular left is out to destroy all self-restraint, and the sexual revolution was the catalyst to the “anything goes” culture we have today, which explains everything from the mainstreaming of pot smoking to the effort to normalize transgenderism. This pretty much gets to the root of the culture wars and the war on faith. All of this taken to its logical conclusion is nihilism, which seems to be what we’re seeing as a result of our liberal culture and morality, and is only going to get worse.

    Just as I was about to post my comments I happened to come across this book, “The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom” I thought was worth mentioning. Here is the first paragraph describing its ‘theme’ on Amazon: “The core of the global cultural revolution is the deliberate confusion of sexual norms. It is the culmination of a metaphysical revolution as well–a shifting of the fundamental ground upon which we stand and build a culture, even a civilization. Instead of desire being subjected to natural, social, moral, and transcendent orders, the identity of man and woman is dissolved, and free rein given to the maximum fulfillment of polymorphous urges, with no ultimate purpose or meaning.” In other words, nihilism.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This pretty much gets to the root of the culture wars and the war on faith.

      Tim, if had any sense, they would ban you from doing reviews of books. That is such an concise summary that I have no need to read the book!

      Here’s another thing to add to the mix: From an article regarding Yute-thanasia in Europe (perhaps Mr. Lane would be good enough to catalog that word in the official StubbornThings lexicon), Mr. Wesley Smith provides some commentary and a link to another basic tenet of the Left: The elimination of suffering. He quotes Yuval Levin from his book, Imagining the Future, and then adds his own comment:

      The worldview of modern science sees health not only as a foundation but also a principal goal; not only as a beginning but also an end. Relief and preservation—from disease and pain, from misery and necessity—become the defining ends of human action, and therefore of human societies.

      [Smith’s response:] This is a crucial point, because as Levin also notes, “Any society’s understanding of the foundational good necessarily gives shape to its politics, its social institutions, and its sense of moral purpose and direction.”

      Smith then goes on to conclude the article with a completely vapid summary. But I think this “elimination of suffering” point holds. And it’s another reason conservatism is 180 degrees contrary to Leftism/Progressivism. Conservatives believe in the remedial effects of suffering, within prescribed and reasonable limits. “Suck it up, buttercup” is the prescription instead of this endless “sharing of feelings and drama-mongering.” (Another way to understand this, of course, if the general female proclivities given dominance over the general male proclivities…feminism is at the heart of most things regarding the Left.)

      I have to puncture my own self. Does this analysis do anything in itself to plug the holes in the dike (or dyke)? No. None. Notta. Zip. Zilch. It’s just empty hot air (although reality-based air, in case anyone likes fresh air).

      I’m not being cynical. I’m not giving up, per se. But I’m not in the business of fooling myself or others. I really do want people to submit articles that tell us what they, or someone else, is doing to combat the Left. My analysis, while likely brilliant, is useless without action.

      Where do we go from here? I’m not sure.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’m sure it must have occurred to some of our readers by now how similar secularism is to the image of satanism. It mimics and mocks Christianity (especially Catholicism) and calls for a “moral” code that’s an inversion of the Christian code. Today we could set Rosemary’s Baby at the DNC.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Christianity is bad precisely because (as Tim, Tim, and Mary Eberstadt state it) it puts limits on human behavior. All the rest is window dressing, the pointing out of some of the truly wacko Christians out there, constant reference to the Crusades (which were a holding action against Muslim aggression), and all that “spaghetti monster in your garage” garbage from liberals and “reason”-based libertarians.

        In any society of modern origins and good intent, there is a push-pull between restrictions and liberty. Kooky libertarians deny this by simply citing their over-used and simplistic “non-aggression” shibboleth. On the other end are the people who perhaps have their assholes puckered a little too tightly and resent anyone doing something that they were not allowed to do.

