The Little Girl Who Cried “Fear”

I’ve told the story before.  One of the most illuminating lectures I’ve ever gotten on human nature was from my 11th grade history teacher, Mr. Dudley Butts – who was perhaps the most “Big Lebowski”-ish football head coach I’ve ever met. 

He’d been drafted during the Vietnam War; he was proud to point out that he’d been stationed in Washington DC, and the Viet Cong never attacked the Capitol on his watch; mission accomplished. 

And he told us that during basic training, as they were doing any of the things that mimicked killing people – at the rifle range, while doing bayonet drills and hand-to-hand combat practice – the drill sergeants never referred to their targets as humans.  They were always collections of not-quite-human memes; “gooks” and “charlies” and “slopes” and so on.  It took him a while to realize this wasn’t just the mark of a bunch of bigots with sergeant stripes; there was a method to it.  It was much easier to train people who’d spent 18 years of their lives being taught “thou shalt not kill” to kill if you taught them to kill something that wasn’t really human. 

Likewise, the theory goes, it’s easier to convince people you’re right if you get them to believe that your opponent isnt’ operating from rationalism or intelligence.

The Alinski-schooled left has known this for decades, of course.  Which is why over my years of blogging the left has followed such utterly predictable memes in referring to conservatives – “ignorant wingnuts” in their parlance.  Christians are “extremists”; Second Amendment activists are “crazy gunnies”; they never get exercised and motivated, they “Melt down” or “whine”.  Above all – or, in terms of plausibility and intelligence, below all – they never operate from bases in rationality, experience, knowledge of history or cognitive processes of any kind; the only conservative motivation is “fear”. 

I’ve never accused Lori Sturdevant of being much more than a willing water-girl for the DFL and all it stands for.  I didn’t expect any different from her “coverage” of the Bachmann/Palin rally.    I wasn’t disappopinted:

Minnesotans who tuned in to Wednesday’s Minneapolis rally on behalf of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin heard a lot about “freedom” and “liberty.” Those words are taking on a new partisan edge in this election year, not unlike the tinge acquired by the words “family values” a few years back.

Well, let’s shoot for accuracy, here – and we’ll have to do the shooting, because Sturdevant certainly won’t; the “partisan edge” to “family values” was pretty much entirely a product of the left and media (ptr). 

It’s a digression – but then, so was Sturdevant’s reference.  Offsetting penalties. 

Onward:

Those words also seem to be acquiring new definitions in the mouths of Republican politicians. Freedom seems to have a lot to do with the ability to avoid buying health insurance, thereby forcing others to pick up the tab for one’s hospital stay, should one’s good health run out.

Right.  That’s the motivation behind the Tea Parties and all of conservatism, Lori; getting someone else to pick up your tab.

It has nothing to do with believing in limited government, let alone the sense that for most people, Obamacare “fixes” something that needed a tune-up, not a complete overhaul.

Liberty, on the other hand, seems to be about building new nuclear power plants, drilling for oil just about anywhere, paying little or no taxes, and avoiding health and safety regulations in one’s business life.

Oooh, can I play?

Liberalism seems to be about being ashamed to be an American, being thankful to Mother Government for allowing you to exist, and shutting up and doing what your lords and betters tell you to do!

Liberty is also evidently compromised or diminished when the federal government takes emergency action to limit the collapse of major banks and prevent the demise of the nation’s homegrown auto industry.

Well, yeah.  As a matter of fact, it is; when there is no freedom to fail, then there is truly no freedom to succeed.  Badly run businesses should fail; in a true free-market economy, no business ever gets to be “too big to fail”. 

Those countercyclical rescue efforts came in for repeated scorn, from Bachmann, Palin and their warmup man, Gov. Tim Pawlenty — although many of the moves were initiated by a president they supported, George W. Bush.

“A President they supported?”  I can’t speak for Pawlenty, Bachmann or Palin, but I don’t know a single genuine conservative who supported Bush’s Kennedyesque spending. 

Let’s step aside for a moment, here.  When it comes to analyzing dissent, there are really two types of commentators; the ones that painstakingly develop taxonomies that shoehorn all of human nature’s wondrous complexity into implausibly neat but inevitably-pejorative, utterly-unnatural and completely self-serving boxes to make themselves sound all academic and serious, and everyone else:

Times of major economic and social change seem to spawn two kinds of political leaders in America — those who seek to help people overcome their fears and adapt, and those who play on fear and offer the vague promise that unsettling changes can be slowed or reversed.

Which is, of course – pardon a rare disgression into Old English – festering, reeking bullshit.

All political motivation is a complex mixture of education, tradition, self-interest, fear, communitarianism, and all manner of base and noble impulses.  Every person’s motivations are different; I’m a conservative because my study of history shows that statism is a cancer, and that limited government leaves the most room for humanity’s most noble natures to emerge, because the Constitution is fundamentally libertarian-conservative and if we don’t follow the Constitution then what the hell do we follow, because I “fear” the competence and motivations of this nation’s current “elite” and what it’ll do to the country I’ll leave my offspring, and because it is my right and duty as a free American citizen to fight for what I believe within our political process.

Likewise, Lori Sturdevant is a liberal because she’s been painstakingly indoctrinated into being a petty statist and D-list elitist, all of the “cool” people in her field have always been liberals, and she fears all of us peasants.

I mean, as long as we’re oversimplifying and caricaturing those we disagree with…

 Bachmann and Palin demonstrated Wednesday why they are among the nation’s leading exemplars of the latter category. Their success, this year and in 2012, will depend in large part on Americans staying fearful for a lot longer than Americans typically do.

I saw no fear on Wednesday.

But I read it all throughout Sturdevant’s column on Thursday.

Like Mr. Butts’ drill sergeants, Sturdevant is trying to tell her audience that her enemies – all us Teabaggers, Gunnies, Taxpayers-Leaguers, Wingnuts, God-Botherers, Bitter Gun-clinging Jeebus freaks and the whole lot – aren’t really as human as they are.

23 thoughts on “The Little Girl Who Cried “Fear”

  1. “…the Constitution is fundamentally libertarian-conservative and if we don’t follow the Constitution then what the hell do we follow,…”

    “I Don’t Care About the Constitution” – US Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL)

  2. I’ve been watching history take all statists to task for my entire adult life. Pen is nothing new.

  3. I wonder if the Vietnam era drill instructor realized that he was using a “meme”?
    Gunnery Sargeant Hartman: “PYLE!! Is that chow in your foot locker!?! Pyle!! – you disgusting, you digusting, er, uh, hmm. What was the “meme” I was going to use here again? Er thats right – FATBODY. You disgusting FATBODY!!
    Sturdevant is such a homer, cheerleader and flack for the Democrats that I’m surprised that which ever judge is presiding over the Strib’s bancruptcy hasn’t sent the DFL a bill for services rendered at full card rate for the number of column inches she has used hyping the dullards that populate the DFL and denigrating everyone in the center and right. Come to think of it, the Strib would probably be in the black if they were to charge for the free advertising routinely given to the DFL by nearly every columnist and 90% of the news reporters. I can’t believe any thinking individual or true Scotsman can think her “reporting” on a Republican event would ever be straight.

  4. Is Laurie really Clownie in Drag? Would anyone be able to tell the difference?
    I must confess to fear. I’m afraid the man running the country hates America and Americans.

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  6. …when there is no freedom to fail, then there is truly no freedom to succeed.

    One of the more unique features of American law that was a departure from English law that came after the Revolution was that Americans significantly liberalized (in the classical meaning of the term) the treatment of bankrupt people and companies. Even today they are generally treated far more kindly in this country than in others. Chapter 11, for example, doesn’t exist in England, they go straight to Chapter 7 and liquidate the company.

    Some will argue that permissively treating companies and individuals increases moral hazard, but it also increases entrepreneurship and dynamism in the economy. Here you can be involved in a startup and take big chances for big rewards, at least until Sarbanes-Oxley screwed things up, and not lose your shirt if you fail.