        Classical Western liberal society requires both standards and tolerance. The existence of either without the other presents craziness. Granted, handling that balance is no easy thing. But it requires, first of all, good men to give their input and it requires people ready and willing to think in terms more complicated than a bumper sticker slogan.

        Alas, it is not to be for the foreseeable future.

        • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

          We need limits on human behavior, starting at childhood and continuing forever. Who is so wise as to not need guidance?

          And, what is with your leading comment about Christianity being “bad”! It has merely created Western Civilization, after all. Step away from the precipice, Brad. Pace.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Fundamental to secular religion was the sexual revolution which is its foundation.

      Now you understand why I have become uncompromising with the queer crowd. Why I point out the rise of bastardy in our country. Why I say and stand by, “Culture is everything.”

      There are basically three types of “conservatives” in this country.

      1) Economic
      2) Cultural
      3) Defense

      Of course, there is a cross-over between the three, but the oldest type with the deepest roots in Western Civilization are the cultural conservatives. I believe that over the long term, it is just about impossible to have economic conservatism without cultural conservatism. Without cultural conservatism (which rests on bourgeois values) an economy will naturally revert to what we are seeing happen in the world today, i.e. the money and power flow to the elite and the middle class shrinks while the number of plebs grows.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        With all due respect, Mr. Kung, I think conservatism has been reduced down to a mere identity, feckless and useless (and generally action-less) in the face of the Left. They’ll show you a collection of guns, their Bible, and maybe rant against men using the women’s room. But that’s the extent of it.

        But I certainly agree with you, in theory, that it is impossible to be a “economic conservative” and actually be a conservative. You have to have the cultural aspect too or your economics will drift fully into statism and central planning.

        I no longer consider myself a conservative. I’m sort of like Groucho Marx in that regard. I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me. I no longer believe conservatism is much more than a weak holding action, at best.

        I’m sure Tim and others can cite important cases where some governor or legislature has had a conservative victory. But these exceptions merely prove the rule.

        What we have coming (no matter who wins the presidency) is a case of “Now that we have all the dogs tied to the sled, let’s get moving.” As I’ve said before, the Left has no “off” button. Anyone who thinks having men in the ladies room is the culmination doesn’t understand what we are up against. Clearly Trump does not, for he will, at best, function as a useful idiot for the cause.

        We’ll see an acceleration of Leftism. The stage is set. The propaganda has been well inculcated (and we have a Trump candidacy that goes to prove this point). Yes, it matters whether or not the Senate and House are Republican. But this is so merely in regards to a holding action…a pause or hiatus. What the Left is, if anything, is persistent. I won’t say “patient” but they do tend to think long-term. They have a goal, no matter how amorphous the plan is from day to day.

        What do we have? We have a pretty robust book club for one shrinking sector of the culture. I’m just telling it like I think it is.

        • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

          Have you read “Shattered Consensus” by James Piereson? Really informative book on where we are, how we got here, and where we might be headed.

          I mention it because the author does a good job of defining conservatism in terms of America. Labels and definitions change and in pre-America Europe, conservative meant preserving the natural order of rule by elites.

          The American Revolution put individual liberty at the center of the natural order and conservatism hence could be defined as preserving this state. I like to think of it as such.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I have not read the book, but I am very familiar what conservatism meant in Europe as opposed to American conservatism.

            Briefly, European conservatism was theoretically based on the Church and maintaining the old social order which meant adherence to the King and aristocracy.

            This is one reason that, even today, direct comparisons between what is called conservative in Europe and what is called conservative in America are not necessarily that enlightening.

            • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

              Exactly. Since America was new, there was no Aristocracy. Therefore we have to ask ourselves what it is we are conserving in America. The author states, and I agree, that the answer is liberty itself.

              What is Conservatism is a common question on these and many other pages. And the fragmentation into factions is similar to the Church. But I’m more of a simpleton and reject complexity when possible.

              I may even be a Libertarian but don’t think so. I endorse Judaeo-Christian values, just not enforced by the state, while the Libertarians seem to lean toward moral relativity.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Conservatism in American means respect for and adherence to the Constitution.

                To that might be added the acknowledgement of the natural order of things thus not believing one can achieve Heaven on earth.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Thanks for the book recommendation, Stuart. Here it is at Amazon, and it’s available for the Kindle. I’m not sure where we’re headed. I’m not sure the right, at the moment, can articulate a governing idea that is more attractive than a social utopia. Or if not an all-out Utopia, a nation of safety-nets, tight and ubiquitous.

            • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

              It’s one of several that I have considered posting a Book Review on. But don’t wait for my recommendation. You’ll enjoy it.

              In a nut shell the author breaks American history into several hundred year eras (the Founding, the Civil War, and the New Deal), ending when monumental political events change the underlying social order.

              Good academic background on our economic history. And similar analysis of how the current arrangement is coming undone. Optimistic outlook arguing that the coming era is based on unprecedented individualism provided by advances in science, technology and entrepreneurship.

              Let’s hope he’s right.

  8. GHG says:

    Is a Trump victory, at best, a stay of execution, a holding pattern? Probably, because what ails our culture does not have a political solution. Our culture has lost its mooring in truth and without that we drift ever leftward because the left is ever pulling us that way while the right is more or less just along for the ride.

    So what are we to do? If death is inevitable and it’s merely a question of now or later, what is the righteous response? What are we holding for in this holding pattern? Is it just foolishness to be anything but apathetic? Why despair when it would be easier to just capitulate and go numb and tune out?

    Because God is Truth and He has made His Truth known and this isn’t about my feelings, it’s about His Truth. It isn’t about left/right – it’s about right/wrong. None of us are perfect, but if there is a choice between right and wrong – we must choose right. Trump can be seen as wrong on many things. Hillary is wrong on everything. On balance Trump is the right choice.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I agree with everything you say, GHG, although I would parse Trump as “the unfortunate alternative choice” rather that the right choice. It should occur to you, especially after your nice speech about eternal principles and right-and-wrong, that Trump is by no means “the right choice.” The right choice isn’t even on the menu.

  9. Gibblet says:

    Earlier in the thread (Sept. 19th) Brad wrote:
    “Perhaps the best we can hope for given the reality of the media/entertainment/education complex whose indoctrination abilities are beyond any power conservatives have is to form little Amish-like communities.”

    I think the Amish are ahead of our time. Their lifestyle grows more appealing day by day, and indeed, the increasingly popular idea of living off-grid would indicate that a significant portion of our population feel the same way.

    When I was a kid my Dad brought home some popular survivalist books. The concern during the cold war was surviving a possible nuclear attack. Now, it is about isolating ourselves from the cultural indoctrination Brad refers to above.

    The question is, how badly do we want to escape these cultural perversions and embrace a lifestyle our grandparents and great grandparents were so eager to leave behind? And, how would it benefit society? – if one should care. Turn off the power and the profanity of our culture remains.Homeschooling is one aspect of our pioneer days which has been refined by the amenities of progress. Receiving superior education and the abilities to reason and act, the children who are home-schooled, especially with Christian values, are the antithesis of those our public education system hopes to produce.

    I’ll still brows the Internet searching for that perfect 40 acres, but it is likely just a diversion. Besides, I don’t think I have the stamina to pull the plow. Perhaps the Amish are the specter of a well traveled road now mostly abandoned and overgrown by the brambles of progress.

    Ultimately, each person is responsible for themselves, and accountable to God. From the dawn of time information, and misinformation, has been the currency of morality, and no reasonable person could argue that the law of God combined with the grace of God is the only standard for a good society. The misinformation interjected at the dawn of Creation has brought us to this hostile place. The Truth is the only salvation for the soul, and mankind.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      By happenstance, I read a sort of overview article on the Amish online the other day. They have interesting ways, including the stage teenagers go through where they are allowed to go out into the world and, for all intents and purposes, Party-on-Garth! so that they can decide with a full heart if they can leave that world behind and live as an Amish.