    So Obama and the other statists are just continuing the progressive trend here, but since they’re so much smarter than the market they’ll direct things. Instead of allowing companies to fail, we’ll just Nationalize them so we preserve our Social harmony as Guided by the teacher who is now at the head of our country.

    What can possibly go wrong?

  7. The hypocrisy of this post knows no bounds, Mitch.

    First, let’s see – there’s the “All Muslims love terrorism meme’.”

    Then there’s “Godless commies”

    Then there’s the 1000’s of things, such as say, oh, I don’t know, “Tic” or “Democrat Congress” or sooo many other things which you and the righties (ok, wingnuts) have called liberals for years. You’ve attempted to make a dirty word out of Democrat, let alone liberal, and now your most extreme members are starting to shoot and threaten people, and, oh, I don’t know, TREAT THEM LIKE THEY AREN’T HUMAN.

    Mitch, years ago now, 6 if I recall, I complained to you that you righties were treating terrorism and anyone accused of it as people not deserving rights because they weren’t citizens, and I admonished you that it was only a step away from treating them as if they weren’t people (kinda like the Nazis and Japanese did with their ‘undesireables’). I said to you then that denying people basic human and civil and legal rights was unethical (at best) and that the problem we faced in Iraq was that our soldiers were being trained to treat “Haji” as less than human, and our soldiers (not all, not even many, but enough) were effectively unconcerned with collateral damage. The reaction of the right was,”better THEM – Iraqi civilians – than US – US Soldiers.” My reaction to that is, “No, civilians are to be protected and no life is somehow worth less than another.” Yet, people like Limbaugh persisted with demonizing our enemy, persisted with mocking those who sought a better (and ultimately effective) path forward – it was LIMBAUGH, not Sturdevant, Mitch. The right has practiced closet racism in the form of demonizing those you hate for years. Your comment that the left is “well schooled” in this is yet another verbal hyperbole, not well thought through probably – but no less offensive. Far more of those on the left I know seek to treat all equally and be tolerant of differences, than do those on the right I know, you included by your wrting at least.

    So, before you complain, heal yourself.

  8. First, let’s see – there’s the “All Muslims love terrorism meme’.”

    Then there’s “Godless commies”

    Both of which I, like most of the right, have not only never used, but specifically abjured for my entire adult life.

    Sorry, Pen. Yet another strawman.

    Then there’s the 1000’s of things, such as say, oh, I don’t know, “Tic”

    Satire and poking fun at Dem humorlessness.

    or “Democrat Congress”

    Manufactured case of victorian vapors.

    or sooo many other things which you and the righties (ok, wingnuts) have called liberals for years.

    You can’t name thousands or even tens, and the ones you have named are nothing close to the same. Get over it.

    You’ve attempted to make a dirty word out of Democrat,

    Really? How have I done that?

    let alone liberal,

    Nope. I AM a classical liberal. It’s you people who have profaned the concept so much that you are now calling yourselves “progressives”.

    and now your most extreme members are starting to shoot

    REALLY? Pen? WHERE is the “shooting?”

    and threaten people, and, oh, I don’t know, TREAT THEM LIKE THEY AREN’T HUMAN.

    Quick, now – show me ANY conservative that hasn’t condemned the threats. As opposed to all the libs who giggled like schoolgirls at movies and TV shows showing Pres. Bush being murdered.

    Mitch, years ago now, 6 if I recall, I complained to you that you righties were treating terrorism and anyone accused of it as people not deserving rights because they weren’t citizens,

    Wrong. We said that there was a legal case to be made that they didn’t legally have all the rights of either POWs or American criminal suspects.

    It’s a very different thing.

    So, before you complain, heal yourself.

    Yeah, I know, five fingers pointing back at me. Got it.

  9. You’ve attempted to make a dirty word out of Democrat, let alone liberal

    We’re doing a damn good job of both, too. We’ve chased “liberals” into hiding behind “progressive”….pffft, any five year old kid of middling intelligence can still identify either by the common stench. You are only fooling other dim-wit leftists.