      I’m sure the first time some Amish girl sees a cross-dresser pee standing up in the ladies room, her mind is made up to return to the sane confines of making bread, tending the livestock, knitting, sewing, baking, and etcetera.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’ll still brows the Internet searching for that perfect 40 acres, but it is likely just a diversion.

      A perfect 40 acres is always a personal paradise in any day and age. But I think what I’m really getting at, or what I truly believe, is that the 40 acres needs to exist first in our mind.

      I do my share of ranting and pointless analysis. Okay…I’m human (and stupid) like everyone else. But I understand now better than ever that notion of “being in the world but not of it.”

      We can get really Christiany about that, and that’s fine. But the point is grabbing a different perspective and not being led along like a dog on a leash and becoming a blind cultural determinate, the kind who makes Pavlov’s dog look like a study in free will.

      We can be aware of the con. We needn’t let the Left live rent-free in our minds, and that’s what I observe about the entire conservative blogosphere.

  10. Lucia says:

    The landowner with 40 acres these days find government creep limiting their use of their own land. Is there a creek? The state owns the water and must give permission to use it to irrigate the land or to move rocks to form a pool or to remove fallen trees that might cause a damaging blockage during winter rains. If there’s no creek, there might be seasonal runoff that cannot be caught in a dam because the water contributes to a creek or river somewhere in the area.

    Does the land have trees? They cannot be cut if there is endangered wildlife in the area that the state has determined is dependent on those trees. Never mind that the wildlife has been observed making use of other types of trees in more populated areas, the state is never wrong.

    But the good news is, if one has acreage, the cartels now offer to pay $35,000 a year to lease an acre to grow pot. They do all the setup, maintenance and security. It’s no wonder pot farms are sprouting up all over the countryside where recreational pot is legal. Little do the good people of rural America know that they are in league with Mexican cartels.

    • Gibblet says:

      That arrangement would work out so nicely, if it was legal and, well, moral.

      The forty acres I know of is on a high ridge running north and south, getting the benefits of sunshine all day long. It overlooks a beautiful bay, and two mountain ranges. It has been recently logged, so it lends itself to farming, and the wells in the area are known for excellent water. And it is close to town for convenience, and major distribution channels are nearby.

      With a purchase price of almost half a million for the 40 acres, the $35,000/acre/year lease of just 15 acres would be enough to buy the land, build a house and purchase a really nice tractor. And hire servants and farm hands.

      And the security and maintenance are such wonderful features. Lots of leisure time, and no riffraff to deal with. I think I’ll install a helicopter pad – just in case I want to take special guests on sightseeing tours. Or to the big city for dinner. Or Alaska.

      I should probably build a little cottage in a remote corner for my personal chef/fitness trainer…

      But alas, my grand plan will likely fail. The adjoining property is a government shooting range.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Regulations for rural areas are written by city-dwellers who know (and care) nothing for farmers and other rural residents.

      • Lucia says:

        Don’t forget that land usage is also determined by zoning laws. If a parcel is deemed good for timber growing only, no house can be built on it. If for farming only, no subdivision or commercial use is allowed. The landowner must make a certain level of income from the property each year or they will be heavily taxed. And heaven forbid that there’s a bit of a swamp on it. No drainage is allowed, and no pesticides are allowed to kill mosquitos. The American dream has turned into a nightmare for many in the west.

        • Gibblet says:

          I could tell you about the 16 years it took me to get a short plat approved by our local municipality – but I don’t want to waste your time…and I already wasted enough of mine during the process!

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          There’s something to be said for an ethic that is the opposite of the one that dumped all kinds of crap into rivers and stream during the industrial revolution, etc. But we’ve veered from total abuse of the environment to a pagan/atheist-propelled Nazification of environmental policy.

          Sorry to pointlessly analyze it. All I know is that if you want to control 20 acres of your own land, best to have 40 to make it easier to hide stuff. And hiding things from the environmental Nazis is just what normal people are doing. I know one guy who lives on the shoreline who can’t even touch his trees according the Nazi law. (Believe me, evergreens are not an endangered species in the Pacific Northwest.) So he told me that he sneaks out every so often and trims just a little so that his view is not so obstructed.

          Why does he sneak around? Well, no only do the environmental Nazis in the government apparently regularly take pictures of shoreline property (looking for any unauthorized changes) but his neighbor is a liberal environmental Nazi.

          Almost makes you long for the days, dirty as they might be, when the worse that could happen was a river or two would catch fire. Now we see the Nazification of our entire society with “environmentalism” as the excuse for these socialist bastards to impinge on your private property rights.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            If anyone considers it inappropriate to refer to environmental Nazis, invite them to read The Nazi War on Cancer by Robert Proctor, which covers a lot of their environmental policy as well as (e.g.) their anti-smoking policy.

          • Lucia says:

            Sneaking is what most people have to do to live according to their beliefs if they don’t want an all out confrontation which can be expensive and stressful. But that means that most usually law abiding people are law breakers now. It’s nothing to lose sleep over, it’s just a symptom of how far overregulation has gone.

            Every time a voter survey asks me if I’d vote for another law or another tax, I firmly say no way. Usually I take issue with what the word, fair, means. I parse every word in every question. I think most of the young questioners haven’t thought much about the issues they’re asking voters to accept. I know I sound like an old crackpot, but maybe one of them will take some time to ask themselves why are they going along with the environmental and social justice crowd?

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              My general theory and belief, Lucia, is that our government is losing its legitimacy. It is, to a very large extent, not a government of the people but a government run by unelected bureaucracies. You can “throw the bum out” in this or that election cycle, but the bureaucracy and regulators and nanny-staters remain. (People swooning over Trump should thus get a grip and attempt to understand the magnitude of the problem we face instead of looking for yet another political Messiah.)

              Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the mobs in Charlotte and loot stores, torch cars, and just involve ourselves in rent-a-mob mayhem because of the injustice of all this stuff.

              But most people are too polite to do that. And their instinct that mob rule is bad is a good one…which they should extend to “people of color” as well, but don’t for fear of being called racist by all the programmed useful idiots and emotional exhibitionists out there.

              My faith in human nature is at an all-time low. I will bend over backward to aid and assist the good natures. That’s what we have to do in this life. But I’m increasingly pessimistic, if only because idiocy now seems to be the standard means of parsing the world for the majority.

              Thank for the opportunity of this rant. 😀

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Note that the inability to “throw the bums out” is a consequence of civil service reforms starting in the late 19th Century. There’s a lot to be said for them, especially reducing the number of incompetent civil servants.

                But the difficulty of firing them needs to be eased greatly. They may not be incompetent, but they can spend their time watching porn instead of doing their jobs. Of course, in many cases, that’s probably an improvement. But in some cases, such as in the VA, it’s a major problem.

  11. Tim Jones says:

    The United States of America has become the Regulated States of America, or in other words, soft tyranny, that’s continues to get worse. This is what drives me so crazy about people on the left who don’t have a clue or don’t care. But then I always come around to the fact that this is what they really want, at least the liberal politicians, CONTROL. And it’s one more reason to vote for Trump. I’ve heard him say many times that if elected his administration will do a comprehensive review of “every single regulation” (his words) to see what’s really absolutely necessary and to get rid of everything else.
    By the way, a good article on PJMedia: Religious Conservatives Explain Why They’re Backing Trump ( Here’s a quote from it:
    “In the speech, Trump pledged to protect America’s Christian heritage.
    A Trump administration — our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before,’ he said.”

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      A Trump administration — our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before,’ he said.”