    As to “Democrat”, well I guess we’ll see what people think of those come November…haha!

  10. Any doubt of the existence of parallel universes can be quickly dispelled by simply looking into what passes for thought in a Peevish Boy comment.
    My God, how does one become so deluded?

  11. Still looking for word about that “shooting”, much less any connection to an approving “right”.

    Pen and DG are old friends of mine – seriously and truly – but I’m kinda concerned about how much of both of their perception is shaped by lefty chanting points that have dubious relation to facts.

  12. OK, I have to admit, when I saw the title, I thought you’d written something new about Bachmann and/or Palin, LOL.

    “Dubious relation to facts”?

    Ok, I’ll play. The two most recent posts I’ve written on Penigma (also now cross posted over on OpinionEditorial.com) “Coal Cruel World”, and “The Other Charlie Wilson’s War”, both fact based. Coal Cruel World looks at the recent WV mining disaster, from the most fact based / non-political sources I could find – like the “United States Mine Rescue Association” web site, and several reviews of US Mine Safety Legislation from the 19th C to present – although ultimately I went with the US Dept of Labor site, on the basis of their organizing of the info.

    I track the correlation of increasing safety regulations and decreasing mine disaster fatalities up to the disaster of last week. FYI – a mine disaster, as opposed to mere ‘accident’ is where five or more fatalities result. FACT based.

    (Also includes criticism of Obama and his administration btw)

    “The Other Charlie Wilson’s War”, tracks substantial excerpts of the actual threats allegedly made by Charles Alan Wilson to Senator Patty Murry, D, Washington, transcribed in the FBI complaint.

    Note the pertinent Tea Party sign illustrating the opening, (I’ve got several others that I haven’t gotten around to uploading yet).

    I cross reference the phrases used over and over again with Republican / conservative talking points, such as ‘baby killer’;

    AND then after each one, lists who on the Right has made those exact statements, like the 68,240 items that a simple search for Beck, Obama, Socialism produce on just the Fox News website alone;

    and then fact checks those statements to show that each one of them is wrong (I was lazy, I mostly used politifact.com, although there are multiple fact checking entities that have found the same thing).

    This makes the prima facie case that the Right is directly connected to Wilson’s threats. I mention facts such as Wilson attending a recent Tea Party protest. I factually demonstrate an influence, an affiliation, not a direct causation. All of it fact based, all the dots connected.

    When I see as much fact here, Mitch, sweet man, dear friend that you are, then I think you can fairly ‘worry’ about either Pen or I having opinions rooted in facts.

  13. DG,

    You (pl) have your ups and your downs. With (as always) all due respect, the whole “Bachmann had no accreditation, and her LLM was a remedial degree” has a long pedigree in local Bachmann-derangement circles; those of us who’ve been following Bachmann for a long time (in my case, close to 15 years) and her detractors have seen it, debunked it, and gone back around with it time and time again; Foot debunked it here, and then I had to go do it again at Apathyboy’s blog, where you were passing it on to a new audience. It’s not the only one we’ve found.

    Which is fine – we all have our ups and downs (although this blog is demonstrably the most fact-based blog anywhere in Minnesota), but between that, the “avalanche of threats” that wasn’t, and a few other memes you’ve carried, one might be forgiven the impression that you and Pen get your information from some of the same places some, let’s just say, less-intelligent-and-talented writers on the left get theirs.

    As to Mr. Wilson – congratuations. You’ve painstakingly shown guilt by association, which is something most of us try to avoid (especially if you’re a DFLer, given the party’s long-ago links to Stalin; see the madness this stuff leads to?). Not sure if it was worth the effort, but there you go.

  14. Progressives argue: You must buy health insurance; otherwise we’ll be forced to pay your bills when you get sick.

    I reply: why? Who’s forcing you? You decided to pay my medical bills over my objection; now your own bad choice is the rationale for further reducing my liberty. I’ll pay my medical bills myself and if I can’t pay them, I’ll go untreated, die and thereby reduce the surplus population. Problem solved.