      And someone believes this because Trump says it? I would like some real-life examples where Trump has stood up for our “Christian Heritage.” He certainly didn’t defend it with the the “trans-gender” bathroom issue. Has he stated that those bakers in Oregon who were bankrupted by the state for not wishing to bake for a queer wedding will have the freedom to say “No” to catering queer weddings?

      One suspects Trump’s idea of defending our “Christian Heritage” is quite different from what most of us think.

      Or perhaps his idea of “Our Christian Heritage” is along the lines of this woman’s.

      By the way, the PJ Media article was pretty weak.

      I can understand a “conservative” Christian saying he supports Trump because his other choice is to support Hillary. But the rest is really nonsense. I truly do believe this is simply more wishful thinking on the part of “religious conservatives.”

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well, to quote 1 Timothy 2, “To be fair,” Christians haven’t done a very good job of late defending their heritage. This left a huge opening for the Kumbaya sect to come in and pretty much surf on the cultural wave of “equality, diversity, and tolerance.”

        Just as conservatism has so often been but a veneer, so has the Christian label. The “Christian” duty is to smile at the barbarians (such as in Charlotte) instead of standing for truth.

        Did you hear about the suspension of the backup catcher for the Seattle Mariners? He tweeted something like, “everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!”

        Well. Yeah. Perhaps that wasn’t put too politely. But that’s the essence of it.

        I don’t know Mr. Clevenger’s religious affiliation, if any, but the duty of the good Christian is to smile and do some useless (and safe) hand-wringing over the plight of “African Americans” who, as we all know, are just acting out because of decades of white racism.

        To not call the black community in Charlotte on the carpet for thuggish behavior is not to do one’s Christian (or civic) duty but to just pander to the mob and thereby make things worse for these people in Charlotte.

        And thanks for allowing me to fast-forward and skip that nonsense, Mr. Kung. There’s a lot of it out there these days. And there is little reason to believe Trump will protect anything but the most liberal sects of Christians.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          According to Rush today, most of the arrested rioters have actually been from out of town, and the rioters are greatly outnumbered by black non-rioters. So it’s not exactly “the black community in Charlotte”, just some of them — along with some professional rioters and agitators.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One of the problems with over-regulation is that no one seems to be aware that it all adds up to increasing difficulty. Of course, when your core support votes for a living, the effects on the economy are largely irrelevant. This is why I call them leeches: as long as the host survives, they don’t care about its host.

  12. GHG says:

    Practical versus principled. That is the choice before me and I suspect many others are struggling with the same choice. On principle, I should choose the principled choice (not giving my vote to any of the candidates), pardon the silliness of that statement, but even the principled choice has a practical aspect. There has never been purity on the ballot, so even in the best cases the candidate does not score 100 on every issue. Therefore there is always some level of ceding principle for practical. It seems to me the challenge or issue is determining the threshold of principle one is willing to cede for the practical, and this threshold is determined by each individual. As that threshold moves farther away from principle, at some point it becomes an ends justifies the means proposition no different than the lack of principles we associate with leftists.

    I’ve made the determination to vote for the practical, but I’m not at all comfortable with where I’ve moved my principled line. I hope I don’t meet Herr Faust along this path.

  13. Timothy Lane says:

    There’s a nice short article on Town Hall about a performance yesterday of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a hockey game. It involved a singer who was simultaneously painting something — and at the end there’s an especially good patriotic punch. The link is:

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      What a guy. Just marvelous. Not to taint this with reference to Roseanne, but it makes you realize the difference between a patriot and a typical Progressive sleazeball. I’m proud of this guy.

      • pst4usa says:

        I have taken some hits on posting that of FaceBook, I am told that his performance is no different than that of the BLM morons that take a knee during the anthem. I had to disagree with them of course. I thought what he did was very respectful, talented and honoring of those that have and continue to serve, this nation and the flag that represents it.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’d settle for a Balanced Budget Amendment. And or the elimination of the Federal Income Tax.

    Stuart, one of the challenges of predicting the future is that the future is an organic beast. It’s not immune to rules and general principles but is not constrained by them. Often the beast groans and moves its bulk here or there and the rules and principles are tugged along as well and the rest of us are left looking for cycles in history.

    We could use a balanced-budget amendment. And the Federal Income Tax has changed the nature of our country from a union of states to a Union with states as second-class clients to the Federal government.

    I think the hard part about amendments, laws, and such to correct what is wrong is that they don’t acknowledge first principles. I think one of those first principles (which will not go away anytime soon) is that government’s role is seen as much more than protecting liberty. It’s about ensuring material prosperity.

    One could view Trump’s victory as a victory (yet again) for the entitlement mindset. Instead of seeing society as a vast, complex, unpredictable, but opportunistic vehicle for prosperity if we are more-or-less left to our own devices, we still expect prosperity to be hand-delivered. Trump might not be expected to deliver it in the various traditional and entrenched entitlements (which, to get a hint at where he’s coming from, he has promised not to touch). But I think he has, as the “strong central leader,” taken on the role of viewing as a whole the entire United States economy as an entitlement of prosperity.

    His message was not much different from FDR (his “economic bill of rights”) or Herbert Hoover (a chicken in every pot). Instead of prosperity being seen as an outgrowth of freedom (political freedom, economic freedom, etc.), it is another thing to be bestowed upon us by the Federal government. To the extent that Trump takes a Reaganesque approach and gets government out of the way, fine. But I expect you’ll see quite invasive command-and-control economics. And some of those lever shifts (such as canceling many of Obama’s executive orders) will indeed function as getting government out of the way.

    But I doubt that Hillary’s blue firewall of states was broken because of a gathering cry of “Give me liberty or give me death.” People simply want more stuff. And our modern economies (with the adrenaline-like boost of high technology) have been potent in regards to delivering the goods, and at a cheap price. But that is now, more or less, the measure of the American life. And where there is some transcendent goal, it is more and more centered around environmental wackoism — another Leftist value that ignores the need for any tradeoffs between material wealth and “social justice” goals, including making sure that Mother Gaia never bleeds.

    Perhaps if there is any next stage to come, it could be the realization that you can’t have everything. But I’m not holding my breath.



    One of the other deep challenges facing reforming the existing system is this culture’s divorce from second-stage thinking. A Wiki article sums up this gist of Thomas Sowell’s book by the same name (Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One):

    Sowell discusses how basic economics is generally misapplied because politicians think only in Stage One.[1] Stage One is the immediate result of an action, without determining what happens then. He argues that many politicians cannot see beyond Stage One because they do not think beyond the next election. He gives as an example of Stage One Thinking, a State government which raises taxes on a business. The immediate result is more revenue for the State government.[2] However, over the course of time, that business might move bits and pieces of the company to another state or new businesses may choose another state to place a new factory. Over the course of time, the State will lose revenue because businesses will go to other states.[3]

    I’m not trying to beat on Trump, but did he offer any solutions that showed anything beyond stage-one thinking? Maybe nominating conservative Supreme Court justices.

    Here at StubbornThings we’ve often criticized this culture for lacking the ability to delay gratification. This inability meshes nicely with another core idea here and that is that our culture is more and more juvenilisitic.

    Another common theme here is that we are the Grasshopper culture instead of the Ant culture.

    We have reached the stage where, ironically and regrettably, the only reforms we will ever likely to see will be top-down ones from an autocratic, if hopefully benevolent, ruler. That certainly was Trump’s appeal to many. And it may actually be the right call. It may be the best we can get.

  15. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The Catholic Church stands up to the forces of leftism.

    It may be a small act, but only with many many more such small acts do we have any hope of stopping the insane left.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Wow. It’s so unusual to see someone stand up to Cultural Marxism, by whatever name they may know it. Well done, KC.

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