    Their trump: no, that would offend our sensibilities. We want you to live a long and productive life . . . doing exactly what we tell you to do. No need for you to make any decisions about what to eat, where to live, how to get to work; we’ll make all the decisions and notify you of the result. See how much of your time will be freed up? That’s true liberty.

    Me: I’m going to be sick now.

    .

  15. “Both of which I, like most of the right, have not only never used, but specifically abjured for my entire adult life. ”

    B as in Bull, S as in Schlock, Schill and Sheeott

    First, Mitch, while YOU might not have used Godless Commie, TailGunner Joe McCarthy, whom you’ve routinely defended on this blog, most certainly did as have MANY MANY conservatives, including Ronald Reagan.

    Second, while YOU didn’t OPENLY say Muslims advocate terrorism, you’ve implied it tangentally in at least one post I can recall, and without question, your Mitchkateers have. Further, pols showed clearly that conservatives absolutely believed to be true. So, apparently you missed that reality (or should I say, both realities?)

    Third, it has been the right, not the left, which has been routinely tied to intolerance about homosexuality, and before that blacks (note I said “the right” not “Republicans”) – even still, many of your readers make ad hominem and pejoritive commentary about various homosexuals and engage in demagaugery (sic because I no longer care to check) making off-color “jokes” about homosexuals or accusing left leaning commentors of being “bung-holers” etc..

    As for Greenspan, this is your expert? The man contradicts himself here and contradicts his prior comments on FM where he blamed LACK of regulation, not GSE mandates as the issue – and further, claimed he could not have seen this coming in other comments, but this testimony suggests he could easily have seen it. In short, it doesn’t pass the “sniff test.”

    Please refer to:

    “http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/04/michael_burry_vs_alan_greenspa.html”

  16. Pen,

    You start with…:

    B as in Bull, S as in Schlock, Schill and Sheeott

    And then follow with:

    First, Mitch, while YOU might not have used Godless Commie,

    I WAS THE ONLY ONE I WAS SPEAKING FOR! That’s why I wrote “I, like most…”.

    TailGunner Joe McCarthy, whom you’ve routinely defended on this blog,

    Where did I defend him? And if so, more importantly, why??

    including Ronald Reagan.

    To quote the great sage, B as in Boolean, S as in shi’ite. Provide a cite.

    You can not, of course.

    Second, while YOU didn’t OPENLY say Muslims advocate terrorism, you’ve implied it tangentally in at least one post

    Really? Show me that tangent. It’ll be hard to do, since my actual line on Islam and terror has always been it’s not the faith, it’s the governments they live under. Which was why I wrote back in 2002 that it’s notable that there’s a dearth of Muslim terrorists from places like India, Senegal, Turkey and other places where Islam exists in a society with the rule of law and relatively liberal (small-l) government.

    You’re making stuff up again.

    Further, pols showed clearly that conservatives absolutely believed to be true.

    Show me the credible poll, because you are at the very least mangling context.

    So, apparently you missed that reality (or should I say, both realities?)

    I’ll let you show me that either is “reality”. I’m extremely dubious.

    Third, it has been the right, not the left, which has been routinely tied to intolerance about homosexuality,

    So what? There’s a huge battle on the right between libertarians and socialcons. I’ve written about it many times. Not news.

    and before that blacks (note I said “the right” not “Republicans”)

    And you’re still wrong. “The Right” as we understand it in America today has no relationship with the idea of owning humans as property, anymore than “the left” in America today believes in internationalism or the ineluctable forces of history.

    “jokes” about homosexuals or accusing left leaning commentors of being “bung-holers” etc..

    Not sure what you’re talking about. The only person I personally know of who is the target of this sort of thing is Angryclown, who relishes the whole thing, and also is not gay (although his taste in suits IS just a tad impeccable, if you catch my drift).

    As for Greenspan, this is your expert?

    Greenspan was not mentioned in this post; I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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